CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1)

Phil BrownDec 31, 2017
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Like it or not, 2017 has finally stumbled to a close—I jest of course, obviously you’re thrilled that 2017 is over. This was a brutal year. A reality TV star with a bad tan and a worse brain somehow became president. Beloved filmmakers like Jonathan Demme, George A. Romero, and Tobe Hooper passed away. Other men in the film industry may as well have died after the fall of the house of Weinstein revealed so many talents to be perverted monsters behind closed doors. Every one seemed angry in 2017 and justifiably so.

Things aren’t right. The broken nature of the world is increasingly difficult to ignore. The only bright side? Turbulent times tend to lead to great art. Sure, there was obviously no way that the any of the filmmakers who produced the following movies could be aware of how troubled the world around their films would be. But ya know…great artists tend to be in touch with the world around them and pick up on things others don’t notice. Well, that’s how things should work in an ideal world anyways.

So with that in mind, here are CGMagazine’s picks for the best genre movies of the year. Rather than doing the usual top ten routine, this is broken down by specific genre to show how those responsible took an established form and transcended it. The choices are all highly subjective and our own. But that said, if you disagree with any of these choices, you’re obviously wrong. We know what we’re talking about.

Or at least we like to pretend that we do.

Best Fantasy Film: The Shape Of Water

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1)
Doug Jones in The Shape of Water (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Fantasy Film of 2017.

For years Guillermo Del Toro has been fusing horror and fairy tales to create modern myths. This year, he found one that spoke so deeply to our times that it would be scary if it wasn’t so moving and inspiring. The Shape of Water is a fable about a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a merman (Doug Jones). It’s also a touching parable for what it feels like to be oppressed and cast out by society as well as the beauty and happiness to be found in the love shared between those who find others as strange as themselves. It’s a strange and deeply moving piece filled with wonderful performances on top of being a thrilling slice of Cold War paranoia and a ripping monster yarn. There’s so much going on beneath all of the beautiful surface pleasures that Del Toro pulled together and it feels like a film that will be remembered and analyzed for many a moon. Right now, it’s the call for compassion and understanding that we desperately need (as well as an ideal vehicle for Michael Shannon’s personal brand of human monster-making, which given his symbolic place in the story as the white male establishment oppressor, is also something we need right now).

Best Horror Film: Get Out

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Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Horror Film of 2017.

Speaking of genre flicks that spoke to this cultural moment, how about Jordan Peele’s instantly iconic Get Out? The comedian’s directorial debut might be laced with satirical bite, but nothing could have prepared audiences for how far Peele would stray from the comedic work he’d done before. Get Out is a socially conscious horror movie the likes of which are rarely made anymore. It cut deep into contemporary notions of racism, forcing unfamiliar audiences to confront ideas and fears that POC know all too well and have been trying to share for years. Peele found a way to communicate a master’s thesis worth of contemporary race theory into a riveting horror story that already feels like a pop culture milestone. For years, we’ve been able to use the term “Stepford Wives” as a shorthand for a particular brand of quiet misogyny. Now, Get Out will be a similar cultural touchstone. In addition to all the insights, the flick is also just a damn good genre yarn worth study for those who enjoy horror stories. It’s a movie with a little something for everyone and a new cinematic classic that will be remembered and quoted for years to come.

Best Comic Book Movie: Logan

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Hugh Jackman in Logan (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Comic Book Movie of 2017.

Sure, Wonder Woman was the bigger hit that struck a cultural chord and Thor Ragnarok was far more fun. Yet, when looking back on the superhero flicks to flutter across screens in 2017, there’s no denying that James Mangold’s pained and thoughtful Logan is the most fascinating. For Hugh Jackman’s final stint as the iconic X-Man he created almost ten years ago, Mangold crafted a thoroughly demystifying look at hero worship. Much was made of all the R-rated snikt-snikting at the time and indeed that was a side of Wolverine long overdue for big screen consumption. However, the film sticks with audiences for how it tears apart conventional notions of heroism, presents a dystopic future painfully easy to believe, and finally explored Wolverine as the tragic and pained loner he always was. This is the adult superhero movie that we’ve all been waiting for since The Dark Knight knocked open the gate. Watchmen felt performatively deep without actually understanding the purpose of Alan Moore’s comic book masterpiece and Deadpool was gloriously immature despite the adult-only rating. Logan actually dared to deconstruct a superhero icon in areas that not even his comic books have been willing to tread. It will be remembered for quite some time and hopefully more mature Marvel movies like this can still be made now that they are all under the Disney banner.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to find out which movies made the cut for Best Blockbuster, Best Action Flick, Best War Movie, and Best Biopic! Let us know your predictions in the comments below!

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

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