TOP 10 FILMS OF 2017
The 2017 Oscar nominations were announced last Tuesday and per usual this time of year, many moviegoers are speculating and giving their opinions on what films are being overhyped by critics and what films deserve more recognition.
While trophies and box office should never be the only reason behind a movie’s success, I have complied a brief list of my TOP 10 Films of 2017. There is no specific criteria I had when creating this list, only that to make it in my list, the film had to be released in 2017.
So let’s get to it, starting with #10…
Battle of the Sexes
Quite possibly the “Underdog” of 2017, “Battle of the Sexes” had all the makings of being an Oscar contender. With incredible performances from both Steve Carrell and Emma Stone (fresh off her Oscar win for “La La Land”), we see the story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs reflected onto the big screen. Had this film been released in December, I think it would have made a much bigger impact on critics and audiences. “Battle of the Sexes” focuses on bringing attention to issues that still resonate with audiences today such as sexual identity and gender equality.
Call Me by Your Name
It seems like every time a “coming-of-age” story is released this time of year, there is Oscar buzz, but Luca Guadagnino’s romantic drama is certainly worth buzzing for. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, “Call Me by Your Name” takes place in 1983, Italy and tells the story of a 17 year-old boy who develops a romantic relationship with his father’s American assistant. The storyline and plot are quite moving but what really pulls me into this film is the elegant and romantic landscape of the Italian countryside shot beautifully by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom.
Happy Death Day
2017 was a big year for horror films and Christopher B. Landon’s satirical thriller about a sorority girl reliving the day of her murder over and over again packs a huge punch. What makes this film so great is that it is basically mocking the horror genre by not taking itself seriously and going in and out of scares then back to humor. The film’s breakout star Jessica Rothe does a great job living up to the standards of what a “Scream Queen” should be. This film was a riot! It is like someone took the screenplays to “Scream” and “Groundhog Day” and rolled them into one awesome horror flick.
Already being considered by many as one of the best war films ever made and Director Christopher Nolan’s best work to date, I don’t know if “Dunkirk” is just being over-hyped or if it really is just that good. The film chronicles the story of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. With little dialogue in the film, the viewer is drawn in by the incredible cinematography. With the exception of a few, I often have a hard time keeping focused during war films because they tend to lag on but with a running time of 106 minutes, “Dunkirk” keeps you on the edge of your seat and it’s no surprise it has garnered 8 Oscar nominations.
The Shape of Water
Quite possibly the strangest love story you will ever see on the big screen. When I found out this film had managed to grab 13 Academy Award nominations (the most in this year’s list of nominees), I immediately stopped what I was doing and saw it. Needless to say, Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film did not disappoint. Set in 1962, a mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) works at highly secured laboratory and befriends a humanoid amphibian creature who is being tortured and tested on by the men there. Through music and dancing and yes, love, Elisa communicates with the creature and the two form a passionate friendship. This film dives into many social issues like homosexuality, loneliness, and lack of understanding. And if you aren’t moved by the story itself, you will be transfixed by its imagery.
Yes, another coming-of-age film that is all about expression and being who you are. This comedy-drama directed by Greta Gerwig is about a high school senior who calls herself Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) and her relationship with those around her, in particular her mother, played brilliantly by Laurie Metcalf (aka, Aunt Jackie on “Roseanne”). This film is one I think everyone can enjoy. Its ironic humor, its voice of acceptance. It works on so many levels and really defines the “coming-of-age” genre.
When I saw that Jordan Peele’s psychological horror film received 4 Academy Award nominations, all in major categories, (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Original Screenplay), I thought: “YES!” This film has such an original concept but also addresses the fact that racism is still a part of society and it can still be used in the most damaging of ways. Director Jordan Peele, who also wrote the screenplay for “Get Out” created a film that after watching, sticks with you. I’ve seen it several times and am still affected by the extreme subject matter.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This has been a controversial year for Hollywood. With the “Me Too” movement, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” may be the best representation to speak for the issue that has now become a major campaign amongst people today. The story focuses on a mother who rents three billboards, addressing the city police and their lack of attention to solving her daughter’s murder. As Mildred Hayes, Frances McDormand delivers the best performance of her career. Sam Rockwell as Officer Dixon is a great example of a character who is completely flawed but somewhere in there lies a human being who wants to do good. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” does a great job at pulling you in with emotional streaks but also throwing in humor and Frances McDormand helps bring that theme full circle.
The Disaster Artist
GENIUS. Pure. Genius. Making a great film about the worst film ever made could not have been an easy feat for James Franco who directed, produced, and starred in a movie about a man whose “creativity” was so convoluted that the only way for people to see what he was trying to achieve was by making a film that explains exactly what was going on in Tommy Wiseau’s head when he was making his 2003 independent film “The Room,” widely considered to be the worst film of all time. What makes this movie so brilliant is that rather than poking fun at Wiseau and his notorious antics, Franco completely transforms before our eyes and lets us see who Tommy was as a person, not as an actor trying to achieve something that he could not translate onto the big screen. The fact that the Academy decided to not recognize Franco’s brilliant performance, or the overall film is criminal. “The Disaster Artist” has received only one Academy Award nomination (Best Adapted Screenplay), but you know what? Who cares. Some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces don’t often walk away with trophies and I guess this film will be added to that list.
If you haven’t read my review of Craig Gillespie’s biographical film about figure skater Tonya Harding, please go to my "MOVIE REVIEWS" Blog and read it. You will find all the reasons for this film being #1 on my list in that review. In the simplest terms, what puts “I, Tonya” at the top of my list of films for 2017 is that it contains the one element I often look for in a film, pure entertainment. This film has it all! Comedy, drama, satire, irony. It tells Tonya’s story in way that makes me feel like I am watching a Martin Scorsese film, meaning it’s gutsy. There is no holding back. Margot Robbie, who also produced the film encapsulates the essence of Tonya Harding as a high profiled figure skater, but more importantly, outside of the rink. And if Allison Janney does not walk away with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, I will demand some answers. Her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s domineering mother LaVona makes Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest” look like June Cleaver. “I, Tonya” sets the record straight on what is still a very controversial topic and the truth is told in the most entertaining and compelling way.
What do you think were the best films of 2017? Feel like I missed any?
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