It’s that time of year again! Here are our top ten movies released in theaters this year.
As with previous years, we only consider movies we actually saw in theaters between 1 January and 31 December. And just to throw a spanner in the works, we go off Australian release dates.
- Wonder Woman – I went back and forth on whether to make Wonder Woman or Last Jedi my number one pick. Both gave me all the feels with great stories featuring excellent female leads. In the end, the edge goes to Diana Prince. After all, she does have the entire army of Themyscira and Chris Pine on her side.
- Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – This movie absolutely blew me away. I came for Rey, but stayed for Luke Skywalker. Gorgeous cinematography, great humor, and a welcome rethinking of the franchises core tenants. I’ll be watching this one a lot.
- The Big Sick – Hate rom-coms? Try watching this one. Real life couple Emily V. Gordon and Kamail Nanjiani teamed up to tell the story of how they met and fell in love. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll schedule a full physical, just to be on the safe side.
- Atomic Blonde – This movie was such a surprise. Charlize Theron spends two hours kicking ass as an MI6 agent in Cold War era Berlin. It’s a fun, stylish, and violent romp that holds nothing back. Pro tip: Download the soundtrack, you won’t regret it.
- Coco – It’s Pixar, so I knew I’d probably cry, but Coco hit me particularly hard. This family tale set around the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos left me homesick for Southern California. This is a visual masterpiece, with a touching story and beautiful music. I’ll need to do some proper Mexican cooking for my first DVD screening.
- Hidden Figures – I love a good historical piece, especially one that highlights the overlooked accomplishments of those working behind the scenes. There’s some dramatization to make this a more conventionally feel-good film, but it doesn’t detract from the overall package.
- Blade Runner 2049 – The original Blade Runner is a classic of the science fiction genre. I was wary of this belated sequel, despite Harrison Ford’s return and Ryan Gosling featuring in the starring role. There was no need to worry. 2049 is visually stunning and continues the story in a smart way.
- Thor: Ragnarok – By the time a series reaches movie number three, you pretty much know what to expect. Thor, to this point, has been a solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s the straight man to almost every other Avenger, with only fleeting moments of humor given to him. But with Taiki Waititi at the helm, Thor & Company are finally allowed to let loose. A lot less melodrama and a lot more weirdness did this franchise good.
- Call Me By Your Name – This love/coming of age story set in 1980s Italy is full of lush, gorgeous cinematography and amazing acting. I fell in love with Armie Hammer’s narration on this audio book, and fell in love with him all over again in his performance here. My heart was also torn by Timothee Chalmet’s performance, and Michael Stuhlbarg’s ending monologue is incredibly touching.
- Dunkirk – This film just made my top ten, eking out others on the strength of its sound mixing and score, and the unique way it plays with time. My biggest complaint is that it whitewashes the events by ignoring the contributions of Indian and African soldiers in the evacuation. But, this is just one story of the famed Dunkirk retreat. I hope others take it upon themselves to tell the other stories.
Creating my top ten was a serious challenge. I’ve added, removed, and shuffled the movies above at least five times since beginning the list. As a result, my list of runners up is longer than usual.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The LEGO Batman Movie
The Disaster Artist
War for the Planet of the Apes
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – This franchise just needs to stop now.
American Assassin – This movies was so boring. I feel a duty to let everyone know.
Baywatch – Shirtless Zac Efron, The Rock… this looked like a slam dunk of a movie. But it was just so blah. All the funny bits were in the trailer, and Efron is too ripped (It can happen).
Passengers – Another movie that did not live up to its trailer. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt had far less chemistry on screen than they do in real life. The story was promising, but failed to deliver after the initial twist.
- Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – I’m sure everyone will be shocked by my first choice (*sarcasm*). Ridiculous fanboy-bias aside, I adored this film. It felt like a Star Wars film, but was also so different from anything we had seen before. I loved the risks that Rian Johnson took with these characters, particularly Luke. While it was confronting initially seeing Luke turn his back on the Jedi Order, the more I thought about it, the more it felt right for the character. Two moments stand out with this film, when Rey and Kylo fight Snoke’s guards and the lightspeed missile. They were epic moments that had me in awe, and I haven’t even mentioned the Luke/Kylo smack down.
- Atomic Blonde – This is the best action movie I have seen in a long time. Charlize Theron has never been more of a badass than she is in this film. The fight scenes here are so brutal. I loved how Theron used all of her surroundings to her advantage. A catchy techno 80s soundtrack and the best action I’ve seen in years made this one of the most unexpected surprises of the year.
- Wonder Woman – Finally, DC gets one right. I was dubious when Gal Gadot was originally cast as Wonder Woman, but she has won me over with this terrific performance. She also managed to breathe life in DC’s failing movie universe. Her chemistry with the uber-sexy Chris Pine is great. I wish Justice League had been able to follow on from this terrific film instead of being such a massive letdown. I think it’s also worth noting that my top three films all have female leads. It seems like 2017 was the year women fought back, and my list reflects that nicely.
- Thor: Ragnarok – Marvel is great at taking risks with their films. Giving out there indie filmmaker Taika Waititi a Thor movie to play with was also a massive risk. The result is arguably the funniest Marvel film ever made. Waititi was able to show that Chris Hemsworth has terrific comedic timing, something we hadn’t seen before in any of his outings as the god of thunder. Comedy aside, this movie is also a great spectacle. Seeing Hulk and Thor beat each other up in a gladiator arena is something I think we’ve all been waiting for since The Avengers. My only real complaint was that in typical Marvel fashion, the villain seems a bit weak. Whenever Cate Blanchett was on screen, I didn’t really care what she was doing. I just wanted to see more of Thor and Hulk bro-ing out.
- The Disaster Artist – James Franco has created a masterpiece based on the worst film ever made. The Distaster Artist is the story about the making of The Room, a movie starring, directed, and produced by the eccentric Tommy Wiseau. Franco plays Wiseau and owns the role. I really hope he gets nominated for an Oscar because it is an amazing performance in one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time. One recommendation though, make sure you see The Room before seeing this film. It will add to the enjoyment immensely.
- Logan – I have always said that if you wanted to make a proper Wolverine film, it would need to be rated R. You can’t have someone with knives for hands slicing and dicing their way through hordes of thugs without having a high level of blood and gore. I may not like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine that much (he’s too tall and much too good looking), but you can’t deny his passion for the role, which is definitely something I appreciate. After playing the role for nearly two decades, many actors would have begun to phone it in, but Jackman seems as pumped as ever to be playing everyone’s favourite mutant. As good as Jackman is, he is overshadowed completely by the youngster Dafne Keen, who plays another genetically enhanced killing machine. She’s a young girl, which makes her berserker episodes even more terrifying. There is a lot to like about this movie, but I am mostly just pleased that I finally have a movie that lives up to the character I grew up reading comics about.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming – Speaking of characters finally done right, that’s exactly happened with Spider-Man. I’m not saying the previous incarnations were complete duds, but none of them really captured the character as well as they could have. With Marvel Studios now by their side, Sony was able to create the perfect mix of snark and teenage enthusiasm that comic book readers have been enjoying for over 50 years. Tom Holland is terrific as the young hero still getting used to his powers and the responsibilities that come with them. It’s also nice to see him sharing the screen with the likes of Iron Man and Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who is probably the most effective Marvel bad guy since Loki.
- The Big Sick – Easily the best romantic comedy of the year. It has heart and humour in a situation that really doesn’t call for any. Kumail Nanjani is playing himself, but does it so well. The story of how he met his wife is hilarious and moving at the same time. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are also stand outs as Kumail’s future in-laws.
- IT – I don’t do horror movies, but I was pleasantly surprised by this remake of the classic Stephen King story where a demon who looks like a clown terrorises a small town in the 80s. I loved the kids in this movie; they felt like real friends. Led by young Jaeden Lieberher (do yourself a favour and see St. Vincent if you haven’t already) and Stranger Things alum Finn Wolfhard, the young group of ‘losers’ always feel in danger, and usually it is their psychotic classmates that are the threat rather than a creepy clown. In saying that, Bill Skarsgard gives a terrifying performance as Pennywise the clown.
- The Lego Batman Movie – This movie has managed to do something new with a Batman film that we’ve never really seen before. It does bother me that the best Batman outing we got this year wasn’t Justice League, but this one will do. Will Arnett is perfect as the animated Dark Knight and casting Michael Cera as Robin was inspired. A movie that should be nothing more than a toy commercial manages to have more humour and heart than most of the movies released this year.
Justice League – I’ve mentioned it a few times above, but Justice League was easily the biggest letdown for me. A movie that features Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman finally sharing the big screen in an epic team up should not have felt so pedestrian. I know DC are trying to play catch up to Marvel, but there’s a reason Marvel films have worked so well. They took their time and built their characters accordingly. Justice League was easily the most deflating experience I had at a theatre this year. Something that should have been so epic has become so mediocre, which is a shame.
Transformers: The Last Knight – I watched this because a colleague at work wanted to see it, and I regretted the decision immediately. The Transformers movies have gotten progressively worse since the first one was released, and this latest installment is almost unwatchable. Mark Wahlberg feels like he has phoned this one in, and it shows. There is nothing redeeming about this film. Easily the worst time I had at the movies this year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales