With 2017 gone and 2018 in full swing, it is time to look back at some of the best films of the past year. 2017 was a year of huge diversity in terms of the genres of films, and it is not easy to pick the very best movies. After all, everyone has different tastes and preferences. We have still ventured to look back at some of the best films of last year, including one or two that may have gone under the radar and may not have gained the attention of the global population.
Lady Bird is not only one of the best films of 2017, but it is easily one of the best movies of the 21st century. Directed and written by Greta Gerwig, the movie stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts among others, and explores the developing story of a high-school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mother. A pretty low-budget movie – it cost just $10 million to make – it has gained critical acclaim as well as box office popularity, picking up over $35 million gross. The way Ronan and Metcalf play off each other and the dynamism between the two characters is mesmerising. There is little wonder that Lady Bird received a standing ovation at its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Ronan nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Metcalf for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 71st British Academy Film Awards. This coming-of-age drama may not exactly be ‘consumer material’, but for those with an appreciation for true art, this movie ticks all the boxes.
The Shape of Water is another film released in 2017 which may not have been exactly a worldwide box office success like the Marvel comicbook movies have done for the past 10 or so years, but this rather oddly crafted flick has a variety of layers. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the story is based on a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory befriending a captured amphibian. Directed by the legendary Guillermo del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water is focused on two lonely hearts meeting for lunch, listening to records and enjoying the simple beauty of life. This is a tale of romance, but it is also a thriller, with a story that develops with every scene and climaxing towards the end. Selected by the American Film Institute as one of the 10 films of the year 2017, The Shape of Water received no fewer than 12 nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film.
Another well-crafted and artsy movie – definitely one of the best of the last year – is The Big Sick. An American romantic-comedy directed by Michael Showalter, the film explores the lives of an interracial couple who have to deal with cultural differences after one of them falls ill. Although based on a common yet simple concept – it is about an interracial couple after all – the movie is profound in its portrayal of minute differences and the couple have to come to terms with it. Loosely based on the lives of the film’s writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, the film has been received well by the critics and has been praised for the way it juggles with comedy and seriousness. The way The Big Sick handles very intricate issues of life is a marvel in itself. Made on a budget of just $5 million, the film has grossed over $50 million to date – an undoubted success at the box.
Marvel and DC have been doing big comic-book blockbusters for a while now, and in 2017 the two major studios arguably produced two of the best movies – Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman – of the genre of all time. Instead of rebooting and retelling the old tale of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, Marvel decided to move the story forward. The events of the film take place after Captain America: Civil War and see Peter Parker itching to get back into action. As usual with the character, Spider-Man makes a lot of jokes and the film is really fun to watch. There was an underlying sense of seriousness in the movie, but at the same time, Spider-Man Homecoming is light-hearted. What Marvel did was focus on the character rather than on his stunts. Wonder Woman is easily the best DC comic-book movie produced in the 21st century. One of the best origin movies of all time, the film looks at how Diana Prince has to come out of the shadows and fight with ‘men’. Gal Gadot gives a flawless performance as Wonder Woman, which is steeped in feminism and has a tinge of humour as well. Although the story is quite linear, it flows nicely and allows the character to grow and warm the audience’s heart.
While Spider-Man and Wonder Woman were massive box-office successes – they were among the top 10 grossing films in the world last year – Molly’s Game was not, but it should still be considered as one of the best in other ways. Directed by Aaron Sorkin and based on on the memoir Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom, the film is about a strong and independent businesswoman who holds high-stakes poker games and becomes the target of an FBI investigation. With Jessica Chastain playing the lead role and Idris Elba and Kevin Costner also playing important parts, the film is an exploration of the gambling world. One negative of Molly’s Game, though, is that it makes it seem as if gambling and going to casinos is for the rich and the wealthy. It is anything but in the modern world. All you need to place a few bets or have a roll of the dice is a mobile device and stable internet connection. With websites such as Oddcheckers listing online casinos that offer free bonuses, you do not even have to use your own money to have a go at a roulette machine, thanks to how competitive the niche is at present.
Get Out is another movie in 2017 which is highly recommended. Directed by Jordan Peele, it is classed as a horror, but the American film is much more than that. It is a telling story about racial issues in modern USA and has a touch of humour. Get Out stars Chris, an African-American man, going to visit the family of his white girlfriend where all the servants are black. It is a thriller that develops well and has several twists and turn. Get Out is a powerful film, arguably one for the ages. It explores age-old exploitation and treatment of African-Americans and gives a very modern outlook. What is very interesting about the film is that it is very intense and has the right balance between horror and underlying social commentary.
And last, but not the least, Logan. True, this is a superhero movie, but it is also one of the best films of any genre… ever. This is the last time that Hugh Jackman plays the part of Wolverine, a mutant who has been haunted by personal demons through his life. In Logan, Wolverine is tired and weary of the world and takes care of his mentor Professor X. He then learns of his daughter Laura, also a mutant like him, and has to prevent the villains from capturing her. Logan is a powerful movie that explores loss, death, age and family in the modern world. Hugh Jackman could not be any more perfect in his portrayal of Wolverine, but in Logan he simply outdid himself. One can see on his face and in his actions his torment, and the Australian actor’s performance in the film is simply Oscar-material.
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