There are a bunch of 2017 releases I still need to see (there’s a goddamn Michael Haneke movie that’s not even out yet!) so this isn’t quite definitive, but here are my favorites so far. Not including trailers for films that are also on Sean’s list, and not including I Am Not Your Negro, which was on my “best of 2017 so far” list just cuz it’s not technically a 2017 release and I have a bunch of strong selections I want to talk about that were actually released this year. It would be near the top otherwise.
The movie of the year by a lot and deserves every bit of praise it gets. Close to a perfect film and the exact kind of horror I live for. Can’t wait to see more films from Jordan Peele.
The Last Jedi
You probably already know what you think about it. I loved it. Check out any of my social media feeds, the 4MC Xmas Special or at least 50% of conversations with me IRL for more details.
Still thinking about this one. A coming of age college flick about grappling with our monsters within.
Thor Ragnarok / Spiderman: Homecoming
My two favorite superhero flicks of the year, by far (and this year included Logan). I loved both of these. LOVED. Like, maybe my two favorite-comic-book-movies-ever-loved, though we need a little more time to tell for sure. They’re both fresh, funny, exciting, and distinct takes on beloved characters and I don’t have many complaints about either one.
One of the best docs of the year. So much more than just a really long cute kittens video. Genuinely moving and insightful regarding human compassion and how we relate to animals, as well as beautifully observant of feline behavior. Great, under-appreciated cinematography here!
One Of Us
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (the directors of Jesus Camp and Detropia) follow ex-Hasidic Jews in NYC as they attempt to extricate themselves from the insular community, at great personal cost. Insightful look at the dangers inherent to religious isolation and fundamentalism of any stripe.
Still holding my lighter aloft for this cannibal mermaid rock musical.
I will be honest: when I started this film at around 11:30 PM and it opened with two white dudes in The Past having a family squabble in The Rain about The Land while a narrator provides exposition and I was aware that the run time was two whole hours and fifteen minutes…I almost saved it for another day. I loved director Dee Rees’ Pariah and Bessie, so I knew I wanted to watch this, but maybe at a time it was less likely to put me to sleep. I’m so glad I gave it a few minutes, though, because once the film establishes its ensemble narrative structure and kicks into gear, the minutes flew by. Despite being a historical saga of two families in 1940s Alabama, covering the perspectives and intertwined journeys of many characters over years, it felt more more like a tight 90 minutes than two hours plus.
This is how masterfully Rees drew me into the struggles of characters in rural Alabama more than 70 years ago, a setting that often seems rooted even further in the past, especially being used to 40s-set films that highlight the more arguably progressive, often urban pockets of the era. White women making snappy banter and strides in the workplace, explicit, institutional racism nudged out of frame or highlighted as a specific, even discrete Issue rather than woven throughout the overwhelmingly oppressive fabric of society. Rees helps viewers empathize with characters who are products of their time and place, not anachronistically modern psychologies in period costumes, and it’s not always pleasant. While the film was wholly engrossing and was over before I felt fatigued, it was not an easy viewing experience. The suffocating force of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy as it either traps or elevates characters (and those on top are hardly living their best lives, either, even as they abuse and dominate those over whom they have enormous power) weighs heavy on characters and viewer alike, highlighting how things have not changed as much as how they have. Especially timely viewing in our Orwellian era of ahistorical “alternative facts”, Newspeak, gaslighting and so much history being shoved down the memory hole.
Fantastic performances, cinematography, and production design, too.
Fabulous monster movie about toxic masculinity. Sharp, funny, sometimes extremely fun and ultimately quote moving. Anne Hathaway gives an inspired performance. Looking forward to whatever director Nacho Vigalondo cooks up next.
The Shape of Water
Beautiful film that made me cry more than once. Much as I often love Del Torro (Pan’s Labyrinth) I’m also sometimes left cold while marveling at how lovely a film looks (Crimson Peak). I didn’t know if a monster/human romance was gonna be my cup of tea, but I found this tremendously moving as well as visually stunning. Great performances all around, wonderful creature design, classic themes that feel frighteningly, specifically timely.
Honorable Mentions: The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Blood of the Tribades, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Girl with all the Gifts, Logan