2017 was an outstanding year in film. Sure, the year ended on a disappointment — I’m looking at you, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But think of all the wonderful movies, like Wonder Woman, this year has given us. Fans of Marvel Comics were especially fortunate as they received a solid sequel in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the best latest entry in Thor: Ragnarok, and possibly the best two entries into the Wolverine and Spider-Man franchises. You didn’t have to be a fan of mainstream comics to go to the cinema, however, as the intriguing and action-packed Atomic Blonde made its way to the big screen and I’m told Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets happened, so… there’s that.
Franchises offered action-packed entries for The Fast and the Furious, King Kong, Alien, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy and Transformers. Action aside, Disney fans got a live-action Beauty and the Beast and Stephen King fans got a cinematic version of It. There were some strong dramatic features that will undoubtedly receive Academy Award nominations. Some I even saw, like Wind River, Darkest Hour and The Disaster Artist, although I’m not sure if I should file that last one under drama or comedy.
Looking over my ticket stubs that I kept for 2017, I saw more than 20 movies in theaters. That’s a lot of movies to watch on the big screen. But which of those movies did I really enjoy? What if I had to pare it down to only a handful of my favorites? With that in mind, here are my Top 5 favorite movies of 2017:
#5 – The Lego Batman Movie
Why can’t DCU movies be this good?! Seriously. Up until Wonder Woman, live-action DC films have been one disappointment after another. While Wonder Woman was good, it’s not as great as everyone thinks it is. After all, ever since I saw the first trailer, I said that it kinda looks too much like Captain America: The First Avenger. And don’t get me started on the CGI-heavy fight in the final act. Speaking of too much CGI, you’re not gonna see Justice League on this list, either. Lego Batman is going to be the only DC entry here.
I can’t tell you the last time I enjoyed a Batman movie, live-action or animated. Will Arnett does a fantastic job voicing him and has the perfect tone for this movie. I also got a kick out of Michael Cera voicing Robin. These two Arrested Development alumni are very amusing. This is one of the most fun movies of the year. The rest of the voice cast does a fine job and I enjoyed not only all the other DC comic characters that appear, but also all the other characters from Warner Bros. properties. You can sit down with anyone to watch this movie and it’ll put a smile on that face.
#4 – Kong: Skull Island
An action-packed entry into the King Kong franchise? A star-studded cast so big that John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson are the supporting cast?! Shut up and take my money!
In my opinion, there hasn’t been a really good giant monster movie in the last 15 years worth re-watching, besides Pacific Rim. While I liked Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong entry, I really just liked the dinosaur scenes, and I was happy to see that Kong: Skull Island didn’t try to re-create the 1933 King Kong. It was also refreshing not to see hostile natives wanting to bash people’s heads in or wanting to sacrifice a blonde woman to their god.
Having Skull Island take place at the tail-end of the Vietnam War gave the perfect excuse to have a sensational ’70s soundtrack and solid motivations for characters played by Brie Larson and, especially, Samuel L. Jackson. While 2014’s Godzilla made me stop caring about the characters after “Heisenberg” bit the big one, Skull Island made me wish for the majority of its characters to safely escape the secluded island… especially John C. Reiley’s character. Sure, I cared about the Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston main characters, but this is one of the rare films, like The Princess Bride or Empire Strikes Back, where I feel like the supporting characters are stronger and they’re more well-developed, outshining the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie in the theaters and it was one of the few that I couldn’t wait to re-watch once it made its way to the streaming services. It didn’t hurt that the special effects and the action are top notch. I remember my mouth hanging slightly open in marvel and amazement when I first saw this movie in theaters because of how good it was.
#3 – Spider-man: Homecoming
Speaking of amazing movies filled with marvel, let’s bring up the first Marvel movie on my list. One of the greatest fan feelings is to be excited and hyped for a movie, and then have it exceed all your wildest expectations. We all loved Tom Holland’s portrayal of a teenage Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, so we knew the lead character was in good hands. But a hero is only as good as his villain. The moment I heard that Michael Keaton — my generation’s Batman, who was nominated for Birdman — would be playing another another bird-man: The Vulture… I really got excited.
Michael Keaton is an unparalleled actor, you could say he’s one of the world’s finest. He was the only redeeming quality to the Robocop remake and a standout in Need For Speed. He steels the scene whenever he crops up in The Other Guys. I knew he wouldn’t disappoint as a Spider-Man villain and I was right. His acting is so strong, he’s actually more menacing outside of his getup. For instance, when he first meets Peter Parker in his home and he’s in the kitchen cutting things with a knife, that is a truly tense scene. I mean, you could cut the tension with a… well, you see where I’m going with this. And what about when he’s driving his daughter and Peter to the dance? And how about when he it’s just him and Peter in the car and he turns around to give Peter “the talk.” Wow. I still get shivers.
Basically, Spider-man: Homecoming has the best villain in the film series since Spider-man 2. The only villain who arguably was portrayed by a better actor was Alfred Molina and like his Doctor Octopus, we empathize with The Vulture and can sympathize with his motivations. This movie also had great action and cool Spider-Man tech. It was great to finally, really, set Spider-Man in a high school scene and it was fun to see Peter Parker interacting with all his classmates. I was glad to see Happy Hogan as a supporting character and was overjoyed to see way more Tony Stark/Iron Man than I had anticipated. While I’m sure I can nitpick some of the supporting characters and poke holes in some of the plots, I am thoroughly pleased by this movie and happy with the long-awaited homecoming of Spider-Man into the MCU.
#2 – Baby Driver
If there’s one film from this summer that might have had a better soundtrack than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it’s Baby Driver. And just like music being important to Peter Quill’s character, music is important to Baby Driver‘s titular Baby. From a narrative perspective, it was a stroke of genius to have music be so integral to the plot. Not only does it help alleviate his medical condition, but also serves to introduce him to his love interest and set the mood for subsequent scenes.
While the main characters are cute together, it’s the supporting characters that really get to flex their dramatic muscles, especially Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. These characters take some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting and lead to a third act I didn’t seem coming, but it was exceptional. It doesn’t hurt that this movie has some of the best chase scenes since The Transporter franchise and has some excellent action. This film shows that Hollywood can still make an action movie with a clever and original premise… you just have to get Edgar Wright to write and direct it.
#1 Thor: Ragnarok
It’s rare that I see movies in theaters more that once. The exception being films like The Dark Knight or the recent Star Wars movies (no, not you, The Last Jedi). Apparently, I wasn’t the only fan to see this film more than once as the third Thor movie made more than $800 million at the box office. Money like that is staggering, even for a Marvel movie. I can only hope that record-shattering numbers like that lead to another installment by director Taika Waititi, who has already said he’s got ideas for a fourth Thor film.
I really enjoyed the director’s time in the Thor Universe. I liked that he incorporated elements of the Planet Hulk storyline and I really like his sense of humor. My brother and I used to watch Flight of the Conchords, so I’m no stranger to this certain style of dry humor. In fact, when I first went to see Thor: Ragnarok with my friend Matt and we heard the stone man, Korg, talking, we turned to each other and said, “Is that the guy from Flight of the Conchords?” I was surprised to learn later that it was the director himself voicing the rock monster. I found him hilarious and hope he returns to voice the character in the future.
It’s not just Korg who I found hilarious. I couldn’t get enough of Jeff Goldblum’s character, The Grandmaster. Oh man, classic Jeff Goldblum. I love it. But the real villain is one of the best yet in the MCU and that is Cate Blanchett as Hela. The actress is almost unrecognizable as Thor’s older sister in the film and while villainous, she does have just cause to become the new ruler of Asgard.
But hers is not the only villain with depth of character. This film is so well written that even a minor villain, Skurge, played by Karl Urban, has a nice little arc. I think he’s a solid actor and would relish seeing him in another sci-fi movie in the Riddick franchise or another entry into the sci-fi comic book universe of Judge Dredd. His is not the only supporting character with a nice arc. Tessa Thompson does a terrific turn as Valkyrie and I hope we see more of her in the MCU. If Thor Odinson does fall in Infinity War and we get a Lady Thor like in the comics, I vote that, unlike Jane Foster in the comics, it’s Valkyrie who is worthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir and possess the power of Thor.
Speaking of the crown prince, let’s talk about both crown princes and my favorite reason for watching this movie: Thor and Loki.
While Hela is one of the best villains in the MCU, it’s Loki who is THE best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His character has real depth and I can’t get enough of his dynamic with his brother. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a brother so close to my age, but I can’t find the interactions between these two brothers more perfect. The bickering, the fighting, the one-upmanship, it’s all so perfect and spot-on. It doesn’t hurt that both actors are so good at their roles and I loved the “Get Help” scene. It reminds the viewers that those two grew up fighting, not just each other, but side by side. There’s still a dynamic to explore there. And I was thoroughly entertained with their visit by Doctor Strange. I hope we get to see more MCU interactions like this in the future.
As I’ve previously written, I hope that Thor and Loki make it through Avengers: Infinity War to another movie. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy these two bickering brothers in Thor: Ragnarok, which is my personal favorite movie of 2017.