Movie critics live for two things: to vote for year-end awards and to put together these damned Top 10 lists. Oh, and to be a critic who has the power to destroy a film’s 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (for the record, RT has yet to acknowledge my greatness).
As I compiled my “best movies of the year” list, it became clear that 2017 was a strong year for movies, especially genre films that likely won’t get the recognition they deserve from the major award shows. While there wasn’t a clear #1 as there sometimes is, 2017 boasted a strong contingent of films–dramas, sequels, sci-fi thrillers, comic book adaptations and horror flicks–that made narrowing things down to just ten a challenge.
But since you probably aren’t even reading this intro and have moved on to the list already, here are the top 10 movies of 2017:
10. Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most beautifully made, visually rich and engrossing movies of the year, a fantastically made and intriguingly told film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. Denis Villeneuve—teamed with Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch—commands every moment of Blade Runner 2049, which presents a fully developed world on the brink of death – an even less promising view of the future than Ridley Scott’s original vision.
9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
In the dark and twisted thriller from Yorgos Lanthimos (who directed the dark and twisted Dogtooth), a surgeon (Colin Farrell) must face punishment or his family will slowly die, one by one. Funny in a fucked up way and disturbing in a way that few filmmakers could conceive, let alone execute, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a refreshingly different kind of movie that deserves repeat viewings, if only to see unlikely and unsettling villain Barry Keoghan work his dark magic.
8. War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes is a refreshingly strong action-drama, an entertaining and engaging thriller that is nearly as good as its top-tier predecessor—save for a few plot holes and a less-than-stellar climax. Even the film’s weaknesses are better than many movies’ strengths.
From the moment Christopher Nolan’s dazzling and different war drama flashes on screen to the moment it ends, Dunkirk refuses to relent, a near-nonstop action thriller that pulses with suspense and buzzes with a seemingly endless Hans Zimmer score.
Wonder Woman has gotten all of the hype, but it isn’t even the best comic book movie of 2017. That honor goes to Logan, an extremely well made movie that works better as a drama about old age and rediscovering yourself than it does as an action movie about a character who is known for kicking ass and being literally unkillable. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are absolutely stellar, as is young Dafne Keen.
5. The Big Sick
As funny as The Big Sick is, the movie also has a big heart. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan have great chemistry together, but Nanjiani also clicks extremely well with Holly Hunter and Ray Romano; the dynamic between the three (while Kazan’s character is in a coma) is just as engaging as the scenes between the two lovebirds.
4. Lady Bird
Saoirse “How the Hell Do I Pronounce Her Name” Ronan, as is Laurie Metcalf, as her emotionally hardened mother. Tracy Letts, who plays the father, is also fantastic in a less sensational way, while Beanie Feldstein is great in a smaller role. More than anything else, though, Lady Bird is funny – and in a sincere way. First-time director Greta Gerwig has struck gold here, her movie a fun, engaging, beautifully made piece of art that is at both a serious awards contender and easy crowd pleaser.
3. The Florida Project
It takes mad filmmaking skill to craft a movie where you want to punch the main characters in the face most of the time—yes, including children—and still have it be one of the best of the year. The Florida Project, Sean Baker’s follow-up to his criminally underseen drama-comedy Tangerine, paints a vividly real and utterly engrossing portrayal of poverty in Orlando, mere miles from the happiest place on Earth.
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sometimes you need a movie to just say fuck it and smack you in the face. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, the dark, depressing and funny drama-comedy from Martin McDonagh, does that job splendidly. Frances McDormand delivers a fierce yet vulnerable performance in the lead, while Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are both sensational in their respective roles.
1. Get Out
I’m white, and white people scare me now. Get Out, the deliciously entertaining horror satire from Jordan Peele, is one of the smartest, sharpest and ridiculously good thrillers you’ll see all year. While it isn’t particularly scary, nor is it the funniest movie of the year, Get Out strikes a chord, both as social commentary and, more importantly, as a hell of a good time. It’s an unconventional #1, but when I think back over the course of the year, there is no other movie I have recommended, talked about or enjoyed more than Get Out.
View a full list of the best and worst movies of 2017 (and everything in between).