It is exceedingly hard to rank entities that are discrete artistic creations, mainly due to my resistance to comparing such individual achievements. It is much easier to rank things that are the worst. (I’m not the biggest fan of worst lists for other reasons, but when there are over 30 films to choose from for such a list, it is something I have to discuss).
So, yeah, this list is ranked, but it is merely based on my personal feelings of these films right now. More importantly, this list exists as a living document on Letterboxd. This is simply because my area has yet to release certain high profile 2017 films such as The Post, and I have not had time during the busy holiday season to get around to seeing films such as The Shape of Water and Call Me by Your Name, etc. etc. Check there for updates.
50. Trainspotting 2
Some things get richer with age: whisky, wine…mostly alcohol. The original Trainspotting remains an electric, darkly comic ride through heroin addiction. T2: Trainspotting is an adequate, if not less memorable, follow up.
49. Free Fire
Messy and simple, Free Fire is exactly that: a movie depicting a group of characters confusedly and blinding shooting at each other for about 70 minutes. For those looking for only that, it works surprisingly well.
48. Creep 2
It was hard to see exactly where a sequel to the surprise VOD hit Creep would go, given how the narrative of the original unfolds. Nevertheless, Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass return to the world of the eponymous creep with an equal level of suspense and wit.
47. The Hero
The Hero is, in effect, an ode to Sam Elliott, and it is a well-worthwhile ode. The film stumbles over a few narrative obstacles, but Elliott’s performance is certainly noteworthy.
46. The Trip to Spain
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return to the same film formula a third time. Who would have thought that two guys eating food and doing Michael Caine impressions would remain entertaining enough to make this a good trilogy.
A low-budget horror thriller with a great grasp of tone, The Devil’s Candy is this year’s under-seen little genre gem.
Initially touted, early in the year, as Kathryn Bigelow’s next Oscar contender, Detroit didn’t live up to that early buzz. As messy as its construction is, Detroit has a long stretch of hard-to-watch, tense drama in its center and strong performances all around that keep it from falling out of the top 50.
Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of Thurgood Marshall in the early part of his career is perfectly terse and passionate. Initially, one (I included) would think that a more synoptic look at Marshall’s career would bear more cinematic fruit, but Marshall‘s focus on one pivotal court case is rather riveting.
42. Wonder Woman
I wouldn’t dare put Wonder Woman as high as some critics have in their year-end lists. It is a fine action film from a studio that has a poor track record. Surprising, sure. Refreshing for DC fans, sure. But Wonder Woman still stumbles along the same pitfalls that even the best modern superhero films do: weak cartoonish villains, terrible climaxes.
Battle of the Sexes hinges itself on the performances of its two leads: Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. They do a fine job, but their supporting cast is wasted. As is the subject matter, frankly.
40. Dark Night
Perhaps drawn too abstract for its very real subject matter—in a way playing the same narrative game as Gus Van Sant’s Elephant—Dark Night nevertheless yields some beautiful, transient, and haunting imagery in its depiction of isolation at the fringes.
It is John Wick, again. It is John Wick, too, if you will. Lots of flashy choreography and stunt coordination. Keanu Reeves doing the stoic bitterness routine. Not much else, but who was asking for more?
Showbiz docs can never really be objective or true, given that they are almost always coming out of the same showbiz machine. Jim & Andy certainly is not objective (all we see in the present tense is Jim Carrey’s talking head interview), but it is still an idiosyncratic, fascinating look at method acting.
What is the perfect send-off for Hugh Jackman after his 17-year tenure as the Wolverine? How about a Wolverine movie that is actually good! It isn’t a half-bad swan song for Patrick Stewart, either, who remains one of the most talented and versatile actors working.
It figures that M. Night Shyamalan returning to the world of his best film (that’s right, his best film) would yield his best film in over a decade. It’s not a perfect thriller. However, it is shot wonderfully and features a tour de force performance from James McAvoy.
It is frantic and motor-mouthed, but The LEGO Batman Movie is just as entertaining as any live-action superhero film of 2017. It’s certainly the best movie of the year to feature Batman.
I expected audience backlash from The Last Jedi, but not to this degree. Of course, it makes plenty of sense, given some of the more radical choices Rian Johnson made here. When the choices worked, they worked wonders. When the choices failed, well, at least they made radical choices!
The genre-mashup of Colossal is fairly intriguing, if not wholly original. Hathaway and Sudeikis wield this tonally-mixed giant of a film admirably, even when the direction appears to fall off.
[Insert “Oh hi Mark” reference here]. Franco’s embodiment of the endlessly enigmatic Tommy Wiseau is enough to lift this film up, even if it does not soar as high in other crucial aspects.
31. The Beguiled
There is a world where I re-watch The Beguiled and, appreciating it all-the-more for its psychological intricacies, raise it to a higher roost on this list. Alas, I don’t have time for that now. As low as it is here, The Beguiled ought not to be missed by a fan of tight, dreadful dramas.
The performances in Stronger—from that of Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany, and Miranda Richardson—are the standout and constant highlights of the film. Other areas of the film fluctuate in quality, but the film never sinks to a place where it stops being emotionally engaging.
29. Loving Vincent
The narrative is nothing to write home about, but the artistic creation that is Loving Vincent is impressive enough for it to stand as something notable.
I would write something here about the consistency of Pixar films, but Cars 3 also came out this year. I guess .500 on the year is still a good average.
27. Wind River
I have some issues with the Jeremy Renner character in this film (namely that he doesn’t need to be in the film at all), but otherwise there is a lot of fascinating moments of intrigue and incident. Taylor Sheridan proves again that he really knows how to write scenes of intense tension.
26. Logan Lucky
The final misdirection of the heist in Logan Lucky isn’t particularly riveting, nor is the stretch near the end featuring Hillary Swank and Macon Blair, but Steven Soderbergh has still got it when it comes to direction of both actors and cross-cutting action.
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