BEST OF 2017: Movies

by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@TheFirstEcho)


Jordan Peele’s socially-conscious thriller is an instant classic, delivering frightful fan-service to genre aficionados while also crafting a resonating, original story that taps into African-American fears that are rarely explored in mainstream entertainment. Star Daniel Kaluuya shines in one of the biggest breakout performances of the year, and Allison Williams surprises in the most delicious way. Welcome to woke horror.

Saoirse Ronan and Lucas Hedges, “Lady Bird” from


Writer-director Greta Gerwig delivers one of the best coming-of-age stories to hit the big screen (and the first great attempt at early 2000s nostalgia). It’s a delicately constructed portrait of so many things all at once: Catholic school teen angst, the nuances of mother-daughter relationships, and suburban socioeconomic politics. Saoirse Ronan beautifully inhabits the titular role and is surrounded by a shining supporting cast (Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Tracy Letts, and the inimitable Laurie Metcalf).

From L to R: Holly Hunter as “Beth,” Ray Romano as “Terry” and Kumail Nanjiani as “Kumail” in THE BIG SICK. Photo by Nicole Rivelli.


Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s touching, hilarious, and very human love story is the film that deserves to be the poster child for Making Rom-Coms Great Again — as well as proof why we need more of Holly Hunter.


Director Sean Baker’s follow-up to 2015’s fantastic Tangerine is a cinema verite-style examination of childhood during one summer in the Sunshine State. The wonderful Brooklynn Prince plays 6-year-old Moonee, a little firecracker whose carefree bubble in a welfare motel is on the verge of being popped. But it is thankfully maintained by Bobby, the well-intentioned manager (an amazing Willem Dafoe) who does his best to secure her innocence.


If you told me last year that an absurdist, allegorical monster movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis would end up on this year’s list, I’d look at you as if you grew two heads. But here we are: one of the most underrated films of the year is also captivatingly original, exploring themes of loneliness, redemption, and ego. It packs a surprisingly emotional wallop.


Martin McDonagh’s brilliantly executed (and polarizing) story about one woman’s grief-induced rage setting off a fiery chain reaction of events is an embarrassment of riches — from its machete-sharp writing and powerhouse performances (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) to its absorbing reflection on small-town America in 2017. Three Billboards is that rare, compelling American film that leaves you wanting more.


Guillermo Del Toro’s latest is an enchanting fable about the power of love, the power of language, and of course, the power of the movies. It’s also a fantastic showcase for star Sally Hawkins, in a voiceless role that manages to command every scene, and a surprising supporting turn from Richard Jenkins.


Call this one No Country For Old Mutants, a comic book superhero movie that doesn’t feel like one…and that’s a beautiful thing. Logan earns its R-rating as a Marvel property, an X-Men entry made for adults that gives its titular character (Hugh Jackman, in a role that should never be recast) a proper sendoff after going through some violent motions. The main plot may not be all that original (it’s The Professional with adamantium claws), but in director James Mangold’s capable hands, it is a dark, rough-around-the-edges chapter that satisfies on all counts.


A sexually-charged coming-of-age tale that doubles as a highly romanticized travelogue for northern Italy, Luca Guadagnino’s lush romance is a film that, on the surface, doesn’t have any conflict, and that’s because most of it is internal. Such desire-driven anguish and longing is beautifully conveyed in the breakthrough performance of newcomer Timothee Chalamet.


Christopher Nolan’s unconventional approach to the WWII epic is an astounding achievement, sprawling across land, air, and sea, eschewing cliches, and compelling audiences to invest in nameless characters who all have one goal in common: to get home safe.

About The Author

Hiko Mitsuzuka
Entertainment Editor-at-Large

Hiko Mitsuzuka is a self-proclaimed pop culture connoisseur who resides in L.A. and obsesses over songs months before everyone else obsesses over them. He has worked in TV and commercial production ever since he left his native New York in the early 00s. He has worked at the world-renowned Anonymous Content and Carsey-Werner and freelanced as a treatment writer for award-winning directors as well as a contributing writer for 'Instinct.' In addition to writing about entertainment and travel for 'Bello,' Hiko can currently be seen in the roles of Manager of Creative Planning at Stun Creative (PromaxBDA's North America Agency of the Year, 2013, 2014, 2017), film critic for, and contributor for The Huffington Post. He's also currently working on the novel 'Slasher Movie Girl.' His obsessions include quoting old sitcom dialogue and stalking people on Instagram. His vices include chocolate chip cookies and movie theater popcorn. Tweet him @TheFirstEcho.

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