Top 15 Films of 2017 – Allen’s Picks

10) Wonder Woman

The best superhero film of the year (and the best since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014) is Patty JenkinsWonder Woman. Jenkins (along with Allan Heinberg’s screenplay) crafted an action spectacle that also works as a character study. Wonder Woman (played marvelously by Gal Gadot) comes to realize that the world is not the one she had studied growing up. It’s a place where good and evil is often blurred, and that to help humanity tough choices must be made. Warfare leaves permanent scars, and instead of running headfirst into battle one must weigh the consequences of those decisions. It’s rousing, exciting, and often inspiring. It has the best that the superhero genre has to offer, and is a perfect example of how a classic character such as Wonder Woman can transcend time to adhere to a modern generation.

9) War for the Planet of the Apes

Matt ReevesWar for the Planet of the Apes is the conclusion of what may be the best sci-fi action series of the new century. The story of the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his rise from a test subject to the leader of a resistance is one of the best character arcs in any version of this franchise. It goes above and beyond the original series (including the first Planet of the Apes) to tell a fully realized, emotional story. Here, we see Caesar coming to grips with the events of the previous entry, and his hope for peace between apes and humans reaching a breaking point. The special effects are some of the best of the year, and Serkis delivers a powerful performance as Caesar. If there was ever a case to make for a motion capture performance being deserving of critical acclaim, it would be Serkis’ work here. This was a trilogy whose success seemed to have come against all odds, leaving us with an experience that is epic and intimate all at the same time.

8) The Post

No film in 2017 felt as timely as Steven Spielberg’s The Post. Recounting the struggle of the Washington Post to release the infamous Pentagon Papers (regarding the Vietnam War), Spielberg directs with an urgent yet controlled hand. Spielberg has become much more interested in telling these mature stories of important events in history, and we can sense it in every frame we see. It’s a thriller involving back room conversations, centered around Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) the owner of the Post, who ultimately has to make the tough decision to publish the report. Her decision affects the livelihood of many others, and puts personal friendships at risk. Streep once again reminds us why she is one of the best actors to ever grace the screen. Where other veteran actors may settle on their laurels, Streep continues to challenge herself with roles of varying degrees. The Post tells a story of the past but is as relevant as anything we’ve seen in headlines today.

7) Mudbound

Writer/director Dee Rees took the potential she hinted at with Pariah (2007) and fully capitalized on it with Mudbound. The story centers on two southern families – the white McAllans and the black Jacksons (the Jacksons live on and work the McAllan farm). Both families have boys that have gone off to WWII: Jamie of the McAllans (Garret Hedlund) and Ronsel of the Jacksons (Jason Mitchell). As Jamie and Ronsel return to the south after serving, both are met with challenges. Not only do both soldiers have to deal with the after effects of war, they now have to navigate the violent racism that exists in their community. It’s a moving, powerful story of perseverance and hope in a society bred on hate and bigotry. While Hedlund and Mitchell give excellent performances, the revelation is Mary J. Blige, who is nearly unrecognizable as the matriarch of the Jackson clan. There is so much compassion in her Blige’s performance that she becomes the emotional center point of the whole film. Mudbound works as an allegory of a country in transition, and every difficult and ugly step it takes to more forward.

6) Lady Bird

On its surface, Lady Bird looks like one of those indie, quirky, coming of age pictures that spring up every year. But what Greta Gerwig does – this being her first solo writing/directing effort – is to inject a level of heart and sincerity into her material. The story doesn’t try to be overly hip or clever, instead it allows its characters to develop naturally through their interactions. It’s obvious that the self-proclaimed Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is a stand in for Gerwig herself (one could argue that this is a spiritual prequel to the Gerwig starring Frances Ha, 2012). Lady Bird feels like a real, genuine teenager, suffering through the anxieties and growing pains of becoming a young adult. The love-hate relationship she shares with her mother (Laurie Metcalf, in a fantastic performance) was authentic, where both sides make right and wrong decisions. It’s funny, touching, and sincere. You can tell when a movie tries too hard to stand out from the pack. Lady Bird does so while making it seem effortless.


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Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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