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Movie Review: Top 10 Movies of 2017

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- As 2017 winds down, how about a glance back at the year's best?

Here is one critic's subjective countdown of the best moviegoing experiences of the year, voted on by the full membership of the Academy of Me, Myself, and I.

In ascending order, The Top Ten Movies of 2017:

10. Beauty and the Beast --- To complain that this live-action reimagining is not as entrancing or satisfying as its classic animated precursor is not much of a criticism of this lovingly crafted musical romantic fantasy, another beautiful movie feast.

9. The Big Sick -- The year's most engaging comedy is a fictional account of the interracial romance between Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjani and his eventual wife, Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the funny and poignant screenplay with him after suffering though an induced coma during their unique courtship.

8. Life – Its pretentious but appropriate title notwithstanding, this Alien clone is so well executed, originality just doesn't matter in a truly terrifying, gnawingly claustrophobic, and intensely sober science fiction thriller about an unforgettable space probe from Mars.

7. I, Tonya – Don't be surprised if this dark, disarming docu-mockumentary alters your fundamental perception of infamous Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, 1994's athletic "villain," by chronicling her life and career, including the shocking kneecapping of her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, in a biopic featuring two triple-axel performances, one by Margot Robbie as the title character, the other by Allison Janney as her abusive mother.

6. Coco -- Wildly ambitious, always energetic, often dazzling, and remarkably moving, this instant classic of animation about the importance of family focuses on a Mexican lad, desperate to demonstrate his musical talent and follow his dreams, who travels to the colorful Land of the Dead to live out his destiny.

5. Dunkirk -- Visionary director Christopher Nolan looks back at World War II and conjures an experimental, experiential, immersive survival saga about
a pivotal military occurrence that took place before the U.S. entered the war, an astonishing rescue operation that serves as a master class in visual storytelling.

4. The Post -- With director Steven Spielberg at the helm, Meryl Streep portraying Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, and Tom Hanks as executive editor Ben Bradlee, this is the gifted triumvirate's rejoinder to the current administration, a compelling tribute to the importance of freedom of the press in a newspaper melodrama about the 1971 publishing of the Pentagon Papers.

3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – With Frances McDormand's consummate lead performance and sterling supporting turns from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell leading the way, the year's best-acted movie, boasting writer-director Martin McDonagh's razor-sharp dialogue and richly drawn characters, is a darkly funny small-town drama about grief, rage, prejudice, justice, and redemption.

2. The Shape of Water – Sally Hawkins is brilliant as a mute cleaning woman for visual stylist Guillermo del Toro in this interspecies romance in which she falls for an amphibious creature being held at a government aerospace facility during the Cold War. A shapely and entrancing fairytale about passion and tolerance.

1. War for the Planet of the Apes -- I know, I know: it's a – gasp – sequel. No matter. This riveting explosion of escapism about ape-ism is the year's best parade of convincing illusions and the crowded franchise's crowning achievement, with casually spectacular special effects that admirably serve rather than bury a scintillating simian sci-fi epic about gorilla warfare.

Now bring on 2018.

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