New year, new list. Here are the Best Movies of 2017.
The summer, a time for loud car radio, staycation binge-watching, and movie theater air conditioning is nearly over. Luckily for you, we're not ready to say goodbye. Check out our hub of the best of summer movies, TV shows, and music for recommendations on how to keep the good times rolling.
The best summer movies are like your favorite classes from high school, an escape from the drudgery of homework led by rousing and relatable teachers who could make learning a lesson or two fun.
Yes, this summer season had its fair share of "turn your brain off" big-budget hopefuls, but you shouldn't rush to catch up on the blank Alice Through the Looking Glass, the spaced-out Independence Day: Resurgence, or the aggressively ho-hum Suicide Squad, for example. The real winners combined spectacle, laughs, and what could even be described as a functioning IQ. Here's a rundown of the 12 wide-release summer movies that are actually worth checking out.
12. Sausage Party
Released: August 12
The most depraved movie of the year also looks like a bargain-bin Pixar knockoff, and that's all by Seth Rogen's design. With talking hot dogs, bagels, and chewed up pieces of gum for characters, Sausage Party can get away with comedic murder -- specifically, the murder of adorable baby carrots -- and unexpectedly heady conversation. There was no movie this summer that spoke to grander theological philosophies than Rogen's R-rated cartoon, which also ended with a gratuitous food fuck-fest.
11. Captain America: Civil War
Released: May 6
The third Captain America movie, and the umpteenth entry in Marvel's overarching comic-book-movie run, didn't gel together quite like its predecessors. What Civil War did nail was two hours of fan service confection, smashing together Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, the soon-to-be-seen-in-his-own-adventure Black Panther, and a recently acquired Spider-Man for an all-out Avengers brawl. When directors have Marvel and a nine-figure budget behind them, playing with action figures is enough.
10. Star Trek Beyond
Released: July 22
Fast Five director Justin Lin's entry into the Star Trek universe operates like an episode of the old '60s series, which works against the movie -- are they back on that part of the alien planet again? -- and empowers it by emphasizing the amazing reboot cast. Chris Pine's Kirk, Zachary Quinto's Spock, Karl Urban's Bones, and the rest of the starship Enterprise crew are close-knit and physically tested in this men-on-a-mission installment, which soars when Lin downshifts from Fast & Furious to Mission: Impossible in space. A scene where the crew blasts away aliens using the power of the Beastie Boys is the most rock star movie moment of 2016.
Released: June 10
Director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) told us he's "equally proud and furious" of his take on the popular video game franchise. We can understand why: packed with mythology, magic, and man-on-orc combat, Warcraft is the antithesis of Game of Thrones' gritty brand of fantasy to which we've tuned our collective brain. Like Avatar or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jones' epic asks you to buy CG creatures behaving like humans, bolts of lighting that work like bullets, and a world ripe for immersion. Suspend disbelief for long enough, and you'll discover one of the gems of the season.
8. X-Men: Apocalypse
Released: May 27
Between Batman and Superman's death stares and the continued plotting of the Avengers-verse, superhero movies are a very serious lot these days. The X-Men franchise is having none of it. Carried by Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse, a blustering, blue pariah of misunderstood camp, rejuvenated by newcomers like Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, and delivered with more gravitas than could be believed by veterans like Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy, Apocalypse is a blockbuster circus. Once again, the X-Men prove you can never have enough leather-clad psychic assassins, ancient Egypt destruction, hyper-slo-mo action sequences, near-offensive Holocaust appropriation, or shameless Wolverine cameos in one movie.
7. Jason Bourne
Released: July 29
Was this the best of the Matt Damon movies about the amnesiac super-assassin? No, it was not. Were there plot holes galore? Yes, there were. But the only thing we need a Bourne movie to do is send us on a two-hour international thrill ride chock full of rip-roaring action sequences that involve the trading of punches to the solar plexus and voice boxes as well as improbable vehicular chases and Scooby-Doo reveals, and that's exactly what Jason Bourne did.
6. The Shallows
Released: July 24
On the surface, this oceanic tale of a young medical school dropout (Blake Lively) fighting a relentless and very hungry shark off the shore of a Mexican beach looks a little silly. And it is often ridiculous -- Lively even befriends a seagull she dubs "Steven Seagull" -- but director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) knows how to wring tension out of confined spaces with expert precision, and Lively brings DiCaprio-in-Revenant-level pathos to her unlucky surfer character. In a summer filled with bloated blockbusters, it's the rare studio movie that flies by like a frantic beach read.
5. Don't Breathe
Released: August 26
Modern horror movies don't come much scarier than director Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe, a taut thriller that flips the script on the standard home invasion story by having the seemingly sympathetic blind homeowner (a very swole Stephen Lang) turn into a Jason Voorhees-like villain. If you're claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, or get nervous around turkey basters, stay far away. But for fans of gnarly, twisted genre fare, this is essential viewing.
4. The Nice Guys
Released: May 20th
Birthed from '70s funk, covered in porn sleaze, and decorated with the English-language equivalent of shaggy neon carpet, this rollicking, Los Angeles-set noir is a comedy of groovy errors. Writer-director Shane Black combines the spitfire soul of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with his Iron Man 3 action-directing skills to intoxicating effect. There's a mystery in play -- a missing girl, a celluloid MacGuffin, an auto-industry conspiracy -- but it's all bedrock for Gosling, the Inspector Clouseau answer to L.A. Confidential, and Crowe, a bruiser straight man who scores just as many laughs, to parade across. Around the time Gosling falls off his third ledge and a 12-year-old starts expounding on penis size, it's clear Black's shooting for lunacy. With only a few bumps along the way, The Nice Guys gets there.
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
Released: August 19
The stop-motion animators at Laika are the artisanal cheesemakers to Hollywood's Kraft single processing machine -- you can just taste the difference. Even with Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls under its belt, Kubo, a mythic parable of sword fights, moon demons, and talking monkeys, is the company's most imaginative ride yet, East meeting West in adventure tinged with introspection. The sights come as big as a snarling 40-foot skeleton and as small as an origami samurai, come to life through the title character's magical shamisen. Laika's dedication to subtle movement (and occasionally scaring the shit out of us) makes Kubo the most artful animated film of the year by a long mile.
Released: July 15
Numbers may pin Paul Feig's update of the 1984 comedy as a flop. From where we're sitting, the female-fronted remake's only real sin was diverting from blaring expectations. Gone was the droll comedy and New York grit of the original, replaced by bright, bubbly ghouls and a quartet of fire-spitting heroines. The change was good; Ghostbusters keeps a supernatural plot chugging along while squeezing in requisite hat-tips to the first movie (including every nostalgia-baiting cameo we'd hoped for), a nonsensical Hemsworth dance sequence, and quirky character beats -- proving to the next generation of comedy fans they ain't afraid of no trolls. You will not find four funnier women in a movie, perhaps on this plane of existence, than Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Ghostbusters contains them all.
1. Pete's Dragon
Released: August 12
Reverence for the 1977 original (or a clue that an original exists) is not required to fall hard for this wondrous adventure movie. Like King Kong, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and E.T., David Lowery's movie imagines a universal human-animal connection as a monstrous manhunt to be punctured by sentimentality. When we meet the 10-year-old main character, he's feral and afraid. So are those wandering the "sophisticated" world, as we learn when outsiders get a look at Pete's dragon, Elliot. Channeling Steven Spielberg's down-to-earth intrepidity, then soaring even higher, Pete's Dragon is the type of movie we're nostalgic for that doesn't indulge our nostalgia for a single second.