When I watch a movie, I don't ask for much. I'm a simple man with simple needs. I usually watch about a dozen movies every year, from mega blockbusters to well received animated films. I'm not a big enough movie buff to feature the most artsy or slept-on movie of the year, but I try my best to keep up. With that in mind, I have included the twelve movies I enjoyed this year. It's worth noting that I have a relatively lengthy list of movies I still need to see, like Boss Baby and Your Name. Like The Shape of Water and Coco. Like The Florida Project and The Square. Oh, and Mutafukaz. Yeah, I need to see a bunch more.
Before I begin my list of twelve, I'd like to mention the only two 2017 movies I watched this year that didn't make the list: Buddies in India and Baywatch. I watched both films on planes and with both, I was mildly entertained, but neither are worthy of this (or any) list. Sorry, Dwayne.
01. The Red Turtle
Dir. Michaël Dudok de Wit
With a U.S. release date in January of this year, it's easy to forget about The Red Turtle when thinking of year-end lists. That is, if you haven't seen it. If you have, the Studio Ghibli silent film is one that never leaves your mental, something you always return to, like a quiet dream that moves you to beautiful, beautiful tears.
02. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum as The Red Turtle, Yorgos Lanthimos' fifth full-length film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is a dark and twisted mindfuck, one that will punch you in the face and leave you dry heaving on the ground, unsure if your jaw will ever close again. It's not as good as Dogtooth or The Lobster, which topped my list last year, but it's damn close.
03. Get Out
Dir. Jordan Peele
If my memory serves me, this is the highest grossing original screenplay of all time. Which is even more impressive considering the R-rating. And rightfully so, as visionary Jordan Peele (who is much, much more than a comedian) flips the switch on old white liberals and their priviliged demon offspring. This is one to watch if you feel like yelling at the screen throughout. "What are you still doing in that house?!"
04. John Wick: Chapter 2
Dir. Chad Stahelski
No, it's not better than the first, but not many sequels are. That being said, it's on par with the original, as stuntman/director Chad Stahelski (who co-directed the first one) takes the reigns with Chapter 2, picking up right where the first one left off. It's a suit and tie blood bath, a popcorn party where you know exactly what you're getting into.
05. Baby Driver
Dir. Edgar Wright
I'm a sucker for films by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), and Baby Driver is yet another notch on his action/comedy belt. Full of high speed chases and a memorable soundtrack, the movie manages a retro, doo-wop style while fully taking place in the present. You can fast forward through the scenes involving Kevin Spacey.
06. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Dir. James Gunn
I saw this one on an airplane going from somewhere to somewhere else. It's just as entertaining as the first one, with plenty of cosmic jokes and 80s references being made throughout. It's also worth noting how every 'good guy' in this movie is unable to die, no matter how many times they get electrocuted or thrown through lava and cinder blocks.
07. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Dir. David Soren
I didn't think I would like this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Featuring voices of Ed Helms, Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele, and others, the 3D animated film based on the popular children's books is a delightful one for all ages. You won't find another movie from 2017 with this many fart and poop jokes.
Dir. Bong Joon-ho
My former roommate saw Okja and went vegan. That says something about him, but that also says something about this movie. In my original one sentence review, I mentioned how the film feels like an anime while still being live action. It's a playful and eccentric ride with an impressive cast, equally as impressive scenery (the opening of the movie is stunning) and with a moving, sobering message at the end.
09. I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Dir. Macon Blair
This is one I somehow stumbled upon while scrolling Netflix one night with nothing to do. Significantly more violent and humorous than I expected, this dark, dark comedy is a fine piece of director Macon Blair's filmography, which also includes the gorefest Green Room. In this movie, I laughed out loud, I cringed, I shouted at the television, and I (SPOILER!) squirmed when I saw the snake.
Dir. James Mangold
Another movie I only watched because it was available on an airplane is the grim superhero film Logan. Featuring a down and out Wolverine working as a limo driver, the movie quickly takes a turn for the violent and wild, as the cast runs from desert to barn (the barn scene!) to mountainside. This feels more like a country western and less like a superhero film. It makes sense that Johnny Cash is featured in the trailer.
11. The Girl with All the Gifts
Dir. Colm McCarthy
Providing an interesting twist on zombie cinema, the British film The Girl with All the Gifts was a delightful watch during a particularly lazy weekend afternoon. Fast-paced and original (the zombies sleep/sway, push carriages) with hybrid zombie/humans, the movie based on the 2014 novel by M.R. Carey is worth your while if you're okay with watching kids eating raw animals and Glenn Close slowly dying.
12. Kong: Skull Island
Dir. John Vogt-Roberts
Holy crap did I love this movie. I watched Kong: Skull Island on my return flight from Vietnam. After spending three weeks in the country, we visited a handful of spots where they filmed Kong (Nha Trang, Ha Long). Needless to say, I had to watch it, and was pleasantly entertained with the surrealism and originality of the beasts on the island. It goes without saying that John C. Reilly steals the show.
Although they didn't come out in 2017, I watched two films for the first time this year that are now on my list of my favorites ever: the 2014 animated film Song of the Sea and the 2013 film The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. Magic is real and these two films will remind you of that.