2017 has been a year that has been lacking laughs in terms of mainstream news. The world is divided politically, monsters in powerful places – and our heroes alike – have been revealed as sex offenders, and many talented people have left us. In short, it’s all been a bit depressing. Thankfully, the movies have been there to keep our spirits high and have given us something to laugh about.
In a year of brilliant cinema – Oscar season will be a doozy this year – the comedy genre has stood out for its consistency, quality and, importantly, it’s freshness. From the beginning of the year to the end, from America to overseas, the genre has had an impressive year despite such a sad state of affairs everywhere else in the world.
This year, superheroes made us weep with laughter in the most unexpected of ways, TV comedians delivered whip smart, big screen delights, and we were given one of the weirdest and most delightful biopics to grace the screen since Man on the Moon.
Many of the films on this list reflect the current trend in modern day cinema: genre hybridity. Whilst all are hilarious in their own right, they also expand into other genres and thus deliver a diverse emotional impact.
So, it is a year to celebrate cinema and all of the hilarious treasures it has provided this year. And what better way to do it than with a list. That is, after all, what we do best.
Without further ado, here is our top ten comedies of 2017.
10. Logan Lucky
When Steven Soderbergh releases a film the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t “this’ll be hilarious”. Known for his super cool and jazzy thrillers, with extra emphasis on the cool, it came as shock when Soderberg released Logan Lucky. The film still carries many of Soderberg’s trademarks – pacing, crime and eclectic editing – it even has his familiar indie photography but it is in the comedy in which this caper sets itself apart from the pack.
Logan Lucky is hilarious thanks, in large part, to its leads – Adam Driver and Daniel Craig in particular. The film follows two brothers – the dimwitted Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Driver) Logan – who plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway on its biggest day of the year, using the help of the eccentric Joe Bang (Craig). The comedy lies in the inadequacies of, well, everyone. Not so much a “laugh at dumb people film” but more of a “put dumb people in complicated circumstances and watch them implode”. Think Ocean’s 11 meets Raising Arizona.
9. Brigsby Bear
A fish-out-of-water tale with a lot of heart, Brigsby Bear stands as one of the more original films on this list. The film follows James Pope (Kyle Mooney), a man raised underground by a couple that stole him when he was a child. To keep him happy the couple created and shot a fictional show called “Brigsby Bear”, when James discovers the truth it’s oddly the revelation that the show isn’t real that bothers him the most.
Whilst its premise may sound a bit gloomy, the film draws comedy from James’ experience of our idea of reality. Having spent all of his life living underground and becoming obsessed with a made-up show, James’ social skills are lacking to say the least. His obsession with finishing the show – a celebration of creativity and imagination – married with the quirks of James’ peculiar situation helped make the film a sleeper hit this year.
8. Girls Trip
Another surprise hit, Girls Trip is the joyously disastrous depiction of four lifelong friends’ reunion. The film follows Ryan (Regina King), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Dina (Tiffany Haddish), as they attend the annual Essence Music Festival – an event honoring Essence magazine, which celebrates the lives of African American women. What proceeds is a laugh out loud riot of mishaps and shenanigans that hilariously unfold on screen.
A large part of the film’s success lies with its brilliant ensemble cast. The characters bounce off each exceptionally and the chemistry plays realistically, elevating the charm of this gross-out comedy hit. Particularly memorable is the side-splitting performance delivered by Tiffany Haddish, whose Dina provides most the laughs thanks to her utterly outrageous behavior.
7. Lady Bird
Equal amounts drama as it is comedy, Lady Bird still manages to please the funny bone in the most heartwarming of ways. A coming-of-age tale in a similar vein to Edge of Seventeen and Juno, the film follows Christine (Saoirse Ronan), nicknamed “Lady Bird”, as she discovers sex, drifts away from her best friend and suffers through a turbulent relationship with her mother.
The comedy in Lady Bird is smart and nuanced, which comes as little surprise given it was helmed by Greta Gerwig, the pixie dream girl muse of indie-comedy connoisseur, Noah Baumbach. Having spent years learning from Baumbach, Gerwig finally brought her comedy talents to the director’s chair and delivered one of the best comedies – and dramas – of the year. In a year where the works of female filmmakers are finally being celebrated, Gerwig certainly deserves her place amongst the names being honored.
6. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Directed by the ever-reliable Noah Baumbach, Netflix Original The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) follows the misadventures of a dysfunctional New York family who come together to celebrate the career of their artist father (Dustin Hoffman). Baumbach crafts a film that finds the humour in the uniqueness of the individual family members. Each member (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson and Grace Van Patten respectively) is flawed and scarred, or just bizarre, in his or her own way and this makes for delightful viewing.
What makes the film work so well is how these characters play off each other. With every character becoming increasingly exasperated by each other’s individual quirks, the ensuing dysfunction – and inevitable heartwarming finale – plays out wonderfully in what is a hilarious but somewhat true to reality depiction of a modern day family unit. It is also features a genuinely brilliant turn from Sandler, who continues to prove that, when given the right director, he is a capable actor.