lady bird rotten tomatoes

10. Lady Bird

Points: 13

Lady Bird is more than a superb coming-of-age movie. It’s a love letter to bullish adolescence, an ode to every tense mother-daughter relationship, a stellar writing-directing debut from mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig, and a searing insight into my very soul. It sounds strange at first to set a teenage film in an arbitrary year like 2003, but as one of the many American girls who came of age during that time, Lady Bird resonated with me on another level. And that was surely Gerwig’s intention: to tell an intensely personal story that feels both fresh and familiar. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

I am a sucker for coming-of-age dramas, and yet, somehow, Lady Bird surprised me. There’s not been a better film about the transition from adolescence to adulthood since Almost Famous. Saoirse Ronan delivers a stellar performance in this heartfelt, charming, funny and moving story. The film succeeds due to the authenticity it lends its characters and the relatable situations (many of which have become a rite of passage in all of our lives) that it depicts. Writer/director Greta Gerwig has solidified her position as a filmmaker and artist to watch. (Peter Sciretta)

blade runner 2049

9. Blade Runner 2049

Points: 13

When I say this film is huge, I mean it in the literal sense – Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins render the world of Blade Runner 2049 in big, bold, dizzying strokes, creating a landscape populated by imposing, brutalistic structures that loom and threaten like elder gods. It’s easy to get lost in all the spectacle on display here, but beneath the film’s unique, gorgeous appearance are quiet, dramatic moments – for instance, who knew that a Blade Runner sequel would offer up one of the best performances of Harrison Ford’s career? (Chris Evangelista)

The most incredible thing about Blade Runner 2049 is that it’s a proper Blade Runner movie. Pure and unfiltered. For better and worse. Major corporations gave director Denis Villeneuve over $150 million to make a science fiction movie starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and he turned around and delivered a long, slow-moving, deliberately obtuse meditation on the meaning of existence. In other words, he made a Blade Runner movie. A Blade Runner movie that may actually be as good as the original. Holy mackerel. How did that happen? (Jacob Hall)

Blade Runner 2049 is the most beautiful looking film of the year. Every frame of this sequel is a painting. The story is more compelling than the original and I love the ideas it explores. (Peter Sciretta)

Michael Caine Dunkirk

8. Dunkirk

Points: 15

In 2017, Christopher Nolan made his best and most experimental film, working from a premise that could have (and should have) been boilerplate. The evacuation of British soldiers from the shores of Dunkirk, a strategic retreat that allowed the Allies to hold on and turn the tide in the early days of World War II, could have been a standard war movie, a tale of brave men and harrowing action and fierce patriotism. Strangely, Dunkirk is a tale of brave men involved in harrowing action that creates a feeling of fierce patriotism (even if you’re not English), but it is also bold cinema crafted to be experienced in a theater, where you cannot escape the images on the giant screen in front of you and the booming soundtrack ringing in your ears. And experience it in a theater you must, because Dunkirk is practically a silent movie, one that tells its story through worried glances, accusing stares, and desperate gestures. (Jacob Hall)

I scoffed at first when Christopher Nolan announced that his latest film would be an “experience” rather than a traditional story, but that is what Dunkirk truly is: a visceral, impassioned experience that tests the limits of what movies can do. Separate timelines aside, Dunkirk is Nolan’s most barebones film, yet it still manages to achieve a level of emotional resonance that his most complex movies could only dream of. Dunkirk envelops the viewer in the raucous cacophony of World War II, your teeth clacking and your ears in danger of being deafened. It’s almost on par with watching a 4D movie, but Nolan expertly weaves a simple narrative through the auditory and visual language. There’s a reason that the dialogue-sparse film could easily be condensed into an affecting silent film: Dunkirk is pure cinema. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a war movie where battle isn’t nearly as important as survival. With this film, Nolan pulls out all the stops, putting every trick in his director’s bag to work to craft the ticking-clock movie to end all ticking-clock movies. Nolan sets up three distinct locations – land, sea, air – and proceeds to deftly combine them together into a tense, cohesive, and ultimately emotional journey. Most of all, though, Dunkirk is a showcase for Nolan’s skills behind the camera; an excuse for the filmmaker to create big spectacle on the largest canvas imaginable, while never straying into mindless blockbuster territory. (Chris Evangelista)

Star Wars Lightsaber battle

7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Points: 17

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. (Ethan Anderton)

There’s so much movie in The Last Jedi, a film that gleefully takes huge swings left and right – and when one of those swings connects, it delivers like nothing else in the franchise ever has. It’s exceedingly clear to me that Johnson has an immense love for these characters and this mythology, and he inserts his beliefs about the franchise into the text of his film: it’s important to be inspired by and learn from the past, but it’s also imperative to move on and build something new. (Ben Pearson)

It’s true that I mostly loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I do have a few issues with the film (which I have already discussed at length elsewhere on the site). While I love the risks Rian Johnson took with this franchise, I feel some of them (like some of the humor) felt out of place in this galaxy, and that other choices in the film feel hurtful to the three-film arc of this story. But those quibbles aside, this is the most beautiful looking and continuously surprising Star Wars films ever released. (Peter Sciretta)

the post top 10

6. The Post

Points: 24

The breathless pacing, the stellar cast, and the depressingly relevant subject matter all coalesce into not only a truly great and entertaining movie, but something that stands alongside Get Out as one of the defining films of 2017. I haven’t loved a Meryl Streep performance in years, but this one reminds me of how she can make greatness look effortless. And while Tom Hanks is reliably solid (as usual), I hope people remember Bob Odenkirk’s work in this one when the dust settles. Political, riveting, and absolutely essential, The Post is Steven Spielberg firing on all cylinders. (Ben Pearson)

Stirring, suspenseful, and more than a little sentimental, The Post is the ode to journalism that we need, told by a director who in awe of the entire fourth estate. And awe is what Spielberg excels at. Each shot lovingly paints The Washington Post and its reporters as all-American heroes, embroiled in a gripping narrative that Spielberg directs like an action film. And, oh, the reporters. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are deservedly the centerpieces of this film as the cocksure Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and the unsure first-time female publisher Kay Graham respectively, but The Post is truly a showcase for all the best character actors and actresses working today: Bob Odenkirk shines, Matthew Rhys, and Carrie Coon are standouts. The whole film is like watching an elegant dance between a master class of actors and a director at the top of his game. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

It would be easy to acknowledge that the importance of the media in the early 1970s is wholly different when compared to today’s standards. But that’s covered by the fact that there’s a clear parallel between Richard Nixon trying to block the media and Donald Trump trying to delegitimize the entire industry, unless they’re Fox News. The Post might feel like it’s a little on the nose, but that’s because it’s exactly the kind of movie that we need right now to remind certain people why we need the media. (Ethan Anderton)

Democracy dies in darkness, and Steven Spielberg’s whiz-bang, monumentally important meditation on the vitality off a free press couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Is Spielberg’s take on the story of the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers a little on-the-nose? Sure, but maybe these are times that call for less subtlety and more bluntness, especially when this topic is concerned. And here’s the thing: even if The Post weren’t an important film for 2017 dealing with important issues, it’s also one hell of an entertaining flick. (Chris Evangelista)

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