When it comes to entertainment media, whether it’s games or film, I live for the big moments. Those points in which the entire experience comes together to produce a feeling of such rightness that it cannot be ignored. If I can look back over a year and remember many of these kinds of moments, I know it was a great year for entertainment. As 2017 fades behind us, I can say without a doubt that it was one of the best years I’ve ever had.
In the spirit of the year’s end, I have been highlighting 20 of my absolute favorite moments and experiences from entertainment in 2017. I started with my top six gaming experiences, then the second piece featured television. Then music. Now, to close the series, I present seven of my favorite movie moments from the past year. I hope you enjoy the list.
Split – McAvoy’s Performance
Like other M. Night Shyamalan films before it, Split tells a story with a fascinating concept that nonetheless leaves several plotholes in its wake. It’s obvious that this film was built to display pretty much just one thing: an actor’s level of command over his craft. In this case, I’m all right with that, because James McAvoy’s performance was simply that good.
Kevin, suffering from dissociative identity disorder, has a total of 23 unique personalities living inside his mind. While viewers don’t quite get to see all 23, McAvoy goes through an impressively broad display of characters over the course of the film.
It’s not just McAvoy’s ability to portray different kinds of people that makes his performance so good. More than that, it’s his ability to have these separate entities interact with each other in intense and believable ways. And they’re all just one guy! The absolute best moments of Split are when we get to watch McAvoy transition from person to person right before our eyes. Even if the rest of the film was simply decent at best, Split is worth a watch just to see a talented actor playing the most demanding role of his life.
Beauty and the Beast – Evermore
The live-action Beauty and the Beast was a mixed bag. Some parts were far inferior to the animated Disney classic, but there were also several improvements. My favorite new addition was a solo song for the Beast called “Evermore.”
In the original, Belle was a much more developed character than the Beast, which is understandable. Still, “Evermore” adds some much-appreciated glimpses into Beast’s thoughts as Belle returns to the village to save her father. Plus, it’s just a great song, channeling a little bit of Phantom of the Opera to express Beast’s torn soul. Even with a modulated voice, Dan Stevens performs impressively, and the Josh Groban version is also great.
Logan – Doing Wolverine Justice
Warning: Major Logan spoilers ahead
Everything about Logan is visceral. Thanks to the R rating, Wolverine could finally carve up his enemies in satisfying ways that make more sense than just… knocking people unconscious… with razor-sharp claws…
But the freedom of violence was far from the best part of Wolverine’s portrayal in this last-stand film. Hugh Jackman’s iconic X-Man has always been known to heal from any harm, but never before on film has this idea been carried to its logical conclusion. Logan finally asks the tough questions: what does it look like for Wolverine when all his friends have died and he just keeps on living? And what happens when the world’s most powerful mind, that of Professor Xavier, begins to lose control with old age?
By the time Logan finished its runtime, it felt like the story of the X-Men had always been coming to this. Logan’s final journey, his last chance to overcome years of self-destruction and self-pity, is told in such an emotionally visceral way that viewers cannot help but respond. Only in the action sequences does this even begin to feel like another supehero movie. Instead, it is a depiction of what two good but broken men will do when faced with the task of preserving the survival of their kind, one last time.
Homecoming – The Drive to the Prom
Warning: Major Spiderman: Homecoming spoilers ahead
For long-time fans of the web-slinger, some of the artistic choices and plot developments in the first MCU Spider-Man film may have been a bit confusing or disappointing. However, several elements were undeniably stellar. Chief among these are the performances of Tom Holland and Michael Keaton.
Not only is Keaton, as the Vulture, the villain of the piece, he is also a man simply trying to provide for his family. In a stunning reveal late in the story, Peter Parker arrives to take his love interest to the prom, only to find out that the Vulture is her father.
What follows is the best scene in the film. As Keaton’s character drives the two high schoolers to prom, Holland does a great job of conveying the tension of his situation to the audience. This only increases as the oblivious Liz says things that begin making her father suspicious. I remember feeling like I was sitting on spikes as The Vulture slowly realizes just who he has in the car with him. Keaton does an amazing portrayal of a protective father and vengeful supervillain all rolled up into one. This chilling scene truly ties the film together and anchors the more fantastical elements of the story to this central domestic conflict. Great stuff.
Ragnarok – Korg
The MCU went in a strange direction with Thor’s third solo film by turning Norse Armageddon into a film that was about 80% comedy. Most of the humor was genuinely entertaining, but it was a strange accompaniment to a story about the literal end of the world.
Nevertheless, one new character consistently blew past my concerns and made me laugh out loud: Korg, the big rock alien gladiator with the small voice. Director Taika Waititi provided the voice acting and motion capture for the character, who was initially only supposed to have a couple small appearances. But Waititi and Chris Hemsworth had so much fun with Korg that he was progressively given more and more lines.
And boy, they are some funny lines. The relaxed and witty Korg was a perfect foil for the blustery Thor throughout the Planet Hulk portion of the film. I grew weary of most of the humor Ragnarok served up, but Korg never failed to make me smile. He’s probably my favorite character across the three Thor films.
Coco – Plot Complexity (for Pixar, Anyway)
Warning: Mild Coco spoilers ahead
I almost always love Pixar movies. Beautiful animation, engaging characters, and heartwarming stories abound. Seldom, however, have I ever been surprised by a Pixar movie’s plot development. Enter Coco.
Many films try to create the appearance of plot depth by taking a single element from the film’s first act and reusing it in a new way in the final moments. Coco expands on this idea in a more impressive way. Everything that happens, every piece of information revealed in the opening minutes will appear several times as new wrinkles and surprises unfold.
Protagonist Miguel’s family dynamic is explored from the film’s opening scene. Several aspects of this dynamic are built upon and reinvented in unique ways throughout the story to create something exciting. In addition, several seemingly smaller plot points, such as great-grandmother Coco’s dementia, later become crucial elements in unexpected and impressive ways. While other Pixar films may have more memorable children’s characters at the end of the day, Coco‘s story impacted me as an adult in ways few other Pixar movies have matched.
Star Wars – That Luke Moment
Warning: Major Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoilers ahead
In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker serves a completely different role than he ever has before in the films. He spends most of his screentime expressing regret and exposing the flaws in the Jedi Order. Mark Hamill is much better portraying an old, troubled master than he ever was as the hero.
Still, near the film’s climax, it was exciting for fans to see Luke truly back in action, facing off with Kylo Ren to save the day. Or so we’re led to believe. There are several signs that something is off with this confrontation. On opening night I was suspicious, but I didn’t know what else could actually be happening.
In a triumphant and applause-inducing moment, Luke is finally revealed to have been sending a Force projection of himself through space to aid the Resistance. Aside from just being awesome, this moment displays the most powerful use of the Force in any Star Wars film to date, by far.
Don’t believe me? Consider a few things. The only thing the Force has accomplished at such incredible range until now was impressing some kind of feeling upon the user’s mind about an important event. In the prequels, the Jedi Masters had to communicate between systems via hologram, so it is unlikely that they could even reliably send their thoughts over great distances, much less a replica of their bodies. And despite the many lightyears that separated Luke from Kylo Ren, Luke was able to react to Ren’s attacks in real time.
Despite his reservations, guilt, and grief, Luke gave his entire being to bring balance to the Force one last time, and in the process he proved himself to be the most powerful Jedi in history, at least in the current canon. The Last Jedi was not a perfect film, but I still get goosebumps thinking about this and a handful of other moments. Luke Skywalker, the hero to define heroes for generations, left the series in a way that stunned and impressed me.
That finally concludes my Best Experiences of 2017 list across four types of entertainment. All in all, we went through 20 of the year’s most memorable moments. Did you agree with the selections? What else would you have liked to see? Let us know in the comments or on social media!