Apparently, 2017 was a pretty “Meh” year at the Box Office. While it has widely been reported that way it’s not actually completely fair as really they’re just comparing the Box Office this year to the record-shattering Box Office of 2016. While it is basically how capitalism works (with companies expected to make more and more money for their shareholders) the reality is that not every year can be as “successful” as the year prior, but that doesn’t mean that a ton of people didn’t still make a ton of money. Thanks to the massive opening weekend for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017 did pull within 3% of 2016’s record-breaking Box Office total, though, so it’s not all bad. But, let’s look beyond Box Office numbers and talk about critical acclaim to find out what are the top 15 movies of 2017 according to critics!
Before the release of Logan, it was widely announced that it was going to be the final Wolverine performance for Hugh Jackman, who had portrayed the character since 2000’s X-Men. However, he did say that he might consider returning to the role if he was able to act alongside Robert Downey Junior and/or Chris Evans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that was made official this month. While the odds are that that won’t happen, the fact is that Jackman and company really went out on top as Wolverine in a movie that is so perfect for the character that it’ll be impossible to top. Outside of The Dark Knight, there’s really no superhero film that holds a candle to Logan and that’s because it doesn’t really feel like a comic book movie. It’s more of a Western, which is what it was modeled after, with the quote from Shane at the end of the movie showing as much. Outside of that, you know, the character dies at the end so there’s really no way that they’ll be able to bring him back although it was set in 2029 and the MCU films are set around right now so there is always the small possibility that we’ll be able to see Logan alongside Tony Stark. That, alone, makes the nearly $60 billion dollar purchase of Fox by Disney worthwhile.
14. Blade Runner 2049
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 had a really tough job of following up on one of the most beloved (by both fans and critics) sci-fi movies of all time in Blade Runner. Considering the amount of 20 to 30 years too late sequels that have been coming out and bombing (in every sense of the word) over the past few years, a lot of people were pretty worried about Blade Runner coming out and ruining the legacy of the original film (considering that iconic cliff hanger ending). However, the film was a massive success, at least critically and was the rare example of a sequel that came out decades later that was actually good (as opposed to the countless bad examples like Blues Brothers 2000, Zoolander 2, Dumb and Dumber To, etc.). The film visually looked a lot like the dystopian future that Ridley Scott created with the original and brought Harrison Ford back to his third most famous role ever (after Han Solo and Indiana Jones). Like the original, though, the film actually didn’t perform super well at the box-office but it still made money for the studio and because of its multiple layers will require a lot of viewings to really get everything, which means that (like the original, again) it’s destined to become a cult favorite (like the original…).
After the love it or hate it response(s) to his last film, it was nice to see writer/director Christopher Nolan back to making films that everyone loves. He did just that with Dunkirk which was a film about an amazing set of circumstances in Dunkirk, Belgium. Known as the Dunkirk Evacuation, Operation Dynamo or the Miracle of Dunkirk, the film stars Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy as people on basically every side of the battle/evacuation and was done in such a way that it really revolutionized the way war is portrayed in film and film as a whole. The film is split between the perspective of the men on land, sea and the air and is shot in such a way that reflects the “mico-and-macro vision of heroism, cowardice and sacrifice”. Nolan somehow created a cinematic experience that no one has ever had had before by fracturing both space and time, showing all three fronts of the war simultaneously in a way that should change the way war is depicted on the big screen forever. Because of that, and Nolan’s love for shooting with a 70mm camera, it’s the type of movie that really should be seen on the big screen but either way, it’s another home run of a film for Nolan who seemingly can do no wrong at this point.
12. War for the Planet of the Apes
Whether or not it’s actually the last film in the series, War for the Planet of the Apes was definitely the best film in the franchise thus far (including the classic original film). In fact, the film was so good that there were calls for Andy Serkis to receive a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role as Caesar, the main chimpanzee and leader of the apes, despite the fact that it was completely a motion capture role. Directed and co-written by Matt Reeves (who is pegged as the new writer/director for the new Batman movie), The film brought the largest confrotation yet between apes and man in the reboot universe for The Planet of the Apes after man’s numbers was decimated by a virus created in the lab that also created Caesar in the first place. The film is actually sort of related to the fifth film in the original series which was titled Battle for the Planet of the Apes but was not a direct remake and unlike a few films on this list actually made a lot of money. While it didn’t make as much as it’s predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it made more the first film by about $10 million dollars and performed well enough to warrant talks for a fourth film. Based on the quality of this film let’s hope that they do.
11. Phantom Thread
Considered to be the best actor alive, Daniel Day-Lewis has said that his role in Phantom Thread will be his last and if that’s the case then he really did go out showing why he’s the best in his field (and it’s not even close). Another collabo between Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson (who had previously worked together on There Will Be Blood), Phantom Thread shows Lewis delivers an “expertly nuanced portrait of consuming desire and fastidious neediness”. He portrays a famous dressmaker for the elite that has some sort of personality disorder that’s most likely obsessive compulsive disorder. After beginning a fomance with a waitress his life begins to unravel and if this truly is Day-Lewis’ final role then while it’s exciting to know that he went out on top it’s also really too bad. He has said that acting doesn’t excite him anymore and that he’s really done all that he wanted to do, but that has to make you feel like he’s going out with a lot more to offer. Hopefully something comes along down the road to coax him out of retirement, but until then at least we have performances like this one to remember him by.
10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It shouldn’t really shock anyone to hear that Star Wars: The Last Jedi had the biggest opening weekend of the year (and the second largest opening weekend of all-time) with $220 million dollars grossed in North America. That’s a drop of only 11% from the first film which had the benefit of being the first Star Wars film in a long time and all of the nostalgia of having the original cast members back. It’ll be interesting to see how Episode IX does as it appears that The Last Jedi is the most divisive Star Wars film ever in terms of the audience response with about half the people loving it and half the people hating it (according to online polling sites). Despite the fact that a lot of the fans disliked it, the critics actually loved the film, a lot of which calling it the best Star Wars movie of all time. It’s because the film did so many unexpected and really un-Star Warsy things (hence the audience blowback), while also really feeling like a standalone movie because it basically ignored (or disregarded) everything that happened in the previous film(s) and forged it’s own path. So, while some of the decisions can’t be undone, there’s still a chance to retcon some of the major points of contention for many fans and either way you know that they’ll show up for the next one. Sounds like the critics will be there, too.
9. The Big Sick
It’s not often that romantic comedies end up on end of the year critics lists but that’s exactly what The Big Sick did. One of the biggest crowd pleasers of the year, The Big Sick was written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon and is based on their real-life relationship. Considering most of the second half of the film takes place in a hospital, it wasn’t exactly the beginning to the relationship that they had hoped, but also considering that they wrote this movie together, you know going into it that it has to have some sort of happy ending. The reason that this film was so successful, in every sense of the word, was because it was completely authentic and felt like a real relationship. Perhaps that’s what kept the duo together as they were able to storm a really rocky first year and a half together so anything else that they had to deal with (like, you know, writing a movie together) seemed miniscule in retrospect. Let’s just hope that the awards shows feel the same way.
With the release of Cars 3 this year, some people were beginning to worry that Pixar had lost it’s way. That concern ended up being overblown as Coco was released to amazing fanfare and showed people that if anything Pixar was better than ever before. A “jubliant love letter to Mexican Culture”, Coco is a film about love and loss that focuses on a young hispanic male who traverses the afterlife while attempting to pursue his dream as a musician. A film that is as visually spectacular as it is poignant, the film is a feast for basically every one of your senses. It’s got great visuals, great music, great laughs and is an all-around great movie. The song “Remember Me” is a lock for Song of the Year at the Oscars as is the film (for best Animated Feature Length Film) and really it should be considered one of the best films of the year, animated or otherwise. Pixar is back, baby!
7. Good Time
The first of two entries on this list that star former Twilight star Robert Pattinson, A Good Time is also yet another great film that was distributed by A24. A Good Time is about as unpleasant as it is great, so much so that people are calling it a “contemporary crime classic” that’s really just one series of sad events after another, which is what makes it so great as it’s not a film that really sugar coats anything. Most crime is sad and this is the perfect example of that as an older brother (played by Pattinson) basically is failing in his role as caretaker for his younger, mentally handicapped brother (played by Ben Safdie). The older brother, “Connie” has his younger brother, Nick, help him rob banks and at the beginning of the film they believe that they’ve gotten away with over $65k worth of loot before a dye pack goes off and basically every single attempt to either escape or fix things ends up backfiring one after the other. If Pattinson was ever gone than this is definitely his come back role and it’s yet another amazing film by the Safdie brothers, as well.
6. The Lost City of Z
The Lost City of Z is based on a book by David Grann and was basically a box-office bomb (bringing in $17 million dollars on a production budget of $30 million and a marketing budget that would’ve brought it’s total cost to around $50 million dollars), but based on the critical response it should end up as a site with a cult following as it’s really, really good. In a film that is said to be the best work of Charlie Hunnam (Of Sons of Anarchy fame (he’s also the guy that was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey before dropping out of that film)) thus far. The film also stars Sienna Miller, Angus Macfadyen and Robert Pattinson (who had quite the year as this list has shown). It’s really too bad that this film, which is about the real life of Colonel Percy Fawcett, who had an obsession with ancient civilizations of the Amazon, didn’t get the audience that it deserved if for nothing else than for the amount of attention Pattinson’s beard demands.
5. The Disaster Artist
The Disaster Artist is a film that’s based on a book that’s based on the creation of the film ‘The Room’ which is widely considered to be the best-bad movie of all time. So, while you don’t necessarily have to have seen ‘The Room’ to appreciate ‘The Disaster Artist’, it does make the experience all the better as James Franco expertly portrays the main character of ‘The Room’ Tommy Wiseau (Who has become a legend in his own right at this point). Considering the cast of this film (with Franco and his younger brother, Seth Rogen, etc.) you’d think that this movie was really just a cheap shot at a bad movie but it’s actually a really poignant take on a film that was created via mysterious means by a guy who Franco has said he really does relate to. Wiseau has no talent as an actor but he really believed in himself and so he somehow came up with about five million dollars to finance a “real Hollywood movie” and it sounds like Franco could end up with an Oscar nod for his role as Wiseau, which means that Wiseau is really becoming the star he always wanted to be.
4. The Florida Project
Unfortunately, not every great film makes a ton of money but if they did, The Florida Project would’ve made billions as the $2 million dollar movie has been on every end of the year Top 10 list that matters. Another winner from A24 (the studio behind such classics as Ex Machina, Room, Moonlight and The Disaster Artist), The Florida Project is a film about a rebellious young mother that lives with her 6-year old daughter in an Orlando motel near Walt Disney World (hence the name of the film as the initial name of Disney World was “The Florida Project”). Casting two unknowns in the main roles, The Florida Project knocked it out of the park with Bira Vinaite (who portrays the young, single mom) but especially with Brooklynn Prince (who portrays the six-year-old whose name is Moonee). The films is shown through Moonee’s eyes and tragically shows how her worldview changes from that of a child (with dreamlike abandon) to that of a young-adult in a way that isn’t very conventional from a film perspective but that’s what makes this film all the more special. With a very devastating final shot, it’s been said that this film is unlike any other that’s ever been made.
3. The Post
If nothing else The Post has the most award winning people involved with it than any other movie on this list. A film that focuses on the famous 1971 release of the so-called Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post, was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred both Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. For those who don’t know, The Pentagon Papers were created for future generations to understand everything that happened before and during the Vietnam War and were officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. Essentially the crux of the papers found that the Lyndon Johnson administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress” about the war in basically everyway. The film focuses on the role of both The Washington Post (hence the name) and The New York Times’ role in releasing the papers and the subsequent attacks on both by then President Richard Nixon. Because of the current administrations favorite past-time of attacking the media it’s a film that films as relevant as it is good and that’s part of the reason why Spielberg and company made this film (with two stars who have openly discussed their dislike of President Trump) and why it’s so darn good.
2. Get Out
On top of being an absolute juggernaut at the Box Office (bringing over $250 million dollars on a budget of only $4.5 million), Get Out was also a critical darling and single-handedly made writer/director Jordan Peele one of the most sought after directors in Hollywood. Peele, who was already famous due to his time on both Mad TV and the Comedy Central sketch comedy show Key & Peele was obviously known for his comedy, so when people saw that he was writing and directing a horror film they really didn’t know what to think. However, what they ended up seeing was an instant classic that was an amazing commentary on society as a whole and how African American culture is being co-opted by white people for a multitude of reasons. With a 99% rating on RottenTomatoes, there was a point in time where hundreds of reviews had come in and not one of them was negative. That makes it one of only ten films to earn a 99% and one of only three that had a 100% score with over 130 reviews. Get Out…. And go see this movie!
1. Lady Bird
While women make up a little over half the population, their stories are still extremely underrepresented when it comes to things like movies which is actually surprising as the stereotype of marriage is that women mostly call the shots so you’d think that there’d be far less action movies and a lot more movies about Benedict Cumberbatch trying to find a shirt. Because of that, films like Lady Bird, which is a coming of age story about a girl in High School, still feel like something fresh and new despite really being the female version of a movie that has been made about men a million times. As stated, Lady Bird is an amazing coming-of-age story that is so good that it could actually lead to a lot more films like it. Starring budding superstar Saoirse Ronan as Christine who has also named herself Lady Bird, a teenager from Sacremento, California, who is trying to figure out who she is during her final year of High School. The movie really encompasses the life of most teenages including the tumultuous relationship one can have with their parents, their awkward initial sexual experiences and the fear of the unknown when it comes to one’s future. A lot of critics are calling Lady Bird an instant classic, so do yourself a favor and watch this movie.