2017 was a banner movie year in many genres, as science fiction, WWII dramas, animated features, relationship movies and even sequels were among the year’s best. Here is The Reelness’ 10 Best Films of 2017:

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The eighth installment in the Star Wars saga is a rousing crowd pleaser, with the late Carrie Fisher reprising her role as Princess Leia, aided by a reluctant Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in their rebellion against the evil galactic empire. Director Rian Johnson deftly retains the look and feel of its predecessors, while updating the 40-year-old franchise with some surprising plot twists, new characters, eye popping action sequences that have just the right amount of CGI, and cute critters for the kids. The only weaknesses are the length (it starts to drift by the third act) a few ridiculous moments, and Adam Driver’s not so convincing portrait of villainous Kylo Ren. Still, it’s highly entertaining and its homage to the original film in the final scenes is quite the “awww” moment. A-

9. Baby Driver

In a career-defining role, Ansel Elgort stars as the immensely likable Baby, the getaway driver for a revolving team of Atlanta bank robbers, who listens to music around the clock to drown out his tinnitus. Writer/director Edgar Wright (of the hilarious and clever films Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz) delivers an intricately choreographed, intense, music-laden, one-of-a-kind cinematic experience, aided by a strong supporting cast (Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and the city of Atlanta). The only weakness – the story could have benefited from a bit of editing in the final 30 minutes. Still, you will be guaranteed to leave the theater smiling. Well done! A

8. Mudbound

This Netflix original period drama, adapted from the 2008 Hillary Jordan novel, is about two poor sharecropper families in the Mississippi Delta – one white, one black – and their struggle to survive appalling racial injustice, financial hardship and PTSD after a family member returns home to each family following World War II. The film features one of the year’s strongest ensemble casts (Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige). That, along with the meticulously crafted period visuals of the American South and director Dee Rees’s compelling vision, creates a gut wrenching masterpiece that will linger in the mind long after the credits roll. A

7. Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan is Lady Bird, a precocious, opinionated teenager in this coming of age film set in 2003 Sacramento. Despite the family’s financial struggles and pushback from her pessimistic mother (Laurie Metcalf), Lady Bird secretly enlists her newly-jobless, depressed father (Tracy Letts) to help her pursue her dream of getting admitted to college in New York. Actress Greta Gerwig, in her directorial debut, presents a clever, semi-autobiographical story about the bittersweet transition from adolescence to adulthood that is funny, sad and refreshingly realistic. The film’s many heartfelt moments will resonate with anyone whom has maintained hope in the face of recurring disappointment, and both Ronan and Metcalf are sublime in their portrait of a complex, but loving, mother-daughter relationship. Well done. A

6. Dunkirk

Writer/director Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic about the 1940 evacuation of 330,000 Allied troops fleeing Nazi forces approaching the French coastal city of Dunkirk is pretty darn close to a masterpiece. It is told from the perspective of infantrymen under constant attack during the evacuation, fighter pilots trying to provide air cover, and the extraordinary private citizens who crossed the English Channel in their own boats to assist in rescue efforts. Although Nolan’s juggling of flashbacks and flashforwards is initially confusing and a bit jarring, it eventually heightens the sense of foreboding and drama, which features strong performances from Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and newcomer Fionn Whitehead, beautiful cinematography, and a rousing score from longtime collaborator Hans Zimmer, which packs the perfect goosebumps-inducing punch at the film’s big climax. Expect to see this satisfying war epic get lots of love come Oscar season. A

5. Call Me By Your Name

Timothée Chalamet stars in this James Ivory (of the popular Merchant Ivory films) adaptation of the André Aciman novel about 17-year-old Elio, experiencing his first love, for a brilliant and handsome graduate student (Armie Hammer) who is spending the summer of 1983 living and working with Elio’s family at their villa in Northern Italy. This sweet, slow burn of a film expertly captures the subtle imagery of sexual awakening and a bittersweet romance that defies social norms of the era. Chalamet and Hammer are mesmerizing as the unlikely lovers, but it is Michael Stuhlbarg, as young Elio’s wise father, who elicits the waterworks in the film’s final speech, about relishing both the joy and heartache of a fleeting first love. It is an absolutely beautiful film that will wreck your heart and have you reliving and relishing every detail of your own first love. A

4. Maudie

This is the life story of Maud Lewis, one of Canada’s most famous folk artists. When the physically disabled Nova Scotian answers an ad to be the live-in housekeeper for a cantankerous fish peddler in his tiny one room house, an unlikely romance develops, and Maudie’s artistic talent begins to flourish. The poignant character portraits, underscored by incredible, career defining performances by both Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, VERY slowly and subtly builds to one ugly cry tearjerker of a finale, reminding us of the joy of life’s simple pursuits and of being loved. A

3. Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s 1991 film, based on the classic French fairy tale, made history as the first animated film to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. It had it all – a highly imaginative, heartfelt story, spectacular animation, and great songs – and as a result, some pretty big shoes to fill. Not only does this remake do that, it actually exceeds it, by staying faithful to the original story and deftly using its live action format and modern technology to create a more emotionally mature and visually compelling film. The casting – Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson and Ewan McGregor – is impeccable – and the same great songs are showcased with even more awe-inspiring visual effects and sumptuous costumes. The 1991 film was spectacular in its originality for an animated film. This clever remake is spectacular for staying true to what worked so well the first time and improving on what it could to make it even better. Outstanding. A+

2. Wind River

A beautiful young Native American woman is found dead under mysterious circumstances in the remote Wyoming wilderness, leading the rookie FBI agent assigned to the case (Elizabeth Olsen) to enlist the help of a local game tracker (Jeremy Renner) to solve the crime. On the heels of his critically-acclaimed Sicario and Hell or High Water (two of the best films of 2015 and 2016), writer Taylor Sheridan, in his directorial debut, again delivers an emotionally powerful, character-driven, pulse-pounding crime drama that deftly captures the gritty realism of life in rural America – this time, on a remote, impoverished Indian reservation. Superb casting, captivating cinematography and a haunting score makes this film even more outstanding. A+

1. Coco

Disney/Pixar’s latest animated film is the sweet story of Miguel, a rebellious young Mexican boy who, against his family’s wishes, aspires to be a musician like his long-departed great grandfather. When circumstance lands him on an Iliad-style journey through the Land of the Dead, he encounters his deceased relatives and uncovers a decades-old family mystery. Disney/Pixar delivers a clever, emotionally moving, inter-generational story of family, culture, life and most importantly, death, embracing it in a refreshingly innovative way. This tribute to Mexican culture is highlighted by an amazing kaleidoscope of visual effects and a stirring soundtrack that will have the tears flowing by the credits as we are reminded of our own loved ones whom have passed on. A masterpiece. A+

Honorable Mentions:

These were films, that, while just shy of the Top 10, were still quite good and worth noting. If only there was a Top 16…
Score: A Film Music Documentary (best documentary of 2017)
Darkest Hour
Blade Runner 2049
I, Tonya
Girls Trip (best comedy of 2017)
Wonder Woman (best comic book movie)

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