Five Favorite Films of 2017

This year has been a banner one for movies. I ended up seeing 15 in theaters, and even though two weeks remain until 2018, I’m done with seeing new ones for this year. Visiting Rotten Tomatoes to forecast potential movie viewings remains something I do regularly. I try to avoid spoilers, and I also try to avoid assuming a movie’s going to be great based on popularity from a website. The assuming part can be difficult, however. This past week I saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Disaster Artist. Both movies I thoroughly enjoyed, but neither made this highly competitive list. Five favorites feels like the most appropriate number, given the amount I saw in theaters. Going to the movies has always been one of my favorite activities since I was younger.

Memories flood my mind from days of seeing Toy Story 2 and The Little Vampire. The latter, shockingly, being one of the movies I never stopped talking about. In any conversation, there’s a chance I mention how the first movie I saw in theaters was Space Jam back in 1996. Connecting specific life moments to movies I saw around that time is just how my mind works. For instance, the day our family moved into a new house shortly after I turned 10, I saw Like Mike. For me, it’s easy to connect those life moments with movies. Back in middle school, I remember my dad taking my brother and I, along with my friend Ryan, to see A Series of Unfortunate Events. Ryan and I were too cool to sit with my curly afro brother and dad, so we snagged seats rows from the big screen. Even though we had a big dinner, I begged and begged for Skittles, and, of course, my dad purchased, because that guy is the nicest. Minutes before Count Olaf even arrived at the Baudelaire’s, I spilled the entire bag of Skittles on the already sticky AMC floor, annoying the crowded establishment.

Movies are important, and going to movies might be even more important. I think about watching movies and television shows while in the comfort of my room, pausing every 10 or 15 minutes to do something else. Going to a dark, spacious theater without distractions for 100+ minutes isn’t just a way to indulge in entertainment, but it also eliminates the idea of checking the attached-at-the-hip phone.

In 2016, I had a much easier time coming up with five favorite movies, and that probably had to do with the lack of movies I actually saw in theaters. But there could also be that this year just brought more quality films to the table. The Big Sick, Baby Driver, Dunkirk, It Comes at Night didn’t make the cut. I didn’t see Thor, A Ghost Story, Call Me By Your Name, or Logan yet, as a disclaimer of sorts. I plan on seeing The Shape of Water and All of the Money in the World, but not until 2018. Before I begin the list, the ideal snack at a theater remains Raisinets mixed with popcorn.

Here are the five movies I’d watch again and again:

5. Lady Bird

Set in northern California, Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson only wants to go East after her final year at a Catholic high school. It’s a coming-of-age film that centers around the tender relationship between mother and daughter. It has plenty of humor to go along with several dramatic scenes including a heartbreaking one featuring Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and ‘Lady Bird’ (Saoirse Ronan) that hits harder than Sheldon Brown on Reggie Bush in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs. The McPherson family has it rough, which ‘Lady Bird’ essentially ignores throughout the movie. She wishes her situation could be different. It’s a movie about first loves, first times and that callow period of a young person’s life.

4. Columbus

This could be a bit biased since the only thing I wanted to do for a couple months this summer was see this movie. After watching the trailer sometime in July, I had to wait until the end of September to get to a theater that actually showed this film about the subtle beauties of every day life. Set in Columbus, Indiana, which Jin (John Cho) accurately describes as the mecca of architecture. Jin doesn’t know much about the town, as he’s only there to visit his ill father. His dad had been scheduled to lecture at the local university to discuss some of his projects. Jin, who had a rather rocky relationship with his father, befriends Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), who works at the library and has plenty of problems of her own dealing with her aloof mother. The two spent the movie walking around the town, viewing the spectacular buildings. It’s a movie that celebrates a different perspective on life, while catering towards the ever difficult decisions humans make on a consistent basis.

3. Wind River

My sister, Julie, visited in August. It was a great weekend, highlighted by seeing Counting Crows in concert. But following a day of mini golf and eating in Lake George, Julie and I saw Wind River in Saratoga Springs, and we didn’t expect to see what transpired over the course of the movie. Truthfully, I had no idea what the movie was about. A friend, if I remember correctly, recommended this Taylor Sheridan feature without any description. It’s not a true story per say, but stuff like this happens often in Wyoming and other American Indian reservations. It was an eye-opening movie that should be revered this award season. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds an 18-year-old woman’s dead body while working as a wildlife officer for the Fish and Wildlife Services. Lambert job is to track animals throughout the reservation, eliminating the most dangerous ones. The police department, lacking numbers, has assistance from the FBI in Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Screw Harvey Weinstein, whose company had purchased the film after Cannes festival, which is evident in the below trailer, but thankfully his name and disgraced company has been scrubbed from the movie now.

2. The Florida Project

This movie opened eyes to an underbelly population minutes away from the supposed happiest place on earth. Sean Baker has these ideas to create stories based on real places, using real people, which should be revered. (As evident with Tangerine) Willem DaFoe, who plays motel manager Bobby, stars in the movie, yes, but outside of DaFoe the cast consists of Floridians who probably never expected to be in an Oscar-worthy film. The essence of childhood’s portrayed in this feature film, and what exactly it’s like growing up poor adjacent to Disney World. It’s haunting how real Baker makes this movie feel.

1. Get Out

Back in March, the night before a major snowstorm hit Albany, NY, my cousin and roommate Chuck and I, ventured to a theater to see this flawless film. It’s everything a viewer could possibly want from a movie. It had excitement, it had humor, it had stupendous acting. Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) has to spend the weekend at his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) family’s house. Washington has never met her family, and even though his friend, Rod Williams (LilRel Howery) tried to warn him, he makes an unforgettable trip to the Armitage’s. Get Out was an experience unlike anything. The theater reacted to every scene like it was Super Bowl LI. Jordan Peele knocked his first directed movie right out of the park. See this movie.

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