The Liner Notes

Favorite Films of 2017

End of the year “Top” lists can be fairly difficult because you have to go back all the way to January and review all the content that has been released for a particular medium. This is also one of the reasons why I rarely do them; I’m just too lazy to do that research lately. The other is because it’s really hard for me to distill what I liked in a year to a select few. I put myself to the test this year and finally did a list of my  top 10 favorite films of the year. They’re in no particular order, except for the last pick. Here you go!




A truly emotional gut-punch of a swan song for the titular character. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman were given the freedom to deliver the drama an intensity that Logan/Wolverine and audiences deserved. It’s a masterclass in genre mashups.



From one of my favorite directors, Okja is a strong social/political allegory, but never loses site of its heart – a child’s love and innocence. It calls to mind films like ET where story is told through the eyes of a young girl trying to find her pet in a new world full of adults with their own selfish agendas. It presents a mix of haunting, beautiful, and charming imagery.

The Shape of Water


Guillermo del Toro is my favorite director, so this was practically a shoo-in. He presents a whimsical, ethereal fairy tale that also operates as a parable/commentary on the troubled times we are currently in. Del Toro doesn’t shy away from showing what true monsters are and what they’re capable of. “The Other” has always been a reoccurring element in his films, but it’s no more wonderfully prevalent than in this film. All the characters are so relatable and lived-in, including the Amphibian Man. Guillermo seems unrestrained in this film; he conveys love explicitly and figuratively throughout and is a true love letter to classic hollywood cinema. You feel it through every frame that he poured his whole heart into this work.

Get Out


A stunning directorial debut from Jordan Peele. In the spirit of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, Peele weaves an unnerving, taut thriller/horror  depicting racism in all its forms. It’s a pertinent and timely film that has a bold voice and message for people to wake up and pay attention to the engrained prejudices that have become societal norms. Even with all the social commentary, it has an engaging plot that would hold up on its own without all the subtext. I’ll also never look at a deer the same again

Spider-Man: Homecoming


I had to put at least one Marvel Studios film on my list or I’d lose some of my geek cred. Of the three MCU pictures released this year, this one stands above the rest. It reaffirmed Tom Holland as possibly the best iteration of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The themes of wanting to grow up too fast and realizing it’s important to appreciate and live in the present and be present are deeply relatable. Where other Marvel movies reveled in humor, this gave room  to let the movie breathe and allow real, honest character development and emotion to sink in.  It also brought Tony Stark’s story arc full circle in many ways. Also, it has an amazing supporting cast and a fantastic villain in Michael Keaton. The best villains are those we can empathize with on some level and Keaton’s Vulture allows for that and was such a perfect foil for Holland to play off of. The film has literally everything: heart, laughter, unease, stunning action, potent drama and stakes.

Baby Driver


Best use of a Barry White song in a film. Period. Also, it’s the most kinetic film I’ve seen this year. Edgar Wright tastefully balances high-octane car scenes and character with music. The choreography is pure cinematic joy and beauty. He understands the genre and unapologetically embraces the tropes associated with it, but also subverts them in many ways, which makes for compelling/surprising storytelling. It’s such a breath of fresh filmic air.

The Lego Batman Movie


An outright charming, funny film. It tackled an interesting aspect of Bruce Wayne/Batman and put a fascinating spin on the relationship between heroes and villains. There are so many references/easter eggs to the various interpretations from  Batman’s 75+ year legacy; it’s mind-boggling. Clearly the creatives behind this film were Batman fans or did some serious research.  No matter how many times I watch it, it will always put a smile on my face.

War for the Planet of the Apes


Flat-out this was a war drama, something I wasn’t expecting. Matt Reeves used the sub-genre to great effect to deliver an emotionally charged film with a predominately  mo-cap cast. Andy Serkis delivers his best performance as Caesar. It truly says something when you relate more to the apes than the humans in a story. There are stunning action set pieces, but they’re not the backbone of the film. It’s the characters and the circumstances/ideologies one faces in or rationalizes war. It’s an amazing example of how to properly use modern filmmaking techniques.



This is the most visceral war film I have experienced in a long time. The unconventional cinematography combined with Hans Zimmer’s tense score and utterly overpowering sound design make for a completely immersive film experience. Christopher Nolan’s execution is also top-tier by juggling three different, non-linear storylines, while using minimal dialog. Relying on his visual storytelling prowess and the performances to convey how dire and traumatic this event was. This felt like his most mature work to date.




Favorite Film of 2017: Blade Runner 2049


This was a worthy sequel to the masterpiece that is Blade Runner, but, perhaps even more surprising, is it’s not beholden to what came before and is an original, fresh story within that established world. There’s plenty of connective tissue and themes that carry over from its predecessor that enrich the picture and will please fans, but the key theme for me was “what it means to be human,” which is the true backbone of both films and is actually fleshed out more emotionally in 2049. They took the story in a logical thematic direction that surprised me, but makes absolute sense within the context of the world of Blade Runner. Officer K’s journey of self-discovery is a potent one and Ryan Gosling absolutely carries this film gracefully and solemnly. It’s deeply emotional not only through the performances and plot, but the cinematography as well. The score and sound design was breathtaking and so were the visual/special effects. The techniques used blended the old and new to deliver a practically seamless image where one can hardly figure how it was accomplished. This was movie magic at its finest.



Honorable Mentions:





Kong: Skull Island




Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale



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