My Top 10 Movies of 2017

Every year I make a top 10 movies list. And every year, I shame myself for not seeing enough movies. Oh, sweet movie nerd shame. Oh, sweet pop culture nerd. What would I do without you?

(Presumably feel less guilt and self-loathing while I scroll through the seemingly never-ending barrage of #amwatching posts baiting me into shame-whirlwinds from friends on Twitter.)

 So anywhoozles. I'll start with the movies I missed (and still want/need/my life depends on it to see):

  • I, Tonya
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • A Ghost Story
  • Mudbound
  • Mother!
  • The Florida Project
  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
  • Geostorm
  • The Glass Castle

Have you seen any of these? Any of your favorites? Did you see the real-life documentary that is Geostorm?

Okay, onto my top ten.

My Top 10 Movies of 2017

10. The Villainess (dir. Jeong Byeong-gil)


Holy bonkers, you guys. If you were kind of disappointed by Atomic Blonde, The Villainess is for you. Hyper-violence and melodrama? Yes, please. Also, given the nature of our world, I'm always deliciously tickled by women just straight up killing dudes. 

9. Brigsby Bear (dir. Dave Mccary)


A beautiful and touching exploration of creativity, and what it means to embrace your thing (whatever that thing may be) wholeheartedlyā€”without shame or guilt. It's sweet and tender and hilarious.

8. Blade Runner 2049 (Dir. denis Villeneuve)


What does it mean to be human? I'm a softy for these types of philosophical brain exercises. Blade Runner 2049, like its predecessor, does this very well. It asks the questions, but doesn't give you any answers. As a good science fiction film should. Also, it's just one of the most mind-bogglingly beautiful movie I've ever seen (up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey).

7. I Don't Feel at Home In This World Anymore (dir. Macon Blair)


I first noticed Macon Blair, not as a director, but as an actor in Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, a film that was tops for me in 2016. Like Saulnier, Blair has a darkly comedic sensibility. One that I share deeply. I love this movie. It's dark, it's funny, but it also has a gargantuan heart. Both Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood are amazing.

I might have also dressed up as Wood's character for Halloween.

Tony, Chewie, and Mac. šŸŽƒ Hollywood, we need this movie made.

A post shared by Non Wels (@subjectplusverb) on

6. The Lost City of Z (Dir. James Gray)


I am a sucker for pre-21st century adventure movies. With their pre-Purell grime and compass navigation. This is that, but it's also wonderfully philosophical and a celebration of essential humanist and progressive ideals. Go watch this now (it's streaming on Amazon Prime!).

5. Call Me By Your Name (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)


A coming of age story. A love story. A sumptuous and nostalgic hearkening to a simpler time. Call Me By Your Name is a gorgeous rendering of two beautiful humans who discover beauty in each other for a moment in time. It'll make your heart soar. The new Sufjan Stevens tracks will stick in your brain too.

4. The Shape of Water (Dir. Guillermo Del Toro)


The love story 2017 needed. And, I'd argue, 2018 still needs. A love letter to the rejects, the outcasts, the monsters among us. A tale of the human spirit, our capacity for love and wonder.

3. The Big Sick (Dir. Michael Showalter)


I am clearly a sucker for love stories with big hearts. That's precisely what The Big Sick is. Kumail and Emily's relationship is so goddamn lovely. Their relationship is so vulnerable and inspiring. To see it on screen is a gift.

2. Get Out (Dir. Jordan Peele)


I have a fondness for the horror genre. Its ability to evoke fear and shock and creepy-crawly shudders is something I eat up. Get Out is an A+ horror film. But it's not simply that. It's also an A+ commentary (inspired and warranted damnation) on racial politics, race relations, and the insidious acceptance of racism in the world today.

1. Lady Bird (Dir. Greta Gerwig)


I'm not crying. YOU'RE CRYING. No, actually, I am crying uncontrollably. Jessica had to console me after Lady Bird was finished I was crying so much. This movie so elegantly and richly captures the human experience: growing up, coming of age, being a woman, and being a daughter. The emotional and relational nuance is so real it was like it was pulled out of my life. I can't get this movie out of my head. It's amazing. 

As for movies that just missed my Top 10 cut, here are my Honorable Mentions:

  • Wonder Woman
  • It
  • Dunkirk
  • Icarus
  • Logan

Well, that does it. I'd love to read over your Top Ten lists. Share in the comments!

Meanwhile, you can also catch up with my latest podcast, You, Me, Empathy: Sharing Our Mental Health Stories.