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What were the best movies of 2017? Why?

Just like every year, I’m aggregating this year’s best films based upon critics lists. You can see 2016’s list at Jay Wacker’s answer to What were the best movies of 2016? Why? Since it is impossible for someone outside the movie industry to see all the best movies by the end of the year, so I take their lists and use them to make sure I watch all these movies over the next year to make a consolidated list.

The look of the lists makes this year seem a lot more audience friendly than most years. I’d seen 5 by early December and by February I was up to 17. Popular movies include: Get Out, Dunkirk, Blade Runner, The Big Sick, Baby Driver, The Lost City of Z, Wonder Woman, I, Tonya. That’s a lot different than previous years and emphasizes that this year was a fairly strong year for films.

Here is the full list. I’ll clean this up now that the list is stabilized.

1. Get Out (IMDB)

It’s time for a young African American to meet with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience will give way to a nightmare.

My Opinion: This is an excellent genre bending film between comedy and horror. It has an amazing ability to show white people what it feels like to be a black person in their company. It’s really an important movie. It’s humorous at parts and has great horror elements to it. 9/10

2. Call Me by Your Name (IMDB)

In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.

My Opinion: This is is a beautiful movie. It captures the experience of love in youth. It gives a visceral feeling of it during those amazing summer months in your late teens when you’re experiencing so many things for the first time. In addition to gorgeous performances by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in the leads, it has a beautiful supporting performance by Michael Stuhlbarg as the father and a mesmerizing performance by Esther Garrel as the girlfriend. 9/10

3. Lady Bird (IMDB)

In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.

My Opinion: This is a Greta Gerwig movie. It has a lot of the same elements of Frances Ha; however, it demonstrates real growth as a writer (and now director). The primary way that it shows growth is through outgrowing the navel gazing of the starring role (which is almost always autobiographical). Laurie Metcalf playing Lady Bird’s mother is the real stand-out role in the film. But all of the supporting characters are strong. As a father of a daughter, some of the elements really hit home. 8/10.

4. The Florida Project (IMDB)

Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.

My Opinion: This movie has amazing performances. While I didn’t like Sean Baker’s last outing with Tangerine (the cinematography was so bad), this film makes up for a lot of those flaws. The performances of the children are amazing — Brooklynn Prince as Moonee is spell binding. Bria Vinaite as Halley is really believable. Finally Willem Dafoe as Bobby is really a complex and subtle character. It’s a tough movie to watch at times and the character arcs don’t take us very far, but still it’s a must watch this year. 8/10.

5. Dunkirk (IMDB)

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

My Opinion: This Christopher Nolan returning to his roots. It’s an amazing film where the starring character is time (as it is with all of his great films). It is tense and gut wrenching. The multiple timelines that all converge is masterful filmmaking. 8/10

6. The Shape of Water (IMDB)

At a top secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

My Opinion: I’m generally a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro and was really excited going into this. The movie is beautifully shot and has great performances by Sally Hawkins in the lead as Elisa, a mute laboratory cleaner, and Richard Jenkins as Giles, her neighbor and friend. Octavia Spencer’s role as Zelder, Elisa’s co-worker and friend, didn’t quite come out right. Ultimately, the movie just doesn’t have many ideas and leaves me feeling a bit empty. 6/10.

7. Phantom Thread (IMDB)

Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (IMDB)

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

My Opinion: I was not a huge fan of this film. The film starts off strong but loses its mooring about halfway through. Frances McDormand gives a very strong performance, but her character isn’t ultimately believable because it goes too far into fantasy. The question is whose fantasy is it? It seems to be a foreign fantasy about the rural US where the cliches of the Wild West still play out on a regular basis. I honestly felt pretty offended by the end of the film. The British director, Martin McDonagh, doesn’t bring a realistic take on these characters, taking them too far and giving a characacture of American life. 3/10

9. Blade Runner 2049 (IMDB)

A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

My Opinion: Yup, too long. But it was still a good movie with Ryan Gosling owning the role. I never really saw the infatuation with the original Blade Runner. It is a science-fiction classic because it touched on important tropes, but I didn’t think it was that great of a movie. I liked the arc of this one better. 7/10

10. A Ghost Story (IMDB)

In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.

My Opinion: Wow, a shockingly ambitious movie. Have Casey Affleck walk around for an 75 minutes under a sheet. I don’t think it actually delivers. It has definitely points where it was emotional, but it was a bit too far. Glad I saw it though. 6/10

11. The Post (IMDB)

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.

12. Good Time (IMDB)

After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally handicapped brother from being sent to Riker’s Island prison.

My opinion: Boy, gritty movie. It’s really tough at points. Robert Pattinson has really shown he’s an awesome actor, willing to take big risks. I’m glad I watched this film. 6/10

13. The Big Sick (IMDB)

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.

My opinion: Great movie. Really touching. Kumail Nanjiani from Silicon Valley fame really does well acting in his own story. I really enjoyed. 7/10

14. Mudbound (IMDB)

Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

My opinion: This is a moving work of life in the rural South. The acting and writing are spectacular. It’s a must-watch — particularly since it is a Netflix movie that is available for any subscriber. 8/10

15. Baby Driver (IMDB)

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My opinion: Wow! A fast paced car driving movie. It’s carefully crafted and great fun. Awesome sound track. Such a stylish movie. 8/10

16. Personal Shopper (IMDB)

A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.

My opinion: This is really similar in style to Clouds of Sils Maria. It’s so similar that it’s difficult to separate the two. The supernatural aspect to the film is played to pretty great effect and leaves you guessing. 7/10

17. A Quiet Passion (IMDB)

The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.

18. Faces Places (IMDB)

Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

19. I, Tonya (IMDB)

Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

My Opinion: Uggh. I remember the whole Tonya Harding affair. I watched a lot of the signature performances live in the early 1990s. From TV I was actually a big fan of her. But that all changed after the attack. It became clear what a low life she was. This movie suffers from having a really unsympathetic lead character. The movie shows the good and the bad with the snarky performance by Margot Robbie, but it only goes so far. Additionally, the movie was really long and very negative. 4/10.

20. mother! (IMDB)

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

21. Logan (IMDB)

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X, somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world, and his legacy, are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.

My opinion: I didn’t totally love this film. I felt it was dour and gloomy. It was also a bit slow. It was a send off to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and that was fine, but it didn’t make we want to see it again. 6/10

22. Wonder Woman (IMDB)

When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

My opinion: This was huge, a great superhero movie. The original story is a bit lame, but some of those shots are just amazing. I love it. 8/10

23. The Lost City of Z (IMDB)

A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

My opinion: A solid film based on the book. I read the book and liked it. I felt the time back in England dragged and the all the intra-society fighting didn’t really interest me. The time in the jungle was great. Robert Pattinson also does a great job in a supporting role. 6/10

24. BPM (Beats Per Minute) (IMDB)

Members of the advocacy group ACT UP Paris demand action by the government and pharmaceutical companies to combat the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s.

25. Nocturama (IMDB)

Some young folks, tired of the society they’re living in, plan a bomb attack over Paris before to take shelter for a night in a shopping center.

Change Log

  • [8 Dec 2017] I’m starting to look at this year’s critics lists. So far there 30 critics lists available. Last year we had 235 critics lists, so this is very preliminary.
  • [11 Dec 2017] Up to 34 critics, some motion in the ranking as we get a few more mainstream critics in the game.
  • [19 Dec 2017] Up to 106 critics! There have been some big motions in the rankings. Notably, Get Out fell out of the top spot down to third. Mother! and I, Tonya came on the list along with Disaster Artist.
  • [20 Dec 2017] Up to 114 critics! There have been some small motions in the rankings with 8 more critics. Get Out popped back up to second and Wonder Woman reemerged on the list at 24.
  • [21 Dec 2017] Up to 131 critics. Call Me By Your Name is settling into the top spot with the battle between Lady Bird and Get Out for number two versus number three being the battle. The second half of the lift is still moving around quite a bit. The Lost City of Z appeared — another popular film.
  • [22 Dec 2017] 141 critics now weighing in. The top 10 are stable. The biggest difference was The Post rocketing up from 16 to 11 and threatening to break into the top 10.
  • [8 Jan 2018] I’ve been out of the country for two weeks and the majority of the remaining critics lists have come in. We now have 315 critics up from 215 last year. There have been some movements since then, notably with Get Out reclaiming its number 1 spot that it had at the beginning of season.
  • [10 Jan 2018] I think we’re tapping out of reviewers — 326, up from 235 last year. I’m going to start to clean this up.