Another year is behind us, so that means it’s time for everyone’s ‘my favorite
________ of 2017’ lists. This year, I’m folding to peer pressure and
changing the ‘top 8’ favorite movies to ‘top 10’ because honestly, there
were too many awesome movies and I originally only did it because
that’s how Tarantino narrowed his picks and I wanted to seem cool or
something. (On a quick related note, I can’t believe this is my 8th year of doing one of these dumb things. Crazy.) On
a personal level, 2017 has been a wild year for me. I got married to my
best friend, started a much better and satisfying job, and found out
we’re going to be parents this year. It’s going to be an incredibly busy
and life-changing 2018, and I can’t wait for it.

In terms of the past year in cinema, it’s been amazing as well. I wanted
to see as many movies as I could before finalizing my favorites, and was
pretty successful, with a few exceptions. I wasn’t able to see Phantom
Thread, The Post, The Florida Project, The Emoji Movie or Coco, to name a
few (not seeing the new PTA and Spielberg movies before writing this
KILLS me). A lot of the choices on my list might be predictable,
especially if you follow me on Twitter, or read movie sites/blogs.
Twitter has kind of taken over my actually writing posts for this blog
anymore, and maybe one day I’ll get better at coming back here and
putting thoughts down (probably not though). Like I’ve said in previous
years, these really don’t have a ranking, unless I specify it’s my
‘favorite’ over the others. This is a 100% subjective list, based on an
incomplete sampling. The movies listed below either moved me in a huge
way, were a complete blast, and/or stayed with me long after I saw them.
That’s enough preamble though, let’s get to my favorites of 2017!

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In my eyes, this whole reboot-prequel-whatever trilogy is a cinematic
miracle. This series, on it’s surface is a very campy, B-movie concept.
What Rupert Wyatt and now Matt Reeves have done here is a staggering
directorial achievement. This entry further fleshes out the already
relatable and complex characters, and continues to add emotional depth
that the originals could never even touch. In my eyes, this is what
makes this the best movie trilogy since The Lord of the Rings. War Apes
(what I find to be the best shorthand for this entry) is the ‘Return of
the King’ equivalent of this trilogy. It takes Caesar’s story in darker,
more unexpected places, and in a perfect world, would net Andy Serkis
an Oscar nomination for best actor. If you’ve slept on this series
because it seemed silly, or not really your jam, definitely take the
time to catch up with it, it’s most definitely worth it.

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This was one of the last movies I saw before making this post, and having
just seen it a few days ago, it’s the movie I’ve been thinking about
most. In a year that I think a lot of people would call ‘complete awful
garbage’, (or something similar), Guillermo Del Toro’s love story of the
‘others’ in society; the forgotten and the disenfranchised, hits home.
I’m still working through my thoughts on all of it, but it’s up there
with my favorites of his filmography. I don’t think GDT has ever made a
movie so unapologetically ‘him’. A sequence near the end of the movie is
one of my favorite things I’ve seen all year, and I thought to myself
during it that nobody other than this one enigmatic, creative and
strange man could make something so unique and beautiful. This one
definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you like GDT’s movies, I have a
feeling you’ll be on board with this one as well.

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From this point forward, if Taylor Sheridan has a new movie coming out, I’ll
be there to see it. The previous writer of such films
as Sicario and Hell or High Water makes his directorial debut with Wind
River. It follows a standard neo-western trend of his previous films,
but this time moving the story to snowy Wyoming. Setting the location on
an American Indian reservation allows Sheridan to bring up timely
themes as well, such as the incredibly high rate at which Native
American women disappear on reservations, and how few are ever actually
found. It’s an incredibly moving and intense story that plays out after
the initial murder/mystery is established, going to some of the most
intense places thematically that I’ve seen in a movie this year. The
cast all around is stellar, and Jeremy Renner specifically has never
been better than he is in this movie. If you’re a fan of neo-westerns or
Sheridan’s other movies, Wind River is absolutely worth checking out.

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I had been anticipating this movie since I heard about it, having been a
huge fan of ‘The Indoor Kids’ podcast, hosted by Emily Gordon and her
husband Kumail Nanjiani. It’s a video game podcast that they ended a few
years back, but every now and then, they would hint at how they met.
This movie is how their eventual marriage came to be, and it’s a
beautiful love story, which just so happens to fit the mold of one of
the best romantic comedies ever made. Not only is it a great comedy, but
also dramatically complex due to Emily’s time spent in a coma at the
beginning of their relationship and Kumail’s meeting of her two parents.
Everyone in this movie gives it their all, with Ray Romano and Holly
Hunter standing out as Emily’s parents. The movie also tackles what it’s
like to be the child of an immigrant in America, and that perspective
was fresh and eye-opening for a big Hollywood movie. This is definitely
one to watch with the family.

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*potential spoilers for mother!*

If you read my post I wrote about ‘Noah’, you’ll probably understand why I
love this movie so much. This is the second film by Darren Aranofsky
that explores the morality of not only God, but of the entire bible this
time around. Something about that intent clicks with me. Maybe it’s
being raised in church until my late teens or the religious cynic inside
me, but I love when he tackles these issues. The fact that this
religious interpretation is only one of many possible ways to read this
movie is what makes it fascinating. Is it about climate change and how
we’re destroying the earth? Is it a dramatization of the Bible and God’s
relationship with humanity? Or is it about the relationship between
artists, the things they create, and the audience? On top of these
questions, Mother! Is beautifully shot, acted and constructed. I was
pretty much in shock for the entire last third of the movie and that’s
more than I can say for almost any movie I’ve seen this year.

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Y’all probably knew this was coming, right? I’m so in the bag for Star Wars
movies that any objectivity is completely out the window at this point. I
also understand that many people REALLY do not like this movie, and
I’ve been grappling with that and processing it since I saw the movie a
couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see the movie a
second time, so this is based entirely off my first time seeing The Last
Jedi. This movie was everything I wanted and more. It absolutely has
faults worth talking about, but to me, the highs of TLJ far outweigh the
lows. There were moments in this movie that I yelled in joy, smiled ear
to ear and also cried on numerous occasions. For the first time since
watching the original trilogy as a kid, I felt like I was watching a
true Star Wars movie, with the original series characters, and the great
new ones established in VII as well. The prequels have their moments,
and Rogue One and Force Awakens were fun diversions in fan fiction, but
to me, this movie felt true to what I love about Star Wars. I can’t wait
to watch it again.

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Sometimes I just think to myself, “it’s really damn cool that I’m around at the
same time as Christopher Nolan.” The guy will go down as an all-time
great director, and I love that with Dunkirk he proved that he doesn’t
need a high concept idea and a ton of exposition to sell it. All you
need to tell a gripping story is a camera and a story with baked-in
drama, like the evacuation of Dunkirk. The movie is almost a silent film
with how little dialogue there is, relying solely on Hoyte van
Hoytema’s beautiful cinematography and Nolan’s adherence to old-school
film techniques, with as little CG as possible. Dunkirk makes for the
most intense theater going experience I’ve probably had all year, and I
fear that seeing it at home can never reach the levels of seeing it on
the big screen. Regardless, Dunkirk is possibly Nolan’s best film yet,
an exciting evolution of his directorial skill, and one of the best war films of all time.

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In my opinion, there was no greater surprise at the theater this year than
Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’. A social horror film in the vein of such
classics as ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Step-ford Wives’, and on the same
level of quality as well. I’d also have to say that Get Out epitomizes
the state of our country the best of any other movie I’ve seen this
year, perfectly nailing racial tensions much more nuanced than your
typical racist-redneck-murder-family horror movies ever could. I rewatched the movie
again over Christmas (this and the Witch make great Christmas movies
btw) and it reaffirmed how tightly written, acted and directed it truly
is. Every setup has a fulfilling payoff, every character a
great/exciting/terrifying moment, and it has one of the most subversive,
ingenious endings I’ve seen of this, or any year.  Get out is a
certified horror classic, and easily one of the best movies of the
year.

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Coming-of-age stories are very often ‘my jam’, as I’m sure you could surmise from any
number of posts on here from the past. What I loved so much about Luca
Guadagnino’s ‘Call me by Your Name’ is the sincerity and honesty in
every one of the characters in the movie. The two leads (played by
Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer) wear their hearts on their sleeves,
and soon find themselves in a summer love affair. What this movie
captures so well is that feeling of young ‘love’, or at least
infatuation with amazingly believable ease. It also features a moment
between Timothée Chalamet’s character and his father (played by the
always great Michael Stuhlbarg) that crushed me. It hit me right in the
nexus of all my dad baggage, past and present, and turned me into a
weeping mess. I aspire to be the kind of loving, understanding and wise
father that Timothée Chalamet’s character is blessed with in this
movie.

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Alright guys, time for my favorite movie of the year, and it’s easily Denis
Villeneuve’s science fiction masterpiece: Blade Runner 2049. No movie
transported me completely like this film did. The entire run time of the
movie was almost like an out of body experience. It was surely aided by
seeing it on the massive downtown IMAX screen, but when myself and a
couple friends walked out of this movie, we were practically in shock.
I’m sure I sound hyperbolic right now, but in my eyes this movie is a
top-to-bottom cinematic masterpiece. It expands and even improves on
themes and ideas that the first film only flirted with. It deepens the
philosophy of the world in interesting ways, and does all this with a
far more emotional core than the first ever had as well. I’d be remiss
not talking about how beautiful this movie is as well. If Roger Deakins
doesn’t win his first Cinematography Oscar for this film, somebody
should get 25 to life. The second this movie ended, I knew it was my
movie of the year, regardless of what else I saw in 2017. It’s a sequel
for the ages, and a science fiction film that people decades from now
will look back on with intrigue and wonder.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Thor Ragnarok
  • Brigsby Bear
  • Brawl in Cell Block 99
  • Okja
  • Baby Driver
  • Your Name
  • Logan
  • John Wick: Chapter 2
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • I, Tonya

That’s
going to do it for my top films of 2017, thanks so much for reading! If
you have thoughts or opinions on my list, hit me up on Twitter or
Facebook and let’s talk about them (unless it’s a bad Last Jedi take,
those won’t do). It was incredibly hard to cut out some of the honorable
mentions but overall I’m extremely happy with my list and all of the
movies I was lucky enough to see this year (and lucky enough to have an
awesome wife who understands and accepts my movie-going addiction!)
Share this post with your friends if you’d like, and I hope you have a
great 2018!

 

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