From Get Out to Spider-Man, Lady Bird to Blade Runner: Eli Glasner's top films of 2017

In 2017, filmmakers served up movies that spoke to the moment. While some were micro works of wonder, others were vast, awe-inducing spectacles. Here are Eli Glasner's picks of those that shone brightest.

From tabloid queens to animated heroes, 2017's films were unforgettable

Three very different perspectives from some this year's finest films: (from left) The Florida Project, I, Tonya and Call Me By Your Name. (Elevation/VVS Films/Mongrel Media/AP)

Here we are.

For the film industry, 2017 represented an important turning point, for Hollywood and the culture at large. 

Although these projects are often years in the making, this year's filmmakers managed to serve up movies that spoke to the moment. Some are micro works of wonder, while others are vast, awe-inducing spectacles.

After another year of sitting in the dark, here are the stories that shone brightest.

1) The Florida Project

Leave it to the director of Tangerine to find wonder in the lives of these Disney World economic refugees. Set amid the collateral damage of the American Dream, young Moonee and friends show us how to make any place your magic kingdom.

2)  I, Tonya

You think you know disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding? You have no idea. I, Tonya is a witty, self-aware ride through the American celebrity grinder, with a revelation of a performance by Margot Robbie.

3) Call Me By Your Name

Armie Hammer stars as an aloof American who comes to stay at the Italian villa and makes an impression on young Timothée Chalamet. A sensual story about discovering your own truth, told with sensitivity and a wisp of sadness.  

4) The Shape of Water

Sally Hawkins, left, and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Associated Press)

Only director Guillermo del Toro could look at The Creature from the Black Lagoon and think to himself: "What if that were a love story?" A Cold War-era romance like you've never seen, with an effervescent Sally Hawkins, who already wowed us this year with Maudie.

5) Blade Runner 2049

Leave it to Montreal's Denis Villeneuve to pull off the impossible: doing justice to Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic while pushing the story forward with this neon-tinged investigation into the line between real and artificial. (Read the full review.)

6) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Frances McDormand goes all in for this blackest of black comedies, as she plays a mother raging against the unsolved murder of her daughter. Note to Hollywood, give us more like this please: twisting tales that take us places we never expected to go.

7) The Breadwinner

In The Breadwinner, young girls disguise themselves as boys in Taliban-run Afghanistan. (Elevation Pictures)

From the books of Canadian Deborah Ellis comes this Canadian-Irish co-production that shows us the true cost of war, seen through the eyes of a family living under the Taliban regime in Kabul. Young Parvana's courage unearths treasures of Afghan culture in the rubble.

8) Dunkirk  

Oh, the exquisite tension of this tick-tock of a war film from Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight director shuffles timelines, but keeps the focus squarely on the humanity of the survivors. (Read the full review.)

9) Darkest Hour

Dunkirk, part two. Set in the British parliament during the famous military manoeuvre, this ode to oratory stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, rallying the country with his weaponized rhetoric. 

10) Spider-Man: Homecoming

Jacob Batalon, left, and Tom Holland co-star in Spider-Man: Homecoming. (Marvel Studios/YouTube)

I almost gave this slot to Wonder Woman, but to be honest Spider-Man was responsible for some of the most fun I had in the movie theatre all year. Beyond the John Hughesian influences, there was the moment when Michael Keaton opened the door. Just. The. Best. (Read the full review.)

11) Columbus

A sick father strands John Cho in a place known for its modernist architecture. There, he meets a young woman (Haley Lu Richardson) who is a guide of sorts, but lacks direction. A quiet gem of a film about the spaces inside us and the ones we inhabit. 

12) Get Out

Allison Williams, left, and Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out. (Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures/AP)

Watch Get Out again to see how carefully director Jordan Peele assembled this horror-comedy about racism, a film as disturbing as it is relevant.

13) Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this tale of a young woman dying to leave her hometown. You don't see Gerwig onscreen, but you feel her in the deftly told story about defining yourself at a difficult age.

14) Lady MacBeth

A few years from now, Florence Pugh will be in everything and Lady MacBeth is the reason why. It's a story about a woman who is not to be trifled with.

15) Personal Shopper

Bella is dead. Long live Kristen Stewart. When you weren't looking, the former Twilight star became one of the most exciting actors of her generation. For proof, look no further than this ghost story for the texting generation. (Listen to the audio review.)

16) Brigsby Bear

James (SNL's Kyle Mooney) has been lied to and manipulated his entire life. His only connection to the outside world was a strange children's show called Brigsby Bear. Now that he's free, James has one wish: finish telling Brigsby's story. There is an undeniable sweetness to this film about fandom and what we invest in the stories we love. Also, it's Mark Hamill's second-best performance of the year. 

17) Window Horses

Window Horses features the voices of Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar. (TIFF/Canadian Press)

The National Film Board does it again with Ann Marie Fleming's animated journey of self-discovery, as a Chinese-Canadian poet travels to Iran. The simple cartoon style belies a surprisingly intricate tale about family, immigration and valuing your voice.

18) The Disaster Artist

It's a love song for losers and perhaps the most honest film about Hollywood ever made. By retelling the story of The Room, James "I'm So Meta" Franco has made his masterpiece.

19) The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan appear in The Big Sick. (Elevation Pictures)

A modern love story for our irrational times. It also happens to be hilarious. The Big Sick features charming performances by Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani, but the parents on both sides of the cultural divide steal the show. 

20) Baby Driver

I had some issues with the ending the first time I watched this heist movie hybrid from director Edgar Wright. But on second viewing, I was floored by how immaculately he knits together every moment. Don't let the presence of Kevin Spacey stop you from enjoying this pedal-to-the-metal musical.


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