* The following contains spoilers in regards to some 2017 films*
2017 was an interesting year for the movies. Some great films, some bad films, some overrated films, some overlooked films, and so on. It was inconsistent, to say the least. As much as I enjoyed some of 2017’s films, my opinion as to which one I enjoyed the most was as fluctuating as the year’s releases themselves. So fluctuating, in fact, that I missed out on writing a proper favorite films of 2017 list and am only now – in July of 2018 – writing about which one was my favorite. I flip-flopped back and forth what to finally name as my favorite film of 2017. So, in the end, I simply went with the film that left the biggest emotional impact with me. And well, if you’ve followed my writing for a while, you probably won’t be the slightest bit surprised.
Runners-up: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (really), The Disaster Artist, Dunkirk, Spider-Man: Homecoming
Yes, I know, I picked another animated film. That may seem obvious coming from me, a confessed lover of animated cinema, and someone who has officially named an animated feature as his favorite film of the year consistently since at least 2013 (Frozen, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Inside Out, and Your Name, respectively). But I think it’s a fair statement to say that the past two decades have seen animated films reach new heights and consistency in quality. Japanese animation has received wider recognition in the west, while western animation has become more sophisticated and achieved a greater sense of autersmanship, thanks in large part to the efforts of Pixar and others. With animation providing better and better movies, it’s simply a great time to be an admirer of animated cinema.
That’s not to say that I simply name an animated film as my favorite of the year because it’s animated. In fact, I seriously considered naming The Last Jedi or The Disaster Artist as my favorite 2017 film just so my current streak didn’t showcase too much of a bias…before I realized that’s utterly stupid and the movie that I genuinely think is the best should be named as my favorite. When you’re naming anything as “the best” or “your favorite,” shouldn’t you pick what you believe earns that monicker, even if they fit a continued trend? Not everyone should get a trophy. You shouldn’t deny what you think is best just to be fair to everyone. That’s idiotic.
And if it makes you feel any better, my worst movie of 2017 would also be animated, The Emoji Movie. So there’s that.
So yes, in the end, it was Pixar’s Coco that left the biggest impact on me of any film of 2017. Yes, I greatly enjoyed The Last Jedi and appreciated it from a filmmaking standpoint, a concept that’s clearly beyond the understanding of fanboys who simply want movies to pander to them. But at the same time, there are still some creative decisions where I can understand the (more civil) complaints, as they currently just leave a big question mark on things (I actually like the idea of Rey’s parents being random nobodies, but killing Supreme Leader Snoke – the “big bad” of this trilogy – in the second entry without explaining anything about him is still something I flip-flop on). Meanwhile, while The Disaster Artist gave a fun insight on the backstory of arguably the greatest bad movie ever made, it didn’t resonate with me nearly as much as Coco did.
I know, saying a Pixar movie made you emotional is a bit obvious, to the point that the cynical internet age often makes it out to be a running joke (“how dare a movie express genuine emotion and not just be filled with self-referential nonsense that doesn’t take itself seriously!”). But the way I see it, the fact that Pixar has so regularly made films that can bring such emotion to audiences is a testament to the studio’s capabilities of storytelling. After all, it used to be a rare thing that people would admit that a movie made them cry. But Pixar has been consistent at providing such an effect.
Although Coco may not be as ‘structurally perfect’ as, say, The Incredibles or Inside Out, it may provide Pixar’s most emotional highs outside of the latter aforementioned film. It’s a movie about life and death, love and loss, that is able to beautifully convey such heavy subjects while still being a perfectly enjoyable piece of family entertainment. Again, staples of Pixar. But if your staples are being pretty much the best at your craft, well, is it a problem if you follow suit with just that?
No, Coco may not be the most ‘perfect’ Pixar film, taking a few narrative shortcuts in order to get to its ending, which was surely the first thing Director Lee Unkrich and company thought up. But when the ending is that beautiful and emotional and rewarding, I think a few small narrative blips are easy to look past. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theater when the credits began to roll during my viewing. And I was right there with everyone else, teary eyes and running nose. Pixar’s story of a young boy, Miguel, searching for his deceased great-great-grandfather in the land of the dead proved to be one of the most heartfelt and poignant films from a studio that is no stranger to heartfelt and poignant films.
Unfortunately, it was another example of an animated film being ignored come award season, only being allowed to win its token animation award as well as Best Song (both of which it deserved, but could have, and should have won more). Yet, the awkward and clunky romance between a woman and fish-monster as depicted in The Shape of Water could snag Best Picture. I guess the story of a young boy learning the importance of remembering lost loved ones was just too unrealistic for the Academy or something. But I’m not here to judge the continued ignorances of the Oscars. Rather, I’m here to declare my favorite film of 2017.
Coco is simply an exceptional film. It’s beautiful animation and soundtrack are merely complimentary to the wonderfully heartfelt and emotional story. In a time when it seems the climax of every movie is a super fight in the midst of citywide destruction, a film in which the payoff of the adventure is a kid singing a lullaby to his great-grandmother is all the more special.
It may not quite be Pixar’s best film, but no doubt that Coco was, as far as I’m concerned, the best film of 2017.
4 thoughts on “Very, Very Late: My Favorite Movie of 2017”
You know, I’ve criticized the gaming critical circle multiple times in my writings, but if it’s one undeniable advantage they have over film critics, it’s that there really isn’t much in the way of limits when it comes to what can be dubbed “Game of the Year” (and as I said before, they seem biased against foreign films – a problem that has never existed in video game criticism). I have a difficult time imagining something like Portal 2 ever winning “Film of the Year”, for instance. So you go right ahead naming animated films as your favorite of each year – film critics come across as a bit of a conservative lot, so we need people like you to shake things up a bit.
Either way, I can certainly agree with declaring Coco the best film of that year. It was certainly one of the more imaginative films of 2017, and it knew how to handle its pathos.
Also, I am very curious to see how The Last Jedi is going to hold up in the grand scheme of things. Will it fare poorly? Will the complaints be considered laughable in hindsight? Only time will tell.
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I agree wholeheartedly. As much flak as we give gaming critics, they don’t have a stigma against foreign works, “children’s” entertainment, fantasy films, science-fiction, sequels, etc. The gaming world is actually a lot more open-minded in that regard. It’s a real shame the movie industry can only acknowledge excellence with a very specific kind of film (and even then, they often get it wrong).
And thanks, glad to know my appreciation for animated films isn’t perceived as too one-note. Like I said, I’m willing to award any film I love as the best of a year, it just so happens my love of animated films is being greatly rewarded these past few years.
Well, I already think some of the complaints with The Last Jedi are already laughable (such as those complaining that Luke wasn’t the main character, but why would he be at this point? Or the people who say Rose was worse than Jar-Jar Binks…not on this or any other planet). With that said, although I think The Last Jedi can be seen as a better film than The Force Awakens, I can understand some of its complaints more (again, the whole Snoke bit. I’m sure J.J. Abrams had bigger intentions for the character when he created him). Honestly, I think the backlash of The Force Awakens was a prime example of fans actively seeking to complain, considering it pretty much gift wrapped everything they wanted out of a Star Wars film after the prequels, yet they turn right around and hate it for those reasons.
I think we’ll have to wait and see how Episode IX handles the loose ends of The Last Jedi to see how well it will fare. But we can’t forget that Empire Strikes Back also had some strong backlash from fans on release. And of course, let’s also not forget that Kylo Ren is the first Star Wars villain who’s actually interesting! Darth Vader didn’t get any depth until Return of the Jedi, and it took a retcon (which many fans still don’t want to admit was a retcon) in order to get him there. The emperor – although a favorite of mine – isn’t exactly a deep character. And well, every other Star Wars villain could be pretty much summed up as “bad because reasons.” But Kylo Ren actually has motivation and conflict. I seriously don’t understand the complaints against that character.
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Great choice. Coco and The Last Jedi both ended up on my top 10 for last year.
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