For this list, I have no criteria besides choosing the 10 movies that stuck with me and were the most memorable viewing experiences of the entire year. Film is a subjective medium, so I’m not gonna waste anyone’s time trying to prove that these 10 movies are the best of the year. They are the movies that sucked me into their worlds, gave me the biggest emotional reactions, left me thinking long after the credits rolled, and reminded me why I love watching movies in the first place. Simply put, these are my 10 favorite films of the year.
Honorable Mentions: I, Tonya, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Good Time, Brigsby Bear, War for the Planet of the Apes, Ingrid Goes West, Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, A Ghost Story
10. The Big Sick
Why It’s Great: It’s simply one of the best romantic comedies around, not necessarily because of how romantic it is, or funny it is, but how well written and unconventional it is. There has never been a romantic comedy quite like this, and I don’t expect there will ever be one similar to it again. It’s also great because of how well the story balances comedy and tragedy.
Why I Love It: I personally found this film very inspiring and it painted a picture about life and family so clearly. It’s based on a real story, and the film felt authentic enough for me that I actually believed every single thing in the film really happened. Also Ray Ramono and Holly Hunter make the best middle-aged married couple I never thought I needed. I want a spin-off!
9. Baby Driver
Why It’s Great: Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is one of the best shot and edited action movies ever made. It has a great soundtrack and the story is very original. It’s funny, romantic, the action is great, and the plot moves at lightning speed. Also, it has quite possibly the best opening scene of the year.
Why I Love It: I loved this movie a lot seeing it in theaters, but loved it even more on second viewing. Watching it for the second time, I noticed just how particularly shot and edited the film was, and noticed how the action moved a long with the music. Even a lot of the line readings from the actors felt so rhythmic, it was almost like they were singing. It really just might be the first action musical in cinematic history!
8. The Florida Project
Why It’s Great: Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a great examination of the low-class in America, and more specifically how children adopt in a poverty-driven society. However, it is not a dull lecture on why our country sucks. Baker shines a light into a dark place in our country. He explores a depressing topic, but shoots the film in a magical way. It’s extremely unique, but still very authentic.
Why I Love It: The great movies leave you thinking long after the credits roll, and The Florida Project absolutely did that for me. I still think about it every now and then. Maybe, because it felt like a wake-up call for me. A reminder of what shape our country is in, and what I can do to help. It also was an empathy exercise for me. A lot of the characters in this film are awful, but if I could empathize with them, it would give me a greater appreciation for the film as a whole.
7. Phantom Thread
Why It’s Great: Phantom Thread is a masterclass in camera movement, cinematography, screen-acting, and so much more. It’s the overall result of a director in complete control of his craft. Every shot in this film looks so well thought out and planned. The story is very unpredictable with plenty of twists and turns, and great subtle humor in unexpected places. Also the musical score by Jonny Greenwood is one of the best of the year.
Why I Love It: Because my all-time favorite director Paul Thomas Anderson directed it, and everything he touches turns in to gold!
6. Get Out
Why It’s Great: Quite possibly the biggest surprise of the year. No one could have predicted the giant phenomenon this film would become, probably not even director Jordan Peele. It became the highest profitable film at the box office in 2017, was the highest rated film among critics with a 99% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is already being taught in some college courses, and received 4 Academy Award nominations. A rare feat for not only a genre film like this, but also one that features white people trying to kill black people. One the surface, it might be a simple horror get-away film, but under the surface is a very intelligent look on modern racism in America.
Why I Love It: I’ve seen this film three times, and can watch it three more times easily and probably catch new things from it every time. The more I watch Get Out, the more I realize just how well crafted it is, and the great foreshadowing and tension building that is being done throughout the entire film. It’s very funny, emotional, scary, and disturbing. A one of a kind piece of art.
5. Call Me By Your Name
Why It’s Great: Call Me By Your Name is so great, because of how subtle it is. Most films that are adapted from books use the same dialogue that is being said from the characters in the book, or tell us exactly how characters are feeling when they speak. However, in this film, a lot of the words are expressed through facial expressions, gestures, and body movement. It’s beautifully shot, and offers some of the best performances of the entire year, including a break out role from young actor Timothée Chalamet, who has a bright future ahead of him. The directing is also great from Luca Guadagnino, who is proving to be one of the great auteurs of our time.
Why I Love It: There are a few scenes and shots in this film that will be ingrained in my memory for the rest of eternity. It probably has the best soundtrack of the year, including great new songs from Sufjan Stevens, who is one of my favorite musical artists working today. This movie hit me like a ton of bricks by the very end, and left me wanting more. The director actually announced there will be a sequel in 2020, so sometimes my wishes do come true.
Why It’s Great: 2017 seems to have been the year of great directorial debuts. We got Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, and of course Columbus’ Kogonada. All three also wrote their films as well. What Kogonada does so well, is he how is able to do so much with so little resources. Kogonada relies heavily on his actors to carry scenes, some scenes don’t even have any dialogue at all. He just films the characters moving around in the frame giving them the freedom to do what feels right in the moment. He also uses his surroundings to his benefit. In this case, the entire film is shot in Columbus, Indiana, a city known for its architecture, and Kogonada uses these giant/uniqe landmarks to his advantage and uses them symbolically to express the themes and emotions of the film and its characters.
Why I Love It: Every year there is always a low-budget indie that comes a long, that doesn’t get much Awards attention, but I happen to come upon, and it hits me so deep. Last year if was Paterson, this year it was Columbus. I found the themes of Columbus to be very personal and real. Themes of passion and letting go really rung true with me and allowed me to think differently about my life, for the better. This movie was almost therapeutic for me, especially seeing characters who have similar issues of my own, and how they were able to overcome them. It’s a very small film, but the fact that it felt so real, and dense makes me very excited for what Kogonada can do next with a larger budget.
3. The Shape of Water
Why It’s Great: The Shape of Water is the finishing product of a master filmmaker with all the resources and creative freedom he can ask for, expressing himself fully and artistically in one incredible package. It’s technically brilliant, extremely original, and has three-dimensional, fully embodies characters that are fascinating to behold. It feels like an instant classic, and surprisingly is one of the best films about love I’ve seen this year, right a long with Call Me By Your Name.
Why I Love It: The Shape of Water gave me feelings I very rarely get coming out of movie theaters, but are the reasons why I always watch movies hoping I can get those feelings again. I felt inspired and moved. It made me look at the world differently. And almost felt like a dream, and when it ended, I woke up from that dream. For me, this film was magical, and I’ll watch anything Guillermo del Toro decides to make until he is done directing.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Why It’s Great: Blade Runner 2049 is everything a sequel needs to be and more. It doesn’t rely too heavily on what the first film did. It expands upon the original, and still feels like its own package. The cinematography, from the greatest living cinematographer Roger Deakins, is stunning. It felt like every frame could be copied and put on my wall. The film explores humanity and human connection, but brilliantly does not take away from the ambiguity of the first film. It also does not get hung up answering the first film’s questions but brings more to the world, and explores topics even further and deeper. It’s a science fiction masterpiece that should not be missed by any fans of the original.
Why I Love It: The original Blade Runner has always been one of my favorite films, so it’s safe to say I was a little skeptical when I found out there was gonna be a sequel, but 2049 completely blew my expectations out-of-the-way. It really helped seeing the movie on the biggest screen possible and just digesting every scene and every shot that was thrown at me. This is easily one of the best looking films I’ve ever seen in my life, but I was even more surprised with how personal it felt. There were obviously a ton of incredible, epic wide shots, but also very personal scenes between two characters that felt like they were from an indie. I’ve seen this twice, and can’t say yet if I like this more than the original, but the fact that I’m even thinking about that makes me very happy.
1. Lady Bird
Why It’s Great: Greta Gerwig’s impressive directorial debut is a picture perfect coming-of-age story, not about a first love (which is always the focus in coming of ages stories), but about a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. And Gerwig doesn’t stop there. In the short run-time, she still manages to explore class, insecurity, self identify, and target some of life’s biggest questions: Who am I in this world…Where do I fit in? The writing is phenomenal, the performances are way better than they had to be (this film has 4 Academy Award nominees), and it felt so authentic and real. Almost like the camera was capturing real moments in time with real people. It’s one hell of a directorial debut, and one can only imagine what else Gerwig has in store.
Why I Love It: There was only one film in my eyes that felt perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. That doesn’t happen too often. With most movies there is always one scene that feels too short, or drags on too long, or could have just been cut out completely. I did not feel this way with Lady Bird. It moves very quickly, and some scenes are short, but I never for once thought “Oh, they should have kept on going!” The film had me entranced from the first frame to the last frame and left me feeling so many different emotions. There are hilarious scenes, and even real tear jerkers, but the movie does not come off as too silly or too melodramatic. It just simply feels real. The fact that I can relate so much to a movie about a 17-year-old teenager girl with pink hair who lives in Sacramento is pretty incredible, and I know so many other people of all different ages, gender, and race feel the exact same way.