Welcome to Second Union’s Best (and Worst) Films of the Year! Today, we’ll be taking a look at the best pop culture has given us over the course of 2017. We hope you enjoy as we count down our favorites. Thank you for coming, and enjoy the show! Before we get started here’s a list of some honorable mentions that came close to making the cut but didn’t quite live up to our Top 10.
Alien: Covenant takes place in 2104 and follows a group of colonists that arrive on a planet inhabited by murderous alien creatures. It isn’t without its share of tonal inconsistency and stupid characters but has great visual effects and a triumphantly interesting and well-written story.
Depicting a riot-stricken Berlin during the Cold War, Atomic Blonde follows Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), an MI6 agent. She’s tasked with recovering a list of every spy in Berlin. Featuring some of the coolest gun-fu action sequences, as well as an intriguing story, this is an enjoyable and violent thrill ride.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
After stopping Ronan in the first film, the Guardians must take matters into their own hands when they are attacked by the Sovereign, a cosmic race with a grudge against the team. Featuring new characters, more emotional intensity, and a great soundtrack, this Marvel film is sonic, visually stunning fun.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Picking up after the events of the first film, The Golden Circle follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), who must team up with the Statesman, an American version of Kingsman, to stop Poppy (Julianne Moore) from killing citizens who take her fatal drugs. It doesn’t quite top the bar set by the first film, but Matthew Vaughn still proves that he can create a stunningly fun action film.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles to get by without something major for him to do as Spider-Man. But when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) arrives as a new villain, Peter attempts to stop him. Holland is by far the best Spider-Man, and Keaton is also a great villain because of his realistic motives. Also, Peter’s best friend Ned is a funny and quirky comic relief that steals the show.
10. John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 2 follows the titular ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) as he is brought out of retirement once again by an old ally. He must escape the barrage of goons sent to assassinate him, as well as fend off against other, experienced clients.
While it doesn’t match the level of storytelling that the first film had, it still serves as an outright fun follow-up. Taking the phrase “Gun fu” to a whole new level, it features impressive stunts, great new characters, and a body count that’s double the amount as the first’s. Keanu Reeves slays his adversaries in merciless fashion, taking them down with knives, garroting, and of course, a huge (and, um, perfectly necessary) amount of headshots.
9. Baby Driver
Directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey). After a brief exit from the game, he falls in love with Debora (Lily James), a waitress at a diner. Soon after, he gets dragged back into the world of crime for a heist that puts everyone he loves in danger.
Right from the get-go, the movie puts you in the passenger seat of Baby’s car. Non-stop thrills await you once Baby steps inside the driver’s side door and selects a song on his iPod. Speaking of, the music in this film! The music! I can see how director’s have been following in the footsteps of Guardians of the Galaxy, but this film does it so perfectly. The movements, the driving, the gunshots, they’re all in rhythm with the music. It’s amazing and comes highly recommended.
M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film stars James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 23 personalities because of dissociative identity disorder. After kidnapping three teenage girls, he prepares to unleash the 24th, a creature called “The Beast”. One of the girls, however, is highly resourceful and courageous and puts Kevin’s personalities to the test.
Possibly James McAvoy’s best performance, Split is a very well-written film that, even with its limited cast, can create such a scary atmosphere. The 23 distinct personalities prove to be very compelling leads, and learning more about each character is increasingly immersive. Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance will have you rooting for her throughout the entire movie.
7. Wonder Woman
Patty Jenkins directs this origin movie for the titular DC superhero, who sees a man crash onto the shores of Themyscira. After learning of a raging conflict, she must travel to Europe to stop the conflict – World War I. She learns messages about humanity, love, and the difference between good and evil, as well as self-discovery.
After 2016, a year of crashes and burns for the DC Extended Universe, Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air for the fans and critics alike. Not only the best DC film since 2012 but one of the best superhero movies ever, it delivered the best female-driven comic book movie and Gal Gadot’s performance outdid those of her co-stars in the franchise. The Amazonian warriors are some of the most interesting characters to come out of a DC film and Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is a funny, charismatic addition, his chemistry with Gadot being spectacular. Patty Jenkins reinstalled hope for the failing franchise – for a little while, at least.
The second Wolverine film directed by James Mangold finds Logan (Hugh Jackman) in 2029, caring for an aging Professor X (Patrick Stewart). They are struggling, but surviving, until a young girl with the same genetic mutation Wolverine has arrived and threatens Logan and Charles’ safety. They must escort her across the country to a land called Eden, where other mutated children can go to escape forces trying to kill them. Yep, it’s that bleak.
This was the ending Wolverine deserved. The R-rating really gives the film more flexibility to create a proper sendoff to the clawed hero. And it’s beautiful. Patrick Stewart’s final portrayal of Charles Xavier is his best one yet. The emotion delivered in his lines truly encapsulates the end of an era. This is one of the greatest superhero films of all time, delivering extraordinary performances from each of the actors. Thank you, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart for seventeen years of the X-Men films. This one’s for you.
Dunkirk is the latest film from Christopher Nolan. It tells the story of the evacuation of the British fleet from Dunkirk during World War II. It portrays the conflict from the perspective of the air, sea, and land.
Ever since he made himself a household name in pop culture with Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan has been crazy busy creating new masterpieces for fans and casual moviegoers. With releases like Interstellar, Inception, and two follow-ups to that Batman film, the hype couldn’t have been higher for a war film directed by Nolan. Shot on 65mm cameras, this visual splendor is the perfect war movie for three reasons: the time jumps, the characters, and Hans Zimmer’s brilliantly fantastic score filled with everything you could possibly want from the guy. The cinematography is stunning. The visuals are phenomenal. And the film doesn’t become tedious or overly long thanks to its great pacing.
Based on the novel by Stephen King, It follows a group of kids in Maine in ’89. After discovering their town is the feeding ground for a creature dubbed “It”, they must band together to stop the creature before it strikes again.
The first It adaptation being not-so-great, it’s surprising that there was any hype at all from audiences worldwide, but not only did it continue the trend of great book-to-film adaptations, it also continued the growing streak of terrifyingly good horror films. From the opening scene depicting helpless Georgie die at the hands of the merciless Pennywise, the atmosphere is clear, and despite the happy tone of friendship, this is a bleak film. The kids’ bond between each other is gloriously realistic, showing the emotions of having a group of friends you’d do anything for. Spending more time learning about the origins of Pennywise was a wise move on the writers’ parts. A terrific young cast (especially Sophia Lillis) supported by equally terrific writing ensured that this film succeeded.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok is the third Thor film and the seventeenth MCU entry. It follows the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth), trapped on the planet Sakaar while his sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, takes over Asgard and rebirths her army in an attempt to expand the empire of Asgard. Thor must stop her with the help of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and newcomer Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who wishes to get revenge on Hela.
Not only is this the best Thor film, this is quite honestly the best Marvel film. Filled with colorful, well-developed characters (both new and old) as well as stellar writing, this easily nudges its way to the top of Marvel Studios’ library, taking the lighthearted reputation to a whole new level. Hela is not only a force to be reckoned with, she’s also interesting. Neither of the prior two Thor films were that great. Learning more about the lore of Asgard only strengthens this one’s superiority over its predecessors. An outright delight from start to finish, Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is a cosmic triumph for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Humorous, bright, fun, and above all else, very impactful on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, view this one on the big screen while you still can.
2. Get Out
Get Out follows a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya), who, after worrying that his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents will disrespect him when they go to visit, is in for a surprise when the situation appears to be much worse than initially presumed.
In a world where racism is a topic more common than ever in conversation, Get Out was a surprise to casual filmgoers and critics alike. Still holding a 99% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it’s no surprise that it’s become one of the most talked-about and universally loved movies of the year, and for good reason. One of the most original films of 2017, it gives audiences all the twists and turns they want from a horror film while still not becoming tedious or clichéd. The acting is brilliant, especially from Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery as his friend Rod. The isolated atmosphere only makes it even more disturbing tonally. Get Out is a frightening, intriguing, disturbing, and morally questionable movie that you will want to watch again and again.
1. Blade Runner 2049
A sequel to the 1982 film, Blade Runner 2049 takes place thirty years after its predecessor. It follows Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner who is also a Replicant. He begins to investigate after making a discovery that female Replicants can have children. He tracks down ex-blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to investigate even further.
Blade Runner 2049 is an absolute masterpiece. From the terrific acting to the well-written characters, to the stellar visuals, to Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography. The story is fresh and exciting, offering a look at LA thirty-two years in the future, complete with enormous, beautiful holograms and magnificent vehicles. Denis Villeneuve created an excellent film last year with Arrival and he’s done it again. Ryan Gosling continues to be flawlessly terrific in his roles (last year’s La La Land and The Nice Guys) and Harrison Ford’s return as Deckard is great. Ana de Armas is amazing in this movie. As an item of technology who has emotions, you feel for her character. As mentioned, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is truly phenomenal. It truly earns its position as the best film of the year.