by Jason Koenigsberg
2017 was a bumpy year for motion pictures. A lot of accusations that sent shockwaves through the industry and is causing the tectonic plates in Hollywood to shift ending certain practices and hopefully favor more ethical treatment of women and minorities. The movies themselves however were not particularly memorable. 2017 brought a lot of very good films to audiences, but no truly great films. There were no films that I absolutely loved and cherished. Hopefully some of the titles I have listed below will grow in my respect and admiration in coming years. On the plus side there were no true terrible movies either. I have already written about my worst of 2017, none of those titles insulted or offended me, but there were a few interesting failures sprinkled in. This past year we saw a lot of safe movies and a lot more of the same. It was very hard picking my #1 movie of the year but I ended up going with the film that was my most truly moving experience in the theater and it is not even one of the directors three best movies. I ranked it fourth on an article I wrote here. So without any further ado here are…
The Top 20 Movies of 2017
- Dunkirk-Christopher Nolan’s fourth best film was the best of the very good entries of 2017. The most powerful cinematic experience of the year in the form of an unconventional war film that was fast paced and to the point. Remarkable and one of the best war films of the new century.
- Phantom Thread-What is most likely the final onscreen performance from Daniel Day-Lewis and make no mistake about it, it is one of his best. Reuniting him with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) their extensive research pays off in the most visually and acoustically sumptuous movie of 2017.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-The most human movie of the year reflecting American anger and values features outstanding and award worthy performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. It’s funny, it’s sad and most importantly it is memorable.
- War for the Planet of the Apes-The best of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy that started back in 2011. This film may be the best part 3 of any film series also featuring another outstanding performance from Woody Harrelson, this movie is as smart and culturally relevant as it is action packed, a very satisfying experience.
- The Post-Steven Spielberg’s attempt to make his version of Spotlight is not one of his best movies, but still better than 90% of everything else that was released in 2017. Spielberg, Streep and Hanks are all terrific together it is such a pleasure to be able to sit back and watch these pros work.
- Lucky-We are all lucky that Harry Dean Stanton’s swan song was such an insightful delight about life, love, friendship and aging. Watching Stanton share screen time with his friend David Lynch, making a rare acting appearance in something he did not write or direct elevated this movie that was tailored to be a career capper for the late great Harry Dean.
- The Shape of Water-An oddball movie with a lot of action, romance and more emotional depth that most conventional romance films contain. Guillermo del Toro continues to make outstanding adult fables about princesses and monsters that are visual wonders to behold.
- Logan-The best western and best comic book movie of the year featuring outstanding performances from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen. A smart and mature big budget blockbuster that is very rare in this day and age.
- Wind River-The Winter Olympics version of last years terrific Hell or High Water. A riveting murder mystery that uncovers injustices and hypocrisies about our government history. This will have you on the edge of your seat.
- Darkest Hour-Powerful biopic of Winston Churchill covering the time he first became Prime Minister and had to defend his beloved England from a German invasion. A nice companion piece to Dunkirk, it shows what went on underground in his bunker while defending his nation and practicing politics.
I also really valued…
- The Florida Project-A scathing look at poverty through a child’s eyes with the most heartbreaking ending of the year.
- Get Out-The first movie to take influence from Being John Malkovich (1999) and use it to drive it’s plot.
- It-A great horror movie when audiences really needed one badly.
- Blade Runner 2049-A worthy sequel that allowed audiences to explore more of the world from the original without ruining any of the mythos or ambiguity from the first film.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2-Just more of the same, but still so much fun.
- Lady Bird-One of the best coming of age movies in recent years featuring terrific performances.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi-It throws everything at the audience, luckily most of it stuck and added a lot more to the legacy of the Jedi.
- Get Me Roger Stone-A terrific look inside one of the minds behind some of America’s worst moments from Watergate to the Trump Presidency, this guy was pulling a lot of strings, like a real life Bond villain behind the scenes.
- The Lost City of Z-A poetic adventure tale of mankind’s quest to explore and conquer.
- Kong: Skull Island-Probably the most surprising blockbuster of the year, a relentlessly fun adventure.
Anything I missed? Anything that you love that I left off? Or anything that you really do not think deserves to be on here representing the best in film of 2017? Feel free to comment below.