My Top Ten Films of 2017

Baby Driver  (2017)  R

Baby Driver

Photo courtesy of TriStar Pictures

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best getaway driver out there, and he works for a veteran kingpin (Kevin Spacey) who he owes big money to. Baby’s world changes when he meets a young waitress (Lily James) who gives him something other than driving to live for. This is a stunning, highly enjoyable film. The best way to describe it is a car chase musical. Baby has a permanent case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and to drown it out; he is constantly listening to music. Music is an important part of his life, so he lives his life with a constant soundtrack. Elgort sings, dances and drives to the beat of 30 different songs that make of the film’s soundtrack. The action sequences are brilliant, timed to the music that Baby is listening to (at one point he has to re-cue a song before he can drive away from the cops) and were done with no CGI (computerized special effects). The car chases are some of the most exciting chase sequences I have ever seen. The cast is brilliant, with Kevin Spacey as the planner of the bank robberies and Jon Hamm as one of the robbers, making the most of their parts. The star of the film is Ansel Elgort, and he gives a dazzling performance that is mesmerizing. Go see this magical film. You just might drive home from the theatre a little faster with your sound system blasting after seeing this movie.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

Get Out   (2017)  R

Get Out

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

College students Rose (Allison Williams), and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) have been dating for a while, and now it’s time for Chris to meet Rose’s parents.  Rose hasn’t told her parents (Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford) about Chris. Rose talks Chris into a visit but doesn’t tell him about the dark secret about her town – that the area has a history of young black men disappearing. This is one of the most unconventional horror films that I have ever seen. It’s a creative film that flips the conventional horror film on its head. The audience I saw this film with ate it up, and yes, it does contain some funny moments, but most of those moments are there to relieve the tension. This is one film that you will not forget. Think The Stepford Wives meets Misery.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again

Lady Bird   (2017)  R

Lady Bird

Photo courtesy of A24

The adventures of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan), who calls herself Lady Bird, who is living in Northern California as she goes through her senior year of high school, finding love and trying to figure out her future. A lock to be in my top ten films of the year and maybe one of my favorite films of all time. Writer/director Greta Gerwig does the impossible in making an original coming of age film that feels real and shows what it’s like to be young, thinking the world is about to open up for you. You couldn’t ask for a better performance from Ronan, who is so believable as that teen who battles her mom, played by Laurie Metcalf, on a daily basis. As good as Ronan is, Metcalf is even better as the mom who can’t help herself from criticizing her daughter, wanting her to become something more than just a boy-crazy girl. The film moves at a quick pace, giving us just slices of Lady Bird life during her senior year. I can’t stress how much I fell in love with this film, but this should give you an idea, I didn’t want it to end.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again

The Big Sick  (2017)  R

The Big Sick

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate/Amazon Studios

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is dating Emily (Zoe Kazan), much to the dismay of his traditional Pakistani Muslim family. Now a crisis will test their love.  Based on his life, writer/star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife in real life, Emily V. Gordon, along with director Michael Showalter, have brought us a brilliant film that is part romantic comedy and part serious drama. The film doesn’t feel its 2-hour length, mostly because the laughs keep coming. There are a few behind the scenes at the comedy club that could have been cut, but even then I didn’t mind them because there was usually a joke or two told, mostly at the expense of one of the fellow comics. There are some serious moments in this film, and they are dealt with a loving touch, though always humor is just around the corner waiting until it’s time to break the tension. The Big Sick is one of those great date films, one that has something for everyone.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

The Florida Project  (2017)  R

The Florida Project

Photo courtesy of A24

Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives in an extended stay hotel near Disney World with her mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite). It’s going to be a long summer.  This heartbreakingly beautiful film is a brilliant look at people living on the edge of homelessness. Brooklynn Prince as the fiery kid named, Moonee, is the best thing in this film. Her role is an intense and scintillating performance that will cause you to fall in love with her. Willem Dafoe gives a masterful performance as the downtrodden hotel manager who has to deal with a not so reliable client base. He portrays the manager as a man who feels bad for his guests but realizes that he still has a job to do. The Florida Project is not a glamorous film, and it’s quite sad most of the time showing us all the aspects of living with very little, but you will want to spend time with little Moonee and her gang.    My Rating:  Full Price

The Shape of Water    (2017) R

The Shape of Water

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

An other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War era America in 1962. In a hidden high-security government laboratory Elisa (Sally Hawkins) discovers a secret classified experiment that will change her world. This is an enchanting and fascinating film about a budding though strange romance and the man who wants to kill it (literally). Sally Hawkins is charming as Elisa, the mute cleaning lady who is desperate for love and is willing to do anything to get it. Hawkins gives Elisa a unique view of the world, and with the help of a neighbor, played by the soulful Richard Jenkins and a co-worker, played by the spunky Octavia Spencer, they take on one of the evilest villains in the history of cinema, Richard Strickland, played by Michael Shannon. Shannon’s Strickland is malicious, violent, and uncaring how he gets the job done, just that it is done. This is a gorgeous film and the cinematography creates precisely the right mood for each scene. This is a highly creative and imaginative fairy tale that will astound you in every scene.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

Call Me By Your Name   (2017)  R

Call Me By Your Name

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

In Northern Italy in 1983, Oliver (Armie Hammer) is visiting Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his family as they do research for a project. Oliver takes Elio (Timothee Chalamet ), a 17-year-old music prodigy, under his wing and teaches him about life and love.  This is a beautiful love story that develops between Oliver and Elio, who slowly gravitate to each other. Armie Hammer is mesmerizing as the man who falls for Elio, but the real star of the film is Timothee Chalamet. Chalamet gives a multilayered performance that shows the longing and exhilaration of a first love. It’s a touching and moving performance that is so rare to see someone so young pull off. The film is gorgeous, utilizing the Italian landscape to its fullest. It’s a film full of love, lust, and heartbreak, just what a first love is supposed to be.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

Dunkirk   (2017)  PG-13

Dunkirk

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk. Now, one of the largest evacuations will take place. This is an incredible motion picture experience…a feast for both eyes and ears. The film follows three aspects of the evacuation; from the land, from the air, and from the sea. We follow two soldiers trying to get off the beach by any means necessary. We follow a father and son as they pilot their small ship from Britain to Dunkirk. The air is represented by an RAF pilot who is trying to fight off the Luftwaffe and keep the men on the beach alive. The visuals of this film are stunning. Director Christopher Nolan used IMAX cameras for almost seventy-five percent of the movie, and the detail is astonishing. The battle sequences are brilliant and keep you on your edge of your seat. The score by Hans Zimmer is one of the best I’ve ever experienced and keeps the tension at a high level. The score is  important as portions of the film don’t have any dialogue. This is one of the best films of the year and is meant to be seen on the big screen.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

Mudbound   (2017)  R

Mudbound

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Two men (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) come back to their small Southern town after serving in the armed services during WWII. The two men share the experience of having fought a war and how it affects you while you try to adjust to ordinary life and the racism that still exists in the town. Heartbreaking and moving, this tale of two men who go off willingly to fight a war that scars them for life is intensely told. The center of this film is families, how they center us and make us feel safe when times are tough. The story is beautifully told and the performances are top notched. It’s a film that feels large in scope, but because we get to know the families in this story, it also feels very intimate and real.    My Rating: Full Price

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (2017)  R

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

After police fail to solve her daughter’s murder, a mother (Frances McDormand), personally challenges the local authorities. Frances McDormand gives a tour de force performance as the strong-willed mother who doesn’t care who she pisses off to get her daughter’s murder solved. It’s a flawless performance that will get her lots of awards this fall. There isn’t a bad performance in the cast with Woody Harrelson as the police chief who tries to do the right thing and Sam Rockwell as his slightly dim, racist deputy who still lives with his mom and gets drunk on a nightly basis. The film has a few twists and turns to keep your attention but at the heart of this film is the vivid performances that the whole cast gives throughout the film. This is a film that you will be talking about long after you see it.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again

Also:  Wonder Woman, Logan, The Disaster Artist, Darkest Hour, The Greatest Showman, I, Tonya, The Post, Blade Runner 2049, Coco, Band Aid, Kedi, Dawson City: Frozen Time

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