My Favorite Films of 2018

One of the hardest parts of loving movies is the inevitable task of whittling them down into some sort of “best of” list.

In an ideal world, films wouldn’t be judged by numbers or percentages, but by the way they make us laugh, make us cry, make us think, keep us on the edge of our seats, or open our imaginations.  Films are more than numbers on scales and placements on lists. Unfortunately that’s just the way we are forced to go about explaining why or how we connected with a film or not.

2018 was a great year at the movies. There could be plenty more said about why each of these moves below were so wonderful but there’s only so much room on the interwebs. The best films are, at their core, about what it means to be human – with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. The best ones do it with delightful stories to wrap our heads around, characters to care about, and epic sights to feast our eyes upon.

These are the ones that did it best this year.


MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2018:

THE RUNNERS-UP:

30) If Beale Street Could Talk
29) Juliet, Naked
28) Incredibles 2
27) Solo: A Star Wars Story
26) Tag
25) Isle of Dogs
24) Three Identical Strangers
23) Mary Poppins Returns
22) Game Night
21) The Hate U Give


Beautiful Boy (2018) poster.png

20 — Beautiful Boy

The heartbreaking true story of a father coping with his son’s struggle with addiction. Emotional, moving and a very un-funny performance from Steve Carell (in a good way).


Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018 film poster).png

19 — Ralph Breaks the Internet

Much funnier and original than any studio animated sequel should be, RBTI delivers laughs and internet in-jokes at a ridiculous rate. A heartfelt musical ode to a violent video game called Slaughter Race is worth the price of admission alone.


MI – Fallout.jpg

18 — Mission Impossible: Fallout

In terms of full-throttle wild action adventures, no one does it better than Mission Impossible. And in terms of incredible stunts, this is perhaps the best of them all. Tom Cruise continues to outdo himself in terms of his dedication to making us watch him defy death.


First Man (film).png

17- First Man

Damien Chazelle’s follow up to La La Land is a stirring, subtle exploration of the inner turmoils within the first man to ever walk on the moon. Ryan Gosling makes the quiet, reserved Neil Armstrong a completely compelling character.


Bad Times at the El Royale.png

16 — Bad Times at the El Royale

A fun, thrilling and original character-driven mystery… they just don’t make ’em like this anymore. An incredible cast (Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, etc) bring life to a smart story about the group of strangers who find themselves together one evening at the quiet El Royale motel.


Searching.png

15 — Searching

What easily could have been a gimmick (the entire film takes place on a character’s computer screen) quickly proves to be an innovative way to tell the story of a father’s search for his missing daughter.


I-Can-Only-Imagine-Poster.jpg

14 — I Can Only Imagine

Perhaps the first “faith-based” film I can say I legitimately loved? The story of how MercyMe wrote their hit song may not seem like that great of an idea for a movie, but Bart’s fractured past with his father, and their restored relationship that led him to write the song, makes for a deeply heartfelt and emotional story about reconciliation and redemption.


Christopher Robin poster.png

13 — Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood are some of the simplest, most beloved characters of all time. It’s hard not to fall in love with them all over again when their old friend Christopher Robin returns to the forest (and learns how to re-connect with his childhood). It might be one of the simplest and straight-forward movies of the year, but sometimes those are the best.


Ready Player One (film).png

12 — Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg has made some great movies recently. But it’s been a while since he’s made one that’s simply just fun. Ready Player One is that movie. Grab some popcorn, throw on your favorite Back to the Future graphic tee, and enjoy all the fun pop culture references in this thrilling alternate-reality adventure.


Won't You Be My Neighbor?.png

11 — Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

We could all use a little more kindness these days — and there were not many who better exemplified this trait better than Mr. Rogers. An emotional documentary about everyone’s favorite neighbor, and his impact on the medium of television and the culture at large, is exactly what our world needs right now.


A large crowd of men and women standing on a wooden pier.

10 — Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!

Yes that’s right. Don’t judge me. It’s great — low brow entertainment is welcome here as well… Even when it doesn’t make much sense, it’s honestly so much fun. And way better than the first one. Beautiful Greek islands, Abba music, tons of nonsensical dance sequences, Lily James as a young Meryl Streep — how could I not be a sucker for this movie??


Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse (2018 poster).png

9 — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Not only does this new take on Spider-Man innovate the art form of animation in new and creative ways, it’s also hilariously funny… Many may not even plan to see it because, it’s like “ugh, another Spider-Man?” But you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Bohemian Rhapsody poster.png

8 — Bohemian Rhapsody

There’s no doubt Bohemian Rhapsody coasts along on Queen’s iconic and beloved music. I’m okay with that. The movie has problems — but it’s also so dang fun to watch. Is there anything better than rocking out in your seat to We Are the Champions or Somebody to Love as we see the (somewhat true) stories of how the songs were written, and Rami Malek hams it up on stage in eclectic costumes? That’s what going to the movies is all about.


BlacKkKlansman.png

7 — Blackkklansman

The absurdly true (and hilarious) story of the black cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s is one of the craziest and surprisingly funny movies of the year. The humor risks making light of evil at points, but its fresh tone is so different and unique that it’s a more-than-welcome look back at one of America’s dark corners.


Green Book (2018 poster).png

6 — Green Book

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson give two of the best performances of their careers in this true story about two men from very different walks of life, who find friendship while traveling through the racially-charged South.


Free Solo.png

5 — Free Solo

I still remember hearing in May 2017 that someone had free solo’ed El Capitan in Yosemite. “What…? Is that even possible?” It’s not an exaggeration to call Alex Honnold’s free solo one of the greatest athletic achievements in history. If you’re unfamiliar with why, consider — At over 3,000 feet tall, El Capitan is considered the largest rock monolith in the world. Its vertical face is perhaps the most popular rock-climbing spot in the world, with many taking days to weeks to summit. Alex Honnold “free solo” climbed (meaning, without ropesany mistake meaning death) one of the tallest, trickiest rock formations in the world in about 3 hours. You read that right. Watch this on the biggest screen possible.


Eighth Grade.png

4 — Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham is the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. If you’ve ever watched this 28 year-old’s stand-up special on Netflix, you probably laughed, but also thought “this is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen” and “this guy is crazy.” And then — THEN — he writes and directs this touching coming-of-age drama!? Eighth Grade is such a funny, heartfelt, cringe-because-it’s-true look at the insecurities involved with being thirteen years old.


A Quiet Place film poster.png

3 — A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is a testament in telling a simple story, really really well. Like a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone, the delicious premise of a family living in a world where no one can make any noise — at the risk of death — is clever, intriguing and opens up an entire landscape for dramatic storytelling. John Krasinski pulls off an incredible achievement both in front and behind the scenes, delivering a beautifully-made thriller with heart. If possible, watch it in a crowded theater where it’s so quiet that you can hear someone eight rows in front of you munching on popcorn. Trust me, it’s a great experience.


Crazy Rich Asians poster.png

2 — Crazy Rich Asians

Oh my goodness, this movie is so delightful. A visually-dazzling romantic comedy full of fun characters, emotional moments, and spectacular screwball humor, Crazy Rich Asians takes the rom-com formula and runs with it in loving, entirely enjoyable fashion. Like many movies on this list, CRA is just a great time — you’d have to have a pretty cold heart to resist its charms. And it might even make you cry.


Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

1 — A Star is Born

A Star is Born is the movie of 2018, and it will stand the test of time regardless of what wins awards and receives glowing critic write-ups. It is a poignant, emotional and dramatic look at addiction, pain, falling in love, the appeals and pitfalls of celebrity, and the struggle to create art that has something worth saying.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie. Bradley Cooper is a powerhouse — not only giving a resonant performance as the alcoholic country star Jackson Maine, but also writing the script, directing, and helping create the memorable music throughout. Every song not only stands on its own, but pushes the story forward in a meaningful way. Lady Gaga, meanwhile, will charm her way right into your heart. It’s hard to imagine someone being so cynical and callous as to actually dislike A Star is Born. It’s an eager and heartbreaking romance for the ages. I will admit that the “just wanted to take another look at you” memes are pretty funny, though.


 

BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS AN AWARD:

Who did it the best this year?

BEST ACTOR(s):
Ryan Gosling, First Man
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Mahershala Ali, Green Book

BEST ACTRESS(es):
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

BEST DIRECTOR(s):
John Krasinski, A Quiet Place
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

BEST SCREENPLAYS:
Eighth Grade
Blackkklansman

BEST MUSICAL SCORES:
A Quiet Place
If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: A Star is Born

MOST OVERRATED MOVIES OF THE YEAR (HOT TAKES!):
The Favourite
Vice
mid90s
Avengers: Infinity War

DESTINED TO WIN THE MOST AWARDS: Roma

So those are my big fat opinions about 2018 at the movies! You don’t have to love my list; you don’t have to agree. So let me know what your favorite movies were this year! But first, if you excuse me, I think I’ll grab my popcorn bucket and head back to the theater. Time to start all over again!

© Matt Tory, 2019. 

All movie posters shown are used for non-commercial analysis and commentary purposes related to the films mentioned herein.

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My Favorite Films of 2018

One of the hardest parts of loving movies is the inevitable task of whittling them down into some sort of “best-of” list.

In an ideal world, films wouldn’t be judged by numbers or percentages, but by the way they make us laugh, make us cry, make us think, keep us on the edge of our seats, or open our imaginations.  Films are more than numbers on scales and placements on lists. Unfortunately that’s just the way we are forced to go about explaining why or how we connected with a film or not.

2018 was a great year at the movies. There could be plenty more said about why each of these moves below were so wonderful but there’s only so much room on the interwebs. The best films are, at their core, about what it means to be human – with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. The best ones do it with delightful stories to wrap our heads around, characters to care about, and epic sights to feast our eyes upon.

These are the ones I think did it best this year:


MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2018

THE RUNNERS-UP:

30) If Beale Street Could Talk
29) Juliet, Naked
28) Incredibles 2
27) Solo: A Star Wars Story
26) Tag
25) Isle of Dogs
24) Three Identical Strangers
23) Mary Poppins Returns
22) Game Night
21) The Hate U Give


Beautiful Boy (2018) poster.png

20 — Beautiful Boy

The heartbreaking true story of a father coping with his son’s struggle with addiction. An emotional, moving and very un-funny performance from Steve Carell (in a good way).


Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018 film poster).png

19 — Ralph Breaks the Internet

Much funnier and original than any studio animated sequel should be, RBTI delivers laughs and internet in-jokes at a ridiculous rate. A heartfelt musical ode to a violent video game called Slaughter Race is worth the price of admission alone.


MI – Fallout.jpg

18 — Mission Impossible: Fallout

In terms of full-throttle wild action adventures, no one does it better than Mission Impossible. And in terms of incredible stunts, this is perhaps the best of them all. Tom Cruise continues to outdo himself in terms of his dedication to making us watch him defy death.


First Man (film).png

17- First Man

Damien Chazelle’s follow up to La La Land is a stirring, subtle exploration of the inner turmoils within the first man to ever walk on the moon. Ryan Gosling makes the quiet, reserved Neil Armstrong a completely compelling character.


Bad Times at the El Royale.png

16 — Bad Times at the El Royale

A fun, thrilling and original character-driven mystery… they just don’t make ’em like this anymore. An incredible cast (Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, etc) bring life to a smart story about the group of strangers who find themselves together one evening at the quiet El Royale motel.


Searching.png

15 — Searching

What easily could have been a gimmick (the entire film takes place on a character’s computer screen) quickly proves to be an innovative way to tell the story of a father’s search for his missing daughter.


I-Can-Only-Imagine-Poster.jpg

14 — I Can Only Imagine

Perhaps the first “faith-based” film I can say I legitimately loved? The story of how MercyMe wrote their hit song may not seem like that great of an idea for a movie, but Bart’s fractured past with his father, and their restored relationship that led him to write the song, makes for a deeply emotional story about reconciliation and redemption.


Christopher Robin poster.png

13 — Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood are some of the simplest, most beloved characters of all time. It’s hard not to fall in love with them all over again when their old friend Christopher Robin returns to the forest (and learns how to re-connect with his childhood). It might be one of the simplest and straight-forward movies of the year, but sometimes those are the best.


Ready Player One (film).png

12 — Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg has made some great movies in recent years. But it’s been a while since he’s made one that’s just fun. Ready Player One is that movie. Grab some popcorn, throw on your favorite Back to the Future graphic tee, and enjoy all the fun pop culture references in this thrilling alternate-reality adventure.


Won't You Be My Neighbor?.png

11 — Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

We could all use a little more kindness these days — and there were not many who better exemplified this trait better than Mr. Rogers. An emotional documentary about everyone’s favorite neighbor, and his impact on the medium of television and the culture at large, is exactly what our world needs right now.


A large crowd of men and women standing on a wooden pier.

10 — Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!

Yes that’s right. Don’t judge me. It’s great — low brow entertainment is welcome here as well… Even when it doesn’t make much sense, it’s honestly so much fun. And way better than the first one. Beautiful Greek islands, Abba music, tons of nonsensical dance sequences, Lily James as a young Meryl Streep — how could I not be a sucker for this movie??


Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse (2018 poster).png

9 — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Not only does this new take on Spider-Man innovate the art form of animation in new and creative ways, it’s also hilariously funny… Many may not even plan to see it because, it’s like “ugh, another Spider-Man?” But you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Bohemian Rhapsody poster.png

8 — Bohemian Rhapsody

There’s no doubt Bohemian Rhapsody coasts along on Queen’s iconic and beloved music. I’m okay with that. The movie has problems — but it’s also so dang fun to watch. Is there anything better than rocking out in your seat to We Are the Champions or Somebody to Love while watching the (somewhat true) stories of how the songs were written, and Rami Malek hamming it up on stage in eclectic costumes? That’s what going to the movies is all about.


BlacKkKlansman.png

7 — Blackkklansman

The absurdly true (and hilarious) story of the black cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s is one of the craziest and surprisingly funny movies of the year. The humor risks making light of evil at points, but its fresh tone is so different and unique that it’s a more-than-welcome look back at one of America’s dark corners.


Green Book (2018 poster).png

6 — Green Book

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson give two of the best performances of their careers in this true story about two men from very different walks of life, who find friendship while traveling through the racially-charged South.


Free Solo.png

5 — Free Solo

I still remember hearing in May 2017 that someone had free solo’ed El Capitan in Yosemite. “What…? Is that even possible?” It’s not an exaggeration to call Alex Honnold’s free solo one of the greatest athletic achievements in history. If you’re unfamiliar with why, consider — At over 3,000 feet tall, El Capitan is considered the largest rock monolith in the world. Its vertical face is perhaps the most popular rock-climbing spot in the world, with many taking days to weeks to summit. Alex Honnold “free solo” climbed (meaning, without ropesany mistake meaning death) one of the tallest, trickiest rock formations in the world in about 3 hours. You read that right. Watch this on the biggest screen possible.


Eighth Grade.png

4 — Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham is the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. If you’ve ever watched this 28 year-old’s stand-up special on Netflix, you probably laughed, but also thought “this is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen” and “this guy is crazy.” And then — THEN — he writes and directs this touching coming-of-age drama!? Eighth Grade is such a funny, heartfelt, cringe-because-it’s-true look at the insecurities involved with being thirteen years old.


A Quiet Place film poster.png

3 — A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is a testament in telling a simple story, really really well. Like a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone, the delicious premise of a family living in a world where no one can make any noise — at the risk of death — is clever, intriguing and opens up an entire landscape for dramatic storytelling. John Krasinski pulls off an incredible achievement both in front and behind the scenes, delivering a beautifully-made thriller with heart. If possible, watch it in a crowded theater where it’s so quiet that you can hear someone eight rows in front of you munching on popcorn. Trust me, it’s a great experience.


Crazy Rich Asians poster.png

2 — Crazy Rich Asians

Oh my goodness, this movie is so delightful. A visually-dazzling romantic comedy full of fun characters, emotional moments, and spectacular screwball humor, Crazy Rich Asians takes the rom-com formula and runs with it in loving, entirely enjoyable fashion. Like many movies on this list, CRA is just a great time — you’d have to have a pretty cold heart to resist its charms. And it might even make you cry.


Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018)

1 — A Star is Born

A Star is Born is the movie of 2018, and it will stand the test of time regardless of what wins awards and receives glowing critic write-ups. It is a poignant, emotional and dramatic look at addiction, pain, falling in love, the appeals and pitfalls of celebrity, and the struggle to create art that has something worth saying.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie. Bradley Cooper is a powerhouse — not only giving a resonant performance as the alcoholic country star Jackson Maine, but also writing the script, directing, and helping create the memorable music throughout. Every song not only stands on its own, but pushes the story forward in a meaningful way. Lady Gaga, meanwhile, will charm her way right into your heart. It’s hard to imagine someone being so cynical and callous as to actually dislike A Star is Born. It’s an eager and heartbreaking romance for the ages. I will admit that the “just wanted to take another look at you” memes are pretty great too, though.


 

BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS AN AWARD:

Who did it the best this year?

BEST ACTOR(s):
Ryan Gosling, First Man
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Mahershala Ali, Green Book

BEST ACTRESS(es):
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

BEST DIRECTOR(s):
John Krasinski, A Quiet Place
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born

BEST SCREENPLAYS:
Eighth Grade
Blackkklansman

BEST MUSICAL SCORES:
A Quiet Place
If Beale Street Could Talk

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: A Star is Born

MOST OVERRATED MOVIES OF THE YEAR (HOT TAKES!):
The Favourite
Vice
mid90s
Avengers: Infinity War

DESTINED TO WIN THE MOST AWARDS: Roma

So those are my big fat opinions about 2018 at the movies! You don’t have to love my list; you don’t have to agree. So let me know what your favorite movies were this year! But first, if you excuse me, I think I’ll grab my popcorn bucket and head back to the theater. Time to start all over again!

© Matt Tory, 2019. 

All movie posters shown are used for non-commercial analysis and commentary purposes related to the films mentioned herein.

The Best Films of 2017

One of the hardest parts of watching and loving movies is the inevitable task of whittling them down into some sort of “best-of” list.

In an ideal world, films wouldn’t be judged by numbers or percentages, but by what they stir up, inspire, or accomplish. By the way they make us laugh, make us cry, make us think, keep us on the edge of our seats, or open our imaginations.  Films are more than numbers on scales and placements on lists. Unfortunately that’s just the way we are forced to go about explaining why or how we connected with a film or not. Films are not always meant to be mathematically analyzed; they are meant to be felt.

2017 was a great year at the movies. There could be plenty more said about why each of these moves below were so wonderful but there’s only so much room on the interwebs. The best films are, at their core, about what it means to be human – with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. The best ones do it with delightful stories to wrap our heads around, characters to care about, and epic sights to feast our eyes upon.

These are the ones that did it best this year.


MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 2017:

BTW, there were a lot of good movies this year. Even though all of them didn’t make my cut of Favorite Films, I still want to list the rest of the  movies I liked as Runners-up: because they were good and they’re still worth a watch!

THE RUNNERS-UP:

38 – SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

37 – SPLIT

36 – WONDER WOMAN

35 – KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

34 – LOGAN

33 – THOR: RAGNAROK

32 – COLOSSAL

31 – STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

30 – DETROIT

29 – BATTLE OF THE SEXES

28 – THE POST

27 – MOLLY’S GAME

26 – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

25 – BRAD’S STATUS

24 – ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

23 – GET OUT

22 – I, TONYA

21 – THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI


20 — Last Flag Flying

When a grieving father asks his old Marine buddies to accompany him to his son’s funeral, the three set out on a road trip to Arlington Cemetery. Their mission: to give his son the burial he deserves. Along the way, the three (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Lawrence Fishburne, all giving A+ performances) reminisce and end up giving each other what they needed most: a sense of community and brotherhood.


19 — Only the Brave

An emotional true story about Arizona firefighters who risk their lives daily to save communities, families, and cities from the horrors of wildfires — Only the Brave is an inspirational, hopeful, and powerful drama about real-life heroes.


18 — Wind River

Jeremy Renner and Elisabeth Olsen make a killer duo as they attempt to solve the mystery of a local murder on a remote Native American reservation. Some great character development and compelling mysteries make Wind River one of the best dramas of the year.


17 — Logan Lucky

An offbeat and quirky action film with a Daniel Craig performance unlike any you’ve seen before. If I was to describe it as a “Hillbilly Ocean’s Eleven“, would that interest you? Yes? You’re in luck.


16 — Coco

Pixar is back! After a string of underwhelming sequels, Pixar proves that they still have the power to pull off original, emotional stories about adolescence and fantastic unseen worlds. Just don’t make me watch Olaf’s Frozen Adventure before it starts again.


15 — The Big Sick

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s autobiographical romantic comedy about falling in love with Emily (despite his Muslim family’s wishes that he marry a Pakistani woman) as she is diagnosed with a mysterious illness is funny, heartfelt, and fresh.


14 — THE SHAPE OF WATER

“Magical” is a good word to describe this modern fairytale. Beautifully directed by Guillermo del Toro, this 1960’s-set re-imagining of The Beauty and the Beast is visually gorgeous and bolstered by an incredible cast. Maybe more so than any other movie this year, The Shape of Water “transports” you to a different world. And isn’t that what movies are all about?


13 — DARKEST HOUR

The best performance of the year belongs to the unrecognizable Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour. Winston Churchill is a character who has been immortalized on film countless times – but now we have the definitive portrayal of the man who who led, against immense opposition, his nation with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Thrilling and dramatic, Darkest Hour is a historical drama with style.


12 — THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

The Greatest Showman is not a perfect movie — it’s clunky in places, and doesn’t really work in others. But when it works, it really works. Hugh Jackman increasingly impresses as the energetic P.T. Barnum, giving every scene his all, belting out tunes alongside a game cast. It’s hard not to admire how everyone in this movie showed up with their A-game, and how a pure love of movie musicals infuses every frame. This wildly entertaining musical reminds you of what the spectacle of “going to the movies” is all about. And if The Greatest Showman doesn’t fill you with utter joy at least once, I’m not sure you have a heart.


11 — THE GLASS CASTLE

Brie Larson is the best. And once again, she’s great in The Glass Castle, starring as a young woman who grows up under her wildly joyful yet dysfunctional father’s misguided approach to fatherhood. As an adult, she goes on to carve out a successful life for herself, but ends up learning the power of redemption and reconciliation when it comes to her relationship with her estranged father.


10 — Ingrid Goes West

Social media controls our modern lives. Many movies have tried to show this phenomenon on film, but maybe none have done it so well — and so comically — as Ingrid Goes West. The tale of an instagram stalker who travels to LA in an attempt to befriend a fashion idol she follows online is super smart, super dark, and super funny.


9 — WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

The thrilling conclusion to one of the best trilogies in the last decade or so, War for the Planet of the Apes caps off Caesar’s story in spectacular fashion. Andy Serkis is phenomenal as always, and the visuals are incredible – this is how you do CGI. A poignant tale about leadership and the importance of family, War for the Planet of the Apes is everything Hollywood blockbusters should be.


8 — Lady Bird

Sure, I may be biased since I’m from Sacramento and I love the little city I call home. But Greta Gerwig’s beautiful ode to adolescence, to growing up in Sacramento, and to coming around to loving the people and places that made us who we are, is such a winner.


7 — STRONGER

So much more than a conventional “overcoming the odds” drama/romance, Stronger is the incredibly moving tale of Jeff Bauman’s recovery after losing his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Thrust into the limelight while trying to recover, he reluctantly is forced to take on the mantle of “hero” for his city, even though he may not feel like one. What happens when a new romantic relationship is thrown a wrench in the form of national tragedy, and when life thrusts upon us a role we feel neither prepared for or deserving of?


6 — WONDER

Wonder what the most delightful, feel-good movie of the year is? Wonder no more. This wonderful little movie has some beautiful performances, knows exactly how to tug at the heartstrings, and may or may not have made me cry numerous times.


5 — GIFTED

This endearing indie drama starring Chris Evans as a single father struggling to raise his gifted daughter is the most charming movie of the year. When people say “they don’t make movies like they used to,” this is the kind of movie they’re talking about.


4 — Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan might have impacted the last few decades of film more than any other current filmmaker – no matter what some haters may say. It’s easy to overlook how his style, storytelling technique and cinematic influence has created countless trends in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking we take for granted. Dunkirk may not be the best Nolan film, but it shows the Director firing on all cylinders – a thrilling, exciting war movie more concerned with sound, feeling and scope than dialogue or individual characters. This is the story of countless soldiers – on the land, sea, and in the air – who lived through the horrors of Dunkirk. It’s a fascinating experience, and it might be the best war film since Saving Private Ryan.


3 — Baby Driver

A thrilling musical adventure through the streets of Atlanta, Baby Driver is the newest from Director Edgar Wright, who has given us some of the most unique, cinematic modern comedies. Baby Driver is a step away from straight-up comedy, blending music and action sequences unlike any film in recent memory. See it on the biggest screen possible – this is one of those movies that reminds you why going to the movies is so much fun.


2 —  The Disaster Artist

Okay, I get that many of you haven’t seen The Room. I definitely recommend giving that gloriously bad 2003 drama starring the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau a watch. But The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s retelling of the behind-the-scenes foibles on the set of The Room, is strong enough to stand on its own as well (though I still contend that you’ll enjoy it so much more having seen The Room). What easily could have been a simple comedy mocking the bizarre antics of Tommy Wiseau instead becomes a moving (but still very funny) tale about friendship, ambition and pursuing the things we are passionate about… If you can, get some good friends together to watch The Room on DVD and then go watch The Disaster Artist together. That will not be an evening wasted.


1 —  Brigsby Bear

My favorite movie of the year is also the one I’m confident most of you haven’t seen. Not only is Kyle Mooney criminally underused on Saturday Night Live, but now only like 87 people went and saw his brilliantly creative, quirky, funny and emotional comedy/drama Brigsby Bear in theaters. It’s by far the weirdest movie I’ve seen in a long time – but weird in so many great ways. I don’t really even want to say anything else about it because it would ruin the story. Don’t even watch the trailer or anything, seriously. Oh and Mark Hamill is a main character in it too, if you haven’t already been convinced.


Honorable Mention —  We Make Movies

Okay, I had to put this on here, right? I would never go so far as to imply that a movie I wrote and directed is one of the best of the year – ahem – but I’m pretty proud of it and I think it’s funny so maybe you’ll find it funny too. Amazon picked it up and you can watch it there for free.

And yes – it’s not lost on me how ironic it is that 2017 saw the release of a comedy movie I made about characters making a bad movie (that ends at the premiere of said bad-movie), and then my two favorite films of the year ended up being comedies about characters making bad movies (that end at the premiere of said bad-movies). I’m not sure if there’s anything to that or not…


Still need to see:
Phantom Thread, Hostiles, Mudbound, The Meyerowitz Stories

BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS AN AWARD:

Who did it the best this year?

BEST ACTOR(s):
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

BEST ACTRESS: Saiorse Ronan, Lady Bird

BEST DIRECTOR(s):
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

BEST SCREENPLAY: Brigsby Bear

BEST MUSICAL SCORES:
Dunkirk
The Greatest Showman

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dunkirk

MOST OVERRATED MOVIES OF THE YEAR (HOT TAKES!):
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Florida Project
It

DESTINED TO WIN THE MOST AWARDS: The Shape of Water

So those are my big fat opinions about 2017 at the movies! You don’t have to love my list; you don’t have to agree. So let me know what your favorite movies were this year! But first, if you excuse me, I think I’ll grab my popcorn bucket and head back to the theater. Time to start all over again!

© Matt Tory, 2018. 

All movie posters shown are used for non-commercial analysis and commentary purposes related to the films mentioned herein.