I tend to judge a year in film by how many films I saw that I want to own on DVD/Blu-Ray. 2017 was not as strong as 2016 in that regard, but there were a lot more movies that I really liked (but didn't love) this year than in years past. In other words, my Top Ten was really easy to come up with, but my Top Twenty was VERY DIFFICULT. I kept moving things around and trying things out in different slots, and ended up deciding the agony just wasn't worth it.
But I still wanted to pay tribute to all the films I saw last year that I felt deserved it. So here is my way of doing that - a VERY expanded list of "Honorable Mentions" and "Runners Up" (in roughly ascending order) to my Top Ten. That list will be posted next week. Promise.
The Lost City of Z - So much more thoughtful than most other adventure epics. Gorgeous cinematography and a much better than expected performance from Sienna Miller.
The Lure - A bit slow, but few movies this year could match the creativity on display in this horror-fantasy musical drama, and the songs are actually pretty great.
A Ghost Story - Gorgeous and original, even if it didn't have the emotional impact on me it clearly wanted to have.
Wonder Wheel - Kate Winslet's barn-burner of a performance is more than enough to recommend this.
Stronger - Touching, raw portrait of PTSD with fantastic performances from Gyllenhaal, Maslany, and Richardson.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women - Rebecca Hall is a total knockout in this film about the creator of Wonder Woman and the unconventional polyamorous lifestyle he led with his wife and their third. It never sensationalizes anything, which is impressive for a film with this plot.
The Greatest Showman - Yes it's hokum. But it so thoroughly believes in the hokum it's selling that I ended up not caring a whit about how bad it was.
A Quiet Passion - The wittiest script of the year, aided by gorgeous cinematography and a stunning performance from Cynthia Nixon.
The Florida Project - The languid pace leads to a total sucker punch of an ending, one that left me so stunned I couldn't get up until the credits were done. Brilliant performances all around, especially from the children, and beautiful cinematography.
Blade Runner 2049 - Overblown overstuffed and overly designed, but so stunning that I couldn't look away for a second, nor did I want to. More sci-fi like this, please!
Baby Driver - I don't think I've ever seen a film with this much charisma. Just a pity that it goes on for too long.
Logan Lucky - Steven Soderbergh remains one of the smartest directors in terms of using movie stars in unexpected ways. This cast is incredible.
The Disaster Artist - I'm laughing just thinking about this movie right now.
The Big Sick - So heartfelt, so smart, so moving.
Thor Ragnarok - Still too beholden to the Marvel formula, but with verve and personality to spare. God bless Taika Watiti.
It - It may not be supremely scary, but boy does it get what it feels like to be an adolescent. If only more horror films cared about character this much.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - It may have curdled afterwards, but damn if Frances McDormand didn't make this a barn-burner. I was right there with her the whole time.
Wind River - Supremely tense with a gorgeous winter palette.
The Women's Balcony - A necessary interrogation of religious fundamentalism, in the guise of a crowd-pleasing comedy.
Wonder - Stephen Chbosky is now two-for-two in making films that get right to the heart of growing up.
Patti Cake$ - Supremely winning. Danielle MacDonald is a find, and she and Bridget Everett make for on of the most compelling mother-daughter pairings in a year full of great ones.
mother! - Would that more films had the audacity of this one, to assault the audience with sound and image in this way.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 - So colorful in every way. This is how I like my comic book movies.
The Post - Straight and to the point, with Streep and Hanks a thrilling duo at the heart of it all.
Get Out - What is there to say that hasn't already been said? Brilliant.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - The most visionary Star Wars entry since the original trilogy.
Princess Cyd - So big-hearted and humanistic, in its perfectly quiet, understated way.
Beach Rats - The complete inverse of Call Me By Your Name, and just as good. What if your circumstances kept you so closeted you never truly got to know yourself?
Coco - I'm not crying, YOU ARE.
A Fantastic Woman - Daniela Vega is simply phenomenal in this galvanizing portrait of loss and love what it means to be human.