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Let’s take a look at the best movies of 2017 so far. We have looked far and wide, traveled to the multiplex, to the art-house and back again and here is mxdwn’s current picks for the best films so to have arrived on screens this year. Included are some of 2017’s biggest spectacles as well as more modest and personal gems. We will be updating this page every so often to reflect the best and brightest films of the year. Be sure to check back in to see where we stand. And without further ado, and presented in alphabetical order, here are the current cinematic treasures of 2017.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
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Be ready for a splendidly gothic love story with all of the light and joy of Disney. Condon has gotten to the heart of Beauty and the Beast, and along with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, has brought the characters to vibrant life for a new generation. The production value has set new highs for Disney’s live-action slate, and the musical numbers will have you dancing in your seat and humming to yourself long after the film ends. Belle, the unlikely princess, has been reinvented for modern audiences, with Watson coming out on top as the film’s fearless leader.
When you hear Jordan Peele’s name, most conjure images of his Barack Obama impersonation, his knack for improv and a break-dancing enthusiast shouting ‘noice.’ But lately, Peele has been making a name for himself outside of the comedy world with his new breakout horror hit, Get Out. Playing like a nightmarish version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, Peele’s directorial debut has not only become a bonafide success, making over a $100 million back on a budget of a mere $4.5 million, it has also established the young director as a reckoning force. And with Peele signed up to direct at least four more social thrillers, there’s a whole bunch to look forward to in the coming years.
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
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The LEGO Batman Movie takes the excitement of The LEGO Movie and blends the comedy, action, and laugh-a-minute-thrills onto the watchful guardian of Gotham City. Featuring stellar voice-work from the cast – including Will Arnett as the voice of the Caped Crusader – and top-notch writing, the film demands multiple viewings just to hit the jokes, references and gags. Did you like The LEGO Movie? If so, then you will surely enjoy The LEGO Batman Movie.
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The thing that elevates Logan above many films in the superhero genre is that it is not only an amazing superhero film, but an amazing film in its own right. Take away the X-Men elements and you are still left with a gritty yet compelling drama, one that holds genuine stakes for its main character. This is Wolverine/Logan at his most vulnerable and most brutal, an old man who must sharpen his claws one last time to protect those he cares about from harm. The stakes are made even higher by the film’s action, giving X-Men fans the bloody, limb-cutting, berserker-rage Wolveine we always wanted to see on screen. Both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart deliver their best performances in the X-Men franchise to date, and Dafne Keen deserves as much credit for her portrayal of Laura/X-23, delivering a performance that says so much with hardly any lines. Logan is brutal yet at the same time beautiful, and serves as a fitting conclusion to Jackman’s tenure as Wolverine after 17 years. Is it as good as The Dark Knight? No, but it’s the closet Marvel has ever gotten to reaching that level of quality.
As thoughtful as it is confounding, Olivier Assayas’ enigmatic and leisurely paced latest feature is bound to polarize. Yet, those willing to surrender to the offbeat, unconventional beat of this arthouse ghost story/spiritual crisis character study may find themselves haunted (in a good way) by the results. After giving her the best role of her career thus far in meta-soaked reflection on celebrity Clouds of Sils Maria, Assayas reunites with Kristen Stewart, who expertly balances this odd, incongruent, yet strangely beautiful tale all the while instilling her specific laissez faire movie star persona. In Personal Shopper, Stewart portrays a young American dashing through Europe slavishly working for a plutocratic diva in the midst of a personal crisis following the death of her twin brother. What follows is an elegant, richly atmospheric thought experiment all bent and contorted to the unique drums of its alluring star.
Politics should never encroach on the arts. But for a chaotic moment, it did just that. In the weeks leading up to the 89th Academy Awards, Donald Trump issued executive order 13769—banning citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country. It was hasty, bizarre and ill-advised order that was eventually blocked by a Washington judge soon after being signed into law. But for six heart-wrenching days, families were torn apart, people were left stranded and refugees were told they could no longer resettle in America. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Cannes-winning The Salesman, was among the individuals affected by Trump’s rash order. After having become the first Iranian person to not only be nominated but also win an Oscar in 2012 for his masterful A Separation, Farhadi was poised to return to the iconic award ceremony and perhaps win yet another golden statuette for his newest film. But after being told he could not travel to the infamous Dolby Theatre, Farhadi and many of his colleagues in the industry said they would not attend the ceremony in protest to Trump’s order. The beautifully nuanced The Salesman proved to be the strongest contender among the collection of worthy films, picking up the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It was a moment in which the film community and the Academy stood together in defiance to a prejudiced immigration policy. They loudly proclaimed that they would not stand idly by as their talented contemporaries were unjustly treated. It was a brazen test of humanity ethics. It was a community coming together to proudly say we will “not go gentle into that good night.”