With one half of 2017 behind us, the staff of Next Best Picture is proud to share with you our Top 10 films of 2017 so far.
Click below to see which films made the cut for each of us.
WILL MAVITY’S TOP 10
10. “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” – If the film can’t entirely justify its existence, as character motivations feel unearned when portrayed in a more realistic universe, it is still a visual feast to behold. The film is not extraordinary and fails to equal the heights of Disney’s original, but it is charming and inoffensive nonetheless.
9. “FREE FIRE” – While the film does feel a bit like an expensive student film helmed by someone who really, really like Tarantino films, it is somewhat entertaining nonetheless. Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer are endearing character actors, and the sound work is exemplary.
8. “THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS” – Hindered by its budget (only $5 million), The Girl with All The Gifts fails to live up to the potential of its source material, and features some painful dialogue, but still proves a fresh and engaging spin on the much-explored zombie genre.
7. “SPLIT” – Well I’ll be damned…I enjoyed an M. Night Shyamalan film, and I can’t wait for his follow up. Never thought I’d say those words again. James McAvoy provides an astonishing performance, while Anya Taylor Joy continues to remind us that she is not to be underestimated. The film as a whole may not work as well as 2016’s similar 10 Cloverfield Lane, but Shymalan utilizes claustrophobic space better than Dan Trachtenberg. And of course, the ending proves Shyamalan can still deliver a satisfying twist or two.
6. “WONDER WOMAN” – In an era of brooding and cynical DC films, this one offers a breath of fresh air for the genre. Gal Gadot’s and Chris Pine’s chemistry is irresistible, and Ruper Gregson Williams’ score is big, rousing, and hummable in a way that few modern scores are these days. The film loses a few points for some odd CGI, and a 3rd act reveal that undermines the film’s themes, but overall, it proves a promising turnaround for DC’s superhero universe, and sets a precedent for further representation of women in film.
5. “THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE” – While not as fresh as 2014’s The Lego Movie, Lego Batman is still a vibrant and energetic good time that serves as a more thorough character study of The Dark Knight than the majority of his live-action ventures have.
4. “THE LOST CITY OF Z” – James Gray’s screenplay adheres a bit loosely to the true story behind the film, but that does not make the project onscreen any less narratively satisfying. Hunnam proves he is far more than a handsome face, displaying a complex performance. He is full of charisma and bravado, but also vulnerable, while Sienna Miller and particularly Robert Pattinson carry their weight. Darius Khondji’s cinematography is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, while Christopher Spelman’s score is used wisely.
3. “THEIR FINEST” – Their Finest spends its first two acts with too many balls in the air, but brilliantly defies convention and ties the film together in its emotional third act. Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy give arguably career-best performances, while Claflin proves irresistibly charming and Rachel Portman’s score is unsurprisingly lovely. The film proves to be a vital call to arms for a presence of women in the film industry, while also serving as a reminder of the importance of the arts during dark times.
2. “GET OUT” – Darkly funny and legitimately suspenseful, Get Out treds the difficult line of comedy and horror in a manner that few films have. Jordan Peele’s nimble writing and directing offer the viewer a feast of Easter Eggs to discover, and extensive food for thought in the film’s aftermath. Special shoutouts go to Daniel Kaluuya’s layered performance and to Michael Abels’ eerie score.
1. “LOGAN” – Logan’s screenplay may not prove especially original, but the film manages to provide some visceral fills and well-earned emotion for an epic sendoff to an iconic character. Jackman and Stewart offer some of the best work of their careers, while Beltrami’s score is excellent, Mangold’s direction is crisp, and the film’s Makeup Effects and subtle CGI are deserving of Oscar attention.
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ’S TOP 10
10. “A QUIET PASSION” – A wonderful surprise to genuinely enjoy a film I feared would be a bore. Terence Davies has crafted a wonderful film about a woman (who just happens to be Emily Dickinson) trapped within the confines of a society that will not allow her to grow or mature as she should. As Dickinson, Cynthia Nixon once again proves that she can do no wrong. She is absolutely astounding here. Here’s hoping she can gain some awards traction for this stunning portrayal.
9. “BEATRIZ AT DINNER” – “Beatriz At Dinner” spends most of its brief run time making a case for being the most relevant movie of 2017. On paper this could have been preachy. The key to making it work is that the audience is never once given the opportunity to cozy up to Beatriz. We are as mortified by her behavior as we are anybody else. While a more suitable finale would have made this an instant classic, what we are left with is still one of the most special films to come out so far this year.
8. “PARIS CAN WAIT” – Most will be tempted to call Eleanor Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait” a minor film, but I believe that to be dismissive. Yes, it may be light on plot or substance, but in a marketplace oversaturated by big budget action and moody sci-fi, sometimes adult audiences want something reflective of their lives. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for those not interested in the surreal, this makes for perfect Apértif. Bon appétit!
7. “THE LOVERS” – This is the type of film studios should be making for mainstream adult moviegoers. Debra Winger and Tracy Letts are absolutely superb as a couple on the brink of divorce who find themselves possibly falling back in love. It is so rare to come across characters over a certain age as dynamic and alive as these two. Of course credit must be paid to writer/director Azazel Jacobs, but a lot of that has to do with decisions made by the performers themselves.
6. “THE BEGUILED” – A fascinating and well made film about what happens when a cancer invades a closed off system. While I personally would liked to have seen more energy and movement throughout, that isn’t Sofia Coppola’s style as a director. Even with a few slow moments, a sensational third act more than compensates. Superb performances and design.
5. “GET OUT” – Jordan Peele’s social satire set the cinematic marketplace ablaze earlier this year, and continues to be one of the most talked about titles of 2017. Frightening and funny on the backdrop of today’s society.
4. “IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST” – The legendary Carl Reiner and friends take us on a journey of life past 90. This wonderful documentary introduces us to so many active seniors, that the notion of age being just a number is proven true. From dancers to runners, producers to musicians, we are presented with such a wide range of active adults who we can all afford to learn from.
3. “THE WOMEN’S BALCONY” – There’s a very good chance that you haven’t heard of this quietly powerful Israeli comedy, but it’s about time you did. “The Women’s Balcony” follows a group of semi-religious women who find themselves in the middle of a culture clash when an ultra orthodox rabbi takes over their shul. As funny and heartfelt as the film is, its message about respecting faith and drawing boundaries linger long after the credits roll.
2. “BRIGHT LIGHTS” – Premiering just days after the tragic and unexpected deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, it would be impossible to view “Bright Lights” as a standalone film. Yet as upsetting as it was to lose the mother/daughter duo, here is a film that shines a light on their legacies. With up close and personal access to two of the most fascinating figures in showbiz, audiences are able to understand just what kept these two women as relevant and busy as they were right up until the end.
1. “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” – Disney’s live action reimagining of their own 1991 classic is a musical lover’s dream come true. While it doesn’t quite hit the level of its predecessor (very few films do), this is a dazzling achievement in its own right. With superb performers, breathtaking sets/costumes, and clever theater references, “Beauty And The Beast” proves that the tale as old as time is as relevant and fresh as ever.
MATT NEGLIA’S TOP 10
10. “THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE” – Finally! Someone got the Batman character right! With excellent animation and a colorful voice cast adding humor and pathos to the proceedings, this spin-off to the successful “The Lego Movie” is equally as good.
9. “THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS” – Bleak, unique and wholly exciting. This zombie film offers a unique spin on a worn genre with a star making turn from young actress Sennia Nanua.
8. “JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2” – Now this is how you do a sequel. With increased stakes, more action and a perfect continuation of where the first film left off, “John Wick: Chapter 2” positions the now inevitable John Wick trilogy to be potentially one of the great action trilogies of all time.
7. “HOUNDS OF LOVE” – This tiny Australian independent film might be one of the most disturbing of the year due to its realistic portrayal of abduction and sexual assault. It’s terrifyingly real and the performances are very convincing making it all the more bone chilling.
6. “WONDER WOMAN” – I am so happy that DC got this film right. They were wise to hire Patty Jenkins and she directs the hell out of this film showcasing Diana’s humanity and compassion, making her a warrior of love that can inspire millions. This film would also not be as great as it is without the terrific leading performance from Gal Gadot who truly owns the role and the epic score from Rupert Gregson-Williams. Bring on the sequel.
5. “RAW” – A French, sexual, cannibalistic, coming of age story? That’s “Raw” in a nutshell and its mesmerizing. With a twisted story that sucks you in, a saturated color palette that really pops and great performances all around, “Raw” is a tremendous amount of fun for how utterly insane it is.
4. “BABY DRIVER” – Easily the best soundtrack of the year. Easily some of the most unique directing I’ll probably see all year. Edgar Wright’s style over substance musical car heist film is a gem for how it blends genres and presents itself. Precise editing and sound work which will continuously amaze and a cast that is having the time of their lives, “Baby Driver” is the most fun one could have at the movies all year.
3. “IT COMES AT NIGHT” – And now we come to what is truly the most disturbing horror film of the year and easily its best. “It Comes At Night” is only Trey Edward Shultz’s second film but already he shows he is one of the most talented writer/directors working today. A chilling atmosphere which never loses its darkness nor despair and an incredible cast lead by the charismatic Joel Edgerton, this film left me speechless by the end.
2. “LOGAN” – “Logan” is the best superhero film since “The Dark Knight” precisely because, like that film, it is not a superhero movie. It’s a western that happens to feature a mutant that we have grown to love over the last 15 years and James Mangold gives this character the send-off he deserves. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are Oscar-worthy and Dafne Keen steals the film as the deadly X-23. Oh, and the decision to use an R-Rating for this film? Brilliant.
1. “THE BIG SICK” – I was not prepared for how much I was going to love “The Big Sick.” It’s a funny, insightful and humanistic comedy with a heartfelt love story at its center that is intimately personal and filled with more depth than your average Judd Apatow comedy. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan have perfect chemistry and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano steal the movie with their relationship and humor as well. A wonderful balance of both drama and comedy, “The Big Sick” is the year’s best…so far.
You can follow Matt, Michael & Will and hear more of their thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture, @mikemovie & @mavericksmovies