Sunday, January 14, 2018

My Top Twenty Movies of 2017

They say that every seven years is a great all around year in movies, and as I recall just as it was said in 2010 so also it could be said for 2017. If you didn't watch a lot of movies this year, then you have a lot to catch up with, because just about every weekend at least one film was released that was at least very good or excellent. This raises the bar in being critical, so my top twenty list this year reflects both what I consider to be the twenty all around best and the twenty I most wanted to see a second time, most of which I already have, and look forward to a third watch. Here's my list with a blurb of what was generally thought about this film that I agree with:

20. Thor: Ragnarok

It has confidence in its characters and in its own invention, and so it avoids repetition and stays fresh. The film is fun and sustains its energy, keeps its sense of humor and succeeds in coming up with yet another variation on the old evil-about-to-destroy-the-entire-universe plot.

19. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A worthy chapter in the Star Wars franchise, popping with exciting action sequences, sprinkled with good humor and containing more than a few nifty 'callbacks' to previous characters and iconic moments.

18. A Quiet Passion

This moody Emily Dickinson biopic possesses a poetic sensibility perfectly suited to its subject and a deep, idiosyncratic intuition about what might have made her tick. If released in 2016, this film may have made the Top Ten, but in a year of great movies it was overlooked by critics by the end of the year.

17. Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread's finely woven narrative is filled out nicely by humor, intoxicating romantic tension, and yet another impressively committed performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. This with the other 2017 release The Beguiled could have both been placed here, as they both bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, but Phantom Thread is slightly superior.

16. Molly's Game

Powered by an intriguing story and a pair of outstanding performances from Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba. A tight and fascinating true story of the tribulations of being a woman in a man's world that never fails to entertain.

15. Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper is a strange and beautifully made film, sleek and spooky, seductive and suspenseful. It flirts with silliness, as ghost stories do. And also with heartbreak.

14. Darkest Hour

A lively, provocative historical drama with an excellent portrayal of Churchill. An unsubtle testament to the power of words and their infinite capacity to inspire.

13. I, Tonya

Led by strong work from Margot Robbie and Alison Janney, I, Tonya finds the humor in its real-life story without losing sight of its more tragic — and emotionally resonant — elements.

12. Wonder Woman

Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman provides a welcome respite from DC's house style of grim darkness — boisterous, earnest, sometimes sloppy, yet consistently entertaining — with star Gal Gadot proving an inspired choice for this avatar of truth, justice, and the Amazonian way.

11. Lady Bird

Lady Bird has found universal acclaim from critics and delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence, balancing hilarity and heartbreak.

10. Wonder

More popular with audiences than with critics, this well-acted and overall winsome drama earns its tugs at the heartstrings. A great over-all story that is family-friendly and highly recommended for all audiences, especially children, teaching the basic virtue of kindness.

9. Baby Driver

Stylish, exciting, and fueled by a killer soundtrack, Baby Driver hits the road and it's gone—proving fast-paced action movies can be smartly written without sacrificing thrills.

8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama – and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.

7. Logan

Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions. One of the greatest superhero films of all-time.

6. The Big Sick

Funny, heartfelt, and intelligent, The Big Sick uses its appealing leads and cross-cultural themes to prove the standard romcom formula still has some fresh angles left to explore. Without a doubt one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time.

5. The Disaster Artist

As a director, James Franco succeeds beautifully at bringing coherence to chaos, as an actor, it is perhaps his greatest and funniest role. A wonderful tribute to the worst movie ever made. It is best viewed after seeing The Room at a midnight screening at your local theater, and will make you want to see it again after, though it can be very much enjoyed without having seen it as well.

4. The Florida Project

The Florida Project offers a colorfully empathetic look at an underrepresented part of the population that proves absorbing even as it raises sobering questions about modern America. Amazing in its realism and performances.

3. Blade Runner 2049

Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right. Every minute of this mesmerizing mindbender is a visual feast to gorge on.

2. Dunkirk

Perhaps Nolan's best film to date and one of the greatest war films ever made. Dunkirk serves up emotionally satisfying spectacle, delivered by a writer-director in full command of his craft and brought to life by a gifted ensemble cast that honors the fact-based story. Nolan surrounds his audience with chaos and horror from the outset, and amazing images, sound and dazzlingly accomplished set pieces on a huge 70mm screen, particularly the pontoon crammed with soldiers extending into the churning sea, exposed to enemy aircraft.

1. Get Out

Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride. Writer-director Jordan Peele brings the technical skill of a practiced horror master, while carving out its own creative path. The final thrill of Get Out — beyond the slow-building sense of danger, the unsettling atmosphere, and the twisty revelation of what's really going on — is that Peele's just getting started. And the conclusion is worth each uncomfortable chuckle and moment of doubt.