31. Free Fire
Free Fire is pure cinematic fun. The plot is stupidly simple: two gangs get into an hours-long gunfight after an arms deal goes wrong in a warehouse. The film is as theatrical as possible, with half the cast sporting exaggerated Irish accents, the other half exaggerated Boston accents, and Shartlo Copley doing his own weird thing. But between the stupid plot, exaggerated accents, and fantastic character acting, this movie is straight-up hilarious and ridiculously fun.
30. Wind River
Wind River serves as the essential directorial debut for Taylor Sheridan, writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water. Wind River serves as the final film in Sheridan’s modern Western spiritual trilogy, and though it’s the least of the three, it is still a fantastic film. Driven by a career-best performance from Jeremy Renner, the film tells a story about and FBI agent solving a murder in a deadly Wyoming winter. The story is incredibly powerful, demanding its audience to think about things they wouldn’t normally consider. And that closing shot? Well, it’s the best one of 2017.
James McAvoy came just short of making Boy Meets Film’s Top 20 Best Performances of 2017 with his multi-personality performance in Split. M. Night Shyamalan has made an unexpected return with this horror film, which reveals itself to be something of a sequel to Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable. The movie is engaging, creative, and features a collection of performances from James McAvoy, Anna Taylor-Joy, and Betty Buckley that carry the film magnificently. It’s creepy, it get inside your head, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
The most successful horror movie ever and the most successful R-rated movie ever, It was pretty much exactly what everyone wanted. Between the screenplay, cast, and directing, It‘s timeliness capitalizes on the success of Stranger Things, and the newfound nostalgia in the world of film. At the same time, it’s also super freaky. Bill Skarsgard is fantastic as Pennywise, taking an ambitious and much creepier approach than Tim Curry. The film’s structure makes it appealing to horror and non-horror lovers alike, allowing it to become exceedingly popular, which it certainly is.
Feel-good dramas released during the first half of the year are typically things you avoid like the plague (e.g. The Book of Henry). What’s strange, then, is that Gifted was actually one of the best films of the year. Directed by The Amazing Spiderman and 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb, Gifted is one of the most heartfelt, lovable, and emotional stories to come out of 2017. McKenna Grace gives an outstanding young performance, and Chris Evans continues to prove that he’s much more than just a blockbuster star. During its 100 minutes, Gifted gets you emotionally invested in its characters, making for a fantastic climax, and a credits roll that you wish would never come.
26. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Angelina Jolie was cautious in directing this film, worried that she would not be the right person to tell this story. Everyone who has seen the film can attest that she made the right decision, because with her at the helm, we were given one of the best movies of the year. This true story, co-written by its protagonist, follows a young girl’s journey of survival during the deadly Khmer Rouge. The film is beautifully shot, and thoughtfully and powerfully directed. This is a story that is frankly difficult to stomach, but listen, and it’ll be one of the most incredible stories you’ll ever hear.
25. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Far and away the best Spiderman movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming is also one of the best movies to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland is pretty much the perfect Peter Parker, and director Jon Watts capitalizes on his star by making this Spiderman the most highschool-y one yet. With Watts at the helm, the movie is appropriately nostalgic, perfectly modern, and just the right amount of superhero. On top of making the best Peter Parker yet, Spider-Man: Homecoming also has easily the best villain of the MCU. Spider-Man: Homecoming is pure fun from start to finish, features one heck of a twist, and is just a truly entertaining film.
24. John Wick Chapter 2
John Wick is one of the most original action flicks to come from this decade, bearing a narrative simplicity and violence content that is unlike anything else in modern American cinema. This sequel sacrifices some of the simplicity, and in its place, turns the violence meter from 10 to 11. John Wick Chapter 2 is easily the most violent action-based American flick ever made. What’s strange is that this violence in this film is in many ways artistic. Whether or not you consider artistic violence a legitimate concept, no one can argue that this isn’t one of the most entertaining movies of the year. You feel like a terrible person when the movie’s over, but while it’s going, you’re having a whole lot of shameless fun.
23. The Disaster Artist
The movie about the best worst movie ever made turned out to be a pretty good film by its own regard. James Franco serves as director and star of The Disaster Artist, the film about the one-of-a-kind Tommy Wiseau and his notorious film The Room. And as strange as it feels to say, Franco makes this film better than probably anyone else could have. Franco is working with a difficult screenplay, mostly because it doesn’t tell the story as much as it wants to. That said, Franco’s approach both as a director and especially as an actor is fantastic. It is ironic that despite the quality of The Disaster Artist, The Room will probably continue to be a more popular film. That said, this is a fantastic movie.
22. Get Out
One of the most popular movies of 2017 is also one of the least expected. Get Out hit theaters around the time of the Oscar last year, and is looking at nabbing a few Oscars this year. It’s an unlikely story, held up only by the fact that its an outstanding film. Jordan Peele’s breakthrough film is one of the tensest film ever made, both cinematically and politically. At the same time, it’s also one of the funniest. There’s a lot of debate whether this film is a thriller, a comedy, a horror, or a soap box. Frankly, that doesn’t really matter, because it’s just a really stinkin’ good movie.
21. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
The most controversial Star Wars movie since The Phantom Menace is also debatably its best one. Critically and cinematically speaking, The Last Jedi is the most intriguing, technical, and moving Star Wars film, and it’s all because of writer/director Rian Johnson. Johnson took some major risks with his Star Wars movie, many of which I’m surprised Kathleen Kennedy even allowed him to do. The Last Jedi breaks several Star Wars traditions, but it doing so, it is the most ambitious, most original, and most fresh Star Wars movie since the original. Only time will tell whether Rian Johnson’s ambitious approach will make The Last Jedi the most-hated or most-appreciated Star Wars movie. But for right now, I’m absolutely loving it.
Raw might be about cannibalism, but it’s not a horror flick. I’m not even sure if I’d call it a thriller. Raw is one of the most brilliant and thoughtful psychological dramas of the year. Driven by a strong performance from Garance Marillier, Raw tells the coming of age story about a vegetarian discovering her cannibalistic tendencies. Julia Ducournau writes an impossible but subtly genius screenplay, with an ending that will blow you away. It’s her directing, however, that is truly brilliant. Conceptually, this movie is filled with scenes which taken alone, would seem ridiculous. But because of her tonal and emotional crafting, Ducournau takes us places we never thought we’d go.
19. Only the Brave
Only the Brave tells the heroic and tragic true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The film is beautifully shot by Claudio Miranda, as he perfectly grasps the beauty and terrifying nature of forest fires. Josh Brolin puts forward the best performance of his career, playing a perfect contrast to Miles Teller’s second protagonist. Director Joseph Kosinski does brilliant work, building the group dynamic of the cast successfully and effectually. Toward the end of the film, all of these elements combine into what is probably the single-most complicated emotion put onto the screen in 2017. A great story and an excellent film.
18. The Beguiled
Easily the best remake of 2017, The Beguiled is a psychological thriller unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Sofia Coppola’s take on this classic story assumes a different and more appropriate perspective, telling this period piece in a way that has reverberating modern purpose. The film is brilliantly acted by Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and several young actresses, each of whom create an intensely engaging character. The Beguiled is slow-paced and thoughtful, with beautiful, gritty cinematography, demanding the audience consider the story in the way it should be. Truly, a spectacular film.
17. Blade Runner 2049
Director Denis Villenueve had been on something of a killer critical streak, with Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival in four years time. Getting the Blade Runner Sequel, Villeneuve was fulfilling something of a dream, and this can be seen in the approach he takes to Blade Runner 2049. The film is a visual spectacle, with colorful and impressive cinematography from Roger Deakins. With the story, Villeneuve takes the Blade Runner world a few steps forward, driving home the points of the first film, while strongly making new ones with 2049. Blade Runner 2049 is philosophical sci-fi at its very best, and its all thanks to Villeneuve.
16. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
The Meyerowitz Stories is an actor’s movie. Noah Baumbach wrote a fantastic screenplay, but the film was wholly reliant on the actors to do it justice. What is surprising, then, is the group of actors who were cast. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are both critically acclaimed names, but in the two lead roles are Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, who don’t exactly have the same critical reputation. The amazing thing is that Stiller and especially Sandler are far and away the best parts of this movie. Both actors not only give career-best performances, but performances that will change people’s perspective on what they are capable of as actors. See this movie, because it’s a masterpiece of writing and acting.
Pixar’s last original film for a number of years is also one of their best. Coco is a film that has been in production for nearly seven years, and when you watch the film, you get to see why. Visually, Coco is sure to be one of the most impressive and beautiful movies you will ever see. Musically, the film is also great, both with the songs and with Michael Giacchino’s score. And since Coco is exactly what Pixar does best, you can count on there being an extremely emotional scene that reduces you to tears. This is just an amazing movie in every way.
14. The Glass Castle
Want to cry? Watch this movie. The Glass Castle is based on the memoir of the same name, telling author Jeannete Walls’ unconventional childhood and relationship with her father. Woody Harrelson gives one of the three best performances of the year as her father, Rex Walls. This story is fascinating and emotional, two qualities which are only emphasized by having Short Term 12 director Destin Cretton in the director’s chair. This is a film that takes you on an emotional journey, simultaneously loving and hating some of the best characters ever put on the screen. And by the end, well – bring some tissues.
13. The Zookeeper’s Wife
This is a film that flew largely under the radar during the first part of the year. Based on the book of the same name, this true story about some Polish zookeeper’s during the holocaust is one of the most tragic and heroic things to come out of 2017. Jessica Chastain gives an absolutely outstanding leading performance, driving a film that will reduce even the most cold-hearted viewers to tears. This is an awesome story filled with great characters, and told masterfully by director Niki Caro.
12. Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game is a fantastic film telling one of the coolest true stories of the past fifteen years. Molly Bloom is an awesome and impressive woman, and Jessica Chastain proved she was pretty much the perfect person to play her. The best part of the film, though, is that Aaron Sorkin is the one telling the story. Sorkin and his unique writing style have produced some of the best onscreen stories for decades, and here with his directorial debut, Sorkin shows that he directs exactly how he writes: fast-paced, efficiently, and really, really well. Between Chastain’s performance, the film’s editing, and Sorkin’s writing and directing, this is one heck of a movie.
11. Paddington 2
I was not expecting Paddington 2 to make this list, much less almost crack into the top 10. Paddington 2 is pure delight. The film is just like its main character – polite, innocent, and as sweet as can be. Dario Marianelli. Composes a score that is absolutely perfect, capturing the simplicity and good-nature of the movie. Of all the films on this list, Paddington 2 is the one most guaranteed to put a smile on your face. And not only will you want to see the movie again, but you’ll be wearing that smile until you do.
This was honestly the most pleasant surprise of 2017. Wonder is a film I expected to be cheesy, probably forgettable, and at the very best, cute. Little did I know that after two hours of laughing hysterically and feeling for every character, I’d be walking out of the theater wiping my eyes. This film tells a brilliant story, looking at four different and unexpected perspectives, adding a dynamic to the film that makes it truly unforgettable. Perhaps the best thing about Wonder, however, is director Stephen Chbosky’s ability to capture the magic of childlike joy on the screen. This film will definitely make you cry, but it’s also going to make you happier than you’ve been all year.
9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Between In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, and now Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Irish writer/director Martin McDonagh has proved he’s one of the best storytellers alive today. While I still consider In Bruges a better films, Three Billboards is a movie everyone should see. You can argue for the political commentary of the film, but when it comes down to it, this is a movie that is purely fictional, and in the best way. Three Billboards is solely focused on its three main characters, and McDonagh uses them in a way that is simply unforgettable. Frances McDormand and especially Sam Rockwell give extraordinary performances in bringing these characters to life, but it is McDonagh’s simply genius narrative that makes this movie as good as it is.
Oof. If you’ve read my 20 Worst Films of 2017, you’ll notice that mother! appears there too. This film is pure genius, but it is not for the casual moviegoer and certainly not for the faint of heart. Darren Aronofsky’s is the mind behind this film, and after seeing the movie, you learn far too much about that mind. However, after two or three viewings of the film and stay up all night thinking about it, you discover that this film is symbolically, philosophically, and narratively brilliant.
That Oscar-bait movie that’s nowhere to be seen in this year’s awards season is also one of my favorite films of the year. With Detroit, Katherine Bigelow proves she’s one of the best directors working today, teaming up again with The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal. The film features a brilliant ensemble of characters, appropriately providing every necessary perspective in telling a historical story as politically driven as this one. Between John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jack Reynor, and the rest of the cast, this is also one of the best acted films of the year. This film will teach you something, make you emotional, and leave you with something truly unforgettable.
Easily the best film from the first half of 2017, Logan is the movie that surprised everyone by being really, really stinkin’ good. After the disaster that was The Wolverine in 2013, no one could have guessed that the same team of James Mangold and Hugh Jackman could use the same character to create Logan. The film brilliantly combines the three genres of comic book, sci-fi, and western, telling a genius story that makes us look at the classic X-Men characters, Wolverine and Professor X, in a way that we never have before. The new R-rating allows Wolverine to be more violent than ever before, adding a certain grit to the film that contributes to its brilliant quality. Never in a million years would I have thought that an X-Men film would become my favorite superhero movie, but Logan might have done exactly that.
5. Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name is the film that surprised me more than any other. Positive early reviews told me the film was good, but nothing could have prepared me for just how good it was. While not quite my favorite story of the year, Call Me By Your Name features my favorite screenplay of 2017. This film is romantic, philosophical, and one of the most thoughtful movies I’ve ever seen. Timothee Chalamet gives a performance that is sure to garner an Oscar nomination and make him the next big star, while Michael Stuhlbarg makes a turn that will remind everyone that he deserves to be way more than just the guy in the background. This film is perfect with its characters, but even more perfect with the dynamic of ths relationships between those characters. Brilliant work from director Luca Guadagnino.
4. The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water was the 2017 film I was most excited about, and it did anything but disappoint. This fantasy romance flick about a mute cleaning lady and a supernatural amphibian man is the second-best romance story of 2017. But unlike the film that beats it, it includes so much more. Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins give unforgettable performances, creating pure and lovable characters. From the cinematography, set design, musical score, and visual effects, The Shape of Water is easily the most beautiful and visually appealing live-action movie of the year. Of every film in 2017, The Shape of Water is the one most sure to make you fall in love.
3. Lady Bird
The most human movie of the year, Lady Bird tells a story that pretty much every millennial can relate to. This probably-autobiographic story from writer-director Greta Gerwig brilliantly conveys all the contradicting and numerous emotions a teenager feels during their senior year of high school, concerning romantic relationships, virginity, sex, ambition, confidence, and most importantly, the relationship with their parents. Two of the best performances of the year are in this film, with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf both providing the best work of their careers. There’s pretty much nothing to dislike about this movie, which is why it was the all-time best-reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. The Big Sick
The Big Sick features my favorite story from 2017. The mostly-true story of how Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon met, the struggles they went through, and the ultimate result is just the right balance of humanity, gentle political commentary, hilarious comedy, and four of the most lovable characters ever put to the screen. Holly Hunter’s performance steals the show, but Ray Romano, Zoe Kazan, and of course Nanjiani contribute to my favorite ensemble performance of the year.
1. Baby Driver
The top five movies on this list are all equal in the fact that there isn’t a single thing I disliked about them. Absolutely nothing I would change to tell the story better or make a better movie. But when deciding which was my favorite, the answer was clear. Baby Driver is one of the few movies this year I’ve watched multiple times, simply because I couldn’t get enough of it. This film combines action, music, and comedy in a way that has literally never been done before. It’s brilliant directing and editing, amazing soundwork, great action, a freakin’ awesome playlist, and just pure fun.
The Post, Thor: Ragnarok, The Fate of the Furious, Logan Lucky, The Foreigner, Battle of the Sexes, Victoria and Abdul, Mudbound, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Hero, Girls Trip, Atomic Blonde, Alien: Covenant, Wonder Woman, War for the Planet of the Apes, American Made, Downsizing, Darkest Hour, Good Time
Well-Reviewed Movies I Still Need to See:
The Florida Project
Last Flag Flying
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
*This list will be updated upon viewing of these movies