Top Ten Films of 2017
The List That Keeps on Giving
As my personality suits me, first off, I want to apologize. I have not seen every film this year. I don’t think anyone has, it’s a daunting task, but still, I have not seen every film this year. I can say I have seen a lot though and honestly I will see more. Sadly, this kind of post, blog or article is all about timing. I decided that it is indeed time for me to create my Top 10 List of 2017. My partner in podcasting, Kyle Bahl, will probably want to wait a little bit and I don’t blame him for that. So, we likely won’t discuss our top ten lists for a little, but I feel like it’s time in written form.
There are basically four core movies I have not seen this year. The main reason is that I don’t get to see movies early and a lot of them haven’t been playing around me. These core four are The Post, Call Me by Your Name, The Florida Project and Phantom Thread. I apologize to all these films. I’m sure your all wonderful in your ways, but a mortal man can only see so much; we are all busy beings. Also, I’m sure the core four are all quality films because 2017 was such a great year for film; I have seen so many wonderful movies from John Wick 2 to The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Neither one of these films show up on my list, but they are good flicks, and I highly recommend them. The best line in any movie this year is Keanu Reeves somberly saying, “Good Dog,” to his bulldog before he goes and murders a metric shit ton of people like only John Wick can. I’m rambling, and again I apologize. I’m trying not to say sorry as much as I do in the New Year, but it’s going to take some time. List ahead.
10. Wonder Woman
Is there a more badass scene than Wonder Woman a.k.a. Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) charging through “No Man’s Land?” The only other scene that gives it a run for its money is the chilling, bone-crushing stairwell fight scene between Charlize Theron (my performer of the year, by the way) and a bunch of bad guys in Atomic Blonde. What’s even more amazing about these scenes, is the fact that two badass characters are in them, and they happen to be women. Wonder Woman wasn’t the comic book movie of the year, but Gadot gave the comic book performance of the year. You feel the connection between her and Diana in every single second of this movie; in every glare, confused gaze, and determined look she gives. Director Patty Jenkins was the absolute best person to direct this film. Comic book movies need a woman’s perspective, and Jenkins delivers it plus a hundred times more, proving she is a way better auteur than Zack Snyder. Now, let’s get a woman director to direct a comic book film with a male lead. Please.
9. Wind River
In a year where there were so many involved films like Thor: Ragnarok, Mother! and even Lady Bird (the vignette thing still bothers me), Wind River is a breath of fresh air (even though the air in Wind River is so cold it can make your lungs bleed) with it’s simple story. Simple in a sense it’s not complex, but it is disturbing. A young Native American woman, after being raped, dies trying to run away from her attackers through the tundra of the Wind River reservation.
As I said, it’s a disturbing tale, but one that doesn’t tread far from what it is: a revenge story. Like most revenge tales, you have the under-qualified person, in this case it’s wildlife officer Cody Lambert (Jeremy Renner), helping FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) try and figure the case out. We learn that Lambert is probably the best person on earth to help solve this thing, and revenge indeed happens. Simple, yes but compelling and bone-chilling to say the least.
It took a long time, but after 17 years, we get the Wolverine we deserve. Hugh Jackman delivers as the older, not quite wiser but even more world-weary (if that’s even possible) Logan. The dude suffers from claw dysfunction (didn’t know it was a thing either) and has to deal with a senile Professor X or Charles (Patrick Stewart) on a daily basis. Oh, and he drinks all the time.
Partly, the reason we get the Wolverine we deserve is the fact that Wolverine is finally in an R rated film. This revelation should have happened earlier, but film studios need to make money and kept Wolverine at PG:13, so you know for 17 years, Wolverine’s claws (are they bone or adamantium in Logan?) slashed and gashed poor souls, but no blood poured out. In Logan, we finally get to see the actual horror the claws create, and director James Mangold doesn’t hold back.
The other reason we deserve this Wolverine is that it’s the first comic book film that falls in to a different genre. It’s a Western with comic book characters in it. It’s Shane with a little girl (best newcomer of the year, Dafne Keen) that can destroy everyone in her path with her genetically mutated claws. And everyone thought the Western was dead.
7. Good Time
Look up Good Time on Google. Wait, don’t. Let me do it for you. Here’s what comes up: “After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the city’s underworld in an increasingly desperate — and dangerous — attempt to get his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) out of jail.”
Most of this is accurate. The thing that bothers me the most is the part that says Connie goes on a “twisted odyssey through the city’s underworld.” The statement made me think this film was going to try and go John Wick on us, and create the darkest and seediest places for our young hero to roam through, with horrible human beings around every turn. But the more I think about it; this description might be accurate in another way.
Yeah, Connie finds himself in a strip club at a certain point; but at the most part, he’s at a 16-year-old girl’s (Taliah Webster) house, an abandoned amusement park and an apartment with a vicious pit bull. The seedy characters he hangs out with are an alcoholic, freshly out of jail frat boy and an on and off girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) trying to use her wealthy mother’s credit card to get Nick out of jail. He’s not hanging out with hitmen, con artists, and pimps.
There’s a saying I’ve heard a couple of people say in my life. The saying is, “Family will be the first ones to screw you over.” In Good Time, the sentiment rings true. The underworld is wherever Connie goes, and the seedy character is himself. That’s what makes this movie so great.
6. Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game asks the question, is Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) a bad person for running lavish million dollar poker games for entrepreneurs, moguls and Hollywood heavyweights? Before she starts raking the pot, everything Bloom was doing was moderately legal, but as greed sucks her in, she starts doing the illegal deed. Thus, she becomes a criminal. A very wealthy one, but a criminal none the less.
This is Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, and he couldn’t have done any better. Sorkin’s script (I know this sounds cheesy) is very Sorkian, creating a voice-over for Bloom that everyone wish they had in their own head, and making every character sound like a Harvard grad. Though, to be honest everyone in this movie should sound super educated. Idris Elba plays Charlie Jaffey, a lawyer that charges a $250,000 retainer fee. Kevin Costner plays Larry Bloom (Bloom’s father), a psychologist who charges $250 bucks an hour; we aren’t dealing with dummies here. Bloom is a character you feel for; she is someone that was born successful. What do I mean by that? I mean, you knew no matter what Bloom put her mind to, she was going to be good at it and Sorkin harps on this. Thankfully, but maybe sadly for her, she decided to use her talented brain to create high stake poker games. I say thankfully because we got a great movie out of it.
5. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand is one of those actresses that is so electrifying you can’t look away from her. She’s right up there with the GOAT Meryl Streep, and McDormand delivers yet again in director Martin McDonagh’s stunning, absorbing and sickly Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is a woman that wants answers. She wants to know why there are no leads in her daughter’s rape and murder case that happened six months earlier. So, the confident, daring trailblazer Mildred decides to take action into her own hands. Thus, she creates the title of the film challenging Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrellson) to find the perpetrator. Willoughby and his pathetic, unsettled, hard-drinking, yet oddly warm sidekick (played to perfection by Sam Rockwell) Dixon don’t like this one bit. There just isn’t any evidence on the case.
McDonagh provides us with his typical dark sense of humor like we’ve seen in In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, but this time he makes sure it doesn’t overlap how serious an issue we are dealing with: a world where something devastating happened and everyone feels somewhat guilty.
I haven’t seen Coco on enough critics Top 10 lists. It’s a shame because there is nothing wrong with this movie. Coco delivers us a taste of Mexican culture that I’m not sure I have seen in a long time, or if ever in an American made film. It has the same effect on the viewer as My Big Fat Greek Wedding did. I appreciate the effort by Pixar and Disney and directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. I am not Mexican, but Coco made me feel like I was at home in Mexico and the Land of the Dead, that I have been part of their ideas for years, and that I was part of their customs and culture. It’s a movie every person should see.
The film is vibrant and breathtaking. Colors pop off the screen so well that seeing it in 3D was probably pointless. Oh, and the music is so good that it will make you want to sing along while dreaming about what your alebrijes should be.
Oh, Mother!, how much hate has been bestowed on you! When Googling this movie, some bloggers argue that it could have ruined Jennifer Lawrence’s career. Jesus Christ, your talking about probably the best actress under 30, who by the way, still kills it in this movie. I’m pretty sure nothing could stop Lawrence right now; she carries this film with her constant anxiety and overwhelming presence.
Director Darren Aronofsky is one of those directors that no matter what they create, you have to see it. He belongs to the Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro category; that no matter what, you must witness an Aronofsky film. Yes, Mother! has been universally trashed and it didn’t last long in theaters, but it’s a heart-pounding suffocating tale of a relationship between an artist (Javier Bardem) and his housewife. Yes, you can make the God and Bible references if you want and that’s justified, but I believe it’s a horror tale told of a one-sided relationship that mother (J-Law) tries to keep together, and it’s beautiful when it unfolds.
2. The Fate of the Furious
I know what you are thinking. This guy doesn’t know shit; he has the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise as his second best film of the year. God damn right, I do, and to be honest after I saw it, I didn’t think another movie would surpass it.
Fast 8 brings the question to boil, why are movies created? The fall and early winter are when all the heavy hitter films come out. We get heart felled dramas, prickly crime thrillers, and overt award schmoozers. But to be honest, that’s not what the movies are all about. Movies are escapism, and sometimes I don’t want to escape into a world where every character is depressed and overwhelmed with emotion. I get enough of that shit in real life. Sometimes I just want to be the public in Gladiator and be entertained.
What was more entertaining this year than Fast 8? Please, tell me. From the beautiful opening sequence that made me want to move to Cuba, to Jason Statham carrying a baby on an airplane in a gunfight, to the utter ridiculousness that Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is the most unstoppable force on planet earth. When he goes rogue, their seems to be no hope for anyone, anywhere. My colleague, Kyle, likes to say that the Fast franchise is now a superhero franchise, and he is correct. The fast crew went from stealing electronics in the first installment of the franchise to now blowing up nuclear submarines in an icy Russia in this year’s rendition. It’s quite the trajectory. The Fate of the Furious is so over the top that it’s scintillating. The film knows what it is. In a year that a lot of people want to forget, Fast 8 was the escape we deserved.
1. Thor: Ragnarok
Under the same umbrella as Fast 8, is Thor: Ragnarok. Escapism is pungent here, but different than Fast 8, Ragnarok is a bonafide superhero film. It just has a sharper script, better film structure and superior acting performances (sorry Theron). When Marvel/Disney started the universe that enveloped film, we knew as a viewing public we were going to learn of new superheroes and villains that we never knew before, outside of comic book nerdom. Everyone knew of Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman before any film came out about comic book’s titular characters. If you didn’t live under a rock; before Thor came out in 2011, you knew about the Norse demi-god. After 2011, everyone now knew Marvel’s take on the mythical being, but honestly, I wasn’t sold; I’m not sure I even liked Thor (Christ Hemsworth).
Thor: Ragnarok, like many other viewers, changed my mind. It was the film Thor needed to now be a beloved Marvel superhero. Director Taika Waititi is my director of the year. He took a tolerable Marvel sub-superhero and turned him into a bonafide rock star, and this all without Thor’s golden locks. The film is the best comedy of the year. The script is similar to that of a Modern Family episode, where the jokes keep coming, and you don’t have a chance to catch up, but you’re laughing all the way. I’ve never said this about a Marvel film. The closest example would be another favorite of mine, Guardians of the Galaxy, which profoundly influenced Ragnarok with epic late 70s, early 80s music, and punchlines galore. Just replace Groot with Hulk and you have a very similar film, and this isn’t a negative at all.
The only difference, I would say is Guardians 1 tried to play with your heartstrings a little bit more than Ragnarok, which made sense. In Guardians we’re dealing with a ragtag group of misfits forming the family they never had. In Ragnarok, we are dealing with an almost indestructible Norse demi-god, but what Ragnarok succeeds in is letting us see the human side of Thor. The funny, goofy and flawed side of the character, the side we have all been waiting to see.