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Josh’s Favorite Movies of 2017 — Part Two!

Click here for part one of my list of my Favorite Movies of 2017!  Let’s continue…

15. Coco Once again, the mad geniuses at Pixar have crafted a film that is fun, visually stunning, and emotionally complex.  The “hook” of the film is young Miguel’s accidental journey into the Land of the Dead, and the film creates an entire universe and mythology out of the idea of death and the afterlife with as much care, creativity, and attention to detail that we saw in Inside Outs creation of the world inside a young girl’s head.  But why this film, like so many of Pixar’s films, is so impressive is how emotionally rich it is.  There were a number of moments in the third act that had me in tears.  I love that this is an original story, and I love the way that Lee Unkrich and his team were able to develop and explore all of these fascinating characters over the course of this relatively short film.  The film surprised me again and again.  This is yet another winner from Pixar.  (Click here for my full review.)

14. Dunkirk Like all of Christopher Nolan’s films, Dunkirk is crafted with the precision of a Swiss Watch.  I love the way that the film is divided into three different sections, depicting the conflict at Dunkirk from the perspective of characters on land, at sea, and in the air, and I am bowled over by how perfectly those three stories, which take place over differing amounts of time, slowly slide into chronological synch as the film builds to its conclusion.  It’s an extraordinary narrative feat.  I was impressed with how Mr. Nolan stripped away most of the dialogue in the film, resulting in a near-silent movie which relies mostly on its gorgeous and haunting visuals — along with a unique score — to tell the story.  Dunkirk is a cold film, with none of the sentimentality that one might expect in a war movie.  It’s a bold approach, one that makes Dunkirk an unusual and unexpected film.  I love those choices, and the result is a singularly impressive and moving piece of work.  (Click here for my full review.)

13. Alien: Covenant A vastly underrated film that, sadly, failed to find an audience.  I stand by my conviction that Alien: Covenant is the third-best film in the entire Alien franchise (bested only, of course, by the original two films: Alien and Aliens).  The film is a sequel to Prometheus, but it’s also far more directly linked to the original Alien (as Prometheus should have been) in a way that brings focus and cohesion to this wandering franchise.  More importantly, unlike Prometheus, Alien: Covenant tells a focused story with interesting characters that is exciting, scary, and terrifying.  The cast is terrific, with the duo of Danny McBride and Katherine Waterston as the stand-outs among the newcomers.  Michael Fassbender (returning from Prometheus and now playing a dual role) is extraordinary.  The scene in which one Fassbender android attempts to seduce the other is one of the most fantastic things I saw in a movie theatre all year, a glorious showcase for Mr. Fassbender’s skill as an actor and Mr. Scott’s mastery of visual effects.  The film is a visual marvel, and that downbeat ending was shocking and unexpected.  I desperately hope that, despite this film’s poor box office performance, Ridley Scott will be able to make another film in this series to complete this story, as was clearly his intention.  (Click here for my full review.)

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming For so long it seemed an impossible dream that one day Spider-Man, whose film rights were owned by Sony, could appear in a Marvel Studios film.  What a minor miracle that, with Captain America: Civil War, that actually happened!  I was super-excited for a full Marvel Studios Spider-Man movie, though worried that a third Spider-Man reboot in just a few years might not work.  Thankfully, the Marvel Studios team crafted another phenomenal success, giving us an incredibly faithful interpretation of the character while also providing lots of new situations and characters from the Spider-Man comic-book mythos, rather than falling into the trap of just being a third movie version of the character’s familiar origin and other stuff we have seen plenty of times before.  The film fully embraced its place in the Marvel Cinematic universe, giving us all sorts of fun connections and moments (getting to see Spidey rub shoulders with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan was fantastic) without overshadowing the film’s strong, clear-eyed focus on Spidey/Peter Parker himself.  Tom Holland was perfection as Peter, and Michael Keaton was a fantastic villain as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture.  I loved every second of this film from start to finish.  (Click here for my full review.)

11. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 Speaking of the greatness of Marvel Studios, let’s discuss Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2.  That first Guardians film was a magnificent surprise, introducing characters and settings unknown to most movie-going audiences and who comic-book fans like myself never, in a million years, thought we’d ever see on-screen.  That a crazy, silly movie featuring a walking tree and a talking raccoon as main characters would be so exciting and emotional was incredible, a testament to director James Gunn and his phenomenal team.  Could a sequel recapture that magic?  This one did, and then some.  The film is visually astounding and extremely funny, and it deepens our understanding of and affection for pretty much every single one of its large cast of characters.  I was impressed by the strength of the film’s themes, and the way the different story-lines paralleled one another as the various characters explored the pulls of family, both biological and chosen.  Kurt Russell was an inspired choice to play Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s father.  And I adored the way the film used Michael Rooker’s Yondu.  The “Ravager funeral” at the end of the film had me in tears.  That this film could be so exciting, and so funny, and also so heartbreaking, is amazing.  (Click here for my full review.)

Please join me back here soon for my TOP TEN favorite movies of 2017…!

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