I’ll probably have to stop expanding my Best Movies Of The Year list to reflect the year when we get to 2020 but we’re not there yet. Only four of my picks for Best Movies of 2017 are franchises. The other 13 are originals, or as I call them, new franchises (a few of them will surely get sequels.)
17. Tragedy Girls – I just adore the idea of final girl types opting to be the killer instead. It’s a feminist meta take on the genre and the female friendship between the Tragedy Girls is just lovely. I hope they come back for another spree.
16. Patti Cake$ – A Sundance hit that should’ve been a hit but sort of disappeared when released in August. Don’t let the lackluster release fool you. This is a touching, energetic, feel-good indie, and it rocks!
15. The Florida Project – I really appreciated this look at the people living just off the radar in “The Happiest Place on Earth.” It shows people doing their best with what’s available to them. I mean, there are no job prospects for Halley (Bria Vinaite), so she’s still going to find a way to take care of her kids. People who dismiss poor families as not working hard enough need to see what they’re really up against. It’s real, man, it’s real.
14. Band Aid – Normally my favorite movie of Sundance makes it much higher on this list, but that’s a testament to how good the movies of 2017 were. Band Aid is a movie about the healing power of music and the importance of communication.
13. What Happened to Monday – I really dug this Netflix exclusive movie, a high concept sci-fi movie in the vein of ‘80s blockbusters. Noomi Rapace plays septuplets in a future where multiple children are forbidden. Dark and authoritarian, each Noomi is unique and kicks ass in her own way. Forget about Bright.
12. Kidnap – Another high concept thriller, this time like my favorites of the ‘90s. Halle Berry’s son is kidnapped and she follows the kidnappers in her car. How do they keep this going for 82 minutes? Well, they do and it’s awesome.
11. Girls Trip – This is what comedy should be! Four appealing characters get into trouble but support each other, and it’s got actual jokes, not just montages of mediocre antics. I am sure we will be seeing these girls again.
10. John Wick: Chapter 2 – Even if it weren’t a sequel, John Wick 2 would have some of the most ambitious action of the year. Certainly, the most ambitious action that’s done practically (maybe Baby Driver too). But it’s also a sequel so that makes it even better to revisit the world of John Wick.
9. Cult of Chucky – If you could’ve told 10-year-old Fred in 1988 the things he would one day see Chucky do, he would’ve lost his mind. So it’s better they waited until now to spring this brilliance on me.
8.War For The Planet Of The Apes – Rise of and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were each good, and dealt with the growing pains of the technology to make the main characters performance capture apes. They’ve worked out all the kinds and made War an intense drama that could not be equaled by human characters.
7. The LEGO Batman Movie – LEGO Batman is proof that LEGO spinoffs can work and apply that irreverent tone to multiple genres. There was another LEGO movie this year that showed the dangers of doing uninspired LEGO knockoffs, but hopefully the success of LEGO Batman will ensure they focus more on what works.
6. Phantom Thread – I did not expect to like a period piece about a tailor, but it turned out to be one of the most compelling portrayals of a volatile relationship of the year.
5. The Breadwinner – This is animation used to transport us to a world we don’t see, in this case a real world for middle eastern women. It’s brutal but in a way young audiences can receive and appreciate the dire situation of middle eastern women. There is love, there is friendship, there is compassion but those qualities struggle to find a place and sometimes mere survival takes precedence.
4. Baby Driver – There was not a faster, more furious movie this year than Baby Driver. That’s saying something when there was a Fast and the Furious movie this year. Edgar Wright can shoot action, can complement it with music and can create characters we want to live with.
3. The Post – Makes me proud to be a journalist, and hopeful that if the Washington Post could stand up to Richard Nixon, someone today can stand up to Trump. Probably still The Washington Post.
2. mother! – I get that mother! is an allegory for God and the earth, how humanity is ravaging it. However, I also interpret it literally, how disrespecting Mother (Jennifer Lawrence)’s consent and coercing her leads to surreal chaos. No means no.
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – This tale of thinking outside the box to threaten the status quo should be meaningful to a culture that may feel powerless. It should also inspire screenwriters to think outside the box and make movies that can really challenge the system too. All the drama is based on decisions people make and the consequences of those decisions, which is the power of drama in the first place.