My Favorite Movies of 2017

Wow, 2017 is over already?? How on Earth could this year have gone by so fast, and felt ten years long? It might have been a mess politically, but 2017 was actually a great year for movies, big and small. 

Like every year, there were a wide variety of surprises, and I actually had a pretty hard time finalizing this list. There are a handful of movies I’m sure to love that I haven’t seen yet, like Blade Runner 2049, Coco, and Lady Bird, but as it stands now, these are my favorite films of the year.

15. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

The latest from In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths director Martin McDonaugh was one of my most anticipated films of the year, especially since it came with the promise of a foul-mouthed, grumpy Frances McDormand. 

Though it didn’t quite live up to all of my heightened expectations, it’s still a great film that goes into some pretty unexpected territory. McDormand is phenomenal as always, and the cast around her (including one of my favs, the constantly under-appreciated Sam Rockwell) shines. I doubt many have seen it, but it definitely deserves to be sought out. 

14. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man is my favorite Marvel superhero, and it’s been a while since he’s been great on screen (though I’ll admit I’m not as down on the Amazing Spider-Man films as most). Homecoming manages to capture everything I love about the character; he’s youthful and fun, and just excited as hell to be a superhero. 

Tom Holland is perfectly cast as Peter Parker, and the always great Michael Keaton soars (ha!) as the Vulture, a villain I was not at all excited to see on screen. The movie suffers from a lot of familiar Marvel formula symptoms but is a thrilling return for the friendly neighborhood wall crawler and easily one of my favorite Marvel movies to date.

13. Logan

Logan is one hell of a film. I love that Fox let director James Mangold loose, giving him the room to make a smaller scale, more character based take on the iconic clawed Mutant. All of the actors are doing fantastic work; Patrick Stewart plays a very different and heartbreaking version of Professor X, newcomer Dafne Keen kicks all kinds of ass as X-23, and Hugh Jackman delivers an incredible performance, making sure he goes out of this franchise with a bang.

Logan will stand the test of time as one of the very best comic book films, as it pushes boundaries and elevates the genre. I love that it’s a Western at its core, and I hope its success gives studios and directors the courage to try new things more often.

12. War for the Planet of the Apes

I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the all time greatest science fiction films, so it’s needless to say that I was pumped for its follow-up (and the end of an amazing trilogy I never knew we needed). War for the Planet of the Apes doesn’t quite match its predecessor in my opinion, but it’s still a tremendous achievement. 

Can someone get Andy Serkis that damn Best Actor Oscar nomination already? 

11. Thor: Ragnarok 

Like Logan, Thor: Ragnarok is what happens when you give a talented director free reign to do as he pleases. I was never a big fan of Thor, and found his last two solo outings forgettable, but Ragnarok is weird, hilarious, and a hell of a lot of fun. Like Homecoming before it, it too it has to fit into the Marvel Studios mold, but it manages to still feel like a Taika Waititi movie through and through. 

Oh, and Revengers > Avengers. 

10. The Big Sick

The Big Sick spoke to me on a deeply personal level. So much in fact, that it’s a bit hard for me to talk about. I’m really happy that it got the love and attention it deserved, especially for star and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani. It perfectly balances comedy and drama, is chock full of stellar performances. Seek it out immediately if you haven’t already!

9. Baby Driver

I’ll always be excited to see what director Edgar Wright has in store for us, and while I had some problems with Baby Driver, it’s hands down the coolest movie I saw this year. I can’t even begin to fathom the kind of genius that had to go into making its impressive chase sequences and choreography happen.

8. The Disaster Artist

I’ve never seen The Room, but that thankfully didn’t stop me from loving The Disaster Artist. The closest thing I can compare it to is Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, the tale of an enthusiastic but otherwise completely untalented director who pins all of his hopes and dreams on what becomes one of the worst films ever made. 

The Disaster Artist is never mocking, though in someone else’s hands it could very easily have been. Instead, it’s remarkably heartfelt, and is grounded by two great performances by the Franco brothers. It’s a weird movie about a weird couple of guys making a weird movie, but it all works like a charm. 

7. Justice League

When I initially walked out of the theater, I was so pumped about Justice League that it instantly jumped to the top of this list. I cooled on it over time, and admit that it has a plethora of problems. Yet, with each criticism I hear or read about it, I think, “I understand, but I don’t care.” The movie just worked its spell on me, I guess.

Despite its many issues, Justice League gets its characters right, and I had a stupid grin on my face the entire way through. It gave me the Superman I wanted so desperately to see after Batman v Superman, and successfully got me invested in newcomers like Ezra Miller’s Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. It will forever go down as a flawed mess of a movie, but it’s my flawed mess of a movie and one I’ll gladly champion for being a great new jumping off point for the troubled DC film universe.


6. The Farthest

The Farthest is a documentary about NASA’s Voyager mission, which sent two probes to the outer planets of our Solar System (and eventually into interstellar space). This movie is a true love letter to NASA and the people that made the Voyager mission a success.

My favorite thing about the documentary is that it was told with interviews of those who’d worked on the missions. NASA techs, mathematicians, engineers, etc. were all given the chance to reminisce and geek out over what they’d accomplished. It’s a fascinating, hopeful, inspiring, and moving film that brought me to tears on several occasions. It’s a great antidote for a lot of what’s going on in the world right now, and is a celebration of discovery and science that we so desperately need.

5. The LEGO Batman Movie

I love LEGO and I love Batman, so it should come as no surprise that The LEGO Batman Movie is one of my favorite films of the year. It’s easily the best Batman film we’ve had since The Dark Knight, and is both a love letter to and a satire of the long history of the Caped Crusader on film.

4. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman could not have arrived at a better time. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen so much buzz and excitement over a superhero movie since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002. This film will live on to inspire a whole new generation of people.

Cultural significance aside, Wonder Woman is just a great movie. Gal Gadot gives the performance of a lifetime as the titular heroine, and Patty Jenkins manages to capture everything I love about superhero movies.

3. Dunkirk

Dunkirk was in no way the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year, but it really stuck with me. I’ve never been so tense in a movie, let alone throughout one, and I found myself literally on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The direction, score, and editing of this film are incredible, and delivered one of the best moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had.

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I absolutely loved The Force Awakens, and couldn’t wait to see how director Rian Johnson (someone I’ve admired since his debut film, Brick) would continue the story. I was expecting a great Star Wars movie, but was not expecting a transcendent one.

The Last Jedi bravely takes the franchise in new directions, and subverts expectations at almost every turn. It’s full of huge surprises, gorgeous cinematography, rich world building, and great performances. It’s easily one of the best films in the saga, if not the best.

  1. The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is part fairy tale, part monster movie, and is a love letter to cinema in some surprising ways. It’s packed to the gills with stellar performances (Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins deliver my two favorite performances of the year), amazing practical effects, and a lot of heart. I was taken by the film immediately, and suspect I’ll be under its spell for quite some time.

Honorable Mentions:

Colossal – Another great monster movie that’s actually a lot more than just a monster movie. Another movie with a message we really need in 2017.

Free Fire – One of the funniest films of the year, and a thrilling ride from beginning to end. 

Win it All – One of the earliest films I fell in love with this year. It’s a Netflix original from Joe Swanberg starring Jake Johnson, about a guy with a gambling problem. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, but super enjoyable.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – This movie’s a freaking mess, and never quite finds a good balance between Guy Ritchie movie and big Hollywood blockbuster. It’s full of problems, but is ambitious, fun when it’s not overblown with CGI, and has one of the coolest soundtracks of the year.

Score: A Film Music Documentary – Speaking of soundtracks, Score is an awesome documentary for anyone that loves film music. Comprised of interviews with some of Hollywood’s best composers, Score is a love letter to an under-appreciated but important aspect of moviemaking.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – I really liked this movie. It’s a fun buddy film, and the kind of comedy we don’t get enough of nowadays. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have a ton of great chemistry, and I would happily watch a sequel that pairs them up again. 

I’m Now A Contributor At Toy Photographers!

In a complete failure to update my blog more regularly, I’ve neglected to announce that I’m now a regular contributor to Toy Photographers, a wonderful blog about toy photography, featuring artists from around the world! I’m incredibly proud to be part of the team, and have been writing regularly since February.

My first post as part of this new venture is about why I became a toy photographer, and why I chose LEGO as my particular subject. You can check it out here. 

My Most Anticipated Films of 2017

2017 is officially upon us, which means we have a whole new year of movies ahead of us! What am I looking forward to most? Well, I’m glad you asked! These are my most anticipated films of the year.

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My Favorite Films of 2016

Happy New Year! Depending on where you are, 2016 is either drawing to a close or has already crawled back into the hellhole from whence it came. All in all, 2016 was a rough year for the world, but as I look back, I think it was actually a pretty good year for movies. So at least we can take comfort in that!

I had a really hard time narrowing down and organizing my list of favorites. I didn’t see everything I wanted to (I’m sure La La Land would have earned a slot here, but sadly didn’t see it in time), but all in all I saw 314 movies this year, 60 of which were new releases. Early on, there were a couple of movies I knew would end up in this blog post, and they stayed with me all year long, jumping around quite a bit as I edited my list.

Once it came down to it, I decided that instead of boiling it all down to a top 10, I’d give myself a bit of leeway and am instead presenting my top 15 films of 2016. I just felt that some of them were too important, or spoke to me so deeply, that I couldn’t leave them. I also didn’t want to jumble them into a group of honorable mentions, because they’re just too good for that.

So, without further ado, let’s kiss 2016 goodbye with a look back at my top 15 films of the year!

Continue reading “My Favorite Films of 2016”