Movies released into theaters each contain their own traits, quirks, pros and cons, and yet not all can be claimed as the best. Some go so unseen that they aren’t recognized at all, while others are so excitedly awaited for that they disappoint when they’re finally seen. These top ten films are outstanding to the masses and contain key elements that dictate success. The right talent is cast, the script writing – or lack of it – is incredible, the score is conducted by notable musicians, and the final product is powerful enough to leave audiences and critics abuzz. Though the year hasn’t come to an end and there are still movies to come, these ten selections from early 2017 to early December stand alone as the most impressive features.
Director Christopher Nolan again scores big in the box office as the beaches of Dunkirk come alive on 70mm film. Accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s gorgeous score, Dunkirk illustrates the panic at the heart of war. With thrilling scenes created by frontmen Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Anuerin Bernard and Barry Koeghan history is recreated seamlessly. The movie is highly detailed, accurately reflecting its time. The score alone is a masterpiece. The location, dialogue, and character interpretation are masterfully executed.
Dunkirk has reached the utmost standard when it comes to historical films. It sets the audience in the center of the battle itself, and is naturally captivating. Each scene is not only pleasing to the eye but increasingly more riveting from opening titles to end credits. Undoubtedly the best film released in 2017, Dunkirk is one of the most esteemed and stunningly orchestrated wartime movies. From stunning cinematography to pulse-pounding intensity, Dunkirk is a fan-favorite.
Hugh Jackman concludes his 17-year-long relationship with the famed Wolverine and hangs up his claws in Logan. Violent, lewd, grotesque and dismal, Jackman is rewarded with the farewell film he deserves. The beloved mutant from the X-Men franchise comes to his heart-wrenching end and the film allows the next generation of young mutants to come to the forefront through the talented Dafne Keen as audiences are introduced to Laura Kinney (X-23) and other altered escapees.
Though hard to watch at times due to graphic language and an impressive number of uncensored combat scenes, Marvel and FOX give fans the sendoff of Logan Howlett and Charles Xavier that delve deeper behind the ruthless exterior. There’s the consistency of family, survival and salvation. Sir Patrick Stewart exposes the needier side of the telepath that hasn’t been seen before as Xavier is senile and withering away. Set in the American southwest, the barrenness allows the location to remain picturesque as an era is comes to its dramatic close. Logan is raw, pensive and heartbreaking.
Atomic Blonde is one of the year’s most underrated films. Taking place during the height of the Cold War and the height of the Berlin Wall, this Bond-ish spy film comes with a wicked twist that leaves audiences gasping. Charlize Theron is fearless as she performs her own stunts against foes and friends alike. Her role, Agent Lorraine Broughton, is both sensible and savage in order to get what she wants.
Atomic Blonde captures the life on both sides of the Wall, ranging from the grunge and gut-wrenching undergrounds of Berlin, to the vibrant pop culture and neon undertones of the rest of the country. James McAvoy manages to appear at his most repulsive, minxish character yet as David Percival. He’s an addict, he’s cruel, he’s attractive. Personable characters, such as Merkel, allow us to see Bill Skarsgård take on the big screen twice in one year. The film exceeds expectations, creating a feminist twist on a popular genre, and minds its pace as the plot never slows down. Incorporating action with conflict after conflict and a sliver of humor, Atomic Blonde takes bombshell to badass.
Thor: Ragnarok is the crowning jewel of the Thor trilogy, and one of the smartest, most entertaining films of 2017. Marvel Studios outdoes itself as director Taika Waititi creates a whole new realm for the comic book genre. Old faces are seen as Thor, Loki, and Heimdall are called upon once again, as new ones appear.
Cate Blanchett defines cunning as Norse roots infuse the Cinematic Universe with Hela, the Goddess of Death. Thor: Ragnarok is vibrant and vivacious as other worlds are acquainted with, such as Sakaar. Jeff Goldblum offers his quirky and disassociative touch as he brings The Grandmaster to life. Tessa Thompson, fierce as ever as Valkaryie, creates a layer of depth to the film. Contrary to the usual serious, intense tone found in other superhero-generated films, the movie includes a healthy dose of humor that manages to keep the film afloat from opening scene to end credits.
Small cameos from Luke Hemsworth and Matt Damon expands on the light-heartedness which Thor: Ragnarok delivers, and Stan Lee triumphs in his own walk-in. Mark Ruffalo is given more time in the spotlight, as his flighty Bruce Banner teams up with the God of Thunder himself. Hemsworth’s Thor is written to become more likable, and quickly does, so as redemption arcs build the pathway towards Avengers: Infinity War. This is a film that would make Jack Kirby proud.
Blade Runner 2049
Composer Hans Zimmer and director Ridley Scott produce a visually stunning sequel to Blade Runner as Blade Runner 2049 is the haunting dystopian film that will make every hair bristle and stand on edge. Metallic score and loud clangs are recorded at a wavelength that causes the body to physically trigger the amygdala and alert the “flight or fight” response.
Everything about this film is jaw-dropping and enthralling. Ryan Gosling brings a more human feel to the lifeless aftermath of North America. Beauty is stable through the entirety of the running time, which is an impressive two hours and thirty-two minutes. The details are meticulous, ranging from distinct lighting to the fur of Harrison Ford’s dog having the same color and density of the fur that lines Gosling’s bomber jacket. The dialogue is dry and almost forced, but the meetings that occur happen for good reason. Jared Leto is unsettling and serpentine as he puts on a cold front that’s far beyond convincing. Blade Runner: 2049 is the sci-fi stunner that shouldn’t be missed.
Move over, Tim Curry, there’s a new Pennywise and he’s here to terrorize the town of Derry. Bill Skarsgard thrills us all in the classic killer-clown horror as Stephen King’s blood-curdling novel It gets an impressive reboot. Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard again proves his strengths as he and the “Losers Club” take on the menacing brute, as they remain unwavering through heart stopping jump scares that keep audiences on the edges of their seats, anxiously awaiting the next move.
It takes on an unique perspective as the cast is given the free rein to manipulate the script and create any improvisations that are seen fit. Because of the willingness, a majority of the film went unscripted, and allowed the cast to simply carry scenes as they went. The movie takes a spin on the horror genre, allowing a deeper plot and character development to unfold through progression. The film itself can be seen more as a thriller and a coming-of-age take on the original storyline as it buries beneath the surface of gore and terror an intense psychology. The effects are outstanding alone as Pennywise manipulates himself from alarming clown to appalling, blood-thirsty beast. You’ll float too. You’ll float too. You’ll float too…
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
If the first installment in the Kingsman trilogy wasn’t enough to delight and excite, Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets the job done. Director Matthew Vaugh brings his signature camera work back to the big screens in this action-packed sequel that knows no bounds. Although the antagonist was a weak point in the film, the concept was quite comedic. The idea of a drug cartel might be cliche, but the prominence it’s taken to is only more comedic. It’s almost mocking the banning of illegal substances. Kingsman: The Golden Circle reacquaints us with favorite agents that are more dauntless than ever, and introduces the Statesman team as a possible spin-off series.
Plots are connected and questions are answered as Collin Firth makes his reappearance as Harry “Galahad” Hart, and the bond between the main four – Galahad, Galahad (Eggsy), Merlin and Lancelot- becomes only stronger. There’s some heart to the film, as Eggsy and Harry reunite and are closer than ever. Roxy and Merlin are “killed off,” and yet a third movie to conclude the Kingsman is in the making, leaving the question open to if this really is the last of them. The introduced Statesmen add comic relief as they play up the stereotypical southern lifestyle, while managing to weigh the balance of eye-widening action. Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal are a wonderful mix that are thrown into the pre-existing universe. Old storylines are reconnected as Eggsy and Harry are again side-by-side in the face of danger, and Taron Egerton has never looked so comfortable in a role, bruv. Kingsman films scores are given classic rock based selections, and Elton John is the man for the job. His elaborate performances and hot-tempered lines are evermore a reason to enjoy this upbeat and thrilling graphic novel based film.
Split brings us one of M. Night Shymalan’s most wicked pieces. It will creep under the skin of audiences and sink into the back of the subconsious as the wildly talented James McAvoy harnesses 23 different personalities into one man. Again, we see McAvoy transcend his limits as he exchanges his natural Scottish brogue for an astounding array of behaviors and accents that accompany each individual he portrays.
The Estrail 177 trilogy reaches its midpoint in what that has become one of the most apprehensive, anxiety-provoking films in the modern horror era. Despite the slow start, Split builds momentum as each personality reveals itself furthermore and the insanity is truly permeating. It seizes the aspect of fear and warps it into something undefinably eerie. It’s dark, it’s unbridled, and it’s mesmorizing.
Gary Oldman delivers his most riveting and notable performance in The Darkest Hour and flourishes as Winston Churchill. The film stands strong and tall as one of the best biopic films that supplements Dunkirk. Scenes of 1940’s London are painted hauntingly reminiscent of England during World War II and immerse the audience into breathtakingly charming camera angles or clever playing with lighting. Oldman is unrecognizable as he internalizes the Prime Minister and his skill is transcendent. The supporting cast is captivating. The score is elegant and graceful through the cries of violins and piano. Darkest Hour presents the boldness and deterioration of the Prime Minister through his most extreme decisions with poise and eloquence.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
The Guardians are back and more gutsier as ever as director James Gunn challenges how far he can take Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 with a PG-13 rating. Dynamic, brash and bold, the second film expands into further universes, planets, plot as Marvel Studios claims it’s third victory with months between releasing films. There’s a significant amount of humor used to diffuse the rising tensions between team members and larger threats alike. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 is exciting and pumped with color as scenery and character alike are vibrant and lambent.
Pratt further fleshes out Quill’s background as he finally meets his father, only to find that he’s the antagonist planet of Ego. The casting is clever, the dialogue is smart, and the film is fun to watch. Characters are given more room to breathe throughout the film. Again, Marvel trumps the act of inserting cameos as we see Sylvester Stallone and David Hasselhoff step up to the plate with minor roles to fill. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 has end-credit teaser clips alluding to the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and dropping Easter Eggs towards Adam Strange, whom Gunn has hinted at introducing in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3.