Best of 2017: Movies We Had to See In Theatres (Sometimes More Than Once)
After much deliberation, we narrowed down our favorite films of 2017 and let me warn you, the list runs the gamut. From Get Out at the beginning of the year, Coco for the kids, The Florida Project for indie aficionados, all the way to The Shape of Water — which you can run out right now and still catch in theatres!
Take a look at your list and let us know in the comments which of these movies, if any, were your favorite this year and what we missed out on!
In no particular order…
Culturally, thematically, and as a society, we’re going to be talking about Get Out for years to come. Does it even feel like it only came out at the beginning of 2017?! Jordan Peele wrote and directed a nuanced and modern look at race relations that was funny, uncomfortable, and horrifying all at once.
His directorial debut stands up to repeated viewings and only gets more clever each time. The visuals are astounding, there is no way to forget that cereal scene and all that it implies, and they’re going to stick with us for some time.
From our review of the film, “I often wonder if comedy and horror writers are not cut from the same cloth. Both are built around build up, pacing, and reveals — all with the ultimate goal of appealing to a very base function of us as humans. To delight, to terrify. This film makes it clear that no matter the relation, Peele is without a doubt a deft hand at both.”
Blade Runner 2049
Staff Writer Beatrice Longshore noted that Blade Runner 2049 is, “[l]ikely not anyone’s top film, but I feel like it was the perfect film to transport viewers out of the current state of the world and fully immerse them into this one. Also, [the film is] one of the few sequels that are better than the original.”
Before the film even hit theatres, the marketing team hit up San Diego Comic Con 2017 with what was probably our favorite off-site experience of the year. After a breathtaking VR spinner chase, fans were dropped into the heart of a totally immersive experience complete with set pieces, actors, and free food. Not only was there free food, but there was also free Johnnie Walker whiskey. A few months after the event, we got to sample even more of the special Black Label Director’s Cut that was made as a special movie tie-in.
Our review noted, “Visually the movie is absolutely gorgeous. Its depictions of the future LA is as grimy and neon as the original – not to mention rain-slick. The style has moved on from the eighties take on the future from the original but only just so. And the world-building done in the film is a believable continuation of what we saw in the original.”
The Last Jedi
Let’s take an honest moment here and say that not everyone on our staff loved this movie, we’re just as polarized about it as the rest of the internet. That being said, there’s no denying that we talked a lot about The Last Jedi this year and some of us did indeed love it.
When the first trailer dropped way back in April, we were already on the road to Star Wars hype with our analysis post (Did we guess right? You’ll have to see for yourself!). We also picked up a few books for review along the way, including BB-8 On the Run and The Legends of Luke Skywalker, complete with an author interview. We even got into the marketing craze of the Porgs before the film hit theatres.
Thankfully, some of us didn’t end up hating the Porgs once we’d seen The Last Jedi. Our spoiler-free review noted, “The Last Jedi has a lot to say about fighting the good fight, however, and wherever you can, and how to be the most effective doing it… Long expected to be the ESB of this trilogy The Last Jedi does fulfill a more contemplative, nuanced role. It is serious, but, make no mistake, there are jokes in this movie and they work so well.”
We’re only now really beginning to dig into our feelings about The Last Jedi and beginning to share them with the rest of the internet. Check out our first spoiler-filled editorial by Staff Writer Ashley Glenn, examining Kylo Ren’s arc and a possible path to redemption as compared to Anakin Skywalker. Love it or hate it, everyone feels something about this film!
War for the Planet of the Apes
Not only did War for the Planet of the Apes make our best of list, but Staff Writer Beatrice Longshore argued this year that the entire franchise is absolutely perfect. She explains, “This series is everything a trilogy should be: a great story, impeccable performances, stunning cinematography, and a score that can draw you to tears. It also tells an important message for the ages and one that we need now more than ever. Maybe we need to look a little more closely at the things we think divide us. Maybe we aren’t really that different at all.”
War for the Planet of the Apes, the final film in the trilogy, is slightly less effusive, but we did still enjoy the film greatly. In it, we note, “War isn’t exceptionally exciting. It is a much more subdued movie than the marketing would have you believe. It is remarkably quiet for much of the film, aside from battles bookending the movie. Is that bad? Nah. It just seems like maybe it and Dawn should’ve changed titles.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
We loved the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy because, as our official review says, “[w]e get tons of laughs, psychedelic visuals, and even more space weirdness than before as if any restraints that may have been on the first film have been utterly smashed. Every lingering question from the first movie gets answered, each character builds on their previous relationships, they grow! All of this paired with another collection of great tracks. While these might not be as immediately recognizable as many on the first soundtrack, it is all very well used, and much more intertwined with the plot.”
But the fun of this movie didn’t stop with our review, we further explored the implications of what Vol. 2 might mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and made a point to stop by Disneyland for the Summer of Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride – Mission BREAKOUT. We even picked up the Blu-ray when it was released and reveled in the Special Features, including a gag reel, deleted scenes, the making-of features, and more!
Staff Writer Steve Jozef explains why Your Name is one of the best films of the year by saying, “This is much more than your usual anime romance. Your Name gracefully blends outrageous body-swap comedy, intensely sincere cosmic-scale character dynamics, and was perhaps this year’s most cry-worthy watch. Add in a kickass soundtrack and one of the clearest depictions of contemporary Japan in recent memory, and this becomes a must-see.”
Our official review also had glowing praise for the movie, “Your Name. hits like an even more potent romantic concoction of temporal longing (as from Voices of a Distant Star) and beautiful cinematics (as from 5 Centimeters Per Second) that have become Makoto Shinkai’s hallmarks. However, unlike in his previous films focusing fully on star-crossed lovers, new elements are added to that formula that is reminiscent of instant classics like Spirited Away. In fact, it now is the second largest grossing domestic film in Japan, behind Spirited Away.” Anime fans, don’t miss this one!
The Florida Project
Another quiet favorite of Staff Writer Steve Jozef’s year was this indie film that premiered at Cannes and was distributed by the excellent company, A24. He explains why it’s one of his top picks of the year by saying, “This story of a young girl growing up on the outskirts of Orlando captures the true spirit of youthful joy and then completely obliterates it with the harsh realities of the adult world. This series of vignettes is filled with little moments, a look in a character’s eyes, a perfectly simple line, that will stick with you long after the film’s end.”
Taika Waititi breathed new life into Thor’s story after the underwhelming sophomore contribution The Dark World seemed to not only confuse viewers but mired the story in complicated plots as well. Waititi brought color, music, and excitement back into this particular corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, throwing Thor into a world where he was a fish out of water and taking him from zero to hero.
Bringing back fan favorites like Loki and Heimdall, Ragnarok also introduced new characters like the mesmerizing Hela and fascinating Valkyrie. With fantastic direction and excellent storytelling, executive editor Therese Lacson calls this her absolute favorite Marvel movie to date. That, and she’ll never hear Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” the same way ever again.
Pixar is never one to disappoint fans and their new film, Coco, is no different. It was just recently released, but it’s still easily one of our favorite movies this year. According to Staff Writer Katie Cardwell, “Pixar has hit it out of the park once again with Coco. It is a film filled with stunning visuals, a ridiculously perfect soundtrack, and the heartfelt storytelling that Pixar excels at.
You might guess the twist before it hits, but odds are that’s not the moment that’ll leave you crying. Coco also goes far in exploring the rich culture of Mexico, the Day of the Dead merely acting as the door into what to some watchers will be unknown, but to others will feel like coming home. It is a film to keep on the shelves for years to come, to enjoy with kids and adults alike.”
The most iconic superhero movie of the year became an instant classic. It was praised by critics and adored by fans, you can read our full review of the movie here. Wonder Woman not only puts some faith back into the DCEU for audiences, but it gave the world its first full-length female superhero movie since the dawn of the new cinematic superhero trend (started by Iron Man almost a decade ago).
Gal Gadot stars as the lead in a story that, Therese describes as, “one that exemplifies what a superhero can be.” Diana Prince is not only a tough, badass fighter, but also embodies hope, love, and justice. Directed by the talented Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman shows just how good a superhero movie can be when done right, and you can trace her hero’s journey here.
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is another masterpiece from the master himself, Guillermo Del Toro. It continues to follow Del Toro’s trend of creating innovative, eerie, nostalgic, and enigmatic tales. The film follows the story of a mute woman who falls in love with a merman. Therese calls it, “A cross between an adult gender-bent Little Mermaid and something from the Bioshock universe.” Del Toro paints a vivid world set during the Cold War.
Despite the fantastical aspects, Del Toro manages to tell a grounded story, one founded on themes of love, trust, kindness, and bravery. This dark fairytale is far from the typical but deserves a spot on a pedestal as one of the most enjoyable and beautiful films of 2017.