Ben Pearson’s Top 10 Movies of 2017 So Far

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore Trailer

5. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Ruth (Melanie Lynskey), a downtrodden nurse, feels crushed under the weight of humanity’s collectively terrible behavior. She’s always suffering little indignities, like being cut in line or having a book ruined for her, but when she returns home one day to discover she’s been burgled and the police don’t lift a finger to help her, she snaps and takes matters into her own hands. Recruiting the help of a socially awkward karate enthusiast named Tony (Elijah Wood), Ruth attempts to track down her stolen belongings and descends into the criminal underworld. It’s not even so much about retrieving her items as it is about proving a point to the bad guys: why can’t everyone just stop being an asshole? In his directorial debut, writer/director Macon Blair – who’s starred in movies like Green Room and Blue Ruin – proves he has just as much talent behind the camera as he does in front of it. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a mixture of buddy comedy (a dark, understated humor permeates the whole movie) and detective story, and the shocking bursts of violence that are interspersed throughout have a profound impact on these characters. Every bullet fired or broken bone means something, and in direct contrast with something like John Wick: Chapter 2, we feel every shot just as much as they do. It definitely has me excited to see what Blair does next.

Wonder Woman

4. Wonder Woman

With the disappointing taste of movies like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad still fresh in our mouths, there was all the reason in the world to doubt that Wonder Woman would be the saving grace of the DC Extended Universe. But against all odds, that’s exactly what director Patty Jenkins delivered: this is a rousing action movie with a soulful, compassionate character at its center who actually cares about saving people (which seems like a requisite for being a superhero, but you’d be surprised). Gal Gadot’s Diana is a strong female character that doesn’t feel like a typical Hollywood “strong female character,” if you know what I mean. Yes, she kicks some serious ass on the battlefield, but she’s also a fully fleshed-out character who has her own goals, desires, and feelings; it’s embarrassing that it took Warner Bros. this long to provide the world with a movie like this, but it turned out to be exactly what many people needed in a dark time. The CGI-heavy final battle loses some luster, but the fact that this movie feels like it’s actually about something makes up for many of its shortcomings. And how awesome was Chris Pine?

Get Out Alternate Ending

3. Get Out

Anyone who had seen a few episodes of the Comedy Central series Key & Peele knew Jordan Peele was a stand-out writer and performer, but I don’t think anyone could have foreseen just how good Get Out was going to be. Peele’s social horror thriller became a full-blown sensation earlier this year, and for good reason: it’s a movie that explores what it means to be black in America right now, and takes down the faux modern liberalism that would lead people to say things like “I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could have.” It’s genuinely scary at times, but also relatable in its premise: everyone understands the uneasiness that comes with meeting their significant other’s parents for the first time. Peele also infuses comedic moments without ever tipping the film over into full-on comedy territory; he shows a masterful control of tone here, and you know what’s even more impressive? This is Peele’s feature directorial debut. He’s been a talented performer for years, but he’s just getting started as a cinematic storyteller, and I think the entire cinephile community is looking forward to seeing what subjects he tackles next.

WAr for the Planet of the Apes

2. War For the Planet of the Apes

I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about how much I’d ultimately like a trilogy than with this new incarnation of the Apes movies. I begrudgingly saw 2011’s Rise thinking it’d be passable at best, but I was surprised at how good it turned out; since then, director Matt Reeves took over and stepped things up in a huge way with his two sequels, capping off one of the best cinematic trilogies of the modern era. The team at WETA Digital has outdone themselves again by creating versions of the ape characters that look so real I didn’t doubt them for a second, and although I appreciated the human element more in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it almost doesn’t matter because humans aren’t the main characters in this franchise anyway. This is a mythical, Biblical film that grapples with some big themes, but it never loses its way in all of that ambition; it remains grounded by its empathetic approach to storytelling, and its anti-war message and condemnation of toxic masculinity is a vital thing for our country to experience right now. And hey, Academy: just give Andy Serkis his damn Oscar already.

The Big Sick Alamo Drafthouse

1. The Big Sick

I’m a sucker for charming movies, and The Big Sick is like injecting pure charm directly into your veins. The story of the burgeoning relationship between actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself) and Emily V. Gordon (played here by the always-reliable Zoe Kazan) sometimes seems almost too crazy to be true, but tapping into and utilizing that truth is what separates this movie from every other romantic comedy. There’s a specificity here that means nobody else could have brought this story to life, and similar to the best episodes of Master of None, the scenes involving Kumail’s family of immigrants provide audiences with a window into a way of life that our popular culture has thus far largely ignored. If you’re looking for an alternative to bombastic summer blockbusters and prefer movies with characters you can care deeply about, look no further. This is an antidote to filmmaking-by-committee. It’s a personal, moving story that left me feeling rejuvenated about the potential of film to tell impactful and vital stories, and although it deals with some heavy subject matter, the comedy and abundance of charisma from everyone involved left me walking out of the theater on a joyous high. The Big Sick contains an absolutely perfect mixture of heartbreak and hilarity, and I truly think our country would be a better place if everyone who lived here watched it.

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