Ranking 2017: From “Lady Bird” to “Blade Runner: 2049”
I have seen 62 movies tagged with a 2017 release date by The Movie Database at the time of this writing (meaning they received a theatrical release at some point in 2017), and as such feel comfortable saying despite how objectively terrible the year we just exited was in a general sense, it was a very good year for movies.
That made putting together this top 10 more difficult than previous years. Some great films didn’t make the cut (“The Florida Project,” and Willem Dafoe yelling at large birds among them). The good news is, there are no shitty movies in this list. At least, I don’t think so. Your mileage, as always will vary. I’ve written about most of these movies at one time or another; and if I haven’t already, I probably will at some point. Without further ado, let’s start from the bottom.
This kinetic thrill ride from the Safdie Brothers unleashes Robert Pattinson (yes, that Robert Pattinson) in Queens for a one-night-only performance that can best be described as electric. Here’s what I said in my review of one of the best films of the year:
The latest from Ben and Joshua Safdie is one of the best films of 2017 (so far), and it features the best performance of Pattinson’s career. No, that’s not damning with faint praise, either. The actor most famous for playing a vampire in “Twilight” has done plenty to earn audiences respect at this point, and “Good Time” just hammers that home.
9. Get Out
The best horror film of the year is directed by a comedy writer. That makes sense, given the injection of humor into what is also one of the funniest movies of the year — in an unnerving sort of way. The directorial debut from Jordan Peele will make you squirm in your seat, and not in the “Saw” sort of way, either. That’s what makes this film perfect for 2017. Helped by a rock-solid performance by breakout star Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out,” is the horror film we didn’t know we needed; but damn am I glad it showed up.
Any trepidation about yet another Spider-Man reboot should have been stripped away as soon as Tom Holland showed up in “Captain America: Civil War.” Judging by the box office receipts, that didn’t happen. Those that showed up were rewarded with the best Spider-Man film since the Tobey Maguire wore the mask (if not the best, period). Holland is certainly the best Spider-Man we’ve been gifted, and Michael Keaton’s turn as the Vulture is easily the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is just great filmmaking.
Great news: Edgar Wright made a movie that a few of you actually went and saw the year it came out! You even paid money to go see it! “Baby Driver” delivered the sort of thrill ride that, well, Wright isn’t exactly known for, but it seems perfectly plausible that he could deliver. There are plenty of trademarks of his other work, though, from the snappy dialogue, to under-developed love interests to… hey, you’re here for the fun, right? From the opening scene to the closing credits, “Baby Driver” is like that Summer playlist you just can’t quit.
6. Blade Runner: 2049
Given the insurmountable task of living up to one of the greatest pieces of 1980s pop culture of all time, “Blade Runner: 2049” not only accomplishes said feat, it comes close to surpassing Ridley Scott’s creation. With mind-blowing special effects, flawless direction from Denis Villeneuve and cinematography that should finally get Roger Deakins that Oscar, “Blade Runner: 2049” is the kind of science fiction that doesn’t come around often. So, naturally, nobody went to see it. You know, just like nobody went to see the original “Blade Runner.”
There are superhero movies, and then there’s “Logan.” With James Mangold at the helm, the superhero that really restarted it all nearly 20 years ago gets his last hurrah. Well, sort of. There’s not much cheer in what decidedly has a Western flair to it, which is fitting, given that Mangold directed the similarly bleak “3:10 To Yuma. Hugh Jackman is stellar in his final turn as Wolverine, while Patrick Stewart is equally superb. We are also treated to a new face: Dafne Keen, and boy is she spectacular. “Logan” is a truly special film, period.
It can be decidedly not fun to talk about Star Wars. As soon as you bring up Rian Johnson’s latest iteration of the long-running series, reading the room becomes a necessary evil. What makes Johnson’s film so spectacular is not so different from what makes many films great: it invests in its characters. To get caught up in the “simplicity” of its plot, or the machinations of the Force is to be needlessly lost. “The Last Jedi” takes characters we grew to love in “The Force Awakens,” it challenges them, and leads us to love them even more than we did two years ago. That’s great filmmaking.
Some films, whether it be in a scene or in a moment, perfectly capture a feeling in time. “Call Me By Your Name captures multiple feelings, and manages to sustain them over a two-hour runtime. That seemingly impossible feat makes it one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s more than a love story, it’s a story about longing, passion, and how to pick yourself up when those feelings vanish. It does this while also being one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. Based on the best-selling book, and featuring breakout star of 2017 Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name is a movie that will be talked about for a long time.
Do you ever watch a movie and think, “this is extremely my shit?” That was me with “Columbus,” which stars John Cho (“Star Trek”) and Haley Lu Richardson (last year’s fave “Edge of Seventeen”), and is set in the architectural wonderland of Columbus, Indiana. The pair of unlikely friends push each other to look beyond their current selves, so look for incredible dialogue and beautiful cinematography. This first-time feature from director Kogonada is something special.
It’s hard to think of something to say about “Lady Bird” that hasn’t already been said. If you haven’t seen it already (by choice, mind you), it’s hard to imagine what’s keeping you. Greta Gerwig’s solo debut behind the camera is one of my all-time favorites because she perfectly captures what it feels like to be at odds with what made you who you are. The coming-of-age thing can feel so tired in the wrong hands, but “Lady Bird” feels fresh because it’s so honest and authentic. For my money, it’s the best film of the year.