Timmmaaaaay's Top 10 Films of 2017

After skipping a Top 10 list last year because I don't think I had even seen ten films (due to the second job era), this post marks the return of this feature to nerdinthenoke.com!  I transitioned the content of the blog a bit in 2017, but even so I saw and reviewed more than enough films to compile this list which is pretty exciting.  What I didn't realize was how difficult it was actually going to be to pick out just ten films as I really enjoyed most of what I saw this past year.

I've compiled such a list five of the past seven years, so those of you familiar with the blog may remember the stipulations I use when putting this list together, but for those who are not, here are a couple of quick points before we get started:
  1. The list is pulled only from the movies released in 2017 that I actually saw (a second list comprised of the films from 2017 that I would still like to see appears after my Top 10).
  2. These are the films that I enjoyed or appreciated the most when I saw them, not necessarily the best based on their award winning potential (although that may be a happy coincidence in some cases).
  3. All of these films have had a full review posted here on the blog. If you have more interest in a particular film, click on the movie title and follow the link to my previously posted review.
As seems to always happen, there were a few films that I wasn't able to see that could arguably be included on this list. At this point, most all of those have come to the Roanoke area already and I either missed them or have not yet had the opportunity to check them out.  With a little luck, I'll be able to catch those one way or another before this year's Academy Awards at the beginning of March.  As it stands, I've only seen two of this year's Best Picture nominees so far, so I have a little work ahead of me.  Anyway, let's get to it!  I present to you my personal Top 10 Films of 2017:

Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): Batman & Bill, Beauty and the Beast (2017),  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Lego Batman Movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, War for the Planet of the Apes


10) Okja - There were only a couple of films this year that really got to me emotionally and this was one of them.  Okja is the latest creation from South Korean film maker Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer), and was distributed via Netflix as opposed to theaters.  A story of a girl and her pet super pig, which unbeknownst to her is actually a livestock experiment from an American food conglomerate.  Both heart-warming and heart-wrenching, Okja is full of characters that you love to love and love to hate, including wonderful turns from Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Steve Yuen, and newcomer An Seo Hyun.  Bong Joon-Ho is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors as he continues to produce the kind of original films that should take precedent over the seemingly endless wave of remakes and reboots in the industry today.


9) Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan has long been one of my favorite directors (a theme that continues throughout this year's list) and I love war-based films, so this shouldn't be much of a surprise.  One of the the things I enjoyed most about Dunkirk is that it gave us a look at a portion of World War II from another point of view (i.e. not American).  I know that some found the non-linear presentation of the timeline a bit confusing, but personally I felt that it kept the story engaging in what otherwise would have been a very straightforward film.  I had no previous knowledge or appreciation for these events, so I'm very thankful to have had them brought to light (even if there was some Hollywood embellishment).



8) Wind River - This was a film that I hadn't even been aware of until a week or two before it was released.  An old college buddy of mine had asking if he knew anyone who had seen it is what brought it to my attention.  I tend to enjoy the works of both Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen so I pulled up the trailer and knew immediately that I had to see it.  Writer/Director Taylor Sheridan continues to produce riveting criminal thrillers (after Sicario and Hell or High Water), and Wind River proves to be no different, telling the story of a murder mystery on the Indian Reservation of the same name in Wyoming.  The film is as cold and bleak as the winter Wyoming weather and the secluded nature of its location really adds to the intensity of the story as it unfolds.  In my opinion, this is Jeremy Renner's best performance since The Hurt Locker or The Town.


7) Blade Runner 2049 - I won't lie.  When I first heard that a sequel to Blade Runner was being made, I didn't think it was such a good idea.  Boy am I glad to have been wrong.  Director Denis Villeneuve created a worthy follow up to its predecessor.  One that answered some questions, presented others, and even threw in a bit of a twist for good measure.  Blade Runner 2049 was just as much of a slow burn as the original, which I know was a complaint from some, but I felt that it was the perfect way to compliment Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi masterpiece.





6) Logan - If this film actually holds true to being Hugh Jackman's final turn as everyone's favorite short-tempered, Canadian mutant, it was about as perfect a send off as you could ask for.  Logan did a wonderful job of loosely adapting the Old Man Logan story line (by Millar/McNiven) from the comics in a way that allowed it to fit into Fox's cinematic X-Men universe (as convoluted as that timeline is).  Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart both add great development to their characters' later years, and Dafne Keen gives an excellent performance, going over half the film before actually speaking.  I don't know what the future of the X-Men franchise holds with Disney's recent acquisition of Fox's film division, but Keen's portrayal of X-23 leaves you wanting more.  One can only hope that she gets that opportunity one way or another.


5) Baby Driver - Remember that favorite director theme I mentioned earlier?  Well, this is the next film that falls under that category.  With Baby Driver, director Edgar Wright put together one of the most cohesive films of the year.  Good story?  Check.  Great action?  Check.  Characters that you care about or hate?  Check.  Amazing soundtrack that makes you want to listen to music you wouldn't ordinarily listen to?  Check.  Wright is up there with Guillermo del Toro in his intent and attention to detail in his films.  Am I foreshadowing a little here?  We shall see.





4) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode VIII) - Those who know me may be a little surprised that The Last Jedi isn't higher on this list.  I really enjoyed this latest installment to the franchise as it coupled great character development for the newer generation along with iconic moments for some of our favorite classic characters.  The scene between Leia and Holdo got to me both times I saw it in the theater.  It was a scene that ended up being a very meta considering Carrie Fisher's passing at the end of 2016.  I really don't get the negativity about this film on the internet.  Everyone that I know and have spoken too really liked it.  I guess that's just what the internet has turned into over the years: a place for people to incessantly bitch about things (a certain scene from Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back comes to mind).  I could have done with a little less of the gambling planet 'side quest', but aside from that, The Last Jedi was a great next chapter in the Star Wars franchise and I'm very excited to see where things go from here.


3) Wonder Woman - Gal Gadot's portrayal of Wonder Woman was the best part of 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she solidified herself as the modern era's personification of Diana of Themyscira in this film directed by Patty Jenkins.  The duo of Jenkins and Gadot proved that a female led superhero movie could be successful.  Not only that, but they provided the most accepted DCEU film to date by leaps and bounds.  Wonder Woman has a bit of everything: action, drama, comedy, a dash of romance, and a twist in regards to the actual villain.  It deftly ties itself to the already existing greater DCEU while telling its own stand alone story that explores the character's origins and background.  Jenkins and Gadot are set to return for a sequel, and I can't wait to see where they go next now that they have the origin story taken care of.


2) The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro has been one of my favorite directors since I first saw Pan's Labyrinth in the theater ten years ago (I told you it was a theme for this year's list).  His attention to every detail in his films is amazing and everything he does has a purpose.  While he's gone on to do some larger budget films since Pan's Labyrinth, he seems to really succeed when he dials things back a notch.  With The Shape of Water, he tells another fairy-tale for adults courtesy of wonderful performances by Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, and Doug Jones (as Amphibian Man).  It's a monster movie/love story mash-up that you wouldn't think would work on paper, but is probably the most affecting film I saw all year.  It has been nominated for a whopping thirteen Academy Awards this year and as a long time del Toro fan, I hope it cleans up come awards night.


1) IT - Those who have followed my blog for any amount of time know that I have never been a huge horror fan.  So I'm surprised as anyone that a horror film tops my list.  There's just something about this film that has stuck with me since I first saw it last fall.  Maybe it's the nostalgia factor that this film gave me (I was roughly the same age in 1989 as The Losers Club are in this film).  Maybe it's that I grew up in a small New England town during the same time frame in which this film is set.  Maybe it's the fact that I am currently the same age the adult versions of these characters were in Stephen King's original novel (which I read for the first time - and loved - just before seeing this film in theaters last fall).  Maybe it's that director Andy Muschietti is starting to become yet another favorite director of mine (there's that theme again), as my wife and I also loved his 2013 film Mama.  Whatever the combination of factors, I loved this adaptation of IT.  Even better, I enjoyed it just as much when seeing it a second time when I recently added it to the collection upon the film's home release.  I don't know that I would categorize IT as straight horror, personally I feel like IT is more of a dramatic thriller with some horror elements, but that is really neither here nor there.  No matter the genre, Muschietti achieved a great adaptation of King's classic tale, really nailing the chemistry between the members of The Losers Club and the general feeling that something quite troubling is wrong with the entire town.  A second film, supposedly focusing on the other half of the story (The Losers Club's return to Derry as adults) has been scheduled for release in 2019.  That's a film that I am already very much looking forward to.


Films from 2017 that I'd still like to see (listed alphabetically) - upon further review, also known as a bunch of Best Picture nominees two ridiculous comedies:
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Get Out
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • Pitch Perfect 3
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What were your favorite films from this past year?  Are there any that you missed that you are still particularly looking forward to?

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