MikeyB's Top 5 Movies of 2017

 Another year has come and gone and that means its time for my annual write up of my top five favorite films of the year. For the past two years I've held myself to a set of rules of my own making: "The films must have been released during the previous year, and I had to have seen them during that year." Inevitably though this ends with me having to leave a film off the list because I did not see it before the year was out, and of course this year ended up the same way. I saw a film that I loved so much and wanted to include it in my top five, but if I followed my rules it would be left off the list. So starting this year I'm changing those rules: "To be eligible for my top five the films simply need to have been released during the year in question." The film in question? You'll just have to keep reading to find out. So now with that out of the way lets dive right in!

Director: Michael Gracey
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron

 Plot: A musical telling of the life story of P.T. Barnum, his family, and his time spent in show business.

 Opinion: Okay. So yes "The Greatest Showman" is insanely revisionist in it’s telling of P.T. Barnum’s life and yes it paints him in a lot more friendly of a light then is deserved. The thing is though, it’s one of the best musicals I’ve seen in years. Every single song is great, Jackman and Effron are a match made in musical heaven with the former clearly having the time of his life, and the choreography and set pieces are beautiful. The messages of acceptance, love, joy, and happiness throughout the film are just what the world needs right now, and that is why "The Greatest Showman" has made it onto my list.

Movie #4: It (2017)
Director: Andy Mushietti
Starring: Jaeden Leiberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard

 Plot: Maine, summer of 1989. In the small town of Derry, children are disappearing at an alarming rate. After discovering that the creature behind these disappearances is a shapeshifting clown, a group of seven friends band together to stop It.

 Opinion: In my opinion the last great Stephen King film adaptation was Frank Darabont's 2007 lensing of "The Mist". Darabont is no stranger to King's works, with The Mist being his third film adapted from King's books. "The Green Mile (1999)" and "The Shawshank Redeption (1994)" being the other two, and all three of Darabont's films are some of the best movies ever made based on King's material. I have to say though that in my opinion, Andy Mushietti has overtaken those three aforementioned films with "It". He manages to walk that tricky tightrope of staying faithful to the original source material and bringing something new to the table. The film, just like the novel it is based on, is this strange mixture of coming of age film, and monster movie that surprises and delights with every twist and turn. All the child actors are pitch perfect and utterly believable in their respective roles, and Bill Skarsgard's performance as Pennywise is absolutely stunning. He has captured the character's vile hatred and hunger for the children perfectly and his on screen presence is nothing short of mesmerizing. On top of that the script is surprisingly hilarious and had me laughing harder then some comedies I saw this year, Korean cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung frames the film gorgeously, and Benjamin Wallfisch's score is great accompaniment to the horrors we see on screen. All this adds up to the best new horror film I have seen since The Conjuring 2 (2016) and earns "It" its spot here.

Director: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones

 Plot: Young Conner is having a hard time. He is having nightmares, being bullied at school, his mother is on the losing side in her battle with cancer, and consequently he is having to move in with his strict grandmother. All this comes crashing to a head though when one night a monster comes calling.

 Opinion: This one is up there as one of the best family films of all time, let alone the year. Performances are absolutely pitch perfect in the truest sense of the phrase, and Bayona's brilliant direction is present in every single frame. The film deals with the very adult themes of love and loss juxtaposed through a child's point of view, but the story connects straight to your heart no matter your age. The film is a lot like its protagonist Conner: Quiet, reserved, and, contemplative. Yet when its imagination is let loose, it positively soars. Without a doubt this is spectacular film-making from start to finish, and more then deserving of the number three slot here.

Director: James Franco
Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor

 Plot: The insane true story of the men and the friendship behind the making of the infamous "best worst movie" The Room.

 Opinion: This is the movie that I had to break my previously established rules for. James Franco's performance as the eccentric Tommy Wiseau is the most remarkable and extraordinary of the year and he had me tearing up not only from laughter but from the shear emotion and pathos he brings to the role. His brother Dave is equally fantastic in his role as Greg Sestoro, Tommy's partner in film making and best, possibly only, friend. What I love about this movie most of all though is that it doesn't treat the story as some cheap comedy about the hilarity and madness behind "The Room", but is a celebration of two men's friendship, passion for film, and their willingness to follow a dream that seems impossible and crazy.  The end result of this all is one of the most joyous and heartfelt experiences I have had watching a movie this year.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas

 Plot: Thirty years after the events of the first film, a young Blade Runner finds the himself tracking down the rogue "Runner" Rick Deckard in a case that could change the very course of humanity.

 Opinion: Villeneuve has done the impossible with this 35 year late sequel. He not only lived up to the first film, but in my opinion, surpasses it. While the original film is a milestone of the genre and insanely influential with it's iconic special effects and gorgeous world, it always lacked in one department: story. Thankfully this is something 2049 has in spades and it delves deeply into the theme of "what truly makes us human", that the original only ever hinted at. On top of a great story and absolutely breathtaking cinematography, set design, lighting, and special effects, 2049 has pitch perfect performances from every single actor involved, with Ford delivering the best of his entire career. 2049 is a remarkable achievement and I'm confident in predicting that, just like the film it follows, it will be upheld as one of the essential masterworks of the genre. All these things and more make it my top pick of 2017.

 So thats it! Those are my picks for my favorite films of the year. Thoughts? Comments? Differing opinion? Fell free to let me know in the comments below, and as always thank you for reading and I'll see you next time!