Ben's Best of 2017
My favorite part about this time of year has nothing to do with the holidays or the coming of a new year, no my joy comes from the year end lists. I don't even really like the lists themselves, I usually disagree almost the entire way through and end up thinking the author is a moron but we all have our vices. Everyone and their mother has something that they want to count down from 10 and tell you what their favorite thing of the year is. Books, Songs, Recipes, TV Shows, Cheeses, Shirts, Flavor of Doritos, Dog sizes and non-racist Presidential rants all have someone listing the best of the year, although that last one may not have enough data.
That is why it is my pleasure to introduce you all to a humongous list of movies that I liked this year, and also my primary platform to show off both my wealth of free time and lack of financial knowledge. at the time of writing this I have seen 70, count 'em 70 movies in the theater this year so far with Star Wars: The Last Jedi being number 71. Since I seem to have overdone myself this year I decided to not make this a top 10 list, not even a top 20 list but a top 40 movies of the year list that you will probably skip right passed and hate me for my top 5, never the less our journey begins now. Before we begin I want to make a not of some of the movies that I have heard great things about or have a good feeling would have at least made this list if not ranked highly, but for whatever reason I have not seen yet, they are as follows.....
The Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
The Darkest Hour
Call Me By Your Name
The Florida Project
Well without further ado, here are my 40 favorite movies I have seen so far this year.
#40. Fist Fight
While last of this list, I think making it to any end of the year lists is a win for Fist Fight. A dumb goofy fun comedy starring Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ice Cube (Rap Music) is worth the time if you are a fan of either of these two.
#39. The Belko Experiment
Employees of the Belko Company are locked in their office building and forced into a deathmatch to see who will escape. While the premise is movie gold the execution leaves a bit to be desired. Still a fun horror/thriller produced and written by James Gunn.
#38. The Dinner
A little known thriller from earlier this year based on the book of the same title by author Herman Koch, The Dinner tells the story of two sets of parents sitting down for dinner and having a conversation that will change the course of their families lives forever. Sporting a killer cast of Rebecca Hall (The Town) Steve Coogan (The Other Guys) Laura Linney (Everything) and Richard Gere (That gerbil rumor) The Dinner is truly the 38th best movie this year.
#37. Battle of the Sexes
A movie dramatization of the hugely important tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs directed by the people who brought you Little Miss Sunchine. Steve Carell(The Office) turns in another amazingly realistic performance as Bobby Riggs but lacks significant screen time and while the actual game is presented beautifully there is just not enough time spent on the court.
#36. Murder on the Orient Express
Most of the movies on this list are exciting and powerful and Murder on the Orient Express is not exactly one of them. Directed by Kenneth Branagh(Loads of Shakespere stuff) and with a cast so large I would be here all night listing them and coming up with quippy stuff for each of them, The Orient Express is less a well made extremely entertaining film as it is an O.K. made kinda entertaining film.
#35. Alien: Covenant
Alien: Covenant is a disapointing movie in so many ways but there is a really cool part where someone is trying to fly some ship away and this new kinda different but mostly the same ole Xenomorph we know and love is just bashing up the windshield and I really liked that. Not to mention the whole couples angle was a huge misfire but I like me some McBride and Cruddup, what can I say.
#34. Wind River
Taylor Sheridan has written a few great movies in a row, and while Wind River does not necessarily break that streak I do think it is his most lackluster effort. That being said Jeremy Renner(Catwoman: The Video Game) turns in a strong performance and the setting is a doosey. Worth the price of admission.
Dubbed as "The Female John Wick", Charlize Theron(The new Fast and Furious movie) stars as the Head Asskicker in Charge here and Atomic Blonde lives up to its nickname, except with a plot that is way to confusing and boring and just seems to push the viewer through to the next action scene of which about 2 are really cool. Not a bad movie, just not a great one.
Released a bit too early in the year to get any serious awards season buzz, Gifted is a movie going for awards season buzz and telling a nice little story along the way. Chris Evans(Not Another Teen Movie) removes the super hero outfit and returns to the normal world with the rest of us and does a pretty good job of it.
From almost any conceivable measure I can think of the opening scene in Good Time is damn near perfect. The rest of the movie struggles to get back to even well done and even watchable at times. Robert Pattinson(Some eventual John Lennon biopic) plays off type and actually does a great job, the rest of the movie does not hold up for him.
#30. Patti Cake$
This one holds a special place in my heart seeing as it takes place in my home state of New Jersey. Patti Cake$ tells the story of an overweight white woman trying to crack into the rap game. A movie with a lot of heart gets tripped up with pacing and an absolutely terrible scene involving Killa P reaching a microphone into the crowd from the stage at a concert so her mother can live sing the chorus of a song. That scene really pissed me off guys.
#29. How to be a Latin Lover
When an aging gigolo gets kicked out by his sugar mamma he must return to his estranged sister and a normal life. How to be a Latin Lover is a fun movie with good values that got a bit overlooked this year.
#28. The LEGO Batman Movie
One of the largest gatherings of all things pop culture, The LEGO Batman movie is actually surprisingly deep in it's themes while staying entertaining for a wide variety of viewers. I don't have much interest in revisiting it but it was fun while it lasted.
#27. The Disaster Artist
The Disaster Artist tells the story of The Room, a movie so bad it's actually amazing and tries to bring it out of the basement of nerdy movie fans and into the mainstream. While it sounds like a terrible idea is actually pulled off decently thanks to the performance of James Franco(The Deuce, seriously its great you guys should check it out) but leaves hardcore fans wanting.
#26. War for the Planet of the Apes
While I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn and War had me a little less enthusiastic. The real selling point is the amazing digital work done to animate the apes and provides some of the best acting the medium has yet seen. Not a bad movie but certainly not a great one.
#25. Wonder Woman
DC's first good movie, Wonder Woman should not have been saddled with such high expectations but Gal Gadot(Keeping up with the Jones's) takes up the challenge valiantly. While it stacks up as an average Marvel movie, Wonder Woman seems to show DC moving in the right Cinematic direction.
A complete reboot of the franchise got off to a rocky start with some really poor promotional material featuring way too much Tony Stark, but Homecoming ends up being a satisfying addition to the Marvel oeuvre with it's return to a believable Peter Parker.
The adaptation of what I believe to be Stephen Kings scaries book does a good job of sticking to the source material(except for that group sex part) But fails to be scary in an original way. Hopefully they will learn their lesson when it comes to part 2.
#22. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
One of my more highly anticipated sequels of the last few years, While some of the low expectations and suprise are gone, Kingsman 2 does a great job of giving us more of we loved about the first movie without feeling stale. We hope the inevitable third movie will do the first two justice.
#21. Logan Lucky
Logan Lucky kinda came out of nowhere this year, and while this has become a habit it seems of it's director Steven Soderbergh recently, the king of modern heist movies is back with a new setting. While Logan Lucky was full of charm and great moments, the overall product fell just a bit flat, keeping this movie from being one of the biggest hits of the year.
#20. Brigsby Bear
A movie that I have literally never heard another person talk about with their mouth, Brigsby Bear is about a young man who along with his parents lives in an underground bunker with only his Barney like "Brigsby Bear" VHS tapes to be his friend. When he gets out and discovered that no one else knows about Brigsby he sets out to make a Brigsby movie all his own. A movie that is not for everyone but is just right for someone.
#19. A Ghost Story
Like Brigsby Bear, A Ghost Story is not a movie that is easily enjoyed by everyone. With big stars like Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, A Ghost Story is better left to experience than be told about but if you like to watch someone eat an entire pie in real time, this is the movie for you.
It has been a while since M. Night Shyamalan has done anything worthwhile at all, Split is actually pretty good. An interesting view on mental health, Split also excites with some great tension and a bit of mind bending to cover it's issues in the script. A clear win for the master of twists. Actually it was really just that one twist.
#17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Another highly anticipated sequel with a fancy Vol.2 on the end of it, Guardians 2 was an incredibly hard movie to get right. With the first one being so original and different, this one had to be even more original and different while still being not too different or original. Tough business this movie making is I tell ya. While it does not exceed the first movie, Volume 2 is a solid follow up.
#16. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The most recent movie I reviewed, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has so many things about it that disapoint, but almost as many things that I love. I don't think it is a better movie than it's predecessor but there have been few movies this year that have given me as much excitement at the theater as The Last Jedi.
#15. Your Name
The highest grossing anime of all time, Your Name turns what feels like an ordinary body switching movie into an emotional roller coaster. Shades of Miyazaki shine through here and while it was released pretty early in the year, Your Name still has me thinking about it on a pretty regular basis.
While I did not see this one on the big screen, Okja is one of the best movies I have seen this year and I wanted to make sure it was included. Okja is certainly not an easy movie to watch because of the subject matter, but is an important and fantastically well made one. Bong Joon Ho(Snowpiercer) weaves one of the most touching and tragic tales of the year.
Silence was actually released late last year to be eligible for awards, but I saw it this year and so I'm putting it here. Martin Scorsese adapts his dream project about a Jesuit priest(Andrew Garfield) in the 17th century who travels to Japan where Christianity has been outlawed to find his mentor who has supposedly committed apostasy. Its long, its violent and its full of amazing moments, the perfect math for a great Scorsese flick.
Maybe the first time that Marvel has truly let a director make their own movie, Ragnarok is just such a damn good overall movie. It's funny, it's full of action and the characters are great. Throw in a great setting and a plot with tons of stuff to do and you get one of the best movies Marvel has ever made, and that's saying something.
#11. Free Fire
A movie that I had in my top 10 for most of the year, but just got pushed out by the late year rush, Free Fire is my pick for the best movie of they year no one has heard of. Full of style and originality, Free Fire sticks a bunch of criminals in a warehouse and pops a crate of guns between them and then the bullets start flying.
#10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Martin McDonagh's third theatrical release is vastly different form his first two terrific outings, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, while keeping some of the best aspects of McDonagh's style. Francis Mcdormand will certainly earn herself an Oscar nomination for her lead performance playing a mother scorned and looking for revenge. Fantastic characters and even better writing with equal parts comedy and drama make "Three Billboards" one of the best cinematic experiences of the year.
#9. John Wick Part 2.
Making sequels is an easy way to cash in on an audiences desire to see something new, but different at the same time. While not quite the action movie masterpiece that the first movie was, John Wick Part 2. is an excellent sequel that dives the viewer a deeper view into the world of expert assassins that was only glossed over in the first movie. Amazing action set pieces and the incredible physical talent of Keanu Reeves make for one of the most satisfying sequels in recent memory.
#8. Lady Bird
The story of a young girl trying to find her way in the world, or at least in Sacramento California, Lady Bird is one of the strongest representations of burgeoning adulthood that I have seen in a long time. Written and Directed by Greta Gerwig, the semi-autobiographical tale is almost as much a love letter to the early 2000's as anything else and one that should not be missed by anyone. There are not too many movies released in 2017 that are as exceptional in as many ways as Lady Bird.
#7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos burst onto the American film scene with his harshly hilarious take on modern dating and love in 2015's The Lobster. With his second major release, The Killing of a Sacred Deer he decided to tackle themes of mental illness and revenge and while the tone is decidedly darker, the messages are attacked with the same virility. No one makes movies like Lanthimos and in my review I called The Killing of a Sacred Deer "the most frightening movie of 2017". I think it is safe to say that it will be a while before I experience anything quite like this movie, that is until Lanthimos decides to make another one.
#6. The Big Sick
In my opinion there is no more honest or personal movie to come out this year than The Big Sick. Written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick is another semi-autobiographical movie dealing with the early relationship of Nanjiani and Gordon and the mysterious coma she fell into. So many moments in The Big Sick feel like expertly adapted moments from the writers lives, highlighting the good and the bad of both their personalities and relationship. This is how to do a romantic comedy right ladies and gentlemen.
#5. Blade Runner 2049
It seems like these last few years have been full of reboots and long anticipated sequels, none more surprising than Blade Runner 2049. released a whopping 35 years after the first installment, 2049 is an expertly made continuation of one of the most influential Sci-Fy movies of all time. Directed by one of the best guys working today, Denis Villeneuve gives us his take on the themes brought up in the original movie while updating them for the new technological landscape. As beautiful as it is dark, Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing Sci-Fy movie that like it's predecessor will show it's true brilliance over the years to come.
Hugh Jackman's time as The Wolverine has come to an end and what a way to send him off. Logan takes a look at the biggest badass in all of comics from a different angle. This time around Logan is broken down and is starting to feel the effects of aging while still as testy as ever. Logan is a true culmination of over a dozen cinematic appearances by Jackman's Wolverine and is without a doubt the finest character study of a comic book character brought to film. Like Jeter in his final at bat, Logan is about as great a sendoff as a character can have.
#3. Get Out
2017's finest piece of social satire, Get Out not only is an amazing movie but Writer/Director Jordan Peele may have just invented a new genre. Racial satire has been around since the days of Who's Coming to Dinner and Blazing Saddles and honestly probably long before that, but it has never been delivered quite as well as in Get Out. Funny when it needs to be and serious as a heart attack at other times, Get Out is a movie best viewed with an audience and multiple times. The sheer amount of Easter eggs and hidden details that only show themselves upon second or third viewings make for one of the most re watchable movies of the last decade.
Christopher Nolan has become Hollywood's premiere blockbuster director, but has always done an amazing job of sticking to his standards and making movies he wants to, rather than going for cash grabs. I though there was no way Nolan could possibly go for a more low concept blockbuster than 2014's Interstellar but by god he's done it. Dunkirk brings Nolan back to this Earth and also gives us Nolan's first historical flick. Telling the story of British, French and Belgian troops trapped by the Nazi forces on the beach of Dunkirk, Nolan bucks normal movie structure in a way only he can. Using every single piece of his arsenal to deliver a cinematic experience that in my opinion has never been captured so well in a war movie, Christopher Nolan has somehow found a way to raise the bar once again.
#1. Baby Driver
There is not movie released this year that is more of a movie than the movie Baby Driver. Director Edgar Wright aims to combine two of his favorite things, chase movies and dope music into one fantastic package. Baby Driver takes the incredible re-watchability of Get Out and combines it with the insane level of detail that Dunkirk uses to build a movie that is as well made as it is entertaining. Gun shots blast to the beat of "Tequila", while the next scene shows Baby pulling off some of the coolest driving maneuvers I have ever seen. Moments of calm are used expertly to fill in backstory and build motivation rather than set up the next action scene, which while not on John Wick level of amazing, are still legendary in their own right. There was no movie that captured everything that movies can do better than Baby Driver in 2017.
Addendum: The Shape of Water
Unfortunately I had created this list before I had the chance to see Guillermo Del Toro's newest movie, The Shape of Water. Instead of doing a whole lot of re-numbering and booting the #40 Fist Fight off the list I decided to add this in at the end. For more about the movie check out my full review here, once you have done that you will see that I liked The Shape of Water quite a bit. Just quickly doing some mental math, I would say The Shape of Water would have come in around #4, right behind Get Out and right before Logan. Well that will do it for 2017 folks, thank you so much for all of the support and see you in 2018.