In 2017 I made the decision to try and see every film that came out around June and review them. That decision lead to this blog, to a brief stint as a contributor to Moviepilot and even a chance to be an official reviewer at a film festival. I look forward to doing this for 2018 and doing it from the beginning of the year but right now, like every single person who ever does a large number of reviews I have a best and worst list to produce. Just to make sure the parameters are known to everyone, here are the guidelines I’m using for this and the next list.
- I did not see every film. I missed the first third of the year cos I wasn’t doing this all year (Though I did try to catch up), and I missed pretty much everything in October due to poor planning and University stuff so if something from those times isn’t on the list that probably should be, that’d be why.
- Only films released in Australia in 2017 are going to be on this list. This means wide releases, not just festival screenings. This means films like All The Money In The World, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, The Shape Of Water Or Ladybird, among others, aren’t popping up here because I have no legal way of seeing them and thus can’t include them. They’ll be eligible for the 2018 list and hopefully by then maybe Hollywood will stop being idiots and just release a movie worldwide on the same day instead of making some countries wait 3 months and then wonder why there’s piracy. So if there’s a film you think should be here, check IMDB for its release date in Australia and that’ll answer that.
- Netflix films are totally eligible for both lists. Indeed any video on demand movie is available for scrutiny, no matter how they had to release it.
- These are merely my opinions and you are absolutely entitled to disagree with me for any reason, go nuts, make your own list in the comments or question my order. That’s fine. What’s not fine is just saying “Your list sucks” with no reason behind it, critique is fine but blind attacks with no reason isn’t. Again, just my opinion.
With that said, before we get to the list, I have one special mention…
SPECIAL MENTION: Baby Driver
No movie this year stuck in my brain more than Baby Driver, it was such a delight that I dragged family members to it and would preach about it willingly any chance that I got. I fell in love with this movie by the time Baby finished getting a coffee, that’s how long it took me to know this was an amazing movie, by the end of the film I wanted to start a religion based on it. I’ve been slowly assembling this list throughout the year, as I saw a movie that felt like it belonged in the top 10 I’d shuffle things around and adjust accordingly and for the longest time after seeing Baby Driver I had this sitting at number 3, it’s a film I loved and respected and thought people should see… And then Kevin Spacey was revealed to be an evil scumbag who made many lives hell and I became conflicted.
Art doesn’t occur in a vacuum and once you know certain things about the people who made it, it’s hard to look at it the same way. It’s why I intentionally avoided Woody Allen’s film Wonder Wheel, because fuck that guy for what he did to Dylan Farrow. It’s a silly problem to have, this issue is so much more important than a 113-minute piece of entertainment but it’s still a complicated thought process that relies on us asking “Can I separate the art from the artist”. I’ve done that before, I can still watch Rosemary’s Baby because the asshole is behind the camera and I saw that film long before I knew about how evil Polanski is so I’m able to do the intellectual gymnastics to rewatch that movie… but in this case, I don’t know if I can make that distinction since there wasn’t much time between Baby Driver coming out and the allegations coming out, meaning my mind hadn’t cemented the movie as it’s own unique entity yet. I also have to look at the evil bastards face for a large amount of the film.
I tossed and turned trying to think if I should keep this at number 3, not mention it at all, or maybe even moved the film to the bottom of the list and put in a whole “Kevin Spacey is why this is down here”. In the end I’ve decided to move this item off of the list officially but still acknowledge it was a great film and genuinely a highlight of my year that, thanks to one person being an evil scumsucking prick who I hope never works again after what has come out about him, is rendered unwatchable for many people including myself. I know for many people this didn’t stop them putting it on their best of lists and believe me, I’m with them because this is a great film but the more I think about it, the more that I can’t bring myself to put this film up there just because of one of the main actors. Silly? Yes, but it’s just what I have to do for me.
…that was fun, NOW TO THE LIST PROPER!
While there may have been technically better children’s films out there this year (Coco… go rewatch Coco), there wasn’t one that filled me with as much pure delight as Captain Underpants. It was a film that knew its audience, that knew the kind of comedy that it wanted to do and excelled at that. It played with visual style and story structure in a fun way while never talking down to its audience. When you can name your villain “Professor Poopypants” and still make that joke work, again and again, you’ve done something right.
Some of the jokes may have been juvenile fart jokes but that’s OK because it’s a film that’s called Captain Underpants, you should probably know when you go in that there’s going to be some jokes that are low brow and there’s nothing wrong with that when they are done as well as they’re done in this film. It’s a delight and something I heartily recommend to every single person looking for something to share with their family.
Also, they got Weird Al to sing the end credits song, I really don’t need much else.
9: Girls Trip
This was one of a bunch of films where a group of women got to be the leads in a comedy, there seemed like there were more of those this year and I hope it’s a trend that continues because I love a good R rated comedy starring a bunch of hilarious women who just have fun and make everyone laugh. This one understood that you really don’t need much to make this work, you just need a simple plotline about four women going somewhere that’ll allow the comediennes you’ve hired to create some of the most amazing comedic situations and sell them like nothing else.
Queen Latifah humps a lamp, Tiffany Haddish has an amazing scene involving a banana and a grapefruit, Jada Pinkett Smith pees on an audience. Scenes like this would be just gross-out humour in anyone else’s hands but these actresses sell the hell out of them while Regina Hall holds the entire film together effortlessly. It knows what it want’s to do and has a good time while doing it. The chemistry between the leads is off the charts, every situation they find themselves in is absolutely hilarious and perfectly put together to create a really fun road trip and when we get the inevitable moment where the friends have a dramatic argument, it works thanks to the meticulous build up of their relationship. I hope there’s a sequel, and I hope next year we are just swamped with a bunch of these movies.
Last year it was Deadpool showing everyone that an R rated superhero movie could work while also making obscene amounts of money. This year Logan showed people that an R rated superhero movie can be absolutely heart-wrenching and destroy its audience, who will thank it for doing that and then ask for more. With career-best performances by Patrick Stewart (Who really should get an Oscar nod for this) and Hugh Jackman, the film takes you on one final trip with Wolverine and instead of being some grand operatic superhero movie, it just shows a weak tired Logan trying to cross the border with his old friend and a small child.
That simplicity in the story allows the raw pain and emotion to shine through and it will bring tears to your eyes, which is something I never thought a Superhero movie would pull off quite like this. Knowing this is the final film in the Wolverine franchise feels right, this is the note it should end on. It should go out just like it came in, stunning everyone and making us all happy that we saw something pretty damn special.
This year was easily the year of the harsh and heavy superhero movie with DC trying it’s best to get it’s foot back in the door, but leave it to Thor: Ragnarok to smack everyone in the face and remind them that superhero movies are supposed to be fun. With hilarious performances by every single cast member, an intimidating and powerful villain who was so amazingly badass, bright bold art direction that makes every frame shine and some of the best use of Led Zepplin that’s ever been put in a soundtrack, Thor kept surprising everyone with just how fresh it felt.
Indeed, this year was a great year for Marvel in general. This was going to be a three-way tie between this, Spider-Man Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 because all these films brought the fun feeling we all needed this year but in the end Thor won not only because it was the funniest of them, but it was the one taking the biggest risk by pushing the comedy as far as it did. It pushed the traditional Marvel storyline to its limits, it pushed the big bad to the sidelines for most of the film, it transformed the look of a major character and no one objected. It’s just a good fun awesome movie and it’s amazing how much that matters.
Can we just hand Andy Serkis his Oscar yet? Can we just agree as a species that we should’ve done that ages ago? The character of Ceasar is, without a doubt, one of the best characters in film right now and this movie showed not only one of the most complex characters on screen, but showed just what can be done with a talented motion capture actor and some revolutionary CGI. Every scene with Caesar felt alive, like they had just found a monkey that could actually act. The action sequences blew me away, wonderfully assembled and with an intense emotional resonance that can’t be ignored. It’s the kind of action film you always hoped you’d get to see and when you see it, you walk out with a smile plastered on your face.
On top of a career-best performance by Andy, there’s also Woody Harrelson who just destroyed everyone with his incredible turn as The Colonel, creating a villain with more layers than an Ogre-Shaped Onion. It was impressive how he was able to play across from Caesar and produce such a great set of scenes. It’s just an amazing film that deserves endless praise.
A reboot of a horror classic almost never works well, I’ve seen them do it to Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare and Leprechaun and none of them worked well so when I heard that It was being remade as a glossy Hollywood film, I’ll admit I was sceptical. Yes, the original is not that scary but it has got some serious nostalgia attached and Tim Curry created one of the best characters in his career so it’s worrying to see them try and redo it. By the time the opening scene was finished and Georgie was dead, I knew this film absolutely got what it needed to do to update from the original and improve on it… that update? Place your balls firmly on the wall for the entire runtime of the fil and never let go of the audience, and that’s what this film did.
Terrifying from the start to the end, every actor in this movie is clearly having a blast just scaring the crap out of everyone. Especially Bill Skarsgard who took the iconic character of Pennywise and somehow made it completely his own thing. There is nothing of Tim Curry in this performance, intentionally because Bill knew he couldn’t do what Tim did so he decided to just be the most terrifying character on screen this year. A genuinely amazing fright fest that made me float with pure joy at just how awesome it could be.
This film holds a fairly special place for me this year because my review of it was what got me to spend some time over at Moviepilot and thus encouraged me to keep doing this, so for that alone it was probably going to be on here but it’s also just an amazing documentary that does something I don’t think I’ve seen before. We’ve all seen Crime Re-enactment shows before, but this documentary takes that to the next level by going to the town where the JonBenet murder happened and getting locals who were there at the time to come and audition for this Re-enactment. What follows is this strange exploration into what the JonBenet murders mean, the theories people came up with or the details that people remember.
Interviews with people dressed like the parent’s of JonBenet are fascinating and weird, the details they remember are amazing and their little interactions really make it clear just how little we know about what happened. The final shot where they have everyone recreate variations of the parent’s reactions is one of the most powerful sequences I’ve seen on film this year. It’s a documentary unlike anything I’ve seen before and I hope to see something like it again.
Hidden Figures did something that I didn’t think would be possible… it made a math equation into a tense dramatic moment. Telling the story of the three women who did the math that launched a rocket into space was something we needed because I doubt many people knew this part of history. On top of that, you have some genuinely amazing performances by a trio of incredible women who just worked together so well. I want to see these three do a comedy together, it’d be stunning.
On top of just being an important story, Hidden Figures was a genuinely gripping film that held audiences attention with its exploration of just what these women had to go through. Scenes, where the African-American women had to run through the rain to get to the bathroom because that’s where the ‘colored bathroom’ was, are genuinely shocking, we forget how recent that portion of history was and we definitely forget that the women who launched rockets into space also had to fight against deep systemic racism that would’ve been challenging if all they’d been doing was baking cakes. They were changing the world while they dealt with hell on earth, and this movie presented their story brilliantly.
2: Wonder Woman
This year had a ton of great superhero films, maybe more than we’ve had in the last few years of the Superhero Renaissance we seem to be living through right now, but this was the best of them all. Not even just the best of this year, maybe the best in the last several years. A great well made film that explores the origin of Wonder Woman during WW2. It’s not only a triumph as a superhero film, it’s a triumph in terms of women in film. I know this is (For some strange reason) a controversial thing, but god it’s so good seeing a film directed by a woman and starring a woman that is absolutely awesome and made everyone sit up and see what can be done.
Literally everything about this film works. Gal Gadot is a revelation and deserves to work forever just based on this beautiful performance, Chris Pine plays a delightful second fiddle and it’s kinda fun seeing him think he knows everything and be proven completely wrong. The setting is perfect for this story, I’m so happy that they didn’t shy away from the horrors of war and just addressed it head-on with two of the creepiest villains you could put in this kind of a movie. It was one of the most important films of the year that put the world on notice that we were going to be trying something new… but, there was one film that was even more important and more powerful to be released on 2017
1: Get Out
After Psycho, every horror film wanted to be Psycho. After Halloween, every film wanted to be Halloween. After Scream, every film wanted to be Scream. These films changed the genre and dictated what was going to be made for the next decade. If there is any justice in this world, Get Out will have that exact same impact on the genre. A film that doesn’t even bother with metaphor, it just tells you right from the jump that it’s about racism and how pervasive it is in the world. It slaps you with that info within the first few scenes and makes damn sure you remember that throughout, while also slowly creating this story about a bunch of old white people who decide that the best thing for them would be to be implanted into the bodies of young black men. It’s powerful, it’s horrifying and it makes the audience uneasy… I want more.
Every single shot in this film is perfect, it’s gorgeously framed and makes you feel the slow-building dread as each minute passes. The main character is incredibly likable and as he slowly realizes that there is something weird going on, the audience feels his discomfort. Its brilliant tension building keeps you on the edge of your seat, only throwing out a scare to let you take a breath before they tighten the screws just a little more so by the time the climax hits, you’re ready to go along with our lead in whatever he needs to do. If this film doesn’t get showered with awards at the Globes and at the Oscars, I will be shocked because Get Out deserves every award it’s eligible for and then some.
Jordan Peele’s first film is absolutely perfect, I have no idea how on earth he’s going to top it but I’m excited to find out what he does because what he’s created is something the genre needs. There are no supernatural monsters, there is no quippy lead who knows the tropes, there is no random slasher, the horror is the real world and the real trauma real people go through and everyone better jump on this idea now, we need it more than ever.
So that was my list of 10 best movies, any you saw this year that I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments.