1. The Shape of Water
"Auteur" is a term I don't casually throw around but it's the one word that immediately comes to mind after watching "The Shape of Water," director Guillermo del Toro's exquisite and dreamy fantasy horror romance. This film is so enchantingly beautiful, so outright magical, that it captivates and commands your attention from its opening seconds until the closing scene. Read the full review.
With its narrow and unflinching scope, "Logan" forces the audience to face a world-weary man's past demons up close and personally. While this poignant farewell chapter may be a swan song for Wolverine, this dark, violent and brutal film is so much more. It's a somber, slow burn fueled with a painful introspective of a tormented man's reflection on morality, mortality, and regret. It's a superhero movie that has nothing to do with being a superhero. Read the full review.
3. Baby Driver
If you have a pulse on the cinema world, then you’ve heard the outstanding buzz and praise for this film. I’m happy to say it's absolutely, unequivocally deserved. This is a bold, audacious, intoxicating work of pop culture art, which makes it one of my favorite movies this year. Read the full review.
4. Good Time
The sleazy, bleak, and primal low budget crime thriller "Good Time" feels like a cinematic punch in the face. The more I think about this film through my figurative black eye, the more I like it. It's rare to find a movie so confident and wholly committed to its bleak tone, bursting onto the screen in its opening scene with a disarming, bold swagger. This one is reminiscent of Scorsese's early works but it never once feels like a cheap rip-off of the auteur. Read the full review.
5. Lady Bird
Garden variety coming of age films are so prevalent that it's all the more refreshing when something truly personal and original like "Lady Bird" comes along. The small scale intimacy of the story about a teenage girl on the cusp of womanhood in Sacramento feels raw and real, its cozy focus creating a universal anecdote that relives (with bittersweet affection) a part of life that's filled with constantly fluctuating highs and lows. This is exactly the type of indie filmmaking that we need more of, and the awkwardly charming Greta Gerwig has hit a home run with her equally awkwardly charming directorial debut. Read the full review.
6. Blade Runner 2049
I'm totally geeking out over "Blade Runner 2049," one of those 'you either love it or hate it' science fiction films. I love art, I love movies, and I consider films an important form of aesthetic visual expression, and this one features the most disturbingly gorgeous, darkly lush, effective dystopian cinematography since 2015’s "Mad Max: Fury Road." It's filled with an unparalleled artistry and is among one of the best looking movies ever to come out of Hollywood. This one's a real beauty and should be required viewing for everyone who has a passion for the language of cinema. Read the full review.
7. The Florida Project
The fiercely independent "The Florida Project" seems like the most unlikely of places to begin a heartbreaking journey of jumbled emotions. Throughout this two hour visual verite feast, you'll be hit with moments of joy and sadness, inspiration and despondency, and a cinematic romanticism so riveting that you just can't tear yourself away. This is fully experiential filmmaking that confronts our discomfort by thrusting us straight into the heart of a forgotten segment of America that many of us would like to ignore. These are the people, the transient families, that most of us don't want to see; they're the folks that inspire us to avert our eyes as we pass by. This film forces us to look at them, to take notice, to care. Read the full review.
8. Brigsby Bear
It's a scary time in our world, one that's suddenly filled with so much uncertainty and negativity that sometimes the stress and worry will drive you to tears — and that's why the utterly sweet "Brigsby Bear" is just what the cinematic doctor ordered. Revealing too much of the plotline will greatly diminish the film's best surprises, as this is a movie that is best discovered by viewing it with very little background information. This is a sincere film that’s stuffed with kindhearted humor and a feel good message of love and acceptance. I could see this film easily becoming a quirky cult classic a'la "Napoleon Dynamite." As one character says, this movie is "dope as sh#t." Read the full review.
9. Personal Shopper
"Personal Shopper" is an unnerving thriller, a troubling mystery, and a very disturbing haunted tale that nearly defies classification. This is a dark film that explores human solitude and the unspoken, deep desires that simmer inside us and create a tormented inner turmoil. It's a strange yet effective twist on the classic ghost story, a genuinely creepy and impressive film that's guaranteed to be unforgettable. Read the full review.
10. Patti Cake$
That "Patti Cake$" is the first feature film of writer / director Geremy Jasper bodes very well for his future as a serious indie filmmaker. This coming of age story about a big girl with even bigger dreams has a distinct, visionary voice that makes it as meaningful as it is memorable. "Patti Cake$" celebrates artistic determination and the joy that derives from chasing your dream while never failing to march to your own beat, but it also is an unexpected ode to entrepreneurship. Work hard and do what you love, even if you never realize any rewards. Read the full review.
LOUISA'S BEST MOVIES OF 2017: HONORABLE MENTIONS
These fantastic movies came very close to making the list of my Top 10 Best of the year:
11. American Made
There's an intoxicating energy to this unbelievable story, as director Doug Liman plays fast and loose with the actual facts and events. Read the full review.
12. The Greatest Showman
The film is flashy in all the right ways, its dreamy and dazzling costumes punctuated with spirited and elaborate staging and set pieces. Read the full review.
In a crowded sea of male-dominated Hollywood films and paper-thin female characters, little independent gems like "Landline" generate even more of an electrifying spark. Read the full review.
14. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
If anything, the film serves as a reminder of why Frances McDormand should be getting more big screen roles. Read the full review.
15. A Ghost Story
This is a sad, haunting film that has affected me like no other this year — and that's the sign of something truly special. Read the full review.
16. The Disaster Artist
"The Disaster Artist" is a good movie about a bad cult classic that embodies the essence of Hollywood: dream big, stumble spectacularly, but never let your failures define you. Read the full review.
This family-friendly drama is sweet, smart, funny, and charming, the cinematic equivalent of a snuggly, cozy sweater. Read the full review.
18. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" is one of the biggest and best surprises of the year, and it's everything a big-budget popcorn movie should aspire to be. Read the full review.
19. The Hero
It's a theme that's been done hundreds of times before, but somehow this story manages to feel fresh. Read the full review.
20. T2 Trainspotting
"T2" is the perfect companion to its predecessor, providing a meaningful epilogue and closing chapter to the original film. Read the full review.
Louisa is a proud member of the Nevada Film Critics Society and is a writer and critic for Screen Zealots.