Favorite Films of 2017

So, in addition to breaking my personal record for books read in a single year (I’m currently at 98 and fairly confident I’ll exceed 100 by the end of the year, yay!), I also watched a lot of movies in 2017.  67, to be precise.  (I have Colin Farrell to thank/blame for this, since I decided to watch his entire filmography this year.  I think I’ve seen 39, with just a few more to go… my god, have I seen some bad movies this year, you guys.  Please never watch the 2006 film adaptation of Miami Vice unless you truly hate yourself.)  Anyway, I don’t know if 67 sounds like a lot to most people, but I’ve never been a big movie person.  I’ve always preferred books and tv series, but interestingly, tv hasn’t really been doing it for me lately.  I’ll watch like 2 episodes of a show and think ‘yeah, it’s okay,’ but then I’ll lose all motivation to continue.  (Apologies to The Handmaid’s Tale, The West Wing, Black Sails… I will finish you guys ONE DAY!)

Anyway, films.  This is not about to become a film blog – feel free to follow my Letterboxd for that – but I thought I’d make a list of my top films of the year anyway, so here we go:

Films that came out earlier that I didn’t watch until 2017:

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5. It Follows (2014)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist

I watched a lot of horror films this year, mostly really bad ones, but It Follows stands out as one of the best and most unique contributions to this genre that I’ve ever seen.  It’s an eerie and unsettling film about a group of teenagers who are being followed by this sort of demon, whose target shifts to whoever the last person it was following had sex with.  It’s such an unexpectedly thought-provoking film, and there were a couple of moments of very acute psychological horror that had me on the edge of my seat.  (And it’s not gory, which is always a plus.)

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4. Two Days, One Night {Deux jours, une nuit} (2014)
Director: Dardenne brothers
Starring: Marion Cotillard

This Belgian-French-Italian film was such a simple story that really, this film didn’t have any business being as impactful as it was.  Marion Cotillard’s character, Sandra, has been forced to take time off work, and in her absence, her boss has offered her coworkers a 1000 euro bonus if they agree to take on the extra work themselves, and not let Sandra back.  So over the course of the film, Sandra approaches each of her coworkers in turn and begs them to vote with her and turn down the bonus in order that she keep working.  It’s literally just a film where Marion Cotillard talks to people for an hour and a half.  But I thought it was such a striking and compassionate look at human nature and an individual’s role in a community – there was something so compelling and moving about this story that it remains one of my favorites that I’ve watched this year, even though I saw it right at the beginning of 2017.

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3. Lion (2016)
Director: Garth Davis
Starring: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman

I mean, I did see this in theatres in 2017, but I guess it technically came out in 2016 so it goes here.  I wasn’t actually expecting to like Lion very much, as stories like this tend to go under the ‘heartwarming’ category which as you guys know is not my favorite thing, and I only went to see it out of a longstanding love for Dev Patel, so I was not prepared for how genuinely emotional and harrowing this film was going to be.  Also, it has some of the most beautiful cinematography I’ve ever seen.  This film is stunning and devastating.

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2. Moon (2009)
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Sam Rockwell

[ok I just want to preface this by apologizing sincerely for recommending a Kevin Spacey movie but he is BARELY IN THIS and you don’t even see him he just voices a robot so let’s just ignore him ANYWAY] Moon is a British sci-fi/drama film about a man who’s spent three years on the moon without any human contact.  It starts as a character study about the effects of prolonged isolation, but then there’s a twist, and… it gets weird, but it is one of the most haunting things I have ever seen.  I genuinely believe that Sam Rockwell is the best and most underrated actor of his generation, and this is where he proves it, with one of the most nuanced and vulnerable and moving performances I’ve ever seen.  I saw this earlier this year but I still cannot stop thinking about it on a fairly regular basis.

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1. The Lobster (2015)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz

I’ve watched this movie 5 times this year.  5 times – who even does that??  Do people do that??  I do not do that.  I am usually a ‘watch a film once and move on with my life’ kind of person, or, if I do see a film multiple times, it’s usually over the course of several years.  But I have watched The Lobster 5 times this year.  I don’t even know how to explain what this film means to me.  Ok, let’s start here – it’s weird.  It’s about a society where people need to marry one another, or, if they can’t find a partner, they get turned into an animal.  This film follows its own logic which is virtually unrecognizable to us, but through some of the most phenomenal world-building I’ve ever seen, everything over the course of the film begins to make sense.  You just have to kind of go along for the ride for a while there.  This isn’t so much a story film as it is a philosophy film, and I get that not everyone enjoys that, but for me, this is the most intellectually stimulating film I have ever seen, which toes the line between comedy and tragedy in a truly masterful way.

Films that came out in 2017:

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[honorable mention] Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell

I just wanted to quickly mention this movie – it wasn’t my favorite thing I’ve ever seen by any stretch, I only gave it 3.5 stars, but I think this is arguably Denzel’s best ever performance.  Which I know is a huge statement, but he was sensational in this.  This movie hasn’t been getting a lot of publicity or attention in the awards season predictions (though Denzel did just receive a Golden Globe and a SAG nomination, yay!) so I thought it would be worth mentioning.  If you’re someone who appreciates a great performance and wants to see something thought-provoking and nuanced (if occasionally muddled in its execution), this is really worth checking out.

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5. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams

Get Out is easily the best horror film of the year, which is quite an accomplishment as it wasn’t even particularly scary.  (I mean, I didn’t think it was?  But I also don’t scare easily, so you may want to get someone else’s opinion if you’re not someone who usually enjoys horror.)  But anyway, Get Out is a fun and fearless film that tackles anti-black racism and racial microaggressions head on, while delivering an entertaining and weirdly comedic screenplay and some masterful performances.  I think this film still has 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is well deserved.

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4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

This film isn’t perfect, but as someone who’s been a huge Martin McDonagh fan for years, I couldn’t help but to really enjoy delving back into Martin’s signature style.  It’s more of a drama than anything he’s ever done (he is the absolute master of black comedy, and while Three Billboards has more than its fair share of dark comedy, it’s more easily classified as a drama overall).  But the shift in tone works brilliantly, and the story is unique and the performances are superb.  I can’t wait for Sam Rockwell to finally win an Oscar for this.

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3. Lady Bird
Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan

I don’t like teenage coming of age movies, so there is nothing that could have convinced me to go see Lady Bird other than Saoirse Ronan, who I kind of worship.  Thank goodness I did see it, because this is not your average soppy coming of age drama.  Lady Bird is something really special – it’s genuinely moving and #relatable, but it’s also hilarious and unsettling.  It’s kind of your typical ‘you’ll laugh, you’ll cry’ movie, but not in a corny way at all.  I walked out of the theatre wanting to go right back in to watch it again.

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2. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman

Like The Lobster, Lanthimos’ second English language film will not work for everyone, but since I have a penchant for all things twisted and macabre, this film kind of rocked my world.  It’s about a surgeon, played by Colin Farrell in what may be his strongest performance to date, who forms a sort of friendship with a teenage boy, played by the phenomenal Barry Keoghan.  From there, things get weird, and dark, and deeply upsetting, and the whole thing plays out like a Greek tragedy – which makes sense, as it’s based on Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis.

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1. Dunkirk
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy

I don’t care that this is the most mainstream opinion of all time; I love this movie.  I saw it three times in theatres – see my above note about The Lobster, I do not do this, ever – and to be completely honest, I probably could have gone three more times after that if my more responsible friends hadn’t been like, Rachel, please stop paying to see Dunkirk again, you’re going to go bankrupt.  But anyway, I’m not someone who even particularly enjoys war films (some older ones are okay – I love Apocalypse Now but I’m not a fan of stuff like The Hurt Locker), but Dunkirk just completely transcended the war film genre, for me.  The score and the cinematography and the performances and direction and absolutely everything came together to deliver one of the most genuinely devastating and moving films I have ever seen.  I literally sobbed every time I watched this film, I just got so completely swept away by it.

(A few notable films that came out this year that I still need to see, hence their exclusion from this list: Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, Mudbound, Loving Vincent, The Square, God’s Own Country, Okja… probably many others that I am forgetting.)

What were your favorite films of 2017?  Comment and let me know!

32 thoughts on “Favorite Films of 2017

    • I went into it afraid that my expectations were too high, because at that point it still had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and all of my friends had loved it, and I was like ‘there is no way this movie is gonna be as good as the hype says.’ But I will happily admit that I was wrong!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I watched two days one night this year too! I had to watch it in a lecture at uni. It was definitely compelling, but I think everyone in my class agreed it was a bit repetitive haha. Also Lion and Get Out are amazing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely repetitive, but for some reason it didn’t bother me too much? I sort of found the repetition soothing, haha. And I just think Marion Cotillard is brilliant, I think the film would have suffered with any other actress in that role. That’s cool that you had to watch it for school though! And YES I love those two so much.

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  2. Dunkirk was utterly compelling and spellbinding! My heart rate has never been so high sitting in a cinema!

    Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman have been my favourites this year. 🙂

    Get Out is something I definitely want to watch at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed!!! It was literally the most tense film experience of my life, but I loved it for that.

      I haven’t actually seen either of those! I’m not a big superhero movie person, but I do really need to see Beauty and the Beast!!

      And YES Get Out was brilliant, I hope you enjoy it!

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  3. Oh man, I ended up watching Lion just by chance (mainly because I love Dev Patel too!) but I was bawling by the end! I’m also desperate to watch Lady Bird, I saw the trailer and thought it looked amazing so I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and Loving Vincent is definitely another one I want to watch in 2018! I think my favourite film of 2017 was probably Spider-Man Homecoming but I also really loved Beauty and the Beast too! 🙂

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    • I can’t believe I didn’t actually cry while watching Lion… one of my friends said ‘are you literally heartless???’ and tbh she has a point. But it was DEVASTATING and ugh the whole ending sequence just destroyed me. Dev Patel is too good, can he just be in everything??

      Lady Bird was SO GOOD, I hope you like it! It was so charming and hilarious but also genuinely moving and hard-hitting and Saoirse Ronan is phenomenal.

      I haven’t seen Spider-Man or Beauty and the Beast! I’m not a big superhero movie person but I definitely need to watch BatB and Loving Vincent soon!

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      • Tbf, i didn’t cry until right at the end of lion and then i just cried the whole way through the credits!! I really can’t wait to see Lady Bird now so I hope i get the chance soon!! Beauty and the Beast is so good, I really hope you enjoy it, the original was always my favourite disney film and belle was always my favourite princess and i absolutely adore this remake!! 💛💛

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      • If I had cried it definitely would have been the end that got me, ugh, that moment when we find out what happened to his brother!!! 😦

        Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney film too! Maybe tied with Mulan… Hahah it’s probably no coincidence that a bunch of bookworms found Belle so #relatable

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      • Yes definitely, that bit in lion just absolutely got me, yes…mulan was definitelt up there for me too, and agreed, definitely not a coincidence!! 😂😂

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  4. This was a great list. You definitely watched and favoured some amazing movies. I am glad you liked The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I found them totally enjoyable in all their twisted and macabre nature too, as you put it. I now wonder what Lanthimos will do with his next film The Favourite with Emma Stone in it.
    As for my favourite film of 2017, I cannot say. I am sure it will be either The Shape of Water, Zama or the Florida Project – only I have not seen any of them yet lol

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    • I’m in complete awe of Lanthimos, I watched Alps the other week and didn’t enjoy it quite as much but in typical Yorgos fashion I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. I still need to watch Dogtooth in its entirety (I’m literally cursed with this movie, I’ve tried to watch it 3 separate times but been interrupted each time) but I really need to get around to that so I can call myself a proper Lanthimos fan, haha. I’m curious about his new film as well, period drama is going to be so different for him and I’m sort of ambivalent about Emma Stone, but I’m excited Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz are going to be in it. So all in all I’m definitely looking forward to it.

      I can’t wait to see The Shape of Water! And I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Florida Project but I’m a bit hesitant to watch it literally just because I don’t tend to like films/books/anything about children….. if it’s nominated for the Oscar though I’ll probably bite the bullet. And I hadn’t heard of Zama but I just looked it up and it looks brilliant, I’ll definitely have to check that out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You should definitely check out Zama. It is an adaptation of the novel by Antonio di Benedetto which was a masterpiece in Latin America but was hidden from the English-speaking world for a very long period of time. Set in Latin America in the 18th century, the narrative looks even similar to something out of Gabriel García Márquez’s work. The film promises to be atmospheric, intriguing, full of existentialism, and critics now rave about it. Sorry for all the advertisement, but I am just so super excited for it myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Last year I listed my top 5 films that came out before 2017 and then my top 5 of 2017, but I found that my favorites this year didn’t follow a similar pattern at all.  In fact, there are only two pre-2018 movies that I thought was worth mentioning in this post, but I loved them way too much to leave either of them out. […]

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