The 20 Best Movies of 2017, So Far

The 20 Best Movies of 2017, So Far

With the year halfway over, we here at Talk Film Society have come together to select the 20 best films of the year, so far. Check out our selections for the top 20, then read our individual lists at the very end of the article. 

Get Out

Get Out might be the most important movie about race in decades.  Director Jordan Peele created an instantly iconic phenomenon, with many of the film’s lines, images, and moments becoming part of the cultural discussion about prejudice and white liberal hypocrisy. With standout star-making performance from Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, Get Out presents a form of racism that is hard to pin down. It’s the invisible racism that sounds like a compliment but actually chips away at your soul. Kaluuya does a masterful job of shrugging off the racism because he experiences it all the time. Williams matches that with a perfect portrayal of a privileged white girl who discovers prejudice is actually a thing. Peele turns these concepts into a nail-biting horror movie, flipping the script on so many tired horror tropes and delivering a brutal, cathartic climax. Get Out is exquisitely directed and so beautifully structured. It’s quite effective as a horror movie, sometimes side-splittingly funny, beautifully layered, and sophisticated with striking, unforgettable supporting performances from Lil Rel Howery, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, Catherine Keener, and Lakeith Stanfield.

Personal Shopper

After their success in 2015 with the Cesar Award-winning Clouds of Sils Maria, Kristen Stewart and director Olivier Assayas reteamed for the very mysterious Personal Shopper. Stewart delivers a stunning performance in this modern gothic horror as the personal shopper/medium trying to connect with her dead twin brother. With extended scenes of Stewart texting an unknown number, the film is a chilling, ethereal delight. Part murder-mystery, part ghost story, the film is a beguiling and enthralling look at grief. The film balances a few tonal shifts—the movie is both dead serious and not serious at all. At times, it’s quite ludicrous but also captivating, mesmerizing, and inescapable. Personal Shopper’s plotting is neat and the pieces almost fit together. But Assayas leaves just a few threads tangling to keep your mind racing for a while after. Kristen Stewart is a brilliant actor, and she holds the frame with conviction and energy, especially when she’s on screen alone. The pairing of Stewart with the French director is perfect; his stark filmmaking meshes extremely well with her cool, studied acting style.

- Manish Mathur

Kong: Skull Island

Recently, the giant monster movie genre has been taken in an oddly dour direction, a far cry from their origins. What I appreciated so much about Kong: Skull Island is that it bucks this overly serious trend, instead opting for a loud, over-the-top experience that I found invigorating. Bright colors fill the screen at every moment, whether that's lush greenery or orange smoke coming from seemingly nowhere, it creates a stunning effect. Kong (who was shrunk down to original size for his last outing) is once more a hundred-foot beast who fills the screen gloriously. Kong is not just his intimidating presence, either. He swipes helicopters out of the air like flies and attacks our protagonists furiously when they first appear, but we soon learn he is neither our enemy or the biggest threat on the island, which is populated with other oversized animals and dinosaur-like creatures that Kong must fight to protect the earth. The human characters are more than just big animal fodder, which is surprising considering how most are killed off after you've started to like them. Colorful and fun, Kong: Skull Island is easily one of my favorites of the year, and I eagerly await Kong's meeting with Godzilla.

Wonder Woman

I was a big fan of last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I felt that it was an unusually adult, visually striking superhero film. While I did not enjoy Man of Steel, I do for the most part love the direction Zack Snyder has taken the DCEU, thus far. That being said, I can recognize their faults, and I believe that Patty Jenkins ironed out all of the kinks for her inspired take on Wonder Woman. The oppressive tone has been lightened without sacrificing any integrity, causing the lengthy film to feel like a breeze. The action scenes are still badass and elaborate, but hit harder because there is finally a villain worth being interested in. Gal Gadot is perfectly cast; she has the strength to play the action and the comedic timing to play the lighthearted fish-out-of-water innocence brilliantly. Chris Pine also provides one of his best performances with one of the best subplots I've ever seen in an action movie. It's frankly depressing that it took as long as it did to get another big budget female superhero movie after 2005's Elektra, although with the smash success of Wonder Woman hopefully more studios will finally step up and fill that void.

The Fate of the Furious

For a while now, the Fast and Furious franchise has done nothing but ramp up the craziness, each entry more entertaining than the last. While it is true that The Fate of the Furious takes the spectacle further than it's gone before, it also loses something along the way that made the other entries feel special. An oddly darker tone may be the culprit, or perhaps it's simply the fact that this is the first entry after Paul Walker's untimely passing. As a longtime fan, I was a tad disappointed with this, but I can safely say that I would take a subpar Fast film before most other blockbusters any day of the week. With Jason Statham switching sides and palling up with the crew, Charlize Theron commands the villain seat, becoming my favorite baddie of the series yet. Her performance and the energetic, inspired prison breakout scene alone would make this a worthwhile experience, even if it weren't paired with the chaotic, hundreds-car chase through New York City or the blowout finale involving nuclear missiles and a massive submarine. As Vin Diesel keeps insisting, Fast and the Furious is about family, and while I think that message might be more clouded than ever before, I’m fine with it taking a backseat as long as we get more logic-defying stunts.

- Marcus Irving

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright drifts into mainstream territory with his latest - a heist caper packed with impeccably choreographed getaway sequences and a fully loaded soundtrack that enables the film to double as a jukebox musical. A pop masterpiece in every sense of the word, Baby Driver hooks the audience from the opening bank robbery that carries through to an overly impressive 100 mph chase on an Atlanta freeway, scored to the music of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Thoroughly dynamic with regards to story structure and visuals (almost all stunts were done in camera - a rare thing to see for a major modern blockbuster), it takes inspiration and tropes from '90s crime classics like Heat, Reservoir Dogs, and Point Break; rendering them through the lens of pastiche. Wright’s biggest film to date is also a departure from his past genre-subverting works featuring aimless protagonists, as titular character Baby attempts to move ahead from being an accomplice to grand larceny to a normal life. A great blend of action, comedy, music, romance, and suspense, it’s unlikely that there will be a les stylish film this summer.

- Rob Trench

John Wick: Chapter 2

I could go full-on Stefon from SNL here and tell you about how “this movie has EVERYTHING,” but instead I’ll go through what the movie does with it all. Baba Yaga’s rampage continues with him tracking down his stolen and chop-shopped classic muscle car. The attention he garners for “coming out of retirement” includes a house call from the man who made his retirement possible: an Italian crime boss who was several rungs below the upper crust of the underworld before John got involved. Years ago, the Italian cleared the way for Wick to lay the foundation for the Russians from the first film, which positioned the Italian to be within shooting distance of a seat at the highest table this mythology-infused world of crime bosses and assassins knows. John owes him a favor, and he comes calling. When Wick refuses, the Italian levels his home, the very last thing he had to remind him of his life outside of his work, and John takes to clearing his marker, and getting revenge. The fights in this film are even more inventive and entertaining than the previous entry, with Common presenting himself as a greater threat than any of the nameless goons from Chapter 1. And rest assured, the dog remains, “a good boy.”


This French horror film was widely hyped earlier this year, and with good reason. Its sound design and matter-of-fact, un-sensationalized camerawork heightens the already fantastic story beats, featuring a vegetarian with an awakened blood lust, into something more unsettling and disturbing than most people are prepared for. Despite claims it’s over-hyped, the film delivers if upon watching it, you allow it to be what it is, and not what others have built it up to be. The music is a haunting. The droning score of synth with a harpsichord style of progression is full of minor keys and discordance to unsettle and prepare you for further unsettling. The story, at its core, is about trying to fit in at any cost, latching on to any handhold you can to stay centered. It’s also about the cruelty of others in the same situation, and how mercurial connections can be when everyone is trying to find their place in high-stress situations. Raw is a film best seen as fresh as possible with the fewest expectations other than a sickening thrill ride of blood, awakenings of every variety, and growing up.

- Sean Beattie

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Boy, so far, 2017 has been dismal in so many ways, and I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in saying that. American politics is the most frustrating drama on television, movies are straight up bombing at the box office left and right, and we seem to be living life one Netflix Original Series at a time. One saving grace however, has been the consistently entertaining and thrilling entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hit a high point in May with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Anyone familiar with the (yeah, I’m gonna call it) classic first film knew the future held something special for Star-Lord, Gamora, and the gang, but little did we know that everything would’ve been turned up to 11 for the sequel. Between Baby Groot, genuinely heart-felt daddy issues, and a climax involving a fight with a living planet, Vol. 2 is balls-to-the-wall in a way never before quite seen in a film this big. Its script isn’t quite as clean or fresh as its predecessor, but it’s simply the best 2017 has offered us so far. There’s still a lot of year left, including not one, but two more Marvel entries. Don’t lose the faith, friends. 

- Tyler Scruggs


Logan may be a final goodbye to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, but it is not a film about heroes; not in the traditional comic book movie sense, anyways. Logan is about trying to be good and help people in increasingly dire circumstances, no matter the cost. It’s a film about coming to grips with human frailty and mortality, as the audience watches Logan and Xavier wither and die before their eyes. Logan is a film about loss, and grief, and the psychological toll that can take on a person if left unchecked. It’s a film about redemption, as Logan himself is on a journey to make good on the death of the rest of the X-Men. At its core, Logan is not about donning a costume and saving the world. It’s about the lengths humans are able to go in order to save themselves and their family, facing their demons, and establishing a legacy and example for the next generation to follow. At the outset of the film, Logan is just an old, broken man who used to fight crime. By the time the credits roll, however, Logan has made peace with his demons and actions, and secured a better life for Laura and the other young mutants, becoming the hero he was always meant to be and who these children needed. At the end of Logan, through his sacrifice, Logan finally becomes Wolverine.

- Harrison Brockwell

A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness, Gore Verbinski's return to the horror genre, is a triumph, and this is coming from someone who doesn't think his remake of The Ring is all that good. Verbinski, who directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, drops the Johnny Depp act for the first time since 2006 (The Lone Ranger and Rango both starred Depp) and incidentally crafts one of the best movies of his eventful career. The story, which takes cues from many other psychological thrillers (most notably Scorsese's Shutter Island), ups the creepiness as it takes Dane DeHaan to a “wellness center” on a remote island in the Swiss Alps. As could be expected with any movie about a strange, isolated building such as this one, nothing is quite as it seems. The cinematography is marvelous, each shot beautifully composed and capturing the near flawlessness of the set design. The cast is also standout, from Mia Goth's striking creepiness to Dane DeHaan's first great role which realizes his potential, to the genius that is Jason Isaacs playing, well, Jason Isaacs. To see a filmmaker like Verbinski craft such an elegant original thriller such as this is one of the joys of being a cinephile. I think in a decade or so (or even less than that), film circles are going to be appreciating this project more, and I think it's always going to be a staple of how artists with visions should be given the keys to every piece of their projects.

- Ben Lane

The Lure

In my initial review for the film I wrote that “Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure is a tough film to describe succinctly. It’s a musical, it’s a horror, and it’s a coming of age tale; but most resoundingly, it is a weird, weird film.” Two mermaid sisters enter a Polish nightclub as the nightly special act. Each performance, they use their synthy siren songs to seduce more and more customers to pack the club to its gills. In many ways The Lure is the antidote to by-the-numbers moviemaking. Though it combines unusual ingredients rather than creating something completely fresh, the effect is much the same. I guarantee there is nothing this year, nor really any year, that feels quite like Smoczynska’s latest. It helps that each musical number lands every beat it needs to. And, the swooping, serpentine path of Smoczynska’s camera amid clouds of rainbow-hued light keep the proceedings constantly enthralling – if not downright hypnotic. The drama is solid, the beats are catchy, and the film is shot with manic grace. It’s not only one of 2017’s most bizarre, but it’s one of its best.

It Comes At Night

Trey Edward Shults' previous, Krisha, was a singular and devastating effort. It was a simple and oppressive look at addiction that, though not without its problems, showed a woman struggling to keep it all together and a family dinner that quickly descended into a hellish night of trudged up old demons. Given it was one of my favorites of last year, I was looking forward to his latest: It Comes at Night. I barred myself from watching any trailers, clips, preview stills, (but not that poster, because wow that thing is a masterful ad for the film). This is the ideal condition to enter this film. (And, if you have yet to see the film – and you intend to at some point in the future – I recommend skipping my entry on this film. If not, or if you simply don’t care, please do read on.) Shults’ newest begins with a sickness. It’s a violently convulsive one. The opening action slowly fades in amidst the clamorous horror unfolding in the audioscape. It’s an utterly jaw-dropping opening scene. Even if the remainder of the picture can’t quite reach the highs of its opening revelation – a masterfully built sequence which unfolds specific bits of information – It Comes At Night sets a high bar for itself and nearly hurdles that bar in the final act. It’s a harrowing, mysterious journey through the unknown and though it doesn’t necessarily do anything we haven’t seen before, It Comes At Night is still a showcase of masterful, suspenseful filmmaking.        

- Aaron Hendrix


At this point in my life, I’m all in for movies about people in their thirties working out their problems by way of Kaiju destruction. Anne Hathaway — in one of her very best performances — plays Gloria, an unemployed alcoholic who moves back to her hometown. There, she reconnects with an old friend, continues to drink, and stumbles onto a park that allows her to control a Kaiju in Seoul, South Korea. The hook is enough to keep you interested and beyond that you're drawn into how the personal drama becomes all too real pretty quickly. While Hathaway lays it all out there on screen, Jason Sudeikis’ performance, as a “good guy” who you think has Gloria’s back, is the film’s highlight; he shifts back and forth between charming and slimy rather effortlessly. One of Colossal’s theme’s is cutting out toxic habits, and people, from your life — the hard thing is acknowledging there’s a problem, but when you know it’s there, it’s time to act. Not only is Gloria ridding herself of her demons, she’s fighting to keep this huge Kaiju problem under control. Not since Shaun of the Dead has there been a film this genre-bending and satisfying, all dealing with adults just “sorting their shit out.”


M. Night Shyamalan is back! Just in case you don’t know the big twist that happens at the end of one of 2017’s best thrillers, don’t worry, I won't spill the beans. Just know that Shyamalan, with Split, has reached back and made a film that falls in line with his early, smaller films, like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Not too long ago, a one-two punch of The Last Airbender and After Earth made me write off, as one magazine infamously named him, “the next Spielberg.” Thankfully, he teamed up with micro-budget horror-makers Blumhouse Productions for The Visit and, now, Split. In making these productions smaller, Shyamalan is once again creating thrillers that are more plot-driven, sincere, and intimate. James McAvoy plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, who is suffering from a multi-personality disorder, which drives him to kidnap three teenage girls. Along with the 23 human personalities inside him, there's a 24th mysterious “beast” that requires human sacrifices. McAvoy’s stellar performances are the centerpiece — he plays a child, a man with OCD, a middle-aged woman, and more, which, in a better world would garner him every viable acting nomination. I’m glad to say I’m back to being a fan of Shyamalan, and I’m eagerly awaiting what he has in store for us next. 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Perhaps the most fun I’ve had with a movie this year, Return of Xander Cage gives us 100% unfiltered Vin Diesel-ness, a joy to behold in an increasingly cynical world. Possibly seeing the signs in the already fractured Fast and Furious series — Diesel and The Rock really did hate each other on the set of The Fate of the Furious — the producer extraordinaire Diesel set to resurrect a character long thought dead. Why bother with a second sequel — never forget State of the Union, never — in a franchise that never really caught fire? Well, when you have Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Deepika Padukone, and Tony Jaa all together in a ridiculously ‘80s action pastiche, those questions of “why?” just don’t really matter. Forget The Rock, Vin Diesel has now stepped up to claim the throne as our next Arnold Schwarzenegger — Return of Xander Cage is a script I could see Arnold reading in the ‘80s, cigar in mouth, his hand reaching for the phone to call Joel Silver. Sure, John Wick: Chapter 2 maybe be the best action film of the year, but for me the most fun action film of the year is a film where Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen chase each other through tidal waves on motorcycle jet skis. Don’t let this one pass you by.

- Marcelo Pico

Beauty and the Beast

Disney has been building their repertoire of live action versions of beloved animated classics, and it's safe to say that they have really hit their stride with Beauty and the Beast.  The set pieces are whimsical and evoke a stage musical feel throughout the movie, which is reinforced by the blocking in musical numbers and sweeping, dynamic camera work. The original Beauty and the Beast animated feature from the '90s was the first time Disney used computer animation in one of their films to achieve the sweeping shots of the ballroom, and superfans of the classic did not miss the nod to the source material. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens dazzle as Belle and the Beast, both revealing they are triple threats in the world of film, and the rest of the cast sing their songs wonderfully. As faithful as the adaptation is, I also appreciate that the writers add some delicate political commentary to the mix. It brings the sometimes problematic origin material into the present and gives young women a strong, empowered Belle to look up to.

- Sarah Buck

Song to Song.png

Song to Song

A sweeping epic of contemporary love, Song to Song is Malick at his most personal. The smallest of glances and gentlest of touches pulsate with the excitement of newfound love in the movie. It’s a twirling love story of intersecting love triangles set against the Austin music scene, chronicling the intoxicating swoon of falling in love and, eventually, the dysphoria of falling out of it. Malick has always been gifted at making the intimate feel epic, from Jack’s combative tone towards his father signifying an abrupt loss of innocence in The Tree of Life to the way Rick dancing his fingers across his ex-wife’s cheek in Knight of Cups represents a longing for the permanent love he lost. And no less is true in Song to Song, where the story of wandering souls looking for love, consumed by the fear that they’re looking in the wrong places, feels like a full fledged saga. There’s something profoundly beautiful about the way we watch these characters navigate the uncertainty of their futures together, the way that BV (Ryan Gosling) and Faye (Rooney Mara) fall in love, fall apart, find someone else, and then learn that there can’t be anybody else. They’ll end up in each other’s arms again no matter what. In the end, Song to Song is about how humans drift: sometimes together, sometimes apart, always in circles.

- Ryan Barnett

Alien: Covenant

A violent rebuke of Prometheus naysayers and a canonical retcon to the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant is a vicious and worthy entry to both the series and Ridley Scott's already impressive filmography. With both the ability to overjoy and anger longtime fans, it's the rare sequel that rises to great heights and is mostly successful. Returning the series he helped birth almost 40 years ago, Scott's style is all over this thing. Thanks to Dariusz Wolski, Scott's newfound collaborator, the cinematography here might be the most gorgeous in Scott's long career. Lush vistas, suffocating corridors, and breathtaking space sequences fill Covenant to the brim with iconic images. Although it takes places in mostly open areas, the sense of claustrophobia that the series is well known for is present and accounted for. Covenant has everything a fan of this series could want. Sure, more questions are asked, than are answered, but the questions it posits are thought provoking and what we learn, about the xenomorph's creation especially, are fascinating and change any theory or notion that fans have had over the years. A masterful horror film from one of the best directors in the game, this is well worth your time.

 - Matt Curione

Free Fire

"Bottle episode" settings are perfect for filmmakers that love dialogue as much as their subjects. Stick conflicting characters in one setting and let their differences defeat each other with their choice of physical or emotional weaponry. A groups of criminals, played by the likes of Brie Larson and Armie Hammer among others, meet at an abandoned and grimy warehouse to exchange weapons and snide comments for cash and quippy retorts. Personalities ricochet until a boiling point is reached, resulting in an all-out hilarious gunfight. Ben Wheatley is a director I’m still very unsure about. Kill List was an unsettling horror film that I enjoyed while I downright hated High-Rise for its reliance of drilling the audience with a very heavy-handed metaphor on classism. Free Fire shows more unexpected versatility from him. Tension and laughs go jab-for-jab while the setting recalls Reservoir Dogs by way of the '70s. It’s short, chaotic and the funniest movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

- Kevin Tudor

Matt Curione's Top 5
1. Get Out
2. Free Fire
3. A Cure for Wellness
4. John Wick Chapter 2
5. Alien: Covenant

Aaron Hendrix's Top 5
1. Logan
2. Get Out
3. Baby Driver
4. Raw
5. Okja

Ben Lane's Top 5
1. Get Out
2. A Cure for Wellness
3. Logan
4. Split
5. Alien: Covenant

Harrison Brockwell’s Top 5
1. Logan
2. A Cure for Wellness
3. Your Name
4. Get Out
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Tyler Scruggs' Top 5
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
2. Get Out
3. Baby Driver
4. The Lego Batman Movie
5. Wonder Woman

Ryan Barnett's Top 5
1. Nocturama
2. Baby Driver
3. Personal Shopper
4. Song to Song
5. Raw


Sean Beattie’s Top 5
1. Get Out
2. Raw
3. Logan
4. Alien: Covenant
5. John Wick, Chapter 2

Marcus Irving's Top 5
1. John Wick: Chapter 2
2. Get Out
3. Wonder Woman
4. Alien: Covenant
5. xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Manish Mathur's Top 5
1. Get Out
2. Personal Shopper
3. Logan
4. Wonder Woman
5. Split

Will Mai's Top 5
1. Nocturama
2. The Lost City of Z
3. Get Out
4. Logan Noir
5. Baby Driver

Marcelo Pico's Top 5
1. Colossal
2. Baby Driver
3. Get Out
4. John Wick: Chapter 2
5. It Comes at Night

Rob Trench's Top 5
1. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves
2. Song to Song
3. Baby Driver
4. Logan
5. Get Out

High Octane Cinema: The Car (1977)

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