Warning! Warning! Read the disclaimer below and save a starving kid’s life.
- This article is written based on the Malaysian movie calendar. In other words, “Lady Bird”, “The Shape of Water”, “The Disaster Artist”, “The Post”, “Darkest Hour” etc. aren’t out in cinemas yet. And “Call Me by Your Name” will probably never get released here because Malaysia is a nation that prides itself on being homophobic. #Facepalm
- Some of the movies on this list may make you go, “Bruh! Those movies were released in 2016! Check IMDb you idiot.” Again, this list is based on the MALAYSIAN movie calendar.
- I did not catch every single movie that was out in 2017 – that feat would be very much impossible. So, I’m sorry (no I’m not) if that one tiny indie film from Uzbekistan or Pluto did not make it on this list.
- These are not my movie reviews. Therefore, I am not going to analyse each movie in depth, but rather write random thoughts that pop into my head regarding my favourite movies of the year.
- Art-House purists, get your pitchforks (or keyboards) ready.
Before getting to the main shit, here are the honourable mentions AKA bloody awesome movies that almost made the list.
- Blade Runner 2049
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Okja (Korean) — Netflix Original
- Secret Superstar (Hindi)
- Brawl in Cell Block 99
- Get Out
- Aruvi (Tamil)
- All the Money in the World
Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s get straight to the good stuff. Here are the 15 best movies of 2017.
“Dunkirk” has hardly any dialogue and the characters are paper thin. Even Bane himself, Tom Hardy grunts about two words every 15 minutes. There is no backstory. There is no “how did we get here” talk. Characters do not sit around a fire and talk about their pregnant wives or a hooker they just boned because they were worried they weren’t going to make it out alive. This is in many ways the anti-“Hacksaw Ridge”, a movie that you will find higher up on this list.
This isn’t to say the film is completely void of character. The most important character in this film is DUNKIRK (or more specifically, War in general). Nolan has crafted this movie in a way that he wants the audience to be a part of this war with the soldiers. And in an interesting shift in style, “Dunkirk” is a quiet film — Nolan’s movies are usually very loud. Here he once again teams up with his frequent collaborator, Hans Zimmer, whose music is surprisingly subtle.
14. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Perhaps I’m cheating a little here. “Three Billboards” will only have a limited release in Malaysia in February 2018, but I was lucky enough to catch an early press screening of it last week. Since I caught the movie in Malaysia in 2017, I’m putting it on my list.
Here’s a movie that isn’t about the story — There isn’t a start (we don’t see the rape taking place) and there isn’t an end (we don’t know if justice will be served). “Three Billboards” allows its characters to bask in the spotlight.
When the mother of a rape and murder victim puts up three billboards, challenging local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder, it sends the town into a frenzy. It is this frenzy that we get tangled up in. “Three Billboards” is one of the crassest, most hilarious movies of the year and it is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor the easily offended.
Even without THAT twist, “Split” is a fantastic watch. With THAT twist, it’s at a whole different level. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it means you have not caught this movie, in which case, you should get on it right now.
Whether it involves our favourite sports team, an athlete, a pro-wrestler or a character in a movie, we all love a good comeback story. My God what a comeback story this has been for the man who helmed The Sixth Sense. M. Night Shyamalan is back! “Split” is Shyamalan’s best movie in more than a decade.
Here he tells a story of three girls who are kidnapped by a man suffering from multiple personality disorder. Shyamalan isn’t afraid to take his time. This is a slow burn and the best thriller since David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” in 2014.
James McAvoy plays the kidnapper, Kevin, in his best performance to date. He shows a ton of range, bringing nine of Kevin’s 23 personalities to life. Anya Taylor Joy is also excellent, proving to be one of the best young talents in the industry right now.
12. War for the Planet of the Apes
I can’t fault anybody for shitting on this movie because they didn’t get the war movie they were hoping for. After all, Fox did run a misleading marketing campaign. “War for the Planet of the Apes” was billed as a MASSIVE war film. We were going to get humans with machine guns on one side, apes on horses on the other. Both sides were going to charge at each other like it’s motherf**king Battle of the Bastards.
It sucks that we didn’t get that. But what we actually got is also great. “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a psychological film and an emotional character study. The final shot of the film will leave a lasting impression. This is one of the best character arcs (over the course of a trilogy) of all time.
I urge everyone who felt cheated watching this Matt Reeves movie, to revisit it with an open mind.
11. Mudbound — Netflix Original
This is the first out of the two Netflix Original movies that made it to my top 15 list, this year. Mudbound is a beautiful and brutally honest story about racial relations and sexism during the World War II era. What’s interesting is seeing how very little has changed over the past 77 years. Racism still endures, an orange, brainless, preacher of sexism is the leader of the free world, and where there were Nazis, now are Neo-Nazis.
“Mudbound” has everything you’d expect from a movie like this — moments that will make you sad, moments that will make you angry and moments that will make you sick to your stomach — but it’s also a surprisingly uplifting movie; one that will leave you with hope for the future.
I’ve never really been a fan of monster movies. “Kong: Skull Island” is aggressively mediocre, “Pacific Rim” is Guillermo del Toro’s least interesting film, and I’m very sure the moaning couple sitting two seats away from me had more action in between them than the entire two hours of “Godzilla.” With that said, “Colossal” is a Kaiju movie I actually like.
This, along with “Mother” are perhaps two of the most ORIGINAL and interesting movies of the year. I’ll say as little as possible, because half the fun of this movie is discovering where it’s going to take you. But I’ll give you a tiny, hopefully, head-scratching, hint: In one scene, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is fish drunk. She dances and jokes around without a care in the world. She’s clearly out of it. As a result, the Kaiju in which she’s telepathically connected to causes major destruction, killing hundreds of people in the process.
9. Gerald’s Game — Netflix Original
Picture this: You’re on vacation with your boyfriend in a secluded, quiet area. You decide to spice up your relationship by engaging in some kinky fun. Your boyfriend handcuffs you to the bed and right when you’re about to get it on… your boyfriend gets a heart attack and dies. What now?
“Gerald’s Game” is one of, if not the best horror movie I’ve seen in ages. Forget “Conjuring”, forget “IT”; The simple, immensely realistic concept of this Stephen King adaptation is what makes it truly terrifying.
That very premise alone is brilliant, but “Gerald’s Game” is so much more. I’m reminded of some of the best survival movies out there, like “Wild” and “127 Hours”. Here, Carla Gugino’s Jessie learns about herself and the metaphorical demons that have been haunting her throughout her life. Monsters are real, they just don’t look anything like the shit you see in your typical horror movie.
8. Baby Driver
I have never been a huge fan of Edgar Wright. I’ve always appreciated and studied his storytelling methods, sure, but none of his movies clicked with me on a personal level. Call me crazy, but it actually took me three tries to get through “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”.
Then came “Baby Driver” and holy shit is this movie AWESOME or what? “Baby Driver” may not be my favourite movie of 2017, but it is the most fun I’ve had in theatres all year. In typical Edgar Wright fashion, this movie is more about the storytelling than it is the story.
The premise is simple: A young getaway driver is forced to partake in a heist that is doomed to fail, when all he wants to do is run away and live happily ever after with his new girlfriend. This is the simplest of fairy tales told in the most absurd, fantastical way. The manner in which Edgar Wright crafts each sequence to match the soundtrack is simply genius.
“Baby Driver” would be higher up on my list if it weren’t for its slightly disappointing climax.
7. Wonder Woman
“Wonder Woman” may not be excellent throughout — the third act is mostly a giant, explosive letdown — but it is one of the most important films in pop culture. Patty Jenkins has accomplished what many people thought to be impossible: A female-led superhero movie, directed by a female, grossing over $US 800 million at the global box office on its opening weekend, and universally lauded by critics and fans alike. “Wonder Woman” is a significant film and it will be remembered for a very, very long time.
This movie is extremely feminist and also has my favourite line of the year: “It’s concluded that men are integral for reproduction, but unnecessary for the purposes of pleasure.” Mic f**king drop!
6. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Tamil/Telegu)
“Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”, is the sequel to “Baahubali: The Beginning” and it is the most accomplished Indian film ever made. The most accurate way to describe this S. S. Rajamouli epic is: “The Lord of the Rings” meets “Game of Thrones”, only not as great but still bloody awesome. There are strong female characters, great action sequences and many scenes that will send shivers down your spine.
If you did not catch this movie in cinemas, do check it out on Netflix. Be sure to watch the TAMIL version and not the dubbed HINDI one.
We have seen great X-Men movies in the past, but none are as powerful as this. “Logan”, directed by James Mangold, is one of the few comic book movies, like Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman”, that transcends the comic book movie genre.
“Logan” isn’t a comic book movie, but a character study and a family drama, that so happens to be about comic book characters. We’re used to seeing Wolverine as the cool, invincible lone wolf. But here we see age and mortality catching up to him and Professor-X; And the pain and suffering that comes with that.
“Logan” is the least exciting, most inspired X-Men film to date and both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart deserve Oscar nominations for their performances.
4. La La Land
I’m usually not a fan of musicals but boy did this one resonate with me. You would think that La La Land is a romance movie about two individuals who are in love with each other. I disagree. La La Land is romance movie about two individuals who are in love with their passion.
There is a scene in this movie that I particularly love and will probably remember for a very long time. Seb enthusiastically and angrily explains to Emma Stone’s Mia on the beauty of Jazz. He wants her to understand and appreciate Jazz as he does. I can relate. It’s exactly how I am with movies, perhaps much to the annoyance of my friends.
“La La Land” is an inspirational film helmed by one of the best young directors working today, Damien Chazelle. Also, be sure to check out his previous film, “Whiplash”.
3. Hacksaw Ridge
Say what you want about Mel Gibson’s personal issues, but put him behind a camera and you can bet he’ll shit out greatness. Sadly, the same can’t be said about him in front of the camera. WTF “Daddy’s Home 2”.
Hacksaw Ridge is based on a true story about a young army medic named Desmond Doss, who served in the US military during the battle of Okinawa. Because of his religious beliefs, he refused to carry a weapon, nor kill anybody, even if it’s to protect himself. But “Hacksaw Ridge” isn’t self-righteous, nor does it hit you on the head with religious ideas — Mel Gibson shows you both sides of the argument.
Interestingly enough, while Hacksaw Ridge is a war movie, Mel Gibson spends a large portion of the film exploring the characters. “Hacksaw Ridge” is an emotionally trudging character piece. And when the war finally comes, it hits you like a truck moving at 180 Km/h.
There are two Denis Villeneuve movies that hit the big screen in 2017, “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049”. Both are excellent films that solidify Villeneuve as a masterclass filmmaker. But it is “Arrival” that I keep on revisiting. Not only is this Villeneuve’s best film to date, it is also one of the best pure Sci-Fi films of all time.
“Arrival” is not your typical alien invasion film. There are no badass heroes, kickass action sequences, and unlimited ammunition semi-automatic weapons. If you want those, then check out the Alien franchise, the Predator franchise or heck, maybe even Chicken Little. This film is quite frankly not about aliens, though it does have aliens in it. This is a drama, shot like a thriller, that centres around the importance of language and communication, using a real-world linguistic hypothesis.
Also, you can add Amy Adams’ performance here to the list of worst Oscar Snubs in history.
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
And for the third time in a row, my favourite of the year is a Star Wars movie. But this time, it wasn’t as easy a decision as it was in previous years. “La La Land”, “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Arrival” are three films that are pretty much flawless in my eyes, while “The Last Jedi” has the infamous Canto Bight sequence (which admittedly touches on great themes, despite its poor writing and pacing).
But I have to be honest with myself when making this list. The more I watch “The Last Jedi” — five times and counting — the more I love it. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. “The Last Jedi” is a deconstruction of Star Wars. It is the first Star Wars movie that examines the franchise on a deeper level and makes us question the very lore that we’re devoted to. This is a challenging Star Wars film; one that sparks debate, analysis, and discussion among its most rabid fans.
“The Last Jedi” also brings up real-world themes such as the consequences of male ego, the importance of failure, and war profiteering. Rian Johnson also challenges us to strip away the mysticism and look at the Jedi for what they really are.
“The Last Jedi” is a beautifully told story — one that is also terribly depressing. It has some of the best action sequences in all of Star Wars and hands down the best character exploration. This is not just the best Star Wars movie to date… it is a Goddamn masterpiece!
Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Agree with my list? Want to murder me for this blasphemous list? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to share it with your buds.