The day has come to finally talk about my ten favorite films of 2017. “Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!” Sorry, couldn’t help myself from making that reference. As usual I watched quite a few films this year (110 at the time of writing this article). There were some fantastic highs, abysmal lows, and a lot in between. What we have here is a diverse selection of films that I intend on adding to my personal collection and re-watching in the years to come. Are you ready for this? Probably, but at least it should be a fun read and maybe you’ll add a few of these to your watchlist.
10. Brawl in Cell Block 99
I enjoyed S. Craig Zahler’s previous film (Bone Tomahawk) and was curious what he’d do next. Brawl is a dark, dirty, painful film that while might be too much for some was mesmerizing to me. Vince Vaughn reminds us when given the right material he can shine as a dramatic actor.
9. My Friend Dahmer
There’s always a fear of exploitation when you watch a film based off a real life serial killer. The filmmakers took a somber and at times episodic graphic novel crafting an uncomfortable character study. We’re left to wonder if even the smallest thing had been different would Jeffrey Dahmer’s life gone another direction?
It hasn’t been an ideal for horror films. As usual there was a plethora a terrible sequels/prequels/reboots to franchises that should’ve been left in the dirt decades ago. But out of the mainstream were a few gems. Raw is unnerving in all the right ways. I can not wait to see Garance Marillier’s career progress after such a great performance.
7. The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro is one of the few current directors who has a strong grasp on visuals while telling compelling stories. I couldn’t be happier that he now has a few Oscars on his shelf. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones both give compelling performances with just their expressions. Seriously, most actors would kill to emote from their face the way Jones can with his body.
6. Wind River
Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut is a doozy. Having written some of the most compelling crime films of the past few years Wind River continues his writing streak and shows promise as a director. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen turn in strong performances, but it’s the supporting cast who really shine.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have had a stellar track record the past few years. Their previous collaborations The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty both managed to snag Oscar nominations (and in the former’s case wins), but with it’s late July release this film seemed to get lost in the shuffle this year. It’s a tough film that forces us to look back at a dark part of our country’s history and ask ourselves, “Has anything really changed?” I walked out of the theatre emotionally spent after this film. Not an easy watch, but well worth seeing.
4. I, Tonya
Confession time, I’ve been a Tonya Harding apologist for years. She was a joke made by late night television hosts to get a quick laugh. Craig Gillespie (an underrated director if you ask me) humanized this joke and showed someone who was abused and ridiculed. And in spite of all that worked to become an Olympic athlete. Margot Robbie kills it inhabiting Tonya’s abrasive personality, but lets not forget Allison Janney’s striking performance as LaVona Fay Golden. Is entirely factual? Doubtful, but the story it tells is captivating, hilarious, and bleak.
3. Blade Runner 2049
I’m still bummed that I missed seeing 2049 while it was playing in theatres, but due to a hectic schedule I couldn’t find the time. While the visuals were still top notch on the small screen it was the story that drew me in. Gosling’s stoic performance was pitch perfect for what the story required. Much like the recent reboot of Westworld we’re pushed to ask some intriguing questions about A.I. Will the time come when we see robots as second class citizens forced into menial labor? Will robots become so perfect that we’ll see more humanity in them then we will ourselves? Do they dream of electric sheep? At nearly three hours this film never bores and leaves you wanting more. Throw in Roger Deakins’ glorious cinematography along with beautiful production design and you have a film that will stand the test of time.
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh’s incendiary look at small town justice is a film that has come under fire recently. People have raised questions about seeing the overtly racist deputy portrayed by Sam Rockwell get a redemption in the story. While on the surface this is a problematic issue I took a deeper look and saw something even more depressing. The ending isn’t about him finding redemption, it’s about Mildred (Frances McDormand) feeling so low she’s willing to team with such a deeply flawed person to exercise her demons. It’s a film that asks tough questions with a fantastic script and amazing actors makes for a brilliant watch.
1.The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Here we are at number one with a film that is jarring, uncomfortable, and yet impossible to look away from. Much like Phantom Thread the first half of the film is time the viewer has to invest while the latter half pays it off. Colin Farrell’s second collaboration with director Yorgos Lanthimos provides another win for both of them. It’s Barry Keoghan’s subdued and chilling performance and his interaction with the rest of the actors that make this film. The build up to an ending that is enthralling and devastating turning the story into something that will leave you speechless.
And with that we can now take a breather on talking about last years films. At least for a little while. These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Did you enjoy any/all of these ten films? Does anything on this list surprise you? Let me know. Below you will find the links to previous top ten lists. I also recently made a guest appearance on a podcast talking about 2017 in film with my friend Andy. When the link is available I will post it. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram at Fat Dude Digs Flicks. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.