As we swing around the end of 2017 it's time again to put out another list, this one being the big top 5 best movies of the year. There's something special about going back to all the movies you've seen over the last 365 days and relive all the moments that captured you during your favorites. I found 2017's top 5 to be pretty difficult honestly as there were a lot of films that were really good for really different reasons. I tried to isolate out what films I thought topped their genre and then out of those films put them all together and determine where they would rank next to eachother and why. So basically what I'm saying is if I've missed what you consider an obvious movie to include its probably because I picked another one over it in its genre and then had that film compete for a spot in the top 5. So if you disagree with this list that's fine and I get that but you're wrong and I hate you.
Get out was quite the thrill ride that had a real lasting impression on me for a number of reasons. The originality of the story was very refreshing to the horror/thriller genre, and on top of that it overturned a lot of tropes within the genre while striking a careful balance with real world stereotypes. Furthermore knowing the ending then going back gives this film a wealth of depth that's easily overlooked the first go round. For example the scenes involving Rose all receive new perspective upon knowing what she's planning at the end. The whole scene with the cop asking for Chris's ID even though he wasn't driving was at first perceived to be low key racism escalated yet defended by Rose. However upon learning the ending and seeing which characters ended up where we learn that the cop was aware of young black men in the area disappearing and that's the reason he wanted Chris's ID, and Rose was not defending him but hiding a paper trail. Little things like this really make this movie, along with typical tropes being overcome such as Chris being neither weak nor stupid. In fact, it was his brain that allowed him to begin the climax of the film, using everything he learned throughout the film to defeat the family one at a time. The movie as a whole was really clever in ways like this, however what won me over was a actually a little outside information about the film that I think captures the whole message the narrative was going for in the first place. It turns out the film was supposed to end with Chris's arrest, however they thought this ending was a little too dark and decided to make his friend end up saving him. The reason they were talked into this was because it actually makes the audience think a little more as well as giving a feeling of relief for the hero. Everyone knew what it looked like when Chris was choking Rose with a dead man and a gun nearby and police lights begin flashing. The implied ending there is the same grim realization Chris comes to in his defeated look, and the same relief he expresses upon seeing Rod is the same exact emotions the audience experiences as well. Even in the closing sequences of this movie the audience is connecting further to the hero, and that's why I think it's such a strong film and worthy of #5 movie of the year.
Star Wars The Last Jedi
This one was a real hard place for me between #4 and #3. Really this movie didn't have a terrible amount of problems and the main point of contention is only among very hardcore Star Wars fans who disagree not with this movie as a film but as a narrative within continuity. This addition to the main saga sees all of our favorite heroes from the past as well as the next generation and very much served as a passing of the torch between those two groups. Honestly I really enjoyed this film, because what it got right it got very right, and because I think it's the most beautifully shot of any in the saga. This film was kind of a weird occurrence for me, because usually I walk away from a movie feeling a certain way and then the more I think on it the more holes I can poke and the worse I end up rating it. However The Last Jedi had the opposite effect on me and I walked away a little unsure on how to feel, but the more I thought about things the more I accepted and decided I loved the direction this movie took. The only really deciding factor that bumped this one down from #3 to #4 was how bad it does drag in the center of the film. Say what you will about the character motivations and direction, it's pretty universally agreed that Finn and Rose's arc during the casino was easily the weakest point of the film. While Finn and Rose left something to be desired Mark Hamill and Adam Driver delivered in a very big way and were easily the highlights of the film. I found myself very much enjoying the direction of Kylo Ren and think there's a strong direction the character can go now that he's a little more free to do what he wants. Of course the whole Luke ending caught me off guard, but I think the delivery throughout the film makes this moment good if not a little unnecessary, but I mean, come on, it's not like we all don't know he's coming back for the next film right? And if it's anything like this performance, I can't wait to see more of Luke. It's solid at #4 for a myriad of reasons; it's the biggest movie of the year, second biggest of all time (second only to itself in The Force Awakens), it's Star Wars, it was what everybody's been waiting for and I think it delivered. It wasn't what people expected but it sure was one hell of a ride.
The horror genre really had a great year this year and managed to make my top 5 list twice. While Get Out won me over with originality and surprise, IT terrified me with a huge return to form for the genre as a whole and set a standard for large budget horrors and how they should move foward. I was uncomfortable with this movie. Never in recent memory have I felt such a mix of terror from both jump scare and disturbing imagery. This film really hits the nail on the head with both. The pacing for a jump scare can make or break a horror movie for me, as one way can be used as a cheap method to technically be called scary and the other direction can be used to add screams to your cold shiver. By combining truly disturbing content and images with jump scare pacing, IT dictates exactly where the audience is drawn in and where it can fake out with finesse. For a movie to be this good, and not have to rely on releasing on Halloween, the audience not knowing exactly where the story is going to go, knowing who lives who dies, and pretty much every other aspect of the narrative being told before yet still pulling off a genuinely good and objectively scary film I had to place this at #3. IT was a harsh contender with Star Wars. This movie didn't drag really, the antagonist was a known villian and they still made him both creepy and terrifying. While we're on the villain, this film took the time to get the continuity correct without spelling it out for the viewer. The way Pennywise' powers worked lined up exactly with the source and other media yet the movie managed to hold off on boring exposition and engaged the audience with its near nonstop storytelling. I'm not going to lie, I'm a pretty big pansy when it comes to horror flicks but I do know this; out of all the movies I can remember scaring me this one scared me the most. The background imagery was something I had completely forgotten about in the genre as a whole and found it to be extremely unsettling in this movie. Subliminal content like this is just another example of the small things that really tied it all together. Every aspect of this film was horror. It took me back to naive times in my youth when I'm begging the screen to stop doing what it's doing, thinking "don't go around the corner" and wondering exactly how much more of this I have to endure. IT became the highest grossing horror film of all time, for extremely good reason. I walked out of this one planning a spot for it on blu-ray shelf.
Oh my god the superhero genre needed this. X-men needed this. Hugh Jackman needed this. I needed this. Logan got everything right. You point to any point in this movie and it's correct. The acting, even from child actors, was phenomenal. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have never looked finer, and that's saying a lot. The R rating really went a long way to finally give us the Wolverine movie everyone has been waiting for. The dark undertone throughout the whole movie was punctuated by a bittersweet ending that drives home the entire feel of this film. The cinematography was amazingly coherent. At no point in any of the action was too much happening on screen. Laura was even doing movements that looked fantastical but not unbelievable. Practical effects went a long way in this one. Really everything was an A in this movie with the acting being an A+. The dementia, betrayal and finality of accapetance Patrick Stewart delivers bounces off of Hugh Jackman's torn and defeated psyche like there was no script and were watching two actual people interact. This movie had one of the strongest endings in recent memory. I was extremely satisfied with Wolverines death and the uncertainty of Laura's future, yet at the same time admire the resolve to continue on the film leaves you with. This had some of the best character growth in recent memory. Pretty much every character had an arch, a personal battle to overcome, and they each did so in a unique fashion. I have nothing but the highest praise for this film and the emotion it delivered within a modern fantasy setting. It was an easy choice for #2 and I think it's one everyone should have in their top 5 this year. The finality this film leaves you with makes for a perfect love letter from and send off for Hugh Jackman as Logan. We're definitely not going to get another on like him with such an impact on the character for a long time, but the legacy he leaves behind will definitely hold us over.
John Wick 2
I have to be honest, when I think of the best movie I've seen this year, John Wick 2 is the only option. It's the Empire Strikes Back of the action genre. The world building was organic, everything was shown and not told, the narrative is extremely coherent for how much substance you actually receive by the end. It adds to the legend of John Wick without actually explaining John Wick's legend. It plays on action tropes and then reverses them with very grounded realism. For example the magnificence of the Bowery King and his perceived grunge elegance is purposefully played up by satirizing over exuberant characters in action flicks and my favorite part of all this is when he gives John a gun with 7 rounds (seven million buys you seven rounds). There's something to be said about ceremony, and special guns in action movies, but in the first five seconds of the firefight John shoots all seven rounds, gives it a quick glare of disdain, rolls his eyes at what he just had to go through in the last 20 minutes of the film, and chucks the golden gun away. Moments like these are brilliant at bringing the heightened suspension of belief crashing back down. John gets shot a lot. John doesn't have unlimited stamina. He's the cream of the crop and he simply gets lucky sometimes, and even that pushes him to his limits. The practical effects are amazing. The choreography is the literal gold standard, the highest bar I can think of, for a fight movie. In a genre plagued by wires and Kung Fu it was refreshing to see the down to earth movements in this film. It took everything the first one did and did it better. I honestly think I like this film because the low budget vs high return success is a testament to a film genre every kid grows up on. The action genre was getting farcical with how it started to portray events, fights, gunfights, and had a lot of mary-sues who walk through 2 hours of a film with little more than ruffled hair. John Wick leaves bruised, shell shocked, bleeding, and limping away from his action in a believable state of body and mind that the average person can actually relate to. Keanu deserves every accolade these films continue to receive and I can't wait to see the next one. The only people who don't like John Wick 2 have never seen it.
That's it for the top 5 this year. A big honorable mention I wanted to call out was Baby Driver, it was extremely hard for me to place as there were so many good films in different genre this year, and I wouldn't call it good enough to overcome John Wick 2. That being said both Baby Driver and John Wick are examples of where the action genre should go and along with Mad Max Fury Road I hold them in the highest consideration for representation of the genre. If you have any other films that you think deserve to be in the top 5, or have a top 5 list of your own be sure to tell us over here at Nonsensical Ramblings, we'd love to hear it! Be safe this New Year and look out for all our reviews of the upcoming movies!