I know that my Best Films of 2017 list is very late. Despite my intention to wait for the some of the later 2017 movies, I didn’t intend to be this late. Nevertheless I finally managed to get my list together. I have to say, despite some disappointments, 2017 was a really great year for film, I found myself giving more 10/10s than I usually do and I had to bump this list from a top 15 to a top 20 because I wanted to include so many more films.
Keep in mind that I haven’t seen every 2017 movie but I saw most of the 2017 movies that I was interested in seeing, including most of the big awards movies (I tried to avoid the situation last year where I missed out some of the best films of 2016 including Silence and never including them in a future best of 2016 list). So if a certain movie isn’t on the list, it’s because I haven’t seen it or hadn’t liked it enough for it to be on this list.
Alien Covenant was definitely one of the most divisive movies of the year. Some people loved it, other people hated it. Fortunately I was in the former group, I loved it for what it was and it was so different from what I expected. While I can understand why a lot of people had issues with Covenant, I can’t help but be impressed by it.
No one does sci-fi like Ridley Scott and he really impressed me here. Alien Covenant is both a Prometheus and an Alien movie. Ridley Scott returns to horror with direction, excellent cinematography, and very, very horrific and bloody moments. However it is David, fantastically played by Michael Fassbender (who also plays dual roles here), who was the most fascinating element, one of the best characters in the Alien universe so far. Much of the film’s success goes to him as he’s a big screen presence. On top of that, this movie was a lot deeper and different than I thought it would be. All the themes it focussed on surrounded David and without going into too much depth it was really compelling. Covenant is a great mix of slasher, sci-fi, horror, religious parallels and much more that somehow actually works. It’s a bit of a bizarre movie, not what anyone was expecting and I’m glad that Scott went all out in going in this direction. It also has one of the best endings of 2017. Even though I really like Covenant, I can understand why a lot of people have issues with it. I do get that a lot of the questions that aren’t answered in Prometheus aren’t answered here either. It also does have some not so great elements with most of the other characters not being that developed and falling into some cliched moments, and on the whole it’s still a sci-fi horror flick, just with some unexpected parts to it. I’m just fascinated to see what direction Ridley Scott is taking this prequel series in (if a sequel does end up happening). I hope it happens, I want to see what Scott intended to take this story in.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit unfortunately really didn’t get the attention it deserved. The dramatization of the Algiers Motel Incident which took place during the Detroit Riots of the 60s was one of the surprise best films of the year that not enough people saw. It’s a real shame because a lot of audiences really missed out on a great and very impactful film.
Just about everything about Detroit was great. The performances were absolutely fantastic, with Will Poulter being a standout, how his excellent performance hasn’t been receiving awards attention is beyond me. But it’s the direction from Kathryn Bigelow that made the film so effective. The second act was riveting and harrowing, and Bigelow played a big part in it being very effective. Maybe it’s a little overlong in the first and third acts and its not exactly a movie that you would rewatch, but for what it is, it’s truly great.
19. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer was absolutely mesmerising and I didn’t expect myself to like it as much as I did. With the unconventional and metaphorical story, the fantastic acting but most of all the stunning direction by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an admirable film which I can only see being better upon more rewatches and further thought.
Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest film was so bizarre but the way he told the story actually worked. The story itself was really something unique and compelling, truly remarkable. Lanthimos’s direction was excellent, and felt haunting and unsettling from beginning to end. The acting was also top notch, with Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman giving typically great performances but Barry Keoghan also should also receive a lot of praise for his excellent performance here. Killing of a Sacred Deer really isn’t for everyone and I can understand why a lot of people don’t like it but I’m glad I sort of love it, it really does get better the more you think about it.
18. Good Time
Good Time was one of the most unexpected movies of 2017, it had slowly been gaining some praise and it actually lived up to all the acclaim. The direction, writing and acting (particularly from Robert Pattinson) was so top notch, it truly deserves more attention and praise than its been getting.
The Safdie Brothers created a straightforward yet effective thriller that grips you from start to finish within its 100 minute runtime. The film is so visually stunning, especially with the lighting at the night-time, the entire film also does such a great job at exerting stress and tension. Along with the direction being truly excellent, it felt very gritty, the story and characters felt real, it doesn’t hold back in the dark things that happen, it doesn’t even try to get you to like the protagonist. Although all the cast was good, its Robert Pattinson who shines in a transformative lead role. He proved himself to be a tremendous talent here and deserves a lot more love for his performance. It’s gritty, fantastic, thrilling, there’s nothing else to say except that Good Time was a… good time.
17. Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game turned out incredibly well for a directorial debut and ended up being one of the best films of 2017. It is a stylistic and interesting true story which made for a great movie, with the highlights being Aaron Sorkin’s writing, Jessica Chastain and the supporting performances.
Aaron Sorkin not only proved himself as a fantastic writer (which he has already done many times over) but also as a very good director. He really brought the unbelievable true life story of Molly Bloom to the big screen. It’s an interesting story that’s both riveting and entertaining and as complicated as the film and certain details can get, Sorkin makes it work so everyone can have a degree of understanding about what is going on. Jessica Chastain gave a typically fantastic performance (one of the best lead actress performances of the year honestly), while supporting actors like Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner all played their parts very well and added a lot to the movie. Although a little overlong, Molly’s Game was great and really deserved a lot more praise than it has been receiving.
16. Wind River
Wind River was one real surprise of a movie that slowly crept up upon us. It was just a really great murder mystery and it really did live up to the hype, with it being a very riveting story and having great performances.
Taylor Sheridan showed himself to be a great director as well as a great writer with Wind River. He already proved with Sicario and Hell or High Water that he was a talented writer and Wind River was yet another great story from him. The story was bleak and so well put together, a great mystery thriller overall. Performances from everyone were great, Jeremy Renner gave his best performance since The Hurt Locker, Elizabeth Olsen was great, really everyone contributed to the movie. If you haven’t watched Wind River, I highly recommend checking it out because it is really something great.
15. I, Tonya
I, Tonya was a real surprise. I went in knowing that we’d be getting excellent performances and wasn’t expecting much more than that. However, it ended up being much more than anything I expected. It was a truly great movie which really benefited from the way it presented the events, and which of course is made even better by the incredible performances from its very talented cast.
Making I, Tonya a dark comedy benefited the film immensely, it made the film entertaining and fast paced, while also not shying away from some of the more darker things that happened. It also maintained a level of emotional depth, so it wasn’t just entertaining, you were invested in what was happening. And of course, the performances from actors like Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney were really great. However, it is Margot Robbie who really shines, she is absolutely transformative and phenomenal as Tonya Harding. It’s her best performance to date and by far one of the best performances of the year. I, Tonya really surprised me and I got a lot more than I thought I would. Definitely one to not miss.
14. T2: Trainspotting
I’m surprised by how much I loved Trainspotting 2. I really liked the original Trainspotting but it wasn’t like one of my all time favourite movies or anything at that level to me. It’s also not common for sequels to films made decades ago to be any great, it’s even less common for those said sequels to be better than the original film (and it’s not the only one on this list), yet T2: Trainspotting managed to pull off being both. And yes, I do consider T2: Trainspotting to be better than the original.
T2: Trainspotting benefited as a sequel because of the fact that it took a different approach than the original, while still feeling like a Trainspotting movie, it’s very much a continuation of the story. At the same time, the approach to addiction (which the original covered) and the story overall is different, much darker and more mature. All the cast, especially returning cast members like Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle return seamlessly into their original roles and as usual were fantastic. Danny Boyle brought his typically great direction here and watching his take on a modern day Trainspotting sequel was amazing to see. Entertaining, emotional and ultimately satisfying, T2: Trainspotting was one of the most surprising and best films of 2017.
13. The Disaster Artist
The Disaster Artist was one of my most anticipated films of all time, because of how much I loved the book its based on and how much I loved The Room. The book seemed like perfect movie material and I was looking forward to seeing how it would be. Thankfully it absolutely delivered on all fronts, it was surprising how great it was.
The Disaster Artist is a very unconventionally inspiring movie, the Ed Wood of the 2010s. The way that Tommy Wiseau wanted to make it big in Hollywood was tragic, ironic and inspiring all at the same time. One of the highlights was James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau, which was fantastic, definitely deserving of high praise. A lot of people can do excellent impressions but it’s a real challenge to actually portray him as a person, and Franco was brilliant. You like Wiseau and root for him despite his weirdness and odd behaviour, yet the movie doesn’t shy away from many of his more less likable aspects. Great portrayal overall. Along with that the script was funny, well written and portrayed the events truly. With a fantastic performance, a great adaption of Greg Sestero’s book and story about Tommy Wiseau and The Room, I loved it. I’m not sure if it would be as impactful to people who don’t know of Tommy Wiseau or The Room but as someone who does, I really loved it.
12. John Wick Chapter 2
John Wick Chapter 2 takes everything from the first John Wick film and improves over it in every single way. It didn’t seem to be very necessary when it was announced and seemed to only exist because the original was such an unexpected hit but after seeing it I am so glad that we have it.
John Wick Chapter 2 is better in every way over the previous film. There are even more excellent action sequences, more worldbuilding, and it actually has you wrapped up in the story. From start to finish it has you absolutely riveted and entertained, there were even sequences that were so beautifully directed that I didn’t expect. All of this made Chapter 2 more than just your typical entertaining Keanu Reeves action flick. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, he has fully established John Wick as his definitive role and he really gets to show off both his action and acting chops. John Wick Chapter 2 was much better than I thought it would be and I already had some pretty high expectations for it, it was fantastic. I can’t wait to see what 2019’s John Wick Chapter 3 will be like, after seeing how great Chapter 2 was I can’t see it being anything less than excellent.
11. A Ghost Story
A Ghost Story is not for everyone, it is slow and as cliché as the phrase is, its not a film, its an experience. I personally loved it, while it didn’t have the emotional impact that it did for some others, there was something about it that I really loved and had my attention from start to finish. I have a feeling that it might be one of those movies that may get better the more I revisit it.
I can see why a lot of people don’t like A Ghost Story. It is slow, drawn out (the infamous 5 minute long pie scene often being mentioned as an example) and very unconventional to say the least. It might take multiple viewings to get the full experience. With that said, with my one viewing of the film I really loved it. With great performances from Casey Affleck (who’s mostly behind a sheet) and Rooney Mara (who is so great in a supporting part of the film and says so much with so little) and the unique direction by David Lowery, there’s a lot to love about it. However there was also something that had me riveted from start to finish, and I have yet to figure out what it is. Maybe repeat viewings will reveal what that aspect is. If you haven’t seen A Ghost Story yet, I recommend going in with an open mind and not knowing too much beforehand. David Lowery has crafted a very unique film which will continue to divide audiences in the years to come.
10. A Cure for Wellness
A Cure for Wellness really took me by surprise, I was intrigued with the plot, the cast involved and Gore Verbinski’s fantastic direction. However it really divided people and while I can understand due to some polarising aspects, I don’t really know why it didn’t receive enough love. Something about A Cure for Wellness keeps drawing me to it
It’s been months since I’ve watched A Cure for Wellness for the first time and I’m still trying to figure out why I loved it so much. Naturally the 3 main actors (Dane Dehaan, Mia Goth and Jason Isaacs) were good in their roles and the story was intriguing, not spelling out everything to you and requiring you to think a lot. However, I think it is Gore Verbinski’s direction that made me love the movie so much. The cinematography, the lighting, the music, the entire aesthetic, everything is in place. It’s a perfectly directed movie to me. It seems that this movie is not for everyone, probably because of how long it is and how unconventional it is. But I do recommend giving it a chance because of how bizarre and strange it is.
9. Get Out
Get Out was one of the biggest surprises of 2017. Jordan Peele seemed like an unlikely person to direct a horror film, given that he was more of a comedian. But he has created a truly genius movie that surprised everyone, one that not only has its fair share of horror aspects but also effective humour and great social commentary. Along with it being a great film, with Get Out, Peele and co. have created a new brand of horror, the social horror and it worked so well here.
Jordan Peele did such an excellent job with this movie. He applied such smart racial social commentary, which was utilised well for both horror and comedy. Tonally this film is actually quite well balanced out, the comedic and dramatic and horror aspects are handled fantastically and don’t feel out of place at all. All the performances were great with Daniel Kaluuya being the standout, however supporting performances like Allison Williams (she especially was really great) shouldn’t be overlooked. I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie ever since watching it and I have a feeling that I will love it even more upon repeat viewings. I can’t wait to see more films from Jordan Peele, he has proven himself to be a fantastic filmmaker and writer and will no doubt create some more excellent films.
8. Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
After seeing The Last Jedi in cinemas for the first time it became my 2nd favourite Star Wars film and a rewatch has made it tied for being my favourite in the series with Empire Strikes Back. Director Rian Johnson has done such a great job at continuing where J.J. Abrams left the story off in Episode 8, while taking the story in some unpredictable directions. It may have resulted in an instant mixed reaction amongst some die hard fans but I think it was all worth it.
The Last Jedi makes some of the riskiest decisions of a Star Wars movie, and I am so glad that this happened. The story took the Star Wars universe in some directions that some didn’t like but I was completely on board with all of them. Along with the story being great, this has the best cinematography of all the Star Wars movies, the action was fantastic and the characters were played so wonderfully by the talented cast, the stand outs being Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Mark Hamill as he returns to portray a very different Luke Skywalker. Yes, there are some parts that didn’t work, the Canto Byte sequence is still notably the weakest of the whole movie and there are some minor aspects that didn’t work so well. However the flaws are absolutely dwarfed by the rest of the movie which is so fantastic. I have confidence in director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio that Episode 9 will be good but I’m not even sure they will reach the level of The Last Jedi, we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, I can say with complete confidence that The Last Jedi is in the top 2 best Star Wars movies.
There have been 6 comic book movies this year and while I liked most of them quite a bit, I’m not sure if I could call any of them great. They all seem to stretch from being good (Thor Ragnarok, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man Homecoming) to just being okay at best (Justice League). There is one exception however: James Mangold’s Logan. No other comic book movie this year even comes close to being at the level of greatness of Logan. Logan is without a doubt one of the best comic book films ever made. In a genre which has countless larger than life plots which involve saving the world (which I do like 95% of the time), it is very refreshing to see the plot being much smaller and personal. Just about everything about it worked incredibly and I couldn’t be happier for it.
The story was very gritty and raw, and it didn’t hold back in the violence and how dark it could get. The performances were fantastic, newcomer Dafne Keen was great as Laura/X-23, and Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart were outstanding in their final outings as Wolverine and Charles Xavier. In terms of flaws, there really was just one, an expeditionary scene that felt a little lazy, that’s it. Logan isn’t going to be a film that I watch multiple times due to its melancholy and at times depressing plot but it is nevertheless excellent and I’m glad that it turned out so well, and with it being Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s last X-Men film appearance it needed to.
With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has created a very unique war movie, one that really puts the audience in the centre of all the war, more so than most war movies. Intense and captivating, Dunkirk is a masterclass in visual direction and storytelling.
The cast was good, even the actors who really didn’t have particularly deep characters (which is most of them) or much chance to show off do very well in their roles but make no mistake, the true star of Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan. His direction is front and centre and he brought his style and techniques to bring this movie up to a level of near perfection. Pretty much everything works about this movie, really putting you in the position of three perspectives over the course of a week, an hour and a day and the structure somehow works. Everything comes together to make Dunkirk a fantastic film, and it might just be one of Nolan’s best movies, which is saying a lot all things considering.
5. War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes seemed like it was going to go all out in terms of its scale, almost every third part in a trilogy seems to want to make everything bigger and explosive for its finale. Instead, Matt Reeves decided to go in a much more personal and focussed direction, making it a character study for Andy Serkis’s Caesar. And I couldn’t be happier for this. War for the Planet of the Apes is honestly one of the best major ‘blockbusters’ in recent years, one that prioritises plot and character over action and definitely delivers in being an emotionally strong final act to one of the best film trilogies of all time.
The effects were incredible, especially the motion capture of the apes, nothing looked out of place. The story is, to be honest, perfect and fitted well with Caesar’s arc. Performances were great from Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn and Amiah Miller. But Andy Serkis is of course the stand out, delivering a final tremendous performance as Caesar, definitely deserving of high praise. I can’t think of really anything wrong with this movie, the issues I had with the previous movies (that being that the human element felt weaker) wasn’t present here, it definitely surpassed my expectations. War for the Planet of the Apes is a perfect conclusion to a great trilogy and deserves unending praise.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh is one of my favourite directors/writers working today with In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths and he continues to prove that with Three Billboards, which might be his best film yet, it’s at least at the level of In Bruges. With fantastic writing and great performances, Three Billboards was one of the year’s best.
Everything that McDonagh has shown in his previous movies he brings here, from the dark and hilarious comedy to the shocking and truly impactful aspects. It’s a perfect mix of comedy and drama. The performances were also fantastic, with a very strong leading performance by Frances McDormand and great supporting performances including Woody Harrelson and especially Sam Rockwell. I also loved the story that was told about rage and anger and how it can lead people to do destructive and negative things. It’s story was controversial, dark and hilarious, it lead to some backlash, but I’m glad McDonagh stuck to what he set out to do. Whether it will hold up on repeat viewings remains to be seen. However from just my first viewing, I personally think that Three Billboards was fantastic.
3. Phantom Thread
I’ve been holding back on releasing this list because I knew that there was a strong possibility that Phantom Thread would end up on it, and having seen it very recently, my instincts proved to be right, as it slides in at the number 3 slot. Phantom Thread is perfectly crafted, detailed, riveting and completely unexpected, made even better by its phenomenal performances. Paul Thomas Anderson has done it again.
Paul Thomas Anderson has weaved a truly effective and compelling story, one that is packed with so much detail in its writing and direction, this is a perfectly directed film. From start to finish, Phantom Thread has you riveted with it’s very original and unique story. This may well be one of PTA’s best films, which is saying a lot considered this is the man who directed films like There Will be Blood and Boogie Nights. The performances by not only Daniel Day-Lewis (in his last role) but also Vicky Krieps (who gives a performance at DDL’s level) and Lesley Manville were excellent and only strengthened the film even more. Phantom Thread was truly fantastic and was definitely one of the best films of 2017.
2. The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water was such a beautiful movie and a future classic, absolutely everything about this movie is so fantastic. Despite how weird the concept is at times (I mean, it’s basically all about a woman falling in love with a fish monster), Guillermo del Toro does such a great job at making it work well, not many people would’ve been able to make this concept into such an excellent film. Del Toro has directed quite possibly his best film yet, and don’t forget that this is the man who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth.
Having seen it twice, I can say that The Shape of Water just might be a perfect movie, at the very least a near perfect movie. Guillermo del Toro’s direction was beautiful, the performances were great from everyone (particularly Hawkins, Shannon, Jenkins, Spencer, Stuhlbarg, Jones) and the story was just amazing. Much of the credit goes to del Toro, who manages to bring to the big screen some parts that in the hands of another director wouldn’t work at all (especially a very unexpected scene in the third act). Everything just worked together so well, and I can’t imagine it being any better, it honestly took me off guard. The Shape of Water is truly wonderful, definitely worthy of a lot of praise.
1. Blade Runner 2049
I was curious about Blade Runner 2049 initially, mostly with the talent involved. However, I didn’t really know what to expect as at the time I found Blade Runner to be a just okay movie (having watched it like 5 years ago). 2049 surpassed my expectations on every single level, I was not expecting this film to be this remarkable, this spectacular, even with the amount of talented people involved. While it didn’t fare well at the box office, it deserves a lot more love and attention because it is really one of the best films of 2017, if not the best.
Denis Villeneuve as usual delivers on creating an excellent film and sequel to the original Blade Runner. It feels like a Blade Runner sequel and does some worldbuilding while doing enough original things to make it special and its absolutely riveting from start to finish. In fact, I personally think it’s significantly better than the original, for example with regards to the pacing (despite 2049 being a much longer movie) but also I loved the story that was told. Roger Deakins’s cinematography has never looked better, the cast with Gosling, Ford, de Armas, Leto, Wright, Hoeks and more did some fantastic work, pretty much everything about this movie is excellent. Blade Runner 2049 is not only the best film of 2017, it’s one of the best sequels of all time and one of the all time great films of the 2010s.
On another note, while in previous years I made worst movies of the year lists, I decided that from now on I would no longer take part in this unfortunately common practice.
What were your favourite films of 2017? Comment below and let me know.