The year may be a little more than halfway over, but there has been a cavalcade of excellent films so far. Don’t let the reports of lackluster summer movies get you down because there are so many worthwhile films just waiting to be seen. We’ve already told you about the best television of 2017 thus far, but today we’re turning our attention to the silver screen with a rundown of the best movies of 2017 so far.*
John Wick: Chapter 2
While it didn’t tell the story of a bereaved puppy murdering everyone in New York City in order to avenge its master’s death, John Wick: Chapter 2 blew out the mythology of one of the best cult action films of the decade, expanding on the weird, wonderful world it built in the first film. With inspired set pieces like the nearly silent subway fight to the single most gruesome use of a pencil since The Dark Knight, this delivered on every concieveable level.
Image: 20th Century Fox
After 17 years of playing Wolverine, Hugh Jackman left it all on the table in one of the most affecting comic book movies ever made. In a genre that can feel awfully homogenous, Logan managed to push the envelope by injecting genuine drama and pathos into its story of former superheroes at the end of their rope.
The Big Sick
Image: Amazon Studios
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, The Big Sick is one of the best rom coms of the decade. Based on the real-life love story of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick is a powerfully told story of feeling stuck between your past and your future. It also features the best Ray Romano-talking-about-9/11 joke you’ve ever heard.
Waking up to find that you’ve swapped bodies with someone else isn’t necessarily a new trope, but rarely has it been more effective than in Makoto Shinkai’s anime masterpiece Your Name. Alternately sweet and devastating, Your Name‘s bittersweet romance story will make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it’ll make you regret watching it after having several tiny wines on an airplane because it’s too emotional to experience that close to complete strangers.
Bong Joon-ho’s follow-up to Snowpiercer is so damn good that it feels like an apocryphal Steven Spielberg/Amblin film. The story of a 13-year-old Korean girl and her gigantic superpig best friend is chilling, subversive, and whip-smart sci-fi that is so effective, it’s literally turning people vegan.
Image: Wild Bunch
Director Julia Ducournau’s horror film about a vegetarian who develops a taste for human flesh as part of a hazing ritual gone very, very awry is genuinely difficult to watch at time, but it’s so masterfully done and compellingly performed that you simply can’t look away.
Image: Warner Bros.
The saving grace of the DC Extended Universe isn’t Batman or Superman or even the Justice League; it’s Princess Diana of Themyscira, showing that a commitment to character development and a little splash of color goes a long way. From the joyous defiance of seeing Diana become Wonder Woman for the first time as she strides across No Man’s Land to the film’s willingness to lean into the ugliness and moral complexities of war, Wonder Woman is a triumph.
Easily the most self-assured and stylish film of the year, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a classic heist movie in the skin of a modern action film. Meticulous editing and charismatic ensemble cast combine to make a memorable, gleeful, and unreasonably fun action comedy extravaganza that takes itself just seriously enough.
With great power comes great responsibility, and Sony had a great responsibility not to fork up the third Spider-Man adaptation in 15 years. Thankfully, Homecoming was worth its weight in murdered uncles because it delivered one of the sweetest, most earnest superhero stories in a long time. Tom Holland is a bona fide superstar in the making, Michael Keaton is a high water mark for villains in the MCU, and the supporting cast is just bananas good.
War for the Planet of the Apes
Image: 20th Century Fox
Low key the best modern film franchise out there, the Planet of the Apes reboots are better than they have any right to be, and War for the Planet of the Apes is the best of the bunch. Pushing Caesar to his breaking point and pitting him against a militaristic demagogue played by a wild-eyed Woody Harrelson, War for the Planet of the Apes is the rare action blockbuster where the action plays second fiddle to the emotion — and you won’t even mind.
No one expected Jordan Peele to make a bad movie, but I don’t think any of us expected him to make a truly great one for his directorial debut. Get Out is confident, creepy, and comedic, hitting all the right notes while delivering a racially charged horror film that feels like one of the most essential movies of 2017.
Image: StudioCanal UK
Bumbling gangsters, outsized egos, and loud leisure suits unleash a maelstrom of hot lead after an arms deal goes south in Ben Wheatley’s self-contained action flick. With laugh-out-loud dialogue, incredible physical comedy, and a terrifically talented ensemble cast, Free Fire is a bullseye through and through. Plus it features Sharlto Copley in one of his best roles to date, which is saying something.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Macon Blair’s directorial debut feels like if the people trying to sell you coffee tables on Craigslist suddenly decided to try their hand at vigilante justice. It’s a pitch black comedy about what happens when good people are pushed to their breaking point, and the catastrophic consequences that follow. Come for Elijah Wood wielding nunchakus, stay for Melanie Lynskey turning in a showstopping performance.
What are your favorite films of 2017 so far? Let us know in the comments below.
*I didn’t see Dunkirk until after I filmed this week’s episode or else it would 1 billion percent be on here.
Editor’s note: Today’s episode of The Dan Cave is sponsored by Squarespace.
Image: Warner Bros.