Best Movies of 2017

(With 2017 halfway over, the /Film staff will be spending this week compiling lists of the best movies they’ve seen this year. In order to be eligible for the list, a film they’ve seen simply has to have a 2017 release date, even if they saw it at a festival or early screening. Here are Ethan Anderton’s top 10 movies of 2017 so far.)

The year is officially half over, and while we have six months before we can more effectively determine what our favorite movies of the year are going to be, it doesn’t hurt to take stock of the best films of 2017 so far. Though 2017 feels like it’s been rather lackluster, especially in the blockbuster department, there have been some lower key releases that absolutely deserve your attention. A few of them haven’t been given theatrical releases yet, but I was fortunate enough to catch them at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Without further adieu, let’s dive into my own list of the best movies of 2017 so far.

Colossal

10. Colossal

Though this movie played at the Toronto International Film Festival before coming to Sundance, I strayed from learning too much about it before catching it back in January and I’m thankful I did. Colossal mashes up the tropes of indie romantic comedies with Japanese monster movies and somehow comes out on the other side with a fantastic movie that has a lot to say about alcoholism, ambition, abusive relationships and more. It takes more than a few surprising turns which keep the indie side from feeling stale and the sci-fi side from feeling like it’s only a gimmick. Colossal is a thoughtful, original movie featuring a great Anne Hathaway performance, but an even more fantastic and surprising turn from Jason Sudeikis.

A Ghost Story Trailer

9. A Ghost Story

People are either going to love this movie or hate it, and if this movie were simply described to me by a friend or colleague, I might count myself in the latter group. But after experiencing this movie at Sundance, I found myself strangely entranced by this slow burn of a supernatural rumination on time and the legacy we leave behind. The premise of the movie is basic enough as Casey Affleck experiences life after death as a ghost under an initially goofy but eventually haunting bed sheet with two eye holes cut out of it. But the scope of the story expands to become so broad that it creates an existential crisis inside of you that is somehow not as terrifying as it should be. Some will call this movie pretentious, but I think David Lowery‘s film is wholly fascinating and paints an enthralling, albeit bleak, portrait of our place in the world as individuals.

Baby Driver Trailer

8. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright has done no wrong in my book, and when it comes to Baby Driver, that trend continues. Taking the familiar story of a man forced into crime only to desperately want out of the game when his debt is paid, Wright has crafted a movie that makes the most out of the film’s soundtrack by creating a hypnotizing and harmonious blend of music and visuals. It’s a musical without all the singing and dancing, though the choreography of the chase scenes and action is so meticulous that they may as well be song and dance numbers. Ansel Elgort shows that he has the chops to lead a movie, Jon Hamm takes a fun twisted turn, Jamie Foxx is having a blast and Kevin Spacey is great as usual. There’s just so much to love in this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Review

7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

As someone who loves the original Guardians of the Galaxy so much that it’s my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not to mention being a favorite from 2014, the expectations were high for Vol. 2 to deliver, and this viewer was not disappointed. While the original Guardians dealt with Star-Lord confronting the untimely death of his mother and how it continues to affect him decades later and light years away, this one focuses on the lack of a relationship that he had with his father, complete with an ensemble story surrounding it that has flares of The Empire Strikes Back, lacking a villain for most of the movie and a central goal or storyline to propel it forward. Those may sound like shortcomings, but for me, that’s what makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 more engaging than the rest of the blockbuster fare out there. It can go anywhere at anytime, and the emotional payoff for a lot of our characters is worth all the hopping around the galaxy in the end.

Brigsby Bear

6. Brigsby Bear

Though I do have an affinity for the work of cast members from Saturday Night Live, that’s far from the only reason that this film directed by sketch director Dave McCary and co-written by and starring Kyle Mooney is one of my favorites of the year so far. This quirky comedy is full of so much charm and love for storytelling with just the right amount of oddball humor that you can’t help but love it. The story is wholly original and the fictional titular children’s television program is crafted in such a way that it feels like a real TV show from the 1980s, so much that you almost feel nostalgia for it, as if you grew up watching it your whole life. Kyle Mooney expands upon his awkward character persona that we’ve seen plenty of times on SNL, and this is just one of those indies you should be seeking out immediately. It’s also one of those indies where the less you know, the better the viewing experience will be, so if you know little to nothing about this movie, try to keep it that way as best you can and see this later this month.

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