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Five Years Later: 2017 Movies

It's another year of my annual project of looking back five years to see how well the movies have held up and to hunt down those that have slipped through the cracks. This was the first year that I just went back five years and not also ten years, I had already looked back to 2012 when 2017 originally rolled around. Although I watched as many movies as I could five years ago, I still managed to log more than 50 more movies in those five years of 2017 releases. The Oscars of five years ago were actually a pretty good selection, The Shape of Water was the big winner and although it has fallen a little in my rankings over the last five years, it is still among my favorites. A number of nominees have fallen out of critical or public opinion favor in the last five years, Three Billboards has had backlash for insensitivity, and The Disaster Artist and Call Me By Your Name both are marked by lead actors James Franco and Armie Hammer, both of whom have not really worked since that awards show due to various accusations. This was a pretty great year for movies with a lot of very entertaining offerings, as well as a few truly great break outs from Jordan Peele as a writer/director and Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon as screenwriters. I have made my own awards for the movies of five years ago, my Hindsight Awards, with standard awards, plus stunts and special effects, two outstanding actors and two outstanding actresses as well as a best ensemble cast. Here is a list of my top 25 movies, five years ago I made a top 30 list (that was a bit much), and over on Letterboxd I have every movie from 2017 that I have logged in a master ranking.

1. Dunkirk (3)

The story of the British and French evacuation of Dunkirk told over three times lines, this is one of the great big screen experiences of the last few years. Christopher Nolan makes the simple flight of a spitfire absolutely mesmerizing.


2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (12)

  • Best Music

One of the great soundtracks for a film this century. It's not entirely because of the greatness of the songs but the placement of them and the feelings they evoke. An amazingly colorful film with a fun cast of characters.


3. Thor: Ragnarok (1)

Each act is wildly different in setting, yet the story is seamlessly fun. It's interesting to see how much this sets up the Loki character as a fun anti-hero of his series rather than the authoritarian pure villain of The Avengers.


4. Lady Bird (4)

This came out not long before I moved with my family to the Sacramento area and it's funny to see how layered real geography is an additional layer in the storytelling. On its own, this is a great movie, but specific streets and landmarks are appropriately used in this in ways that bring so much more to the film, even giving away a more complex ending to the movie when you know where she is driving to before the end credits hit.


5. Star Wars: the Last Jedi (9)

  • Best Stunts and Special Effects, Best Cinematography Steve Yedlin (tie)

I've always been stunned by the visuals of this movie, I think that the passage of time has only made me more confident in my love of this movie despite the backlash. I never understood the complaints that some of the new movies are too familiar or that this one is not familiar enough.


6. Blade Runner 2049 (NR)

Not only was this a movie that unexpectedly stayed with me for years, but it also ignited a new appreciation of the original Ridley Scott film. So many of the scenes are stunning as their own snapshots, while this has quite a long runtime and is rather slow, it is a journey worth taking.


7. The Lost City of Z (17)

Speaking of films that have stayed with me for years, this perhaps has one of the most memorable endings of any of these films. I had read the book this is based on and while that has a memorable and more historically straightforward ending, this takes us to another world in the Amazon that is very unexpected. This was a movie that brought a realization of Robert Pattinson's incredible range as an actor and was the first moment that I noticed how nuanced of an actor he is.

Amazon Prime

8. Logan Lucky (16)

  • Best Actor Daniel Craig, Best Ensemble

It's fun to see Soderbergh taking another shot at an Ocean's movie as it would fit into his evolving aesthetic of cinematography. An absolute murderer's row of acting performances without anyone embarrassing themselves with a rural accent… although Seth MacFarlane doesn't exactly help himself.



9. Their Finest (18)

There has been a run on fictionalized histories of Hollywood filmmaking in the last few years, but here is a story of British filmmaking in World War II London from a woman's perspective. This tugs at all the heart strings and is an absolutely lovely alternate to Dunkirk.

Available for rent

10. The Big Sick (6)

  • Best Writing Kumail Nanjiani & Emily V. Gordon

There is an odd subgenre of comedies in the last ten or so years of very serious illnesses. This, like 50/50, comes from the first hand experience of its writers, and the mixture of comedy and sadness allows for some rather bold comedy without being pegged as solely a raunchy comedy or a run of the mill romcom.

Amazon Prime

11. Spider-Man: Homecoming (5)

Really a great Spider-Man story and we don't get stuck rehashing any spider bites or dying Uncle Bens. I'm not sure Peter Parker is quite the loser he is in the comics, but this does capture the alter ego high school drama that sets the character apart from other heroes.


12. The Nile Hilton Incident (NR)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

This pulls off an amazing feat of being a mystery with a charismatic lead and the movie is transported into its own time and place in history and abandons the urgency of the plot at the very in much the same way of Scorsese's Gangs of New York.


13. Logan (20)

This was released with an alternate black and white version and both color and black and white are incredible. This is not only great for maturing the X-Men franchise as a prestige film that happens to have known super heroes in it, but also places previous comic book movies into the same universe as perhaps myths of real people told through comics.


14. Borg vs McEnroe (NR)

  • Best Actor Shia LaBeouf

This is fascinating as more of a story of Borg and McEnroe vs the pressures of Wimbledon that they face together. Their own interactions show the only quiet understanding the two characters have together. Shia LaBeouf shines in a role as a talented and troubled young man that mirrors his real life.


15. Icarus (26)

  • Best Documentary

Changing the game of documentary filmmaking, this changes the focus of the story as it arises at least twice, from a personal journey into cycling, to an exposé into doping and finally into international political intrigue.


16. Faces Places (7)

I believe this was my introduction into the filmmaking of Agnes Varda and the heart of the story and beauty of the direction led me into a very enjoyable journey through her filmography.


17. The Shape of Water (2)

This reminds me a whole lot of one of my all-time favorite movies, Amelie, except it has a water monster and a Michael Shannon finger. Satisfyingly colorful and a sweeping score.


18. Get Out (10)

  • Best Directing Jordan Peele

I'm not a horror guy and this is absolutely an anxiety producing movie. The air of dread and otherworldliness is only matched in some of the great movies of all time. Incredible layers of social commentary.


19. Wind River (15)

  • Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen

I get a kick out of the sequences Taylor Sheridan writes that tell silent movie stories of intense violence mixed with logical thought processes of his characters. This is a bit more frost bitingly harsh than his other movies while still placing itself in the same contemporary western universe.


20. Baby Driver (8)

Great soundtrack, great driving sequences and a lot of fun in the editing This fell a bit due to the poor timing of the film's casting just before revelations about a couple of the leads.


21. Battle of the Sexes (11)

  • Best Actress Emma Stone

I was always surprised that this never had any cultural traction. An incredibly touching love story and a beautifully shot tennis movie, Emma Stone gives a great performance as Billie Jean King and Steve Carrell might have too many prosthetic teeth in his mouth.

Available for Rent

22. Atomic Blonde (NR)

Probably my favorite movie from the John Wick team, much more based on reality, transporting the viewer right into the early '90's East Berlin spy world. Charlese Theron kills it.

Available for Rent

23. Brigsby Bear (13)

A witty, goofy surprise. I had hoped this would have opened the door to more oddball indies from Kyle Mooney.

Available for Rent

24. All the Money in the World (18)

One of two movies on the year from the elderly Ridley Scott, he doesn't lose a touch. A fun thriller that is visually interesting.


25. The Trip to Spain (NR)

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon come back for another installment of their films where they mix a meticulously planned out plot, exaggerated characters of themselves and improv. This was the movie in the series that clicked with me how well they mix history, travelogue, and improv comedy and they still make the star of the movies fairly unlikable.

Pluto TV

Worst Movie

It doesn't help that I am hardly a fan of Luc Besson, the relationship in The Professional creeped me out since I was a little kid and it seems it was art imitating the director's own life as a man known to have relationships with much much younger girls. As a sucker for a science fiction I figured I would give Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets a chance in an instance of separating the art from the artist. I have to admit that the first eight minutes or so of this are a great sequence of introductions on space stations going back from actual history leading into first contacts with aliens in the future. It's actually a fun sequence, and then the rest of the movie is the most tedious characters and an annoying story. I didn't walk out of this movie, but I sure as hell checked out and begged for it to end early for the final hour of runtime.

Final Thoughts

This was a year where the best animated movie and an innovative one at that, Loving Vincent was painstakingly painted frame by frame by dozens of artists in the style of Vincent Van Gogh's own paintings. In my opinion, the movies outside of the top 25 aren't especially deep for great movies, but there are a few bright spots, mostly for how entertaining they are. I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Phantom Thread, Alien: Covenant, and Only The Brave are excellently made films. Rough Night was a very funny comedy that didn't have much staying power in public consciousness but is still hilarious, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a thrillingly over the top Guy Richie take on the Arthurian legend.



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