The 21 Best Movies of 2017 So Far

If you’re a pirate, a mummy, or a xenomorph, 2017 hasn’t necessarily been the best year for you. But for moviegoers, there’s been a bounty of cinematic riches at the studio and independent level. As we pass 2017’s midpoint, here’s your opportunity to catch up on 21 of the great movies you may have missed from the first half of the calendar year. From underwear-sporting superheroes and obsessed explorers to Amazon warriors and genetically grown giant pigs, there’s truly something for everyone.

21. ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’

Tra-la-la! Cartoonist Dav Pilky’s briefs-wearing superhero leaps off the page into a supremely faithful, and very funny, cartoon adventure. Sadly, general audiences flushed away the good Captain’s chances at box office success. We call “Poopypants” on them. —Ethan Alter (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

20. ‘The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography’

The latest from legendary documentarian Errol Morris is a charming non-fiction feature about the Massachusetts shutterbug, famed for her giant 20×24 Polaroid portraits. It’s a winning character study that doubles as an examination of time, mortality, as well as an artist’s relationship to her work, and the technology used to create it. —Nick Schager (Photo: Neon)

19. ‘The Bad Batch’

Rarely before have we seen a film so simultaneously beautiful and disturbing as Ana Lily Amirpour’s Burning Man-inspired shocker. Set in a dystopian desert prison, The Bad Batch follows a young inmate (Suki Waterhouse) who just barely survives a run-in with cannibals before subsequently falling for one of her captors (Jason Mamoa). Kevin Polowy (Photo: Neon)

18. ‘Band Aid’

It sounds hokey on the surface: A bickering married couple (Zoe Lister-Jones and Adam Pally) resolves their differences by forming a rock group with their weird next door neighbor (Fred Armisen). But Band-Aid is a fresh, funny and brutally honest spin on the rom-com. The music is surprisingly awesome, too. —K.P. (Photo: IFC)

17. ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’

Oz Perkins’s feature directorial debut is a horrorshow of dark, malevolent mystery, charting the increasingly nightmarish predicament faced by both a young girl (Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka) stuck at her boarding school over winter break, and another woman (Emma Roberts) trying to make her way to that educational facility. —N.S. (Photo: A24)

16. ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Disney dusted off that tale as old as time, added some welcome new bits, and delivered a live-action spectacle with a CGI sheen. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens lead an A-list ensemble through the requisite songs (along with a few new ones), showing once again that the Mouse House’s cartoon catalog is ripe for rebooting. —Marcus Errico (Photo: Disney)

15. ‘Beatriz at Dinner’

A Sundance standout, Mike White and Miguel Arteta’s latest collaboration begins as a darkly funny dinner party, before building to a dramatic, and timely, conclusion. As two individuals from vastly different worlds, stars Salma Hayek and John Lithgow expertly navigate a cultural and political divide that resonates strongly in the age of Trump. —E.A.



14. ‘Personal Shopper’

Olivier Assayas’s odd ghost story casts Kristen Stewart as a medium whose day job involves ferrying haute couture to a Paris-based celebrity. As she goes about her business, she’s followed by what may be a paranormal being. If you’re a sucker for absorbing, enigmatic storytelling, add Personal Shopper to your viewing cart. —E.A. (Photo: IFC)

13. ‘The Lost City of Z’

James Gray’s old-school cinematic classicism energizes his biopic about early 20th century British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who embarked on repeated expeditions into the Amazon to find remnants of an ancient civilization. Lush and hypnotic, it’s bolstered by superb supporting turns from Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller. —N.S. (Photo: Amazon)

12. ‘Logan’

Hugh Jackman’s brooding, brutal Wolverine swan song proves to be his most profane — and profound — X-Men installment. Essentially a twisted family-road-trip movie, set in post-apocalyptic America, Logan has a surprising heart under all the bleepin’ and bloody R-rated action. —M.E. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

11. ‘I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore’

Nursing assistant Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is fed up with the meanness of the world, and decides she’ll do whatever it takes to get an apology from the unsavory characters who lifted her grandmother’s silverware. With shades of early Coen brothers, director Macon Blair’s debut film is a dark, funny caper that was a hit at Sundance and deserves more attention than it has gotten on Netflix. —Gwynne Watkins (Photo: Netflix)

10. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

It has been a bumpy few years for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but Homecoming provides the wall-crawler with a grand re-launch into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Spidey, Tom Holland more than lives up to the promise of Civil War, and the high school setting recalls classic ’80s teen movies, as well as vintage issues of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s early Spider-Man run. —E.A. (Photo: Columbia)

9. ‘It Comes at Night’

Something’s lurking in the woods in Trey Edward Shultz’s follow-up to last year’s critical darling Krisha. Although it’s the madness inside the film’s remote-cabin setting — where Joel Edgerton’s family is holed up, alongside a stranger’s clan — that truly leads to terror in this claustrophobic, slow-burn thriller. —N.S. (Photo: A24)

8. ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

Keanu Reeves’s second go-round as stylish assassin John Wick may not boast the same narrative urgency as its 2014 predecessor, but it makes up for that with a bounty of blistering action set-pieces, which involve not only chaotic shootouts and rugged hand-to-hand skirmishes, but also some concussive vehicular mayhem. —N.S. (Photo: Summit)

7. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

A welcome dose of idiosyncrasy in the Marvel universe, James Gunn’s Guardians ensemble is even weirder and more delightful in this second go-round. While the plotting is haphazard, the film’s manic energy, psychedelic space visuals, and plentiful toddler Groot scenes are impossible to resist — not to mention the killer soundtrack. —G.W. (Photo: Marvel)

6. ‘The Beguiled’

Sofia Coppola’s sumptuous Civil War drama focuses on the women left behind — specifically, the teachers and students at a Southern ladies’ school, whose rigid lives are upended by the arrival of a wounded soldier (Colin Farrell). Tense as a drop of sweat waiting to fall, The Beguiled features gorgeous cinematography and some of Nicole Kidman’s career-best furtive glances. —G.W. (Photo: Focus Features)

5. ‘Baby Driver’

Part heist thriller, part love story, part DJ set, Edgar Wright’s first film in four years is blissfully entertaining, enthralling, and aurally pleasing from the first frame to the last. It might be the best thing Wright has done, which is saying a lot considering a little contemporary classic called Shaun of the Dead. —K.P. (Photo: TriStar)

4. ‘Okja’

A true global blockbuster, Bong Joon-ho’s delightful “girl and her giant pig” adventure merrily crosses genres, continents and languages without any barriers to the audience’s enjoyment. It’s also one of the best, and most moving, depictions of interspecies friendship since E.T., with an ending that will hit you right in your glowing heart. —E.A. (Photo: Netflix)

3. ‘Wonder Woman’

In a cinema crowded with superhero origin stories, Patti Jenkins’s blockbuster soared above the pack with its inspiring heroine and dazzling action sequences. Refreshingly uncynical, fun, and romantic, the WWI-set fantasy hinges on a star-making performance from Gal Gadot, who provides a delightful contrast to the dour Batman and emotionally tortured Superman of the DCEU. —G.W. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

2. ‘The Big Sick’

Believe the hype about this indie based on the real-life coupling of stand-up-turned-Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani and his cowriter wife Emily V. Gordon. It’s a crowd-pleasing rom-com with riotous laughs and deep emotional turns in the same vein as Juno or Garden State. Only better. —K.P. (Photo: Lionsgate)

1. ‘Get Out’

Proof that a truly original movie can still move the needle, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was unlike anything else at the movies this year (or any year, really). At once a bone-chilling horror film, an uproarious satire and a devastating commentary on race in America, the story of a young black photographer’s nightmarish visit with his white girlfriend’s family will be remembered as a film that defined this decade. —G.W. (Photo: Universal)

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