Say what you will about the film and television review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, but the fact remains that people seem to put a lot of stock in what many critics describe as meaningless and arbitrary scores. Even those of us who could generally care less about ratings tend to take notice when a highly publicized blockbuster boasts a measly 24 percent or a low-budget indie film scores a whopping 98 percent.
In honor of the New Year, we here at Epicstream will be taking a look at Rotten Tomatoes’ top films of 2017. These movies are ranked according to the site’s adjusted scores, which come from a weighted formula (Bayesian) that accounts for variation in the number of reviews per movie.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best movies of 2017, according to Rotten Tomatoes:
War for the Planet of the Apes (93%)
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
This third (and arguably best) chapter in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise pits Caesar and his apes against a ruthless army of humans under the command of Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel. Visually, this film is nothing short of a masterpiece, transcending the limits of modern CGI to bring the apes to life in the most convincing fashion imaginable, outside of casting actual apes. Speaking of casting, Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar is once again a true highlight, and it’s elevated even further by having someone of Harrelson’s caliber to serve as his counterpoint. And while War for the Planet of the Apes may not be as action-packed as its predecessors, it more than makes up for it with its compelling and poignant narrative.Advertisement
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (90%)
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis
Divisive as this film may be, you can’t deny The Last Jedi’s countless merits. Rian Johnson completely flips the script on what fans have come to expect from the Star Wars franchise, takings calculated risks rather than playing it safe. Johnson eliminates the preconceived notion that our heroes are defined by their lineage. Furthermore, he bucks the trend of Star Wars films relying on a mysterious, shadowy figure lurking in the background by instead using Snoke to catapult Kylo Ren to the forefront as the true big bad of the trilogy. And on top of all that, Johnson proves that a Star Wars film can actually be laugh-out-loud funny without being cringe-worthy (looking at you, Jar Jar Bink). Plus, there’s no denying that Mark Hamill delivers his best performance to date as the aging Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
Thor: Ragnarok (92%)
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson
While some MCU films struggle at times to balance humor and heart, Thor: Ragnarok does an impeccable job seamlessly weaving the film’s laugh-out-loud moments with its hard-hitting, bombastic action and surprisingly dark battle sequences. In fact, speaking of dark, this may very well be one of the MCU’s darkest films to date, from Thor losing an eye to the Warriors Three getting utterly dismantled on-screen to Asgard being completely destroyed by Surtur. That Ragnarok can include such somber and brutal sequences, yet also remain a near-constant well of comedic gold, is a true testament to director Taika Waititi’s ingenuity, especially with this being his first big-budget blockbuster.
Baby Driver (92%)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm
Set to the backdrop of an incredible soundtrack, Baby Driver tells the tale of a hearing-impaired getaway driver who’s able to lose himself in the music to serve the needs of a notorious crime boss. This isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means – plenty of films have used music to tell the story, and the “one last job” trope is at the core of countless heist movies. Still, it’s the manner in which the film utilizes these familiar elements that sets Baby Driver apart, resulting in what feels like a high-brow take on the Fast and Furious franchise (with far superior acting, of course).
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant
20th Century Fox’s X-Men films have always been hit or miss, but the franchise is now two for two when it comes to near-universally praised R-rated blockbusters, with Logan being the most recent addition to the slate. A superhero movie disguised as a gritty western, Logan is a perfect sendoff for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, who played Wolverine and Professor X for the better part of two decades. Additionally, we’re introduced to newcomer Dafne Keen, who delivers a phenomenal performance as Laura/X-23 in her theatrical debut. The action is appropriately violent, complete with the blood, gore, and brutality that’s long been associated with Wolverine in the comics, yet has always eluded us on the big-screen, and it’s all capped off with a beautifully tragic ending that provides closure to Jackman’s 17-year journey.
Lady Bird (99%)
Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
This coming-of-age tale of a young girl from the wrong side of the tracks is a stunning example of authentically translating the real-world strife of adolescence to the big screen. Writer/director Greta Gerwig proves she’s a force to be reckoned with in her debut film, which somehow feels both new and familiar all at the same time. The performances are outstanding, allowing you to connect with each and every character on an emotional level, but it’s lead actress Saoirse Ronan who decidedly steals the show. If small-scale stories with large-scale heart are your thing, then Lady Bird is definitely for you.
Wonder Woman (92%)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston
It was back in 1996 that Warner Bros. began to actively pursue bringing the Amazon Princess to the big screen in her own standalone major motion picture, and after 21 years, Wonder Woman finally arrived, earning monumental praise from fans and critics alike. Packed with humor, heart, and action, this film appeals to all ends of the emotional spectrum, with countless standout sequences that won’t soon be forgotten (and even some that are likely to set new standards in the ever-growing, trope-filled superhero genre). Plus, let’s not forget that Wonder Woman is home to arguably the greatest scene in any superhero movie to date – No Man’s Land. Wonder Woman is a film that will stand the test of time, but more importantly, it represents a major step towards a more progressive approach to future superhero movies.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles
Dunkirk is a World War II thriller telling the story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the eponymous French city before they can succumb to the looming threat of the Nazi forces. Christopher Nolan brilliantly allows the drama to unfold from three different, non-linear perspectives, which ultimately convene in the third act to bring the entire narrative full-circle. For some, this type of storytelling can be a bit distracting, but with a writer/director of Nolan’s caliber at the helm, it works beautifully. A primary criticism of Dunkirk is that it’s devoid of compelling characters, but it’s important to remember that this film is telling the story of the war, itself, and not necessarily the individual characters. If you go into Dunkirk with this in mind, you’ll certainly be able to appreciate it for the beautiful cinematic achievement it is.
The Big Sick (98%)
Director: Michael Showalter
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
The only rom-com to make the cut, The Big Sick is based on the real-life relationship between aspiring comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. However, the film is just as much about the couple’s parents as it is about them, and Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, in particular, are an especially entertaining on-screen pairing as Emily’s mother and father. Cultural themes are also at the heart of the story, adding depth to the overall narrative, but not quite as much as the titular “Big Sick,” which is where the true drama lies. Well, that, and the all-too-real question of which is more important: Your significant other or your family?
Get Out (99%)
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
This year, Jordan Peele made his directorial debut with the massive sleeper hit Get Out. The idea of a black man meeting his white girlfriend’s parents doesn’t seem like the traditional foundation for a horror film, but leave it to one half of the Key & Peele comedy duo to use racial tension to set the stage for what’s arguably the creepiest, most uncomfortable thriller of the year. Plus, with this being Jordan Peele at the helm, there’s a tasteful dose of humor sprinkled within the narrative to add levity and help break up the tension just enough to give the audience some time to breathe.