Unlike previous years, 2017 was actually saving us a great year of cinematic history. While the award seasons seem cool without overly strong contenders, the year actually gave us a diverse, colorful series of cinematic wonders. We saw the rise of new forces, new auteurs and recognition to minority-group filmmakers, including the whole new face of women’s cinema and the answers to the #SoWhite campaign. We also saw how scandals and the massive expose that followed turned Hollywood upside down. Yet, for whatever happened in the industry, cinematic world did not cease to amuse us with the wonders, hence this list of 2017 best films.
Sinekdoks picked top 20 films among the 230 films watched in 2017 (actually, between the period of January 29, 2018 until January 20, 2017). With total 10 films achieved Sinekdoks‘ sparkling 4 stars, here’s our final list of 20 best films of 2017.
20. A Ghost Story
d. David Lowery c. Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) explores griefs and broken heart in a beautiful ghost story. Adorned with kitsch ghost design, Lowery’s penchant for idyllic visuals and Casey Affleck’s under-the-sheet performance which blends well with Rooney Mara’s grief-stricken persona, A Ghost Story transcends a sad love story into a haunting connection between life, death and time. While it’s not a horror film, it redefines the ‘horror story of ghost’ from a firm perspective. Lowery has proven a point that he’s not a Terrence Malick wanna-be, but, he’s established himself as a visionary director with penchant to visual panache.
d. James Mangold c. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafnee Keen
After 17 years of becoming the Wolverine who appears in all X-Men films, Logan feels like a perfect farewell. James Mangold blends geri-superhero sub-genre with Western presentation and adorns it with much effective R-rated bonanza for an astonishing closure. With sympathetic gravitas and emotional ride plus the holy trinity between Jackman, Stewart and Keen, this farewell will scars all X-Men fans for life.
Read the full review here: Logan (2017) – Review
d. Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina c. Anthony Gonzales, Gael Garcia Bernal
Pixar’s nineteenth feature, Coco, results in a highly respectful tribute to Mexican culture and tradition, specifically, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ a.k.a. The Day of the Dead. The plot is rich with layers of conflicts juxtaposed with clever rendition of local myths. It takes some time before series of creative awe and the visual panache unravel Coco‘s real charm; but, when it does, Coco will deliver an emotional drive to wrap up the whole journey.
Read the full review: Coco (2017) – Review
d. Bong Joon-ho c. Seo Hyun-ahn, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal
Working with oddball-specialist Jon Ronson (gonzo journalist who wrote the embryo of Frank and The Men Who Stare at Goat), Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, Memories of Murder) crafts a prolific Netflix-backed blockbuster to wage war against animal cruelty and capitalism of food industry in the weirdest way. Delivered in the auteur’s most original framework—with shades of deadpan humor and bitter satire—in collaboration with Hollywood’s most versatile figures, Okja nests it all in an allegorically modest story about a super-pig of the titular name.
Read the full review here: Okja (2017) – Review
d. Jerome Trier c. Ellie Harboe, Kaya Wilkins
Joachim Trier’s Thelma might look like Carrie with Scandinavian arthouse sensitivity (if any). Between sexual awakening, psychokinetic and religious repression, Thelma subtly finds mutual correlations interwoven with a slow narrative presented like a folklore. Young Ellie Harboe is captivating as her raw, focused performance captures Thelma’s persona beyond metaphorical level.
15. Logan Lucky
d. Steven Soderbergh c. Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig
Fun-loving, carefree Steven Soderbergh is always our favorite kind of Steven Soderbergh. In his return to filmmaking, the director crafts another high-energized caper joyride with twists to his previous caper films. Coining the terms ‘Ocean’s 7-Eleven’ term to describe the film’s own scheme is a guarantee of how fun this film would be.
14. The Lost City of Z
d. James Gray c. Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sierra Miller
In terms of visualizing a grandeur story about ambition, passion and destiny, James Gray’s The Lost City of Z might make handful of resemblance with Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood only it’s in smaller scale of it. Charlie Hunnam excels in this spiritual adventure of a man’s ambition dividing the South American jungle to unravel humanity’s biggest secret, an older civilization hidden in the green desert.
Read the full review: The Lost City of Z (2017) – Review
13. The Florida Project
d. Sean Baker c. Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe, Bria Vinaite
Sean Baker returns blatantly, after the sassy Tangerine, by capturing the irony of marginalized society living outside the wonderful Disney World. Baker doesn’t shy away to be vocal and candid in unraveling the side of America people barely know. With combination of non-professional actors and stronghold like Willem Dafoe, whose persona as ‘the all-father’ is captivating, The Florida Project makes a bitter an optimistic one.
12. The Big Sick
d. Michael Showalter c. Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan
Love is a many-splendored thing again in The Big Sick, a real love story of its writer-actor, Kumail Nanjiani. This Judd Apatow-produced delight package grounds closely to reality and is utterly apprehensive in presenting a witty, sweet story. Some of the aspects are more digestible (also debatable) for people of Eastern culture than those of Western; but it’s never alienating. After all, this is a warm and honest cross-culture romance that attempts to bridge the differences.
Read the full review: The Big Sick (2017) – Review
11. Wind River
d. Taylor Sheridan c. Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen
Taylor Sheridan’s three consecutive ‘poetic justice’ streak (following Sicario and Hell or High Water) again showcases his prowess in writing. His painstaking flair for slick and immaculate script—with penchant to coherence and symmetrical storyline—is utterly exquisite. With Sheridan running for both writing and directing gigs, we finally get to see his full-creative-control mode; and, lucky you, it’s taut and clever as you might imagine.
Read the full review: Wind River (2017) – Review
10. Baby Driver
d. Edgar Wright c. Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey
With great eclectic soundtracks (forgivable if you know none of it), great casts, great cinematography and neat writing, Baby Driver marks Edgar Wright’s comeback with a high-octane moving jukebox at full throttle. It’s a blaring, heart-stopping love story in car-nage, which comes as stylish as possible.
Read the full review: Baby Driver (2017) – Review
09. Get Out
d. Jordan Peele c. Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams
Presented as a social satire, a super-satisfying horror and a slick answer to white-man horror, Get Out ventures beyond that. It’s a clever parable of how horror films can ‘actually’ picture up a real life horror without losing the prowess. It is a true cinematic experience and Jordan Peele is surely a filmmaker to watch.
Read the full review here: Get Out (2017) – Review
08. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
d. Martin McDonagh c. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
A grief-ridden message written on the titular billboards becomes the center of a rural town’s bitter chaos in Martin McDonagh’s emotional dramedy. Injected with bitter truth of human nature, McDonagh poignantly writes it up into a complex pitch black comedy with body counts. It’s so cleverly written that each cast could achieve their heightened performance—that includes implausible performance by Frances McDormand and an daunting one by Rockwell.
d. Christopher Nolan c. Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy
In Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan reenacts a pivotal WWII moment dubbed as ‘Operation Dynamo’ a.k.a. ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’ as an epochal non-victorious, non-Americanized spectacle in only 106 minutes—making it his shortest but also most precise and concise tenure among his recent work. It might be a fact-based war film the auteur unlikely to make; yet, Dunkirk is still a Nolan epic through and through—with inventive storytelling, heartfelt tension and Nolan’s math.
Read the full review: Dunkirk (2017) – Review
06. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
d. Mouly Surya c. Marsha Timothy, Dea Panendra, Egy Fedly
Exquisite, powerful and poignant, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak), is a tale of empowerment wrapped as a Far-East ‘Western’ revenge thriller with strong femme fatale to root for. It’s a quintessential work for Indonesian female director, Mouly Surya, whose previous works revolves around determined female characters, too.
Read the full review: Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (2017) – Review
05. Call My by Your Name
d. Luca Guadagnino c. Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Call Me By Your Name is sexy in its most charming vision. It’s a tale of an idyllic summer fling which soars high in its most amorous moments and sinks deep in its most heart-breaking seconds. ‘Romantic’ is way too underrated to define this film as Luca Guadagnino tends to fill every moment with grace to grasp. Profoundly affecting performances by Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer only adds to its delight.
04. The Disaster Artist
d. James Franco c. James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Through ‘The Disaster Artist’, we are guided to see one of the worst film ever made, The Room, from a new perspective, a new light, and with a completely new awareness which is sensitively captured by James Franco in both directing and acting attempt; and that’s quite an experience. It doesn’t make The Room any better (in fact, it stays as it is, hideous at worst, baffling at best), but it successfully captures a story of dreams and determination in the most unorthodox idiosyncrasy.
03. Blade Runner 2049
d. Denis Villeneuve c. Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto
Blade Runner 2049 comes as a genre-bending late follow-up, which appears as a slow-burning detective story to reveal answers to both philosophical and ‘physical’ mystery presented in the premise. Denis Villeneuve’s cyberpunk sequel deliberately yet subtly mirrors Ridley Scott’s original in terms of plot and general elements, but confidently delves into a new territory at the same time. All of those are wrapped exquisitely in one of the most stunning 164 minutes in the history of life.
Read the full review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – Review
02. Lady Bird
d. Greta Gerwig c. Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges
Lady Bird gives us a candid confession of a rural teenage girl with her big passion as brilliantly made alive by Saoirse Ronan’s terrific performance. The film’s concern to the protagonist’s identity odyssey and conflict with Laurie Metcalf’s unnerving mother persona is profound and honest. In her directorial debut, Greta Gerwig’s indie darling spirit is emanated all along, making the whole film seems like a reflection of her mind. It resounds as a highly relatable ode to the adolescence.
01. The Shape of Water
d. Guillermo del Toro c. Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer
The Shape of Water is, once again, Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to his own works, to his obsession with baroque fantasy and, especially, to his frequent collaborator, Doug Jones. What makes it different from his previous film is Del Toro’s shift to a more mature storytelling about love and acceptance. It’s beautiful and heartwarming by any means as it is precisely transcends its whimsical love story with wonders and splendors into a delightful fairy tale. The director’s inner-child has grown up a bit and it’s a satisfying process to experience.