Movies that I liked but didn’t make the cut: The Babysitter, Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, John Wick 2, Logan, Spiderman: Homecoming, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Top Ten
Like so many of director Christopher Nolan’s films, Dunkirk is a technical masterpiece. Following three different threads of the famed WWII Dunkirk evacuation, the movie is tight, tense, and powerful. Characters feel real and lived in, despite a movie with almost no dialogue.
9. Atomic Blonde
As far as I’m concerned, Charlize Theron is our new Bond and Jason Bourne wrapped up into one. She sizzles as an MI-6 agent sent to Germany days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Moody lighting, eighties synth music, and a super-swarmy James McAvoy ensue, along with one of the best and most brutal tracking shot fight scenes I’ve ever seen.
8. Baby Driver
As far as I’m concerned, director Edgar Wright (also of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim) is still batting 1.000 with his this film about bad people doing bad things. As the movie’s stakes escalate (and boy do they ever) the movie never loses the cool that it sets up so well in its opening minutes. While not technically a musical, this action thriller will have you jamming for days after watching it.
7. Blade Runner 2049
I’m always wary of sequels long past the originals, and particularly of ones so brilliant as the original, which I rewatched just days before (it holds up). While 2049 doesn’t have a villain that cackles and crackles the way Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty did (and in fact, Jared Leto is my least favorite part of the movie), the movie is breathtakingly beautiful, and will have you questioning the nature of humanity in the very same ways the original did.
6. Lego Batman
What an insane movie. Easily my favorite Batman movie of all time. It is utterly ridiculous, yet has such a sweet emotional core at the center of it. Heat up some lobster thermidor, and watch it with some of your favorite kids to get the full experience. Be ready to explain to them why Batman is being so darn mean to that Joker guy.
5. Dave Made a Maze
The lovechild of Wes Anderson, The Labyrinth, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, and too too much cardboard. The story of a struggling artist that makes a maze out of boxes while his girlfriend is gone for the weekend and the ensuing quest to rescue him from it and the beast now living inside is smart, funny, and has the best set design of year.
4. Wonder Woman
The were nearly 400 Batman and Superman and Spiderman movies before we got one Wonder Woman movie. But when Gal Gadot showed up, she blew them all away. While stronger than any man, Diana’s true power is her humanity. Patty Jenkins’ film is gorgeous but not lurid, funny but never farcical, action-packed but never mind-numbingly violent, all departures from many of the tropes of modern blockbuster film-making. Wonder Woman isn’t proof that women can make great big budget movies, it’s proof that we need them to.
3. The Big Sick
I’ve long been fans of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon and so seeing a fictionalized version of their story was so satisfying. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano deserve every bit of acclaim they are getting for playing Emily’s parents, but Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher also deserve props for their roles as Kumail’s parents. Funniest movie of the year.
2. Thor: Ragnarok
How did this movie get made? As the Marvel Cinematic Universe has matured, Marvel has really made efforts to keep their franchises fresh, and this third entry into the Thor series is leaps and bounds better than the previous two. It’s blindingly colorful. It exists inside a lived in movie universe but never feels weighed down by it. It doesn’t take itself even a little seriously, even when facing down a literal apocalypse. From the very first moment to the last, you’ll be smiling. And did I mention Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie? And Jeff Goldblum as the cosmic Grandmaster? Which wins? We’ll call it a tie.
1. Lady Bird
Hands down the best movie I’ve seen this year, and maybe in the past few years as well. I’m not sure how to even describe/rave about this tour-de-force from writer/director Greta Gerwig. It is hilarious, heartbreaking, and always feels real and honest. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf should win all the awards.