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The Films of 2017- Best to Worst

With the dawning of the new year, 2017 draws to a close and another year-long movie season along with it. As the film releases of 2018 are just around the corner, the works of the previous year will soon lose their immediacy, but some will remain fresher than others. This disparity in quality leads to the big question that will likely plague film lovers of NHS: which films released in 2017 will be fondly remembered a year, or even ten years, from now? To answer that, it is time to reexamine the movies of 2017 to determine which ones will have the most enduring legacy.

  1. Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult sci-fi , movies like this are rarely made anymore. Unlike most blockbuster offerings, this is a film that dares to take its time and go for a visceral R rating, having more in common with a thoughtful arthouse picture than an action movie. The cast includes many strong performances, several of whom give richly emotional scenes. This picture is absolutely immersive and mesmerizing, and is worth every minute of its near-three hour length.

2. Get Out

What is most noteworthy about Get Out is how it manages to be two movies at once. On the one hand, this story of a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s suspiciously creepy family is filled with tension and unease from beginning to end, resulting in an immensely suspenseful horror-thriller. But added to the experience is a satirical commentary on American race-relations, bringing attention to the unintentional harm that the liberal class often demonstrates. For what is such a compelling and thoughtful film, it is surprising this is only director Jordan Peele’s first picture.

3.The Shape of Water

For an R-rated monster film featuring varying degrees of prejudice, gore and surprising amounts of skin, what is most remarkable about Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is how sweet it is. This fantasy about the romance between a mute woman and an amphibian monster is surprisingly touching, primarily due to the genuineness of the relationship between the two leads. Every actor in the film delivers a top-notch performance, but special mention goes to Sally Hawkins’s mute protagonist, who manages great depth and expression without saying a word.

4. The Big Sick

Written by and starring Kumail Nanjiani as himself, this autobiographical romantic comedy expertly rides the line between moments of hilarity and touching poignancy. But what is perhaps most surprising in this tale about transcending cultural differences and the lengths people will go for their romantic partners is how genuine it feels—the performances and central relationships do not seem far removed from reality, helping the movie act as superb social commentary.

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Although the eighth Star Wars film is unlikely to please everyone, those accepting its boldness will find plenty to enjoy. The storyline is filled with multiple subversions that are wonderfully unexpected and surprising, challenging previously established notions about the series. This helps to create a new direction for the franchise and push its characters toward new places that are exciting to see play out. But all the same, this installment never loses sight of what made Star Wars work in the first place, both respecting its roots and expanding on the series’ mythos. This all results in a more mature and thoughtful course for the series, backed by compelling characters and many emotional heavy-hitters.

6. It

Adapted from half of Stephen King’s classic novel, Andy Muschietti’s horror film is one or 2017’s most thrilling movies. Equal parts character study and suspense, the emphasis on the relationships and struggles of its adolescent protagonists makes the scares that follow much more engaging. Wringing great performances from its child stars, as well as maintaining a frenetic sense of pace, the movie is immaculately compelling from beginning to end, so much so that the lackluster performance of Bill Skarsgard’s clown Pennywise can be overlooked.

7. Wonder Woman

The final third of this movie does not measure up to what came before it, but the remainder of Patty Jenkins’s superhero film is remarkably stellar otherwise. Notably the only above-average film thus far in the DC Extended Universe, this installment succeeds mainly due to its bright, energetic optimism and emphasis on character, staying true to its protagonist’s true nature rather than trying to change her into something she is not (cough cough, Batman v Superman). Yes, the final third is a ludicrous, out-of-place CGI rock-em sock-em, but what precedes it is so engaging that one misstep is little to complain about.

8. War for the Planet of the Apes

Admittedly, the latest installment in the Apes series is far from typical summer entertainment—its dark tone, religious symbolism and Holocaust-inspired imagery make it hard to watch on occasion. But on the other hand, the rest of the feature is emotionally satisfying, with richly-drawn characters crafting more than a few tear-jerker moments. This is less of an action movie than a character study, giving Andy Serkis’s lead ape Caesar surprising levels of depth. Featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Serkis, the film makes for a more-than-adequate conclusion to the recent Apes trilogy, even if it does not reach the phenomenal heights of its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

9. Logan

This movie will not offer much for those new to the X-Men series, as its vicious brutality and relentless supply of blood can be off-putting for the faint of heart. But for those who have watched Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine evolve for the past 17 years, this is a richly rewarding character study. Dealing with themes such as mortality, legacy, family and old age, Logan gets much of its emotional mileage from showing its characters transform into mere shells of their former selves, demonstrating the devastating effects of time. But what makes Wolverine’s final appearance so special is how it offers its central character something few superhero movies do: closure. This is easily one of the most emotional superhero movies in years, and Jackman’s performance is Oscar-worthy, if only for how much his final minutes reduce the audience to tears.

10. Baby Driver

The fifth film from renowned director Edgar Wright, this is one of the breeziest and more entertaining films released last year. A superb mix of vehicular set pieces and a rock soundtrack make for a fast-paced romp, which is a complete blast from start to finish. While the premise is rather basic and not especially thought-provoking, the film contains enough thrills to keep the audience engaged throughout, even if its energy does not quite match the manic frenzy of Wright’s comedic masterpiece Hot Fuzz.

11. Colossal

One of the biggest surprises of the year, this sci-fi comedy featuring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis is both immensely funny and surprisingly dark. The premise manages to get several laughs on what would happen if one were able to turn into a giant monster, but also serves as an insightful metaphor on the damaging effects of alcoholism and emotional abuse. It is notable that on occasion the massive shifts in tone are too jarring, but Colossal is nothing if not original.

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Perhaps what works best about this new Spider-Man film is how endearing it is. Its comedic high school setting is a refreshing change of pace for the superhero genre, keeping things breezy enough for an entertaining watch, and Tom Holland is a fantastic lead. But it also knows when to take things more seriously, getting at the heart of the conflict of its protagonist’s double life- in what is one of the best onscreen representations of the titular character, it reinforces the message that no action is without consequence. On top of that, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is one of the best Marvel villains in years, with a menacing performance that also displays genuine depth and humanity. It bares mentioning that director Jon Watts does not give the film much of a unique style in comparison to Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, but this is still the best Spider-Man movie since 2004.

13. Thor: Ragnarok

The third installment in the Thor series, and hopefully a major career boost for director Taika Waititi, succeeds mainly because it takes to heart what this franchise should have realized since day one: Maybe a movie about Norse Gods traveling through outer space and engaging in battle with giant green monsters is allowed to be just a little silly. Ragnarok embraces the inherent ridiculousness of its premise and amps it up to eleven, resulting in a crazy, energetic, vivid, and hilarious feature. Although far from the deepest movie of the year, the cast is clearly having so much fun—and so is the audience.

14. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Unlike its predecessor, the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy is not particularly fun. This may be a pacing issue—whereas the original moved at a breakneck speed, the second film seems to lose that manic energy. It is understandable that the filmmakers attempted placing more of an emphasis on character development, but said characters are surprisingly unlikable this time around, and a reliance on inadequate humor makes the majority of the movie rather tiresome. Although comic book films are supposed to be goofy, this installment pushed its ridiculousness too far past a credible suspension of disbelief. The movie is not without its moments, such as a deeply emotional climax, but overall it is disappointingly mediocre.

15. Dunkirk

Much has been said about the new war film from Christopher Nolan, but the praise seems largely misplaced. Yes, the production design and action sequences are impressively crafted. Yes, the sound design and musical score create a tense, unnerving atmosphere. Yes, Nolan’s direction is immersive, capturing the intensity and anxiety of a World War II setting. If only the filmmakers had made an attempt to make the characters remotely interesting, then Dunkirk might have been somewhat engaging. Instead the characters are little more than nameless faces, resulting in an emotionless, tedious experience that offers little reason to care about the proceedings.

16. The Lost City of Z

Like Dunkirk, this biographical adventure film from James Gray has good intentions, but key flaws keep it from greatness. Based on the life of explorer Percy Fawcett, the backstory is intriguing, but the execution is not particularly compelling. The key term here is dull, as the picture frequently has potential for intrigue but fails to entertain, providing little insight into its protagonist. On top of that, the screenplay is uninteresting and flat, bringing the movie to a drag that feels twice its 141 minute length. Lead actor Charlie Hunnam tries his best, but is unfortunately uncharismatic and wooden.