Our Second Annual – Top Ten Films of 2017

The Top Ten Films of 2017 – A Summary of Each, and Reminder Re: #10
An Annual Ronhamprod.com Presentation

Welcome to ronhamprod.com’s second annual list of the best films from last year, as always, in preparation of the Academy Awards coming up this very evening!

Here’s the list for 2017 for your consideration, discussion and pleasure.  As always, these films are in no particular order, and followed by our perception of the film’s genre:

  1. It (Horror)
  2. Logan (Superhero)
  3. Darkest Hour (Drama/Biography)
  4. Shape of Water, The (Independent Drama/Romance/Musical)
  5. Icarus (Documentary)
  6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (Independent Drama/Comedy)
  7. Dunkirk (Drama)
  8. Battle of the Sexes (Drama/Comedy)
  9. All the Money in the World (Drama/Thriller)
  10. ____________________ (TBA)

As we said last year, there are a lot of films released annually in the United States.  In 2017, trust Box Office Mojo reports there were 726 movies released theatrically in this country BoxOfficeMojo – 2017 Titles.  You folks can probably tell by now – I adore films and always expect I will.  But even I can’t make it out to see two films a day minimum.  That said, I don’t see how I, or any other film critic, analyst, handicapper, etc. is qualified to say, “THESE are the top 10…”

Sure, all of this analysis and discussion is arbitrary and subjective anyhow – which is part of the fun of Awards Season.  That said, we here at Ronhamprod.com will always leave #10 respectfully blank.  I mean, I hate admitting that I haven’t gotten to Thor: Ragnarok, or The Phantom Thread, or Coco or Boss Baby or Wind River or The Florida Project or a host of other titles from last year just yet.  I will, but… that’s why #10 is our “free space.”

But, let’s look at the film’s up for Best Picture Oscars this year that are not on our list:

The Phantom Thread
I have not seen this latest from Paul Thomas Anderson.  IN fact, I may as well say that I haven’t loved any of this particular filmmaker’s works except Boogie Nights and the recent Inherent Vice – which is odd because, I can find very few film pals that liked Vice.  Regardless, I’m in no hurry to see Thread, despite the legendary Day-Lewis offering his final work with this title.

Call Me By Your Name
I also haven’t seen this one.  I’ve been told it’s fantastic and the footage I saw at The Contenders last November did indeed look like Name is a true “film,” and not Oscar fodder that’s in there to round out the field.

Lady Bird
Look… I’m not the audience for this film.  I went to Catholic school, as discussed in this entry here – Silence Review – Ronhamprod.  I went through teenage years.  Despite the fact I love independent cinema, Lady Bird didn’t resonate with me the way other recent dram-edys like The Big Sick did.  I’m super glad that this title resonated with so many Academy voters, but for me, the best thing about the film is the editing.  Nick Houy did a masterful job of cramming an entire senior year into 90 plus minutes.  Think about your senior year of high school for a moment.  Remember how there are specific, undeniable moments that will forever be etched into your mind?  And, how fast it all went?  The biggest impression made upon me from Lady Bird was how the film just keeps… moving…. along.  Oh, we’re doing the play.  Now, we’re submitting to colleges – and begging Dad to help.  Then, our heart got broken – that sucked.  But, then we got suspended, remember?  Then we got that job that, well, didn’t last too long.  So…. kudos to Houy, who did another masterful job with HBO’s The Night Of, for accurately capturing that deluge of memories and feelings into a very compact run time.

Get Out
There isn’t a lot that I can say about this horror film that hasn’t already been said.  I watched Key & Peele on Comedy Central for years, and was very entertained.  My interest and acceptance of horror films has had a renaissance in recent years as evidenced in this entry, Oscars 2016 – The Witch, and the upcoming It blog.  But, I’ll respectfully leave it at that.

The Post
I really enjoyed Tom Hanks in this Steven Spielberg directed newspaper drama.  His subtle notes, like the feet on the desk that Jason Robards so adeptly worked into scenes in All the President’s Men, are easy to take for granted.  I don’t suspect that I’m the only one that felt this effort was a little rushed, for lack of a better term.  This is not to say it isn’t a good film or one worth seeing.  And, as usual, the technical and “mise-en-scene” of the film is expert.  Think of the authentic sets, costumes, cigarettes and “feel.”  These are all elements that are easy to take for granted – but which are all very difficult to synthesize.  In the end, I was glad to see The Post in theaters, and I enjoyed it.  But, was there room for improvement for this entry in the Spielberg cannon – sure.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO
Please see my upcoming entry for this film, which I really enjoyed.  I think it’s impressive to go to a theater and have multiple instances where the entire crowd was laughing hard, only to be pin-drop quiet moments later…  Not every part of MO was exceptional, but I do love those films that force conversation and thought the day after you see them.

The Shape of Water
Ever since Pan’s Labyrinth, I’ve been interested in Guillermo Del Toro’s work.  Shape is similar to Labyrinth in that the preview definitely gives you a sense of how the film might play for you – but leaves plenty to be revealed.  Focusing on a very particular place in time with terribly unique characters, Shape is like watching your favorite symphony directed by a conductor who is new to your ear.  You’ve been in love, I’ve been in love – but we’ve never experienced a love like this.  This film wasn’t perfect, and I’m very, very confused how of all the awards it’s nominated for, the film is NOT up for best visual effects?  I’m also confused by some of Del Toro’s choices with the story, perhaps starting with Michael Shannon’s character’s fingers.  Regardless, what I think is especially worth celebrating when it comes to Shape is this – of all nominees, this and Dunkirk are the most cinematic.  That is, most of their story is told through moving images – which is the way it should be.  Speaking of…

I bloody loved this Christopher Nolan vision, which I first viewed with very dubious eyes.  I remember when the teaser came out all the way back in the summer of 2016, a full year before its debut.  My initial thought was, “they know how this WWII story went, right?  They’re really going to make a full movie about this?”  But, I’m fully willing to admit when I underestimate a film, and this is certainly one of those instances.  I adored the script’s construct of sharing three very different storylines that unfolded within the same event.  Taking several days for Tommy’s story (played by impressive newcomer Fionn Whitehead), spacing Mr. Dawson’s civilian vessel storyline across one day (the always moving Mark Rylance) and rounding the story’s foundation out with fighter pilot Ferrier’s (Tom Hardy) hour long tale was a most unusual construct – but one that worked.  And, to the film’s credit, the editing by Lee Smith kept the film tight, not a moment too long.  This film had the etchings of a three hour epic, but was better told in its two hour stretch.  I’m really glad to see that big man cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema has been nominated for Dunkirk, as it was thrilling to see the behind-the-scenes footage at The Contenders last fall, in which he’s seen lugging the huge, 70mm Panavision cameras into the Dunkirk surf.

Darkest Hour
Please enjoy my take on this Gary Oldman starring film here!

For Your Consideration – Honorable Mentions
In Season Two of Netflix’s hit drama, The Crown, I was fascinated by an episode in which one of the British subjects has the audacity, the gall, the temerity to draft an editorial suggesting what The Crown might do to (ahem) leave some traditions behind – and essentially, enter the 20th century with the rest of us.  To my interest and viewing pleasure, it turns out the British monarchy actually did embrace some of the suggestions made by the young man.  To that end, I think this year in particular warrants the consideration of an “Honorable Mention” for those that got write-ins, or exceptional work that there’s simply no fit for that year…  I’m not even suggesting we have a moment on stage, just a simple, write-in category where these filmmakers can be given notice for jobs well done.

Top of that list, in my humble opinion, is Ridley Scott for directing All the Money in the World.  The veteran director took a real stand in editing out Kevin Spacey from the film, looping in Christopher Plummer and working with the film’s financiers to successfully re-shoot, re-edit and do all of it within the weeks necessary to make the film eligible for this year’s awards season.  While the awards season deadline is the icing on the cake, the real “Honorable Mention” worthy action was a veteran, A-list director taking a stand against the long running behaviors of a few in Hollywood, which needs to change and is in the process of changing.  It’s easy to post on social media and make a quick speech denouncing these behaviors – but it’s quite another to spend lots of money, and convince your cast and crew to adjust their schedules and spend their valuable time on such an effort – an effort I consider to be well worth while, and worth honoring.

So, enjoy the Oscars this year!  I think I really enjoyed Dunkirk and Darkest Hour most, simply because I’m such a WWII history geek.  For me, my hopes are highest for Gary Oldman and the documentary Icarus.  Regardless, we’ll have some follow up posts shortly, but all in all, I think we can agree it was another interesting year in the Academy’s history.  And I’ll admit – I am anxiously awaiting to see how Mr. Kimmel will reference last year’s ummmmm, mis-step?

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