In the year 2017 I saw a total of 353 films. That’s not quite, but almost, an average of one per day. Of those films, roughly 110 were theatrical releases with a release date sometime between January 1 and December 31 of the calendar year of 2017. Of those roughly 110, here are my personal top ten films that I screened during that time. Some of them are worthy of a second viewing and some, not so much, but they all made an impression on me in some form or fashion.
10. Good Time – Robert Pattinson, who made the teenage girls swoon in the role of Edward in that Twilight franchise, finally shed his teen heart throb image once and for all in this gritty crime drama. His character doesn’t exhibit a single redeeming quality during the entire film’s running time and it’s a terrific change of pace for the actor. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also an endlessly suspenseful and incredibly well crafted film as well.
9. Obit – Who would have thought a documentary film profiling those who pen the obituaries for the New York Times would be so engrossing and endlessly fascinating? This one proves to be both of those things and so much more.
8. Gilbert – The controversial comedian Gilbert Gottfried is mainly known for his button pushing public image as a brash and fearless comic. This candid documentary portrait of Gottfried illuminates the differences found between the persona of a public figure and their true, intimate self. In the film we get to see Gottfried as a tender hearted father, husband and brother in addition to seeing him be the guy we’ve come to know publicly. It’s a very moving experience that took me by surprise.
7. Lucky – I can’t think of a better send off for an actor than this gem of a film, which proved to be the cinematic swan song for beloved character actor Harry Dean Stanton (he died one month before its release). It’s a tale of a ninety two year old man coming to grips with his mortality and contemplating the meaning of his life. Its parting shot is one of the best I’ve seen this year.
6. Get Out – Not much more I can say about this one except that it’s every bit as good as you’ve heard. I’m not sure it will hold up to repeat viewing but it sure was enjoyable that first time out.
5. Harold and Lilian: A Hollywood Love Story – Harold and Lilian Michelson were two of the unsung heroes of the movie industry from the 1940s through the 1980s. He was a storyboard artist and she ran a research library. The film is not only fascinating for lovers of film but it also has a beautiful love story running at its core. If you don’t shed a tear by the film’s finale then you might need to check your pulse.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – Filmed in our own state of NC (in Smyrna), this tale of a woman looking for justice in her daughter’s murder, features searing performances and incredible surprises at every turn. It also has well written characters that constantly defy expectations. It’s the stuff that we yearn to see but so rarely manage to find.
3. The Shape of Water – Guillermo Del Toro’s romantic fantasy with a 1962 setting obviously owes a lot to the 1954 film The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but it’s oh so much more than that. The passionate romance between a mute woman, touchingly portrayed by Sally Hawkins, and an amphibious creature at the research facility where she is employed works on many levels and moved me very deeply by the film’s end.
2. The Florida Project – Sean Baker’s film follows the occupants of a low rent hotel situated in the vicinity of The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The disparity between the affluent tourists and those struggling to live on a daily basis is only one of the issues explored in this searing drama, which also features an incredible performance by Willem Dafoe as the hotel property manager. Beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking.
1. Brad’s Status – No film in 2017 moved me as much emotionally or touched me as profoundly as this gem that was unceremoniously dumped into a handful of theaters in mid-September then quickly forgotten. The film stars Ben Stiller as a 47 year old husband and father questioning his life’s choices while taking his son on a tour of colleges in Boston. It’s very funny at times but also resonates very deeply on an emotional level, so much so that I left the theater in tears. Seeing this film made me richer as a human being and that’s the greatest gift movies can offer us. This one succeeded exceptionally.
Honorable Mentions: T2-Trainspotting 2, Detroit, Lady Bird and Wind River.
(Top Image) Ben Stiller & Jenna Fischer in “Brad’s Status”
Robert Pattinson in “Good Time”
Harold & Lillian Michelson from “Harold and Lilian: A Hollywood Love Story”
Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].