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Shaun's Top 10 Films of 2017


The Guys from {FILM} is a discussion on movies and films from all eras and genres

Shaun's Top 10 Films of 2017

Shaun Cordingley

We are trying something a little different this year, as we have been asked to talk about our Top 10 films of 2017 on the Podcast and we have typically only done this as a written feature....So this year, we are trying something a little different: 

For our article reading audience, nothing is going to be at all different; this right here is going to be my Top 10 Films of the Year, and Dave is also releasing his Top 10 in written form (I'll link it at the bottom too) We'll ramble a bit about each film, post a trailer, and everything will look like it always has. 

If you want, there is, however, also a Podcast version of our Top 10 where you can hear Dave and I chat a bit (maybe even make some of the same points, but about our Top 10, and go on tangents, so if you would like to check that out, head to Episode 201 - The Guys' Top 10 Films of 2017

Now as is tradition, I have not had a chance to see everything I would like to (and we really need to convince Hollywood to stop putting out "award pictures" this week), so there will be a few exceptions that circumstances kept me from seeing films like Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, and Thor: Ragnarok (yet) but I am super pleased with my list, and all of the films on it. 

That's enough housekeeping: let's talk film: 

Honorable Mentions

Split A very cool film from M. Night Shyamalan about three girls who are kidnapped by a man who has 23 distinct personalities, and who have to work to try and escape him before the 24th personality reveals itself. This film is brilliantly acted by the two leads, James McAvoy as the kidnapper (I mean seriously, he is spectacular in this film), and Anya Taylor-Joy as the "final girl". This is some of Shyamalan's best work, and the potential building block for a fascinating film universe. 

Lucid DreamI really do enjoy Korean film, and I think that there have been some absolutely amazing films to come out of South Korea this decade, and while there is not a strong presence on my list for Korean film (again, yet, as it typically takes some time for me to track the ones I want to see down), Lucid Dream just misses out on making my Top 10. It is the story of an investigative journalist who uses lucid dreaming to attempt to track down his son (who was abducted from an amusement park three years earlier). It is a largely straight-forward thriller story, but the additions on near-future psychology, and a bit of crazy, Korean film style made this a very enjoyable ride (which is available on Netflix, so easy for folks to see)! 

I love giant monster/kaiju movies, and have always had a soft-spot for one of the grand-daddies of them all in King Kong, so needless to say I was excited for Kong: Skull Island, and got pretty much everything I was looking for out of it: I got a big ape, I got humour, and I got a King Kong story set in the Vietnam era, which was a much appreciated twist, especially considering they let the whole thing breathe in it's own way, rather than attempting to re-tell the same story again. I can't say the story was the most intricate, but it served to deliver a fun, cool, monster movie that I had a great time watching, and that's exactly what I wanted out of Skull Island going in. 

9- Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi is a tough one for me: it is a film that has many problems, but at the same time, I fully acknowledge and respect that the high points of this film are some of the best in any Star Wars, it's just that the lows are pushing more toward prequel level lows (not Clones...but...). For me, it was too long, and committed a major storytelling sin  (I don't want to spoil it, because it's not quite out a month yet, and that seems to be the rule...or something) that bloated out the story (making a big section feel inconsequential and odd), but then there were swaths that I was rapt for (plot holes and all).  
After Force Awakens, I have to say it's a little disappointing that The Last Jedi is down here on this list, and not much higher, but at the end of the day, I had fun...and at it's heart, that is what I always want from a big ol' space opera, even if it means that The Last Jedi is fighting with Rogue One in the middle of the "Star Wars" pack for me. 

8- I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

A complete change of pace from the first few films on this list, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a beautifully contained film about a depressed woman who, after being burgled, finds a new sense of herself (and purpose) in tracking down her stuff with the help of her strange but sweet neighbour. Unfortunately, the two of them soon find themselves completely in over their heads and sucked into a very dangerous situation. Written and directed by Macon Blair (of Blue Ruin fame), this is an excellent little character piece with flashes of violence and gore that I find myself liking a little bit more every time I think about it (and as the days pass since I watched it...I catch myself thinking about moments in this film off and on). The two leads, Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood are excellent, and...I dunno, I think I might just be a giant sucker for Blair (and his oft-collaborator, Jeremy Saulnier....and I cannot wait for Hold the Dark this year). 

If you didn't give this Netflix Original a chance, please do check it out, it's pretty damn wonderful. 

7- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Speaking of movies that were a little too long for their own good, but an awful lot of fun, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is my seventh favourite film of the year. I really enjoy the fact that Marvel was willing to take a bit of chance with this film, and pushed it more into focusing on the characters themselves (with an emphasis on Star-Lord, and letting what worked for Drax in the first film shine as he gets more comfortable in the friend group). Getting a deep dive into S-L's parentage (and meeting his Dad) was an interesting story, even if, for me, it did sort of lapse into being more of a typical Marvel film and slipping in a "villain of the week"...but I guess they...have to? 

Again though, while it did not reach the heights of the first film, I think Guardians 2 really helped to cement this as one of the best franchises that Marvel has going for it, with characters I still want to spend more time with, and a whole Galaxy of stories to be told....not to mention how I did appreciate that they brought together the OG Guardians...

6- Wonder Woman

As a fan of DC (it's where I started getting back into comics), and of Wonder Woman, this was a film that I had a lot of high hopes for, especially considering how rough the DCEU has been (and after the abomination that was Suicide Squad). An excellent director in Patty Jenkins, some pretty stellar casting across the board (Gal Gadot is a wonderful Diana) and trailers that looked pretty great...I was cautiously optimistic...
...and I got the best DC film since the Dark Knight Trilogy

Wonder Woman is a great ride, featuring a well-told story (which has been a rarity on the DC side of things recently) that benefited greatly from a deep focus on the character, rather than the lore. Wonder Woman is the best fighter in the DC Universe, and they actually manage to pull that off here, AND by setting it in World War I, the film has a very different, grounded feel to it that DC has been trying to get to forever, but needed a different eye to get.  

The first time I watched Wonder Woman,  I was a little let down, because I came to it late and had had it over-hyped, but a revisit and thinking about it a bit more really helped solidify the film as one of my favourites of the year. The main villain, if I am being honest, and a chunk of strange (not bad, strange) pacing is what has Wonder Woman at six, but I could see it move around some the more time I spend with it. 

More like Wonder Woman please, DC. 

5- IT

I am so very happy that this re-adaptation occurred, as I am one of the few folks in the horror community who didn't really like the original miniseries (Tim Curry was phenomenal, everything else? Meh.) IT feels new, and exciting again with this new film, and I not only appreciate that it has a lot more humour in it (and indeed, let's the kids sound and feel more like they're junior high kids), but it did not become over-reliant on CG (yet there are uses of it, but it wasn't prequel-Star Wars glaring). This maybe was not as scary as I was expecting it to be, but quite frankly I think that helped...this new IT has such a strong world built, that what was more horrific felt earned.

IT creates a tremendous atmosphere, allowed for a new (and I think excellent) interpretation of an iconic horror figure in Pennywise, and has me genuinely excited for when "Chapter 2" is 2019. 

4- Baby Driver

The first hour of Baby Driver is some of the best action-film making I have ever seen--to the point that I was actually, while watching it in that first hour, thinking "holy hell, my Top 10 is going to change".
Now, unfortunately (and perhaps not surprisingly) it does not maintain it's absolute insane pace (becoming a more standard heist-thriller as it goes), but in the end the film is absolutely awesome. The use of music is probably the best I have ever seen in a film, bar none; it is like you are watching an amazing, action movie concert with really good performances, top to bottom, and a a tonne of really great action sequences. The opening (including the opening credits) is so good, I watched it three times, and...look this is a film that everyone should see at least once, especially if you dig Edgar Wright, heist movies, stunt driving, or even just great music. 
Do I wish, with hindsight, that Kevin Spacey was not in Baby Driver? Sure, knowing what we know now, of course...but there is so much great going on in this film, that I cannot let his (consequential, but not huge) part in it detract (too much) from my overall love for the film. You may have different feelings on the matter, and that's cool: you do what you feel you should, but if you can (or are up to), watch this movie. and support Edgar Wright's brilliant vision. 

3- Get Out

Get Out is my favourite horror movie of 2017. This is such a clever debut from Jordan Peele, that not only can you tell that he is a massive horror fan (and there are Easter Eggs to be found), but the story balances scares, laughs (some of which thanks to awkward liberalism, a lot thanks to the glory that is our hero, Rod the TSA Agent), and at its' heart....well quite frankly, I think Slate put it best: 

(Get Out is) a movie that we all both needed and wanted to see right away, a movie that we couldn’t stop quoting in other contexts—“the sunken place,” “Where are those keys, Rose?”—not because it was full of clever catchphrases but because its dialogue told, in lapidary form, an American truth that could be boiled down no further. Get Out is a chilling horror film, a savage social comedy, and a frank exploration of the reality that we’re already living in both.

Is Get Out the scariest film I've seen this year? No...however it reminded me of so many horror classics that I adore because they actually took the time to say something about the world, as well as creep you out, and it had been a long time since I had seen a horror movie do that as well as this one does...and the fact that there are also a few laughs in there too? Priceless. 

2- Hidden Figures

OK. I know that this sort of feels like cheating, because this film was an Oscar contender for the 2017 ceremony...but it officially released in theatres (here) on January 6, 2017 and THAT means that it counts be our rubric, and THAT means that I get to talk about Hidden Figures one more time. 

It is incredibly rare that I finish watching a film and think to myself "I wish that had been longer", but that is exactly what happens here. Hidden Figures is the story of a team of African-American women who worked at NASA during the early days of the space program (with the film starting in 1961), with a focus on Katherine G. Johnson (wonderfully played by Taraji P. Henson), a brilliant mathematician and her struggle to be recognized for her work. Alongside Johnson, we also get to spend some time with her friends, Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) as they work toward being brilliant computer programmers and aeronautical engineers...and this is where I would have liked the film to be a bit longer so I could get more time with these other two, brilliant women. 

However, at it's heart, Hidden Figures is a wonderfully engaging film that I feel that more people really should watch: it is a wonderful biopic that demonstrates a lot of care in weaving stories together, not just about the trials that these amazing women faced, but also giving you another side of the early American space program (that is not just about the dudes who flew the things). 

1- Logan

I was not sure what I was expecting when I sat down to watch Logan, but I cannot say that I thought that it was going to be my favourite film of 2017. This is an absolutely stellar film that takes elements of a classic western (tropes even) and fuses them with an X-Men/Wolverine story to create a superhero film that feels like anything but. 

A long time ago, back in our first year, Dave and I were talking on The Guys From Podcast about how superhero (and Star Wars) films now have the opportunity to do something different within their formula, and that is (part of) why I loved Logan as much as I did. Humanizing the story, and making these characters who we know so well (hell, this was the 7th film to feature Hugh Jackman's Wolverine) grow, and honestly, wither, was brilliant in setting the film apart from the glut of superhero films we get.

This is not a glorious superhero movie: it is gritty, it is dark, it is violent (taking full advantage of it's R-Rating)...but the violence feels earned rather than gratuitous because this world of mutants has decayed, and become something more ugly and painful, yet offering a future for this timeline that could actually be quite a thrill to watch, if they choose to pursue it, or a wonderful ending to the Wolverine saga if they do not. 

I am trying to remember if I've cried in any superhero movies before, and I am not a positive no, but am leaning no (and a for sure, never cried in an X-Men film before) but I did watching Logan. Twice. 

Best movie of 2017 for me, here at the start of 2018, is Logan

There you have it, my Top 10 Films of 2017! I hope you enjoyed the list, and if you want to hear me ramble about these films a little bit more (and a little less articulately and with more jokes) then be sure to listen to our Top 10 FIlms podcast
Plus, be sure to check out Dave's Top 10 Movies of 2017 (he's even seen more than 10 this time!) 

We also mentioned, on the Podcast, that if our audience is interested, we would revisit these lists in July, when both of us have had a chance to see more movies of this past year, so if that is something you, dear readers, would like to see, be sure to let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter. 

-S (@Shauncord)

photo credit: ELECTROLITE photography beach fashion smile via photopin (license)