Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best Technical and Artistic Film Work of 2017

On December 31, 2017, I published my list of best (and worst) films of the year, and then on Friday, January 5, 2018, my list of best actors. Now it’s time to post about the (often) unsung artists and craftspeople who are essential to the filmmaking process: the writers, cinematographers, editors, production designers, visual-effects artists, and music composers. As with my other lists, the hyperlinked movie title will take you to my review, if one exists (or the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page, if one does not). In addition, I also hyperlink the artists’ names (mostly to IMDb, but sometimes to their own personal websites), so you can see what other work they have produced over their careers. In the case of the music list, I link to the movie’s actual soundtrack, as well.

In each category, I have chosen only five (however hard that may be – and it is hard), in alphabetical order. These are the films where I thought that the work in that particular area truly enhanced the quality of the movie. If a film is not on this list, I may still really like the work within it, but not as much as my top five. Enjoy, and feel free to leave comments after you look it over!

Best Screenplay (adapted and original, combined):

Best Cinematography*:

[*2 of these are documentaries – Barbecue and Rat Film – which feature beautiful shots that rival any narrative feature.]

Best Editing**:

[**3 of these are documentaries – BarbecueMotherland and Rat Film – which are among the hardest kinds of films to edit, given the huge amount of material to work with, from which one must, somehow, extract a coherent story.]

Best Production Design:


I also want to mention the stellar production-design work in one of my least favorite films of the year – The Book of Henry – by Kalina Ivanov (whom I know, in the interest of full disclosure). Though the movie failed for me completely, her intricate Rube Goldberg-like devices within it were objects of extraordinary beauty.


Best Visual Effects:

[Too many people to mention all, so I have simply hyperlinked, next to the title, to the movie’s crew page on IMDb page, where you can look at the multitude of people involved in the many visual-effects teams.]

Best Original Score:

Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best and Worst Films of 2017

[For an explanation of my blog post title, check out my “best of” list from 2013.]

Below you will find lists of my favorite films of the year, divided by documentary (nonfiction) and narrative (fiction) formats. Not all the movies mentioned have received a significant theatrical or online release in 2017, though most of them did; a few may still be looking for distributors after making their festival rounds. Where I have previously written reviews of a movie (whether for BmoreArtFilm Festival TodayHammer to Nail or this blog), the title of that movie is hyperlinked to my original review. In the case of one film (noted, below), I only wrote a brief capsule review of it within a film-festival recap, and I link to that write-up, instead. Where I have not (yet) reviewed a film, I have hyperlinked the title to the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page. If I later write a review (for films not yet out in wide release), I will change that link to my own review.

If a film that you, yourself, saw and liked is nowhere mentioned here, then it is possible that I did not see it (or saw it and liked it, but not enough to include among my favorites, or saw it and, of course, did not like it). As many films as I watch every year, I cannot possibly see everything. If you have questions about any omissions, feel free to comment and/or send me a note. And really, what separates the “Top 10” from the “runners-up” is very little. If you’re in my Top 20, in other words, I like you very much.

Enjoy! Over the next week, I will continue to publish other “best of” lists, for acting and technical/artistic achievements of the year.

Top 10 Documentary Films of 2017 (in alphabetical order):

Top 10 Narrative Films of 2017 (in alphabetical order):

2017 Documentary Film Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

2017 Narrative Film Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

*Note from 1/9/18 – recent allegations about Franco’s sexual misbehavior now complicate such a nomination. It’s still a really solid movie, however compromised the director.

2017 Documentary and Narrative Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):

Worst Films of 2017 (in alphabetical order):

Stay tuned for more posts in the week ahead …

“Reel Talk” – with Chris Reed and Jeffrey Lyles – on “Baby Driver,” “The Big Sick,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Christopher Llewellyn Reed, “Reel Talk” host, w/ Jeffrey Lyles, publisher of website Lyles Movie Files

Welcome to the sixth and final episode of the 2016-2017 season of Dragon Digital Media‘s Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed. My guest this time was Jeffrey Lyles, former film critic for The Gazette newspapers and now publisher of the website Lyles Movie Files, where he reviews TV shows, action figures, wrestling, and, in his own words, “a little bit of everything else.” We reviewed four new films: Baby DriverThe Big SickSpider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes.

In Howard County, Maryland, you can watch the show on Channel 41 (if you’re a Verizon customer) or Channel 96 (if you’re a Comcast customer), and you can watch it online from anywhere. You can also still catch the firstsecondthirdfourth and fifth episodes of this current season, plus all six from last year (firstsecondthirdfourthfifth and sixth), as well as the six episodes from my first season with Reel Talk (Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6). Enjoy!

The fantastic Dragon Digital Media team did their usual superlative job putting this together, especially producer Karen Vadnais and director Danielle Maloney, as well as floor manager Anthony Hoos. We’ll be back in the fall with a a new season, so stay tuned. Until then, have fun at the movies!

The Bouncy “Baby Driver” Speeds Marvelously Along, Occasionally Slowed by Soggy Sentiment

Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)*

If only the entire movie were as good as its first act, Baby Driver would be a near-masterpiece of dazzling mise-en-scène and editing. Snappy, brisk and wildly inventive in its opening third, the film, from British director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), follows “Baby” (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars), a getaway driver for a bank-robbing team headed by the shadowy Doc (Kevin Spacey, Elvis & Nixon). As two men and one woman make their way inside the target, Baby sits in the front seat, jamming to the tunes on his iPod. Wright cuts each shot to the sharp beats, shifting angles and frame sizes in a dizzying display of filmmaking bravura, subsequently upping the ante even more when the gangsters jump back into the vehicle, prompting one of the best car chases to make it to the screen in years (with more to come). Get ready for a wild ride, the director proclaims in bright, bold letters, and then more than delivers the goods. Later, Wright shows he can handle staging and blocking, as well as editing, when his camera pursues Baby on a single-shot pedestrian coffee run. Is it too much style, in danger of overwhelming the substance? You bet! Is it terrific fun, so you almost don’t care? I’ll see you and raise you another.

Unfortunately, this virtuosity falters midway through, when the script turns maudlin, and for a while we fear that Wright has lost his way. Fortunately, the ending sees him return to form, though the final scenes are still a bit soggy. Joining Elgort and Spacey – both excellent – in the madcap mayhem are Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained), Eiza González (El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series), Jon Hamm (AMC’s Mad Men), and Lily James (Cinderella), among others in a great supporting cast. If you like your adrenaline rush set to a catchy soundtrack (in many ways, the film feels inspired by Wright’s favorite playlist), and don’t mind the messy middle section, then this could be the film for you. Be forewarned, however, that like so many action-oriented films of today (and yesterday, to be fair), the gun violence is extreme, if cartoonish. Only you can be the judge of whether cinematic entertainment justifies the collateral damage … or not. I can guarantee that you won’t need caffeine when you leave the theater, however.

*Adapted from a capsule review I wrote for my post-SXSW coverage at Film Festival Today.