Wilson Morales’ Top 10 Films of 2017

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Wilson Morales’ Top 10 Films of 2017
by Wilson Morales

December 30, 2016

Of the many films I have seen this year, these are the films I thought were the best of 2017. Some will be recognized come Oscar time and some may not, but if you get a chance, check out these films and see for yourself why I considered them among the top 10.

1. Get Out

A speculative thriller from Blumhouse Productions (Split, Insidiousfranchise, The Gift) and the mind of Jordan Peele, the first African-American writer/director to cross $100 million at the box office with his debut film, Get Out has made over $200M worldwide.

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario), a young African-American man, and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, “Girls”), a young white woman, have been dating for several months, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate at her family’s upstate home with parents Missy (Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods).  At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

Also featured in the film are Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, Erika Alexander, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, and Catherine Keener.

2. Dunkirk

Nolan directed “Dunkirk” from his own original screenplay, utilizing a mixture of IMAX and 65mm film to bring the story to the screen. The film was partially shot on location on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, where the actual events unfolded.

“Dunkirk” opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.

The film’s ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy and Barry Keoghan, with Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

3. The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water was directed by Award-nominated director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak).

The film stars Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky), Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, 99 Homes), Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Olive Kitteridge), Doug Jones (Crimson Peak, Hellboy), Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Steve Jobs), and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (The Help, Gifted).

The Shape of Water is an other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

4. Mudbound

Directed by Dee Rees, the WWII indie drama ‘Mudbound’ stars starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan and Jonathan Banks.

Set in the post-WWII South, Mudbound is an epic story of two families pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. The film is about friendship, unacknowledged heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land.

Newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis, the McAllan family is underprepared and overly hopeful for Henry’s (Jason Clarke) grandiose farming dreams. Laura (Carey Mulligan) struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture, meanwhile, for Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence Jackson (Mary J. Blige), whose families have worked the land for generations, every day is a losing venture as they struggle bravely to build some small dream of their own. The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) forge a fast, uneasy friendship that challenges them all.

5. Girls Trip

Girls Trip is the first film to gross over $100M at the box office that was produced (Will Packer, Malcolm D. Lee), directed (Malcolm D. Lee), written (Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver) and starring (Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish) African Americans.

Cast members also include Mike Colter (“Marvel;’s Luke Cage”), Kofi Soriboe (OWN’s “Queen Sugar”) and Larenz Tate (Starz’s “Power”).

When four lifelong friends—Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish—travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

6. The Post

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is about the Pentagon Papers controversy which stars two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Captain Phillips) and three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Florence Foster Jenkins).

The film also stars Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford and Zach Woods.

The Post will follow the 1971 scandal after the decision of The Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) and publisher Katharine Graham (Streep) to publish The Pentagon Papers. Written and leaked by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers established that the Johnson Administration had lied to the public and congress about US military involvement in the Vietnam War, and revealed that the Nixon administration had secretly escalated the war. The Nixon administration tried to stop The Post from publishing them, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the paper. T

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The darkly comedic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving with John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage.

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, commissioning three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.

8. I, Tonya

Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film stars Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, McKenna Grace

Based on unbelievable but true events, “I, Tonya” is the darkly comedic tale of American figure skater Tonya Harding and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy has forever been defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived and worse-executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Featuring an iconic turn by Margot Robbie as the fiery Harding, a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as her impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, and a tour-de-force performance from Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother LaVona Golden, and an original screenplay by Steven Rogers, Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya” is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked––and checkered––glory.

9. Lady Bird

In “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter.

The cast stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lois Smith, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Odeya Rush, Jordan Rodrigues, Marielle Scott

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, “Lady Bird” is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

10. Wonder Woman

The action adventure from director Patty Jenkins (“Monster,” AMC’s “The Killing”) stars Gal Gadot (the “Fast & Furious” movies) in the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.

The film also stars Chris Pine (the “Star Trek” films) as Captain Steve Trevor, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis and Connie Nielsen.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.


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