Top 11 Best Films of 2017

I know it’s a bit late for 2017 lists at this point, but seeing as how the Academy Awards are tomorrow, it’s pretty much the definitive end of “what were the best films of 2017” season, isn’t it? And likewise, I think there’s some benefit to waiting until the last minute to release lists. One of my main critique amongst every best of the year list every two-bit music site publishes is that they usually publish them either at the end of November or by December 10th. Yet, as nearly always is the case, some surprise release comes out that completely skewers the ranking (such as Childish Gambino’s “Awaken My Love!” in 2016 or D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” in 2014) that shows that more often than not, it’s a good thing to hold your load.

In regards to movies, I think it helps to wait because most of the true best films do not get a wide release until the beginning of the new year. On top of that, it appears that the powers that be have still not deemed yours truly to be worthy of receiving screeners, press credentials, or even so much as a free fucking MoviePass (before that shit goes the way of Napster), which hampers on my potential to see everything that needs to be seen. So that’s my excuse.

Nonetheless, if I can say anything about 2017, it was a year that showed true potential in the arts, and movies were no exception. This year produced some movies that I think will truly go on to be ones that I refer to as my favorites later on in life. So without further ado or excuse, here are what I believe to be the best films of 2017:

11. Endless Poetry

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I’ll openly admit this: I did not care too much for Jodorowsky’s the Dance of Reality. After spending a few years prior admiring The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Santa Sangre, the Dance of Reality didn’t resonate with me. I’d chalk this up to the film being based off of Jodorowsky’s adolescence and not during his creative period.

The story of his creative awakening in Endless Poetry hits harder. If there’s one thing I can say Jodorowsky has been great at, it’s at helping the audience find themselves. His journey of discovery in this film benefits not only him, but us as well. I haven’t seen this movie since it showed at the Belcourt back in July, and yet, there are still so many quotes and moments that have stuck with me that I felt it would be criminal to leave this off of my list.

10. T2 Trainspotting

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It’s a daunting task to take on a sequel to a beloved film, especially one that has been delayed by more than a few years. When the first Trainspotting came out, it was a revelation. The uptight kind hated it for how they perceived it as glamourizing drug abuse (which all I can say is, really? The toilet scene within the first 15 minutes is glamourous to you?) while smarter people praised it for what it was: a brilliant black comedy with a quintessential soundtrack that launched the careers of Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor, and help put Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life back in the charts.

T2 doesn’t ignore the fact that nostalgia exists. On occasion, it relishes in it. And yet, it doesn’t make it feel like it’s returning characters are moving backwards to it. They pine for the old days, but are accepting of the fact that many of us are still becoming keen to: 20 years ago is a world away now. In this way, I guess I felt more connected to the characters, who reminisce on days in which life was about pleasure and the reckless pursuit of it. In doing so, Danny Boyle and co craft what I believe to be a near-perfect sequel….it’s exactly what these skag boys deserve and not a drop less.

9. Beatriz at Dinner

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I don’t get angry anymore that the films I like don’t get the recognition I believe they deserve. However, I am angry that there was virtually no talk of Beatriz at Dinner this year during the awards season. The reason being that I think it’s a film that’s message can actually make a difference. The film doesn’t smoke screen its message – Americans are killing the planet and ourselves through not just insatiable greed, but because they do not care to look at the bigger picture as Salma Hayek’s Beatriz does. The film’s a warning and is best encapsulated in this quote from Beatriz: “You think killing is hard? Try healing. You can break something in two seconds. But it can take forever to fix it.”

8. The Killing of a Scared Deer

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If you didn’t like Yorgos’ film The Lobster, then you will HATE this film. Colin Farrell once described the plot of this film as a nightmare that his character in the Lobster might have. I couldn’t agree more. There is no hope in The Killing of a Scared Deer. There is however plenty of black comedy, gruesomeness, and terrible people (including a career-high performance from Nicole Kidman and a wicked performance from newcomer Barry Keoghan) in this film to make it more than just a simple revenge story or any other type of torture porn. It’s someone else’s nightmare that we can’t stop watching. Or for some sick reason, loving it.

7. Logan

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My friend and I were talking about this film shortly after Black Panther was released. We had come to the conclusion that it is currently the second best superhero movie ever (yes nerds, the Dark Knight still reigns king). This may not be the case for the latter generations. For us growing up, Wolverine and Hugh Jackman are as synonymous as Professor Xavier and Sir Patrick Stewart – we’ve never known any different. We grew up with those characters. So to see the end of this is essentially the same as seeing the end of part of our childhoods that we didn’t know we still had. However, director James Mangold masterfully crafts and directs a story with equal parts gore and emotion to give Jackman and Stewart (our childhood heros) the proper send off they deserve.

6. Lucky

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I had a feeling that this wouldn’t get nominated for anything. An end-of-your-life meditation film from a beloved cult character actor doesn’t exactly seem like something Tom Hanks would approve of. And yet, if there has been any performance in 2017 that nearly moved me to tears, it comes from the late great Harry Dean Stanton. With his death preceding the film’s release, each of his monologues pack a bit more of a punch. Rest in peace, good sir. I hope you’re somewhere, chain-smoking American Spirits, and smiling at the void.

5. Get Out

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If there’s one film that I really want to sweep the Oscars, it would be this one. I don’t know what’s scarier in this film – the actual horror story plot or the cringeworthy bits of racism that the white characters in the film either knowingly or unknowingly exhibit. From my perspective, I think it’s the latter because Jordan Peele expertly holds a mirror up to the white America to show that yes, this is just a movie, but this shit DOES still happen. An excellent debut that shows that Peele’s social and racial commentary can translate well from a (also excellent) sketch show to the big screen.

4. mother!

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The fact that a film like mother! is even allowed to exist is a miracle in itself. The fact that it snuck into major theaters and remained there for a brief moment is akin to the Second Coming (no pun intended). I haven’t been at this edge of my seat during a movie since Karyn Kusama’s 2016 film The Invitation. Like the Invitation, mother! builds on a series of escalating events. Unlike the Invitation though, the events in mother! have a bit more reach. While some say that this film is about the actual Creation story, I think it can be applied more broadly to really any act of creation. It’s almost sadistic in its accuracy.

3. Good Time

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Even with the gritty Heaven Knows What, I’ve always found something charming about the Safdie brothers’ work. They make no excuses for their sadistic and forlorn heroin addicts, and yet, they never get us to root against them.

That realistic grit is brought to Good Time, and despite Robert Pattinson’s aptly-named Connie without a doubt being a completely despicable piece of shit, you can’t help but find some part of him charming. As Connie frantically tries to free his mentally-challenged brother from Rikers Island, you find yourself rooting for him to complete his increasingly maniac mission. If I could compare this role to anyone else’s, Pattinson makes Connie akin to DeNiro’s Johnny Boy from Mean Streets. Sure, he’s a fuck-up, but after an hour and 40 minutes, he’s OUR fuck-up.

2. Blade Runner 2049

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Have you ever sat through a movie in theaters and realized that you were watching what would soon be one of your favorite films? I’ve had that happen only twice this decade – the first was watching Whiplash in 2014. In 2017, that was seeing Blade Runner 2049 on the IMAX.

Director Denis Villeneuve takes the grit of Sicario and blends it with his sci-fi ambience that he picked up while filming Arrival. Matched with the impeccable cinematography by Roger Deakins, you have one of the most gorgeous films projected onto the screen in our lifetime. Combine it with the great script and human performances from Gosling, Ford, and Armas, and you have an audacious film as well. It may not have been a box office hit, but it never was going to be. Blade Runner 2049’s legacy will outlive the public’s lukewarm response to it in the same way the original film did.

Big budget studio films like this only come around once every 30 years. This one should tide us over until the next.

1. Twin Peaks: The Return

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I know what you’re thinking: “This was a TV show! Why the hell are you including it as a movie?” Because David Lynch shot this in his mind as an 18-hour movie. If you watch the series carefully, you’ll notice that the only things that make it a TV series are the beginning and ending credits. Other than that, this can be binged as an 18 hour movie for those who have the gumption (and time) to do so.

Rumored and desired for years, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt anticipation for any film or TV event like I have for Twin Peaks: The Return. More than half the anticipation bubbled up from the fact that we had no idea of what to expect. The Twin Peaks I knew and fell in love with was a quirky show that delved into both the surreal comedy and creeping horror that reside in the corners of small town, America. However, the David Lynch I know has matured past what Twin Peaks was. From the radical departure that the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk With Me took to the dream-like atmosphere of Mullholland Drive, it became hard to imagine that Lynch, someone who I viewed as a progressive filmmaker, to make something that would feel nostalgic.

And I was right. Twin Peaks: The Return isn’t a full U-turn back into the town that everyone feel in love with in the 90’s. The characters are there, the locations are familiar, and the scenery is consistent. The humor is still there but its a bit more sparse as the mood and atmosphere is decidedly darker and the mystery runs deeper.

This is the movie I wanted Lynch to make after Mulholland Drive. Full of striking imagery, chilling music, a story that lures you in, and characters (old and new) that you fall in love with. I won’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but I will say this – I’ve never seen anything in my 27 years of life on earth like the 8th hour of this movie. After the initial shock resides, I’ve never been more spellbound by something I’ve seen on screen. It’s challenging, horrifying, and in the end, downright inspiring. A complete and utter mindfuck. A nightmarish masterpiece that you never want to wake up from.

Bravo, David Lynch.

Honorable Mentions

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Overrated Films

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Films I Haven’t Seen Yet

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