And the quality extended beyond the highbrow. The year’s blockbuster superhero movies, like “Wonder Woman,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” had some life and humor to them. As did original blockbusters, like “Baby Driver,” “Atomic Blonde,” “American Made” and “Girls Trip.”
But, of course, the big question coming into the year was how filmmakers would respond to the election of Donald Trump. And by and large, the results were inspiring and thought-provoking. There was no more perfect movie for this year than Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” with its uncanny mix of horror and comedy, and the way it eviscerated the complicit (white liberals) rather than more obvious targets. But beyond “Get Out,” there were many other powerful meditations on relevant issues, be they class (“The Florida Project,” “Lady Bird”), gender dynamics (“Battle of the Sexes,” “The Beguiled”) or cultural discrimination (“The Big Sick,” “Beatriz at Dinner”).
Better still, though I’m not sure if the numbers bear this out, 2017 felt like a year in which strides were made in the representation of nonwhite and non-male characters. For me, some of the year’s most enduring characters have been “Okja's" young, tenacious Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), “Lady Bird's" loving but exacting mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf), and “Landline's" confused sisters, Dana (Jenny Slate) and Ali (Abbi Quinn); women were allowed to be complicated, were fully rendered, and they kicked ass. What more fitting cinematic avatar for this year than Wonder Woman? Maybe Mildred (Frances McDormand) from “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” or Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) from “Atomic Blonde.”
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