2017’s Best Films

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It’s time to talk about my favorite films of 2017! ItMother!, Wonder WomanSpider-Man: HomecomingSplitYour NameLogan LuckyThe Lost City of ZDetroitThor: RagnarokThe Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Wind River were all standouts, but these next ten films are my personal favorites of 2017.

10) The Shape of Water – Guillermo Del Toro’s latest fantasy film is as stunning and bizarre as his previous films, but more restrained. Del Toro focuses on an ensemble of outcasts played wonderfully by Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer. The Shape of Water also excels as a romantic comedy and cold war thriller.

9) A Ghost Story – Arguably the artsiest film on my list, David Lowery’s self-financed supernatural drama is an unforgettable experience. A Ghost Story follows a ghost (Casey Affleck) trapped in an endless time cycle and we’re stuck with him. It’s a mesmerizing little film that explores time, loneliness, and love, bending our minds in the process.

8) Logan – We had a handful of great comic book films in 2017, but Logan is my  favorite! Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s final outing as Wolverine and Professor X is a glorious one. Jackman and Stewart both shine as broken versions of their beloved characters; newcomer Dafnee Keene also rips up the screen as young mutant, Lara. Fans of the Old Man Logan comic should be pleased since Logan has its dread, gore, and Apocalyptic Western aesthetics.

7) The Big Sick – The Big Sick is a gem. Kumail Nanjiani delivers a moving-yet-hilarious performance as a selfish comedian torn between culture and love in this insightful semi-biographical comedy. I’m picky with rom coms, but The Big Sick is the best one I’ve seen in the last five years.

6) The Disaster Artist – The versatile James Franco directs and stars in this chaotically funny Tommy Wiseau biopic. The Disaster Artist follows the troubled production of The Room, and doesn’t just poke fun at the film or the eccentric Wiseau. It also honors Wiseau’s passion, resulting in a surprisingly inspirational comedy.

5) Baby Driver – The summer’s best movie didn’t have superheroes, intelligent apes, or aliens. It had a likable getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who relies on his iPod to outrun the police in a series of thrilling car chases. Reminiscent of True RomanceHeatDriveThe Blues Brothers, Point Break, and La La Land, Edgar Wright’s explosive jukebox musical thriller is for fans of musicals and crime films alike.

4) Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig brings new life to the coming-of-age genre with the emotional roller coaster, Lady Bird. This is a film that balances humor, warmth, and sadness by focusing on a teenaged Lady Bird’s (Saoirse Ronan) complex relationship with her hardened mother (Laurie Metcalf). Ronan and Metcalf are the frontrunner contenders for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress due to their powerful work.

3) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Leave it to Martin McDonagh to craft an unconventional revenge film that doesn’t have revenge in it. This is a scathingly funny character study of broken people seeking both redemption and retribution. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell deliver the best performances of their respective careers as an angry, grieving mother and a redeemable sociopathic cop. Don’t miss Three Billboards!

2) Blade Runner: 2049 – The masterful Denis Villeneuve carries on Ridley Scott’s legacy in this mesmerizing sequel. 2049 continues Deckard’s (Harrison Ford) storyline, leads to some brilliant twists, and introduces us to Ryan Gosling’s mysterious protagonist, K. It’s a mind-bender that makes us question our perception of reality, and it’s packed with amazing visuals (courtesy of Roger Deakins).

1) Get Out – What? Because Get Out has an A, it can’t be #1 over the A+’s? Grades are arbitrary and Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is the best film of 2017. It’s a bloody, creepy, and darkly funny commentary on racial politics. Every time I rewatch Get Out, it gets better because I notice more easter eggs and certain details. Watch it once for the entertainment value; watch it a second and third time to catch all of the subtleties. Either way, you know a movie is number one due to its rewatch value.

This was a terrific year for film and I can’t wait what next year has in store. What were some of your favorite films?

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“Get Out”

“My man,” “This thang,” and “Black is in fashion,” are just three of the awkward and inappropriate lines Bradley Whitford’s Dean utters to Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris in “Get Out.” This is a horror movie that’s more satirical than most modern horror movies.

The laid back and artistic Chris is seeing the beautiful and independent Rose (Allison Williams). They’re getting serious, so it’s time for Chris to meet Rose’s parents at her grandiose childhood home. Her father Dean is a neurosurgeon who tries too hard to be cool, while her mother Missy (Catherine Keener) is a hypnotherapist who wants to know about Chris’s darkest secrets.

In addition to the awkward dinner, Chris notices some strange behavior from the African American residents, and when he’s bluntly told to “get out,” he finds it’s easier said than done. That’s all you need to know about the plot!

“Get Out”  has everything I want in a horror movie, and then some. Eerie visuals and atmosphere, ominous music, a small amount of gore that isn’t distracting, restrained jump scares, an even balance between horror and humor, and social commentary. “Get Out” is a callback to some of the best horror films of the 70s and 80s, while holding its own.

Jordan Peele of “Key and Peele” shows off his love of horror films in his directorial debut. From the opening tracking shot to a thrilling climax, Peele keeps us white knuckling while laughing simultaneously.

Peele does a great job commentating on racism without being preachy about it. “Get Out” takes jabs at the racists who think they aren’t racist. Just because Dean says, “I would have voted for Obama a third term,” that doesn’t mean he’s the liberal saint he sells himself as.

Each cast member does a great job diving into their characters. Kaluuya plays Chris as a cool-yet-vulnerable man who wants to be treated as a person. Williams is cool and spunky as Rose, who acknowledges her family’s bigotry and won’t stand for it. Whitford and Keener are an even balance of menacing and quirky, taking a unique spin on the overbearing parent character arc.

The standout performance goes to the hilarious Lil Rel Howery as Chris’s friend, Rod. He takes the cliched comic relief best friend and plays him as a concerned secondary protagonist.

“Get Out” holds a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and rightfully so. It’s a social commentary that humbly states racism is still active, even if people think it isn’t.

Grade: A