Here are my Top 25 Films of 2017. The caveats? These films were released in the USA in the year 2017. That means I’m not counting films released in the UK (which I may have already seen in the US in 2016) or any Festival movies not release yet, or foreign films not yet released in the US market.

For me personally, it was a tremendous year for film. I have a list of well over 50 films that I’d recommend to people. But after great consideration, these are my absolute favorites (and yes, I wasn’t a fan of ‘The Florida Project’, ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Blade Runner 2049′, ‘The Last Jedi’, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ and many others appearing on lists this year) . . .

a-ghost-story-movie-rooney-mara-casey-affleck-6

01 A GHOST STORY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vb0F_CN83E

No movie came close to eclipsing the place ‘A Ghost Story’ had in my heart in 2017. The story of how it was made (merely 2 days after his previous Hollywood film, in secret from the director and actors agents, for a paltry $150,000 . . .) is truly inspiring. But regardless, the end film is a piece of flawed, but staggering beauty and emotional punch. It’s everything I love about filmmaking encapsulated into an introspective, fragile, bold, mood piece and I fucking love it.

02 PHANTOM THREAD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNsiQMeSvMk

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat – P.T. Anderson is the finest contemporary American filmmaker out there. Period. Here, with Daniel Day Lewis’ supposed final performance, he continues his string of masterpieces (‘Magnolia’, ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘The Master’) with a startlingly original, fascinating and mature piece of storytelling. But beyond the music, cinematography, editing and elegiac camera moves lies the staggering skills of Vicky Krieps, who deserves a Lead Actress nomination, not the bloody ‘Supporting’ Actress one she’s been given.

03 THE RED TURTLE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw7BggqBpTk

It took almost ten years to animate, and was a collaborative effort between Dutch creator Michael Dudok de Wit and Ghibli (‘Spirited Away’, ‘Princess Mononoke’). What they created is a true piece of cinematic gold. With no words spoken, it transcends language and culture, instead entrancing you with it’s gorgeous animation and fairy tale narrative of a man shipwrecked on an island. It’s baffling to me how many people and critics missed this movie in 2017, but it’s absolutely one of the finest pieces of animation in years.

04 SUPER DARK TIMES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG0af8nliCE

I stumbled across the trailer for this film mid 2017, having been pulled in by the title alone. I had to order the bluray from Germany but thankfully now you can watch it on Netflix. The less you know, the better, but ‘Super Dark Times’ is a gut-wrenchingly honest drama/thriller that’s enveloped in Gus Van Sant’s ‘Paranoid Park’/’Elephant’ style of filmmaking, but with enough verve and vigor to dig it’s own bloodied fingernails into the sub-genre. Boasting fantastic acting across the board, beautiful cinematography and a nuanced, sincere approach in writing and direction – this is an absolute indie gem.

05 DUNKIRK

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6BEcoM0zik

Nolan turns his hand to WWII and offers up a fascinatingly unique look at the era. Flanking his own story with perspectives from the ground, the air, the sea and the command – he manages to capture with eerie grace a vertical slice of war where from the opening frames all hope is already lost. And it’s that absence of the usual dangling carrot for a fist-pumping final victory that really embeds this film as an important and essential piece of seasoned filmmaking by a master filmmaker.

06 20th CENTURY WOMEN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSADYQgDLfI

The first film I saw in 2017 that really stood out as something special. This partial auto-biography manages to walk a beautifully fine line – handling wry humor with heartfelt drama, familial uproar and gender politics. It’s captivating, enjoyable, thought-provoking, and utterly brave in it’s honest (and very current) discussion of female roles in America, 1979, but more than that . . . smarter than that . . . it also looks at the difficulty in being the male role in a matriarchal unit. Discussing both sides with the kind of maturity and empathy that the current climate could use more of.

07 CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3lS9313r8

‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a wonderful film. Let me get that out of the way. It has gorgeous scenery, lethargic, gentle storytelling, honest performances and a terrific (if potentially misplaced at times) soundtrack. What irks me about the movie is that France and Italy (even Spain and Germany) have been making films like this for the past 50 years. And I mean just as good as this if not better. And it took one made in the English language for Americans and the rest of the world to take notice. It’s NOT the genre masterpiece people would have you believe. And if you love this film – I’d encourage you to go watch some European cinema and get educated. But it is still a lovely film with a fantastic finale.

08 WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEP1Mk6Un98

The finale to one of the best series of blockbusters ever made is undoubtedly the finest entry yet. Director Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield’, ‘Let Me In’), follows up the last installment with a unique Western that bleeds into a gritty prison break movie. It’s a rare film where the FX not only support the narrative but perform an essential foundation to its harrowing core with seamless aplomb. Only the overtly sentimental finale spoils the ride.

09 GOOD TIME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBzr5vhBYwk

Robert Patterson has done it before in the hugely underrated ‘The Rover’, but here he truly plants his feet in the ground to prove he’s a real actor. And prove it he does. As do the Safdie Brothers who both write and direct, with Benny Safdie taking the supporting lead role and proving just as impressive as Patterson. It’s a dark, terrifying ride as we follow two brothers in a heist gone wrong, but one that’s well worth taking in this electrifying film.

10 LOGAN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Div0iP65aZo

Director James Mangold was so depressed with his Hollywood studio experience on ‘The Wolverine’ that he returned with backup from Hugh Jackman to create a finale to the Logan storyline on their own terms. Adult themes, adult direction and adult violence. The script still ebbs with comic book notions and the bewildering clone villain feels as though he’s torn directly from the previous installment, but almost everything else her escalates the genre to provide us with the ultimate Wolverine story to date. And Jackman pours his heart and soul into a role that he’s defined for fifteen years to give us a career best.

11 3 BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jit3YhGx5pU

12 THE SHAPE OF WATER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFYWazblaUA

13 HOUNDS OF LOVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pGTwM3txt0

15 SPIDER-MAN : HOMECOMING

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41dUp3kK-0w

16 THE BEGUILED

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRKXyeoWfco

17 GET OUT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzfpyUB60YY

18 THE DISASTER ARTIST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qab3TMg42k

19 MOLLY’S GAME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu4UPet8Nyc

20 LADY MACBETH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aPexgIGUjU

21 BORG vs. McENROE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgfFdEOGUqE

22 THE LURE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Meg42ZxaUu8

23 THOR : RAGNAROK

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7MGUNV8MxU

24 THE BABYSITTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qCqrODw1nM

25 KONG : SKULL ISLAND

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAbI4w95cTE

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