In my opinion, 2017 was a standout year for moviegoers. Not only were we treated to many truly great films (one of which may be tied with my all-time favorite), but a few of them were the most original in quite a while. I mean, there was a movie about an alcoholic Anne Hathaway controlling a giant monster, another following someone who got lost in a cardboard labyrinth, and one more where Luke friggin’ Skywalker played a moon with a face on it. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time narrowing down my favorites of the year before.
Anyway, let’s jump right into it! Here are my favorite films of 2017:
If you read my review of Baby Driver, you may have been wondering why it wasn’t on this list when I first wrote it back in December. The reason behind my decision to previously exclude Baby Driver came from learning about Kevin Spacey’s despicable behavior. I was absolutely devastated to hear that an actor I respected so greatly committed such vile acts, and I decided to no longer acknowledge any of his filmography. However, Zac and I have discussed this since, and he made two solid points: The first was that I shouldn’t let the actions of one person negatively impact the hard work of others, and the second is that an awful person being in a film doesn’t make the film itself any worse. With that in mind, Baby Driver is one of the best and most stylish films of 2017, and definitely deserves a spot on my “Favorite of 2017” list.
I tend to enjoy some really bizarre films, and Dave Made a Maze, a movie about someone getting lost in a maze created inside of a cardboard box, is definitely one of them. The story sounds like something a child would come up with, but that level of imagination and wonder is brought to the set and creature design. The labyrinth in Dave Made a Maze is one of my favorite movie settings this year, and its inhabitants are equally great. Dave Made a Maze doesn’t have amazing writing, acting, or direction (it’s definitely all good or above though), but it is just plain fun to watch.
Colossal is all over the map in the best of ways. Its premise (Anne Hathaway discovers she’s controlling a giant monster in South Korea) is crazy, but the strong cast, solid character development, and emotional story keep it fairly grounded for what it is by making it feel so human and genuine. Colossal also makes a big tonal shift about halfway through, but it works stupendously. I’m pretty sure this is a “love it or hate it” film, but I strongly recommend giving Colossal a watch to anyone looking for something different.
After Tom Holland’s iteration of the Web-head stole the show in the star-studded Captain America: Civil War, my expectations for the character’s first solo outing were almost unreasonably high. Shockingly, Spider-Man: Homecoming surpassed them. It’s the perfect blend of coming of age comedy and superhero blockbuster, something I never knew I needed so badly, and is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s finest films. In addition to featuring one of the best (and most faithfully adapted) comic book characters to date, Homecoming has a terrific supporting cast, and one of the most human and believable supervillains in years. And I’m not sure this is super important, but it has my all-time favorite post-credits sequence too.
Stronger, a biopic based on Jeff Baumen’s memoirs, is a movie that I think could’ve easily gone wrong. Thankfully, the painstaking work of director David Gordon Green and star Jake Gyllenhall (the latter of which spent months with Bauman to make sure his portrayal was just right) paid off. The film gives us an authentic and respectful look at some of the most challenging and important parts of Baumen’s life. Stronger never feels cheap or overly dramatic, and is an incredible tribute to an American hero with terrific direction and an amazing main cast. It has the heartbreak, pain, and loss you’d expect from a film surrounding the fallout of the Boston Marathon bombing, but it also has that same overpowering spirit America grew to love Baumen for.
I’ve thought of Pennywise the Dancing Clown as the scariest monster ever created since I first saw the 1990’s miniseries, but IT’s never been better than in the 2017 remake. Based on Stephen King’s novel about a monstrous “clown” that eats children, IT is scary by concept alone. However, Bill Skarsgård gives us the best version of the entity to date by adding an almost childlike glee to his portrayal of the creature. As much as I still love Tim Curry’s 1990 performance, Skarsgård’s Pennywise is just better. IT also has some of the best child actors I’ve seen in recent memory, building a strong connection with each other and the audience… Which only makes IT’s attacks that much more terrifying.
Based on the the non-fiction book, The Disaster Artist follows the creation and release of The Room, the cult classic so-bad-it’s-good drama. Although it mainly focuses on the hilariously odd director/writer/producer/star Tommy Wiseau and co-star Greg Sestero (played to near perfection by brothers James and Dave Franco), almost everyone else gets a chance to deliver side-splitting laughs as well. It also has a good bit of drama in between the laughs, and all of it feels authentic. While The Disaster Artist isn’t quite as good as The Room is bad, it’s easily the funniest movie this year.
Just like the main character of the film, Brigsby Bear is so odd and ridiculous that it’s endearing. The strangeness of it all blends into the film’s heart in such a unique and genuine way I can’t help but love it. James’ (Kyle Mooney) brilliantly written and acted mix of awkwardness and spirit was enough to keep me smiling through most of the movie, let alone the rest of the cast. Watching James on his adventure to explore his new world and make friends was an absolute delight. Brigsby Bear is one of the strangest movies I’ve seen in quite a while, and also my feel good movie of the year.
Blade Runner 2049 did for me what the original did for audiences 35 years ago: it set a new benchmark for the science fiction genre by asking intriguing questions and showing off a gorgeous, dark world that felt totally foreign and totally plausible at the same time. And all of that was done in the background of a neo-noir detective thriller with a cast strong enough to keep me completely invested the whole way through. Blade Runner 2049 is sci-fi at its finest, and I doubt we’ll be lucky enough to see something else like this for a long, long time.
In my review of Logan Noir, a black and white version of the film, I called Logan “one of the best superhero movies ever made.” After seeing it a few additional times, I believe in that statement even more. The intense, brutal action, heart-wrenching story, and amazing cast elevate Logan above almost all other superhero films, and most movies in general. It’s a superhero flick, a western, and a father/son story all rolled into one expertly told tale. After 17 years, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart perfected their characters and left the X-Men franchise on the highest note possible. Hopefully we’ll get more character driven comic book movies like this in the future, but I don’t know if any will be able to outdo Logan.
Just kidding! Mother! is actually my least favorite film in years, maybe ever. Although I hate this movie with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, I wouldn’t be surprised if the polarizing feature ends up on someone else’s “Best of 2017” list. Anyway, my real favorite film of 2017 is…
This black dramedy goes back and forth between uproariously hilarious and soul-crushingly depressing with an astonishing level of grace through its nearly two hour run time, and man is it one hell of a ride. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell give some of the greatest performances I’ve seen in film (seriously, I’ll be pissed if McDormand doesn’t win the Oscar for best actress again), and are backed by McDonagh’s insane/brilliant writing and direction. I’ve never seen a movie so dark, yet hopeful at the same time, and I was taken aback by the power of the emotionally charged messages from this film. In all honesty, I can’t think of any movie I’ve enjoyed this much since Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (my all-time favorite). Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and easily sits at the top as my favorite film of 2017.
And there you have it! Those are my favorite films of 2017! If you liked what you read and want more, like my top video games of 2017, follow me and some other awesome people on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and/or middleofrow.com.