This year was both one of the most original and unoriginal in film history. Amid the trash pile of sequels like Transformers and Fifty Shades, there were films that pushed all sorts of boundaries. Here are ten of these films which also happen to be the best of the year. But first…
An Honorable Mention…
What hasn't been written about this? While inexplicably presenting socially charged undertones, Get Out is a breath of fresh air for the horror genre. Whilst a stay at a girlfriends' parents' house is uneasy at first, boyfriend Chris experiences true horror as the truth is slowly unraveled through increasingly disturbing revelations. By using timely themes interwoven with some conventional horror thrills, the film triumphs as being concurrently entertaining and socially aware.
#10: Wind river
Taylor Sheridan is slowly becoming one of the best screenplay writers working today, and his directing skills are almost as good in his feature-length debut. Following an investigation into the death of a Native American girl, the film is unlike any other murder-mystery. Elizabeth Olsen plays an FBI agent and Jeremy Renner as a local hunter seeking redemption by solving this case. Wind River is a beautifully harrowing journey with fleshed-out characters and an intense, gripping finale that will stay with you for ages.
#9: I, Tonya
Rise-and-fall films have been perfected focusing on male gangsters – – – but what about a female ice skater? Tonya Harding was an Olympic ice skater that started her rocky but extraordinary career in the 80s. The film focuses on her abusive relationships and eventual involvement in an incident that affected her career forever. Combining genre elements from mockumentary, biopic and even comedy, this is an incredibly unique and funny film. Topping it all off with one of the year's best performances from Margot Robbie, a great soundtrack and electric editing, I, Tonya is a modern crime gem.
A genre-changer in a totally new way. Logan follows a tired and old Wolverine as he finds something worthwhile fighting for again while also coming to grips with his life. The title is aptly given — this is not about the story of a costumed alter-ego but the personal journey of a faded man and his last acts of goodwill. It deconstructs the notions of heroism in superhero movies and comics — giving an evocative take on the repercussions of injustice and superhero legacy. With one of Hugh Jackman's very best performances, Wolverine has never felt so three-dimensional. The superhero genre is reborn.
#7: baby driver
Want a fresh spin on the musical? Look no further than Baby Driver. Following a young getaway driver (the titular Baby) trying to leave his life of crime behind, the kinetic energy of the film is jaw-dropping. Fast edits and pulsating heist sequences are what the film consists of while also building up a believable relationship between the protagonist and Debora, a waitress he meets at a cafe. The musical factor comes in with Baby's tinnitus, of which he dolls down the sound through specially picked tunes from his collection of stolen Ipods. Song choices have never been so important for a film both symbolically and synchronistically. it is a grand feat knowing that each scene was shot around each song — meaning that every beat, drop, etc is matched on-screen. From one of the greatest heist openings to the awesomely ambiguous ending, this is the most exciting music film ever.
#6: Phantom thread
#5: the shape of water
Another romance like Phantom Thread, yes, but done in a completely different way. Yet another unique inclusion to a typically generic genre, The Shape of Water is something that could only be a film. Its visuals are so vivid and visionary — expecting no less from eye candy director Guillermo Del Toro. As for the story, it follows a mute janitor working at a top-secret facility who feels empathy for the newest 'asset' — an amphibian and humanoid monster. And in case you did not see the poster, she soon feels affection for the monster and romance ensues.
Films like this remind you of the power of cinema — the ability to turn an outlandish story into something captivating and heartfelt. Set in the backdrop of the 60s, it also explores the segregational period and the idealistic pursuit of the 'all-American'. It also boasts an Oscar-deserving performance by Sally Jenkins and a great villain played by Michael Shannon, just to name a couple. The Shape of Water is a fantastic picture revolving around the search for belonging and love in the purest form.
#4: lady bird
Lady Bird is this decade's defining coming-of-age. The second directorial debut on this list, Greta Gerwig's simply beautiful take on adolescence is something to behold. Set in 2002, Lady Bird, a 17 year-old girl dreams of big things living in Sacramento, California. For a relative newcomer, Saoirse Ronan really does carry the film.
#3: blade runner: 2049
You do not get sequels like this often. There was Godfather Part 2; there was The Dark Knight. Now, we have Blade Runner: 2049. Building on the complex themes and visual splendor of the first masterpiece, this superb effort runs with it and blew most audiences away. With brilliant cinematography by Roger Deakins and methodical direction by the already great Denis Villeneuve, 2049 both wows and makes you ponder.
Following replicant blade runner K (played fantastically by Ryan Gosling) as he unearths a secret that shakes the foundations of society, it is also a story of self-discovery. The empathy for the replicants is just as effective as the first — delivering emotional power as well as masterful high-budget effects. By playing off nostalgia it achieves relatable emotion while also being a great standalone story that does not require the first to be watched. All-in-all, a technical masterpiece but with more than enough substance to be an instant Sci-Fi classic.
Some films are more like experiences. This is one of them. Directed by modern great Christopher Nolan, audiences can get a visionary's perspective on the Evacuation of Dunkirk during WWII. Removing all that bogged down some of Nolan's more recent films, all this is focused on is the director's unparalleled execution of action. With it, there is a newfound immenseness that even rivals most video games. By focusing on circumstance, Dunkirk pits you right onto the beach with the soldiers.
#1: three billboards outside ebbing, missouri
Never has a film been equally hilarious and heartbreaking. Rarely has a film basked in the profundity of universal themes so effectively. Definitely — Three Billboards is a masterpiece unlike any other. It follows a grieving mother and her attempt to challenge local authorities by putting up three billboards that detail her daughter's death while bringing to light the failure to catch the killer. A simple premise that does not focus on anything else but the effects these questions have on the town. Mildred, the mother, is played with another Oscar-worthy female performance by Frances McDormand. Two more powerhouse performances are here too. Firstly, in the form of Woody Harrelson's Chief Willoughby, of whom has to handle the exposure but mostly his own personal problem. Another is Sam Rockwell's Dixon, best friend of Willoughby's and an officer himself who tries to defend Willoughby. All three of these performances are their respective actors' best — and that's saying something given the talent here.
There are no villains in this movie — concepts and personal struggle fuel the momentum. The police officers are just as empathetic as the mother because these characters have different moral layers. Most of the main characters have visible arcs; their motives and outlooks are beautifully evolved and it is evident, unlike many arty films that claim otherwise. Director Martin Mcdonagh does not implement stylish direction or fancy effects but, instead, relies on character and thematic properties to carry the film. It is a story of how anger can be fought with compassion, which is really one of the best messages I have seen in awhile. With the greatest characterization and ingeniously delivered dialogue, it actually manages to be one of the funniest of the year too despite its depressing premise. All-in-all, it is truly deserving of my pick as the greatest movie of 2017.