Top 10 Films of 2017

The first 2017 film I saw was “Resident Evil: Final Chapter” and it turned out to be the worst of the year, so it was all uphill from there. Looking back, it ended up being a solid year at the cinema and now that I’ve seen all the relevant movies, it’s time for my top 10 of 2017.

First up, though, are the movies that didn’t make the cut. Here are the ones that were good, but not in my top 10.

Honorable Mentions:

  • It
  • Mother!
  • Thor Ragnarok
  • Wonder Woman
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Logan
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Last Flag Flying
  • Baby Driver
  • Darkest Hour
  • Logan Lucky
  • I, Tonya
  • Phantom Thread

10. Wind River

“Wind River,” which earned an 87% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, has unfortunately gone largely overlooked in this award season. Well, I’m going to give it some justice. Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, “Wind River” is a phenomenal crime drama with very interesting, deep characters.

The movie looks great, with Sheridan and his crew capturing the open wilderness of Wyoming as well as the poverty stricken Native American reservation where the picture is set. The acting is also phenomenal, with great work from Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner and an underrated performance from Graham Greene. The film also deserves credit for shining a spotlight on some important social issues that exist in rural America.

9. The Big Sick

By far the most charming film of 2017, “The Big Sick” was a great look at romance and family relationships. The script is brilliantly written by Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, who tell the real life story of how they met each other and fell in love. The movie is extremely funny and the interactions between Kumail and Emily’s parents, as well as his own family, feel very natural, relatable and add layers to the experience.

The acting is also solid across the board, but Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who play Emily’s parents, steal the show. Both of them should get credit for delivering some of the best supporting performances of 2017.

8. War for the Planet of the Apes

Since its release over the summer, the response to the “Planet of the Apes” finale has been somewhat mixed. Well, that’s not the case with me. I loved this third entry and because of that, I hold this trilogy as one of the best put to cinema. Of course, one of the reasons it works so well is because of the motion capture technology performances, especially with Andy Serkis who plays the lead ape Caesar.

Along with his performance, and like the other “Apes” films that came before, credit also has to go to the screenplay and direction to make these mostly mute characters be very relatable and real, to the point where you deeply care for them. The movie also works thanks to a memorable performance from Woody Harrelson, wonderful special effects, some well-timed humor and sci-fi themes that fit nicely into the trilogy’s overarching story.

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

One of the best scripts of 2017 was put to screen in “Three Billboards.” The dialogue here is unbelievably good, as it’s able to make audiences either laugh or cry from start to finish.

Plus, “Billboards” also features some of 2017’s best performances with Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones and Sam Rockwell doing sensational work. Overlooked so far for award season, though, has been Woody Harrelson. Rockwell has so far gotten recognition with awards for best supporting actor, but Harrelson could easily get an award for that category, too.

6. Coco

Pixar is back at it, making easily the best animated feature of 2017. The animation in this film is incredible, especially when the lead character gets to the main setting and all kinds of colors are featured on screen. It’s an amazing visual experience.

The story is also very good, with some fun twists and turns along with some great characters which an audience will fall in love with.

5. Get Out

What a great directorial debut for Jordan Peele, who also wrote this fantastic piece of work. “Get Out” unravels in great fashion, with the mystery getting peeled back and the suspense building more and more. The film also features some funny moments and awkward comedy thanks to its moments of social satire.

The acting is also solid, especially from Daniel Kaluuya whose work is top notch here. This is a great thriller, reminiscent of “Twilight Zone” concepts and the execution is fantastic.

4. The Shape of Water

One of the more bizarre pictures of 2017, “The Shape of Water” is a phenomenal adult fairy tale. The concept is unique, the design work is 100 percent on point and the direction is award worthy.

The film also featured some very memorable performances from Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer. Bringing everything together, though, was Sally Hawkins, giving a perfect, heartfelt performance as the mute lead character.

3. Lady Bird

In terms of scripts from 2017, competing with “Three Billboards” for the best is “Lady Bird.” The writing in this movie was wonderful and very real. The film is both funny and emotional, with all of the interactions feeling very genuine. This can be attributed to Writer and Director Greta Gerwig.

The acting by both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, meanwhile, is Oscar worthy. The supporting cast members, including Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges and Beanie Feldstein, round out the picture very well, too.

2. Blade Runner 2049

The long awaited sequel to the 1980s sci-fi cult classic turned out to be one of the best things put in theaters for 2017. Denis Villeneuve, who has helmed pictures including “Arrival,” “Sicario” and “Prisoners,” knocks it out of the park again with this film. Audiences are brought back to the fantastical future setting from the original “Blade Runner” in very convincing fashion, and follow an unraveling mystery that kept me guessing and even threw me off.

The film is also visually marvelous thanks to the cinematography an lighting by Roger Deakins, he 100 percent deserves the Academy Award this year. The acting is also great , with a reserved performance from Ryan Gosling, which was similar to his work in “Drive.” Ana de Armas is also wonderful in the picture.

This is an immersive, engaging experience that sticks with you.

1. Call Me By Your Name

In my review I said “Call Me By Your Name” was the art of film at its highest level, and I stand by that. This movie is a masterpiece, capturing youth, life and love in authentic, meaningful ways. This is thanks to the filmmaking across the board. The cinematography, writing, music and direction are at such high levels here, that it’s difficult to find any flaw.

“Your Name” also boasts some of the year’s best performances, especially with the two leads, Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. Both of them will likely be in the running for Oscars come March and for good reason.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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