BMD’s Favorite Films of 2017 (Thus Far)

The staff picks the best of the best motion pictures we've seen this year.

2017 has been a rough one for many reasons we’re all aware of.

Thankfully, the movies this year have been exemplary – so good, in fact, that it’s actually going to be sad to see the time go once we reach December. While the news is clogged with disheartening images, our politicians attempting to shove immigrants out of safe havens and rob many Americans of healthcare, theaters are offering deeply humanistic works from the likes of Jordan Peele, Edgar Wright, James Mangold, Patty Jenkins, and Nacho Vigalondo. These great artists are reminding us why we go to the cinema in the first place; not simply as an escape, but to also feel connected to the ways we relate to and lean on one another during times of crisis. Meanwhile, action pictures are offering up thrills and existential angst in equal measure, proving that the best genre exercises contain multitudes of philosophical underpinnings once we sweep the bullet casings off the floor. It may not always feel like a fantastic time to be alive once the house lights go up, but for the few hours they’re down and we’re nestled in our seats, that old flickering magic that once inspired Edison is sending out an SOS to all who purchased a ticket. This ship may be sinking, but here’s a hand to hold on the way down.

We here at BMD took turns sharing what we think are the best of the best motion pictures that’ve hit screens, both big and small, in 2017. Here are the ten we came up with, in (mostly) chronological order by release date…

GET OUT (w. & d. Jordan Peele)

There is a conversation that often gets put on the back-burner because of “bigger issues to worry about,” and that’s the nature of liberal racism. Not only does Jordan Peele’s astute horror flick touch on its disconcerting nuances, placing our African American protagonist Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) in an awkward all-white suburban setting, it also digs deep beneath the layers of the quieter racism, the kind that approaches with a smile while secretly hoping to pacify and supplant, demanding black existence exclusively on the terms of whiteness. The Armitage family and their well-to-do social circle probably don’t consider themselves racist (they would, after all, have voted for Obama a third time if they could), but each and every one of them sexualizes, fetishizes, envies and covets “blackness” and the black experience without care for actual black people, so much so that their twisted procedure to live as young black folks renders the host bodies passive, silent, and un-intrusive to whiteness… Also known as: the model minority. In perhaps the most sly third-act subversion in any film this year, Get Out makes the audience – all members of the audience, that is – understand instinctively what it feels like to have police presence be an immediate threat to one’s safety. – Siddhant

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (w. Derek Kolstad, d. Chad Stahelski)

John Wick: Chapter 2 succeeds exactly as all sequels should. It takes characters and a world introduced in the original and fleshes them out in ways that are both fun and unexpected, while never retreading old ground – something even ambitious sequels fail to accomplish (I’m looking at you, The Raid 2, you flawed but beautiful beast). This is still the Wick we love, now flung onto a larger canvas in a completely different story that provides surprising challenges for our beloved death dealer, while also forcing him to find many more extravagant ways to shoot people in the head. Sometimes he has to shoot them twice. And sometimes he just has to get to work with a pencil. It’s not just a perfect action film (boy, are we action fans lucky lately), but a perfect continuation of the John Wick saga. – Evan

I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE (w. & d. Macon Blair)

Film festivals are full of quirky, lo-fi stories that make some amusing observations about the human condition, have a standout performance or two, and evaporate from your brain two hours later. At first glance, Macon Blair’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore seems to fit that description. Then it becomes an intense, gripping, and often hilarious crime flick – a ‘70s drive-in thriller wearing a twee indie darling’s skin. Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is a hospice nurse who finds her home burglarized. Out of her depth and off her meds, she and her weirdo neighbor (Elijah Wood) hunt down the thieves of her grandmother’s stolen silverware through the scuzzy, petty criminal underworld of the Pacific Northwest, running into enough colorful characters and situations to fill an Elmore Leonard novel. In pursuit of her family heirloom, she finds other things that have been quietly taken from her – dignity, strength, human connection. Much like the film she’s in, Ruth is an object lesson in looking past the surface, and recognizing the hidden value in one another. – Phil

LOGAN (w. Scott Frank, d. James Mangold)

That it took the X-Men saga seventeen years to get this good is disappointing. Though when you consider that Logan is built entirely on a foundation of living through disappointment, using its characters’ relationships to modern mythologies like westerns and superhero comics to orient their struggles, that fact gets easier to digest. It’s as rough and at times difficult as its characters, placing them in a “realistic” setting in a way none of us asked for, but in a way that has monumental personal payoff. Gone are the days of vague allusions and half-baked mutants-as-gay-rights metaphors. Instead, we’re left wading through the xenophobic mess we’re currently creating, as a directionless Wolverine and a borderline senile Charles Xavier attempt to salvage what’s left of this world for young Laura. She has her father’s rage, his killer instinct, and even his guilt. But to him, she’s an opportunity to find salvation by making the world better for someone else. Isn’t that all any of us can hope to do when things begin to feel hopeless? – Siddhant

COLOSSAL (w. & d. Nacho Vigalondo)

I've been a fan of Jason Sudeikis since he debuted on SNL, even comparing him favorably to my beloved Chevy Chase on more than one occasion. But while he's played a lot of jerks, they're usually the kind that find redemption over the course of the film. Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is the first time I saw him as truly scary. Deftly breaking down the standard movie "nice guy" stereotype over the course of the film's 109 minutes (though it only felt like 80 to me), I can now see him taking on the sinister asshole roles usually filled by the likes of William Atherton and the late, great Miguel Ferrer. And he pulls off such a feat in a movie that should earn Anne Hathaway a few more awards to go along with her Oscar, and all the other ones she's earned on her impressive career path that took her from Disney films to this, playing a drunken selfish mess who discovers she has control over a giant monster that has been wreaking havoc in Seoul. When's the last time a "monster movie" offered not one but two performances that can be described as "risky", not to mention simply terrific? Bonus: the movie itself is wonderful, offering a truly well-constructed character study along with the gonzo humor Vigalondo has brought to his other films. – Brian

THE LURE (w. Robert Bolesto, d. Agnieszka Smoczynska)

When it’s all said and done, 2017 is going to go down as a banner year for music in the movies, as Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver brings the spirit of Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire back to multiplexes with a groovy guns and beats getaway driver extravaganza. David Lowery’s upcoming meditation on existential grief, A Ghost Story (which would’ve been this writer’s top pick had it come out during the initial six), features an R&B interlude that’s magically soulful. Yet perhaps the most outlandish (and criminally underseen) entry into the ’17 catalogue of idiosyncratic marriages between music and the moving image is the Polish electro/disco Eurosleaze horror show, The Lure. Featuring a pair of bloodthirsty landlocked mermaid sisters who find themselves exploited as a nightclub act in a neon lit Warsaw netherworld, it’s a fairy tale you can fuck to. A goth macabre soon-to-be cult smash, Agnieszka Smoczynska’s hypnotic oddity is uncomfortably sexy, and unrepentantly bizarre. There’s no way you could ever sell strangeness like this to a mass audience; it’s too pure in its rejection of formal conformity to ever be anything more than a fetish object for global cinema freaks. But that’s what makes it so damn special, even in a year where the tunes sync to what’s happening on screen so perfectly. – Jacob

WONDER WOMAN (w. Allan Heinberg, d. Patty Jenkins)

Wonder Woman is a character of empathy first, and a warrior second. Given every other offering in the DCEU, I went into the film deeply concerned that all we would see was the badass. I have never been more delighted to be wrong. Women contain multitudes, and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is one of the few films to successfully illustrate that on many levels. Diana Prince will get the job done on the battlefield, but she’ll also squee at babies and delight at ice cream. Women were allowed to be women in the film. Not just pretty, but human. Characters were allowed to show their age, and their shapes. It may be a strange thing to notice for some, but I’ll never forget seeing Diana’s thigh jiggle. In addition to all of the important moments for women and girls illustrated in the movie, it’s also just an outright good film. No Man’s Land has secured its place in history right next to the very first Avengers Circle Up. Wonder Woman is filled with humor, sadness, and wit, and although there was a palpable change in the third act, it has a solid ranking among my favorite films of 2017. – Amelia

TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (PART 8) (w. Mark Frost & David Lynch, d. David Lynch)

I'm going to get raked over the coals for picking a single hour of television [Jacob’s Note: but is it television?] as my choice for "Best Movie Of The Year So-Far, 2017", but I'm cordially inviting the naysayers to suck it. I've seen many, many films this year, but few have enraptured and galvanized me the same way that David Lynch's eighth part of the new Twin Peaks did. From the skin-crawling opening, to the ferocious performance by my beloved Nine Inch Nails, to the batshit insanity of the episode's second-half, this bit of filmmaking impressed me more than any other. Left to his own devices by the incredibly patient folks at Showtime, David Lynch has proven himself (yet again!) to be one of our most vital, jaw-dropping filmmakers. Of course, I've loved Get Out and The Big Sick and Baby Driver and much else I've seen this year, but none of those will stick with me as long as this single slice of Twin Peaks will. If you're not on board with what Lynch is doing here, we're not of the same tribe, and I feel terrible for you. Scott

THE BIG SICK (w. Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, d. Michael Showalter)

This movie is a marvel. It's relentlessly funny and deeply kind, two qualities that are already something of an anomaly together. The Big Sick is everything I want out of a movie (read my full review here): romance, a singular perspective, 9/11 jokes, Holly Hunter at her most terrifying, poop drama, heart. It's the funniest, smartest, most beautiful rom-com in a decade at least, and we are incredibly lucky for it - especially in 2017, when we need stories of love and cultural understanding more than ever. – Meredith

BABY DRIVER (w. & d. Edgar Wright)

After seeing Baby Driver at SXSW, I believed this movie may get you pregnant. After two more viewings, this writer is now thoroughly convinced that many youngsters are going to be conceived following screenings of Edgar Wright’s action movie musical. Baby Driver is sexy – existing in a heightened world of fast cars and chic diners, where mere mortals can possess Jon Hamm’s lustrous head of hair. It’s a universe where romantic dances can be had in the middle of a laundromat, the colors of the clothes being cleaned in each tumbler coordinated so that a beautiful young couple seemingly exist inside the aughts equivalent of a Jacques Demy pop operetta. A phone call can generate plans for these same young lovers to just jump in the car and head west, only the hum of an engine and the glory of song ushering them into oblivion. For anyone who enjoys cinema at its most elemental, Wright has boiled down the iconography of your favorite actions pictures and then synced their daredevil set pieces to a playlist that he’s been curating for twenty-two years. Just as Walter Hill’s own ‘Rock & Roll Fable’ began with the title card “another time, another place”, Wright is presenting us with a reality that is analogous to our own, but so much cooler than we could ever hope ours could be. We need movies like Baby Driver to remind us that supreme anti-reality isn’t just found in capes, cowls and talking space raccoons – but in a fantastical adaptation of an entire genre, tapping its toes in time with a crashing “Bellbottoms” beat that will render your own car useless, because you’ll be levitating out of the fucking theater. – Jacob

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