With the clock winding down on 2017, now is the time to look back at our favorite films of the year.
Here’s a list of mine.
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Notice I wrote favorite and not best. While I saw a lot of movies this year, I didn’t see them all so I might have missed the best movie of the year or several of the best movies of the year. Also, this list is biased. It’s based on my tastes, and on what I remember my feelings were when I saw these films.
I freely admit if I were to write this column again tomorrow, the order and the films might be different.
So take it all with a grain of salt, and by all means, let us know what your favorite movies of 2017 were in the comments section.
1. Darkest Hour
Winston Churchill is one of the most influential and important men of the 20th century, and “Darkest Hour,” directed by Joe Wright, shows us how one 66-year-old, iron-willed man saved the free world through the courage of his conviction and stone-wall leadership. Gary Oldman gives a phenomenal performance as Churchill, one that may be the best of his esteemed career. There’s not a better lead performance in a movie this year, and I don’t believe there is a better movie.
“Coco” is a gorgeous movie, bursting with color and heart and laughs and probably a few tears. The movie is touching and tearful in the best sort of way. I probably felt more uplifted and happy after seeing “Coco” than any film this year. If you haven’t seen Coco, yet. Treat yourself to it soon.
3. Wind River
Set on the snow-covered Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, the film’s focus is the investigation into the murder of a Native American girl by a talented but novice FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen).
As the lone investigator Banner seeks help from Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and sniper, who found the body while on assignment in the frigid wilds of Wyoming.
Lambert digs into the investigation with a determination driven by his need for vengeance.
The layered film explores issues of tribalism, gender relations, and addiction from the standpoint of Native Americans as well as the grief of losing loved ones too soon.
The film burns slowly at first but quickly escalates with a number of twists and turns and an ever-increasing body count before the brutal and surprising climax.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In contrast to “Coco,” I’m not sure a movie left me more drained than “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which was written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Francis McDormand is excellent in the film as is Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. All three deserve Oscar consideration for their performances.
However, I wasn’t happy or fulfilled with the end of the movie. McDonagh, no doubt, was aiming for that emptiness with the film. Not all endings are happy or fulfilling, and sometimes stories don’t end in a pretty package with a bright red bow.
5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I freely admit I’m a fan of the Star Wars movies and have been since I saw the original film on the big screen when I was 9 way back in 1977. One of the things I liked about the first three films is that they kept my young mind guessing film after film. And that’s what directer Ryan Johnson and his crew did with my middle-aged mind in this film. They kept me guessing throughout “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and I had a great time watching it.
6. Baby Driver
Director Edgar Wright’s latest flick has the substance to go with his impeccable style and taste. “Baby Driver” is a heist film, and a good one on those merits alone. However, Wright infuses the film with an energy that scorches the big screen just like Baby’s (Ansel Elgort) mad driving skills do to the streets of Atlanta.
This is a cool flick that is one of the most re-watchable movies of the year.
7. T2 Trainspotting
Director Danny Boyle’s “T2: Trainspotting” was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I had not seen and still haven’t seen the first film. I probably won’t, either, mainly because I don’t want to ruin my experience with this gritty bit of filmmaking that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you missed this one, it’s worth giving a try. It’s a tough film about friendship, betrayal, the fears of growing older, and facing up to past mistakes.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
Some fans didn’t care for the film’s irreverent tone or it’s joke-a-minute pace. Super heroes are serious business, don’t you know. However, I loved this movie. It was action-packed with two of its battle scenes set perfectly to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” The Hulk shows up to spar with Thor, which never gets old to me, and the humor hit me in just the right way. It’s a goofy, colorful punch fest that laughs with Thor and his cronies, but not at them.
I was not expecting much when I bought a ticket to “Wonder,” but after “Coco,” it’s my favorite family movie of the year.
“Wonder” is about a family dealing with Treacher Collins syndrome. Only the son Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) suffers from the condition that left his face deformed at birth, but the film shows how the adjustments made for him affects each member of the family as well as their relationships outside the household.
It’s a well-made film with a strong cast, including Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. This movie is sneaky good in a way too few films are any longer.
10. Get Out
In one sense, “Get Out” is much like an episode of the “Twilight Zone,” but in another, it’s a strong commentary on the subtle or even covert racism that continues to live in our society.
The script by Jordan Peele, who also directs, is clever and loaded with subtext that makes repeat viewings rewarding. The film is chilling and funny and tense, and one my favorites of the year.
Honorable Mention: Dunkirk, Split, It, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Wonder Woman.
Movies I would have liked to have seen before making this list: The Post, Lady Bird, and The Shape of Water.
Least Favorite Movie of the Year: Fifty Shades Darker.
* Excerpts from previous Movie Buff-et columns were used in compiling this column.