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Before you watch the Oscars, here are my favorite movies of 2017

by Danny Zepeda | February 25, 2018February 25, 2018 6:00 am PDT

It is officially Oscar season. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently held a fancy event to announce this year’s nominees. It’s an event that honors the quality of the movies released in 2017, but as you know, the choices aren’t always the best or even the most interesting.

With this in mind, I decided to craft a list of the ten best movies I saw in 2017. Given I am not shackled by the pomp and frizz of the Oscars, I was able to choose movies of my liking. Some are being honored by the Oscars, while other weren’t favorably reviewed. And that’s the beauty of movies. Some movies don’t have to be critically praised to be enjoyed, and I thoroughly enjoyed my choices.

Here are my favorite movies of 2017.

Blade Runner 2049

The moody sequel to 1983’s Blade Runner lived up to the hype and then some. Director Dennis Vellenueve returned to the dystopian world created by Ridley Scott, and with the help of cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Hans Zimmer and Bejamin Wallfisch, continued to the next chapter of the replicant hunting cops.

If you hadn’t watched the original, the sequel’s slow and contemplative pace surely didn’t appeal to you. But if you appreciated it, then you bathed in the nuanced exploration of the slave replicants and their struggle for purpose. Ryan Gosling (Officer K) and Ana De Armas (Joi) provided a terrific one-two punch while Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard) delivered one of his best performances in a long time.

Where to watch: Rent it

The Shape of Water

Guillermo Del Toro hit it out of the ball park. His signature melding of fantasy with structured storytelling engrossed me in this story of monster-meets-girl. Del Toro has always been careful to give otherworldly creatures a reason to exist as well as a relatable human way, and The Shape of Water was no different.

This was led by Sally Hawkins’ tour-de-force performance as the mute Elisa, who you just can’t help but fall in love with. Her performance is complimented by Doug Jones as the creature. Couple that with fantastic set-pieces, visually striking scenes and the perfect score by Alexandre Desplat (who deserves an Academy Award for his work), and you have a movie that will stick with you well after you leave the theater.

Where to watch: Still in theaters

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I must profess, I did not have high expectations for Spider-Man: Homecoming. In fact, I didn’t even bother watching it in theaters. I rented it months after its release, and I instantly regretted that decision. As Marvel tends to do, it didn’t worry itself with superfluous details like Sony did with The Amazing Spider-Man, and the result was a winning Spider-Man movie.

The uniqueness of Spider-Man: Homecoming is that it threw away Spider-Man’s lore out the window and started with fresh ideas. People actually learned about Spider-Man’s identity! What a novel concept. Tom Holland was the catalyst for this as the endlessly charming Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego.

Where to watch: Rent it

Baby Driver

I’ve been an Edgar Wright fan since he came out with Shaun of the Dead. So when I heard he was making a movie called Baby Driver with neither Simon Pegg nor Nick Frost, I was hesitant. My worries were quickly put to rest with the full throttle opening scene that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Throw in a groovy soundtrack, fantastic performances by Ansel Elgort, Lily James, John Hamm, and Wright’s unique style, and you have non-stop joy ride of a movie.

Where to watch: Rent it

John Wick Chapter 2

Here’s where my list may cause some of you to grunt with disagreement. Coming off the revelation that was John Wick, our introduction to the seedy underworld of hit men and women, John Wick: Chapter 2 expands upon that by exploring the titular character’s descent into the world he so desperately sought to get out of just a few years ago.

Keanu Reeves is back as Mr. Wick, and he’s better than ever at taking out hoards of bad guys on a whim. Director Chad Stahelski did a great job of keeping the story light and quick-paced when it would have been all too easy to go off the rails. Instead of disappointed, I came away quite impressed with this movie.

Where to watch: HBO

 

Logan

When in doubt, go serious. It worked for the Caped Crusader with The Dark Knight, and now it worked for Wolverine with Logan. It tells the story of the downtrodden hasbeen X-Men, going in hard with post-traumatic stress, addiction and crushing perils of aging. At this point, a superhero kicking ass doesn’t catch my attention anymore. Seeing him face his mortality does, and James Mangold had the perfect concoction for Wolverine.

In Hugh Jackman’s sixth appearance as the superhero, things aren’t like they used to be. He’s stuck babysitting a senile Professor X before getting stuck with hard-headed girl who also happens to be extremely dangerous. Logan hits unprecedented emotional chords I didn’t think was possible out of a comic book movie and goes a long way in erasing the stigma that they have, even earning an deserved Academy Award nomination.

Where to watch: HBO

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I loved King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It was probably the most fun I had watching a movie the whole year. Instead of becoming a heavy and full-of-itself wannabe period piece, what we got was a reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, and I had a blast seeing what Guy Ritchie came up with.

The underrated Charlie Hunnam delivers a solid performance as King Arthur; it was a role he was born to play. Although the movie quickly runs through some exposition, Daniel Pemberton’s score does a great job of making the quick montages ultra fun. It’s a shame the movie failed at the box office, because I’d be first in line to watch the sequel.

Where to watch: HBO

 

Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel wised up and gave people what they wanted: more Guardians of the Galaxy. To do so, it snagged indie director Taika Waititi, of What We Do In the Shadows fame, and let him roll with Thor: Ragnarok. The end result is a Thor that we’ve never seen before. He is funny, engaging and relatable—once you get past the Norse god tidbit.

Yes, I know it is a Guardians rip-off, but that didn’t make the Korg scenes any less funny. Or the Hulk and Thor buddy scenes any less entertaining. And it never hurts to throw in Jeff Goldblum. Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson were also two badass female leads. Add it all up and you get a rocking good time.

Where to watch: Available for rent February 20

The Disaster Artist

“I did not hit her, I did not!” It’s dialogue like that that made The Room a cult classic and thus it eventually led to a biopic being made. Enter The Disaster Artist, James Fanco’s magnum opus chronicling how Tommy Wiseau’s own magnum opus was painstakingly made. Franco shines as the heavy-accented and long-haired Wiseau, who befriends Mark, portrayed by Dave Franco, and the both head to Hollywood to pursue their dreams of stardom.

Things don’t turn out as expected when they decide to create their own Hollywood movie through Wiseau’s mysterious deep pockets. Hilarity and absurdity ensues, as Wiseau is more caricature than actual human.

Where to watch: Still in theaters

The Big Sick

The Big Sick is the little movie that could and did. Released back in June, it opened to a wave of goodwill on its way to earning an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and deservedly so. Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, who also stars in it, it tells the story of a Pakistani comedian and his topsy turvy relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan) that threatens his relationship with his family.

All of this takes a backseat when Emily comes down to a mysterious illness. You wouldn’t take this premise as comedy gold, but that’s exactly what happens. It turns out to be warm and richly funny movie. Nanjiani shines in his namesake role as a part-time Uber driver and part-time stand up comedian who needs to entertain Emily’s parents while coping with the situation. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie, you won’t regret it.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video


Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...

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