The Top 10 Movies of 2017
Hailing from an island paradise unblotted by the shadow of a single man, she sailed to Europe, put an end to World War I, experienced love (but not for long — sigh!) and went on to survive a second Batman-Superman movie. Here's to you, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), shining vanquisher of male cruelty, folly, presumption and stupidity. We needed you.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Frances McDormand, a small-town woman who wants justice for her murdered daughter, gives the local police chief (Woody Harrelson) a rude poke in the ribs to resume the investigation. What begins as an angry moral crusade turns into a dark, funny, wildly unpredictable film about how people live with themselves — until they just can't.
Director Christopher Nolan's movie about the famous British military campaign was the year's most daring accomplishment: It had virtually no dialogue or exposition, and the narrative was spliced into three perspectives — soldiers on the beach, fighter pilots in the air, rescuers racing across the sea — in different time frames. An impressive, exciting adventure.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
In a year full of upsetting, often overlapping headlines about sexual impropriety, this gay coming-of-age romance might have been swamped by controversy. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer are the lovers, one 17 years old and the other 24. But Name is sensitive and bittersweet — and probably the finest mainstream movie about homosexuality since Brokeback Mountain.
THE BIG SICK
The best romantic comedy of 2017 starred Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan in a story based on the actor's own life (he cowrote the script with his wife, Emily V. Gordon). Boy meets girl, boy potentially loses girl forever when she gets sick and slips into a coma, boy — well, do you really want to know? Watch it yourself, and be happy.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Director Guillermo del Toro's best film since Pan's Labyrinth is about the unexpected but strangely natural romance between a mute cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins) and an aquatic monster. Handsome despite the gills and back fin, he might have been a leading man back in some black lagoon. The movie is one long, intoxicated swoon — into love, into horror, into old movies about love and horror.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Here's the outstanding child performance of the year: Brooklynn Prince as Moonee, a girl living with her mother in a purple motel outside Orlando. They're close to homeless, these two, but to Moonee the summer passes like an idyll. Then, in a flash, her childhood disappears.
All those years worrying about Bambi's mother now seem like a nostalgic piffle — Pixar has taken Walt Disney's instinct for tear-jerking entertainment to a level that's both higher and deeper. Coco, about a little Mexican boy's night in the land of the dead, is scary and sobby, but also sweet and consoling.
Director-writer Jordan Peele took some musty conceits from 1970s horror movies — especially The Stepford Wives — and came up with a suspenseful, of-the-moment thriller about racial prejudice and white privilege. Daniel Kaluuya is the unlucky guy lured to the suburbs with girlfriend Allison Williams. During the film's scariest moments she eats Froot Loops.
Raging Bull with a triple axel, this satiric film about tarnished figure skater Tonya Harding could have condescended to her in a number of ways — treating her as camp, as trash, as Lifetime-movie villain, as misunderstood underdog. What we get is something trickier but also empathetic: a great athlete without the brains or emotional backup to skate over the bumps and cracks along the way. There's a bad marriage, an impossible mother (Allison Janney), dumb choices and, maybe worst of all, a tacky, head-to-ankles coarseness that sets her apart from the sparkling princesses speeding past her. Margot Robbie is fantastic.