2017 was the year I joined the Story Screen family. It felt incredibly rewarding to help generate a large library of podcasts and articles, as well as expand my understanding and insight of film through the help of said family. I watched a whole hell of a lot of movies and television in 2017! Some I even saw with the Story Screen Family and have more complete thoughts on in audio format! I was once called a, “content consuming machine,” and I believe I lived up to that title this past year. The list you will find below isn’t made up of what I think are the best films of 2017, (whatever that means anymore), they are the films and TV shows that spoke to me personally the most, on a technical and emotional level, that were released in theaters in the United States in 2017. I didn’t get to see every movie that was released last year that I wanted to see, (such as The Florida Project, The Big Sick, Coco, and A Ghost Story), but I still saw a great deal. That also means, that these aren’t the only films I saw this year that I liked. I’m a pretty big The Last Jedi defender, but that still didn’t make my final list. That’s not a knock on The Last Jedi, but strong evidence that this was a hell of a year for the medium to mature and grow, for new and young filmmakers to share their innovative and progressive ideas like Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, and Trey Edward Schultz, as well as veteran filmmakers who stepped up to prove they were ready to improve and expand the capabilities of visual language and storytelling.
Now onto the actual list!
10. The Disaster Artist (dir. by James Franco)
This is a special case, because it is the cosmically rare occasion that I read the original book, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, before seeing the adaptation. While it’s not a complete or perfect recount of the events that transpired before, during, and after the making of The Room, James Franco creates a soulful and sympathetic window into the period of life of Tommy Wiseau creating The Room, which could have easily turned into a mean-spirited parody. James Franco’s transformative performance as Tommy himself, as well as the inspiring and hilarious story of Tommy and Greg’s friendship, and how it receded and blossomed through the making of this fascinatingly strange film, was a blast to watch and more than lived up to my expectations after reading the novel.
9. Okja (dir. by Bong Joon-Ho)
Netflix created and distributed many films throughout 2017. It’s a great and convenient feeling when a movie is “released” and all I have to do is sit my lazy introverted ass down on the couch and just hit play, especially when the movie is such a delight like Okja. It’s not every day where you get a film that depicts a giant CGI Superpig barreling through a shopping mall in slow motion set to “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, but hey, 2017 was a weird year for many. That’s what I loved about it. Bong Joon-Ho and his ensemble cast are fearless about getting weird. He’s not afraid to direct unconventional performances from his ensemble, such as teen heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal as a slimy hypocritical Steve Irwin from hell, nor is he afraid of taking me on a wild and cathartic ride with a young girl (played brilliantly by Ahn Seo-Hyun), doing all she can to prevent her adorable Superpig pet getting turned into Superbacon. Then, at the same time, hitting me hard with a poignant message of capitalism, factory farming, and the hypocrisy of it all, and at the very end, making me cry? Damn. Not many people do all that at the same time.
8. Good Time (dir. by Ben and Joshua Safdie) Good Time is a neon-lit and deranged nightmare of a movie and I couldn’t divert my eyes away from it for one second. Ben and Joshua Safdie craft a dangerous world for Robert Pattinson’s Connie Nikas, (which, by the way, is a career defining performance) and as the decisions he makes throughout his hellish night in New York City get worse and worse, I’m left confused, angry and enthralled as to what was going to happen next. I had to let out a huge breath of relief when it was over. Propelled by Oneoxtrix Point Never’s funky synth soundtrack and the dingy neon color pallet, Good Time is a thrilling fucked up little adventure I won’t soon forget. The less I say about it the better. Just go watch it.
7. It Comes At Night (dir. by Trey Edward Schultz)
Jesus, the marketing for this movie did it no favors. If it was advertised truthfully – as in a teenage coming of age drama set in a Last of Us inspired post apocalypse, as well as a gripping thriller about a family letting another family into their homes in a desperate situation, when at the same time the sense of paranoia is at an all-time high – I think the film would have received the fanfare it deserved. It Comes At Night exemplifies the quote, “the only thing we need to fear is fear itself,” in a tragic and dark tale anchored by a chilling lead performance by Joel Edgerton. As well as the writing/directing of the promising up and coming young filmmaker Trey Edward Schultz, which if this and last year’s Krisha is anything to go by, show he can build and release tension like a motherfucker. You can find my more complete thoughts on the film on the It Comes At Night Hot Takes episode, which you can find here.
6. The Shape of Water (dir. by Guillermo Del Toro)
There’s nothing quite like sitting down and taking in a meticulously crafted film where you can truly feel the hundreds of hours of love and effort put into every frame. Guillermo Del Toro’s, Juliet with a fishman, felt like I was eating a perfect home cooked meal. Not for a long time have I rooted for two fictional characters in a film to be together more than Eliza and Doug Jones’ fishman. It’s a tender and graceful romance of two beings that truly deserve to be together, and every time they were apart was gut wrenching. Good lord, the supporting cast as well! I could go on for paragraphs about how these were the roles Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg were born to play, but I got other movies to write about for this list!
5. mother! (dir. by Darren Aronofsky)
Is it weird to admit I had a blast with mother! ? I guess I was just satisfied with seeing an art house horror-thriller that utilizes visual metaphors and unconventional storytelling inside a normal multiplex theater. That doesn’t happen all that often, and I applaud Paramount for taking a risk on Aronofky’s twisted vision. I had the most fun discussing this film with friends and peers, and I know I’m gonna be obsessing over what Aronofsky is trying to convey for a long time to come. Especially that last act. Holy shit, that last act...
4. Dunkirk (dir. by Christopher Nolan)
I noticed writing this list that I am a glutton for films that exponentially raise my heart rate, and Dunkirk is no exception to say the least. I cannot recall the last time I have seen a war film that made me feel like I was truly experiencing the hellscape of World War 2 like Dunkirk did. Thanks to its excellent sound design, cinematography and the wonderfully subtle performances from its cast, I was completely engrossed from start to finish and I didn’t want it to end. It was a truly unforgettable film-going experience.
3. Logan (dir. by James Mangold)
Hugh Jackman has been portraying Wolverine for as long as I’ve had a working memory. One of the first PG-13 rated films I remember seeing in the theater was the first X-Men in 2000, and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine left a strong impression on my young self, as well as many others. To see Jackman say goodbye to the character that made him famous, in such a beautiful and introspective film about denying and then embracing his legacy, wrapped in a terrifically staged and thrilling action neo-western, left me emotionally overwhelmed, and it was able to pull that off thanks to its legacy. Logan showed us that Superhero movies can have greater meaning than the typical by-the-numbers action blockbusters we’ve become accustomed to. The future path of the X-men franchise is currently in uncertain territory, but if Logan was the end of the current X-Men as we know it, I would be more than satisfied.
2. Blade Runner 2049 (dir. by Denis Villeneuve)
It’s almost unfair just how great of a track record Denis Villeneuve has had since the turn of the decade. He just keeps spoiling us with terrific films. It’s like I have to reserve a spot in my top list every year for whatever he cranks out. This time, not only does he effectively pull off creating a worthy sequel to a 35-year-old sci-fi classic, but he also crafts an arguably better film that builds on the themes of the original, while telling a powerful new story of an android discovering what it actually means to be human. Anchored by Roger Deakins' jaw dropping cinematography, a methodical script that lets the world and atmosphere envelope you as you’re taken in by its mysterious and suspenseful tale, and an ensemble cast that breathes life and humanity into the dark and inhuman world of Los Angeles 2049, this film delivers. The images and ideas presented in Blade Runner 2049 haven’t left my head since I’ve seen it, and I'm sure they won’t be leaving me for quite some time.
1. Get Out (dir. by Jordan Peele)
Of course Get Out was going to be my “Top Film of 2017.” A tight-as-hell and original horror script with breakneck pacing and a gratifying ending, was going to make my list on its own, but Get Out is truly special. Get Out made me a better person. It showed me a side of racism that I wasn’t fully aware of until it was pointed out to me. Most films I’ve seen handle racism in an obvious and sometimes heavy-handed fashion, but Get Out showed me another side, a more insidious and unnoticed side. It changed my outlook on how I see the world, and how I’ve become more aware than I used to, of how people control others. It showed me how we still have a long way to go. I can’t thank Jordan Peele and company enough for creating such a game changing film that will rank with the all-time classic horror films for decades to come. It should be shown in schools; it should have free public screenings. Get Out needs to be seen by as many people on this Earth as possible. Maybe it could make us better. It’s worth a shot, anyway.
Jeremy is younger than he looks, and has passionately studied the art and craft of filmmaking for as long as he can remember. He is currently a freelance wedding videographer, and is also heavily involved in Competitive Fighting Games. IG: jeremyko95