Well we made it to the end of another year at the cinema. So how did 2017 do, compared to the other years this decade. I would say it was probably some where in the middle but more towards the lesser end of things. It was very back loaded, even though a few movies on this list are from the earlier months, most are from Nov and Dec. But what a holiday season it was, forcing me to spend my 2-week vacation catching up on all the films that got dumped at the end. So what movies were my favourite of 2017. Which 10 films stand above all others? It is time to find out, here are my 10 favourite movies of 2017 (and as always it is only 10, I never cheat by having a tie).
10. Wonder Woman
As I have mentioned before, I am completely burnt out with superhero movies. In particular, I am tired of superhero movies from the DC brand. For whatever reason they just can’t seem to get it right and push out some of the worst movies of the year. So, I was not looking forward to Wonder Woman in the least. DC had an ace up their sleeves this time though. Director Patty Jenkins, yes, a woman, for the first-time directing a superhero movie. Leave it to a woman to get it right and breath some much needed substance into the DC universe. Diving deep into the origin of the character and taking her time to tell the story correctly, something the other DC movies have sorely lacked. Also, a wise decision was to set the film against the back drop of actual history, in this case WW1, which gives the story some depth and allows us to see a superhero inserted in to a real-world event. That superhero is the stunning and talented Gal Gadot, who isn’t merely playing Wonder Woman, she becomes her in every single way. I will never forget watching in owe as Gadot, in full Wonder Woman gear, makes her way across No Man’s Land. Stunning, powerful and iconic. I knew a star was born and that this was going to be something special. Wonder Woman may not have changed the game the way Logan did, but it gave us a hero we can root for, in the years to come…. even if you have to ignore Justice League.
9. Good Time
The true sleeper movie of 2017, was this down and gritty, tale about two brothers who rob a bank and the next 24 hours that is the aftermath. Staring Robert Pattinson from the Twilight fame, this film has a true 80’s movie feels to it, right down the title shot of the movie, in that classic neon 80’s fashion. The story is very basic, but it is done with a style that shows a true talent in the directing department from the Safdie Brothers Barry and Josh. The movie is expertly shot, as it smoothly glides from one set piece after another. The film is filled with interesting characters, all of whom seem to make bad decisions, but the true star of the show is Pattinson. Nothing I have seen from Pattinson up to this point, prepared me for how excellent his performance was here. He is a fire cracker, leaving the viewer fearing when the next time he might pop off in a fit of explosive rage. He deserved way more awards consideration than he has gotten for this gem. Good Time is exactly what the title promises and is worth searching out to watching, trust me you will not be disappointed.
8. Molly’s Game
There was no better screenplay this year, than Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant work on Molly’s Game, a sharp and tight telling the story of Molly Bloom, the real-life queen of poker. Wisely, realizing that the star of this tale, isn’t the many celebs that Molly dealt with, but Molly herself, superbly played here by Jessica Chastian. Sorkin focusing on Molly’s life after the poker games have ended and on her investigation from the FBI, lets the story play out like a poker game itself, showing us highlights from Molly’s past. He also wisely refrains from naming names and letting the story strictly be about the powerhouse female at the fore front of it all. Chastian gives the best performance of her life here, making Molly look like a warrior who was to smart and to savvy to allow any man, be it top level celeb or top-level FBI agent, stand in her way from making a fortune. A great supporting cast including Michael Cera, Idris Elba and a wicked performance from Kevin Costner as Molly’s hard-nosed father, make sure that this movie is always fascinating, always leaving you on the edge of your seat. You don’t have to be a poker whiz to see the brilliance in this film, let Sorkin and Chastian show you their royal flush!
7. Get Out
The best horror movie of 2017, wasn’t the often too silly Stephan King adaptation IT, nope that honor goes to Jordan Peele’s wicked, timely and horrifying Get Out, the movie that caused a stir when it was released in Feb and hasn’t stopped being talked about all the way to the Oscar race. It is so rare to find a film that both the audience and the critics can’t stop talking about for months on in, it was a phenomenon the likes of which are all to rare and I was happy to be a part of it. Peele makes a current day horror masterpiece, that brilliantly digs deep into themes of slavery and modern-day racism. This is a horror movie with a brain and a heart and the courage to talk about the truths that we are all to afraid to discuss. This film tackles the truth about the how it feels to be a black man in America today, after the Obama era, exposed a whole new era of racism, that many don’t even realize they are a part of. This has been a topic I have discussed more than a few times before this movie, so it was refreshing to see a movie about it. Much like Dawn of the Dead, this film takes a look at a deep-rooted problem in America, through the eyes of a horror movie. Peele has become a house hold name after this film and so has star Daniel Kaluuya giving a riveting performance as the films hero. This is a wonderful piece of film-making, that will leave you talking for weeks after it ends.
6. The Post
At which point to we stop taking all time great director Steven Spielberg for granted. For 5 decades now, he has been making one brilliant film after another. Take the story of this film, which Spielberg managed to shoe horn in between filming last years The BFG and next year’s Ready Player One. The film was announced as a project early in 2017 and was ready in time for awards season. The most important fact of all, is that it is a DAMN GREAT film still too! Even when Spielberg is rushing things along, he is still making films of such importance. This one telling the tale of the New York Times and Washington Post reporters, leaking the classified reports about the Vietnam War. Similar in theme to the Best Picture winning Spotlight from a few years back, Spielberg makes his film a bit more audience friendly, telling the story with humor and urgency. It doesn’t help that he hired everyone’s favorite Actor and Actress in Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, both giving excellent performances to stack their already impressive filmographies. Not to be outshined is the massive and impressive supporting cast which includes, Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Bob Odinkirk (Better Call Saul), Bruce Greenwood (American Crime Story) and Tracy Letts (Homeland). Spielberg lets his actors shine and the screenplay by Liz Hannah and Spotlight’s Josh Singer is smooth and nicely paced. In an era where the first amendment is being attacked everyday, this movie couldn’t be more timely or brilliant for that matter.
I have been saying for a few years now, that I believe director Christopher Nolan is this current generations Steven Spielberg, a director who is not only making brilliant film after brilliant film, but basically making the movie soundtrack of our lives. Nolan continues that streak with Dunkirk, his masterful war tale, about the rescue of 40,000, British, Belgium and France soldiers during the second World War. Nolan broke the film into the 3 separate stories, about the soldiers on Dunkirk, the fighter pilots in the air trying to fight off the enemy fighter planes and the British civilians who Winston Churchill ordered to drive their boats to rescue the soldiers. Every actor in this film is brilliant, including strong work from Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, and Fionn Whitehead. Masterful cinematography, editing and a Hans Zimmerman score, elevate this film to greatness. However, the star of this show is Nolan himself, giving his best directing job to date, superbly making every second of this film matter. This is a master class on directing, given by one of cinema’s best modern-day icons.
4. The Three Billboard Outside of Ebbing Missouri
Here is a film of remarkable strength and beauty, disguised in a cloud of anger and rage. Telling the story of a woman (a wonderful Francis McDormand) who’s daughter was raped and murdered, who’s case has gone cold. She can’t accept this, so she buys the rights to 3 billboards, where she calls out the local law enforcement for bumbling the case. The film which is often rather funny, expertly shows the affect that burning anger can have on a person, the negative effects it can have and how sometimes the only way to break this cycle is empathy. McDormand’s broken mother isn’t the only memorable character in this film though. Sam Rockwell gives a stunning performance (the best of the year by any male) as a corrupt cop, who’s racist and anger filled up bringing, is now getting him in all kinds of trouble. Woody Harrelson as the town Sheriff, who is a strong family man, with a secret of his own. The acting from all 3 is just masterclass. A lot of people had trouble with the dark humor in the film, claiming it is glorifying abusive behavior, but they are just missing the reality of what this toxic level of hate can cause a normally great person, to do. I was there myself this last year and this movie spook to me deeply.
3. The Disaster Artist
The funniest and most heart warming movie of 2017 was this film about the making of one of the worst movies of all time. The film focuses on Tommy Wiseau, a strange and mysterious actor, who befriends another inspiring actor, Greg Sestero. Together they begin to create the disaster of a film known a The Room. Wiseau is the director and star and Greg has a staring role as well. We get a first-hand account of the making of the film and Tommy’s bizarre and often overbearing style of film-making. The results are one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, actually making me laugh so hard I cried a handful of times. Yet, this movie has an underlying theme about the power of friendship, the passion of wanting to create and never giving up on that goal, that sets it apart from just being another comedy. It would have been all to easy for director James Franco, to just let this film focus on making fun of Tommy, which would have made the film cruel and cringe worthy. Instead Franco digs deep into the world of Tommy, trying to understand him and what makes him the man of mystery tick. Franco plays Tommy, in one of the best performances of the year, giving him layers and a heart. Franco is supported by a strong cast including his brother Dave and best friend Seth Rogan, who are both wonderful here. This could have been a total disaster itself, but thanks to some much need heart and a ton of huge laughs, this turned out to be a movie I couldn’t get out of my head. Its art!
2. The Shape of Water
How wonderful is this love story about a mute woman and a sea monster, set during the Cold War! This movie just melted my cold heart with its heartfelt story about the power of love between two souls, no matter what they are. Director Guillermo Del Toro carefully and tenderly constructs this masterpiece, being sure to make it so that the strange story being told, doesn’t come off as such in the slightest. Instead, it is a love story for the ages, a fairy tale for the adult population, that perfectly captures the power of love. Sally Hawkins is the lead in the very best performance of the year by a male of female. She literally puts her soul into this film, finding a way to make sure that even though she can’t speak, her communications are as powerful as if she could scream them. From the very first meeting with the sea creature, we can see that her world has been changed forever, not a single world needed. Now that is great acting. Hawkins steals the show, but she has help from Michael Shannon as the films baddie and Octavia Spencer as her best friend and Richard Jenkins as her father figure, all wonderful. Adding some depth is a perfect score from Alexandre Desplat and stunning cinematography from Dan Laustsen including two flawless shots (a shower scene and a dance scene) that would rank amongst the years best movie moments. Del Toro has been crafting adult fairly tales for decades now, with unique creatures and strong humans and with The Shape of Water, he has finally created his master work.
1. Phantom Thread
I know it is a tale as old as time, having a Paul Thomas Anderson film top my Best of list, but the man is the best filmmaker on the planet and one of three pure artistic geniuses of our time (the others being Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar). His latest is one of the greatest and most honest stories about love I have ever seen. Leave it to PTA, to once again take a popular type of movie (American Western, Adam Sandler film, stoner comedy) and flip it on his head and make it totally unique and real. Phantom Thread is a deeply brilliant piece of art and a film that will challenge the audiences, who can’t see the direction that Anderson takes this tale of love. This is not your average romance movie; this film digs deep into what it truly means to be in love. Anderson understands that no love is perfect, but it is truly about finding someone, who can put up with the things about you that anger everyone else and who’s company pushes you to be your best. It is about finding someone who understands your kink. Anderson brilliantly tells this story filling it with brilliant scenes that truly showcase a deep understanding of these things and perhaps it is a bit about the man beyond the camera himself. I can not get brilliant moments like a confrontation between brother and sister, a diner gone completely wrong, the first meeting between the love interests, a visit from a princess, out of my head, they just sit there in their brutal honesty in my mind, playing repeatedly. PTA’s camera work here has never been more stunning, making it so you feel like you are literally right there, taking in every sight, sound and smell. The film has an almost voyeurism feel to it, thanks to the expert work from Anderson here. Anderson also makes every inch of this movie, stunning to look at, almost like a painting. Once again doing the score for PTA is Johnny Greenwood, who as always provides a stunning piece of music perfection, to go with the movie. It showers over every scene of this movie and will be stuck in your head for days. I can’t forget about the actors. Leslie Manville is getting the least amount of chatter about her performance as Daniel Day Lewis’s characters sister, but she is a true wonder here, with her always stone-cold face and the way she tucks her hair in her ears before talking. Vicky Krieps playing the love interest does the almost impossible of going toe to toe with the all time great Day Lewis, not allowing him to take anything away from her. It is almost as if her beauty grows on you, the longer the film goes and the more she makes her man fall in love with her. Daniel Day Lewis is truly one of the greatest actors of all time. He doesn’t just play the roles, he becomes them, body and soul. He is literal perfection here, making sure that we understand every moment of this characters being, in a performance for the ages. The thing that makes watching a PTA film so exciting is the way he crafts every single frame of his work, nothing is ever not there without a purpose. Every shot is necessary to tell this tale, in the exact way he wants it to be told. It is like he sews a message into everyone of his works. He is our greatest living filmmaker and Phantom Thread is the best movie of 2017.