However, I did manage to make it out to the theater a few times and I liked a lot of what I chose to see. Colorful kids' movies, smart action movies, heartfelt indie dramas, and some seriously impressive horror.
That being said, here are some of my favorites of 2017, in no particular order.
Oh. My. God. Bless. This movie didn't get nearly the amount of attention it deserved. When little Miguel is forbidden to play music by his family, he takes matters into his own hands and accidentally ends up in the land of the dead. Seeking the approval of his ancestors, Miguel embarks on a journey to find his grandfather and win his blessing to pursue music. Far from scary (for those leery of a Corpse Bride, Burton-y feel), the movie is warm, bright, and colorful, with a heartfelt message and an incredibly overdue cultural perspective. Go for the songs, stay for the animation.
The Shape of Water
I Don't Feel At Home in This World Anymore.
This is such a cathartic film to watch for anyone at their wit's end with shitty people. Ruth is an ordinary woman trying to live her life. She lives in an unimpressive neighborhood, and doesn't have many friends. When her house gets robbed, that's the last straw. Enlisting the help of her neighbor, she tracks down the thieves, and ends up getting mixed up with some seriously bad people. The ending absolutely makes this.
I've gotta say, I've loved Taika Waititi since his hilarious vampire reality What We Do in the Shadows, and that sense of humor is even more present in Thor: Ragnarok. Creating a surprisingly graceful bridge between the more serious Avenger movies and the more playful Guardians of the Galaxy series, Ragnarok is one of the movies that I recommended the most this year just because it's so much fun. Balancing a very current sense of comedic timing with a touch of 80s nostalgia (LOVE that synth music!), it's a bright, fantastical romp. It was nice to see a movie that can be funny without being dumb. (Side note: Cait Blanchett as the villain. Yas.)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I'm not usually a big super hero movie junkie, but I really enjoyed Wonder Woman. For a studio film, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of the movie stepped out of the usual formula. Or maybe it was just amazing to see a self-empowered, confident woman on screen kicking some major ass. Either way, I loved it.
The Big Sick
Just when you thought romcoms were dead, this movie comes out. Kumail is a standup comedian and first-generation Pakistani American who is dating a white girl. As things between he and his girlfriend get more serious, things reach a breaking point when she learns that he has no intention of introducing her to his strict, Pakistani parents. Things reach even more of a breaking point when she goes into a coma and he is the sole person available to take care of her -- until her parents show up. His point of view as a conflicted son and boyfriend is very plainly aired with a crisp sense of humor that's smart and understanding at the same time.
Oh man, do I loooooove me some Stephen King. The kids of Derry, Maine keep going missing and no one knows why. When a particular group of "losers" starts seeing their worst, most terrifying nightmares play out in broad daylight, the experience draws them together and they decide to confront the monster at the root of all their fears. I was pleasantly surprised at how character-driven the final product ends up being -- something that the original mini-series lacks. This version, too, goes deeper in depth to give the kids their own narrative, letting you see what scares them personally. All-around good adaptation, and props to Bill Skarsgard for making us forget Tim Curry's Pennywise in favor of something a little different.
After the disappointment that was Prometheus, Ridley Scott pulls it back together for Alien: Covenant. After arriving on a strange planet, a group of colonists are trying to figure out the reason for the planet's lack of wildlife. While plants thrive, animals are noticeably absent from the landscape, and when they find out the reason, they wish they'd never come. This one is not for the squeamish--in a horror-genre triumph the movie is full of every kind of scare, from jumps to core-chilling realizations about human nature and morality.
Ingrid Goes West
Ingrid becomes a bit too attached to a specific Instagram celebrity, and decides to move to California to become her friend. Fascinating commentary on social media stars -- and their stalkers. Examines both the superficiality of social media and the psychological problems that they can encourage.
A man decides to murder his wife, enlisting his son to help him. I thought this was a fantastic atmospheric thriller and old-timey creep-fest. Available on Netflix!