They made us cry, think, and maybe even laugh a little along the way. They are stories of hope, of the evils of man, and of the tragedy, happiness and sadness within us all. I’m of course talking about the drama films of 2017, a genre that always stands out as the source of some of the best films of the year time and time again. Continuing my Best of 2017 series I took a look at the best in drama that Hollywood had to offer and picked my ten favorites of the year. These are my picks for the Top 10 Drama Films of 2017.
For this list I looked at any film that could primarily be considered a drama film in 2017. Any film released in the calendar year of 2017 applied and for the sake of this list I am giving an honorable mention for “Lion” which did not make this list because, to put it bluntly, I never got the chance to see it despite the film being released this year and nominated for a few 2017 Oscars.
These are the films that captured humanity at its best and worst either through an original story or the depiction of real life events. Some of these films may also double a biographical stories but made this list due to their use of creative license making them more fitting as a drama than a depiction of a specific individual’s life or story. Any film on my other Best of 2017 lists won’t be seen here and as always no Netflix films. Remember, the top three films on this list qualify for my Best of 2017 overall list on New Years Day. For now though it’s all about the drama.
What was your favorite drama film of 2017? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the list!
Starting off the list is a sweet story about an uncle raising his genius niece only to find their relationship at risk when the grandmother comes into the picture bent on utilizing the girls intellect for personal gain. Honestly the story’s not quite as extreme as it sounds but “Gifted” is a perfect place to start this list as it proved to be a charming, relatable, and very watchable tale that might have even brought some tears to those who had the opportunity to see it. In my four-star review of the film I called “Gifted’ a surprise and said “I went in expected over-the-top drama using the previews as my guide and what I found was an impressively subtle and touching journey”. It went on to be in my opinion one of the most underrated dramas of 2017 and I’m more than happy to have it on my list of the best drama films of the year overall.
9. “The Hero”
The world of acting is never an easy one and life in general can prove to be a tough road in and of itself. Combine the two with life changing diagnosis and it’s even harder to bare. In this film we followed Sam Elliott as a struggling actor with an iconic voice whose past success as a star in the western genre has faded. We see him undergo a personal and career transformation when he is diagnosed with cancer and he tries to juggle reforming a relationship with his daughter, a budding romance with a much younger woman and a second chance at being a star. This film deserves to be on this list if for no other reason than Elliott’s spectacular and under-appreciated performance, which brought a tear to my eye when I first saw the film especially when he finally comes to grips with his situation and breaks down in an epically powerful audition scene that is just so well done I couldn’t help but laud it in my review. I called the film “humanizing and humbling” and a film that “packs enough human elements and a big enough emotional punch to warrant repeat viewings”. It’s a touching story that I really suggest you check out if you haven’t already.
8. “T2: Trainspotting”
I never had the chance to review this film for my blog unfortunately but that’s because I honestly could NOT find this in any theater around me and saw it on video long after it was relevant. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who missed out on this long-awaited sequel, which brought together the ensemble cast from the 1996 film once again to continue the story twenty years later. If you enjoyed the first film you’ll enjoy this one as well and while I didn’t write a review it would have easily earned four stars from me as a delightful and, in many ways, powerful continuation of the life-altering story that came before it. While it didn’t quite capture the charm and emotional impact of its predecessor, “T2” was still an exciting and worthy sequel that might sadly be overlooked, but should never be ignored if given the opportunity. In the same way the first film offered lessons about life and redemption especially in the wake of addiction, so too does this sequel that teaches us that even years later there’s still a lot we can learn about appreciating everything around us and finding redemption even if that means embracing our faults instead of running away from them.
7. “The Greatest Showman”
Last year “La La Land” was my favorite film and ushered in a new respect within me for original musicals on the big screen. A year later we got another film with a soundtrack by duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who formed the soundtrack of “La La Land”, as “The Greatest Showman”, loosely explored the life of P.T. Barnum and the formation of his famed circus, hit the big screen. While not revolutionary, this film was all about the message and the music veering away from its biographical routes to give us an effective story about a dreamer and the risks and rewards of fame. A modern rags to riches story with a great moral core, I called this film “a fantastic and memorable musical that will have you singing along even after the credits roll” in my recent review of the film and while it might water down the story of its main subject “The Greatest Showman” was a great show in its own right that hit all the right notes.
6. “All the Money in the World”
It’s impressive to create an effective drama from a real world story, but it’s even more impressive when you have to piece it together twice due to outside influences at the last minute. Based on the real life kidnapping of J. Paul Getty, III and the standoff that ensued as a result when his famed grandfather refuse to pay the ransom this Ridley Scott directed film found itself at risk when the Kevin Spacey scandal erupted only a month before its release, prompting reshoots to put Christopher Plummer in the movie in his place as the elder Getty. The result was still a masterful piece of filmmaking that I called “an exceptional and thrilling crime drama that takes a real life story and adapts it gracefully to the big screen” in my review. If not for the errors that no doubt were due in part to the needed reshoots the film probably would have been even better and it’s only because of these errors that it missed out on a perfect score from me. Still, with great acting and an engaging story that challenges the viewers to judge the value of a life “All the Money in the World” ended 2017 on a high note and lands here at number six.
5. “Good Time”
The second entry on this list I never got to review for my blog, “Good Time” was an acquired taste of a film that saw a bank robber work to drum up enough cash in one night to pay off a judge to release his brother from prison. A high intensity drama filled with all kinds of trippy and colorful set pieces and an astounding soundtrack this four-star film was a mind bender in every way and kept you glued to the seat as we awaited the results of one man’s fateful night of debauchery and desperation. This is one I unfortunately missed in the theater and many others did as well, but it deserves a watch despite its odd pacing and maybe too patient storytelling. One of 2017’s most underrated films in my opinion I regret not putting a full review down for this one, but hopefully this top five spot on my list of best dramas of 2017 will garner it the respect it deserves from my readers.
4. “The Beguiled”
A remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood-led picture this Civil War-era story saw a group of young women come to the rescue of an enemy Union Corporal who becomes the object of affection for two of the girls, leading to a love triangle with deadly consequences. This film was expertly paced and oozed tension without drawing too much from its central conflict, leaving the true villain or hero in this drama up in the air even as the climax rolls on. Simultaneously tackling themes of distrust and the inner demons of every human, man or woman, I called “The Beguiled” an “artistic and engaging tale that offers something unique and thought provoking”. My review also called the film “top-notch” earning it a perfect five stars. While it might not be featured in my Best of 2017 overall list, it’s still a powerful and memorable film worthy of a spot on this list.
Racism and cops versus blacks controversies have unfortunately become commonplace in American society once again over the last few years and one film in 2017 took these issues head on. Based on the 12th Street Riots in 1967, this film depicted the true-to-life Algiers Motel Incident where a series of black men and two white women were mistreated, and some even killed, by white police officers after a misunderstanding led them to believe the young men were hiding a gun. Powerful performances and an unforgiving narrative inspired me to give this film my five-star seal of approval and in my review I called the film “powerfully honest with a story to tell and amazing talent behind and in front of the camera to bring it to life”. While this film didn’t garner the audience it deserved in 2017 it told a timely and important story and deserves very much to be in the running for a spot on my Best of 2017 overall list on New Years Day.
2. “Beatriz at Dinner”
Short, sweet, and to the point this dramedy was considered for both my comedy and drama best of lists, but I chose to put it here because it’s much more drama than lighthearted laugh fest. “Beatriz at Dinner” focuses on its titular character, a soft-spoken Buddhist who finds herself stranded at one of her client’s lavish homes and shares in their dinner with a wealthy businessman who challenges Beatriz’s peaceful pacifist ways in favor of his own aggressive capitalist lifestyle. The film served as the ultimate culture shock experience without outright villainizing or glorifying any specific perspective presented in the story. Rather it was a look at how society today is stained with a lack of cross-cultural understanding or compassion for one another. In my review I called “Beatriz at Dinner” a “fantastic drama” and one that “tackles a wide array of social issues with great writing, surprisingly deep character development, and a tasteful approach few films manage to pull off”. It’s a powerful yet subtle story that challenges us to examine our own way of thinking and shows that regardless of our perspectives of what’s right or wrong for this world noone can claim to be superior if they are unwilling to open their minds.
1. “Lady Bird”
A strong contender for my favorite film of the entire year, “Lady Bird” is a coming of age drama that deserves to be a classic. Focusing mainly on Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson in her senior year we see her explore her sexuality and relationships with friends, lovers, and her parents in 2002 as she embraces her rebellious side and searches for her identity as college approaches. Fantastically shot, this story features a should-be-honored breakout performance by Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird and perfectly captures not just female teen angst, but the rebellious confusion every person experiences at some point in their young lives. In my review I said “there are few movies that leave me feeling as satisfied and entertained as ‘Lady Bird’ simply due to its ability to present relatable and culturally significant themes while avoiding an overwhelming sense of self importance”. Stories like this are what films were made to tell. This mesmerizing and beautiful cinematic experience was perfect in almost every way and is more than a film, it’s a work of art that does what all great drama’s should do by perfectly taping into to the emotion and life changing experiences of one of the most complicated years of any young person’s life. This alone earns it the top spot here on my list of the Top 10 Drama Films of 2017.