The year 2017 had a bit of everything for film. There were the expected franchise financial successes, such as Thor: Ragnarok, Despicable Me 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean, films that didn’t have be good to do well. Although, Thor was quite good. But we also had some surprises this year—films that did extraordinarily well that weren’t really supposed to or, at least, weren’t expected to. This is one of the things that we will look at in this list—the surprises. Another thing we want to look at is controversy. Films can be controversial for any number of reasons, but we only care about the fact that they generated discussion among movie fans. Say what you will about controversy, but if a film gets people talking, it’s usually worth talking about.
We’re not just dealing with the monster-sized films either. Sure, true indie films are going to be overlooked in general simply because they don’t generate huge audiences. This means that huge chunks of the population are not talking about these films, which defeats the purpose of this list. But some of the films on this list got people talking without massive budgets and intense marketing campaigns. The films on this list got people talking in different ways for different reasons, but they are all connected by filthy gossip. In case you haven’t had your ear to the streets, we have. Here are 17 Films from 2017 That Had Everyone Talking.
17. Girls Trip
Aside from being the bestselling comedy film of the year, Girls Trip got a lot of buzz this year for several different things. First of all, the story was refreshing. You may think this is just a female version of Hangover or Bridesmaids, but it’s much more than that. This, for the general theater-going audience, was wholly new. Too few movies focus on the female experience in the first place. It’s nice to see some perspectives that get ignored. Then there’s the black female experience, which is almost nonexistent in film. Girls Trip gave us the unabashed glimpse of those stories, and it was incredible. The story may have been simple, but the reactions and the performances made the film. And the audiences responded. This film made history by becoming the first film that was produced, directed, written, and starred in by a black cast to cross the $100 million mark.
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
When it was announced that the MCU would be rebooting the rebooted Spider-Man franchise, most of us were a little hesitant to get excited. Yet, as things started falling into place, the excitement levels raised. We got a glimpse of the new Spidey in Civil War, and we were not disappointed. Still, a standalone film is much different than a small cameo. Well, Spider-Man: Homecoming was everything we hoped it would be. Everything that we wanted in the film was there, for both casual and die-hard fans. The $880 million that the film brought in at the box office doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does help illuminate it. Aside from the Easter eggs, the fan service, and the incredible special effects and action sequences, the performances in this film are really what carried it.
15. The Big Sick
The Big Sick is still undervalued because of its size, but for an independent film, this was an enormous success. Written and starring Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick is a comedy that is loosely based on the story of how Nanjiani met and fell in love with his wife. This film might be the best comedy of the year, but since it’s an Amazon film, we expect it to be silenced during the award season. Still, we’ve included it because it was one of the biggest-selling and most talked about independent films of the year, and it deserves more love than it will get via the major awards.
14. Get Out
2017 was an incredible year for financially-successful horror films. The last few years has been sort of a renaissance in horror, but there was still a disconnect between horror and the mainstream audiences. Get Out erased that divide. Bringing in more than $250 million on a less than $5 million budget, Get Out obliterated any expectations anyone may have had. But people were talking mainly about the content in the film. Get Out was a very intense criticism of all forms of racism. While many films explore outward and belligerent racism, this film took a look at liberal racism, as well as misappropriation and cultural hijacking. It was remarkable.
13. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
You didn’t need to be a soothsayer to know that Star Wars: The Last Jedi was going to be a smash hit. While there are always going to be contrarians and counter-culturists who will complain about anything the public generally enjoys, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is taking the world by storm and most people are loving it. At the time of this writing, the film has only been out for a few days, and it’s already over $500 million worldwide. Those are intense totals. When all is said and done. This will likely be one of (or the) highest-selling films of all time. The talk isn’t all about sales, though. After fans had their hearts critically injured by the Star Wars prequels, these newest additions have been nothing short of amazing. It’s now safe to say that the third and final entry in this new trilogy of films will easily be the biggest film in the history of cinema. Hell, Star Wars: The Last Jedi may just be the reining champ at that point.
Who could have possible guessed that a Disney Pixar film was going to do well? But this film came at maybe the most interesting time it could have as well. In what many are calling “a love letter to Mexico,” Coco explores the richness and beauty in the Mexican culture at a time when the country and its political ties to the United States are under the microscope. This makes the discussion very relevant. Another aspect of the film that has garnered a lot of talk was the Disney short before the film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. While these little shorts have become staples of Disney Pixar films, this 22-minute slog during the opening credits was too much for most people. That made the theater trip several hours and that’s just too long, especially with kids. Many complained, and although it was removed early in December for other reasons, the fans rejoiced.
11. The Disaster Artist
Even though The Room was a major cult classic, a film that was so incredibly bad that it was good, no one could have expected The Disaster Artist to be as good as it is. This is a movie that goes through the making of the strange film, The Room, recreating scenes from the original with precision. The film was just released in theaters in December, and it is already generating a lot of talk. Prior to that, The Disaster Artist was the talk of the festivals. There’s a lot to love about the film, comedy, performances, and real heart. It’s captivating even for those who have not seen The Room.
Christopher Nolan is one of the biggest directors of this age, so every single one of his films are going to bring in big bucks and generate plenty of discussion. Still, Dunkirk was enormous in every way. The film, at this time, has brought in more than $500 million worldwide. The critical response has been excellent, and it’s been nominated for several awards already. One of the most important things about Dunkirk is the authenticity that it presents. There isn’t the manufactured feel we often get with war films. As a piece of filmmaking, it positions itself as one of the best war films ever made.
9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
On the surface, there’s nothing big about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri except for maybe the billboards themselves. This film feels small in almost every way. Even the actors in the film, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, and Lucas Hedges to name only some, are actors that are criminally underrated. But on the festival circuit, in critical circles, and coming up to the award season, this film is getting a lot of words spent on it. Even with a late November wide release in the US, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri makes this list for its impact on the audiences that have seen it. Winning the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival was just the start for this film.
8. Wonder Woman
Even though much of the discussion surrounding this film is from the contrarian audience, those who try to rewrite the film’s response by suggesting it was overrated, Wonder Woman was a film on everyone’s lips. Female star and female director, female themes and female perspective, this was a new superhero film in an age of superhero films. While the film didn’t necessarily rewrite the book on filmmaking, it felt original because of the lens it used. But we shouldn’t expect films in the DC universe or the MCU to trailblaze paths in cinema. At this point, there is a money-making formula set out that they follow. Massive blockbusters aren’t going to stray from that. Still, Wonder Woman was a welcome sight in 2017, and it deserves all the attention it got.
7. Lady Bird
Despite the film’s modest box office earnings, Lady Bird has been an enormous success. Much of the discussion around the film isn’t that it’s necessarily groundbreaking or innovative, but the movie has a certain level of perfectness about it. That may be a bit extreme to suggest, but there is nothing wrong with this movie. Not one thing. This led to something amazing happening. Lady Bird became the most reviewed film to remain at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes ever. If it wasn’t for one little contrarian who wanted to drive traffic to his website, it would have remained at 100%. To put this in perspective, Lady Bird surpassed Toy Story 2 in consecutive fresh ratings when it received 164 straight. Pay attention to this one come award season.
It was Deadpool that got the Rated-R Marvel film ball rolling, so Logan can’t take credit for that, but the latter film was different because it was Wolverine. It was Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart‘s Xavier, except that it was grittier and much more violent, and it worked. The film’s tone fit in with the content and the context. It also matched up with Jackman’s own run with the character, a 17-year journey, the longest in superhero history. This was also how we came to know Jackman. Sure, some were familiar with the actor before X-Men, but most of us met him as Wolverine, and this was the year we said goodbye to him. Everything about Logan was refreshing, and the blend of superhero film and Western was a perfect match.
5. Baby Driver
Maybe it was the American actors in the film, but it seems that Baby Driver is the film that opened people’s eyes to director Edgar Wright. While the Cornetto trilogy is adored by many, Baby Driver seemed to captivate the mainstream audiences in a way that none of Wright’s other films have done. Now, this film is different as well. While it contains the same level of quirkiness as his previous films, there was a musicality element to Baby Driver that we haven’t seen from him yet, at least not on this level. As time passes, we expect that this film will become more of a classic as it has levels that people are going to need time to discover. It also has Kevin Spacey, which helped generate some discussion.
4. The Shape Of Water
Currently, Guillermo del Toro‘s newest film, The Shape of Water, is experiencing low box office numbers, but don’t let that fool you. This film was the talk of the film festivals, and it is already being discussed as an award season mammoth. Del Toro has long been a fan favorite director, ever since 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth took our breath away. Well, his most recent effort might be his best ever. The film depicts a fresh look at a monster love story, a style of film that comes around every so often but is hard to make new again. Del Toro did just that, and the performances in the film are astounding.
3. Blade Runner 2049
The expectations for Blade Runner 2049 were enormous. Trying to follow up on such a classic science-fiction film was no easy task, but Denis Villeneuve appears to have surpassed all hopes and quieted all doubts. The film is a masterpiece of beauty and style. Fans of the original film or not, everyone can enjoy this moving art piece. The script, the score, the performances, they all work splendidly, and while the film’s relative box office numbers certainly haven’t blown anyone away, this film looks like it will only get better with time. Perhaps more than any film of 2017, Blade Runner 2049 challenged the rules of blockbuster films, delivering a stylistic film that we rarely see in major releases.
2. A Ghost Story
There was a lot of talk in 2017 about this apparent “new age” of horror. Over the past years, there have been several films released that showed a different side of horror. While some argue that this is nothing new, there is something creative happening, a movement that the film, A Ghost Story, is a distant relative of. We are seeing movies take place within the context of a traditional horror setup. A Ghost Story is not a horror movie. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It is a love story, but it’s haunting and the backdrop is a horror movie. As one of the more creative films of the year, A Ghost Story garnered a lot of talk, but it was one of the very best films of the year as well.
Every so often, we are confronted by a film that causes a hailstorm of discussion. Mother! is one of those. Every so often, we are given a film that creates an enormous divide between critics and mainstream audiences. Mother! is one of those. Creative and thought-provoking filmmaking is often taken for granted. Darren Aronofsky‘s 2017 film created a lot of chatter, but it did not get a lot of love from the box office or the mainstream film fans. The average film fan doesn’t want to be jarred. They want a film that falls within the realm of expectation. While many people criticize the “Hollywood ending,” people are sickened by endings that go against expectations. This is just a small sliver of why Mother! was so controversial.
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