Col Needham's Best Movies of 2017

by Col Needham | last updated - 10 months ago

I am the Founder and CEO of IMDb and here are my choices for the 10 best movies of 2017.

This is drawn from a longer list of all my 9/10 and 10/10 movies from 2017 (choosing just 10 is really difficult) and I also have a few hotly tipped 2017 movies left to see, notably The Post (2017), All the Money in the World (2017) and Phantom Thread (2017).

A companion list contains my Hidden Gem Movies of 2017.

If your IMDb vote history is up-to-date then you can see your own list via these search results.

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1. The Shape of Water (2017)

R | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
87 Metascore

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones

Votes: 257,409 | Gross: $63.86M

#1 - I fell in love with this movie from the opening scene. It is everything a great movie should be -- a compelling story with wonderful characters; it looks amazing, both through natural cinematography and visual effects; it is familiar enough to be warm yet new enough to be boldly original; the casting is perfect.

I originally saw this at a press screening at The Toronto International Film Festival in September and I was so enthralled that I did something I have never done before: I went back to see the same movie again at the same film festival. The second viewing was in The Elgin Theatre in Toronto which is used as a key location in the film, so the audience erupted into applause when we reached the main scene set there -- we were watching the characters standing in a cinema in 1960s Baltimore, yet they were in the very cinema in which we were watching them! It was the icing on the cake in terms of sealing the magic into the viewing experience. I even sat in the same row of the cinema as the characters in the movie were placed.

I had the privilege of attending writer/director Guillermo del Toro's screen talk at The London Film Festival and hearing more about the production, including its childhood connection to Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Simply wonderful.

2. Dunkirk (2017)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Drama, History

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
94 Metascore

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

Votes: 423,460 | Gross: $188.37M

#2 My expectations were high for this one and Christopher Nolan did not disappoint. I especially appreciated the clever story structure and different timelines. A second viewing is essential and I saw this a total of three times in cinemas within two weeks of its release. The master stroke here is in creating such a riveting film even though you essentially know the final outcome.

I was gutted to miss the world premiere in London as I was on a trip to visit the IMDb team in Seattle, however, the Seattle team was invited to a special advance preview in IMAX at The Pacific Science Center just a few hours later. The timing was such that my friend Denise who did attend the premiere had live streamed the cast

3. Molly's Game (2017)

R | 140 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
71 Metascore

The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

Director: Aaron Sorkin | Stars: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera

Votes: 84,785 | Gross: $28.78M

#3 This film has my favourite screenplay of the year and Aaron Sorkin has made a compelling directorial debut. There is more plot condensed before the opening title card than in some entire movies. As usual, Jessica Chastain shines in her role as the title character. The fact this is based on a true story adds to the fun; you literally cannot make this stuff up. Idris Elba is also fabulous and provides worthy support to Chastain's lead.

I saw this at The Toronto Film Festival.

4. Baby Driver (2017)

R | 112 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
86 Metascore

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González

Votes: 328,257 | Gross: $107.83M

#4 Edgar Wright does it again and brings his own unique style, both in writing and directing, to create an original view of the heist movie. The opening robbery and car chase set the tone, but we move quickly into a fabulous long-take synchronized to the music which really pulls the audience into the world of the film. The story, the music and the characters blend into a seamless experience which sets a new high bar for soundtrack integration. Lily James continues to be a talent to watch (and see also Darkest Hour (2017)).

Originally seen at the world premiere in London on an IMAX screen in Leicester Square and also viewed a further three times in cinemas plus then on Bluray at home. This is my most viewed movie of the year and every one of the 50 people who have seen it with me, has loved it. Shear fun and a joy to watch from start to finish.

5. The Big Sick (2017)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
86 Metascore

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.

Director: Michael Showalter | Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Votes: 94,928 | Gross: $42.87M

#5 This is the funniest movie of the year by far. It had one the best reactions I have ever seen in The Eccles Theater at its world premiere at The Sundance Film Festival in January and I knew then it would land somewhere in my Top 10 of the year. Again a true story with rich characters and comedy situations, despite being about someone in a serious situation.

I had the pleasure of meeting co-writer Emily V. Gordon the day after the screening, and then Kumail Nanjiani later in the year; they are as wonderful, warm and funny as you would expect from the film. Kumail delivers a superb performance playing himself, which is not as easy as you might think. The supporting characters are also superb and Zoe Kazan as Emily is excellent.

6. The Square (2017)

R | 151 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
73 Metascore

A prestigious Stockholm museum's chief art curator finds himself in times of both professional and personal crisis as he attempts to set up a controversial new exhibit.

Director: Ruben Östlund | Stars: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, Terry Notary

Votes: 38,123 | Gross: $1.50M

#6 Ruben Östlund creates another thought-provoking film. This time in his sights is the world of pretentious art, and the film manages to make fun of the space without itself becoming pretentious art! A worthy winner of the Palme d'Or at The Cannes Film Festival where I attended the world premiere.

7. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)

PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
85 Metascore

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher

Votes: 420,599 | Gross: $620.18M

#7 Avoiding any hint of spoilers since this has only just opened -- Rian Johnson has created an emotionally engaging next installment of the story.

Seen in 3D / Dolby Atmos on the day of its UK release with the IMDb Bristol Team as part of our regular cinema trip series.

8. Wonderstruck (2017)

PG | 116 min | Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
71 Metascore

Tells the tale of two children separated by fifty years. In 1927, Rose searches for the actress whose life she chronicles in her scrapbook; in 1977, Ben runs away from home to find his father.

Director: Todd Haynes | Stars: Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds

Votes: 7,057 | Gross: $1.03M

#8 Once every few years comes a film which has true movie magic ... an experience which could only be a movie because no other art form could adequately capture the magic of the story. You will literally be wonder-struck by this film. Director Todd Haynes follows Carol (2015) (which made my Top 10 of 2015) with unique film which covers two connected timelines. The young cast members, led by Millicent Simmonds are amazing to watch, and the adult cast members are given plenty of opportunity to captivate us.

I first saw this at its world premiere at The Cannes Film Festival.

9. Mudbound (2017)

R | 134 min | Drama, War

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
85 Metascore

Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

Director: Dee Rees | Stars: Jonathan Banks, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke

Votes: 29,519

#9 Director (and co-writer) Dee Rees brings together a superb cast in this moving story set around WWII. The film has already won ensemble cast awards at both The Gotham Awards and upcoming Independent Spirit Awards; every character is carefully and perfectly cast.

Originally seen at The London Film Festival where there was not a dry eye in the house, even at the morning press screening.

10. Wind River (2017)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
73 Metascore

A veteran hunter helps an FBI agent investigate the murder of a young woman on a Wyoming Native American reservation.

Director: Taylor Sheridan | Stars: Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones

Votes: 146,556 | Gross: $33.80M

#10 Taylor Sheridan is one of my favourite screenwriters working today and when I heard he was directing his latest screenplay, the film went straight to the top of my Sundance Film Festival viewing list. I cannot wait to see what he writes or directs (preferably both) next. I have been a fan of Elizabeth Olsen since Liberal Arts (2012) and she excels here, with a difficult balancing act between a character simultaneously confident and yet out of her depth.

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