As the end of the year draws even closer, we continue to look back on the culture and news that helped to shape 2017. This week, we look back on a year at the movies!
While there are still a number of high profile films to be released in the next few weeks of December, we don’t think it’s too premature to single out some of the great cinematic accomplishments of the year. While the story of the low summer box office returns may have put a damper of some of the movie news this year, there are still plenty of highlights and it turned out to be a pretty great year to be a movie lover. Smaller films made a splash, bigger films took chances and filmmakers of all kinds let their voices be heard. Here are some of the best films of 2017.
While the summer movie season is usually dominated by superheroes and sequels, one original film made quite a spectacle on its own. Baby Driver is the super kinetic, energetic and downright fun bank robber film that had so many audience members cheering this summer. The story follows a young, well-meaning man named Baby who works as a getaway driver for a group of bank robbers. Suffering from a rare condition that produces a constant ringing in his ear, Baby lives his life with a constant soundtrack of song playing. Set to that unique and infectious soundtrack, the film is a black of amazing car chases, thrilling set pieces and entertaining characters. Maybe the most fun time you could have at the theatres this year.
Sequels so rarely work, and they are even less likely to succeed after such a long period between films. Somehow, Blade Runner 2049 defied expectations to deliver a sequel that not only matched the original but may have even out done it. Set decades after the first film, Kay, a new breed of Blade Runner (a police force dedicated to hunting down rogue androids) uncovers a shocking revelation that sends him on a path to find a former Blade Runner who disappeared years ago. Directed by Quebec-born filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, the sequel is a visual masterpiece, depicting a futuristic society in the haze of a noir film. The story builds on so much of what made the first film such a ground-breaking science fiction and even improves it in some ways. A beautiful, complex and challenging film.
The story of what happened at Dunkirk during World War II has strangely been at the center of a number of films this year, however, none will immerse you in the harrowing event like this epic account. As the German army moves into France, the British forces become trapped in the small coastal community with the fate of the war in the balance. Telling the same story across intersecting timelines which explore the soldiers on the beach, the civilian sailors aiding with the evacuation and the pilots attempting to keep the enemy at bay, this is less a war film and more a survival story. With little dialogue, the film puts you at the center of the chaos in one of the most tense and epic films ever made.
The horror genre may seem played out to some but every so often a filmmaker will come along a breath new life into it with something we’ve never seen before. A terrifying twist on the Look Who’s Coming to Dinner story, it centers on a young African American who is going to visit his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Writer-director Jordan Peele created a paranoid, intense and timely story which makes a mockery of the notion of post-racial society. Exploring the fears of the African-American community in a way we’ve never seen, it combines strange atmosphere, foreboding horror and some biting satire into an unforgettable film which constantly pulls the rug out from under you. One that will be remembered for years to come.
A fine companion piece to Get Out and a reminder that society hasn’t come as far as we’d hoped from its darker past. Set in the 1940s in the South, this period drama explores the various levels of racism in America and the constant struggles of African-Americans attempting to build a life for themselves in a world that wants to keep them down. Set on a bleak and dying farm populated by the White family of landowners and the African-American family of farmhands, it tells the story of two sons from each family that strike up a friendship as the racist hatred of the area threatens to boil over. With several narrations occurring throughout the film, the story is presented as almost a novel, unfolding this intense drama in a deliberate yet never unengaging pace.
It’s hard for romantic comedies to genuinely show audiences something new, let alone be consider among the best films of the year, but The Big Sick is certainly something special. It stars comedian Kumail Nanjiani as a Pakistani-American comedian who struggles with adhering to his family’s strict culture while trying to live a normal American life. Things are complicated further when he begins dating a Caucasian girl, and things take an unexpected turn. While it would be a shame to spoil the surprising places this story goes, suffice to say it goes in directions you’ve likely never seen in a romantic comedy. The story is heartwarming, the performances are charming and it is the funniest movie in a long time.
Director Sofia Coppola returns to the big screen with a remake of a lesser-known Clint Eastwood film of the same name. The original film is set during the Civil War and centers on an injured Union solider who seek refuge in a Confederate boarding school for girls, but this retelling wisely switches the point of view from the solider to the girls of the school. Tension rise when this stranger is introduced into their quiet existence, threatening relationships and building to an inevitable confrontation. The Southern gothic feel makes for an engrossing, suspenseful and sometimes comedic tale with great performances from the entire cast.
Several movies on this list have proven to be so effective because of their strange timeliness to the world we currently live in. This dark comedic drama is maybe the best example of that. After her daughter is brutally murdered, a mother rents three nearby billboards and uses them to challenge the police’s failure to solve the case. Dealing with such subjects as distrust of police, abuse of women and racism, it’s not hard to see how this is a story of our time. However, the real indication is its strong theme of hate and how, whether justified or not, can poison a person. The third feature from Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, the film is sharp and clever with hilarious dialogue, shocking moments and a strong message at its center.
While it seems like there are too many superhero movies to handle these days, this is one that many moviegoers have been waiting for for a very long time. One of the most beloved and iconic superheroes finally gets the big screen treatment and she does not disappoint. This thrilling adventure tale follows Princess Diana of the Amazons who, after meeting a fighter pilot from the outside world chooses to leave behind her protected existence and step into the horrors of World War I. Rarely do we see a heroic female protagonist in such a big film like this, and the sight of her saving the day is an undeniable breath of fresh air. Beyond being an inspiring adventure for girls, it works as a genuine fun, exciting and unforgettable spectacle.