Zach’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2017

2017 was pretty incredible year for movies with a significantly better summer blockbuster season than 2016 and a great mix overall for the entire year.  It was pretty difficult to whittle down all the movies I saw to just 10 but here’s my picks for the best of 2017.

  1. Logan: Unless something insane happens as a result of this Disney/Fox deal, the final time Hugh Jackman unleashed the claws as Wolverine was perfect sendoff for both the character and the actor.  It was both emotionally rich and action packed and it was finally the R rated version of the character that fans have been wanting since the first X-Men movie.  Patrick Stewart also delivered a bittersweet performance as a frail and dementia suffering Professor X and Dafne Keen was an absolutely mind blowing find as X-23, as she easily keeps up with her two veteran co-stars in both the action and drama.
  2. The Lego Batman Movie: Completely on the other end of the superhero spectrum but equally as great was The Lego Batman Movie.  Arguably the best part of The Lego Movie, Will Arnett’s Batman got his own spin-off and it was a gigantic love letter to literally everything Batman from the 20’s serials to Batman 66 to the Schumacher era all the way up to Batman v Superman.  Lego Batman was jammed to the gills with cameos and references and the supporting cast around Arnett was fantastic, including Michael Cera as the sweetly naive Robin, Rosario Dawson as the no-nonsense Barbara Gordon, Ralph Fiennes as the disappointed dad version of Alfred and Zach Galifinakis as a jilted Joker.  The movie looked fantastic, really building on the toys come to life aesthetic of The Lego Movie and it had some incredibly fun action without the controversial real life deus ex machina of The Lego Movie.
  3. Wonder Woman: Easily the best movie so far from the fledging DC Extended Universe, Gal Gadot proved how absolutely perfect she is for the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman with the fantastic World War I set prequel that found Diana joining up with the roguish Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to find Ares, the God of War, who she believes is responsible for the atrocities ravaging Europe.  Gadot and Pine were absolutely charming and fantastic together and the action was incredible, including the rightfully praised No Man’s Land sequence.  Wonder Woman has always been part of the Trinity of DC along with Batman and Superman and she finally got a movie that lives up to her bad assness and importance.
  4. Baby Driver: Edgar Wright does it yet again, proving why he’s one of my all time favorite directors, with the musically charged crime thriller Baby Driver.  Wright takes his love of perfectly chosen soundtracks to the next level by timing almost everything in the movie, especially the chases and shootouts, to the soundtrack which, combined with Wright impeccable editing, makes the results like almost nothing we’ve ever seen before.  Ansel Elgort is great as Baby, the tinnitus afflicted getaway driver and there’s great fun supporting work from the likes of Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal and Jamie Foxx.
  5. War for the Planet of the Apes: Going from what seemed like a terrible idea to one of the greatest trilogies of all time, the new Apes series had it’s third, and possibly final, entry this summer with War for the Planet of the Apes.  Led by another incredible mo-cap performance by Andy Serkis, Caesar goes on a personal mission for revenge against the bloodthirsty Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who is leading a fanatical military unit whose only goal is to wipe apekind from the Earth.  The title of the movie might be slightly misleading because there actually isn’t a massive war between humanity and apes and the movie is actually a much more intimate conflict between Caesar and the Colonel and it actually turns into a riff on The Great Escape for a big chunk of the runtime.  The movie also shows off how much work went into building up the side characters into ones you truly care about, like Maurice, but also how incredible the motion capture and CG of these films are, as there’s never a second where you are drawn out of the movie because the characters you are seeing aren’t “real”.
  6. Thor: Ragnarok: If you had asked what I thought the best MCU movie of 2017 was going to be at the beginning of the year, the no brainer answer was Guardians Vol. 2 but Thor: Ragnarok knocked it out of the park with not only easily the best Thor movie but one of the best movies period in the MCU. Taika Waititi brings his particularly hilarious brand of comedy as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast out of Ragnarok by the extremely powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) and finds himself on the alien planet of Sakaar, ruled over by the benevolently evil Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) but also finds his old pal Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  Sakaar is an incredibly change of pace from Asgard and other planets we’ve seen so far in the MCU and Hulk/Thor buddy dynamic is delightful (especially as Chris Hemsworth really gets to lean into his charming comedic chops more than ever) plus there’s side characters like the soft spoken rock monster Korg (voiced by Taika himself) and the action is fantastic as well.  Ragnarok is just one of the most plain fun movies of the entire year and you can’t help but smile through the whole thing.
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming: Speaking of the MCU, after his great debut in Civil War, Peter Parker takes center stage for the excellent Spider-Man: Homecoming, the best Spider-Man movie ever made so far.  Tom Holland is absolutely perfect as Peter and Michael Keaton is one of the best and most threatening MCU villains so far as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture.  The movie is packed with great Spider-Man action, a lot of which involves the new suit he gets from Tony Stark, but there’s also a ton of great humor involving Peter’s scientifically minded high school and one of the best dramatic twists in any MCU movie.  The “Iron Spider” suit was controversial for some people but, outside of that, this is the Spider-Man movie that a lot of fans had to wait through two separate franchises to get.
  8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Another year, another new Star Wars movie but The Last Jedi is Episode VIII as opposed to last year’s great but less important Rogue One.  Continuing the adventures of Rey, Poe, Finn and Kylo Ren, Rian Johnson took the new trilogy into some unexpected and exciting new directions while retaining the incredible visuals and action we expect from the Star Wars franchise.  Mark Hamill makes his triumphant return as Luke Skywalker, although it’s a more bitter and broken version of the character than a lot of people were expecting but Hamill crushes it acting wise and all the new characters and actors continue to be charming and interesting, especially the complex relationship between Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren.  The movie is definitely too long and some segments feel unnecessary but overall it was great new chapter of the Star Wars saga.
  9. John Wick Chapter 2: The bar was set extremely high for John Wick Chapter 2 after the awesome all out onslaught of the first movie but Chapter 2 did everything a great sequel should do, keep everything people loved from the first and introduce some new things while expanding the world.  John finds himself heading to Europe as he’s forced to take a job because of a blood debt and we get to see more of the fascinating world of the Continental and the secret assassin world as John visits various shops like a tailor who specializes in bulletproof suits and a “sommelier” who provides weapons like a wine tasting.  The action is still fantastic, including an amazing climactic battle in a room of mirrors and Common is great as Cassius, the first person to credibly pose a threat to John between both movies.  The way Chapter 2 ends is going to make the wait for Chapter 3 seem like forever.
  10. IT: Easily the best horror movie of the year and arguably the best thing so far from our current Stephen Kingaissance, IT was an incredible update on the 90’s TV miniseries original and also wisely focused on only the first part of the gigantic novel as The Loser’s Club battles Pennywise in the 80’s (updated from the 50’s in the book and miniseries).  All the kid actors in The Loser’s Club are fantastic and feel like real kids with Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Glazer being the standouts as Richie and Eddie respectively.  Bill Skarsgard is also a great Pennywise, going different from the iconic Tim Curry performance with a creepier and more intense performance and there’s some great transformations and appearances from him, like contorting horrifically out of a cupboard, taking control of a slide projector or whenever his rows of razor sharp teeth are unleashed.  The movie also does a great job of embracing it’s R rating and not caving to a PG-13, it allows the kids to talk like actual kids in the 80’s probably talked and lets Pennywise do some horrific things, like what happens to poor Georgie in the beginning of the movie.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • The Fate of the Furious
  • The Disaster Artist
  • XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Justice League
  • Dunkirk

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