From The Disaster Artist to Blade Runner 2049, Gus Hunninghake takes a look back at some of the best cinema of 2017.
Many genres this year saw continued revamps in quality storytelling (horror and action films seem to be getting better at recognizing what’s scary and what good action looks like), and despite growing interest in television series as champions of narrative, 2017 proved that movies can still have a lot to say about even the simplest of ideas: from family ties to otherworldly space operas. We take a look back on the top ten films of 2017.
10: The Disaster Artist
I’m not the biggest fan of biopics, largely because I don’t think that people who get involved in them have enough passion about the people in the story to tell it right. Cliches ensue and things get boring. However, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist blew me away. This film tells the true story about Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room, largely considered one of the worst movies ever made. Franco is on point as director and star, and he brings along a solid cast to tell a true story properly, stripped of any padded storytelling.
As always, superhero films flooded theatres this year. Logan, however, marks one of the rare deviations from standard genre fare. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as a weathered, poorly aging Logan, taking care of a similarly decrepit Charles Xavier. The modern world has all but rid itself of mutants, so when Laura, an eleven year-old mutant, is forced into his life, Logan must choose between running away and fulfilling his role as protector. Jackman portrays a tortured soul incredibly and indeed, what make this film worthy of our top ten is not its focus on complex story lines but instead its focus on the familiar broken character we know and love.
8: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Despite its divisiveness among some fans, this film satisfies millions in so many different ways. The Last Jedi picks up right where Episode VII left us, with Rey finding Luke, the Resistance on the heels of a large victory against the First Order and Kylo Ren struggling to come to terms with the good inside him. Without giving any spoilers away, the action in this film is definitely some of the best in the series: Rian Johnson’s screenplay and direction are top notch, and despite the story dragging near the end of the first act, this remains one of the most emotional and fun experiences from cinema in 2017.
7: Get Out
Who would’ve thought well-known sketch comedian Jordan Peele could write and direct something so grounded in racial commentary and downright creepy storytelling. Get Out follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he meets his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) upper class family for the first time. As each day passes, Chris realizes more and more that the people around him aren’t who they seem. Featuring a breakout performance from Kaluuya and incredible direction from Peele, Get Out remains one of the best films of 2017.
6: War for the Planet of the Apes
War concludes the new Apes trilogy with a bang. Ape leader Caesar finds himself in a seemingly impossible predicament when his people are kidnapped by the ruthless Colonel. He must team up with a small band of followers to save them from an all out war between apes and humans. This final chapter solidifies the new Planet of the Apes series as one of the best trilogies of all time, and credibly shows Andy Serkis as one of the hardest working character actors in Hollywood.
5: Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s latest tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver constantly trying to get out of the crime business. Once he does, he finds the girl of his dreams, but is thrown back in to his former life against his will for one last job. Wright’s signature style, the use of long takes and less editing than most action films, and a killer musical playlist make Baby Driver one of the most unique experiences of 2017.
Sometimes I forget how much I hate clowns. Then movies like It come alone and remind me. This story follows a group of kids in Derry, Maine, who are constantly terrorized by a demonic entity most often in the shape of Pennywise the dancing clown. Led by Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), the group eventually decides to take matters into their own hands and rid the town of It’s presence. Full of practical scares and gory terror, It is a deeply resonant film that’s not just scary, but full of heart and the perfect dose of nostalgia.
3: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
With nowhere near enough of the critical claim it deserves, this comedy-drama follows many members of the Meyerowitz family as they live out their daily lives in New York. Danny’s (Adam Sandler) daughter has just started college, his father Harold (Dustin Hoffman) is struggling with retirement, and he struggles to connect with his half brother Matt (Ben Stiller). Noah Baumbach, who is known for his stories focused on familial drama, writes and directs this film with so much heart, and it remains one of the most realistic, funny and downright emotionally affecting movies I’ve seen in a long time.
This groundbreaking war drama narrates the story of the evacuation of Dunkirk, France, during the Nazi invasion from three different perspectives: the land, the sea and the sky. Each setting follows a few key characters as they race to survive the night, the day or just a matter of hours. Christopher Nolan directs a film that is largely different from the war films that have preceded it. He relies heavily on visual storytelling to drive the narrative, this stylistic choice working on every level.
1: Blade Runner 2049
There’s so much potential for grounded storytelling within a science fiction setting. The original Blade Runner, and now its sequel, are fine examples of this idea. The film follows K (Ryan Gosling), a Blade Runner on the search for out of date replicants in dystopian Los Angeles. Like its predecessor, this film raises a lot of serious ideas that discuss what makes us human and what it means to exist in a world constantly changing and evolving. This is largely done through Denis Villeneuve’s hauntingly stark direction and Roger Deakins’ Oscar worthy cinematography. Blade Runner 2049 reinstills a love of good film and solidifies Villeneuve as one of the best working directors of today.
(Image courtesy of The Telegraph)