We love lists at The Pop Break. This year the staff of The Pop Break got together to vote on their favorite films of 2017 … and boy was this one hotly contested. There were a lot of big name films that barely missed the cut, so you’ll be pretty surprised on what did and did not make our list.
Thanks for reading our film section in 2017, and we look forward to bringing you even more film content in 2018.
Now without any further adieu, here’s our..
Staff Picks: The Top 10 Movies of 2017
10. Wonder Woman
The story of Princess Diana of the Amazons has been one of my favorite stories since creator Jack Kirby brought Justice League Unlimited to television in 2004. I’ll admit I’m not a comic book nerd, but the past animated series (especially the ones from the 90’s) pulled me into a realm that deserves a lot of respect. Diana’s character was witty, physically strong, confident, and kindling a romance with Batman – my top superhero.
So when DC and Warner Bros. announced that they were reviving the character, I was elated. And when rumor had it that former combat trainer Gal Gadot was going to play Diana, I was even more excited. That meant no waif-fu; I hate to see an endless parade of petite women kicking ass with not one weapon or muscle in sight. Even though Hollywood made Gadot slim down to play Diana (ugh), she represented an improvement.
I love what Wonder Woman represents. The movie isn’t a classic, but it was created for the current culture and it served its audience well. There was a somewhat racially diverse group of characters; the woman warriors dismissed the waif-fu trope, and Wonder Woman wasn’t denied romance nor was she overtaken by it. This long-overdue movie was fun and humorous, and it is an amazing addition to DC films. -Asia Martin
9. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh will not hold your hand. This is true of In Bruges, this is true of Seven Psychopaths, and it’s certainly true of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. While his previous work was definitely not picnic fare, Three Billboards is unquestionably McDonagh’s darkest film yet. It centers around Frances McDormand, who plays a woman in the titular small town seeking justice for her daughter, who was raped and murdered seven months prior.
And to be sure, that’s a depressing plot. But only McDonagh (or maybe Shane Black) could turn this horrific journey into a black comedy. And a black comedy it is, with plenty of laugh out loud moments to counterbalance the morbidity and darkness of the subject matter. The cast chugs along at full speed, with plenty of his go-to stars and a couple of new faces. Chief among these great actors are the aforementioned Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell, who all bring their A-game. Peter Dinklage also has a small but memorable role.
And sure, it might not be the “special effects blockbuster spectacle” of Star Wars, or the “feel-good indie darling” of The Big Sick, but somewhere in between, there is room for the excellent writing and directing of Martin McDonagh. Just don’t make plans for after the movie… on a depressing scale of Elf to Prisoners, it’s about a 7. -George Heftler
8. Lady Bird
Lady Bird is a breath of fresh air in a market full of superhero films (which I love), PG-13 horror and ridiculous “action” films. Some people say it’s “Oscar Bait,” which is fine, but it is a phenomenal coming of age tale that everyone should see.
Superbly written, incredibly acted and excellently directed by Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird is the exact movie I needed to see at the right time. Saoirse Ronan captivates her audience, playing an angsty teenager in a very real way. She doesn’t know what she wants to do but she does it all, making the audience feel the exact way she does. Laurie Metcalf, in her best role ever, plays her mother, struggling to make ends meet while also providing for her family. Ronan and Metcalf ARE winning the actress awards in their respective categories; you heard it here first.
Lady Bird isn’t a game changer by any means. What it does do, however, is give its audience something to remember, possibly igniting something they felt while figuring out their lives while in high school. The Last Jedi, Blade Runner 2049 and Logan are all amazing films but after seeing Lady Bird, something thought provoking profoundly resonated with me. See it, of you haven’t yet. -Tommy Tracy
7. Stephen King’s IT
The TV movie IT from 1990 was split into two parts, one that was excellent and one that was….not. To say the tv version heavily strayed from the book is an understatement but Pennywise, played by Tim Curry, was so terrifying that the movie became a cult classic.
The 2017 IT version hit everywhere the TV movie missed. It stayed closer to the book, the characters were far more likable and the laughs, mostly from Ritchie, were plentiful. The child actors were amazing, every single one of them. Finn Wolfhard was my personal favorite, though the other actors were easily just as fantastic.
Comparing Pennywise 1990 to Pennywise 2017 is like comparing apples to oranges but Bill Skarsgard did an incredible job. I couldn’t imagine any present actor playing Pennywise as creepily as he managed to. The opening sweet scene with Georgie, the body twist out of the fridge, the severed arm chow down and the film protector scene solidify Skarsgard’s Pennywise as the scariest horror character of 2017 for me, and put IT as my favorite film of the year. -Ann Hale
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
After watching the trailers and hearing/reading the behind-the-scenes buzz from Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, I had a hunch that this film could be the best Star Wars movie yet. While it is not the masterpiece I thought it could be – and definitely is not the best Star Wars movie of all-time – there are some incredible moments, story-arcs, characters, and cinematography.
For starters, it is probably the most unique and original Star Wars movie in a long time. Plus, for the most part, the acting is phenomenal. There is a strong character dynamic between Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren that comprise some of my favorite moments in the film, though not always perfect. Poe Dameron might be my favorite character in the entire film. I really enjoyed his story-arc and the portrayal by Oscar Isaac. While I didn’t love some of the other characters’ story-arcs (like Finn), I still enjoyed seeing their characters on screen. Characterization is at the heart of the story and every character is challenged by something and grows from it.
The creative and artistic choices made by Lucasfilm, Disney, and Rian Johnson were bold, risk-filled, and mind-blowing. They took the story from The Force Awakens and decided to go in a completely different direction narratively-speaking than what most people expected, which may have upset some fans, but also added some fresh material into the saga.
The tone of the film is darker than its predecessor (which is something I personally enjoy), but also has its moments of what I like to call “Disney” humor. It is what it is, but does not hold the film back. This movie also has the best cinematography of any Star Wars movie to date. This is a beautifully crafted film with a wonderful score by the legend himself, John Williams.
Do not get me wrong, this is no Empire Strikes Back, but The Last Jedi has some great qualities that make for a challenging, puzzling, twisting, and satisfying time at the movies. -Daryn Kirscht
5. (tie) Baby Driver
In a world filled with sequels, remakes, reboots, and adaptations, it’s hard to find an original movie that not only feels new and exciting, but also resonates with audiences.
Director Edgar Wright is know for his genre bending films, whether it’s a zombie rom-com, buddy cop slasher thriller, or apocalyptic redemption comedy, Wright knows how to take tired tropes and make them into something special. And that’s exactly what he did with his latest film, Baby Driver.
Wright had always planned on making a getaway driver movie that was scored with a soundtrack for years, and after plans for directing Marvel’s Ant-Man fell through, he finally was able to make his passion project a reality with an incredible cast including Ansel Elgort, Jamie Fox, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, and Lily James.
The film is mix of La La Land and Bullit, with a phenomenal soundtrack providing the voice for the quote getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) as he tries to escape his life of crime without getting his hands dirty and runway with the girl of his dreams.
To say Baby Driver is original is an understatement. The soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission, but it’s Wright’s direction, the editing, and sound design that makes Baby Driver not only one of the best movies of 2017, but also one of the best action movies of all time. -Al Mannarino
5. (tie) Blade Runner 2049
Sequels make die-hard fans of the originals nervous, especially when there is so much time between the two. When the new Blade Runner was announced, myself and many other fans of the original film nervous. There is a special magic contained in the first film. Blade Runner was a bleak future, but one that didn’t seem so far fetched. Between the excellent dialogue, astounding visuals, and perfect musical score, Blade Runner was a film that mixed old-school film moir styling with new age content. 2049 took everything that was great about the original and improved upon it, delivering a movie for the ages.
The films biggest selling point is the human element; the stories and character conflicts in this movie are real and powerful, and serve to suck viewers into this movie’s universe. So many sequels fall victim to a simple re-hash of the original, but 2049 manages to expand and deliver new stories built on top of the previous movie.
Ryan Gosling is phenomenal, delivering a multi-faceted and deep portrayal of a character who has his world turned upside down. He and Harrison Ford have great chemistry, and the movie is better for it. I could have watched three hours of those two drinking scotch in an abandoned hotel and been completely happy.
Seeing the movie in IMAX 3D was also a great decision. The 3-D helped to make the already stunning visuals even more engrossing, and paired with the incredible score, created not just a movie, but a work of art. Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel that the original Blade Runner deserved, and it sets the standard for how sequels should be approached. -Lucas P. Jones
I have a rocky relationship with Christopher Nolan’s films. Memento remains an all-time favorite, Inception dims more and more with time and The Dark Knight is the only good movie in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Don’t even get me started on Interstellar.
When Dunkirk hit theaters this summer and Nolan proclaimed the only proper way to see it was in 70mm IMAX (a format difficult to see in NYC, let alone the rest of the country), I sneered at the implied elitism. Still, I dutifully purchased a ticket and prepared to be disappointed. Instead, I was blown away.
Dunkirk is pure cinema. Big in both scale and scope, it is an irrefutable argument for seeing films in theaters. Though it loses some of its power on home video, with its sweeping images and pulsing Hans Zimmer score, it is a visceral and perfectly constructed film. The complexity of Nolan’s stories is often simultaneously their most interesting features and their biggest handicaps. Not so here. Told with a bare minimum of dialogue, the film gives three perspectives on the British retreat from France, each with their own timeline. Nolan sets the timers on all three at the start and the constant ticking in the score always reminds us that the enemy is closing in and time is running out. It’s a movie so claustrophobic that even IMAX-size shots of vessels on the open sea feel like looking at a bunch of fish in a barrel.
Still, breathtaking as the images are (particularly the aerial shots) it’s the way the stories fit together that makes the film so memorable. There’s a certain anonymity to the characters we follow that can make Dunkirk a little alienating but the choice also emphasizes how wars aren’t fought by one man, but many. It takes a million little acts of bravery to win and sometimes, simply surviving can be a victory. It is perhaps the simplest bit of truth Nolan has ever tried to convey with his films, but perhaps it’s precisely the purity of that truth and the way it’s delivered that makes Dunkirk the best film of Nolan’s career. -Marisa Carpico
2. Get Out
Watching Get Out is a singular cinematic experience in that you instantly become aware of the fact that you are watching a modern masterpiece. It’s hard enough to find a film so perfectly constructed, but it’s even harder to stumble upon a film that feels like an important new chapter in film history.
Taking a page from the likes of Ira Levin and George Romero, Jordan Peele has crated a socially conscious thriller that feels like a snapshot of 2017. This has been a year filled with topical cinema, but perhaps no film inspired conversation like Get Out. It could be placed in a time capsule.
But Peele somehow makes the film feel effortless. No one would reasonably expect a comedian to helm a thriller this unsettling, yet his direction is impeccable and his screenplay is perfectly written. There isn’t a single scene that doesn’t, in some way, further the plot, with even the smallest of details playing a part in the film’s finale. Peele also directs one of the strongest ensembles of 2017, with Daniel Kaluuya emerging as 2017’s breakout star, thanks to his magnetic screen presence.
Alison Williams also turns in brilliant supporting work with a performance that blurs the line between hilarious and downright unsettling, while Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener subvert the images they’ve both honed over their past two decades of work. Even the actors with smaller roles make an impression; Lil Rel Howery is hilarious as the film’s (much needed) comic relief, while Betty Gabriel’s now iconic “no no no no no” is my favorite line reading of 2017.
While no one may have expected Get Out to emerge as an Oscar contender – especially since it was actually released before last year’s ceremony – everyone involved clearly took the film seriously, and understood they were making an instant classic. This is a film that will have audiences talking for years to come, and will inspire an entire new generation of scary movies about real life horrors. -Matt Taylor
From the moment we heard there was going to be an R-rated Wolverine movie, I was excited for this film.
However, I was not expecting the masterpiece that unfolded in front of my eyes.
Logan, is my choice not only for the movie of the year, but the all-time greatest comic book/superhero-based movie in the history of cinema. Yes, better than The Crow, or even The Dark Knight.
Words, particularly my words, cannot do this film justice. While based in the comic book/superhero world, this movie is more Shakespearean tragedy, Western, family drama, and psychological character study than it is a traditional comic book/superhero film. This is an absolutely emotional gut punch of a film that will genuinely have you in tears during multiple parts of the film.
Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give the best performances which is mind-blowing given that both these men are revisiting roles they have performed for the past two decades. These performers both deserve legitimate Oscar nominations. Will they get them? Probably not. Logan did come out very early in the year, and given its subject matter, it won’t be taken as seriously, which is a shame. However, the chemistry these two actors have makes you feel like you’re watching a documentary about a father and son during their final days together, and not a movie with Professor X and Wolverine in it.
Logan is brilliant. Every single aspect is brilliant. And no matter how many great or enjoyable films came out this year (and there were many), none of them could touch Logan. If you haven’t seen this film — correct that mistake immediately. -Bill Bodkin