2017 was a Good Time at the Movies
This was a pretty incredible year for film, so narrowing down a top ten, much less a number one, was a pretty hard task. This list can easily change and just is the order that I feel today. I also have not seen some big Oscar-buzzed movies like Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread and The Post. So take this as more of a celebration of ten great movies, more than a definitive list.
The cannibal medical school film that gained a reputation by viewers at festivals fainting while watching, though I never believe that when I hear it. And it’s misleading, because even though there are gruesome moments, this isn’t an exploitation movie. However, it is a thoughtful, vivid beautiful coming-to-age movie about puberty, vegetarianism and many other themes that can be sussed from it. It also has the best final line of any movie this year.
This is how you do a remake. Not only match, but far surpass the original (which was a miniseries). Skarsgard nails the role of Pennywise, the film is made with a passion for the source material that is evident throughout and is surprisingly one of the funniest movies of the year.
A movie that is probably better for us than we know. A scorn woman who is kicked into a state motherly revenge, a racist cop who may be more than meets the eye, and a small town that is dismissed by elites that can be just as quirky, interesting, funny and engaging as a big city. In a time that we not only have major divisions and are put in boxes as people, but we have a huge rural/city divide, and Three Billboards takes it all on.
Coming to this film as a Taika Waititi fan, and being happy he exceeded what I expected, I also think I had the benefit of not seeing many of the prior Avenger movies. So aspects like how good Tom Hiddleston is as Loki, which Marvel fans have known all along, were nice surprises to me. All together, this is the best superhero movie in a strong year of superhero movies.
A film about a mid-life crisis, that acknowledges the characters’ privileges. Ben Stiller plays the usual butt of jokes, but in a believable way. Where his character Brad’s failings are being observed by himself as much as the audience. It’s like a Ben Stiller performance where he is in the audience with you, shaking his head and what he is as a person, and laughing along, possibly to hide the deep depression. His performance in this movie is stellar.
5. Wind River
A film that will be completely ignored at the Oscars, since it was produced by Harvey Weinstein, but as a film itself, it’s one of the best of the year. Elizabeth Olsen as a young female officer in a male driven world. She is in control, but no one is actually in control. Jeremy Renner is the wild card. And nature is the enemy. The connections between humanity and animals is profound and the idea that if we act like the animals, we morally succeed what we can be as humans and the cruelty we can show, resonates hard.
4. The Big Sick
The romantic COMAdy, and the true story of how Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily met, will hit you with laughs and emotions equally hard. Some of the best jokes of the year are in this movie, and the film is able to maintain a strength throughout, even when the story takes some major shifts.
3. Get Out
One of the first films of the year was a happy accident how it played out as a Trump-reaction movie. A movie about racism, but not in the white hooded figures way. If film is a portal for empathy, as Roger Ebert claimed, then everyone needs to sit in Chris’ shoes. The feeling that he feels for the first half of the movie, which turns out to come to fruition in the second. How these things are happening that he can’t put in words when asked. It is a brilliant representation of racism today. How racists hold themselves to a standard just below saying the n-word. And when you call them out, they cry “What did I say that was racists?” It’s the code they all hide behind. The President is one of them.
If I could, I’d tie this one for number one of the year. And for most of the year, it was my number one. Such a confident movie. As someone who has made movies, I envy to a painful degree director David Lowery’s confidence. It’s the story that seems beyond silly in a pitch meeting, but it works. Wow, does it work. And the the film’s beautiful structure. So unconventional and tells college professors with their three-act rules to shove it. Time passes in waves and we go to each new life with sways of conversations. Beautiful, woderful, haunting, creepy. Just a masterpiece.
1. Good Time
A movie that I always wanted to put number one, but never did, until last minute. I don’t know why. It’s too raw, too upsetting, too unpleasant. Yet it’s perfect. This movie hits all of the aspects that other great movies solely try to achieve. A gritty look at the underbelly of a major city: check. A tense film that rivals the excitement of the best Bond film: check. A parable for Trump’s rise to power (a theory I stole from David Chen of /Film): check. A platform for Robert Pattinson’s powerhouse performance: check. This movie hits on all cylinders and will both blow you away and continue to grow in your mind for months following.