By most accounts, 2017 has been an absolutely insane year on so many levels in both good and bad ways. Arguably, the bad may have outweighed the good (by a considerable amount), but your local cinema has certainly provided some very solid offerings over the past twelve months to help you escape the trudges of the real world. So whether the big screen took you on an adventure to New York City, 1962 Baltimore, the Land of the Dead, the Sunken Place, or galaxies far, far away, let’s take a look back at some of the best sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and superhero movies of 2017 to remember some of our favorite escapes.
Honorable Mention: ‘Wonder Woman’
While the DC Extended Universe has been delivering miss after miss after miss, it finally got a hit with ‘Wonder Woman’. Following her cinematic debut in ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ in 2016, Diana of Themyscira finally got her chance to shine thanks to director Patty Jenkins and writer Allen Heinberg. Not only did fans get an extremely fun superhero blockbuster, it was proof that Warner Bros. and DC didn’t need to continue to be dark and brooding with all of their characters to get modern audiences to see these movies. And though there was still room for improvement in some areas (most notably in regards to the villain), Gal Gadot’s delightfully badass, charismatic, and endearing performance and the entertaining story more than made up for the small shortcomings. Despite the missteps of ’Justice League’, ‘Wonder Woman’ stands as a step in the right direction that allows fans to hold onto the hope that these DC films can get better.
10. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’
We can’t talk about this year’s fun superhero movies without mentioning James Gunn’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’. Riding the massive wave of momentum created by the surprising success of the first film, this sequel delivered another epic and hilarious space adventure with an awesome soundtrack and an unexpected heartfelt message at the center. Also, it didn’t hurt that Baby Groot was incredibly adorable throughout the movie as well. Needless to say, True Believers cannot wait to see the next thrilling adventure starring Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Mantis.
M. Night Shyamalan has been the butt of many jokes over the years, but ‘Split’ was most definitely a return to form for the Philadelphia filmmaker. He managed to fill the surprise sequel to the 2000 film ‘Unbreakable’ with plenty of suspense and twists that were actually interesting and organic rather than the mostly comedic and forced as seen in some of his previous films. But the real star of this whole thing is James McAvoy, who rose to the challenge of playing 24 different characters with ease. His performance was fascinating, unsettling, and generally phenomenal. An actor’s tool is his body and McAvoy showed great mastery of his tool as he slipped in and out of each personality within Kevin Wendell Crumb’s body. It was definitely a spectacle of a performance that deserves to be seen.
8. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
In mythology, Ragnarok marks the end of all things. However, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ was the rebirth and revitalization of the God of Thunder’s film franchise. After a disappointing showing in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and a confusing storyline in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, Chris Hemsworth’s Asgardian Avenger shines once again thanks to the synthed out, brightly colored, and beautifully shot tale delivered by Taika Waititi. And though I may have been disappointed by the fates of the Warriors Three, I can’t wait to see how new characters like Korg, Valkyrie, and The Grandmaster integrate with Odinson and his angry friend from work known as the Hulk.
7. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’
If you said at the beginning of the year that ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ would be the most divisive film of the year, I would say that you’re crazy. And yet, here we are for some reason. But as Rose Tico told Finn, “That is how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.” At this moment, I’m saving the second chapter of this new trilogy and putting it right here on this list because I really, really liked it. While I’ll concede that the film isn’t perfect, I was very much in favor of all the risks and twists that director Rian Johnson took with the franchise. I also appreciated the quite meta themes of legacy and the past affecting your future. But one of the biggest things that stood out for me was seeing an Asian protagonist get the spotlight in one of the most beloved franchises of all time (and not die at the end). Honestly, this whole piece could turn into a dissertation about how good this movie turned out. Instead, I’ll just say that it’s awesome and wait for the comments to pour in trying to convince me otherwise.
After 17 years, we finally get to see Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine be as brutal and destructive (yet kind and caring) as he was meant to be thanks to James Mangold’s ‘Logan’. Of course, it’s too bad that this was also the actor’s last run as the character. Better late than never, I guess! And if this was going to be the swan song, it was one hell of a way to go out since both Logan and Jackman (and the incredibly badass Laura) held nothing back, which resulted in some of the most gruesome fight scenes that we’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. Basically, in addition to raising the bar for the comic book movies that come after it, ’Logan’ is a love letter to the character of Wolverine, the actor that he made famous, and the fans that supported them.
This site has covered it’s fair share of giant monster movies over the years, but none of them are quite as unique as ‘Colossal’. At first glance, this indie starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis looks like it could be a quirky sci-fi comedy. While there are certainly elements of sci-fi and comedy present, the film dives a lot deeper and reveals that alcoholism, abuse, and emotional manipulation are the real monsters in the world of Hathaway’s Gloria. But don’t let those aspects of the story deter you! The genre-bending execution of the story and the cast’s excellent performances make it well worth the ride.
4. ‘The Shape of Water’
Earlier this year, Walt Disney Pictures released a live-action adaptation of their animated classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’. And while that may be a tale as old as time, Guillermo Del Toro delivered a much more interesting take on an unconventional interspecies love story. The filmmaker successfully brings his distinctly dark, gothic style to 1960s Baltimore as the audience is enthralled by the budding romance between an incarcerated amphibian creature and the mute custodian that cleans the lab where he’s being held captive. Arguably Del Toro’s best film since ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘The Shape of Water’ is both visually and narratively mesmerizing thanks to the unlikely pair of lovers played by Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, whose incredible performances really bring the whole thing together.
3. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’
As great as it was to see Thor, Hulk, and Wolverine shine in 2017, it was the friendly neighborhood web-slinger that really stood out from the rest. Fifteen years and two attempted franchises later, the third time proved to be the charm for Sony and Spider-Man. All they had to do was trust Marvel Studios and let them do their thing. And do their thing they did because ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ managed to feature the web-slinger that we’ve all been waiting for after all these years. Following his introduction in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Tom Holland’s picture perfect Peter Parker swung into action with his own solo movie that mixed the beloved comic book lore (minus the character’s overplayed origin story) with some of the most iconic high school movies ever made, but with a more modern feel thanks to the diversity of the cast and the reinvention of generally corny villains like The Vulture. And as exciting as it is to think about Spidey joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face off against Thanos in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ next year, it’s almost as exciting to think about what he’ll have to deal with in the inevitable ‘Homecoming’ sequel.
Walt Disney Pictures has done a pretty good job of telling a wide variety of stories over the past few years. More specifically, it seems like they’re finally exploring other cultures that haven’t really had a chance to be showcased in Hollywood in an authentic way. Last year, they accomplished that with ‘Moana’ and they do the same thing this year with ‘Coco’. Pixar’s first stab at a musical turned out to be one of their best offerings yet as the filmmakers masterfully delivered a unique take on death for children filled with fully formed characters, rich Mexican culture, and sincerely sob-worthy scenes that are woven together to form delightfully colorful tapestry of a movie. It also delightfully delivers the universal message that even though they may not always agree or understand, your real family will always love you no matter what. It may not exactly be groundbreaking, but ‘Coco’ proves once again that the team of Disney and Pixar have this storytelling thing on lock and they always know how to pack an emotional punch. Seriously, just thinking about the song ‘Remember Me’ is making me choke up right now.
1. ‘Get Out’
Horror movies very rarely make it onto our “Best Of” lists let alone top them, but when one such as ‘Get Out’ comes along, it’s hard to ignore. Jordan Peele’s solo directorial debut makes you forget for a minute that he primarily made his name in comedy since this film is as legitimately suspenseful, shocking, uneasy, and thought-provoking as the seminal horror movies that came before it. Of course, part of that uneasiness comes from the extremely tense and poignant satire contained within the story that is all too real in this day and age. Good genre films often have a message and this one certainly delivers its message loud and clear in a package that also includes solid writing, directing, and acting. ‘Get Out’ is a modern horror classic that will no doubt propel Peele into some exciting new projects that are not to be missed.
With 2017 being such a solid year for sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and superhero films, it’ll be exciting to see how 2018 stacks up since there are some heavy hitters waiting in the wings. But until they hit a movie theater near you, let us know what some of your favorite movies were from this past year in the comments below.