It’s been a minute since Bro Knows has dropped some knowledge on the public and for that we would like to apologize.. Nothing important seems to happen in April anyway right? Bro Knows is back just in time for the Summer Blockbuster season which kicked off this past weekend as the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 left audiences falling in love with a tiny piece of talking driftwood, named baby Groot. With blockbuster season upon us, it’s important to take the time to truly reflect on the first quarter of 2017, and some of the shocking surprise films that delighted audiences across the country. At the end of the year, the early releases are usually all but forgotten as award season kicks into gear, and box office numbers leave some smaller, original entries, in the shadows. So in an effort to show some love to the first four months of the 2017 cinematic calendar, we now bring you the top 10 best films of 2017… So Far.
10) The Lure
Finding it difficult to wrap your mind around a musical involving evil mermaids? Yea, you and everyone else. This movie is so unbelievably bizarre, that the attempt to synopsize it, is a disservice to its artistry. Not to be outdone by pretty white people playing jazz and dancing and singing with questionable quality, The Lure ups the ante with some of the most insane plot beats you will find in any movie in recent memory. Polish Director Agnieszka Smoczynska’s, musical mermaid journey is as weird as his name is difficult to pronounce. With shades of Cronenberg’s The Fly and Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie, this wacky fairy tale of two sea-creatures that become a pop duo while dealing with love, lust, and cannibalism. This hypersexual horror fantasy breaches all norms as far as genre is concerned. To quote the great Buffalo International Film Festival Programmer, John Fink, “It’s the best Polish mermaid horror musical you’ll see all year.” He ain’t lying folks.
9) The Blackcoat’s Daughter
In keeping with the horror theme, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which is the brainchild of Director Osgood Perkins, the son of the original Norman Bates, Anthony Perkins, is one of the most bone-chilling genre gems this year. With several, darkly ominous themes running parallel, this film is an enigmatic and demonic mystery that proves truly innovative in it’s approach. Focussing on three girls with the main setting being a school on winter break, the connective tissue between the three young women is the crux of the story and the mystery that unravels providing insight into the power of great loss and the innocence of adolescence as it shifts, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a movie everyone should check out.
On this list almost exclusively based on pure ingenuity, Sleight is the first truly great black superhero film, and it’s not based on a comic book. An inspiring and wholly original story surrounding a brilliant young man, and the his pure commitment to his art and his family, this Blumhouse, WWE Studios collaboration is an unlikely culprit to make any top end lists, yet it’s a beautifully subdued soliloquy to urban struggles, mixed with well crafted action set pieces to deliver a surreal take on the superhero genre. What is perhaps the most important item to note, is that this film’s budget sits below $1 million. When you see the movie, you’ll understand just how impressive that figure truly is. Well Acted and dynamically directed, Sleight is a testament to what someone can do, in spite of budgetary constraints.
7) Free Fire
Ben Wheatley has developed a reputation as a talented experimentalist. With Projects like Kill List, Sightseers and most recently preceeding Free Fire, High Rise, Wheatley is quietly building an impressive resume. Free Fire is his most mainstream film to date, although that doesn’t really describe what this really is. With a blazingly frenetic pace and almost no discernible narrative structure, Free Fire is a practice in freeform filmmaking, defying typical filmmaking rules, as Wheatley is apt to doing. Centering on a group of individuals in a singular location during a gun deal gone wrong, this film combines some incredible action with perfectly timed splashes of humor that break up the potentially exhausting violence. The entire movie is essentially a mexican standoff, and never has something so simple, been so much fun.
6) John Wick Chapter 2
Undoubtedly a step down from the first film, Chapter 2 still finds a way to separate itself with an incredible dedication to truly innovative action choreography. There are some unprecedented levels of badassdom, making this one of the most mind blowingly fun films of the year.. So far. Either way, revisiting the character and the mythos behind the famed hitman hotel, The Continental, was a treat in and of itself, but the fact that somehow this film was able to outdo its predecessor’s action sequences merit a spot on this list. Brilliant fun, and the best Keanu Reeves has ever been.
Back on the horror train with Raw. One of the toughest watches of the year thus far, Raw is a brutal, character driven story that melds the classic and terrifying coming of age template with an excruciating carnivorous underbelly. Following the sheltered vegan teenager, Justine, as she navigates new social waters in veterinary school. She deals with terrible hazing, insane parties and the strong desire for human flesh. Raw works on so many levels. With plenty of multilayered metaphors at work, mixed with shocking visual depictions that are more traditionally genre related, this is a horror movie that transcends the typical formula.
4) The Lego Batman Movie
While not quite the success of The Lego Movie, Lego Batman had plenty of charm to go around. Bonus points for being the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight and arguably the best superhero movie of the year to date. The Lego franchise is on the rise and the voice cast, mixed with the fantastic animation and hilarious one liners hurled by Will Arnett are fantastic. Maybe just one step below it’s predecessor, Lego Batman is still an incredible entry in this budding franchise.
If the Oscars were next week, James McAvoy would be walking away with the Best Actor statue. He is absolutely incredible in this Shyamalan redemption film that provides a little bit of everything. The pacing, narrative structure and performances are all effective and meticulously crafted. The Shamhammer has come full circle and reverted back to his original form, when he was producing hits like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Spit became an homage to his earlier work while *Spoiler Alert* simultaneously creating a cinematic universe that involves his aforementioned Unbreakable, essentially making Split a super villain origin story and a unique venture that lives outside of the typical hero genre box. With Blumhouse backing him up, Shyamalan has found his footing and he’s having fun again and Split is the perfect example.
2) Get Out
Too often you hear people writhe and moan and complain about how we don’t see any original content any more. Everything is a remake a reboot or a sequel. Well Jordan Peele’s master work, Get Out, is the original content those people have been clamoring for. This movie is a brilliant social satire that works as a commentary on casual racism and as a pure psychological thriller that subverts genre tropes and opens up for discussion. There is something here for everyone, including hilarious side sequences where the one man scene stealer Lil Rel Howery absolutely crushes it, breaking up some of the more heavy sequences with golden timed levity. All of this really becomes a testament to the prowess of first time filmmaker Peele, who cut his teeth writing straight comedy, but has shown a new side to himself. He is the next big time director, and Get Out is absolutely amazing.
There are no two ways about it, Logan is the movie that Hugh Jackman and the character of Wolverine has long deserved. It’s been a long slow process to get to this point, with each stand alone character film with the hairy mutant at the center progressing just so, until we finally reached the masterpiece of comic book genre nightmares. This brutal depiction of the unstoppable one is now zionized. Logan boosts Jackman’s Wolverine into a tall-tale legend. Where this works is in it’s unbelievably harsh iterations of the characters we have grown to appreciate. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is now a fading warhead on the verge of complete implosion, and Logan has begun completely decaying, as the metal that lines his skeletal structure has finally taken it’s toll on him. Nick Mangold’s savage narrative sees these characters fall so far from grace, but still captures their basic essence. Logan is a fitting and heartbreaking farewell to one of the most incredible character in cinematic history.