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Staff Picks For 2017’s Best Films Of The Year So Far

We have reached the end of June, which means it may be fun to take a look at what we’ve really liked in the world of cinema so far this year. So the Why So Blu crew decided to put together their picks for the best films of the year so far, which once again range from superhero flicks to smaller indies. This set of eclectic lists reflects the range of films that have been released so far, with focus also still going towards what the rest of the year has to offer. Additionally, if you have anything to add as far as your own picks, feel free to leave those thoughts in the comments. Now, without further ado, let’s start off with our fearless leader.

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Brian’s Picks

Holy hell!  Is it June already?  Where has the time gone?  2017 has been a pretty busy year thus far for me.  From invasive, sidelining hip surgeries to moving at warp speed between jobs I finally now comprehend that saying my mom used to speak all the time in my youth.  Truth be told she drove me literally crazy whenever she said it, but now it all makes so much sense.  Simply put I don’t know if I’m coming or if I’m going.  Regardless, in our world here the month of June means only one thing.  We’re half way through the year in movies!  It’s time for us to reflect upon what movies we loved the most so far in 2017 and for some us, an opportunity to rip apart the ones we outright hated.  I have enough grief to contend with in my life so I’m going to skip the latter as that is what Transformers: The Last Knight is for and just deliver happiness and bliss upon you all with my top 5 selections I love the most heading into the month of San Diego Comic-Con, err I mean July.

5. Get Out

This one should get mad props from all of here.  I simply could not leave this one off the list without giving a special shout out to a “black” comedy I never saw myself falling for, the hilarious and racially insensitive dark comedy/thriller, Get Out.  If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and just blind buy it.  It’s that good!  Heck!  I am even paying $32 to have the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of imported over from France.  If you knew how cheap I am, then you would understand firsthand how much I must adore this one.  It’s quite entertaining even after repeat viewings.  I sense big things are on the horizon for Jordan Peele.  If he wasn’t on the map after Keanu, this one definitely puts him there!  Plus Keanu is really good too.  #JustSayin

4. The Fate of the Furious

Now I’m no fool.  I know the movie isn’t better than Get Out, but I’m all about the fun and escape from everyday life so the eighth entry in the Fast & Furious franchise did just that for me.  Sure, I miss Paul and Gal, but the hilarious antics of The Rock and Statham fills those voids with aforementioned humor, action and larger-than-life charisma.  Sure, it can be argued whether the past sins of Statham’s character or even Dom are really accounted for here.  However, at the end of the day if you’re having fun with it all, does it really matter?  The franchise is famous for it’s ridiculous, over-the-top action sequences and other death-defying, unbelievable scenarios. Therefore, if you’re OK with all that in the past seven outings how can you not be with the bromance between The Rock and Statham and fault Dom for what he had to do?  After all, it’s family first yo!  Why so serious?

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I guess I can start with the infamous Heath Ledger Joker line here, which I just finished with up above.  While Guardians Vol. 2 is a lot of fun it’s also a very emotional, tear-jerking tale.  Holy hell that second viewing was quite the emotional trip after my impossibly high expectations were readjusted post my first digestion of it all.  My fiancée balled her eyes out and let me tell you that makes quite the mess with mascara and those tight IMAX 3D glasses.  However, what it all boils down to is did I have F-U-N with this one.  Hell yeah, I did!  Although it’s a comic book movie it’s also my favorite comedy of the year.  The bickering, banter, and one-liners between all the characters we now know and love from the first outing were both gut-busting and crowd pleasing, even after repeat viewings.  You can’t ask for anything more than that.  Wait!  You can!  You can ask for a third volume!  Bring it!

2. Logan

I guess the real question should be how could one NOT have Logan in their Top 5 film lists of the year so far?  While it’s as violent as last year’s Deadpool it’s the complete polar opposite in it somber tone and throwback western influences.  While Deadpool is pure hip hop Logan is a classical symphony.  It’s raw, brutal and visceral and thanks in part to the R-rating one of the bloodiest fun times I ever had with a comic book movie albeit with a serious dose of tears attached to it too.  Yep that’s right it’s a sad one folks, but it’s also a rite of passage as Logan and Professor X have finally overstayed their welcome in the X-Men cinematic world paving the way for the younger band of merry mutants and misfits.  Truth be told too I couldn’t think of a better way for Hugh Jackman to take his final bow from these films other than how it all goes down in Logan.  He’s old, tired and cranky to the max, and I honestly wouldn’t want him any other way than this.

1. Wonder Woman

This one should come as no surprise for those who know me.  I am head-over-heels enamored with the DCEU movie universe ever since the can do no wrong superhero adventure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  More importantly, that film introduced us to a wonderful woman I am talking about here embodied, and making all guys’ fantasies real, by the traffic stopping Gal Gadot.  You can say what you want about the DCEU cinematic universe, but most critics will at least agree Wonder Woman is the strongest effort put forth yet.  Yes, some say DC played it safe with this movie and others will argue it’s no different than Captain America’s first big screen adventure.  While both of those points are completely justified there’s just no denying the beauty of this film.  I wish I was only talking about Gal’s stunning looks, but I am actually not.  This one has been a long time coming waiting 80+ years for Wonder Woman to make her onscreen solo debut, but more importantly this is a gender bending, significant culture changing motion picture that for the first time outside of Star Wars shows the strength of a female character and her reluctance to any help offered to her from the male sex.  I’m not trying to be sexist, but this one puts women on the map and I for one LOVE a good, strong female protagonist.  Stunning looks are just the icing on the cake.  I’ve been waiting a long time for this one and I wasn’t let down.  It’s everything I wanted it to be and more, especially in the humor department.  Yes that third act God battle was rather anti-climactic, but when you’re talking Wonder Woman’s powers how else are you really going to challenge her?  It had to be done and I’m looking forward to where they go next with her.  I’ll be watching her character’s every next move with great interest (take that any way you want).

Brandon’s Picks

5. Get Out

Jordan Peele’s darkly comic and horrific horror tale revolving around racism hits all the right buttons and gives us something unique we’ve never seen before. The film has a great sense of confidence and no sign of fear at all. One of the things I really took from this is that Allison Williams give a hell of a performance in this movie that I’m not sure is seeing the praise for that aspect that it should.

4. Kong: Skull Island

A fun, 70s Apocalypse Now-inspired tale of all the cool stuff from the King Kong story? You had me at hello. I was so entranced with this movie when I saw it that I completely forgot John C. Reilly was in it (And he was all over the trailers and I had JUST seen his name in the credits maybe 30 minutes prior). The film features some great giant monster action, military action and disaster movie destruction all in one. This was much better than the Godzilla film from a few years back for me. I love that there are 3 great King Kong origin story films now.

3. Wonder Woman

I have a super soft spot for period piece superhero films. This joins up with X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger as one of my favorites. Aside from being the first female headlined comic superhero film, it didn’t invent the wheel, but it did make one of the best damn wheels you can get. That damn No Man’s Land sequence got me kinda choked up and emotional as it was like “YES, this is what I’ve wanted to see for so long.” Gal Gadot is one of the best actor-hero roles we have and I don’t need Justice League, Batman, Superman, Suicide Squad, Flash….blah blah…I just want more Wonder Woman movies.

2. Logan

Hugh Jackman’s swan song to the character that made him a household name could revert back to #1 by the end of the year. There is one tiny nitpick in this story that would have made it even better that I agree with Aaron Neuwirth on, but I still think the film is GREAT as is. It’s a fitting farewell, up there with the likes of The Shootist or Unforgiven. And like Breaking Bad’s final episode, things can play as expected at times, but it’s sort of great in that fashion that it feels right and earned to do so.

1. Baby Driver

What a fun, crazy cool and moving movie. Edgar right has found an incredibly well-paced movie that, while you’re in your seat, makes you feel like you are just dancing through this film. It’s almost an incredible challenge in cinema today to make a film with a plot and characters this simple, but Wright manages to pull it off and then some. He’s channeling a lot of other car chase/heist films (Walter Hill’s The Driver is a BIG influence), yet making it feel fresh and totally original. It could have been easy to borrow an aesthetic from one of those to match, but Wright keeps it to looking of his touch and modern. Musically, these earbuds have got the soundtrack of the summer (Sorry, Guardians) and will surely have you with a lead foot on your drive home. Baby Driver is the kind of film I can see myself watching over and over a couple times a week when it lands on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.

Bron’s Picks

5. (Tie). Get Out

While I don’t think that I loved this film as much as the most people, I definitely really liked it. Perhaps I am too inured to horror/suspense tropes because there were no surprises in this for me. But, the story is good, the subversion is great, and the soundtrack/score is fantastic. All that said, the conversations that this film has opened up for me are worth giving it a spot on this list, as it has brought a lot of great social criticism to the bare.

5. (Tie). Free Fire

Super fun, super simple, super awesome film. I was very surprised that this wasn’t marketed better because everyone should have been excited to see it. Dialog and bullets zing around the single location warehouse while a zany group of excellently developed characters tries to stay uninjured enough to make it out of the gun deal gone wrong. A total blast! Something definitely seeing with a good surround sound system as the sound mixing is astounding!

4. The Disaster Artist

For any fan of The Room and Tommy Wiseau, this film is a tremendous treat. It narrowly avoids crossing the line into a full-on parody of its subject and stays very funny while telling a good story about the extra crazy filmmaking endeavors of a person who had no business being behind a camera. Fun, funny, and engaging.

3. Logan

I finally got a chance to see this film in a theater very recently and I was disappointed for not doing so earlier in the year. It was brutal, touching, and considerably better than I had thought any of the X-Men films (except for Deadpool) could ever be. I hope for greater storytelling and less garbage from Fox going forward… but that is the hope of a fool.

2. The Big Sick

Hilarious, sweet, well-acted, and tightly directed. What more can a person ask for in a romantic comedy? This film is a roll in the aisles kind of a good time, but with a lot of heart to back it up.

1. Baby Driver

One of the most likable films I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It moves, it grooves, and it is smooth! In my SXSW review, I called this the Mad Max: Fury Road of 2017 and on a second viewing, I hold by that statement. While it may not have the unending adrenaline shot that film provides, it does have great action scenes with perfect music and strange characters. Loved this movie!

WORST OF THE YEAR SO FAR

The Bye Bye Man – This film is utter trash. It fails so spectacularly in its efforts to be a horror film that it barely even should count as being a movie. Terrible editing, terrible acting, terrible half-assed jump scare nonsense, and a confusing villain with jumbled mythology make this a “film” to avoid for everyone. I hated it!

Lemon – With any luck, Lemon won’t get picked up for a full release, and nobody else will have to sit through the 90 minutes of awkward attempts as cringe-comedy like I did. How this film was able to get the cast it had is completely beyond me. Don’t be fooled; this is exactly what its title tells you.

Fifty Shades Darker – Obviously terrible. Luckily the only film in the list of movies that I usually wouldn’t see that I saw. That list includes stuff I know I won’t like: CHiPs, Baywatch, King Arthur: Legend of Boring Stuff, Transformers: Cash Grab That Failed This Time, Rings (or, The Sequel Nobody Wanted or Needed), The Great Wall, Resident Evil/Underworld: The Franchises That Won’t Die, Monster Trucks, and the sure-to-be-bad Emoji Movie.

Gregg’s Picks

5. The Girl With All the Gifts

What on earth is there left to do differently with the zombie genre?  Watch this movie and you’ll find out.  Actress Sennia Nanua surpasses her peers in this brilliantly innovative story on an undead apocalypse.

4. Wonder Woman

After seeing Gal Gadot portray Diana Prince, I do not think anyone else could have excelled in the role like she did.  Her innocence in understanding the “man’s world” combined with her athleticism on the battlefield were significant factors that successfully brought the character of Wonder Woman to life in her first feature film.

3. Hidden Figures

An all-star cast dots this movie’s roster, giving viewers a fantastic peek into history at three geniuses who were more than significant in pushing NASA’s space program to the next level.  Not only does this movie instill an appreciation for their efforts, but curiosity as to what other stories of great Americans haven’t been told.

2. Logan

I did not care for either of the first two Wolverine films…by a long shot.  Truth be told, the R-rating for Logan made this movie what the franchise always should have been.  Logan‘s adrenaline spills directly over to the audience.

1. Gifted

Never did I expect a film to run away with my thoughts and emotions this year (so far) as Gifted did.  Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer may get top billing, but it’s the young McKenna Grace that steals the show.  The 11-year old starlet delivers some fantastic acting amidst a strong cast, story, director and a one-eyed cat named Fred.  In a nutshell, it’s simply a beautiful film.

WORST OF THE YEAR SO FAR

Live By Night – The trailer looked interesting.  You have two accomplished actors in Zoe Saldana and Ben Affleck with the movie taking place during prohibition.  Sounds good to me!  Let me just say that I fell asleep in two movies this year.  This film was one of them.  The story just wasn’t very productive and produced more Zzz’s than wow’s.  If we’re keeping score on that, it was a shutout.

Underworld: Blood Wars – At one point, I could proudly say, “I love this franchise.”  Then the fourth movie happened and it defined ‘lame’.  They needed Scott Speedman back but mentioned him in the story as being on the run.  But alas!  We have the fifth film in 2017!  Blood Wars!!  This will rectify things, right?  Wrong.  If Underworld: Awakening (the fourth movie) was lame, Blood Wars was a bloody mess, and I don’t mean that in a sense of gore.  **SPOILER** The story now clarifies that Scott Speedman’s hybrid character of Michael is dead.  Make no mistake, Kate Beckinsale is the star of the franchise, as she should be, though Speedman was integral to the story since the first film. But I digress.  This movie was just awful from the beginning.

Jason’s Picks

5. David Lynch: The Art Life

For those of us who have waited years to hear past influences and childhood insight from one of the most mysterious movie makers ever, the doc David Lynch: The Art Life finally delivers the goods.  Dissecting the memories – past and present – of the artistic genius behind so many unforgettable films (Wild At Heart still turns my movie crank!), paintings (can I buy some, please?!) and photographs (Fish Kit and Chicken Kit are must own odd art!) and just letting the wizard of weird talk about anything and everything proves to be an incredibly insightful journey.  The mysteries of David Lynch may not all be revealed here, but the few that are speak strange satisfying volumes.

4. Logan

Making a distinctively dramatic adult superhero outing in both unapologetic story and style, Director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman put away snazzy outfits and high hair to tell a grounded tale of a broken man whose inner demons finally catch up with him – but not before he raises a little hell.  Brutal fight scenes we’ve been waiting for (a little claws through the top of the head goes a long way!), a touching father/son style story angle (the scenes between Jackman’s Logan and Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier are heartbreaking!) and one dynamite layered turn by Jackman as an aging hothead on his last leg makes Logan one rare outing indeed – a big budget flick with balls.

3. Catfight

Mixing his irreverent sense of humor with caustic characters, contemporary social ills and a pinch of all-out battle brawls, filmmaker Onur Tukel finally hits a five-star home run with this fist-flying flick that more than delivers on its catchy catty title.  Pitting Sandra Oh vs. Anne Heche in a grudge match where both stubborn women get firmly dressed down vocally, stripped down emotionally, taken down physically and still learn nothing not only mirrors the current state of affairs in the US today, but makes for one savory cinematic scuffle that keeps the feud and the funny coming non-stop – Catfight kicks ass.

2. Burden

As most film fans know the more revealing the doc, the better the product and this exposé of artist Chris Burden is rife with tasty personal and professional tidbits galore.  From his audacious 70’s performance art that feels like a rebellious and more profound version of Jackass (he offers himself up to be shot and also takes a female anchor by knifepoint to get TV airtime!) to his various failed relationships with insight from the women involved (his first wife speaks…via audio only!), Burden is a candid and comprehensive look (via archival footage and telling chats with the sullen man himself before his death!) at someone who against all odds did manage to stay married to his one true love – his art.

1. The Lure

Juggling two genres within a single piece of cinema is a daunting task for sure, but tackling a humungous handful seems like a recipe for disaster.  Thankfully the mayhem seeking mermaids flick The Lure is up to the task and manages to boldly blend together elements of a musical, horror film, fantasy, love story and coming of age tale with the greatest of ease – the result being one of the most delightful, daring and downright arresting film debuts ever.  (Viva la Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska who earns the Kathryn Bigelow visual seal of approval!)  Say there are no original films left?  Let this hidden gem lure you in.

(Others that may fill out my Top Ten at year’s end – Bad Day For The Cut, Kate Can’t Swim, Zen Dog, Okja, Humor Me and Eliza Sherman’s Revenge)

Aaron Picks:

Keeping in mind that I’ve seen many of the films that spread wide in January back around their limited December 2016 release dates, including The Red Turtle, The Salesman, Hidden Figures, Fences, Patriots Day, I Am Not Your Negro, I’m happy to see the number of 2017 films I was actually quite positive on. Some of these may shift up or down in my mind, as the year goes on, but there are a lot of films to take into account that are coming from all over the spectrum.

Worsts: Transformers: The Last Knight, The Bye Bye Man, The Comedian

Missed: Raw, Personal Shopper, Your Name

Honorable Mentions: Colossal, It Comes At Night, John Wick: Chapter 2

5. The Lost City of Z

Here’s a film that has gotten better and better the more I have thought about it. James Gray’s adventure-drama, based on a true story, lets us see just how great Charlie Hunnam can be when not tasked to play a bland hero. Instead, we get a complicated man with a desire to find a mysterious city in the Amazon. Hunnam, a rather great Robert Pattinson, and Sienna Miller all do a good job of making the characters work, while the film gets plenty of mileage from its great cinematography, solid screenplay and more. An old-fashioned approach seemed to be applied to the making of this movie and it certainly benefited.

4. The Big Sick

This compassionate comedy-drama providing a fictional retelling of the real-life romance between comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon is a real winner. Having been run through the Judd Apatow machine, you get a lot of well-handled comedy matched with one of the best rom-com stories in some time. Blending quirky rom-com stakes with a culture clash and the idea of forming a relationship with your significant other’s parents due to unpredictable circumstances, The Big Sick deftly navigates a lot. It all, fortunately, works, as the film has a heart while doing plenty to provide big laughs and well-done drama.

3. Kong: Skull Island

I have no reason to make excuses or add caveats; I had a blast with Kong: Skull Island. As a big King Kong fan and a supporter of big movies that are not holding back from truly going wild, this was a huge geek-fest with A-list stars and lots of CG monsters. At the center of if though, you had a strong performance from John C. Reilly and a great new take on the 8th Wonder of the World himself, Kong. This was a great time at the movies, with plenty of action and another reason to be excited for the potential of WBs Monsterverse, which will culminate in the Godzilla vs. Kong movie.

2. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright released a new film in the first half of this year, so of course it’s on this list. Baby Driver is a blast. An action-thriller that plays like a musical; there is so much to admire in Wright’s direction and none of that is really a surprise. The guy’s been ramping up his skillful handle of action in all of his films and here’s the one that finally lets him go into full crime movie mode. Of course, it’s done the way best fit for Wright, which means providing a wonderful cast with great dialogue, making great use of his editing skills and supplying a great soundtrack. It just so happens that this time around means syncing that soundtrack up to the fantastically filmed car chases. Baby Driver is a blast from start to finish.

1. Get Out

Rounding out my top five comes my third genre film in a row that continues to be my favorite of the year. Jordan Peele truly delivered something special with Get Out. The breakout horror-comedy hit supplies all one would want in a solid thriller alone, but the film is also laced with a level of social satire that plays great to the time we live in. Strong performances and some creepy moments are balanced out by assured direction and a good handle on when to add some laughs. The film is wonderfully constructed, with the right level of efficiency applied to make sure it stays on point and doesn’t go on longer than it has to. Get Out plays well on repeated viewings, which assures me that it will stick around as a thriller that will be long remembered.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

7 Responses to “Staff Picks For 2017’s Best Films Of The Year So Far”


  1. Brian White

    I love all the love for Get Out across the board!
    Gregg is always surprising with his number 1 picks (no Alien?) and Jason never fails to keep me on my toes of films I never seen yet.
    I can’t believe when asked to compile my list I completely forgot about Kong Skull Island as I heart that movie.
    One thing for sure is I plan on rectifying missing all 3 press screenings thus far of Baby Driver this weekend with Kori. We will have to drive the Mustang to the theater so we can speed out and pump up the jams.
    Thanks for compiling Aaron!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Thanks! This was fun to put together for sure. Glad a lot of us were able to participate and spread the love around for lots of different films, along with some consistent praise for certain hits.

  3. Brandon Peters

    I tallied these up earlier and shared w Aaron, but I might as well post here

    Most mentions on the lists:

    5 – Get Out, Logan
    3 – Baby Driver, Wonder Woman
    2 – Big Sick, Kong: Skull Island

    Gregg wins the “Most 2016 films on a films of 2017 list” award with 3. 🙂

  4. Gregg

    Yes Aaron, thanks for assembling this! Brian, Alien was a tough call. It all depended on whether or not “The Girl With All the Gifts” was going to be considered a 2017 film for us Stateside since it was actually released in Britain last year. Since it’s a relatively recent release to us Yanks, it edged out Alien for this halfway-mark list. I know I need to see Get Out. I have yet to come across one person who thought it was anything less than good.

  5. Jason Coleman

    Still need to see The Big Sick, The Disaster Artist, Gifted and Aaron’s recommendation of The Lost City of Z! (Have thankfully seen all the rest – whew!) Did dig Get Out as well, but did not hit my Top Five. Also glad to see Logan was a favorite here and that a big budget flick made my list as I’m seen as the “indie favoring dude,” but I’m up for a five-star big budget studio flick anytime! (I’m a movie lover, not movie snob!) p.s. The Girl With All The Gifts is a damn fine selection! Thanks Aaron!

  6. Brian White

    I gotta be honest with you guys. I made a huge mistake on skipping out on all the press opportunities I had to see Baby Driver. Holy hell was that movie a masterpiece. I’m with you Bron and Brandon, it is now my number 1 of the year thus far. Sorry, Gal.

  7. Ulises Castro Mercado

    Great lists all you guys, great films and top notch entertainment