Keith Simanton's Top 10 Films of 2017

by keithsim | last updated - 10 months ago

I'm IMDb's Senior Film Editor and, though I haven't seen every film 2017 had to offer, I saw a LOT of films. As always here's my Top 25 Films of 2017 in case you're wondering what's just outside of this list, perhaps even some of your favorites. Both these lists have changed over the year as they should. Movies have surfaced and receded (and left!), often after a second viewing. by Keith Simanton, Senior Film Editor, IMDb -

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1. Lady Bird (2017)

R | 94 min | Comedy, Drama

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

In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.

Director: Greta Gerwig | Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges

Votes: 150,344 | Gross: $48.96M

#1 - Writer/director Greta Gerwig's sensitive, yet unsentimental, treatment of coming of age and of a parent/child relationship (as the child grows apart) is the only flawless film I've seen this year. Saoirse Ronan's makeup free/b.s.-free performance will make writers write roles for her for fifty years. Besides Breaking Away it's hard to find a film, or a TV show, to compare it to. You'd have to go to a novel for that.

2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

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88 Metascore

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Caleb Landry Jones

Votes: 285,983 | Gross: $54.51M

#2- Just when you think you know writer/director Martin McDonagh, because of 7 Psychophaths or In Bruges, he comes along and totally surprises you. The same could be said for the main characters in Three Billboards. There's the grieving/infuriated/aggrieved mother Mildred, played with ferocity and humanity by Frances McDormand, and the sorrowful sheriff Willoughby, a tender, real Woody Harrelson, and the ugly, bigoted deputy Dixon, played by the thank-God-it's-his-time Sam Rockwell. All three take McDonagh's script, dropping the smart-alack stance of his former work, and transform it into a bridge into another person's wrecked world. Lovely and tough at the same time.

3. The Big Sick (2017)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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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: 95,062 | Gross: $42.87M

#3 - The film I've watched at least six times Sick is one of the best romantic comedies in years. Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani and his co-writer/wife, Emily Gordon there are few false notes. Holly Hunter

4. Dunkirk (2017)

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

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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: 423,913 | Gross: $188.37M

#4 - Though I was shaken by the scope, the vastness, the emptiness, the terror of seeing this film the first time it was my second and third that solidified its greatness for me. The nature of how we experience the world, the first time raw, emotional and reactionary, is the first viewing, all noise and flashes and drive. Yet it's only upon reflection, a second viewing, if you will, that you get compassion, some depth of understanding and some perspective of events that happened to you. That perspective under-girds every frame of this incredible picture. It is Nolan's most meditative, his least plot-driven, and future film lovers may call it his greatest work.

5. The Florida Project (2017)

R | 111 min | Drama

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92 Metascore

Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.

Director: Sean Baker | Stars: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Rivera

Votes: 60,756 | Gross: $5.90M

#5 - Sean Baker is one of a handful of filmmakers making films as if he were unaware that the '70s are over. The hardest sit of the year for me The Florida Project confronts you with your own backyard (or 15-20 miles away from it). Yet instead of a PSA it brings its characters alive by making them all too real, all too believable (petty, ungrateful and just plain mean). The ending is debated even among those who made it.

6. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

R | 164 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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81 Metascore

A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years.

Director: Denis Villeneuve | Stars: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista

Votes: 337,650 | Gross: $92.05M

#6 - The question of what constitutes humanity and human connection, one brought up in films as early as Metropolis to the original Blade Runner to A.I., are given a vigorous workout in Denis Villineuve's film. The richness of 2049's palate by cinematographer Roger Deakins and the stunning sets are like an edition of OMNI magazine sprung to horrible, terrible, inevitable life.

7. Coco (I) (2017)

PG | 105 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

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81 Metascore

Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family's ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina | Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach

Votes: 225,731 | Gross: $209.73M

#7 - Family. They can be your legacy. They can be your genetic destiny. They can boost you up beyond your own belief in yourself. And they can be a huge pain in the posterior. No one has captured that in an animated film quite the way that co-directors Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), Adrian Molina and team have done with Coco. Of course, midst the music (is this Pixar's first musical?), the color and the atmosphere, that can easily be missed. Or maybe the filmamkers, much as best magicians, want you looking at the right hand so that the left one can perform the real trick.

8. Split (IX) (2016)

PG-13 | 117 min | Horror, Thriller

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62 Metascore

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Votes: 289,397 | Gross: $138.29M

#8 - Confession first: I burst out loud laughing at an inappropriate moment in the theater in Unbreakable (it's something I've done only three times in my life). It's a certain scene where a child is pointing a gun at an adult). I laughed because it was ludicrous as I found a good part of that 2000 film. Unbreakable, like The Goonies, was seen by 13-16 year-olds who drug it into adulthood like a blankie. So I'm not one of that crowd. There is nothing ludicrous about Split, a lean and taut thriller with a bravura performance by Jame McEvoy, playing multiple aspects of a conflicted killer. There is also a tender and tough performance by Anya Taylor-Joy, one largely restricted to passivity. As we've seen in 2017 there are men we thought were normal enough, but who really were inhabited by spiritual demons. As far as relevance this could be the film of the year. Split puts Shyamalan back in the promising world he inhabited with Six Sense and Signs, a master of suspense for a new age. I'm surprised to say this, but, welcome back.

9. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

R | 132 min | Drama, Romance

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93 Metascore

In 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father's research assistant.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar

Votes: 128,508 | Gross: $18.10M

#9 - In an odd way a counterpoint to Lady Bird. Here, the young protagonist, played by Timothy Chalamet (also in Lady Bird) is the knowing one in charge. His vulnerability stems from his youth but he is confident and in charge otherwise. He knows himself, what he wants and who he is, unlike almost everyone around him. Armie Hammer's older, more worldly character, however, is the one who is hemmed in by society and his own comfort.

10. Phantom Thread (2017)

R | 130 min | Drama, Romance

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90 Metascore

Set in 1950's London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Julie Vollono

Votes: 72,210 | Gross: $21.02M

#10 - A wicked, delicious film. Daniel Day-Lewis serves at the leisure of the character and becomes something else, yet again. An unexpected pleasure.

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