1. Spider-Man Homecoming
Everyone’s favorite web-slinging hero returned to the big screen in top form as Spider-Man finally joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in his own solo movie. The film stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker growing up as a New York high school student while also trying to become a member of the Avengers. Not only was Holland the Spider-Man many fans had been waiting to see portrayed onscreen, but he was surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast that boosted his performance even more including the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Marissa Tomei, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalion.
And can we talk about Michael Keaton’s brilliant take on Adrian Toomes/The Vulture? In a world where the MCU struggles with compelling villians in most of their movies, Keaton brings a realness to Toomes that is hard not to be fixated by every time he is on screen. All these elements combined gave us the best Spider-Man movie yet, and my favorite movie 2017.
Earlier in the year, we witnessed the end of a thrilling seventeen year journey as Hugh Jackman turned in a phenomenal performance as Wolverine in Logan. Telling the final chapter in the character’s story, Logan was a big detour from the normal X-Men storytelling formula, as we were treated to a dystopian future that gave the movie more of a western feel to it, something that benefited the character very well. Also, this was our first R-Rated movie featuring Wolverine, which finally allowed us to see the brutal side of the character that was suppressed by the PG-13 movies of the past.
Patrick Stewart delivers an Oscar-worthy role as Professor X, as his portrayal of the most powerful mind of the universe suffering from a state of Alzheimer’s is particularly gripping to watch, along with his onscreen chemistry with Hugh Jackman after seventeen years of working together. Dafne Keen has a star-making performance as Laura/X-23 despite not speaking in most of the film, as she is able to say so much in her facial expressions alone. Logan is a beautiful sendoff to one of the best character runs in cinematic history.
As divided as it was amongst fans after it’s release, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a new spin on the Star Wars storytelling format. Director Rian Johnson gave the kind of life the franchise needed to stay fresh and relevant going forward, rather than a franchise that rehashes the same story beats time after time. This movie leaves you asking more questions than you had going into the movie and delivers some of the most visually and emotionally satisfying moments you will ever see in a Star Wars film.
The performances in this movie are some of the best the actors involved have had in their careers. Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker has more depth than he has ever had, and Hamill turns in a career defining performance as the character that ultimately defines his career. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has become my favorite all-time Star Wars villain, as his character arc is easily more enticing to watch than Darth Vader’s arc in the original trilogy. His layered performance is vastly underrated, and I cannot wait to see how Episode IX wraps up, or continues, his overall story.
The horror movie is back in a big way, and at the forefront of the renaissance of the genre is Andy Muschietti’s remake of Stephen King’s classic tale IT. Originally done as a television miniseries back in 1990, this was the first time It had been done on the silver screen. And while expectations were high after Tim Curry’s beloved take on the entity known as Pennywise the Clown, Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård was able to make the character completely his own, delivering a horrifying performance as a figure designed to prey on your deepest fears.
It would be hard to talk about the massive success of It without giving due praise to the cast of children playing the famed Losers Club in the book. Finn Wolfhard stood out in his role of Richie Tozier, as well as Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, the leader of the club. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel, which will continue the children’s story in their adult years, completing Muschietti’s adaptation of the horror tale.
5. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond
Rounding out the top five is the in-depth Netflix documentary Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, which takes a look at Jim Carrey’s method approach to playing late comedian Andy Kaufman in the 1999 film Man on the Moon. Directed by Chris Smith, the film is filled with unreleased, behind the scenes footage of Carrey never breaking character, whether it was as Andy Kaufman or Kaufman’s famed character Tony Clifton, much to the dismay of many cast and crew members surrounding him. We even see the stress it puts on director Milos Forman, who also directed One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, as he struggles to keep control over Jim as a performer.
While the movie contains a lot of moments that may show Carrey in a negative light, the movie is mostly filled with very real and emotionally touching moments, particularly when Carrey interacts with the family of Kaufman in character. It is also a unique look at the psyche of the famed comedic actor, as he divulges some very honest insight into how he feels about himself, his career, and society as a whole. It will leave you with feelings of laughter, anger, and sadness in this emotional rollercoaster of a documentary.
Honorable Mentions: The Big Sick, Coco, Thor Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman