My top 25 films of 2017 (and the 5 worst)

I like movies. 

According to my profile at Letterboxd, which is a great resource for amassing such data if you are a geek like me, I have logged more than 1700 films by 932 directors. This isn't a comprehensive list -- I have a good memory, but I can't remember every movie I may have watched when I was 15 -- but it's probably somewhere in the neighborhood.

Also according to my stats at Letterboxd, I watched...well, I watched a lot of films in the calendar year 2017. I wasn't writing a book this year (go pre-order The Big 50!), so I had more late nights available for movies and I tried out FilmStruck for the first time, and was quickly hooked. Also, I finally made a push to see some films that I had somehow missed over the years, finishing out all the titles on AFI's top 100 list.

Anyway, it's now 2018 and the Academy Awards are upon us, so I thought I'd offer my list of the top twenty films of 2017. Only titles that Letterbox classifies as having been released in 2017 are included here, so it's not necessarily going to match up with awards-season lists of eligible movies. But it's close enough.

One last note: there are still a handful of 2017 titles that I want to see, but haven't yet (for example, Phantom Thread). I'll get around to those soon, hopefully.

Enough of the preliminaries. Let's get to the rankings...

1. Lady Bird (The only 2017 movie that I rated 5 stars out of 5.)

2. A Ghost Story

3. The Florida Project

4. Baby Driver

5. Get Out

6. Dunkirk

7. Wind River

8. Mommy Dead and Dearest

9. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

10. The Shape of Water

11. Wonderstruck

12. Lady Macbeth

13. Good Time

14. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

15. Mother!

16. The Beguiled

17. Marjorie Prime

18. Wonder Woman

19. Logan Lucky

20. Disgraced

21. It

22. Thor: Ragnarok

23: Darkest Hour

24. Mudbound

25. I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

Notable films that I saw, but did not make the Top 25 (in the order that I rank them):

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2  |  Star Wars: The Last Jedi  |  Murder on the Orient Express  |  Battle of the Sexes  |  Justice League  |  Logan  |  American Made  |  The Lego Batman Movie  |  Strong Island

 

As a bonus feature, here are the five worst movies that I saw in 2017, beginning with the worst film of the year, which was almost impossible to watch:

1. Okja

2. Hostiles

3. Suburbicon

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

5. Spider Man: Homecoming

Two Minute Review: Blue Jasmine

Over on Twitter, I gave my quick and dirty assessment of Woody Allen's latest film:

Permit me to elaborate. As I've mentioned before in these pages, I'm a committed admirer of Allen's work. His films over the last fifteen years have been uneven, at best, but there are some beauties sprinkled in there. Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are fabulous, and 2011's Midnight in Paris compares favorably to anything you'll see from his peers.

The flip side of that coin is that Allen has written and directed some stinkers -- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, anyone? -- but the best thing about Woody is that you only have to wait a year, and he'll have another movie for you to pick over.

Which brings us to Blue Jasmine, starring Cate Blanchett as the title character. Jasmine is a Manhattan socialite who has her world tossed asunder when her husband (ably played by Alec Baldwin) is sent to prison for his role in various financial shenanigans. Broke, and broken, Jasmine moves to San Francisco to live with her working class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

Allen moves the narrative forward in very focused fashion, skilfully weaving flashbacks of Jasmine's previous life (relaxing in the Hamptons, for example) with her struggles to adjust to her new life. It is well-written, with all the hallmarks of an Allen comedy, including very strong performances by an ensemble cast. No performance is stronger than Cate Blanchett's.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Blanchett were to win her second Academy Award next month. (No, I'm not really stepping out on a limb there. Blanchett just won the Golden Globe for this role.) She is engaging from the time she makes her first appearance on screen, seated on an inbound flight to San Francisco, as she bores the woman next to her with a barely-uninterrupted commentary on everything that has gone wrong with her life. Blanchett's Jasmine is never particularly likable, but somehow, she becomes eminently sympathetic throughout the course of the movie. If not a direct homage, the film was clearly inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire. More than once, I saw Vivien Leigh's Blanche DuBois in Jasmine.

The most surprising performance, as you may have heard, came from Andrew Dice Clay, as Ginger's ex-husband. Clay is legitimately good here, even if he didn't utter a single nursery rhyme in the entire film. Also good was Louis CK, as a seemingly-sweet guy who woos Ginger.

My only quibble is that some of the working-class dialogue didn't seem to ring particularly true, but that's a small criticism. Blue Jasmine is well-executed, and is a worthy addition to the Woody Allen filmography. By almost any measure, Allen remains near the top of his game, a formidable filmmaker still, after nearly five decades in the game.