Best Movies Of 2017: 'Carrie Pilby', 'The Duelist', 'Sword Master' & More

2017 was a complicated year for movies, many were good, and some were great. Listed below are 13 films that rose above the rest, earning their spot among 2017’s best. What does it take for a movie to be considered one of the year's “best?” It should never fade from one's memory and fondly cross your mind on a regular basis, after seeing it.

All of these movies achieved that in one way or another. While not all of them were fun to watch, great films do not have to be.

A great movie should challenge and impress with an inventive premise or outstanding performance(s), either behind or in front of the camera, preferably both. When it came to 2017, Eclectic Pop believes no other films did that better than these.

“47 Meters Down”

For a movie that is so heavily reminiscent of other films, namely “The Shallows” and “Submergence,” what makes “47 Meters Down” so searing is that it still plays with unnerving tension. You don’t realize how much the movie has you hooked until its final moments, and when it pulls that hook, it does so without restraint.

“The Hunter’s Prayer”

Few currently-produced action films seem to understand why audiences love the genre. It’s because there is a central protagonist who comes to the rescue of a person in need and kicks significant tail while doing so.



The Hunter’s Prayer” delivers on that premise and then some. An excellent starring vehicle for Sam Worthington, “The Hunter’s Prayer” also gives Odeya Rush the opportunity to prove why she is a rising star to watch.

“Fifty Shades Darker”

Sequels are supposed to improve upon the first film and “Fifty Shades Darker” manages to do that and then some. There is more romance, higher stakes, and a meatier storyline.

Equipped with Dakota Johnson’s underrated performance as the down-to-earth Anastasia, “Fifty Shades” may have been “darker” in its second installment, but that did not stop it from shining brighter.

[Image by Universe Films Distribution]

“Call of Heroes” (original title: “Wei Cheng”)

How do you decide what’s worth fighting for and when to act? “Call of Heroes” grapples with these issues, among other philosophical debates and it does so amidst a bold and action-packed storyline that’s not afraid to go to dark places. Being a hero is never easy, and director Benny Chan’s marvelous film points that out with seamless fight choreography and engaging action sequences.

"Berlin Syndrome”

There’s nothing scarier than facing betrayal. As Teresa Palmer’s headstrong character Clare learns in “Berlin Syndrome,” it can be deadly. Director Cate Shortland’s slow-boiler thriller risks turning off its audience with its leisurely opening-pace, but if you stick with it, you will get the chance to behold something genuinely remarkable.

“Berlin Syndrome” is a dark film that explores a real-life scenario from soul-shattering proximity. Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt give profoundly affecting portrayals of their respective characters, and their commitment brings the movie to a level it may have never reached -- a level of horrifying reality.

“Security”

While the premise of “Security” is ambitious in its realism, it is executed in a fun fashion that allows the movie to breathe with abundant verve. Backed by an excellent performance from Antonio Banderas, whose presence on-screen is always a welcome sight, “Security” easily secures its spot as one of 2017’s best.

[Image by Netflix]

“Our Souls at Night”

Robert Redford and Jane Fonda star in this poignant romance about a widower and widow, who forge an unexpected connection with each other that builds towards a second chance at love. If only her son (Matthias Schoenaerts) could get behind them.

In a story that proves how much the past can still impact the present, the cast steps right into the skin of characters, viewers have to believe co-existed long before the camera started rolling, and they succeed. While the ending is unexpected, there is an air of hopefulness to it that helps soften the blow. Directed with tremendous character and delicate nuance by Ritesh Batra, “Our Souls at Night” is delightfully fulfilling.

“Before I Fall”

Time loop movies are practically a genre at this point, so what does “Before I Fall” have to say that hasn’t already been said many times before? As it turns out, the answer is a lot.

Actress Zoey Deutch gives a superb performance as the trapped-in-time Samantha, and it is a turn that only bolsters her status as a rising star to be on the lookout for in coming years. “Before I Fall” is eloquently crafted and the ending will undoubtedly leave you with much to debate, and that’s what daring conclusions do.

“Underworld: Blood Wars”

Proving the “Underworld” series still has legs, the fifth (yes, fifth) installment in the franchise came roaring back with another quality sequel in 2017. Making five films in a series is an accomplishment, in and of itself.

What makes that achievement all the more awesome is that “Blood Wars” is an outrageously entertaining film that features a savvy storyline, riveting action, and gripping visuals. “Underworld” is one of the few franchises that knows what it is, and what it’s about, without ever making apologies for it, and it has never worn its identity so well.

[Image by Lionsgate]

“Wonder”

Proving his star-making turn in “Room” was not a one-time thing, Jacob Tremblay gives a wonderful and wide-ranging performance as Auggie, a young boy with facial differences. Surrounded by a strong ensemble, actress Izabela Vidovic also impresses with a heartrending and complex performance as Auggie’s sister Via. While Owen Wilson earns appreciation for his understated and lovely turn as Auggie and Via's upbeat dad.

“Wonder” should move those who see it to tears more than a few times. It is a testament to the film that it is so incredibly moving, without broadcasting any tear-inducing intentions. It’s a poignant portrait of life and the painful and joyous experiences that make it such an emotional ride.

More movies need to be made in the vein of “Wonder.” It offers an inspiring glimpse that could change hearts and the even more difficult obstacle -- minds.

“Carrie Pilby”

Funny, sweet, thought-provoking, and earnest, “Carrie Pilby” is a comedy with heart and soul. Super-charged by a fabulous lead performance from Bel Powley, “Carrie Pilby” gives you a lot to think about as its lively protagonist attempts to navigate a world mired in people’s weak excuses for bad behavior.

Carrie is a fun character whose observations make the film and its story work. Movies often rise and fall on the interest-level of its lead and “Carrie Pilby” is a prime example of how far a film can soar when they are so well-crafted and performed.

[Image by Bona Film Group]

“Sword Master”

A dazzling ensemble brings this epic tale to life in utterly captivating style. “Sword Master,” tells a compelling and sprawling story that explores lessons that revolve around life, love, romance, truth, honor, and betrayal. 

No stone is left unturned as “Sword Master” pierces its way through the heart of many, philosophical ruminations. A movie that contains all the crucial ingredients for greatness, “Sword Master” proves it is a master drama.

“The Duelist” (original title: "Duelyan")

Who is "The Duelist?" That is the central mystery at the core of this arresting drama, as it unravels its thorny puzzle with pulsating action and character-driven intrigue.

“The Duelist” follows a hired gun by the name of Yakovlev (Pyotr Fyodorov). As a professional duelist, he stands in for wary aristocrats, who need a better shot at survival than their own skills provide. Little do they know; their agenda is not the only thing he’s working for.

What transpires after this reveal is a trail of revelations that weave an unforgettable tale of love, loss, honor, and revenge. Who are the bad guys and who are the good? “The Duelist” lets you wonder, and it’s worth the wait for answers.

Pyotr Fyodorov’s electrifying lead performance charges the film with a take-no-prisoners abandon that easily makes his, the most striking turn of the year. Keeping viewers guessing as to Yakovlev’s real motives and the heart behind them, Fyodorov gives you subtle hints, without ever showing Yakovlev's cards, making his enigmatic performance all the more impressive.

Armed with Aleksey Mizgirev's phenomenally finessed direction, no other film released in 2017 was as memorable as “The Duelist,” and that’s why it was one of the best.

[Featured Image by The Orchard/ Columbia Pictures / Bona Film Group]

Note: Foreign films released in their native country in 2016 and made available in the U.S. during the 2017 calendar year qualified. Likewise, U.S. films that received a limited release in 2016, and had their wide release in 2017 via streaming or DVD release, qualified for 2017 consideration.

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