Thursday, January 4, 2018

Alejandra's Favorite Movies of 2017

by Alejandra Gonzalez
Let’s be serious – there is hardly anything we want to remember from 2017. Still, here are 10 of my favorite movies of the year that I hope to never forget.

10. Baby Driver

There is no such thing as an Edgar Wright film I don’t like. While I found the ending to be a little too extended for my taste (says the Lord of the Rings girl, right?), Baby Driver is still 2 hours of adrenaline and fun wrapped up in a (hot) fuzzy blanket. What’s most enjoyable about Baby Driver isn’t even just the fact that it involves Jon Hamm in any way, but that while heists and action are the most prevalent variables in the film, it doesn’t lack in sentimentality. Most of us know that I’m a movie crier and I would give Baby Driver 3 out of 5 tear drops. The pace of the movie works brilliantly toward a gratifying conclusion, and the movie’s only flaw is that it goes on for too long after that and, to me, changes the tone of the film entirely. If nothing else, the movie provides a gratifying end to real-life-villain Kevin Spacey and a killer soundtrack, but luckily Baby Driver has plenty of things about it that made it one of the most fun movies of the year.

9. Gerald’s Game

This was one of those movies that was presented to me at the perfect time this year. At the height of sexual harassment scandals being inescapable online, I found it was hard for me to avoid having to revisit my own experiences with it. Carla Gugino is forced to do the same to survive in Gerald’s Game, and content that could have so easily been offensive or triggering was handled with such care by Mark Flanagan in his adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Her experiences, no matter how horrible, were the reason she could survive and it was a lesson I needed to learn at this point of 2017. Much like Baby Driver, the ending is where the movie finds most of its flaws. While it felt a little Lifetime-y to me, I liked it more than most people and it certainly was not enough to change my mind about how great the rest of Gerald’s Game was. 3.5 out of 5 tear drops.

8. John Wick Chapter 2

I took myself on a date to watch this on Valentine’s Day in 2017 and I don’t think I could have spent the day any better. I love the world John Wick transports me to, a wonderful place doused in neon where nobody is to be trusted and everyone is somehow specially trained in martial arts. Every action sequence felt like a musical number and I mean that in the best way imaginable. Fight sequences tend to be a little boring to me, but the ones in John Wick 2 are so perfectly choreographed that it felt like characters were dancing with each other. Stahelski creates an atmosphere that could make John Wick walking down a flight of stairs feel poetic and important. I wish this phenomenal sequel would have been as emotionally compelling as the first movie, but it hardly affects what a great time John Wick 2 is.
7. Wonder Woman

Believe it or not, this was my first ever Dolby cinematic experience, and I can’t think of a more perfect movie with which to have broken that seal. If you know me, you know that representation in film is one of the hills I would die on; because of that, Wonder Woman provided me with one of my favorite theatrical experiences of 2017. The moments the audience spent in Themyscira, I spent looking around at the reactions of little girls and women my age alike. Undeniable thrill and pride was being worn across these dimly lit faces in the form of a smile and, if you were me, subtle tears. Wonder Woman is the most well-made and enjoyable movie in the DC cinematic universe. It seems to be the only one with a cohesive plot that still feels concise but doesn’t weigh any less because of that.

6. The Disaster Artist

I knew when I went into this that it would be hilarious, but little did I know it would be one of the most inspiring movies I was to see all year. The Disaster Artist, as I’m sure you know, is the story about the making of The Room, which I thought would affect my enjoyment of it because I had never seen Tommy Wiseau’s cult success before. That was not at all the case. The Disaster Artist was more so about the dreamers who remained motivated unconditionally, despite the likelihood of success being microscopic. The dialogue between the Franco brothers was warmly endearing, and the fact that they’ve shared a lifetime of brotherhood made the onscreen connection a real one that I wanted to be a witness of forever. I particularly enjoyed that it didn’t portray Tommy as a man with infallible determination. It showed him as he was: a man who felt on the brink of defeat and jealousy for most of the film but didn’t let that stop him. The payoff of his hard work was one of the most gratifying things I saw on screen in 2017, and I was thinking about it for days afterwards.

5. Get Out

I knew from the instant Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” introduced the opening credits that this would be one of the greatest movies of not only the year, but all time. There was nothing about this movie that didn’t either scare the shit out of me or make me laugh, and all while delivering one of the most important and timely messages of 2017. What impressed me the most is that while Get Out was hilarious and terrifying, it didn’t lack in the quality of its direction, either. It was well calculated, superbly acted, and visually captivating. I can hardly believe this is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Get Out, like Wonder Woman, provided me with one of my favorite theatrical experiences of the year, and it was when the entire audience cheered for at least two minutes when Chris does indeed get out. It felt hopeful while still very effectively expelling some of the horrors plaguing our world today.
4. Call Me By Your Name

There is hardly anything I can say about Call Me By Your Name that will accurately depict the amount of beauty contained within it. I can start by saying that the movie feels like a summer dream right from the get go, set in the ethereal countryside of Italy, the perfect setting for one of the dreamiest love stories I was honored to have been exposed to in 2017. While this is a love story, I find that it is more a story of learning and experiencing one’s own emotions in regard to our surroundings. I love that the story is told through a queer perspective, but I love even more that it’s not solely about that. Elio is learning about himself with Oliver’s help, and Oliver with Elio’s. The most refreshing thing about Call Me By Your Name is that nobody suffers a consequence for their queerness. Both parents are entirely supportive of their son, and the characters are never berated for their love even despite the age difference. The film looks beautiful all the way through and I hope to see Timothee Chalamet in many more things in the future.

3. The Shape Of Water

The only movie I saw in theaters twice this year, The Shape of Water may be a perfect movie. I didn’t think it was possible for Del Toro to impress me more than he did with Pan’s Labyrinth, but I was wrong. The Shape of Water is the most visually striking movie I’ve seen in a long time, echoing a swampy atmosphere in a metropolitan setting. Like many of Del Toro’s works, the movie uses its fantastical surroundings to tell an even more fantastical story of an unlikely love that transcends almost every boundary imaginable. There are elements of this movie that even made me uncomfortable, but I thank Del Toro for that because it invoked that and many other emotions in me with full force. The Shape of Water tells an utterly heart-wrenching love story that provided the perfect ending to my year in film. All of the tear drops!

2. Lady Bird

I thought for a long time after I saw it that Lady Bird would be my favorite movie of the year because of how absolutely delightful it was. There is a certain element in Lady Bird that makes it both a coming of age story and a story that people of any age will find enjoyable, relatable, and emotionally moving. I found myself feeling as though Greta Gerwig found my diary and transformed it into one of the most successful movies of 2017. Hell, it even made "Crash Into Me" by The Dave Matthews Band sound like a cool song. What made Lady Bird my second favorite movie of the year wasn't necessarily how relatable it was, but how organic that relatability felt. The thing about Lady Bird is that while Gerwig was trying to make a film for the audience, it felt like she was making it true to herself first and therefore made Christine’s experiences so viscerally real that the audience couldn’t help but relate naturally. I absolutely loved Lady Bird and I can’t wait to watch it for years to come.
1. Coco

As I mentioned earlier, representation is one of the most important things I consider when watching a new movie in today’s world. I had been excited about Coco for a long time because I knew that many of the people involved in its production were Latino and a majority of the cast was as well. As a Latina myself, I was worried that the movie might still fail at representing such a rich culture accurately. I am so pleased to say that Coco might be the best example of this representation in a long, long time. It tells the story of young Miguel, who journeys through the land of the dead in order to seek the blessing needed to achieve his dreams, but learns the importance of family and where he comes from along the way. I can certainly say that I have never seen an animated movie as visually awe-inspiring as this one; it moved me to tears on multiple occasions throughout the film despite an already emotional story. I found myself thinking a lot about my own family, and I was overwhelmed with pride to see that a film about a culture so similar to mine created by many Latino people like my own could be so successful. It’s why representation matters so much to me, and why Coco is my favorite film of 2017.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with these! They're a lot of the films I was most interested in this year (but have yet to see bc it's been the busiest year). I feel like I was sad for a long time there weren't enough female writers on this site and now, voila, here you are...and now I barely have time to see movies or comment! :( BUT, I've really enjoyed all your articles and input, Alejandra!

    Representation also matters so much to me, and sometimes I think I just sound like a broken record talking about it. But it really makes a difference- the movies USUALLY come across in a different, sometimes beautifully subtle, way, IMO, when the director or writer has that identity connection with their work.

  2. What a great list! I loved reading about all your personal experiences with the films.

    I actually believe not seeing 'The Room' makes 'The Disaster Artist' a better experience. It's a really good movie, but my biggest problem with it is (as someone who has seen 'The Room' a few times and has done a lot of research about it) it was exactly the film I expected. Honestly, I think a second viewing would help now that I wouldn't be hoping for surprises.

  3. My friend had a screener for Coco, and I only saw bits and pieces as I was doing something else, but what I saw was absolutely spectacular. So beautiful! Those colors!!!