There were a lot of really great films in 2017. It was a banner year for cinema – one of the best in recent memory. Below is my list of Top 10 best films of 2017. I’ve also included two honorable mentions, which serve as my biggest guilty pleasures of the year.
Honorable Mention: Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry
My biggest guilty pleasure in 2017 was FAIRY TAIL: DRAGON CRY. Fairy Tail is an anime series that I discovered a few years ago, and it took quite some time to watch all 277 episodes. The show went into hiatus in early 2016, and although it is rumored to return in 2018, DRAGON CRY was a lifeline for fans that have been hungering for more Fairy Tail. The film served its purpose, delivering a great story for fans with lots of action, trademark zany humor, and plenty of fan service. Plus, it was a real treat to see Fairy Tail in theaters.
Honorable Mention: IT
Another big guilty pleasure for me this year was IT. I’m a huge Stephen King fan, and IT really did justice to the source material. The film was delightfully creepy, yet it didn’t veer completely into horror. It had an element of STAND BY ME to it, with a large focus of the film being the bond that the children shared. The acting was all top-notch, and the deeply unsettling film provided plenty of scares and laughs. It will long be remembered as one of the best Stephen King adaptations.
10. John Wick: Chapter 2
Action movie sequels are usually never as good as the original, but JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 proves the exception to the rule. Every bit as blistering as the first film, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 does an incredible job building up the world of John Wick. The film is funny, zany, non-stop, and the action scenes are beautifully choreographed. Definitely one of the finest action films in quite some time.
9. The Post
What makes THE POST so impressive is how prescient it is. We live in a time when journalism and the First Amendment are under attack by the Trump administration, and THE POST shows viewers that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. It’s a historical look at how the Washington Post became a national newspaper and stood up to the might of a U.S. president. It’s also a cautionary tale into what ultimately can happen when the freedom of the press is threatened. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks deliver some of their finest performances, and director Stephen Spielberg uses them to weave a patriotic tale that advocates for the preservation of journalistic integrity.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
THOR: RAGNAROK was practically a reinvention of Thor. Tossing aside the heavy-handed mythos for comedy, this film was wonderfully irreverent. It majorly shakes up the status quo, and is inhabited by a colorful cast of characters. The film also gives great moments to the Hulk, Loki, and Cate Blanchett’s deliciously evil Hela. It may be a little too funny, given the subject matter, but THOR: RAGNAROK is a bonafide hit that superhero films will attempt to emulate for years to come.
LOGAN is the Wolverine film that fans have waited almost two decades for. Hugh Jackman’s swan song is also his best outing, and he sure leaves the role on the highest of notes. The film is brutal, depressing, and a wonderful character study. Patrick Stewart plays a dementia-riddled Professor Xavier with incredible poise, and Dafne Keen plays X-23 with a haunting clarity. LOGAN is surely one of the finest comic book films in existence, and it upends the traditional comic book film with tremendous success.
6. Baby Driver
BABY DRIVER is one of the most fun experiences I had at the movies all year. It’s a toe-tapping film about a gangster that is trying desperately to escape from his life of crime. It’s very heartfelt, and Ansel Elgort plays Baby with both a childlike wonder and also an underlying menace. The film moves at a fast pace, punctuating its action scenes with a perfect soundtrack to accompany the bullets as they zip through the air. It’s the kind of movie you can watch over and over again, catching something new with each visit.
I expected COCO to be great, but I never expected the gut punch of emotions it gave me. COCO is such a profoundly important film – a celebration of diversity and representation as it focuses on the beauty of Mexican culture. The film is vividly colorful, with a heartfelt story that really sticks with you. Leave it to Pixar to create a real, lived in world and tackle heavy issues like death, dementia, and legacy in a way that speaks to children and adults alike.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
As a diehard Spider-Man fan, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING delivered. Although this is the second reboot attempt of Spider-Man, Marvel proved that it knows its heroes best. HOMECOMING is definitely the best Spider-Man film yet. The film feels deeply personal, focusing on Peter Parker’s juggling of high school and crimefighting. It’s a film with an irreverent sense of humor, and a topnotch cast – seriously, the Vulture is one of the most personal and intimidating superhero villains committed to screen.
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As divisive as THE LAST JEDI has been among viewers, I was beyond satisfied with it. For the first time in quite some time, a STAR WARS film shocked me. It left me gasping, teary-eyed, howling with laughter, and completely transfixed. THE LAST JEDI completely upended expectations and the film is all the better for it. Plus, it was a special treat to finally see the return of Luke Skywalker.
2. Blade Runner 2049
I didn’t expect to care for BLADE RUNNER 2049. Sure, I expected it to be a visual masterpiece, but I was completely unprepared to be enthralled for almost three hours. The film unravels slowly, but with care. Every scene feels important, and the characters are incredibly realistic. At its core, BLADE RUNNER 2049 is all about hope – it’s a hopeful film that transcends sci-fi conventions and offers viewers a glimpse into the beauty that films can offer.
1. Your Name
YOUR NAME shocked me to my core. By the time I saw it in theaters, it had already taken Japan by storm. I learned about it when it out-grossed SPIRITED AWAY to become the highest grossing animated movie in Japan’s history. If it had done that well, I figured it must have been really great. Even with heightened expectations, YOUR NAME blew me away. It is a perfect film. At its core, it is a story of love and loss. It is poignant, deeply funny, and so moving that I walked out of the film with tears filling my eyes. YOUR NAME is a revelation – the kind of film that burrows into your soul and lives with you long after the credits end.
Of course, 2017 also had some real disappointments. Below is my list of Top 5 worst films of 2017. I’ve also included two honorable mentions, which serve as my biggest disappointments of the year.
Honorable Mention: Atomic Blonde
Despite being billed as a female James Bond and a kickass spy film, ATOMIC BLONDE wasn’t very thrilling. Charlize Theron’s spy pouts through the film with a serious bad attitude, but she isn’t a fun character to watch. The film is riddled with bad musical choices, and none of the acting is particularly memorable. However, there is a fight scene near the end of the film that is one of the best action scenes of 2017. It’s a stairwell fight that takes place over several minutes, and the scene is shot to look like it is done in one long take. Tonally, it’s completely at odds with the rest of the film – the music drops away entirely, leaving the two fighters to beat the hell out of each other in silence broken only by their grunts and cries. It’s such an invigorating scene that it’s maddening that the rest of the film couldn’t have packed that kind of punch.
Honorable Mention: Alien: Covenant
I’m a huge ALIEN fan, and I also quite enjoyed PROMETHEUS. I was very excited to see Ridley Scott revisit this franchise and start to merge the two storylines of these films. The film, though, is a little dull. It has too much setup, which is maddening when the audience knows exactly what to expect. The aliens do eventually arrive, and while some of the design work is stunning, it also doesn’t do anything different. The film wants to explore the machinations of the android David, but feels saddled against its will with aliens shoehorned in. It’s a very bipolar film, unable to balance the continued storyline from PROMETHEUS with the imagery and horror from the ALIEN franchise.
5. The Shape of Water
I really wanted to enjoy THE SHAPE OF WATER. It has all the right ingredients of a great film: an all-star cast, beautiful cinematography, and one of my favorite directors. But I just could not connect with this film. I felt that there were too many subplots that ultimately went nowhere, I found the love story unconvincing, and the world building fell flat.
Despite an impressive cast, LIFE was frustrating at every turn. It’s a film about a group of astronauts that discover an alien, which then proceeds to terrorize the crew as it hunts them down. Poor marketing unfortunately gave away some of the bigger reveals in the film. The killer alien had an unmemorable design, and was so indestructible that the film felt less compelling. It does contain a wicked ending, but it fell flat because the entire film just felt oddly mean-spirited.
3. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
As much as I wanted to love VALERIAN, I was deeply disappointed in this film. I am so tired of Dane DeHaan phoning in his performances. He is deeply unlikeable in this film. His costar, Cara Delevingne, is wonderful but woefully underutilized. The plot is nonsensical, the supporting cast is completely forgettable, and the film is just boring.
2. Death Note
I figured that DEATH NOTE wouldn’t hold a candle to the anime series. But it was so much worse than I could have imagined. The film whitewashes the beloved Japanese story, setting it in America and featuring Nat Wolff as the main character. Wolff is unbelievably awful in his overacting. It doesn’t help that the film’s pacing is dreadful and it deviates from the source material for seemingly no reason. The lone bright spot in this film is Willen Dafoe’s portrayal of Ryuk, but that isn’t nearly enough to salvage this film.
1. A Cure for Wellness
I was incredibly hyped for A CURE FOR WELLNESS, which had all the makings of a Gore Verbinski classic. What could have been a cerebral, gothic horror film instead turned out to be a painfully dull and dreary film that follows the charisma-less Dane DeHaan as he attempts to escape from a rehabilitation center. The film lacks emotion, heart, and anything resembling enjoyment. The film’s twist ending is goofy and very uncomfortable, leaning heavily on an incest subplot for cheap shock value. I couldn’t wait for the film to end. It was the worst film of 2017.
So there you have it! This is my list of the best and worst that 2017 had to offer. It was really tough to cap the “best of” list at 10 films. In fact, I initially had over 20 films on my first list. There was a lot to love in 2017, and even if you don’t see your favorites here, rest assured that I enjoyed them and agonized over which ones made the final list.