Ethan Anderton’s Top 10 Movies of 2017

Logan Film Genre Video Essay

10. Logan

This was the first superhero movie to ever make me cry. Not only did Logan make me cry, but it made me cry several times, creating a swell of emotions that a blockbuster has only ever made me feel a handful of times. Part of those emotions comes from the fact that we’ve spent 17 years seeing Hugh Jackman intermittently return as Wolverine. There’s a history there, but Logan does so much more than capitalize on the legacy of a superhero.

Director James Mangold has created the most human superhero movies the genre has ever seen. He took a character who was turned into a walking punchline in movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine and gave him a powerful, heartfelt send-off by pushing him to his limits. This is a Wolverine who felt the pressure of being a hero, felt the failure of that responsibility when his fellow X-Men were killed, and has been waiting patiently for death. He gets his wish, but not before fulfilling his duty as a hero one last time, giving hope to a young girl who is like him in nearly every way.

Never has a comic book character been given so much weight. Never has a comic book character been portrayed with such gravitas. Never has a film subverted the genre’s tropes so necessarily and perfectly. Logan is one of the most hard-hitting, compelling movies of its kind. If there’s one superhero movie that stands as the perfect representation of the potential this genre has to be more than just flashy colors and action, it’s Logan.

The Disaster Artist trailer

9. The Disaster Artist

A movie about the making of one of the worst movies ever made is bound to be full of laughs. When you toss James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Hannibal Buress, Jason Mantzoukas and many more famous faces into the mix, that only makes it better. This hilarious cavalcade of performers recreates The Room meticulously and perfectly. But what’s surprising is that The Disaster Artist is so touching and endearing.

Even though The Disaster Artist takes plenty of shots at the eccentricities and behavior of The Room director, writer and star Tommy Wiseau, he becomes far more than the punchline that his film has become over the years. James Franco’s performance makes us sympathize and empathize with Wiseau as a man trying to fulfill his own American dream. Not only is he a dreamer in every sense of the word, but he’s also a fiercely loyal friend.

It’s the friendship that blossoms at the center of The Disaster Artist between the Franco brothers’ character that makes this movie so much better than it has any right to be. The result is a movie that’s about making the best out of falling short of your dreams. There’s value in facing failure, and there’s beauty in friends failing together. And in the case of Tommy Wiseau, failing brought him more fame and success than he otherwise ever would have earned.

Brigsby Bear Trailer

8. Brigsby Bear

At a time when fandom seems perpetually stuck in a childish mentality, Brigsby Bear could not be more relevant. This is the story of a young man who has grown up obsessed with a children’s television program named Brigsby Bear. Exploring every corner of this strange, sci-fi universe that centers on a space-trekking bear used to teach life lessons, this young man pours over old episodes, desperately trying to find something new to latch on to. But all of that is thrown into upheaval when everything that he’s come to know about life is uprooted.

James (Kyle Mooney) discovers that his entire life has been controlled by a pair of kidnappers, and he’s suddenly brought into a world that he knows very little about. While it might seem odd that James uses the very device used to keep him a clueless victim, Brigsby Bear becomes the coping mechanism with which he comes to embrace and accept the drastic change in his life. While James has had his personal growth stunted by this manufactured obsession, it’s also what ends up helping him embrace the real world that surrounds him.

Brigsby Bear is about using the things we come to love as a way of interacting with and better understanding the world around us. Stories have the power to help people work through trauma, but we must never hold onto them so tightly that they stunt our growth. Storytelling is a powerful tool, and Brigsby Bear both honors and proves that through a story that is both charming and hilarious.

The Shape of Water red band trailer

7. The Shape of Water

Director Guillermo del Toro often manages to make the kind of original movies that audiences didn’t know they wanted to see. The thought of seeing a woman fall in love with a fish man doesn’t sound like all that enthralling of a prospect, but in the hands of the director of The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, that’s something truly special.

The Shape of Water is a beautiful love story that only a filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro could tell. Set in the early days of the Cold War, it’s surprising that we should find ourselves focusing on the blossoming romance between a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) and this mysterious fish creature (Doug Jones) being experimented on by the government. Even more surprising is how the hell this movie got made.

Del Toro has created a movie that feels like a cross between Amelie, Cinema Paradiso and Creature from the Black Lagoon. How does a filmmaker convince anyone to make this movie? Perhaps because this might just be del Toro’s best movie yet. It’s a story about wanting to be loved, wanting to belong, wanting to feel human. It’s a story that has characters getting lost in the magic of movies, the possibility of unrequited love, and the allure of the unknown. It’s everything del Toro loves rolled into one beautiful, wonderful package. Oh, and it has one of the most gorgeous scores in recent memory.

Luke Skywalker blind

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This is probably the most divisive Star Wars movie made so far. With all the complaints about the direction Rian Johnson takes the Star Wars saga, I’m proud to be one of the fans who loves the decisions he made that help push one of the most iconic franchises ever made in an exciting new direction.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn’t about tearing down the legacy of Star Wars, as some can’t seem to stop pointing out. It’s about expanding the scope of Star Wars so future generations can enjoy it. The Last Jedi is about respecting what came before while understanding, as Luke Skywalker says, “It’s so much bigger.” Rian Johnson shows this by introducing new ideas into Star Wars canon, from large concepts like the abilities of the Force to little things like the evolution of Death Star technology. This is a movie that is Star Wars through and through without feeling like it’s treading the same waters of all the movies that came before it.

What many people have taken as disrespect for Star Wars as a whole, as well as the paths started in The Force Awakens, I see as unpredictable and satisfying in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. The arcs that Luke Skywalker, Rey and Kylo Ren go through are some of the most compelling and rich we’ve seen in Star Wars. These heroes aren’t perfect. Our villain isn’t purely evil. And this battle is far from over. Star Wars hasn’t been this exciting since The Empire Strikes Back, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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