As I sat down to write this list, I asked myself why these particular films stood out to me. I realized that each one of them for one reason or another are compelling enough to merit an almost immediate re-watch. The experience was enough to make we want to repeat it, maybe because I missed something, maybe because I wanted to feel a certain emotion again. With that said, here are my top 10 movies for 2017.
10. Baby Driver
2017 introduced me to the cinematic world of Edgar Wright, with a first time viewing of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. With the excitement of that film still fresh in my brain, Baby Driver made its way to the big screen. While I wouldn’t say the movie as a whole wowed me, what drew me in was something that Wright does well, and that is using non-human components to bring his story to life. Scott Pilgrim personifies its protagonists life in the form of a video game world, complete with power ups and super powers (if you could call them that). Baby Driver uses music as it’s supporting cast in a way that few other films do. Where many soundtracks accent scenes and fill in gaps aurally, the music itself feels like a necessary part of the team we are introduced to, and without it, the team feels less impactful. That creativity alone makes Baby Driver worthy of being on my list.
09. Molly’s Game
Aaron Sorkin is writing a new screenplay? Yes please. Wait, he’s also directing the film? Count me in. It’s a biopic that involves gambling? Why are you still talking? Molly’s Game was a late arrival to the theater this year, but I was anxiously awaiting it’s release since I heard it announced back in September. Finally getting a chance to see it did not disappoint. And how could it? Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are fantastic bringing the energy of Sorkin’s screenplay to life. There are moments of real heartache, surprise, and tenderness that I didn’t expect. The story itself is compelling and entertaining, two solid character traits of a successful biopic. It’s one that I can’t wait to see again when it hits home video.
08. Brigsby Bear
One of the things that I absolutely love about the Feelin’ Film community is the diversity of those connected to it. I get to see what other people are interested in and watching, and it’s because of that that I find out about more corners of the film world. Brigsby Bear came highly recommended by show contributor Jeremy Calcara. The only information I had to go on was this: a guy is obsessed with a kids show and something happens. That’s it. So over Thanksgiving weekend I queued it up wondering what the heck I was getting myself into, and I came way saying “wow, that was something.” I can’t say much about it because even talking about the first few minutes of the film will give away a lot. What I will say is this: It’s incredibly unique, it leaves you smiling, and it presents a message about forgiveness and purpose that is overwhelmingly refreshing.
07. The LEGO Batman Movie
If you know me, you know that I would much rather see the word Superman after Lego. Still, I can’t hide the fact that this was probably the funniest movie of the year for me. From beginning to end, everything about it was overwhelmingly entertaining. What I dig most about this kind of movie is that it didn’t feel like a bucket full of joke after joke. There was a story with substance (as much as one can have with characters based on plastic construction toys), and an overall message that, while used numerous times, felt refreshed here. I was also grateful to be able to share this one in the theater with my son, something I’ve wanted to do since he was old enough to go to (and care about) the movies. Here’s to hoping Lego Superman makes his way to the big screen. A boy can dream right?
I’ll never forget my reaction coming out of Christopher Nolan’s latest feature. I asked myself, “What did I just watch? Did I love that or hate it?” Well, by making this list, I’m sure you can tell where I landed. Looking at this film, not as a war story, but as a survival movie, really allowed me to immerse myself in the world Nolan was trying to put us in. The abrupt visual changes, the non-linear storytelling, and the lack of any real understandable dialogue allowed me to feel like those trapped in this city, not knowing what to do next or where to go. I felt isolated, scared, confused, which is what I believe the director wanted. I’m glad this wasn’t a typical war story. It made more of an impact that way.
05. Blade Runner 2049
Earlier this year, I got introduced to the world of replicants, a man named Rick Deckard, and a gritty imaginative world created by Ridley Scott. This of course was the 1982 classic Blade Runner. I didn’t understand the hype surrounding this movie, particularly by my co-host. But we support one another and I knew BR2049 was his most anticipated film of the year. I imagine it would be difficult to continue a story like this, literally 35 years later, and maintain the tone, mythology and undertones that it’s previous entry contained. Denis Villeneuve perfectly executed this chapter of the Blade Runner universe, and he did it with his own style and substance, but at the same time, married up with the original incredibly well. In short, BR2049 was a logical extension of its predecessor and leaves room for more exploration into this gritty and beautiful universe.
04. War For The Planet of the Apes
I should NOT care about what happens to an ape. I should NOT care about apes more than humans. It’s not…..human. I actually hadn’t seen the second installment of this trilogy until this year, so I geared up for my movie experience by watching the first and second leading up to the third. What I found was a trilogy that got better and better with each installment, something very rare these days. But this trilogy was held together by the performance of one Andy Serkis, who I think needs at least a nomination for Best Actor at the upcoming Oscars. His portrayal of Caesar, specifically in this last installment, gripped me emotionally. But it wasn’t the strength of dialogue that did it. It was the way he emoted with his face, making me feel things without saying a word. When you can do that, you’ve accomplished something pretty amazing.
03. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Divisive. Spectacular. Different. Three words that I would attach to the 8th entry into Star Wars proper. Riann Johnson did something that I haven’t really seen from other Star Wars directors. He gave me reason to care about the characters. So many times, I found myself asking “is so-and-so going to die?” This wasn’t a thought in my mind in previous entries. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. The Last Jedi gave me stakes, and that’s what I want from movies like this. Give me reason to care about characters, enough to feel that emptiness when we lose them. The Last Jedi is a film that left me satisfied and curious, satisfied because I would have been okay if this saga concluded after this film, but curious because I know we have one more installment. I know JJ Abrams is currently sitting in the director’s chair for Episode IX, but it would not make me unhappy to see Riann Johnson’s name sitting under the words “written by.”
02. Your Name
I’m not a fan of anime. This should come as no surprise. And when I say I’m not a fan, it’s not a knock on the genre. I feel the same way about westerns and period pieces. So when a movie comes along and rocks me to my emotional core through stunning visuals, an incredibly unique premise, and a poppy soundtrack, I sit up and take notice. Your Name surprised me, in a way that made me appreciate this genre on another level. It also inspired my to check out more work from its director, Makoto Shinkai. I hope to get more exposure to it in 2018, but more so I hope to get more stories like this. Who knows, I may even be championing anime by the end of this next year.
01. The Greatest Showman
It shouldn’t have surprised me that this film showed up in my top 10. Heck as early as this past summer, I wanted to cover this because Hugh Jackman + Musical = yes please. What surprised me was how much this movie surpassed my expectations. Maybe it was because I wanted it to be good, but I think it had more to do with the unpredictable visceral reaction I had to the story, the characters, and the way the music intertwined both. It’s a film I wanted to go back and see immediately (I had to wait five whole days to do so haha). I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about it and that is a rare thing when a film does this to me. This film may not be perfect, but it’s place at the top of this list signifies why I enjoy film so much. A movie doesn’t have to be perfect to be the best for me. It just has to leave me with a wow factor and a desire to revisit it because I want to capture all of those emotions again.
Patrick “Patch” Hicks is an Arkansas-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. When he’s not podcasting, he’s working on various design projects as a freelance multimedia designer and is also dabbling in the art of writing and directing. You can find him floating around the web on Twitter, Facebook, and his home on the web, ThisIsPatch.com.