By Jarrod Jones. For those of you who don’t remember, DoomRocket began as a film review site. It’s since shifted its focus to the comics medium, but that shouldn’t suggest that its heart still doesn’t belong to the silver screen. Here are the ten films from 2017 that heartened us, challenged us, and gave us inspiration during what was an otherwise pretty shitty year. To 2018, and to the return of DoomRocket’s Anti-Monitor.
THE BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR
November. From Estonia comes a tale of ghosts and wolves and the things we do for love. Rainer Sarnet lovingly recreates the tales told to him by his grandmother and around them weaves a tremendous narrative from Andrus Kivirähk’s novel, “Rehepapp”. Sarnet plays with several narrative tricks, but his favorite is foreboding; he dips the film’s consequences in a jet-black tar of irony and sets them before you for contemplation. But he doesn’t forget to dwell in the lovely moments. Every still, every captivating second (shot in stark black & white and infrared by Mart Taniel), has a story to tell. Those stories are marvelous, terrifying, enchanting. Allow yourself to be swallowed whole by this thing.
Lady Bird. Listen! That’s the sound of Greta Gerwig becoming one of the most important filmmakers today. Her craft, astonishing. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf decimate. There are moments where your heart will ache. There are moments that will break you. Every inch of this movie is alive.
Get Out. Psycho/socio-parable that just keeps freaking me out the more I think about it. If you’ve somehow navigated the year without getting this movie spoiled for you, watch it as soon as you’re able. Meantime, I’m not telling you a goddamned thing. Daniel Kaluuya, with vast oceans of emotion flowing behind his eyes, is phenomenal. Never looking at Bradley Whitford or Catherine Keener the same way again. The next thing Jordan Peele makes, I’m there.
Logan Lucky. Folksy crime ensemble that’s certainly one of the better films of 2017. Distracting cast members: The Winter Soldier and Seth MacFarlane in a fright wig. Daniel Craig’s bottle-blond jailbird is a stand-out. You’ll be humming “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by the end, I promise.
Raw. Tasty body horror. The kind of movie designed to make you squirm. It’s provocative, in that relaxed, European sort of way. It’s vicious, and it has the backbone to follow through to the bitter end. Garance Marillier is a coiled spring, begging for an excuse to release. She’s spectacular. Julia Ducournau likes her Cronenberg, and when Raw lets the atmosphere seep in, Argento begins to weave in and out of her imagery. (I’m pretty sure she sneaked a Sjöman reference in there, too.) Won’t be forgetting about this one any time soon.
THE BEST GENRE FILMS OF THE YEAR
Logan. It’s an all-or-nothing type of movie, the sort of dust-choked gauntlet of bloody comeuppance that certainly doesn’t get made anymore, at least, not at this level. (Imagine if some brave exec at Fox somehow convinced Sam Peckinpah to direct an X-Men movie, and you’re about there.) Logan is as angry and nihilistic as the character itself. But it also gives us something of which these X-flicks have long been bereft: a beating heart. Now watch it break.
War for the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves, more confident with the technology at his beck and call than ever before, lovingly frames his apes (and a couple of his humans) in tight close-up and dares us to flinch. The motion-capture tech has evolved to an alarming degree here, and caught on the big screen, the creatures look every inch as convincing as their real-life counterparts. As a matter of fact, whenever we’re this intimately close it’s pretty clear that — performance-wise — the apes are often the stronger characters on the screen. (Let The Battle for Andy Serkis’ Oscar begin once more in earnest.)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Space saga that goes boldly instead of staying idle in a galaxy far, far away. Lucas brought us Star Wars via The Hidden Fortress. Johnson goes full Rashomon. The influences remain, but the future is uncertain. It’s better this way. Raw, imperfect, astounding.
Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a romp, even more so than Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, which spent a lot of its time working disturbing imagery and dramatic pathos into its goofy framework. And while Guardians 2 let sobriety seep in from time to time, Ragnarok largely attempts to avoid it. It’s impetuous that way. But that shouldn’t suggest Ragnarok is without emotional scale — it’s in there, tucked underneath its Zeppelin riffs and good-natured rib-pokes. The dramatics are found in the small moments, peppered in whenever the film feels like it’s about to topple over itself.
Wonder Woman. At the epicenter of Warner Bros.’ calamitous DC cinematic experiment is Wonder Woman. In her first foray into action filmmaking, Patty Jenkins packed this film with heart, reverence, and respect. Say what you will about its crummy third act. Wonder Woman gave life to a dying franchise and, perhaps most importantly, hope to a new generation of film-goers who will see that tomorrow looks very differently than today. Years from now, folks will talk about the year Gal Gadot arrived, stood amidst the fracas of our societal tumult, and pointed us towards the sun.
What were your favorite films of 2017? Let us know in the comments below!