Now that I have dug through all the trash, it’s time for the best films of 2017. I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel like I ‘loved’ as many films in 2017 as compared to 2016 but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good to great films in the year. I’m pretty positive that there will be films on my list that won’t make it on other people’s list, but that’s why it’s mine, so here are the Top 10 Best films of 2017 with a few honorable mentions.
Kicking off this list is a film based on the true story of Lee Strobel, an award-winning journalist who went from atheism to Christianity. A problem that many Christian films run into is that they tend to run the propaganda route because they are playing to a certain audience. What this film did is they focused more on empirical evidence to make their point instead of making this an ‘us vs them’ narrative which critics (mostly atheists themselves) hate. The lead actors Vogel and Christensen display two different roads to the highway of born-again Christianity. The film challenges the validity of historical documents and eyewitness accounts into the rebirth of Christ, using Lee’s journalistic profession to present and actually defend the evidence. This approach was such a refreshing take on Christian films that it won over critics and had an impressive box office success for the genre. The Case for Christ makes #10 for its story and compelling approach to win mainstream audiences.
In arguably the most important film of the entire year, Thank You For Your Service is a sad yet real tale of struggle that real-life military veterans deal with every day returning from a war zone. Screenwriter Jason Hall marketed hard for this film because the overall message they were trying to put out. Many of our service members need the help they deserve and simply aren’t getting it because of a broken government system. Miles Teller gives the best performance of his entire career and even Amy Schumer in a small role does a complete 180 from what we have seen from her giving a truly powerful performance. Not only is this an important movie, but you can tell all the actors put in the work to emphasize an important message.
Now I may be the only person who has this film in their top 10 but I loved this movie. It’s simple, it’s suspenseful, it’s heart wrenching and frustrating…and they accomplished it with only two actors. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena star as a couple of Army Sergeants whom, after completing a recon mission find themselves pinned down against sniper fire in the middle of the desert. No food, No Water, No way to call for help, and No idea where they are getting shot from. The tension in this film is off the charts. Aaron Taylor-Johnson selling the brutal environments of the hostile desert makes it impossible not to feel for him. I normally hate a film that is less than 90 minutes long, but this is the exception to the rule because The Wall is Short…Simple…and to the point and it excels because of it.
Many films this year have tried to play on racial undertones with little to no success. What Jordan Peele did with Get Out proves he’s smart enough to weaponize white guilt to make a damn good movie. A white woman dating a black man is a nightmare for people who value race realism and ethnonationalism so turning such an unconformable topic (For some) into a horror film was actually pretty genius move. Not only does he nail the subject matter, but there are so many little details that are callbacks to horror noir proving how much detail and thought went into the film. Get Out is one of the few films this year that deserves its Oscar praise and a home run directing debut from Peele.
The best love story of 2017 was about a woman and her dog. Don’t watch this movie without a fresh box of Kleenex. Megan Leavey is based on the true-life story of a young Marine played by Kate Mara, who befriends one of the most vicious dogs in the USMC. However, after surviving a botched IED, Megan takes on the biggest legal fight of her life to take ownership of the dog from the Military. The film plays with all of your heartstrings and tells the story of a girl wanting to find her place in the world, a very relatable notion. Megan Leavey isn’t just Kate Mara’s best performance but its great attention-grabbing emotional ride making it hard for anyone to argue against a Top 10 spot.
Capitalism, McDonalds, Adultery…The Founder is easily the most American film of the year. The Founder chronicles the life of Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman who travels to California and discovers the first McDonald’s. After a business arrangement with the owners of the store, Ray starts a chain of restaurants around the country and tries to expand the business but butts heads with owners leading to a hostile takeover. This film should be called Business Ethics 310 because this film starts a hell of a debate about Corruption and Ethics in the business world. Michael Keaton puts out another stellar performance as Kroc, a man whose ambition has no line he won’t cross. Linda Cardellini has a small but memorable role as the future Mrs. Kroc and plays an important role in the turning point of the film. The Founder is an outstanding window of the American Dream, but not everyone gets their unscathed.
One of my last reviews of 2017 and it makes #4 on the Top 10 list, that shows you how impressive this film is. Columbus is an art-house gem which uses a static camera movement to amply the film’s theme, the human condition. Our main characters are dealing with the paralyzing emotional issues stemming from bad relationships with their parents. Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho give very intimate performances in this romantic story that isn’t really a romance. The film’s real romance is the city of Columbus, Indiana, and architecture. The film is a visual love letter to the city and the art of expression through buildings, I know this sounds art house as fuck but Korean born director and writer Kogonada, delivers one of the best dramas of the entire year, if his future projects are anything like this, you may have a name to reckon with going forward.
Only The Brave is an authentic character driven biopic that reacts the events of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were a group of élite firefighters from Arizona who fought fires with fire. The film works on building an emotional connection with these characters to make the ending powerful for those who know how the story ends. You spend most of the time here watching these people create a fraternity-like atmosphere. The veteran cast knocks it out of the park with the standouts being Josh Brolin and Jennifer Connelly. Many films have tried to pay tribute to victims of real-life tragedies, but Only The Brave truly understands that character is key and their commitment to character is what makes everything work earning the #3 spot and one of the best-acted films in the last few years.
I will fight anyone in real life who tries to convince me this isn’t a top 5 best movie of the year. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a throwback to films Hollywood simply doesn’t make anymore because it’s frowned upon in many circles. It’s violent, it’s gritty, it’s funny, it’s unapologetic, and Ruby Rose doesn’t say a fucking word the entire film. John Wick 2 doesn’t miss a beat from the first movie. The subtle humor in this film is quite enjoyable, even better than most modern comedies that actually try to make you laugh. Such ridiculous scenes like Wick and Cassian (Common) having a shootout at a train station using silencers while everyone else in the walkway is completely oblivious is one of the best scenes of the year. The characters are colorful and memorable even if they aren’t in the film for that long. Without question, John Wick 2 has redefined the action genre with the best action movie to come out in over a decade. John Wick 2 is not only a throwback to 80s/90s action films, but it is easily one of the best movies of the year, only beaten by one.
3 minutes into Dunkirk, when you hear the booming sounds of gunfire in a World War II setting, you are hooked into the most visually gripping film of 2017. Christopher Nolan perfectly reenacts the intensity and despair of war with a PG-13 rating and did it in less than 2 hours as well. The film is told from three different perspectives: the foot soldiers desperately trying to flee the beaches of Dunkirk, a civilian boat going into the war-ridden seas to aid the allied soldiers, and two Royal Air Force pilots as they try to shoot down as many planes as they can before running out of gas. Dunkirk is a high tide of dread that perfectly sums up the atmosphere on the beach during the war. You never feel comfortable for any of the characters until the credits roll. Christopher Nolan creates a tale of heroism, survival, and instinct on a tremendous scale and delivers his best work since The Dark Knight. Dunkirk is top-notch filmmaking and the earner of my #1 film of 2017.