By: Jennifer Russell
2017 was a great year for movies. DC temporarily redeemed their reputation with the release of Wonder Woman, and Marvel repeatedly proved to be the superior superhero filmmakers with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. Disney also impressed audiences with the franchise reboot Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While these movies were definitely some of the best of 2017, there were many other films released that far surpassed audience expectations. If you haven’t seen these major blockbusters, watch them — almost everyone will enjoy them. With that said, I’m setting aside these major blockbusters to acknowledge the other phenomenal films of 2017.
Best animated movie: Coco
Runner-up: Lego Batman
Coco deserves recognition because it was a respectful representation of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), and is the first Hollywood film with a budget of its size to have an almost completely Latino cast. The story follows a young boy, Miguel, as he struggles to fit in with his family. One of Miguel’s relatives, Imelda Rivera, married a musician, but when Imelda’s husband leaves her and their daughter Coco for a life of fame and music, Imelda banishes music from their household and creates a family-run shoe company. Unfortunately for Miguel, music is his passion. When he tries to rebel and enter a music competition on The Day of the Dead, Miguel finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead.
Beyond the interesting storyline and positive representation of the Mexican holiday, this movie has also been acknowledged for its beautiful animation. The Land of the Dead is bright, colourful, and truly breathtaking even if you’re not typically impressed by animation. Coco is also important because it deals with the issue of family versus personal values, and how to deal with such conflicts. The movie is both comedic and serious, and the music will definitely get stuck in your head (but not in the same dreadful, mind-numbing manner as Frozen’s “Let It Go”). This movie was so great I even caught people crying in the theatre — but this shouldn’t be a surprise from Pixar.
Best action movie: Atomic Blonde
Runner-up: Baby Driver
Atomic Blonde takes place during an interrogation of MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, (Charlize Theron), after her undercover mission to Berlin. Like many secret agent movies and television shows, Broughton’s mission is to recover a list that contains information on every intelligence agent active in Berlin (on both sides of the Berlin Wall). Now I know what you’re thinking — if the plot is so typical, why is it the top action movie of the year? Simple: the fight scenes are incredible. Charlize Theron trained intensely in martial arts for weeks leading up to filming it, and the majority of her fight scenes are filmed without the use of stunt doubles. Some people don’t care about actors performing their own stunts, but in this case Theron’s performance actually led to positive feminist responses. Theron didn’t just act like a powerful woman, she trained and became a powerful woman.
The battle scenes in Atomic Blonde are also impressive because they weren’t repetitive and didn’t drag on like in most action movies. In one hand-to-hand combat sequence, the characters are so physically exhausted they keep crawling and collapsing in the middle of their fight. This more realistic level exhaustion in the midst of unimaginable fight scenes even added a comedic feel to the movie. The camera work is also notable in these fight scenes because many of them were long, continuous shots. According to a YouTube video put out by Universal Pictures UK, without Charlize Theron’s strength and endurance, these scenes would have required many short takes, but were instead filmed as much longer, uncut sequences thanks to her martial abilities. Overall, this movie will surprise you because it makes a seemingly basic storyline feel new and exciting.
Best thriller/drama: Get Out
If you haven’t watched Get Out yet, you need to get out of whatever you’re doing and watch it as soon as possible. Jordan Peele’s film was a huge success because it deals with real issues of racism in an original way. The story follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American man who nervously agrees to his first visit with his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents in the countryside. Once they arrive, Chris notices Rose’s parents have Black servants and he tries to speak to them, but there is something unsettling and abnormal in their faux-polite behaviour. One of them continuously unplugs his phone while it is charging without explaining why, and Chris begins to get suspicious.
I won’t give anything away, but this movie was successful because there really is nothing like it. The ending is unpredictable because Peele was torn between different endings: you can see the different possibilities coming into play, but you cannot be certain how the movie will end. Get Out is also entertaining for anyone who enjoys more artistic films. Within the first week of the movie’s release, people began Tweeting and making YouTube videos discussing the symbolism and metaphors throughout the film. In response, Peele participated in a YouTube video put out by Vanity Fair to discuss the accuracy of many fans’ theories. Obviously not every theory was true, but if you’re someone interested in film analysis, you can join the discussion, too. Get Out is a must-see movie because it is intense, relevant, and even comedic.