The Groffscars ("Oscars") of 2017
Thanks to the advent of MoviePass, I've decided to return to my high school cinephile days, and with them, a round up of the best of the year. But before I get into this, I must say, if you have not seen Black Panther yet, see it. It would rank toward the top of my list had it come out in 2017 (and surely will be one of the tops in 2018).
Without further ado, then, here are my top choices for 2017 in film:
8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I love Star Wars movies, and I'm not ashamed to say that the current round are worthy of recognition for their craftsmanship. This one in particular was a work of art in ways most Star Wars movies are not. The plot was complex and ever-changing, and the visuals were brilliant. I'm happy to see major Hollywood franchises–Marvel, Star Wars, etc.–start putting solid directors behind the camera to make pop entertainment into pop art. (Warner Brothers, could we fire Zack Snyder and get a real director for the Justice League movies?) Let's have more popular movies like The Last Jedi.
7. The Post
Steven Spielberg is the most reliable source of good movies there is. The Post isn't particularly novel, but it's a solid, riveting drama. The plot is fast-paced, the performances intense, and the camerawork on point. I cherished it, more than anything, for its uplifting finale in a time of worry.
6. Lady Bird
What I loved most about Lady Bird was its perfect reenactment of the high school experience. As a former high school actor, I was surprised by how much of what I knew was common to the high school in Lady Bird. Lady Bird did the best job of any film in 2017 at capturing real life.
I can't be self-respecting animal advocate and not put this on the list. In fifty years, Okja's release will be seen as a historic moment. Okja follows in the footsteps of District 9 and Snowpiercer (also by director Bong Joon Ho) in harnessing sci-fi to cut to the core of our biases. Given the billions of lives shattered by speciesism every year, that's an urgent message.
4. The Big Sick
While Netflix and Amazon fill their ranks with understated drama-comedies, The Big Sick was full of belly laughs. While it's not as politically hard-edged as Get Out, its story of the cultural struggle with interracial love carries a valuable message. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani's story is just what 2017 needed, and the performances deliver.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This movie takes the prize for some of the most satisfying laughs of 2017. I avoided seeing it for a long time because of how grim it seemed, and because I did not like Martin McDonagh's last movie, In Bruges. Watching Frances McDormand seek exacting revenge against everyone who failed her murdered daughter was unnervingly satisfying.
2. Call Me By Your Name
Aesthetically, this was the strongest film of 2017. I obviously have a soft spot for the gay romance of the film, but its Northern Italian scenery, elegant classical score, glowing cinematography, and James Ivory script are what make Call Me By Your Name excellent.
1. Get Out
No movie wowed me more in 2017 than Get Out. Over and over again throughout the movie I found myself turning to Lucas, my fiancé, in shock or awe. I was initially hesitant to say this was the best of 2017 because I thought the strength of the movie was its screenplay, with the ingenious storyline. It's actually much more than that, though: the director and the cast brilliantly satirize minstrel figures, and the movie brilliantly riffs on standard horror style. At its core, Get Out shows how traditional artistry and entertainment can get at the most serious political issues of our time.
P.S. I did not like Dunkirk or Phantom Thread. Dunkirk was visually dazzling, but the events of the movie never came together. Phantom Thread was 90% a numbingly boring, uneventful romance and 10% unbelievably strange.