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The Best Films Of 2017

by Patrick & Paul Gibbs

It's 2017. Anyway, for a few more minutes it is. Come midnight it's gonna be 2018. A whole 'nother feelin'. The New Year. The future. Yeah, ole daddy Earth fixin' to start one more trip 'round the sun and everybody hopin' this ride 'round be a little more giddy, a little more gay. Yep, all over town champagne corks is a-poppin'.

As we look back at the year in film, it has been quite a strong, despite an overall lack luster summer.  We decided that we'd each pick our personal choice for the number one movie of 2017, followed by by our joint top ten list (which excludes our choices for the top spot. And yes, this is basically a cheap ploy to sneak in 12 films instead of 10, but as we said, it was a strong year.).

Paul's Top Pick:

Image Courtesy 20th Century Fox
Steven Spielberg tells the riveting story of journalists from The Washington Post and The New York Times who published the infamous Pentagon Papers, which revealed shocking secrets and lies the American government had been keeping in regards to the war in Vietnam. Spielberg has gone on record that  it was important to him to tell this story of about the importance of a free press as an essential part of a democratic society now, due to it's relevance in today's political climate when "Freedom of Suppress" is all the rage. Meryl Streep gives a terrific performance in the role of Kay Graham, the owner of The Washington Post, and this is really the most feminist film Spielberg has made since "The Color Purple."

Patrick's Top Pick:

War For The Planet Of The Ape
Image Courtesy 20th Century Fox
The third chapter is traditionally dubbed the weakest in any trilogy, and in one this groundbreaking it really had its work cut out for it but to say that it lived up to my expectations is quite an understatement, and War For the Planet of the Apes is easily my choice for the best film of 2017. The story takes some dark and unexpected turns, and becomes very heavy at times, but never heavy handed, which is really quite an accomplishment considering some of the historical and geopolitical overtones.  As sad as it was to see this outstanding trilogy come to an end, it was such a satisfying and moving end that it leaves no room for complaints. I was emotionally exhausted by it, but at the same time enriched by the boldness and beauty of this groundbreaking cinematic triumph. - Patrick

To read our exclusive interview with actress Karin Konovoal (Maurice the Orangutan)Click Here

The List

Image Courtesy Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures
Blade Runner 2029 
Director Denis Villeneuve delivered one the best sequels ever made, creating a film that is as thought provoking and visually sumptuous as the original. Ridley Scott has described Blade Runner as his most complete and personal film, and as such it may seem confusing that he chose to come back behind the lens for two mediocre Alien prequels, but not this one. But when one thinks further on his statements, Blade Runner was indeed personal and complete: it was Scott's masterpiece, and one of our pet peeves with the over usage of the terms in that by definition, an artist only gets one. And since a Blade Runner film can be nothing less than a masterpiece, it required a bold, visionary new director to make it a classic, and Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) is easily one of the most interesting directors of his time. He gives us a new film from a new point of view, a mesmerizing and transcendent exploration of the nature of what it is to be human, to live, to kill, to die . . . and to live on.  

Image Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures
Easily Pixar's best film since Inside Out, this one ranks among their all time best. It shows that for all of the current emphasis on sequels and playing it safe, they can still create a charming, sweet and visually marvellous tale that breaks the mold of everything you expect from a Disney animated film while still being everything you want from a Disney animated film.

Image Courtesy Warner Bros.
This epic World War II story is every bit as spectacular, gripping and moving as it is relentlessly loud (we wonder if Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer like to drive around  Hollywood together in a pimped up lowrider with the bass turned up high enough to make every windshield on the street rattle.). But as much as this film is a technical marvel, there are some great performances as well (Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh in particular stand out), and the fact that we don't really get to know the characters is a deliberate and effective choice that makes it easy to believe and relate to each one. It's an a visceral and sometimes very emotional experience, perfectly executed by one of the very best in the business.

Image Courtesy A24
The Florida Project 
You might want to forgo the popcorn and just get a big bucket of zoloft for this movie. Director Sean Baker's heartbreaking drama looks at the lives of the poverty stricken residents of a dumpy motel within spitting distance of Walt Disney World, and contrasts their lives with the vacation paradise.  Willem Dafoe's quite possibly Oscar-winning turn as the motel manager provides the film with an emotional center, as well as the point of view of good people looking in from the outside and trying to help but who can ultimately only do so much. The children who dominate the film, lead by the adorable Brooklyn Prince as Moone, are phenomenal. And the ending, which was shot covertly on a iPhone inside the Magic Kingdom, is a classic moment film students will be watching for decades to come. Heart wrenching and unflinchingly real, this is one of the most accomplished and honest independent films we've ever seen.

Image Couresty A24
Lady Bird
We were never 17 year old girls at a Catholic School, but Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird" is so charming, so sweetly sincere and utterly authentic that all you have to be relate to it on some level is alive. Saorisie Ronan is luminous in the title role of Christine MacPherson, a young girl who who has renamed herself "Lady Bird" as a way of seeking out her personal identity, much to the annoyance of her mother Marion, played by Laurie Metcalf. Lady Bird goes through the teenage rites of passage of first love, family struggles, school and deciding what to do with her life, but no description can do justice to just how beautiful and emotionally involving this film really is. Gerwig's next film is very high on our radar and everyone else's.

Image Courtesy 20th Century Fox
This was the swan song for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, one of the most iconic actor/character pairings in the history of comic book films, and it really gives the middle claw to anyone who felt that the franchise had nothing left to surprise us. James Mangold, who has always been a strong actor's director, has assembled a great cast, but Jackman and Patrick Stewart stand out, making the most of this chance to explore a new side to these characters. At times they very much bring to mind the complicated dynamic of Lear and Kent in King Lear. Logan's physical and emotional pain is palpable, and his world-weary demeanour is more tragic than comic, as Logan grows tired of his long life and finds himself wondering if any of it meant anything at all, until he meets young Lara, wonderfully portrayed by young Dafne Keen. As much a modern western as superhero film, Logan is unforgettable.

Image Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Shape Of Water
The term visionary when advertising films, and  if you see it on a trailer or a poster referring to a director it really just means "has more than 5 fans but no Oscar." But if anyone in Hollywood does deserve such  hyperbolic distinction, Guillermo Del Toro is toward the top of the list. The man behind such films as Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Crimson Peak and the gleefully silly but exquisitely made Pacific Rim make up a career that can be best summed up in one word: love. No one in Hollywood approaches his craft with more genuine, painstaking joy and a more loving hand than this quirky artist, and his latest film is a testimony of the power of love. The Shape of Water is a magical and beautiful tale of loneliness and longing, love and acceptance, nudity and gore, and all of the other intangibles that make life worth living. It's a true triumph, a modern day fairy tale with lots of heart .

Image Courtesy Lucasfilm Ltd.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The naysayers out there can't take away a bit of our excitement for this new chapter in the saga that dares to go in some pretty grown up directions while staying true to what made us all love this as children. It is truly a loving salute to everyone that grew up on Star Wars, whatever generation of fan they may be. Mark Hamill gives the performance of his career, and director Rian Johnson cements his place as a bold and interesting filmmaker and the prospect of his new trilogy is absolutely mouthwatering.

Image Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 
Writer, Director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) has crafted a taught and wickedly funny dark comedy/drama that will have you feeling a sharp pain in your side as you laugh and one in your heart as the anguish and pain of life's most unwelcome realities cut unexpectedly deep. The moments of overwhelming regret are especially powerful as McDonagh's script demonstrates the various ways in which we hurt each other and the disturbing truth that emotional wounds can be far harder to heal than physical ones. At the same time, it portrays that families that express anger, bitterness and selfishness more often than love will often feel that love with an overwhelming and immeasurable ferocity when put to the test. It's a highly Coenesque movie that still has a voice all its own, and we contend that the ending scene will one day be held up there is esteem with Casablanca, Unforgiven and yes, even Citizen Kane. 

Wonder Woman
Image Courtesy Warner Bros.
Patty Jenkins' film is a joyous achievement that was long overdue but couldn't have come at better time. Wonder Woman is a smart, thrilling, meaningful and often hilarious movie for all audiences that combines the epic feel of the best DC with the heart and humor of Marvel, and it aims to inspire a generation of girls and boys to look beyond stereotypes of heroism and strength, and make the rest of us remember our simple youthful ideals. 

Honorable Mentions: All The Money In The World, The Big SickColossal, Detroit, First They Killed My Father,  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan Lucky, Loving Vincent. Thor: Ragnarok.

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