By Timos Papatheodoropoulos and Paul Moshos (A Class)
The end of the year is here, meaning it’s now time to definitively celebrate the finest movies of the year. Over the past twelve months, moviegoers have been gifted with a bounty of great blockbusters, thrillers and documentaries, proving that filmmakers are continuing to find new ways—both big and small—to entertain, excite, and enlighten. No matter their budgets or subject matter, each of our 5 selections had something to offer the fans of cinema, from hilarious comedies to thrilling superhero movies and smart horror films, these are our top 5 picks for the best films of 2017.
5. The Fate of the Furious
Of course, cynical sorts might suggest that the untimely death of Paul Walker midway through filming of Fast and Furious 7 gave the series a sympathetic second-look from audiences that might have otherwise abandoned it. That would underplay the strangely appealing look of the franchise in the past several installments, which has seen it evolve from a bad B-movie to something far more universal: a turbocharged mix of cars, quips and explosions, with just the merest hint of sentimentality to keep the date-movie crowd up on their feet.
Of all the many iconic images Stephen King can be credited with thinking up – those slaughtered girls in The Shining, that pig’s-blood deluge in Carrie – there’s one that stands out as so evilly nightmarish and so plainly wrong that it’s actively hard to watch. It’s the sight of an innocent young boy, Georgie, being dragged into a storm drain by a child-eating clown – the name’s Pennywise – and never seen, or at least not in living form, again. IT is one of the best horror movies of 2017 and also of all time due to the amazing story written by no other than Mr. Horror, Stephen King.
Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” is a clever twist on a familiar trilogy: land, sea, and air. Nolan parses a week of combat during the Second World War, from May 26 through June 4, 1940, and the effort to rescue British and French troops into those three components, and gives each a time frame (a week, a day, an hour, respectively) that corresponds to its speed. The movie thus leaps about in time, with each thread of action moving ahead fitfully, until the three threads unite in the movie’s evident conclusion, the successful retreat of more than three hundred thousand soldiers (about two-thirds of them British, one-third French) across the English Channel from Dunkirk, France, to Great Britain. (The movie is centered on British soldiers; the French are a brief but melodramatic afterthought.) The preservation of this fighting force was, of course, crucial for the preservation of Great Britain and the eventual outcome of the war; the retreat was the defeat that helped to secure victory.
2. War for the Planet of the Apes
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is a film that unapologetically embraces the first word of its title. It opens in a lush green forest with soldiers with nicknames on their helmets, marching towards the enemy through the brush in a style that reminded me of “Platoon”. Over the next two hours, other war films will flash through your mind, most commonly “Apocalypse Now,” which Matt Reeves’ excellent blockbuster cribs from openly, even turning its villain into a Colonel Kurtz in the heart of darkness, complete with shaved head and rambling philosophy. (At one point, graffiti even reads “Ape-pocalypse Now,” as if to make clear that Reeves and company aren’t stealing as much as directly paying homage.) So, why turn a franchise about sentient apes into a war movie that echoes the stories of Vietnam? What can be gained from looking at the darkest side of humanity through the lens of a summer blockbuster? The answer is quite a lot. War for the Planet of the Apes is the last film of the trilogy that has impressed everyone and also one of the best films of 2017.
Wolverine has always been a fan favorite. You don’t get three solo movies if you’re not. But despite his hallowed status—and despite Hugh Jackman’s dedication to the character—Wolvy always felt like the sole grown-up stuck on Xavier’s Island of Misfit Heroes. He’s a lone wolf, not a wide-eyed mutant struggling with outsider status. As Old Man Logan in Logan, he finally gets to be the salty dog everyone always suspected he was. Yes, everything you’ve heard is true. That rage-filled, drunk, foul-mouthed Logan who never got to fully surface in the previous X-Men movies is finally joining his buddy Deadpool in the world of grown-up cinema. And it’s the perfect way for him to end his run.