QUEST’s Favorite Films of 2017

For anyone who loves cinema, now is the best time to take a trip to the movie theater. From November through the end of the year, studios release their best films of the year in anticipation of cold weather, the holiday season, and The Oscars. This year, some of my favorite films were Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Call Me By Your Name, and The Post. However, I wanted to hear what QUEST alumni and staff thought were the best films they saw this year. Additionally, I offer a few challenges this year for the ultimate movie buffs.

Rachel George (Q21): Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances McDormand blew me away in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Her character is at the same time one of the harshest and fiercely caring people I’ve seen with a strong internal compass that she trusts to guide her decisions (even if we don’t always trust it). Over the course of the movie, she shows that you can care for a town and the people in it, even while you hold them accountable to justice.

Nicole Blahut (Q20): The Shape of Water

Because of my recent investment in Movie Pass, a subscription based theater service, I decided to go see The Shape of Water, a film I might not have otherwise seen. The film, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, managed to simultaneously feel familiar and new by placing a unique spin on a whimsical fairy-tale. I highly recommend seeing the movie even if you might not be initially interested in seeing a love story between a woman and a sea monster.

Jessica Macklin (Quality Guild): I, Tonya 

The cinematography of I, Tonya was super impressive, and Allison Janney is an incredible actress (as always). It was also interesting to learn about such a crazy scandal that actually took place when I was very young, but I knew nothing about.

Russell Ottalini (Quality Guild): Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour was one of my top films from 2017. I really enjoyed Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill and the film’s excellent artistic direction. The atmosphere of suspense was also expertly crafted, especially since its audience presumably knows the conclusion to the story.

Meenu Singh (Q19): Get Out

Get out is an entrancing, complex film that defies so many of the tired tropes in the horror genre. My friends and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night discussing the movie after watching. I also love how many “Easter eggs” Jordan Peele wove in!

Danny Laurence (Q19): Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi

The original trilogy of Star Wars was just about my favorite series of movies growing up. The universe has this high fantasy vibe shrouded in sci-fi, and I think the latest entry brought out a side of the universe that hasn’t been explored on screen – the idea that good and bad aren’t black and white, that power is power, and how we choose to use it defines us. It’s definitely a departure from previous movies, and while some of the criticisms are valid, it was definitely one of my favorites from the year.

Jason Ho (Q24): Arrival

I watched the movie Arrival and must say it was not what I expected. Having watched the trailer beforehand, I thought it was going to be a movie that led to some epic showdown between aliens and humans. Not saying that it doesn’t happen (no spoilers here) but the movie artfully combined an underlying commentary with awesome scenery and a very fitting ominous soundtrack. It’s worth a watch if you appreciate deep analytical movies.


I was a fan of all the movies listed above and want to offer a few challenges for those really trying to embrace the cinema of 2017.

  1. The Stuhlbarg Challenge

Michael Stewart Stuhlbarg is a tour de force in 2017 with major roles in The Post (Abe Rosenthal), The Shape of Water (Dr. Robert Hoffstetler), and Call Me by Your Name (Mr. Perlman). He is the sixth actor to appear in three Best Picture nominees in the same year! See if you can watch all three films and join the Stulbandwagon™.

  1. The Great Moment in History Challenge

The Battle of Dunkirk was a pivotal moment in World War II. This year, two Best Picture nominees cover the film from the sea, sky, and bunker— Darkest Hour and Dunkirk. Watch both films in an evening and take a deep dive into the history books.

  1. The Future is Female Challenge

Women account for 13% of directors in Hollywood, which is why when any female director is nominated for an Oscar it requires particular note (5 nominated in 90 years). Greta Gerwig was nominated this year for Ladybird. Additionally, watch one of these other three films with powerful female leads—Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Post, Wonder Woman.

Special thanks to all the QUEST alumni and faculty who participated in this article. I hope this piece was helpful when deciding which films to see this weekend. Enjoy the movie magic!

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