The 10 best films of 2017

By

Published December 20, 2017

IMAGE COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES.

10. Your Name

Outside of Studio Ghibli’s impenetrable framework of animated films, it’s rare for an anime to traverse borders and take off in the way that Your Name—which broke box office records as the highest grossing anime of all time—lit up global screens. Director Makoto Shinkai’s funny-but-cautionary tale of body-swapping strangers captured imaginations in a way that even the closest watchers were baffled by. It has become an instant classic, easily joining the canon of anime films that preceded it, and giving way to a future of anime that isn’t monopolized by Ghibli. — Trey Taylor

9. Okja

Bong Joon-Ho continues to rattle the cage of action filmmaking with this bonkers sci-fi caper about an evil corporation that breeds “super-pigs.” The film’s beating heart belongs to its star, the South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, but there’s more than enough high caliber performances to go around: Jake Gyllenhaal ratchets his Nightcrawler ickiness up to unstable isotope levels, while Tilda Swinton continues vibrating on a higher plane. Sublime, discomforting, and totally unique. — Ezra Marcus

8. Blade Runner 2049

Making a sequel to one of the most influential science fiction films ever made—30 years after its original release, no less—would be an impossible task for any director. But Denis Villeneuve is not just any director. In bringing this new creation allegory to life, the French-Canadian filmmaker flexed his unmatched mastery of mood and tone to create one of the most immersive movie experiences of the year. The nearly three hour film didn’t exactly kill it at the box-office, but like its initially-misunderstood predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 will be looked back on as an undisputed masterpiece. — Ben Barna

7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ignore the backlash. As soon as that familiar opening crawl disappears, The Last Jedi makes clear that it’s going to be unlike any Star Wars movie that came before it. After the satisfying but predictable fan service of The Force Awakens, writer and director Rian Johnson has broken free of the shackles of expectations to forge a new and thrilling path for the saga. While that has rankled some purists, fans of risk-taking blockbuster filmmaking—an oxymoron if there ever was one—should rejoice. — Ben Barna

6. Good Time

Director brothers Josh and Benny Safdie have been on the brink of greatness for a while now, and with this breakneck crime thriller, the pair finally assume their rightful place as the heirs to a visceral New York style of filmmaking that was perfected by a young Martin Scorsese. Set over the course of one batshit night, Connie (Robert Pattinson, in his finest performance yet) will do just about anything to free his brother Nick from custody after a botched bank robbery. The movie slams the gas pedal from the opening moments, and doesn’t let up until its final melancholy minutes. Propelling the story along is the alien synths of Oneohtrix Point Never, who composed the year’s most fascinating score. — Ben Barna

5. Get Out

Get Out is director Jordan Peele’s wonderfully twisted psychological thriller that makes you think more deeply about race relations, with enough humor to balance the cringeworthy acts of ignorance, and outright malevolence, committed by white characters. Oh, and the cast is phenomenal too: breakout star Daniel Kaluuya delivers a poignant, versatile performance, LilRel Howard kills it with hilarious one liners, and Allison Williams proves that Marnie is not, in fact, the role she was born to play. How a comedy-horror had more to say about racial tensions than any political campaigning is perhaps this movie’s biggest achievement. — Jane Gayduk

4. The Florida Project

To tell his poignant story of disenfranchised families living in poverty on the outer rim of the Disney World fantasia, director Sean Baker turned to non-professional actors, including major finds Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince. The decision paid off. As the mother-daughter duo Halley (Vinaite) and Moonee (Prince), they ground Baker’s hopeful and heartbreaking fable with performances so naturalistic it’s easy to forget you’re watching a movie. The only pro in the cast is Willem Dafoe, who, as the gentle but firm manager of the motel where much of the movie takes place, gives the the most empathetic performance of the year—and likely the best of his illustrious career. — Ben Barna

3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—the title is as long as the film is good, which is to say it’s a very, very good film, full of venomous performances from Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, and Lucas Hedges. The pitch-black comedy follows a Missouri mother (McDormand) who attempts to avenge her daughter’s death by waging war with the local police department. It’s a tour-de-force for McDormand, sure, but the film is really a showcase of writer/director Martin McDonagh’s incomparable gift for words. — Matt Mullen

2. Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name will coerce you into buying a one-way ticket to Crema, Italy, listening to Sufjan Stevens’s “Visions of Gideon” on repeat, and rekindling your relationship with your estranged father. Luca Guadagnino’s best film to date is that convincing—the most intensely living, breathing organism of a movie that was released all year. It deals with trysts, coming to terms with your sexuality and devastating heartbreak with pure sensitivity, set against the lurid backdrop of languid Northern Italy. We see Oliver and Elio fall deeply, madly in love, and watch it unravel at the seams, as perhaps the truest testament to flash-in-the-pan romance of any sort. It’s the best gay film since Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. — Trey Taylor

1. Lady Bird

So much of this existentialist teen journey reflects where we are in 2017: in the ways that we still argue with our parents, set lofty goals for ourselves and break all the rules our perceived oppressors set for us. But in director Greta Gerwig’s debut feature is the aching prescience with which youth is made to shine. As she admitted on a recent roundtable, while pitching the film, a lot of male film producers didn’t realize that this was how many women interacted. For her to be able to show her vision—untainted, hilarious, moving—to an appreciative audience is emblematic, hopefully, of where film is headed. Mostly, however, it’s just fucking fun to watch. — Trey Taylor