Top 17 favorite films of 2017!

Mandatory opening sentence wherein I express how terrible of a year 2017 was, but that it was still an amazing year for cinema. Standard statement saying there was an overwhelming amount of good to great films released this year, and it was near impossible to narrow them down to a manageable 17 (because of 2017, get it?). Typical follow-up where I shamefully admit I haven’t seen such films as The Post, The Phantom Thread, The Florida Project and many others because they are getting released in Norway in 2018. Cliché clarification saying that this list reflects my personal favorites and not necessarily the best movies.

With that out of the way, let’s get to it!

17. Girl’s Trip: The absolute funniest movie of the year and the gift to humanity that is Tiffany Haddish, this movie is a great tale of sisterhood.

16. Patti Cake$: A known underdog formula stands out thanks to a great leading performance and a fantastic soundtrack.

15. Verónica: A fantastic and sad Spanish horror film based of the terrifying true story of a girl suffering the consequences of a Ouija game.

14. Better Watch Out: Like if Tarantino wrote a John Hughes movie, the best holiday horror film in years, with one crazy twist after the other.

13. Bad Genius: Like if Aaron Sorkin made a heist film, but with teenagers cheating on tests, with beautiful cinematography and intense, fast editing.

12. Logan: The dark and gritty Wolverine we didn’t know we needed, that gave us Hugh Jackman’s best performance and a tearjerker ending.

11. Wonder Woman: My favorite comic-book film of the year, with great action, fantastic performances and powerful imagery that makes this the most important superhero film of the year.

10. A Ghost Story

I actually left my screening of A Ghost Story not fully knowing if I had liked it, but I somehow haven’t stop thinking about this film – when I first saw it at the Sitges film festival I would suddenly find myself thinking of Casey Affleck as a ghost and feel deeply melancholic.

A Ghost Story is masterfully shot and directed by Dave Lowery, with a boxy 4:3 aspect ratio with rounded corners that look like an old home movie and long shots with little to no action or dialogue. A small and intimate story about grief and love that packs the enormity of existence, while incorporating horror elements to it. Casey Affleck gives one of his best performances and you don’t even see his face or body, and Rooney Mara has perhaps the single best scene of the entire year. In a year as shitty as this, it feels good to have a film as anti-nihilistic as this, a movie that tells us that we matter, because we are here. [Full review here]

9. The Disaster Artist

I had really high expectations for this film based off the first trailer in which we see James Franco’s take on the “Oh, hai Mark” scene. I expected to laugh a lot, but The Disaster Artist is much more than an incredibly funny movie. James Franco gives us perhaps the best performance of his career as he completely transforms into Wiseau and adopts everything from his accent and weird grammar, to mannerisms and special ability to throw a football.

While I laughed my ass off, I never expected to see myself in Tommy Wiseau. The film manages to avoid the easy route and not just make fun of how bad The Room is, or how bad a filmmaker Tommy is. Instead they present a sweet and heartfelt immigrant story about a man who never manages to fully blend in, and that may have hit too close to home. Yes, we get reenactments of all those scenes you know and love from The Room, and all those funny catchphrases. We also get a story about friendship, and about how hard it is to pursue your dreams and make it into the industry. [Full review here]

8. Raw

This French coming-of-age about a vegetarian-turn-cannibal got some bad rep after some people fainted during a screening in Toronto, but Raw is more than that. First time director Julia Ducournau crafted a beautiful tale of a young woman’s flourishing sexuality, of sisters bonding, of rebellion and of feeling like an outsider all in two hours.

Garance Marillier as the lead character Justine is a revelation. Raw lives or dies by how well she sells her character, and she effortlessly manages to convince you cannibalism is a normal part of puberty. Despite the sweet and kind of sensual coming-of-age story, this is still constructed as a horror movie. Raw is one of the most visceral and jarring experiences in recent memory. When Justine finally gives in to her culinary pleasures, it is exciting as it is difficult to stomach, and you will leave the theater grinning even if you’re feeling dizzy out of repulsion. The colorful cinematography and the explosive music make this movie an attack to the senses that’s as beautiful as it is sanguine.

7. The Big Sick

Not only one of the year’s funniest comedies, but the best rom-com in years. I am not usually a fan of the genre, but I was curious about this movie ever since I heard it was based on comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s life with his wife Emily V. Gordon, I was not disappointed. There’s a palpable sense of authenticity in the film, even when certain things were obviously added for dramatization, you feel that this was a product of love and care by writers/producers Nanjiani and Gordon, and director Michael Showalter.

The Big Sick is so raw you’ll frequently wipe tears off your face, even from laughing. What could have been a mediocre film stands out with an amazing script, that is directed and performed to perfection. This movie also gave us the gift that is Holly Hunter, who lights up every scene she’s in and deserves every award on Earth and beyond.

6. Brigsby Bear

In a year full of toxic fandom news – from the usual DC vs Marvel arguments to an idiotic petition to remove The Last Jedi from canon – there’s a movie that shows us how fandom can be a good thing that brings people together.

Brigsby Bear takes what could easily be a quirky story or an overly dramatic story and instead treats its characters seriously but with care and respect. The main character goes through some serious trauma that the film doesn’t hide, but instead the film turns into an exploration of creativity, fandom and love. The characters are silly but believable, the performances are amazing and the fake TV show from the film deserves to exist. This is a love letter to movies and being an artist, a feel-good story about fandom bringing people together and not being a cynical. [Full review here]

5. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright crafted an exhilarating high-octane musical experience with bullets and car engines. From the opening scene you are thrown right into the action – literally, the film starts with a heist – and never slows down from there. The performances are fantastic, from Ansel Elgort as the quiet and titular Baby, to Jon Hamm doing perhaps his best movie role, to even Christopher Plummer Kevin Spacey who is surprisingly good as a villain with a heart of gold.

The technical aspects of the film are amazing. The editing makes the choreography stand out, and every bullet, car door, police siren and step moves along to the music. There are no musical numbers or background tap-dancers in Baby Driver, but the film still dances like there’s no tomorrow. The best part of the film is without a doubt the soundtrack. No matter how good the choreography is, a musical is only as good as its songs, and you will want to drive your car while listening to the songs from the movie. The opening scene, set to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Bellbottoms made my blood pressure rise, then made my body levitate into a car I couldn’t afford and drive west even though I live next to the ocean.

 

4. War for the Planet of the Apes

Okay, if you had told me four years ago that I would cry watching a movie about apes fighting humans, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. The film that proved trilogies could have strong finales, and proved we don’t deserve Andy Serkis. The CGI in this film is as perfect as it gets, I had to convince myself that what I was seeing wasn’t real, it still blows my mind that they were able to achieve that level of emotion in motion capture performance.

Unlike most blockbusters, War for the Planet of the Apes doesn’t shy away from being incredibly dark, saw and gritty, while giving some hope of the future. That this is a summer blockbuster is shocking, giving the level of care and craftmanship given to this movie. Some will have a problem with the titular “war” being so short and small, but for the apes it was the war to end all wars. The action is amazing, the performances are perfect, Michael Giacchino ones again gives us a tearjerker music score, the cinematography is worthy of being framed, but it’s the depth they gave each of the characters what makes this one of the best blockbusters of the decade.

3. mother!

A film about introvert people’s worst nightmare, a metaphor for Mother Earth, a metaphor for the Bible. There is so much going on in Darren Aronofsky’s mother! It took me days to write my initial review. An unconventional horror film, full of bizarre and allegorical insanity. The film holds your attention from the get-go and never lets go. Almost the entirety of the film is set inside a single location, which adds to a feeling of claustrophobia that only intensifies as the film enters it’s crazy second half. Jennifer Lawrence gives an amazing performance as a woman who just wants to be left alone in her home with her husband, a physical performance that will shock you and traumatize you.

This is a film that will not make anyone happy. Even if you like the movie, you won’t feel anything pleasant while watching. The movie gets under your skin and stays there with its tale of creation, destruction, love, religion and motherhood. I can’t say I enjoyed watching this movie, but I loved that I experienced it. [Full review here]

2. Get Out

An incredibly surprising and impressive directing debut by Jordan Peele, this movie blew me away. A story rich with symbolism and history, that has as much to say about the past as it does about the present. Get Out is scarier than predicted, funnier than anyone expected, and it couldn’t be timelier. Masterfully shot and edited, with incredible performances by its two leads, I stared in awe at the screen every single time I watched this movie (six times as of the writing of this post).

Who could forget what is perhaps the greatest side character of the year? Rod the TSA agent is the friend we all wish we had, and the best movie-watching companion. The comedy never feels forced, and compliments the horror that permeates the film. This is without a doubt the movie of 2017, the social satire that will forever be remember with the real sunken-place that was 2017.

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I struggled a lot with the placing of these last three films, but ultimately went for the space opera as my number one simply because it still evokes the strongest emotional response of the year from me – even after five viewings. Rian Johnson gave us the best Star Wars film since 1980, that respects not only the originals, but also the prequels.

No matter what happened in the film, we all knew The Last Jedi was going to be deeply emotional, because of the untimely death of Carrie Fisher. What I didn’t expect was for the movie to make me care and cry for even the smallest of characters. Rian Johnson finally gave some long overdue focus to the smaller characters of the saga – like the pilots and mechanics – and actually made me care for the fate of the rebels outside our main characters. John Williams outdid himself with one of his strongest scores, and Steve Yedlin gives us one of the most best-looking Star Wars films in decades.

The Last Jedi is incredibly bleak and melancholic, and it deals with failure in a way we haven’t seen before in this saga. Everyone in the film fails miserable at some point, but they learn from their mistakes and come out as better people. Despite all that failure and death, you leave the theater with a deep feeling of hope for the future, not only of the Star Wars saga, but our own future.

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