Now that 2017 is over and I’ve had a few days to reflect upon the year (and get over the New Year’s hangover), it’s time I put together my list of favorite movies to release in theaters for the past 12 months. This is Dusty’s Top 10 Theatrical Releases of 2017! I won’t kid myself by saying that this list is all-encompassing, since I know I’ve missed out on a lot of movies that I wanted to see, and even in the perfect world where I get to see everything, my opinion will always just be my opinion. But, we all love lists, so read on and let me know if you agree or disagree with me!
Oh, and spoiler warning, I’ll probably let out some plot points in here, so beware.
Hands down my favorite film of the year, Get Out was not only a fantastic thriller, it also was a damn good wake up call on the subtle racism that most people have, even when they don’t really think they do. It is also one of the highest grossing first films for a black director, getting Jordan Peele proper credit and ensuring that he’s not just looked upon as a comedic actor anymore.
The story is delightfully unsettling, with some of the most awkward and uncomfortable scenes from a movie this year. Not only does this film nail the social aspects, it definitely does a good job of crafting a really creepy and fairly original thriller that doubles as the social commentary. I’ve recommended this film countless times throughout the year and will continue to do so at any given opportunity.
Pixar is doing what Pixar does here, and that involves a lot of making a grown man (me) cry like a baby. Not only is Coco absolutely gorgeous, it tugs at your heartstrings, and has a great lesson to be learned as well (because Pixar always does that too), but it it does all of this while praising and promoting Mexican culture, which is hugely misrepresented in pop culture today.
Coco has a strong emphasis on music, and balancing your hopes and dreams with your familial responsibilities, particularly when the two conflict. These are valuable lessons for anyone, and, as always, Pixar finds a way to make this story both easily accessible yet complicated enough to entertain both kids and adults.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
I largely skipped the whole debate about whether or not this movie was good enough to be a Star Wars film, or if the liberals ruined the series by putting more women in space. I liked this movie a lot from my first viewing and loved it after the second time. You definitely can feel that Episode VIII takes an extra step into space equality, above and beyond what they’ve done in Episode VII and Rogue One, but I am ok with this. If I were to have any real complaints with Episode VIII, it would be with the almost ridiculous premise that it all boils down to a low-speed space chase… but hey, it was still really good.
Also, I will gladly debate with anyone who doesn’t agree that the light speed crash into the armada is one of the most impactful and beautiful shots in the series and in cinema as a whole.
Also also, porgs are great and I will cut you.
2017 was a redemption year for M. Night Shyamalan, which is a surprising thing to think about. The fact that he bamboozled me with Split (and, more specifically, the revelation at the end of the film) has been the best twist I’ve seen in recent memory.
Split has a super entertaining premise and James McAvoy absolutely nails what must have been one of the most challenging roles of his career so far. He goes so far as to physically change stature when he shifts between personalities, and it shows in the believability of the character.
Also, Anya Taylor-Joy is one of my favorite new actresses and she is awesome in this one too. She has really pretty eyes…
But anyway, Split is one of those films that is hopelessly interesting. It is not only a really cool thriller, it is also one hell of a character study.. to the 23rd degree.
Blade Runner 2049
The baby goose (Ryan Gosling) stars in this super late sequel to one of cinemas more dissected and talked about films. This was actually a very important film for Denis Villeneuve, as he was under a tremendous amount of fan pressure to do this IP justice, and I think he did great. The film is absolutely beautiful and has some of the most iconic shots scattered through its nearly three hour run time. I’ve not heard a lot of fan disappointment (I’ve not gone out of my way on the internet to find anything however, I’m sure there will be plenty there) and that enforces my excitement for his Dune remake that is coming. I hope it is as beautiful as this one.
Harrison Ford was fantastic reprising his role as Deckard, and I’ll admit that I was a bit worried that his presence was going to be a cheap gimmick to fill seats, but that truly was not the case. He was a great counterbalance to Gosling, and I am incredibly excited to see this again in 4K in the coming weeks.
Logan was quite a surprise to me, as I’m sure it was to most of us when it came out earlier this year. I applaud the shift in tone and departure that this film took from other X-Men movies from the past, proving that an R-rated bloodfest can be successful and still impactful in the superhero sector. It tackles a lot of heavy subjects and was an incredible and fitting end to the Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman era.
This film was very bittersweet for the same reasons that made it great. It’s sad to see just how good the X-Men films could have been had they been given free reign with violence and content, only to also be reminded that this is the end of the series as we know it. Hopefully, they rebuild having learned a lesson here.
Edgar Wright is one of my favorite directors, thanks to his unique style and unmatched cinematography. Pretty much every scene of this film has a deeper meaning than what is on the surface level, as is Wright’s style. Couple all this with an amazing soundtrack, exciting plot, rad car chase scenes, and you have a sure bet.
This musically charged heist movie has some of the coolest car chases we’ve seen this year and puts them to one of the best soundtracks of the year to boot. This winning combination is further enhanced by a great cast including Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey (who, unfortunately, is an asshole it turns out). Ansel Elgort is also on my list of actors to watch thanks for his portrayal of Baby in this film. I’m hoping he does some more good things.
Charlize Theron being a badass protagonist? What is this, Mad Max? Not exactly, but I am sure glad she is continuing her streak of kicking ass. This spy film has more twists and turns in it than the entire Shyamalan collection and features one of my favorites, James McAvoy in it as well. Oh, and it’s also one of the stylish movies I’ve seen this year, so it definitely belongs on the list.
Atomic Blonde offers one of the coolest looks at Berlin that I’ve ever seen in a film, and I’m really excited for my upcoming trip to Germany to see if I can’t find some of the locations that they shot at. The entire film just oozes style in the form of neon lights and colorful spray paints. This style goes really well with blood spatter and gunplay, let me tell you.
Lady Bird is a bit of an interesting pick for me. It is an A24 film, one of my favorite companies. Actually, it is quite possibly one of their most successful films to date. So why is this a strange one for my list? Mostly because I am not particularly in the target audience for this film. I really enjoyed it anyway.
First off, Saoirse Ronan is damn amazing in this film, as she has been in everything that I’ve seen her in. The film is largely a coming of age tale that revolves around a mother and daughter who don’t see eye to eye on much of anything. I know that a lot of the problems that she encounters will ring true to the female audience, but even the fellas out there will likely feel how genuine this story comes across. It’s a rarity for a movie to come across this way, and that is why I think it’s one of the top 10 of the year.
This last pick is sort of a wildcard. There are several movies that I had to cut off here, and they almost all share one thing in common – movies that I expected to be horrible that ended up being pretty great. IT stands out in this category to me pretty strongly due to my being a lifelong fan of Stephen King.
I’ll be honest, I was really scared that this would be terrible, and I’ll admit, it has its flaws. However, Finn Wolfhard crushes it in this film and makes up for some of the cheesy jump scares and somewhat lame (but still somehow terrifying) marionette walking that Pennywise does. I am fully on board and excited to see what they do for the sequel that is sure to appear in the next year or two.
So that’s it, Dusty’s Top 10 Theatrical Releases of 2017! It was a bit rough of a year in terms of making it to the theater, thanks to having a two-year-old at home, but I am confident in recommending these ten films, without any shred of doubt. My New Year’s resolution is to get my butt in the theater more often and to catch up in the films I missed from 2017.