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January 15, 2018

5

Top 10 Films of 2017

by Franz Patrick


Below are my picks for the Top 10 Films of 2017. It must be noted that the list may change slightly if I happened to come across great movies I had missed prior to this post. The same rule applies to all of my annual Top 10 Lists. In other words, my lists are updated continually. My hope is to provide alternative movies that are absolutely worth seeing that may not or will not necessarily appear on “Top Critics” picks. Underneath each picture is an excerpt from my review which can be found in the archive. In the meantime, dive in and, as always, feel welcome to let me know what you think.



Call Me By Your Name
Luca Guadagnino

“To tell a love story without the expected words, phrases, and gestures meant to communicate specific thoughts, feelings, and private longings is particularly challenging to pull off, awkward and off-putting when executed even with the slightest hint of self-consciousness, but Luca Guadagnino’s surprisingly disarming ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ based on the novel by André Aciman, makes it look like most graceful dance, so natural, delicate, and free of chains that prevent so many coming-of-age pictures from reaching their maximum potential. Here is a film that gets it right every step of the way, a rarity under any standard, clearly a modern classic.”



Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh

“The plot of Martin McDonagh’s structurally elegant and emotionally honest ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri’ involves an unsolved case of a girl who was raped, murdered, and set on fire, but the story is no murder mystery. Instead, it is an exploration, perhaps even an exorcism, of the psychology of some members of the titular small town who are directly involved with the case that has reached a dead end. The characters we meet may not be entirely likable but it is required that they be interesting. McDonagh continues to create work that will stand the test of time. This time around, his work asks us to consider how we might respond in the face of great injustice—especially one that happens to us and our family.”



Wonder
Stephen Chbosky

“Once in a while a family film like ‘Wonder’ comes along to remind everybody that the sub-genre is plagued by awful and generic movies, often so loud, obnoxious, and busy that they end up saying absolutely nothing, forgotten about even before the end credits roll. Here is a film imbued with expected lessons regarding kindness and empathy, but what makes it special is director Stephen Chbosky putting his finger on the pulse of what makes this particular story worth telling, about a fifth grader with a facial deformity attending school with other children for the first time. It is willing to show kids as living, breathing, complex young people rather than wooden caricatures surrounded by slapstick humor and crude jokes involving bodily functions. The film has plenty of heart and a brain, too.”



Molly’s Game
Aaron Sorkin

“Great movies almost always contain one image or scene that summarizes the entire work so perfectly, it is etched onto the viewer’s mind long after the picture fades to black. Here, it is that of a woman dressed in at least two thousand dollars worth of clothing who is asked by a worker at a food stand whether she would like hotdog. She does, but once she reaches into her coat pocket, she is only able to find two dollars. The hotdog costs three bucks and so she must settle for a pretzel. This four- to five-second snapshot, which can be easily overlooked by less observant viewers, captures the story’s trajectory. ‘Molly’s Game’ is highly efficient and supremely watchable, an electric directorial debut by Aaron Sorkin.”



Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan

“Perhaps the most impressive chunks of the picture are those that contain no standard dialogue. Pay close attention to the opening scene, for example, as hurried footsteps, rapid breathing, and bullets ricocheting do the talking. Meanwhile, the veteran writer-director ensures to capture the eyes of the target (Fionn Whitehead), who looks more like a boy than a man, as desperation turns to hope and back again. Clearly, with this particular story being told in such a specific way, making room for classic or expected character development would only impede the momentum of the material. [Christopher] Nolan is correct to strip it away for what he intends to deliver is a visceral experience.”



It: Chapter One
Andy Muschietti

“Superior horror pictures attempt to pummel their audience into submission, whether it be in terms of providing consistent, well-earned scares or delivering an inescapable sense of foreboding through carefully calibrated atmosphere. Rarer still are those that employ both. These approaches do wonders to the latest interpretation of Stephen King’s ‘It,’ this time based on the screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, as it provides the requisite chills to render the viewer wide-eyed from terror and yet remain most curious as to what might happen to the young spirited protagonists and whether they would find a way to rid of the evil that plagues their small town.”



Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve

“To follow up one of the most influential science-fiction pictures is no easy feat, but director Denis Villeneuve is able to meet and surpass the best qualities of ‘Blade Runner.’ Notice how movies within the genre often forget that ideas should come first. After all, the goal of sci-fi paves the way for conversations involving humanity’s place in time, on this planet, and beyond. And so many of these films, often standard and disappointing, end up being filled with empty action, generic explosions, and senseless violence—filler masquerading as entertainment. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ shines exactly because it offers a more cerebral experience.”



John Wick: Chapter 2
Chad Stahelski

“Notice how nearly every action sequence is shot as if it were a dance. During hand-to-hand combat, limbs move with urgency, purpose, precision; torsos accumulate tension and respond to every action and reaction; appropriate facial expressions accompany each damaging blow to the body, whether it be a punch, a bullet, a serrated blade. Meanwhile, the camera sashays around the violent seizure, at times paired with an energetic soundtrack while other times daring to be silent. We are forced to listen, wide-eyed, full of nervous energy and anticipation to every blow, desperate shuffling, and the inevitable wince of pain.”



Beach Rats
Eliza Hittman

“It is worth noting that ‘Beach Rats’ is never meant to be titillating—a standout because many LGBTQ pictures feel the need to entertain such an avenue even though it does not have anything to do with their thesis. Here, observe how nearly every sexual encounter is something that just has to be done rather than to be enjoyed. It usually involves Frankie having to prove to others he is one way rather than another, to prove that he is something else other than what he knows to be true. It is a sad story and I admired [Eliza] Hittman’s focus when it comes to delivering what the film wishes to convey.”



All the Money in the World
Ridley Scott

“Christopher Plummer’s eyes are the stars of ‘All the Money in the World,’ a dramatic thriller involving a teenager (Charlie Plummer) kidnapped in Italy during the early 1970s and his grandfather who refuses to pay a cent for his ransom despite the fact that the old man is the most successful capitalist in the history of the world. Fascinating from start to finish, as a character study and as a genre picture, Ridley Scott directs his project with a highly meticulous eye, a great exercise of maintaining tension and breaking it as well as a statement piece of our relationship as a society when it comes to the paper we worship.”

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. GaryGreg828
    Jan 17 2018

    Are these in order, or just random? For what it’s worth, I will leave my thoughts b/c it’s always interesting to discuss:

    1. Call Me By My Name i can’t support b/c it looks to be promoting pedophilia; this boy looks 16 and Arnie looks 35. I know you won’t agree w/ me, but as time goes on the age will get lower and lower until you’ll have films with 40 year old guys seducing 12-13 year old boys/girls. Time will tell. I watched some of the film, and found it dull, but the directing and cinematography was good, so I get why you liked it. I just think it’s a movement to try to make pedophilia “normal” and mainstream in the future, likely 10-20 years down the road.

    2. Three Billboards i watched some of it, but i thought this one was boring, as well. I didn’t finish it, as I found the characters too over-the-top to the point I couldn’t take it seriously, especially Rockwell. We’re not agreeing too much this year. I guess it’s just like every other year! :)

    3. Wonder. I have not seen it, but i think I will try to check it out, as the premise seems interesting.

    4. Molly’s Game i have not seen, but Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain are two of my favorite actors/actresses. But when i watched the trailer it looked like it was trying to be too cute and overly stylish and slick. If a film’s going to be slick, then it should be able to naturally and not try to force it. I’m afraid that could be the case here, but I was surprised to find this on your list, so maybe Im wrong and will give it a try when I get a chance.

    5. Dunkirk i have not seen, but I want to; only problem is i know it’s probably amazing on the IMAX screen and i’ll be disappointed to have to watch on a small screen at home. You can just tell Nolan’s directing here is incredible simply from the trailer alone.

    6. It just looks so dull and predictable to me. I have no interest in this one.

    7. Blade Runner 2049 have not seen. I thought the first one was pretty good, although I admit a bit hard to follow and really comprehend everything going on. I don’t even remember much about it except there was a lot of neon lights, which i liked, and a fight scene in the rain with Rutger Hauer. I may check the sequel out sometime. I’m not against seeing it; just not in a rush.

    8. John Wick 2 i didn’t like as much as the first, but i still liked it pretty well. But the final sequence in the park i LOVED; there’s something about the loyalty of a dog where he runs alongside his owner no matter what his owner’s doing, even if it’s running for his life. And Bates’ score really amplified the mood throughout that sequence; when it cut to black you just want to see MORE. What happens next!? THAT is how you end a movie.

    9. Beach Rats never even heard of…

    but I have of number 10. All The Money in the World, and i think i want to check it out soon.

    I’m surprised you had so many action/violent films on your top 10. Was this a slow year for you, being able to watch as many films? i know you were busy w/ work.

    i actually deleted my blog, so no 2017 list from me, and i didn’t watch many movies this year, anyway. But a few of my favorites that I did see, and recommend for you:

    1. The Invisible Guest (on netflix) was probably my #1 of the year with a TWIST at the end I never saw coming! Highly recommend for you.

    2. Better Watch Out. It seemed like a typical home invasion movie, but then becomes something else. I thought it was pretty well done. I think you’d like it.

    3. The Transfiguration (on netflix). I thought this was very well done. Pretty disturbing, but intriguing, nonetheless. If you haven’t already seen it I think you’d find it interesting.

    Sorry to write a post in one comment box. lol. I guess I had to since I don’t blog anymore. Happy New Year. :)

    Reply
    • Jan 17 2018

      I tried my best to put them in order even though they are so different from one another. I think that all of them are great in their own way. A requirement for my picks is that I had to have given them 4 stars in my reviews. There is yet a year since I started this website 10 years ago when I haven’t given at least 10 4-star movies.

      1. Call Me by Your Name. It’s such a beautiful movie and it’s a shame, I think, that some people view the romance, based solely on the trailers, as promoting pedophilia. Different countries go by different rules like, for example, setting an age to be considered officially as an adult. Some countries say 18. Others say 16. In some cultures, it is 14. That’s just fact. I think the picture does NOT promote pedophilia in any way, shape, or form. There is no movement to normalize pedophilia that’s happening here.

      Credit to you for giving the movie a chance, even though you didn’t finish it, but I’m shocked that you still believe, despite seeing it, that it is promoting something that it isn’t. Pardon me for not mincing words but I think you missed the point because your personal bias got in the way. In a way, you saw what you wanted to see. But I get it because sometimes it’s really hard to do.

      I think Call Me By Your Name will be considered a classic years from now. Especially by the LGBTQ community. This movie has a certain understanding, a certain knowing, that many movies within the sub-genre do not.

      2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is not for everyone. The content is polarizing (not mentioned it is a fusion of dark comedy and drama) and even the story’s trajectory is out of the ordinary. But that’s what I loved about it. So many movies I encounter are so familiar, standard, boring that when something different comes along, on top of the material being excellent across the board, I’ll stand by it. Plus, all the performances are stellar. I want McDormand to win Best Actress.

      3. Wonder. Everyone should see this movie. Family films of this caliber don’t come by every year. The structure of the movie is just so brilliant. Like my #1 pick, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days.

      4. Molly’s Game. I love the dialogue of this movie. It just has a natural rhythm. When you say overly stylish and slick (as might some others), I say it’s Aaron Sorkin delivering his usual intelligent, urgent, and edgy screenplay. I was enraptured in the theater. It’s almost 2 1/2 hours long and I didn’t want it to end just yet.

      5. Dunkirk. I saw it at home and I still felt the impact of Nolan’s incredible direction. I just love how he allows the images to speak for themselves without necessarily bringing attention to them. It really is one of the great war films in recent memory.

      6. It: Chapter One. You’ve recommended me horror films that are way more dull. Haha. It’s the best horror picture of the year not because of its craft but because I feel it is able to open up the horror genre to the mainstream audience without relying on the usual cliches. The cast is fantastic. And it improved upon the mini-series by miles. I can’t wait for Chapter Two.

      7. Blade Runner 2049. I have seen the original Blade Runner at least 5 times now and I still believe it is a mediocre sci-fi picture. People will scoff at me for saying that, but I don’t care. (Many of them haven’t even seen it at least 5 times like I did, OK? Haha.) This one, however, I loved because I feel there is more of a heart to it, something that the original lacked for me. Plus, the images are beautiful.

      8. John Wick: Chapter 2. Yes, I’m in complete agreement with you with that sequence. But, unlike you, I thought the first is mediocre with some good moments. This one, for me, just amped it up a notch which reminded me of the sheer energy and stylistic touches of “The Raid 2” (which I loved). It made me look forward to the next chapter. And I hear they are making a TV show? Hmm.

      9. Beach Rats. This movie is absolutely not for everyone. But it is for those who love independent movies who dare to tell really personal stories without compromise. I can write a paper about the main character here. I thought his sadness and desperation is very interesting. And I felt bad for him because he is essentially the guard to his own prison cell.

      10. All the Money in the World. Removing Kevin Spacey and casting Christopher Plummer instead did this movie wonders. With Spacey in the original trailer, the makeup is so weird and distracting. But Plummer. You believe his character’s old age and his wisdom… even though he is not at all likable. I found this movie to be surprisingly suspenseful.

      To answer your questios:
      – No, I don’t think it’s a slow year for me. Do I usually pick non-violent/non-action movies? Haha. Honestly, I’m more of a fan of quiet dramas and dark comedies, but these movies are able to stand out from my preferred crops.
      – I think I saw a lot of movies in 2017. When I was going over movies released last year, I was actually surprised how many I’ve seen. A lot of them, though, are OK. Some of them are horrifically bad. There are plenty of good ones I gave 3 stars. I think I only gave about 12 or 13 4-star movies (so far) from 2017. I have yet to see movies like “I, Tonya” and “The Phantom Thread.” I will this weekend.

      I will absolutely check out “The Invisible Guest” and “The Transfiguration.” Thanks for the recommendation. They sound interesting. I hope to review them so I hope you’re subscribed via e-mail so you can be alerted.

      Thank you for your comment and Happy 2018!

      Reply
      • GaryGreg828
        Feb 1 2018

        don’t you dare lie and say i ever recommended a dull horror movie to you!! lol. :) what i mean about “It” being dull is I can already tell how it basically ends, and that takes away all the anticipation…

        i watched a few of your recommendations. I liked “Wonder” but kept thinking how the boy didn’t look that bad; he kind of resembled a cat (Eric Stoltz’s distorted face in “Mask” is far worse). In a real life scenario like this, I think Auggie’s facial scars would capture his classmate’s attention when they first see him, but they would get used to him pretty fast, considering he’s pretty normal otherwise – and i think his intelligence would earn him respect. I liked how they delved into the other character’s stories, as well, and the dynamic w/ his sister and the family.

        I watched “Molly’s Game” and agree w/ you; it was nearly 2 and a half hours, but you weren’t ready for the story to end. I liked it a lot. If I were to make a top ten for 2017, this would likely be somewhere near the top. I’m glad this wasn’t as pretentious as the trailer came across to me. This is why I like to look at other people’s reviews as trailers can be misleading. I also liked “Miss Sloane”. Chastain is one of my favorite overall actors; she has such great range. She was on SNL recently and in every sketch had a different accent. Idris Elba is another one of my favorites, and he’s really good, as well, but he isn’t as good w/ the accents, as you could hear his british accent leaking through in this role. lol. but it didn’t matter b/c it didn’t distract from the character and made him come across even a bit more sophisticated.

        I have not been able to watch “All The Money in the World” yet, but i agree that Spacey’s make-up looked off; he resembled a monster; definitely looked far worse than Auggie. lol. I think Plummer is a great casting choice. Only question is, why didn’t they cast him in the first place?

        Did you miss “Gifted” with Chris Evans? It came out last year. I didn’t see it on your reviews. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should; it’s in the same vein as “Wonder” although a very different scenario.

        Reply
    • Jan 25 2018

      I’d like to see all of these. I haven’t been enrolled in a few – but I will give them a chance because I love how you’ve described them. However I hated Blade Runner 2049. I thought it bloated and convoluted. Oh well, there are no perfect movies.

      Really curious what’d you’d think of “Beats Per Minute.” I was riveted…

      Reply
  2. Feb 1 2018

    Nice list! We have quite a bit of crossover. Check out my top 10 at https://scribblesofstageandscreen.com/2018/01/27/my-top-ten-films-of-2017/

    Reply

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