Honorable Mention: Your Name. ($5 million)
Kicking off this list is the Japanese anime Your Name. For those that don't know, this anime is the highest grossing anime of all-time, grossing over $280 million worldwide. However, here in the states it grossed a little over $5 million, which is why it still finds itself on this list. It's also a FANTASTIC film on its own right. That always helps. But, take it from me: I may not know much about the world of anime, but I could still see this for the great film that it is. It features an original premise that is executed nearly flawlessly, and features wonderful voice acting from Ryûnosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi. The ending is rather safe, which is a little disappointing for a film that is this original overall, but I still had a great time. I think most people, including those not familiar with the genre at all, will have a good time too. And, if you're looking for an entry into the world of anime? This is as good a place as any to start.
Your Name. is available to rent on YouTube for $3.99.
5) Loving Vincent ($6.6 Million)
Next up is Loving Vincent, the world's first fully painted feature film. There are a lot of problems with the story of this movie as it's basically just a 90 minute episode of CSI, but the original and indescribably unique animated style is well worth your money. It's worth your support, too: I would love to see future films done in this painted style. It was easy to be spellbound by the animation....it looked absolutely gorgeous, with a staggering amount of detail crafted into each frame. (It took well over 100 painters to create this film) I couldn't believe that when someone like Saoirse Ronan or Chris O'Dowd or Jerome Flynn cam on screen, I was able to recognize them rather easily. And you could see the emotion on a character's face in any given scene! Sure the frequent black & white flashbacks were a crutch for the filmmakers/painters, but who cares? We've never seen anything like this before, and without the support of as many people as possible, we may never see anything like this ever again.
Loving Vincent is available to rent on YouTube starting at $3.99 for the standard definition version of the film.
4) A Ghost Story ($1.5 Million)
This unusual but emotionally powerful love story was one of the rare films I saw in 2017, but never got around to writing a review about it. A Ghost Story is an unorthodox approach to telling a classic love story shot in an equally unorthodox Polaroid style, and the first of two films on this list from the indie kingpin studio A24. These guys are on top of the world when it comes to indie films, and something like A Ghost Story is exhibit A for reasons why. The themes investigated here are so deep and complex, and its executed pretty darn well. While the ending did get to be a little too meta for my tastes, and, unfortunately, it does star Casey Affleck, but I can see how many people would find this to be a nearly perfect film. Either way, it deserves a place on this list just for how bold and grandiose it is, and definitely deserved to make far more than the poultry $1.5 million it grossed domestically. Do check it out, please! It's a deep and fascinating watch.
A Ghost Story is available to rent on YouTube starting at $4.99 for the standard definition version of the film.
3) The Florida Project ($5.7 Million)
The Oscar-nominated The Florida Project is the second of two A24 films on this list. This one is a fantastic film all the way up through a frustratingly disastrous ending. (In my opinion, at least) But, this ending only lasts a few minutes, and the rest of this 2 hour feature is superb. It's shot on location in an Orlando motel, and, according to actor Willem Dafoe, (who's simply superb in this) was shot alongside many of the semi-permanent residents living paycheck-to-paycheck at this local motel. Needless to say, the production design here is some of the best I saw all year, to the point that I'd go out on a limb and say it's a true shame that this film did not get an Oscar nomination for it. Additionally, this film features wonderful performances from newbies Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite, who play the child Moonee and the mother Halley, respectively. I don't know how A24 manages to cast so effectively, but that team deserves massive kudos because they just keep doing it over and over in these films! A24's American Honey did the same thing back in 2016 with its lead Sasha Lane. (Another film that made nowhere near as much money as it deserved to) The casting crew for A24 seriously is the best in the business. The relationship between Moonee and her mother Halley is at the forefront of this story, and its a fantastic relationship, to the say the least. Lady Bird still has the best mother-daughter story of 2017, but The Florida Project is a close second. And grossed only $40 million less.
The Florida Project is available to watch on YouTube starting at $4.99 for the standard definition version of the film.
2) My Friend Dahmer ($1.3 Million)
Ahhhhhhh My Friend Dahmer. Not the last time I'll be talking about this haunting tale. The main reason to see this disturbing film is for the phenomenal performance from Ross Lynch, which will be well within my top 5 performances of 2017. But the Disney star's (you read that right) deadpan, off-kilter portrayal of the future serial killer was terrific, and well worth the price of admission. In addition to this incredible performance, the story itself is a resonating one, and seeing Jeff Dahmer morph from outsider and socially awkward high school student into serial killer was scary, to say the least. It'll definitely stick with you, but....man! It is one of the better films of the year, and certainly deserving of a lot more than its $1.3 million gross. It's not for everyone - many will find this movie deeply disturbing, and I can hardly say I blame them. But films like this are so hard to come by. Director Marc Meyers just goes for it here. No holds barred. He also doesn't inherently blame, judge, or glorify Jeffrey Dahmer. There's a very fine line this film rides, and it does it very well. Check it out for the fantastic performance of Ross Lynch, stay for the haunting investigation into the mind of a future, infamous, serial killer.
My Friend Dahmer is available to watch on YouTube starting at $3.99 for the standard definition of the film.
1) Call Me by Your Name (around $15 Million)
So, this film hasn't made $15 million just yet as of this writing, but by the time I publish this it probably will. So it's kind of cheating, I know, but the fact that this movie has made anything close to only $15 million is CRIMINAL. It's one of the best overall films of 2017, featuring unforgettable performances from its male leads, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. This story and its production design are simply mesmerizing - the film is shot on location in Northern Italy, and takes place in the 1980s. To say it makes the most of its location and time period are something of an understatement. Simply put, it is gorgeous in every sense of the word. Beyond the breathtaking sets and wonderful period piece, this film features a terrific soundtrack, hand picked by director Luca Guadagnino. It also features an incredible original song (my favorite on the year for film) by Sufjan Stevens, "Mystery of Love." Oh! And it features a wonderful performance from Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays a really "cool dad" and delivers a gut-wrenching monologue at the end of the film that is one of my favorite movie moments of 2017. (Along with Armie Hammer dancing, of course.) This film is worthy of every cent you can give it - it'll take you on an intoxicating trip through a wide range of emotions in its 132 minute runtime. Personally, I've seen this film 3 times, and may make the time to see it again before it leaves theaters. It's that good. It's still out there on the silver screen, and I HIGHLY recommend you take the time to see this nearly perfect film that will find itself in my top 5 overall best films of 2017. Check it out!
Call Me by Your Name is still in most theaters.
I could watch this alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll day.