Nicholas Stephan’s top 10 greatest movies of 2017

  1. Wonder Woman

In June of 2017, fans finally received the Wonder Woman character they’ve been hoping for. As of last year, Diana Prince was a very cinematically neglected DC Comics icon. That streak ended with Wonder Woman. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, the film centers around Diana, princess of the Amazons, raised on a sheltered island paradise and trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Gadot likably portrays the iconic Amazonian princess with innocence and virtue throughout this solo outing, building upon her scene-stealing cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Ever since The Dark Knight became not only the greatest superhero film of all time, but also a modern classic, Wonder Woman is its ideal predecessor. With its unforgettable story and characters, Wonder Woman alone stands as the Atlas of DC Comics cinematic universe. She’s a blend of beauty and brawn tailor-made for the modern age.

  1. Dunkirk

Exiting World War I with our number 10 spot, we enter again into battle with Dunkirk. Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk is powerful, suspenseful, and outstandingly crafted, with many fans vouching for Nolan to receive a long-overdue Oscar nomination for outstanding directing. A pulse-quickening experience, the films is unrelenting in its 106-minute delivery. In the film, allies from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Dunkirk’s masterful visual storytelling serves its audience on an epic scale.  Writer and director of the film, Nolan delivers with an iron grip on his work, and it’s only made better by the stone-cold cast that honors the fact-based story. Starring Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, and Mark Rylance, Dunkirk is sure to become a staple in the war genre. It is hard to imagine a better tribute to this victory of survival than Nolan’s inspiring film.

  1. It

Receiving two brilliant Stephen King adaptations in one year is noteworthy on its own. However, this film holds the weight most powerful novels. Bill Skarsgård gave us an Oscar-worthy performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and the children created a relatable and fun atmosphere to counterbalance the dreary town in Maine. In the film, a group of bullied kids known as the Losers Club band together when a shapeshifting monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, the film has grossed $327,455,467 as of December, devouring Deadpool’s box office record for an R-rated film. Muschietti had to make a movie for fans of King as well as casual horror fans, who may know next to nothing about the novel, which must have been a challenge. To say this big screen adaptation is nothing like the Tommy Lee Wallace miniseries from 1990, is not hyperbole. It is able to stand on its own as a modern horror classic, one to forever go down in history for its inescapable madness and unforgiving bloodlust.

  1. Baby Driver

All you need is one killer track.  People who went to see Baby Driver were probably expecting nothing more than a car chase movie, but they were surely treated to a good time. The film is so much more than a disposable popcorn movie. The true ‘drive’ of the film is the cast and characters, keeping you invested when the action dies down. The film is about a young getaway driver who yearns to break free from the clutches of a local crime boss and start a new life on the road with his waitress girlfriend.

Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Hamm are excellent, and Lily James shines as Debora. The chemistry between she and Baby gives the audience a real reason to root for them. The only character who I felt was a little bit lacking was Baby himself. Portrayed by Ansel Elgort, his trademark silence means he’s more defined by his actions than his words, which is a very unique trait for a character to inhabit. Baby Driver will knock the wind out of you. That’s how crazy of a ride it is.

  1. The Disaster Artist

James Franco represents the true story of aspiring filmmaker and infamous Hollywood outsider Tommy Wiseau in a celebration of artistic expression and dreams pursued. A true tragicomedy, The Disaster Artist is based on Greg Sestero’s best-seller about the making of the real life Tommy’s cult-classic ‘masterpiece’, The Room, also known as “The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” and “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies.” The film is funny, and sometimes surprisingly touching, featuring outstanding work from both Franco brothers. 

The Disaster Artist is a humorous film about the Hollywood system and the passion for film making. Franco has not only made a sharp, funny movie about the industry, but also a layered and devoted depiction of a friendship with his own brother, Dave Franco, who plays Greg Sestero in the film. Besides, when Franco and Rogen show up in something together, good things tend to happen.

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There’s nothing quite like a Star Wars flick. Coming out of the fantastic standalone story Rogue One, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues the cosmic saga as the heroes introduced to us first in The Force Awakens begin to make their mark on our favorite galactic legends. In this new epic adventure, Rey (Daisy Ridley) begins to unlock age-old mysteries of the Force and decrypt shocking revelations of the past. She develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers.

The film is able to deliver plenty of twists and turns while still providing a cohesive story. Star Wars: The Last Jedi  blurs the lines between good and evil as the franchise’s newest entry and heavily captures the allure of the Dark Side unlike any film before it. Arguably the best film in the iconic Star War series, this films sets a new standard for the many films to come.

  1. The Shape of Water

From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), comes The Shape of Water, an other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War. A beautifully captured fantasy/sci-fi, the film blended wonderful storytelling with excellent pacing. Any fan of horror and romance would thoroughly enjoy this picture, and it and should be a contender for an Academy Award in a few categories including Best Picture.

In the film, lonely and mute janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works in a hidden high-security government laboratory. Her life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

Featuring powerful acting by the entire cast, especially the amphibian man (Doug Jones), the theme is carried throughout the film, beginning as soon as the lights dim. At times, the story can be chilling and unpredictable, and the outstanding chemistry between Hawkins and the creature with virtually no dialogue is something to be admired. One of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing films in years, The Shape of Water is like a poem in its presentation and story. 

  1. Logan

Inspired by the critically acclaimed comic book storyline Old Man Logan, Logan is a astronomical success in it’s rooted storytelling and character development. A beautiful outing for Hugh Jackman after playing the character for 17 years, Logan is the first R-rated Wolverine feature. The film is easily the Marvel Studios’ counterpart to Christopher Nolan‘s Batman masterpiece, The Dark Knight. Directed by James Mangold, he gave the character of Logan a rage that seems to waste away as the film plays out, and Patrick Stewart as Professor X as is touching, bringing a brand of humanity to this otherwise violent and blood-soaked film. Steward is a perfect foil for Jackman’s character. Dafne Keen as Laura delivers an untamed feral performance, obviously preparing to take up the mantle as a possible future Wolverine.

Logan is unmatched by all of the other films in the X-Men franchise, and it is likely to forever stay that way. With the resent Fox/Disney deal underway, we can expect more from the character in the near future, but for now, Logan is more than enough to hold over fans and critics alike.

  1. Coco

Pixar has had many hits in the past, all distinctive in their character, story, and personality. Coco delivers on such a level, you’re missing out if decided to pass it by. It’s a energetic and lively film, full of whimsy in its music and delivers a heartening story about the worth of family and appreciating your elders. In the film, Miguel is an aspiring musician who, when confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, who was a legendary singer. One of Pixar’s best films in years, it’s a dazzling homage to Latin/Hispanic tradition and heritage. 

A great time for both adults and children, Coco has been described as “a vibrant piñata of a movie” that when broken, leaves movie goers filled with happiness and content. With Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel, and directed by Lee Unkrich, Coco is a celebration of Mexican culture not soon to be forgotten.

  1. Get Out

Rounding out our list is the 2017 horror masterpiece, Get Out. Get Out holds a whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed and written by Jordan Peele making his film debut (which sets the level of impressiveness to a whole new level), the film tackles a heavy subject in a monumentally pleasing and unforgettable approach. In the film, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

Get Out is one step away from becoming the newest classic sinister sensation to have in your collection of frightening flicks. All you have to do is go out and buy a copy. What makes Get Out more than just a weak and forgettable scare-fest is its way of subtly addressing racial paranoia in its own dark, satirical way.