Hoai-Tran Bui’s Top 10 Movies of 2017 So Far

top 10 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 Hoai-Tran Bui’s top 10 movies of 2017 so far.)

When tasked with compiling my favorite movies of the year so far, I’ll admit that I had to wrack my brains a bit for ones that stood out from the crowd. Outside of Logan and Get Out, had there really been any standouts? But even though summer movie season had gotten off to a tepid start and studio offerings have been lackluster, I think it would be rash to say that 2017 has been a weak year for great movies. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite: 2017 so far has offered an exciting array of captivating films in both the indie and genre circuit that gives me hope in an increasingly homogeneous movie industry. So much hope that my struggle to initially fill this list ended up being a struggle to narrow it down. (Sorry, The Beguiled and War for the Planet of the Apes, you almost made the cut.)


10. Colossal

A creature-feature-meets-indie-comedy already sounds like a recipe for greatness, but an unexpected socially conscious twist elevates Colossal to one of the most perceptive and inventive movies of the year. Colossal hits all the beats of a quirky indie rom-com in the first half of the film, and even the supernatural twist of the monster doesn’t upset that status quo. But director Nacho Vigalondo pulls the rug out from under his audience with an unexpected antagonist that plays upon the expectations of “the nice guy.” Colossal suddenly becomes an allegory for abusive relationships and turns toxic masculinity into the real villain with a clever subversion of Jason Sudeikis’ amiable persona. Anne Hathaway gives a wonderfully fraught performance as an alcoholic who unwittingly finds out that she can control a terrifying monster wreaking havoc in Seoul, but it’s Sudeikis’ shockingly terrifying turn as her former childhood friend whose unrequited feelings turn violent that steals the movie.

John Wick 2 Super Bowl Spot

9. John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick was already a tightly wound and stylish thriller, but John Wick: Chapter 2 takes the explosive Keanu Reeves action vehicle to another level. A higher body count, a complex assassination plot, and more sleekly choreographed gun-fu fights that are times balletic, other times the sheer raw power of Reeves — all make John Wick: Chapter 2 a worthy sequel to one of the most exhilarating action films of the decade. But John Wick: Chapter 2 does more than just improve and expand upon the original. It establishes an assassination underworld that is almost mythological in scope, and endless in possibilities. And it takes even further the abuse that is doled out against Reeves, who despite his character’s legendary stature amongst the assassination underworld and the insane amount of times he’s stabbed or shot, has never felt more human. This is a phrase that’s unfortunately thrown around too much, but John Wick: Chapter 2 may well be the Godfather Part II of action films. The sequel takes the first film’s pulpy B-movie sensibilities and John Woo-inspired choreography, and builds a richly felt world out of it.

logan trailer

8. Logan

Logan is the first movie to truly transcend the superhero genre since The Dark Knight, and I get the feeling it may be the last. There’s no room in the superhero-packed movie universes anymore for a film like Logan, an exceptional capper to Wolverine’s journey and a brilliant standalone story that cares for only character instead of continuity. I’ll admit that I hadn’t seen any of the Wolverine movies except for half of the first one — I didn’t particularly care for the character or care to see some of the more critically maligned X-Men solo movies. But Logan astonished me. Of all the genre films this year that have leaned on Western imagery and inspiration to further its story, Logan did it best. I have an affection for wandering ronin characters, and I was enthralled by Logan‘s depiction of its bitter, world-weary lone wanderer forced back into the world even as he seeks to leave it. As traditionally rugged as Wolverine has been as a character, Logan broke him down to his most vulnerable state, and deconstructed audience and Western expectations of masculinity. I could go on about how Logan recontextualizes the superhero genre, how it comments on and expands the hero myth, and how the scene between Charles and Logan is one of the most heartbreaking X-Men moments in the franchise’s history, but that would take up the rest of this article. I will just say though, that Logan could finally break the genre movie stigma at the Oscars this year.

okja tilda swinton Seo-Hyun Ahn

7. Okja

Marry a Studio Ghibli wilderness fantasy film with a Steven Spielberg childhood adventure movie, then inject it full of GMO steroids, and you’ve got Okja. The Bong Joon Ho-directed feature has mostly made headlines for the controversy it stirred up at the Cannes Film Festival for being a Netflix streaming-first release, but this movie is more than its troubled publicity. It’s a madcap adventure about a girl and her superpig replete with fart jokes, cartoonish characters, and condemnation of capitalist greed. The wackiness may sound off-putting for people who were expecting a similarly somber follow-up to the grim sci-fi feature that was Bong’s critically acclaimed film Snowpiercer, but I absolutely loved it. There’s no strong sense of purpose in the film’s depiction of the bloody slaughterhouse and the cold-hearted corporate executives because it’s less about the clunky social commentary than it is about the love story between Mija (in a breakout performance by Seo-Hyun Ahn) and her pig Okja. Okja too feels like the first uniquely Korean-American collaboration, even more so than Snowpiercer despite its equally international cast. The themes of miscommunication and cultural clashes, as well as the over-the-top performances from Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal feel like they come from Bong’s distinctly Korean perspective on American culture.

Get Out

6. Get Out

So help me god, I may be becoming a horror movie fan. I’ve shied away from the genre for years simply because I am a huge wimp who will get startled by my own shadow. But Get Out, the feature film directorial debut by Jordan Peele, was so funny and thought-provoking while maintaining its scares that I’m thinking about giving the genre another chance. (I obviously do if you look further down my list.) Get Out brings discomfort with race and privilege to the forefront, turning racial microaggressions into tangible plot points. Get Out is a densely layered film that gives you a richer experience every time you watch it — whether you’re unpacking the significance of the cotton in the chair, or the dead deer that appears at the beginning of the film. It’s almost genius in the way Get Out plays with our expectations of horror tropes and turns them into social commentary — which leads to one of the most gasp-inducing twists near the end of the film. But the best part about Get Out is that watching this by yourself to tally all the clues and subtext still cannot beat watching it in a theater full of people yelling at the screen.

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