I don’t usually publish these kind of lists, especially with this only being the end of August, but I felt like getting this kind of list out. I can say that in the past few years, 2014 had a lot of wonderful films and it was hard to bring that down to ten films, 2015 had a few gems but then a lot of really really good ones, then 2016 bounced back with again a lot of wonderful films that I think will make the arguments lists of the best films of the decade. Now thus far in 2017, we’ve gotten a lot of really, really great films again, and a fair number of gems. So we’ll get going with the top ten films of the year so far as well as an honorable mention.
11. Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Patty Jenkins came together to produce the first good movie in the DCEU. Yeah, say what you will, but the film has not just become the highest grossing film of the summer, not only the highest grossing female superheroine film of all time, it’s passed a lot of other milestones at the box office, but it’s also a really good movie. Despite a third act that goes toward the norm of superhero films, the first two acts have a lot of memorable moments and originality that make it stand out in a somewhat crowded market of superhero films, but as you’ll soon read, this has been a hell of a year for superhero projects.
As the final film in Hugh Jackman’s career as the Wolverine, he might have gone out on the highest note possible. Sure, I like X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) better, but that’s a high achievement. Still, the western vibes the film gives off is a welcome approach, and we get those nice performances from Jackman and Patrick Stewart. While I’m about the only person who thought the whole X-24 thing was a stupid plot convenience, and the formula of the movie falls a little heavy on being Shane (1953) meets Unforgiven (1992), the film has a heart and takes the on-screen violence to its advantage. A lot of movie can have violence for the sake of violence, but Logan brings that in in a way that makes it work.
9. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Okay, yeah, I know some of you are scratching your heads. How can I say this is better than both Logan and Wonder Woman? Well, it was to me. In a world today where we get movies aimed at kids who are stuck on their cell phones tweeting, instagramming, and using emojis, a film that suggests, promotes, and encourages being original without needing those stinking devices in an animated film that has high energy and is also hilarious. If you’ve read the books as a kid, it’s a wonderful time machine back to those days and the more involved you are in the stories, the better you’ll like it. If you missed it in the theaters, it’s worth a watch.
8. Logan Lucky
I just saw this one, so I don’t have a separate review you can read, but outside of some muffled dialogue, which might have just been the theater I was in, the film boasts a hugely entertaining heist story with many colorful and memorable characters. From the one-handed Adam Driver, the limping Channing Tatum, and Daniel Craig’s best role in a while as the hilarious Joe Bang, Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with a wonderful addition to his filmography. You might not have liked the Ocean’s trilogy (2001-2007), but I doubt you’ll absolutely hate Logan Lucky.
7. Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s latest is a smash. As both writer and director, Wright controls the big screen with a witty script with many memorable lines and sequences, and a number of great car chases. Also we’ve got nice work from Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and for me, especially Jon Hamm, and you’ve got a wonderful package for an entertaining film that will knock your socks off. This one speaks for itself. See it for yourself and you’ll see why so many people are calling it one of the best films of the year so far.
6. The Big Sick
The best romantic comedy of the summer, and probably one of the best rom com’s well get of the year. Kumail Nanjiani has, in one big film like this, become a name to watch for. He not only brings the comedic talents necessary to make the film work, but the dramatic parts work well. Also, the two actors in the movie that stick with me, are Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, whose work should be recognized come Oscar time. It’s hard to say now if they will earn any noms, but I’ll be cheering for them, and for the movie, overall, to get some well-deserved praise.
5. The LEGO Batman Movie
For a guy who loved The LEGO Movie (2014) and is a big fan of the character of Batman, combining the two is a match made in heaven. Similar to Captain Underpants, the film has a lot of energy to it and a ton of laughs. Also, to punch the DCEU again, but it’s the first film in a while to really get what Batman is all about and show it in a way that makes me happy it was in this form. Sure, how seriously can we take a man dressed up in a bat suit taking out criminals at night? Well, the movie jokes about that and many other subjects in a spectacular movie.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I announced this in my review, but this film has become my favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only does Tom Holland create a picture perfect version of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, but we’ve also got a really memorable and at times very threatening villain in Vulture played by Michael Keaton. All the other cast members have nice additions that round out a nice cast and also we get a thrilling sequence in the Washington Monument scene. Bottom line, the film also is fun and will easily be a re-watchable movie for generations to come.
3. War for the Planet of the Apes
What Matt Reeves has done with the last two entries in this current Apes trilogy (2011-2017) has not only rounded out one of the best movie trilogies in a long time, but with this last film, he arguably has created the best film in the entire franchise. While I’ll warn you, if you haven’t seen it, it’s a hard watch with many POW elements and at times very bleak and at times depressing material to wade through, it’s also an emotional film that captures some of the best visual effects with motion capture ever done on film. It’s not a film for everybody, but it hit me in a way that few films do.
2. Wind River
Another one I just saw, this really blew me away. Taylor Sheridan has now become my favorite writer of recent years. This is also his first time in the director’s chair for a project he wrote, and like his script for Hell or High Water (2016), there’s tons of memorable lines and more importantly here memorable sequences. And he also combines the best moments of the script for Sicario (2015) which was all about the tension that just builds and builds until the last couple of minutes. Likewise, the same effect is felt with Wind River. Also Jeremy Renner deserves his third Oscar nomination for a really dynamic character. It’s riveting. It’s just opening across the country, but trust me, it’s worth seeing in the theater. The loudspeakers that capture the mood and shock of the film can’t be equaled on the small screen.
1. Get Out
Yep, still my favorite of the year. I mentioned in my review months ago that Jordan Peele is a genius. And now after having re-watched it several times, it’s stood the test of re-watching and has become not just a wonderful horror/thriller, but a powerful movie that speaks on race differences and race perceptions, but doesn’t turn into a film that talks down to the audience. It keeps its entertainment value up front and the race issues that come up coincide with the entertainment value and makes for a package that really can be more than your Friday night entertainment. Seriously, if this type of movie isn’t your cup of tea, I still implore you to see it. Again, I’m not sure what it’s Oscar chances are, but anything and everything it could potentially get nominated for is something I’ll cheer for.
Full disclosure, I haven’t seen every last film this year so far, and yes, if you’re asking, Dunkirk is one I have seen, but I didn’t care for it as much as many others do. So as we get into the last part of the year where we get some of the Oscar-bait films released in September and October and all the Christmas releases to go, so we’ll have a while before we get the final list, but I thought I’d share my thoughts thus far on films I think are the best so far this year.