Ben Pearson’s Top 10 Movies of 2017

Top 10 movies of 2017

As 2017 slowly disappears in our rear-view windows (good riddance!), the /Film staff is looking back on our favorite movies of last year. The year itself was awful in an almost incalculable number of ways, but at least we had a ton of fantastic movies to distract us from the constant barrage against truth and decency. Thankfully, many of last year’s movies were overflowing with those qualities, and I was able to get a steady diet of them amid heart-stopping set pieces, complex characters, and emotionally cathartic cinematic experiences. These were my top 10 movies of 2017.
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2017 character actors

While 2017 has, overall, been a tire fire of a year, it has also been a largely rewarding year for cinema. (It should go without saying, but every year is rewarding for cinema.) Though there have been thematic throughlines in unexpectedly similar films, and unavoidable, sometimes unintentional parallels to real-world events, 2017 in film has been the year of the ubiquitous character actor.

In a strange coincidence (or just a sign of taste from various filmmakers), a handful of character actors have not only appeared in a number of the year’s most notable films, but they’ve each appeared in movies that may well end up with Oscar nominations aplenty next month. Let’s look at four character actors who seemingly showed up in every movie released in 2017: Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tracy Letts, and Bradley Whitford.

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Three_Billboards_01

The road to the Oscars is paved with a dozen other awards ceremonies, all them celebrating the best in film and television and all them loaded with politics and vendettas and personal backbiting. Sure, this is a time for everyone in the industry to come together and celebrate a great year in cinema, but it is also a time all for insane machinations as everyone jockeys to win the world’s most popular popularity contest. In short: awards are really fun and impact the film industry in major ways, but they can also be silly. Keep that in mind as your favorite movies get ignored over the next few months.

In related news, the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees have been announced and while awards are silly, this is a pretty stellar line-up of movies. Let’s take a look.

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i tonya trailer

As far as unlikable characters go, Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding has always been in a league of her own. She’s got a potty mouth. She’s never really cared about making friends. She’s generally just not nice. And oh yeah, she was kinda sorta involved in one of the biggest sports scandals ever — a criminal plot to literally attack the America’s sweetheart of figure skating, Nancy Kerrigan. Folks might get past the sharp tongue and cold stares, but if there is anything that will turn them off faster it is when a high-profile figure comes for the girl next door (just ask Kanye). Top that with the brazenly conservative ’90s media takedown of the supposed black sheep of figure skating, who had frizzy hair, a bad attitude, smoked, and whose mom made her costumes — all of which were strictly taboo in the elite world of pretty upper crust young women who could twirl on ice.

So Harding didn’t really stand a chance in that world, especially during that time. And it has left such a deep stain on her image that, even to this day ,she remains written off. But the new film I, Tonya sees to it that her story gets told anyway and in her own words, whether people want to hear it or not.

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Three_Billboards_01

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film that will stay with audiences. It’s a simple story layered in unexpected complexities brought out by its three leads: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. It’s one of the best films of 2017.

In the film, McDormand plays Mildred Hayes , a divorced woman searching for justice for the violent death of her daughter, Angela. It’s been seven months since the crime took place and the police, led by Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Harrelson), have yet to find any solid leads to point to anyone worth arresting. Taking matters into her own hands, Mildred uses three billboards located on the outskirts of town to point out the lack of movement on the police’s part. As you’d expect, chaos soon follows.

This is the third film from writer/director, Martin McDonagh, who previously helmed In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. Deeply organic, touching, gut-wrenching and hilarious, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri feels like a movie fit for 2017 America.

From my chat with Mr. McDonagh, it seems he would most-definitely agree.

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Trailer roundup Gaga

Sometimes, while we’re buried in the deluge of never-ending movie news, a few trailers manage to slip past us. But in an effort to never miss anything essential, we take hold of our metaphorical novelty-sized butterfly net, reach back, and scoop them up for articles just like this one. In this trailer round-up, get the newest looks at The Foreigner, Gaga: Five Foot TwoThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and more.
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three billboards outside ebbing missouri trailer

It’s been five years since the last Martin McDonagh film and if the trailer for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is any indication, his next movie is worth the wait. The acclaimed Irish playwright turned filmmaker, whose work has always been a profanity-laced bitter cocktail of tragedy and comedy, has turned his lens toward Middle America for a story of small town folks making a series of increasingly poor decisions. Things escalate quickly in McDonagh’s stories and this movie looks hysterical and sad and unnerving. In other words, it looks like a Martin McDonagh movie.

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Game of Thrones Season 5 - Tyrion

Martin McDonagh‘s In Bruges pulled out one of the best performances of Colin Farrell’s career, and surrounded him with memorable turns by Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. His follow-up Seven Psychopaths brought another great turn out of Farrell and then unleashed the likes of Christopher Walken and Michael Stuhlbarg in a slew of colorful roles.

It’s no wonder, then, that top-notch stars seem to be lining up around the block to star in his next film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But that doesn’t mean it’s not impressive. Frances McDormand was locked in at the lead last fall, and since then Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, and Caleb Landry Jones have also signed on. Now you can add Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, and Lucas Hedges to the growing list of top-notch talents.  Read More »

Martin McDonagh Frances McDormand

Playwright Martin McDonagh (The Pillowman, A Behanding in Spokane) actively moved into filmmaking with the short Six Shooter in 2005, and then gave Colin Farrell one of his best roles in the bleak comedy In Bruges.

He’s also had the film Seven Psychopaths, and is promoting a new play called Hangman, which gave the writer/director the opportunity to mention an upcoming film project which just brought Frances McDormand into the fold. The movie is called Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and the subject is one that seems like a direct response to escalating clashes between police and civilians in American cities in the last year. Read More »

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