Making a list of the best films of the year and putting them in some kind of respectable order has always been difficult. How can you really compare a film like Get Out and say it’s better or not quite as good as Coco? You can’t. Not if you consider yourself a genuine follower of film, as opposed to someone who likes going to the movies for diversion but in the end still thinks of film as being nothing more than “just a movie.”
For their individual genres, Get Out and Coco, while being vastly different, are both standouts of equal measure. So putting one above the other in a ‘best of’ list becomes an exercise in redundancy. In the end, as long as they’re both included somewhere, that should be good enough. And that’s how the following list should be taken. All 10 are good, but, realistically, one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
In truth, looking back at each month, generally speaking, this year’s films were mediocre at best. But as often happens, towards the end of the year, there was a rush of quality. Anything that was particularly good at the beginning of the year (which is rare) tends to be forgotten or overshadowed by the Oscar contenders that suddenly emerge around November and December. A United Kingdom is a good example. Personally speaking, the drama about the man who would become the first president of Botswana was among the most inspirational films of the year, and beautifully executed, but who remembers it? In movie terms, February was so long ago. But the film deserves recognition, so it enters the list at number 10.
First, a short list of notable films that were good but couldn’t quite crack that top 10. On the strength of its two leads, Molly’s Game deserves a mention, even if the film itself wasn’t quite up to a Top 10 position. The live version of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast was a remarkable achievement, and a gift for the those who enjoy what used to be the number one form of big screen entertainment, the musical. The Florida Project is certainly worth a mention, as is Battle of the Sexes. Still not sure why that film never took off with audiences. War of the Planet of the Apes was far better than expected. And in case anyone is wondering why Phantom Thread (a 2017 film but yet to be released in Phoenix) is not to be found, the answer’s simple: haven’t seen it. Couldn’t make it to the press screening and will now have to wait until early next year. And if anyone is saying, wait, what happened to Blade Runner 2049? Technically, a film to admire, and its cinematography, definitely a thing of beauty, but that’s as far as the praise goes. Enough said.
Final word. For whatever reason, when this report was first posted, I,Tonya was neglected a mention, probably due to rushing things and overlooking notes. We need to put a wrong to right. This hugely entertaining feature would not be out of place in the Top Ten, but at this point, the question is now, what should be bumped in order for its inclusion? This is always the dilemma when making lists, which is why you’ll rarely find one in this column, and frankly, when it comes to films (and theatre, for that matter) it’s the review that counts, not an easily interchangeable list. However, adding this paragraph with I,Tonya as an Honorable Mention should work and correct things. Somewhat.
So, here’s the Top 10. And remember, the order isn’t carved in stone, but it’s close. And if the one you liked the most in 2017 isn’t even mentioned, then go ahead, be my guest; make your own list. Ready? Cue the drum roll. Enjoy. Here we go.
10. A United Kingdom
8. Get Out
7. The Big Sick
5. Darkest Hour
3. The Post
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
1. Lady Bird
And finally, that’s it for 2017. Thank you for regularly checking in and reading these reviews. Hope your Christmas was wonderful, and allow me to wish you a Happy New Year!