Derek’s Top Fifteen Films of 2017

2017 has been one of my favorite years for cinema. Sure there have been some busts and some plain stinkers. But this year has brought us many solid films that I feel will continue to hold up year after year. Not only was I able to get out and see more movies in the theater thanks to MoviePass, I was also lucky enough to attend my first in person film festival. And did I see everything? Hell no, but I sure saw a lot! I’ve laughed, I’ve jumped, I’ve cried, all while enjoying what has been in store on screen, whether big or small. Without further ado, I present my favorite 15 films of 2017. Why 15? Because it was so damn difficult to whittle it down to 10.  Here they are, in order of how many characters were used in their titles.

For years, these 2 letters have scared millions of book readers. And plenty of people were petrified by the TV miniseries. But we finally got our first look at Pennywise and the Losers on the big screen. And it was glorious! This movie made me jump more than any other horror flick, while also made laugh hysterically at the writing.

Going into this, I knew it was a Pixar film revolving around Dia de los Muertos, a topic I felt was covered well in the CGI animated movie BOOK OF THE DEAD. Whereas BOOK dealt with bigger entities, COCO focused on music and family, two things very close to my heart. Yes, this made me cry, sobbing actually to the point my son called me out on it. And while I’m unsure if there is an afterlife, I sure hope that it is like the one presented here.

Probably one of my most seen films of 2017, Joe Lynch’s MAYHEM is a goddamn blast. Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving have quickly risen to my list of people to watch everything they are in.
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Interview with Director:—MAYHEM

Is it a horror movie? A comedy? What it is is a beautifully shot film involving race and neo-liberalism at a time when we need a magnifying glass to look at where we are as a culture.

I’ve been a fan of Aronofsky’s work since π. I went into this one knowing as little as possible before hand. Man, I was blown away by the pure experimental nature of the film. I understand why it wasn’t for all audiences, but I was all for the ride and loved how I thought about it constantly for the next several weeks.
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Feels bizarre that we are already seeing period pieces for 2002, but here we are. Much is being said about Laurie Metcalf, and rightfully so, but I also loved the performance from writer Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s father. Greta Gerwig did an excellent job behind the camera, painting Sacramento California as a place that could be called home.

POOR AGNES is a haunting look into the mind of a sociopath, and of her victims. It is a strong statement from all involved about the effects of torture, and it doesn’t pander to its audience nor romanticize abuse like the FIFTY SHADES series does. Lora Burke is a true star in the making and hope to see her in more roles.
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I’m a sucker for underdog films. And there isn’t a bigger underdog than Killa P. She’s a white female rapper from New Jersey, trying to make money to pay for her grandmother’s medical bills. It is getting a ton of comparisons to 8 MILE, but I actually prefer PATTI CAKE$ as it is filled more with heart. The music is fantastic and I’d love to hear a full album from PBNJ.

I’ve been a fan of Kumail Nanjiani for several years. Having had listened to the Indoor Kids podcast he did with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, I was familiar with the story of how they came together. So I was extreme excited when I heard that they were making a movie based on it and it would include Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents. Truly one of the funniest films of the year, it also deals with a topic that is sadly still an issue: mixed race relations. Sure we all have our differences, but that should be celebrated and not hated, and BIG SICK celebrates this in a lovely way.

TRAGEDY GIRLS is an absolute blast as it is jam packed with acidic and biting dialogue that hurts so much, it’s hard not to laugh. Combining elements of TEENAGE COCKTAIL with BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, it is a wonderful blend of teen dark comedy and gory horror.
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LOVE AND SAUCERS is a lovingly told story of an artist with a unique past. He claims to have been abducted by aliens, even losing his virginity to one. Despite the controversial nature, it is handled in a respectful way that never pokes fun at anyone involved. If you’re in the mood for a documentary that won’t bum you out, then check out this one as it’s full of heart, albeit not an entirely human one.
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Interview with Director and Producer:

Was it a sequel to a film that didn’t need one? Yes. But it was also a beautifully crafted film about what makes us more human than human. We got Deckard returning to screen, but this film was all about Blade Runner K and his bride Joi for me. Their story added so much to the world and Denis Villeneuve lifted me up and broke my heart with it.

This was a film I was extremely looking forward to catching while at Fantastic Fest this year. With the controversy surrounding the fest, the distributors chose to pull out, so I had to wait a few months to see it. But I’m glad that I was able to do so once it hit a wider release. This feels like a Cormac McCarthy novel directed by the Coen brothers. Sly and just a little twisted, the heroes were trying to be good people, even though they were doing a horrible job of it.

One of the first movies I viewed this year, and it certainly set a tone for how 2017 would go. Maybe not cinematically, but it presented the world in a light that was equally sarcastic and sardonic, dangerous and delirious. Melanie Lynskey is truly amazing in this directorial debut from actor Macon Blair.

Having had just seen the first film, I had hopes of an improvement on the skills used, but didn’t expect a storyline that I would fall for. Sequelitis can do that. Things look better, but the story behind them doesn’t hold up. This isn’t the case in BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Alfie the brooding silent killer is back, and this time in a holiday horror that will easily add into horror fan’s holiday viewing rotation.
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