Bron’s Top 10 Films of 2017

I had a fun time watching films this year. I got to go to South by Southwest again and that led to the viewing of 23 films over 9 days (22 new ones and a screening of Alien introduced by Ridley Scott). I got a Moviepass subscription and it allowed for the ability to watch a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t normally go and see. And my friends were super willing to watch weird stuff with me this year for some reason. So, while I didn’t see as many films in raw numbers as I did in 2016, I had a better overall movie-going experience. I hope that my top 10 list reflects the kind of year I had at the movies. And I hope the trend of fun continues into the new year. Have a great time with my list and I hope to have more discussions about film with everyone soon!

First, some housekeeping:

Worst Film of the year with no peer: The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man is so absolutely terrible that I won’t devote any more words to telling people to never watch it.

Honorable Mentions: The Disaster Artist, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and A Ghost Story

I liked all of these films a lot, but they were just below the cut this year. Coincidentally, each one features a white protagonist who is stuck in some kid of longing for something more until he does something to create some more meaning in his life.

Does This One Count as a Film?: Wormwood

Errol Morris has pretty much been perfecting documentary storytelling throughout his whole career. Even though this did screen in some theaters as a 6-hour long film, I saw it in its mini-series format on Netflix and I think that might make it count as TV. Either way, it is very very good and belongs on a list like this. Morris just knows how to tell stories with facts and recreations that make for visually interesting and well-done movies. Watch more Errol Morris.

Films that could change the list when I see them: Lady Bird, mother!, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Phantom Thread, The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

I don’t live in a big Indie film town, so seeing some of the things I know I am likely to enjoy can sometimes take travel that I don’t make time for. I will get to these and I believe at least one of them would probably push Free Fire off the bottom of my top 10. Maybe I will revisit the list halfway through next year.

On to the List:

10. Free Fire

I have pretty much been on a campaign since I saw Free Fire back in March at SXSW to tell people about this fun film with a super simple premise and excellent execution. It is funny and clever and has tremendous performances from a solid group of actors. It was just too enjoyable to leave off my year-end list and I hope more people get a chance to see it in the future. Do yourself a favor and have fun for 90 minutes with a kind of movie that makes you want to go out and make movies.

9. The Big Sick

The Big Sick is sweet and sad and funny and great. Lead actor and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani really knocked this out of the park and had me and a theater full of people falling out of our seats when I watched this film. The tightrope walk that the script had to go through by balancing the subject matter with the tone is a pleasure enough to behold. Throw super feisty Holly Hunter and goofy everyman Ray Romano into the mix and it just makes the whole experience a lot of fun.

8. Logan

Logan 4K

I was late to the party as far as watching Logan goes, as I saw it in May as a special Double Feature with Mad Max Fury Road. That, for me was a dangerous pairing, as Fury Road was my favorite film of 2015 and watching these two together was bound to draw comparisons in quality. Logan, however, is surprisingly great. It is tightly told and intimately directed, without much of the utter nonsense that makes the X-men universe such an unappealing place to visit for me. I enjoyed the focus on telling a great story without worrying about larger implications and the acting from both Hugh Jackman and the newcomer Dafne Keen was raw and compelling. A real fine film.

7. Get Out

On my first viewing of Get Out, I was treating it like a mystery to be solved and found it too predictable, so I was numb to some of the larger themes being addressed in the film. I got the white perception of blackness, I got the liberal hypocrisy, I got the subversion of expectations. But the thing I didn’t get a chance to explore while wondering when it was going to reveal what I already knew was the black perception of blackness and what the film was saying about that subject. On second viewing, when I allowed myself to enjoy the film more for what it was showing instead of what it was hiding, I was happy to find clever illumination of deeper ideas than just things like how racism exists. It also plays well as an examination of film from a lover of film. It toys with horror and suspense conventions while telling a story and inviting themes it establishes early on, like car accidents, to revisit the audience later on. It is a very good film should probably be required viewing.

6. Thor: Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok

Thor’s got jokes! I had a ton of fun watching Thor: Ragnarok. It is super colorful and ridiculous and funny and it is a great direction for a character that I could not care less about prior to the film. I am super down for all the crazy space adventures that the MCU can put together with all the fun cool stuff in this and Guardians going forward.

5. Gifted

Chris Evans showed off some previously-well-hidden acting chops in this film. And even though he shows range and is very sympathetic, he is completely blown off the screen by the real star of the film, Mckenna Grace. She is immediately lovable and moving. The film itself tells a touching story about a child genius without suffering from some of the “kid is way too amazingly smart and the adults can barely function” problems that films like The Book of Henry or Little Man Tate have. It allows for the young genius girl to still have things to learn from life and still have emotional attachments to weird things like a one-eyed cat and the goofy next door neighbor. A lot of this film just really works very well and it is a joy to watch. Expect a few tears though.

4. Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve made a sequel better than the original. I believe he can pretty much do no wrong. I loved Enemy, I loved Sicario, I loved Arrival, and I haven’t yet seen Prisoners. But Blade Runner 2049 continues his run of getting great performances in a deep, living setting with great sound design and cool special effects. I walked out of Blade Runner 2049 with the feeling that I should just go right back in and see it again. I loved that it expanded on the universe of the original without feeling like it relied too much on nostalgia. I like that it didn’t resolve the Deckard question. I really actually wish it had just left Harrison Ford out of the film, because it just slows down a bit once he enters, but perhaps we can get another sequel and just tell another great story with interesting takes on technology with more satisfying dialogue and unique setpieces. Denis can do it!

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi gave the Star Wars universe some much needed breathing room. Instead of packing the story with characters all tied together with some mysterious… umm… force, it breaks apart all of the set-ups from The Force Awakens and sets the stage for a more unbound galaxy from which it can let compelling personal stories develop. Whether or not compelling personal stories can develop when the reigns are given back to J.J. Abrams remains to be seen, but I am so pleased with what Rian Johnson was able to do with the setup he was provided. He looked at it and said “Cool, so let’s get rid of all of this and make it about how all the new people have to deal with an overwhelming struggle both internally and externally.” I loved it. I really just want to watch it another few times and nerd out about it with my other nerdy friends who love nerdy things. This year’s Star Wars entry made me believe in the power of the Force all over again.

2. Baby Driver

All the way up until today, nearly the final day of the year, I was sure that Baby Driver was going to stay my favorite film of the year. I saw it in a packed 1300 seat theater in Austin, TX back in March with a Q&A that helped to reinforce the thoughts that what I had just watched was a filmic revolution. I saw an action-musical that was so uniquely designed that it would force others to rethink how to compose an action scene. I loved the soundtrack and the quirky characters and Jamie Foxx’s overacting and the insanely plotted car chases. I love the flashy editing throughout the film and also the clever long take during the opening credits. I just cannot say enough about how great Baby Driver is. I had to wait from March to late June before I could really talk about the film with other people and I was so glad to be met with similar reactions from everyone to whom I spoke. Baby Driver is incredible and Edgar Wright is a genius!

1. The Shape of Water

Right about the 2/3rds mark of this film, I knew that it had dethroned Baby Driver as my favorite film of the year. I was completely engrossed in the world that Guillermo Del Toro had created and so deeply transfixed by the imagery and subtlety on the screen that I could no longer hold onto the idea that I had seen anything better this year. This is the kind of film that draws the viewer in and grips them without room to look elsewhere or think about other things. All I wanted to do while watching The Shape of Water, which I saw earlier today, was watch The Shape of Water. Then after watching it, all I wanted to do was talk about The Shape of Water. The performances are astounding. The sets are magnificent. The camerawork is sweet and wonderful and it just longs to be enjoyed. It feels like all of Del Toro’s other works, most of which are great, were just practice to make this masterpiece. I will be seeing this again and then showing it to people and then talking about it for years to come.

See you in 2018!


I like to be challenged to think about things, so I studied Philosophy in college. Now I am paying for it.

5 Responses to “Bron’s Top 10 Films of 2017”

  1. Gregg

    Yeah!! Loved seeing ‘Gifted’ make another list! ‘The Shape of Water’ was done very well. I wasn’t enthralled like several others but the story played out well. Now every time I think about it I want lime hard candy. Curse your awesome acting skills, Michael Shannon!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Another great list! I hope you dig the great movies you haven’t seen yet, but Free Fire is such a fun flick that I wish more people caught up with.

  3. Brian White

    Why Bron? Why?! We could have shared number one movie choice!
    Where’s Wonder Woman?
    I almost put Blade Runner on mine.
    Think I’m the only one here with no Jedi on my list 🙁

  4. Gerard Iribe

    You hear that sound? That’s the sound of our streams crossing. Solid list. Props on Free Fire!

  5. Brian White

    I’m worried about you G. All you talking about nowadays is crossing streams.