The Nine Best Movies We Saw in 2017
From soup to nuts—or, 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' to 'Phantom Thread.'
A lot of things sucked this year, but you know what didn't? Movies! (Well, there were movies that sucked too, but we've been over that already.) Anyway: Here's a rundown of some of our favorite movies this year. Tell us if you think we're wrong—it's not like we're going to listen to you anyway.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
If 2017 saw the construction of new houses of cards in personal and social politics, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos's twisted fifth film gave us an early window into the kinds of consequences we can look forward to when the ground shakes and things begin to topple. In most films, you get to witness the decision a character makes that seals his or her own unbecoming. Not Sacred Deer: The damage was done before the film even began, and it's all downhill Greek tragedy from there, baby. —Emerson Rosenthal
This story of a girl and her beloved superpig contains one of the most joyful cinematic experiences of the year, ending with a bitter aftertaste that only makes it more appealing. Korean director Bong Joon Ho tells an international story that follows Mija (Seo-hyun Ahn) from rural South Korea to Seoul to New York City in a madcap race to save her pet, Okja. The superpig happens to be a genetically engineered animal designed by the Mirando Corporation to "save the world cheap"—and make a steep profit—with cheap, delicious meat.
Tilda Swinton is legendary in the roles of insecure executive Lucy Mirando and her cunning evil twin sister, Nancy. Paul Dano was born to play the ruthlessly moral eco-terrorist, Jay. Giancarlo Esposito whips out the outwardly polite, inwardly scary persona he perfected as Gus from Breaking Bad. And Ahn's breakout role as Mija dominates the screen for much of its two-hour run time. But the star of the show is undoubtedly the hippo-like beast herself, brought to life through innovative and painstaking CGI. Okja generated a bit of controversy at the Cannes Film Festival because French rules implied that the film, a Netflix production, needed to be in theaters before the company could stream it. But let the fact that there were people on both sides of this issue be a testament that this film is worth fighting for—and definitely worth a watch. —Beckett Mufson
Whom among us could have predicted that the year's most important film about race in America would have come from one half of Key and Peele? Yet not only did the latter's $4.5 million satire turn a cool $175 million at the domestic box office, it made so-called liberal nightmares like The Stepford Wives and Being John Malkovich look like Meet the Parents by comparison. —Emerson Rosenthal
The Florida Project
Quite possibly the most evocative exploration of childhood since The 400 Blows, Sean Baker's Tangerine follow-up is as brutally real as it is beautiful, a humanistic portrait of adolescence and parenthood that handles issues of class with generosity and grace. There are a thousand scenes in this movie that will stay with me forever—not to mention Willem Dafoe's to-the-point performance, one of the year's best. —Larry Fitzmaurice
Blade Runner 2049
Here's an unpopular opinion: Blade Runner 2049 was a good, possibly great (depending on if, not when, the future rolls around), film. In short, it's a thrillingly sad movie about why you should quit your job. That the year's biggest Ryan Gosling movie could be a *crushingly* fatalistic sci-fi cinematography spectacle, SFX-gasm, and sequel is a testament to the fact that even if our imaginations hurt right now, our hearts can still soar. —Emerson Rosenthal
The Safdie brothers have proven themselves expert chroniclers of the terrible things terrible people do for the sake of misplaced love, and Good Time is perhaps their most potent exploration of that theme yet. A neon-soaked, Scorcese-tastic, late-night criminal trip through New York City, every scene crackles with intensity thanks to a nuanced and complicated portrait provided by Robert Pattinson, who's quickly proving to be one of the best actors going. How about that? —Larry Fitzmaurice
If Darren Aronofsky's made-to-impress-Jennifer-Lawrence tenth-grade acid trip opus was the last film ever made, we'd have earned it. —Emerson Rosenthal
Paul Thomas Anderson. Daniel Day-Lewis. Need I say more? Go into this one as blind as possible—you won't be disappointed. Also, shout out to Vicky Krieps. —Larry Fitzmaurice
Call Me by Your Name
A love story for the ages, as well as an undeniably powerful coming-of-age portrait of queer youth and self-discovery. It's not the only movie on this list that ends with someone crying (don't worry, that's not a spoiler), and you'll probably end up crying too. —Larry Fitzmaurice