After last year’s underwhelming year of movies, 2017 had a strong showing. Although it may not show, I put a lot of effort into my end-of-year Top Ten Movie list. While I didn’t see everything (PHANTOM THREAD), I do my best to see every movie possible that I think might have any chance. It’s safe to say that I felt very little passion about my Ten Best Movies of 2016 (click the link to see the list). I was happy in 2017 because by the end of summer, I had already seen four amazing films. While that rate did not continue to the end, there were plenty of interesting movies to hang my hat on. With that said, I think my list of great films will no doubt have some controversial choices. But I definitely have an interesting group with a variety of genres and tastes that includes something for everyone to love or hate. Here is my Top Ten Movies of 2017. As always my ten goes to eleven… and then probably some more.
Click on the titles for the full reviews if available.
HONORABLE MENTION: GOOD TIME – I heard absolutely nothing about this movie before I screened it and it really took me by surprise. Robert Pattinson turns in an amazing performance (he was also great in this year’s LOST CITY OF Z) about a criminal on the run from a poorly executed bank heist. His main goal is to free his mentally ill brother from being sent to prison. Taking place over the course of one evening, GOOD TIME is a wild, fast moving, quick thinking character observation about a manipulative bad guy with misplaced morals who has an honest intention.
11. THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED) – Writer/director Noah Baumbach might be an acquired taste, but I think he has a nice understanding of character and dialogue. Even if his films aren’t always my favorite, I always have an appreciation for his work that usually always pulls out a nice moment or two. There is something that is both familiar and frustrating about the Meyerowitz family that makes us laugh and cry. With a strong ensemble performance (Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, and Emma Thompson), THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES is a delightful observation into overcoming and embracing family drama.
10. THE FLORIDA PROJECT – The first of about three films on my list that is tough to recommend. A film about the lower class families living in motels paying rent week to week. Unlike 2016’s AMERICAN HONEY, THE FLORIDA PROJECT follows the children who are being raised in these conditions in Orlando, Florida. It’s both frustrating and frustrating. The eye-opening film is lead by a foul-mouthed little girl name Moonee (in an impressive performance by Brooklyn Prince) with a terrible mother. At the heart of the story is the hotel manager played by a career-best performance from Willem Dafoe who is the only decent father/parent-figure for everyone involved. It might be tough to watch but it’s necessary to reach the end in a surreal conclusion that will bring you to tears.
9. A GHOST STORY – Like me, I think many who see this film will hate it initially. Rooney Mara eating a whole pie for what felt like ten minutes is laughable. But I couldn’t shake the film and had to immediately recount every piece of it back to my wife. In doing so, I discovered a fondness and concern for the film’s deeply sad expression about hopelessness and loss. I don’t agree with the filmmakers interpretation of the afterlife, but I sympathize and appreciate his courage to express such a film. It is an artistic tool that can help identify and understand those who might be dealing with depression or some form of demons in their life. This is a film that stuck with me more than any. I initially hated it but quickly grew to have a compassion toward the film. I know that feeling stems from my own faith-based knowledge of believing we are all lost souls without God’s grace and salvation, that I pray those who don’t know, find. A GHOST STORY saddens me in a painful way, which proves it as a powerful expression.
8. LADY BIRD – We’ve seen coming-of-age films before, but rarely to this level of quality. I thought last year’s THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN was clever and funny. Then Greta Gerwig comes along to write and direct a beautiful story based on her youth to show the genre can once again breathe new life. She captures all the teen angst while still being a unique individual. She exemplifies the struggling relationship with her family and living in her home town of Sacramento that nearly all can relate to. It helps that Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf deliver two of the best performances of the year.