One last Best of list to round out all of my 2017 coverage. Since last Monday’s video was dedicated to my favorite games of 2017, here is my first Monday Monday of 2018 with a look back at my 10 favorite films of 2017. As a point of reference, this was my first year in a while branching outside of the big blockbusters as it was, but I also didn’t end up getting to see nearly as many of the “Oscar contender”-type films as I wanted to before year-end. Too much to do and too little time and all of that. But here were my favorites from 2017. I really enjoyed all of the following so this ranking would probably be fairly fluid if you asked me on another day but for the sake of this list, here we go.
10. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Wow was this a delightful surprise! After Baywatch earlier in the year, I really went into Jumanji with limited expectations and was amazed at how fun it wound up being. In particular, with the Jumanji board game taking the form of a video game here, there was a lot of fun to be through the video game lens (including the same idea I pitched a little while back about a Contra video game with tattoos representing how many lives the characters had left). Fun performances all around, with Jack Black having the best time playing a teenage girl, this immediately joined the ranks of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as one of my favorite video game movies that’s not actually based on a video game.
9. The Big Sick
This was a beautiful film and if I weren’t such a sucker for the big blockbuster movies ahead, this would undoubtedly be higher. An incredible story based on Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon’s unlikely romance, this movie - probably more than any other on this list - made me run the gamut of emotions from utterly devasted one moment to uproarious laughter the next. The way it managed to jump those tonal chasms on a dime so deftly is truly impressive filmmaking.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
Well I definitely didn’t expect Thor: Ragnorok to be as good as it was this year. In fact, all three of Marvel’s 2017 outings seemed like they just as easily falter as they could succeed. Starting with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with it’s expanding, yet still isolated from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, cast of characters (which just missed this list), then into the third iteration of Spider-Man in fifteen years, and finally this: a drastically different style of film compared against the previous two Thor films. But it was entertaining pretty much from start to finish. I definitely still have gripes with how nonchalantly it dismisses pretty much everything about Thor’s world prior to this film but I’m also weirdly exciting for wherever they want to go next with it.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I really enjoyed the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies but wasn’t the biggest fan of Tobey Maguire as the web crawler. Then I really like Andrew Garfield as Spidey but hated the movies around him. Finally, Spider-Man: Homecoming gave me a Spider-Man I absolutely adore in Tom Holland and surrounded him with a good movie, including a phenomenal turn from Michael Keaton as the Vulture. Despite having so many cooks in the kitchen as this moving tried to fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, serve as yet another reboot of a well-worn character, and set up a playground for Sony to explore, Homecoming made it all work.
Pixar crafted a beautiful, heartfelt tale about family, following your dreams, and worrying about the legacy you leave behind. With one of their brightest and most visually-stunning films to date, I couldn’t look away from the screen. Even as I sat there, correctly predicting the story beats before they happened, they got me all teary-eyed when they arrived in the way that Pixar does best. Not even an underwhelming Olaf-led Frozen cash-grab “short” could dampen how bright this film would shine.
5. Wonder Woman
Given the track record of both studios, I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when a DC universe movie would rank higher than a Marvel one. Especially in a year with three of my favorites of the lot. But Wonder Woman tops them all for the sheer importance of finally giving us this powerful female icon on the big screen. The movie is great with some incredible sequences, wonderful chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot, and a career-defining performance from Gadot in the lead role. Yes, it hits a lot of the same beats as the first Captain America film and suffers a bit of the same generic third act battle problems so many other superhero films face but it was all worth it to see so many powerful women in my life and Twitter feed so moved by what this film represented for them.
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I really enjoyed The Last Jedi the first time I saw it. And that has only increased on my two subsequent viewings. Yes, I think it has some of the worst moments in the franchise (looking at you Porgs and casino-token-shooting BB-8) but it also has some of the best (like the “Red Room” fight and the Holdo Maneuver). There are moments here that pay-off 40 years of storytelling and it expands the lore and world-building of the film in a way that excites me for the future, since it’s clear we’ll be visiting the galaxy far, far away regularly in the coming years.
3. Blade Runner 2049
Having never seen the original Blade Runner, I didn’t know how I’d feel about the belated sequel. Fortunately, I didn’t need to have seen it. Now I’m sure I’d have appreciated certain images and moments more if I had that background knowledge but I’m happy to report that this film manages to thoroughly impress me on its own merits. In a world filled with fast-paced action-crazy blockbusters, I absolutely loved that Blade Runner took its time and really let me soak in this world. In fact, Blade Runner 2049 might be the most visually-stunning and well-shot film I can ever remember. Every single frame of this film could tell a story and I was happy to drink it all in.
This was one hell of a way for Hugh Jackman to retire the character that made him a household name. After playing Wolverine and Professor X for 17 years, Jackman and Patrick Stewart manage to tell arguably the best X-Men story yet. When people argue the notion that superhero movies will go the way of the Western and burn out, I’ll point to Logan as Exhibit A for why that doesn’t have to happen. Superhero films can just be a background element to tell any kind of movie a creative team wants. And the team behind Logan told a brutal, visceral tale about getting old, finding family in unlikely places, and trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. And yeah, this guy happened to also have sharp metal retractable claws in his hands.
1. Baby Driver
Baby Driver came out of nowhere this year to impress me from start to finish. Whereas Jumanji joined Scott Pilgrim as my favorite game movie that’s not a game movie, Baby Driver blew it out of the water as my favorite Edgar Wright film. The way the film is meticulously choreographed to the music is awe-inspiring. James Gunn does a great job in the Guardians movies using music to set the tone for a character or scene. Edgar Wright uses music as the heartbeat of the entire film. Add in flawless performances across the board from Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and everyone else (including, yes, Kevin Spacey) and some of the best driving action scenes in recent memory and you have my absolute favorite movie of 2017.