When it came to movies, studios gave us a little bit of everything this year, including new and old superhero legends, historical biographies, terrifying thrillers, raucous comedies and some pretty sensational box office flops. As 2017 draws to a close, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the films we couldn't stop talking about… starting with one we spent half the year anxiously anticipating, "Thor: Ragnarok." Thankfully, this flick did not disappoint. Starring Chris Hemsworth as our beloved Thor with Mark Ruffalo reprising his role as the Hulk and Cate Blanchett debuting as Hela, the goddess of death, the movie is a nonstop adventure that has already proven to be a contender for top-grossing film of the year. In its first 10 days, it pulled in more than $650 million worldwide and is still going strong (just like Thor). Keep reading to see the rest of the films that made our list…
This dark psychological thriller about a man with 23 different personalities (played by Scottish actor James McAvoy) who kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them away in his fortress had us double-checking all our locks. "Split" hit theaters in January and reached No. 1 during its opening weekend. With a production budget of only $9 million, its worldwide gross of more than $278 million means this movie was clearly a winner.
This female-led superhero story went on to become one of the most successful films of the year, proving women really can do it all. "Wonder Woman" follows the story of Diana of Themyscira (played by Gal Gadot), a warrior princess who leaves her hidden island home to help a pilot (played by Chris Pine) take down an evil villain with the means to destroy the world. The movie was so wildly popular, it raked in nearly $413 million in the U.S. alone and has already earned itself a sequel that's in the works for 2019.
"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
If polls are to be believed, then just about everyone alive wants to see the sci-fi adventure "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" when it hits theaters on Dec. 15. Starring John Boyega (pictured) as well as Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and even the beloved Carrie Fisher (who completed filming before her tragic passing in 2016), the movie explores secrets of the Jedi in an intergalactic adventure we can't wait to enjoy. (There are also reportedly cameos from Tom Hardy, Prince William and Prince Harry, who are said to play Stormtroopers).
"John Wick: Chapter 2"
Keanu Reeves was back, kicking a– and taking names as the title character in the action-packed crime thriller "John Wick: Chapter 2." In this blood and bullet-heavy sequel, John was forced to face the greed of hitmen around the world as they vied for a chance to take his life and collect the bounty placed on his head. Audiences who ate up every dramatic second of the movie will be happy to learn there's a third installment planned for 2019.
"Fifty Shades Darker"
"Fifty Shades Darker" gave us more Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan), more Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and more hot-and-heavy S&M. The sequel followed the couple as they rekindled their romance, but this time, it was on Anastasia's terms. The seductive film got low marks from film critics and audiences but still managed to bring in $380 million, proving viewers might be able to overlook a poorly developed storyline in favor of steamy on-screen action.
"The LEGO Batman Movie"
Laugh all you want but "The LEGO Batman Movie," which featured Will Arnett as the voice of Batman (aka Bruce Wayne), was the No. 1 movie on its opening weekend in February. The kid-friendly comedy — which was full of jokes for adults too — also had international appeal: It raked in more than $311 million worldwide.
Jordan Peele (from the comedy sketch series "Key and Peele") wrote and directed the psychological thriller "Get Out" starring Daniel Kaluuya. At its core, the movie is about racial tension between whites and African Americans, taken to a terrifying level. When a young man named Chris (played by Daniel) goes to meet the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose (played by Allison Williams), all is not as it seems and soon Chris finds himself fighting to keep his sanity and stay alive.
"Murder on the Orient Express"
Another film we've been hearing so much about that finally reached theaters is "Murder on the Orient Express" — a reboot of the 1974 original based on the novel by Agatha Christie. This time around, the dramatic crime mystery stars a bounty of Hollywood heavy hitters including Michelle Pfeiffer (seen here), Kenneth Branagh (who also directed), Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley and more. The story is about a group of 13 train passengers caught in a classic "who done it" as a hidden murderer strikes and one man races to identify the culprit. While audiences have mixed feelings about the movie, it's slowly picking up steam and might just be a surprise end-of-the-year hit.
"Kong: Skull Island"
In March, audiences got a totally new look at one of their favorite scary monsters with "Kong: Skull Island" starring John Goodman (shown) as well as Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson. The movie offered a fresh take on King Kong, following a crew of scientists and explorers as they journeyed to an uncharted island in the Pacific where they met terrifying and beautiful creatures unlike anything they'd seen before. Although the movie wasn't a huge cash cow, audiences overwhelmingly loved the re-imagined take on a classic.
"The Big Sick"
There was so much to love about the unexpectedly emotional indie rom-com "The Big Sick." The film — which is actually based on the true love story of star Kumail Nanjiani (seen here with co-star Ray Romano) and his wife, Emily V. Gordon — is more than a love story between two people from different cultures. It's also a tale of how nearly losing someone can bring our relationships into clearer focus. The movie was a surprise summer hit, bringing in more than $53 million in sales worldwide. Due to its modest $5 million budget, the flick's success made it the highest grossing independent film of the year.
"Beauty and the Beast"
The classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" was given new life with stars Emma Watson as the lovely and brilliant Belle and Dan Stevens as the cursed and cranky prince who's forced to live out his days as a beast. When the Beast forces Belle to live in his castle, both come to learn that the power of love is a force stronger than they ever imagined. The movie was a win with both audiences and critics. It has been declared the biggest box office success of the year, raking in an unbelievable $1.2 billion. That's right folks, we said billion.
The sci-fi drama "Logan" starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Dr. Charles Xavier was, for many, a heartbreaking finale to an "X-Men" legacy that began in 2000. In the film, Logan's lost his way and only lives to get through the day (while making sure Dr. X is kept safe from prying eyes). Everything changes when Logan learns a little girl who has powers similar to his own is actually his daughter. Obviously, the "X-Men" fan base is still there as the movie brought in more than $616 million at the box office.
Even a gripping storyline and the enigmatic star power of someone like Jennifer Lawrence couldn't save the psychological thriller "Mother!" from dying a painful box-office death. The Darren Aronofsky-directed movie starred J.Law (his real-life girlfriend) and Javier Bardem as a reclusive couple whose quiet existence is disrupted by uninvited guests. It received mixed reviews (though some declared the film a surprising and shocking masterpiece) and failed to catch on with audiences. It only pulled in $44 million in worldwide sales yet cost $30 million to make, qualifying it as another great film flop of 2017.
Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein star in the indie comedy "Lady Bird," which opened on Nov. 3 and managed to shatter records in its first weekend of release. The film — about a teenage girl named Lady Bird (played by Saoirse) whose complicated relationship with her semi-neurotic mother (played by Laurie Metcalf) adds to her confusion about her future — also earned major critical acclaim. Although it only opened in four theaters, it managed to pull in more than $375,000 that first weekend, making it the No. 1 specialty release film of the year. In the following few weeks, it managed to pull in nearly $5 million — and was on track for more — meaning director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig has something big to smile about.
"Smurfs: The Lost Village"
The animated adventure "Smurfs: The Lost Village" took audiences on a journey of discovery when Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) discovered a map leading to a rumored hidden tribe of Smurfs and convinced her friends to join her on an expedition. They're up against the ravages of nature as well as the evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson), whose only mission in life is to destroy them. Unfortunately, audiences weren't singing the film's praises and it flopped in theaters.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"
Johnny Depp returned as the scheming Captain Jack Sparrow in the sequel "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." When his oldest (and deadest) enemy, Captain Salazar, finds a way out of the Devil's Triangle, he leads his band of ghost pirates to seek vengeance against his rivals (and Jack just happens to be at the top of his list). Fans are clearly not tired of this favored film franchise as sales topped nearly $795 million — which more than covered the hefty $230 million production price tag.
"The Fate of the Furious"
Our favorite band of high-speed thieves were back in "The Fate of the Furious." The action-packed crime drama took audiences down a different but thrilling road when Dom (played by Vin Diesel) joined forces with a high-tech criminal (played by Charlize Theron) who convinced him to turn his back on the family he fought so hard to protect. Starring Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Scott Eastwood, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez (seen here), the film was a nominal success with U.S. audiences but failed to recoup its costly $250 million production budget. However, international fans ate it up — bringing in an additional $1 billion in sales.
Former One Direction singer Harry Styles (seen here), Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh starred in the epic, true war story "Dunkirk," which tells the tale of 400,000 allied soldiers who were trapped in France by the Germans and the battle that ensued to free them. The heart-stopping drama was a surprise summer hit that gave audiences non-stop action, an important lesson in history and the chance to see Harry in his big-screen debut.
"Ghost in the Shell"
In "Ghost in the Shell," Scarlett Johansson played Major Kusanagi, a woman who survived a near-fatal plane crash only to wake up with new robotic abilities. Her healers endow her with a mission to use her second lease on life to save the city from evil terrorists. However, while fighting against her enemies, she discovers her human life might have actually been stolen by the ones who claimed to have saved her in a deceptive plot to take over the world. Sadly, a beautiful lead actress and futuristic sci-fi storyline weren't enough to create film gold. The movie scored low with critics and audiences, who just didn't turn up.
"The Lost City of Z"
"The Lost City of Z" is the unbelievable true story of Percy Fawcett (played by Charlie Hunnam), a British Army major and explorer who believes a lost civilization exists deep in the Amazon and later journeys through the jungle to find it. However good the story was — and even though it co-starred Robert Pattinson — audiences just didn't respond favorably. The movie was only released in select theaters and suffered from minimal marketing, causing it to flop at the box office. A true shame when critics and those who actually saw the film can attest to its greatness.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"
Everyone's favorite ragtag band of interstellar heroes returned in the hilarious sequel "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." The alien crew, played by Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper, faced all-new villains (while also making new friends) but ultimately discovered that some of their foes were closer to home than they realized. Fans were clearly in the mood for a space adventure because the film grossed an impressive $863.5 million worldwide.
"King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"
Charlie Hunnam starred in yet another box office flop on our list, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword." The action-packed historical drama based on the fable of the enchanted sword of Excalibur (and a son's mission to seek revenge against the man who killed his father) wasn't enough to lure audiences to theaters. The film, directed by Guy Ritchie, ultimately lost nearly $27 million and earned a sad 29 percent fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
While "Baywatch" had all the elements of a box-office hit — Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron sans shirts, beautiful people, a fun storyline based on a hit TV series and a strong cast of comedic actors — it failed to recoup its production costs in domestic sales, qualifying it as an official beached whale in 2017. Maybe audiences are becoming more jaded or our collective sense of humor no longer gets triggered by juvenile comedy because the film was widely panned by film critics and suffered poor sales at the box office.
The success of the animated adventure "Cars 3" proves that in 2017, family movies rule. When Lightning McQueen is pushed out of racing by younger, faster cars, he has to find a way to prove he's still got what it takes to be No. 1. The film, which features the voices of Kerry Washington as Natalie Certain (seen here) and Owen Wilson as Lightning, only received so-so ratings from critics and viewers, but still performed well at the box office.
If movie trends could predict future film success stories, then "Rough Night" starring Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon should have been a hit. It was, after all, a female-led version of box office winner "The Hangover." Sadly, the story of former college BFFs meeting up for a wild bachelorette weekend didn't appeal to audiences and only earned a meager $22 million in the U.S.
Charlize Theron made us sweat as an M16 agent sent to Berlin in the '80s to retrieve a dossier that holds the names of double agents. The action-packed thriller co-starred James McAvoy and Sofia Boutella (both stars of other films on our list) and had some of the best spy-on-spy fight scenes of the year. While it didn't totally tank at the box office, the movie also wasn't a big draw for audiences amid all the other summer hits and only managed to get mediocre reviews from critics. Still, there was nothing more enjoyable this summer than watching Charlize turn her red stiletto into a weapon of certain death.
"47 Meters Down"
When some female-led films flop at the box-office, it's easy for critics to assume that audiences just aren't interested in movies without male stars. Thankfully, that theory was proven false by the surprising success of the low-budget summer hit "47 Meters Down" starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt. It turns out exploiting our deepest fears of being trapped in the ocean with dangerous great white sharks is a recipe for a sure-fire hit, as the movie far outperformed both critics' and studio executives' early expectations.
"A Bad Moms Christmas"
The first one was great, so we really wanted the sequel, "A Bad Moms Christmas," to be a winner too. But while we loved the premise — a group of self-proclaimed underachieving "bad moms" (played by Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn) are interrupted by their own dysfunctional mothers, who drop in for a surprise holiday visit — it wasn't enough to get us to the theaters in droves.
"Transformers: The Last Knight"
Sometimes, a franchise just doesn't know when to quit. That might be a good thing for "Transformers: The Last Night," which was considered a flop in the U.S. but raked in the sales overseas. We loved watching the drama unfold between the Autobots and the Decepticons and especially enjoyed learning the Transformers' amazing origin story (delivered by legendary actor Anthony Hopkins, no less).
The 2017 remake of "The Beguiled" boasted an all-star cast including Kirsten Dunst (seen here), Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell, but that wasn't enough to give it wings. The movie, which tells the story of an injured Union soldier who finds sanctuary in a Confederate-supporting all-girls school, is a painfully slow-burning drama that got rave reviews at film festivals (like Cannes) but didn't prove to be a hit with audiences.
"Battle of the Sexes"
Emma Stone and Steve Carell starred in the biographical dramedy "Battle of the Sexes," a true story about the sensationalized tennis match between champion players Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in 1973. The film enjoyed mostly positive critical reviews even if it didn't perform well at the box office.
Sure, the title "Baby Driver" made it sound like an animated kids' film, but this high-speed crime drama was definitely not for kids. Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzales and Jon Hamm, the movie was an action-packed tale of a young getaway driver who finds himself on the wrong end of a former criminal associate's rage. Audiences buckled up and enjoyed the ride, giving it an impressive 87 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Call Me By Your Name"
There's been buzz about the indie romantic drama "Call Me By Your Name," starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, for months now, and we should all be paying attention. The film, which comes out Nov. 24, is a rapturous look at first love, youth and self-identity involving a teenager named Elio (played by Timothée) and the graduate student who captures his heart, Oliver (played by Armie) — and it's all set in Italy in the early '80s. We're excited to see love explored in a way that's often ignored, giving representation to people of different sexual orientations who are traditionally kept out of the fold.
"Despicable Me 3"
The hilarious animated adventure "Despicable Me 3" gave us more Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) but times two. That's right, Gru finds out he's got a much more handsome (and annoyingly happy) twin named Dru, which leads our favorite villain back down the road to ultimate evil. What's interesting about the film is that it performed significantly lower in domestic sales than "Despicable Me 2" (over $100 million less) but it outperformed both the original film and part two in global sales, breaking the $1 billion mark.
One thing has proven to be abundantly true when it comes to Peter Parker: Audiences cannot get enough of him. The 2017 reboot "Spider-Man: Homecoming" starred Tom Holland as our beloved superhero. The story picks up as Spidey's returning home from fighting with the Avengers and has to readjust to life as a normal high school kid (who happens to fight evil after class). The exciting film already has a sequel in the works for 2019.
Unfortunately, "The Mummy" starring Tom Cruise didn't make it on our list because we loved it. We were obsessed because it was one of the biggest box-office flops of the year. The film performed poorly after an initially strong opening weekend (likely due to it not being as good as the marketing that hyped it up). The movie, about an ancient evil that's unleashed from a hidden pyramid chamber in Egypt, had strange moments of awkward humor and just wasn't able to entrance audiences.
"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets"
Cara Delevingne starred as Sergeant Laureline — one half of a team sent to protect their interstellar home (and the universe) from a deadly invader — in the fantasy adventure "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." Unfortunately, the movie bombed in U.S. theaters, with one critic calling it "dead on arrival."
The film adaptation of "It" — based on the novel by horror master Stephen King — was a scary movie done right. The film took audiences back to Derry, Maine, where a group of kids determined to uncover the mystery behind so many missing children ends up facing a brutal supernatural clown known as Pennywise (bone-chillingly played by Bill Skarsgard). The production costs were low (coming in at only $35 million) and ticket sales were high (nearly $683 million) meaning this was a huge success.
"A Dog's Purpose"
Sometimes, we just want a movie that makes us feel good and "A Dog's Purpose" definitely hit our sweet spot. The unconventional story follows a sweet dog named Bailey who, through multiple lifetimes with a wide array of human friends, discovers that home was wherever he was most loved. The movie, which starred Bryce Gheisar (pictured), Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad (as Bailey), was a surprise success, proving audiences really dig heartwarming tales.
Sometimes, truly great movies don't get their time in the sun. Such was the case for "Detroit" starring John Boyega, which told the tale of the horrific Algiers motel murders of three African-American men during one of the biggest race riots in the country in 1967. While critics and audiences gave the film rave reviews, it underperformed in theaters and wound up losing more than $17 million, making it a flop despite its powerful storyline.
"War for the Planet of the Apes"
In this dramatic sequel in the trilogy of man-versus-ape films, Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) is drawn into a vicious battle against humans after soldiers kill his family. While the film didn't perform as well as its 2014 predecessor, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," it did receive strong reviews due to its gripping storyline and beautiful visuals.
"The Dark Tower"
While one Stephen King adaptation scored big in theaters, another had a far worse fate. Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba led the cast in the fantasy drama "The Dark Tower" — but even their star power wasn't enough to save the film about two men battling over the fate of the universe. The movie was widely dogged by critics, which gave it a depressing 16 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The world needs more female-centric movies featuring women of color and we got exactly that with the comedy "Girls Trip" starring Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall. The film follows four lifelong friends as they hit up New Orleans on a trip to rekindle their relationships while getting themselves into all kinds of hilarious trouble. While it received mixed reviews from critics (some called it "charming" while others called it "sleazy"), audiences clearly loved it, giving the film an 81 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"The Great Wall"
The fantasy adventure "The Great Wall" starred Matt Damon as a mercenary traveling with his partner (played by Pedro Pascal) through China in search of gunpowder. Initially imprisoned by the Chinese imperial court, the men later learn that the Great Wall wasn't just built for show, but as a defense mechanism against terrifying beasts that feed on humans. The movie wasn't a slam-dunk for Matt, with audiences and critics giving it (mostly) two thumbs down.
"The Hitman's Bodyguard"
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson headlined the violent comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard" in August, and we couldn't stop laughing. When the world's top bodyguard is hired to protect the hitman who cost him his reputation, things get more than a little awkward. The film suffered poor ratings but no one could deny the comedic power of Ryan and Samuel's on-screen banter. While it wasn't one of the biggest successes of the year, it was really funny and worth the watch.
"Kingsman: The Golden Circle"
Taron Egerton (pictured) headlined the spy comedy sequel "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" (which also starred Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore and Colin Firth). When a criminal mastermind (played by Julianne) who oversees a large-scale illicit drug operation deep in the Amazon has designs on taking over the world, it's up to the remaining members of Kingsman to stop her. The film was given a lukewarm reception and ultimately remained in the shadows of more successful films (like "It").
"Blade Runner 2049"
In October, we got a movie 35 years in the making. Ryan Gosling headlined the futuristic assassin saga in "Blade Runner 2049" — a sequel to the 1982 original starring Harrison Ford. As would be expected, the movie was all kinds of awesome, leading audiences on a hunt for the truth when K (that's Ryan's character) uncovers a secret involving Rick Deckard (Harrison) that could be the undoing of everything they know. There were plenty of hard-hitting fight scenes too, plus we loved getting to see our boy Harrison reprising his role.
"The Florida Project"
If you haven't yet heard of "The Florida Project," allow us to introduce you. The film stars Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince as a mother and daughter living together on the fringes of total desperation in a motel on the outskirts of Disney World. As the daughter explores her surroundings and gets into endless amounts of mischief, her mother struggles to provide for them both, turning to stripping and other enterprises to make ends meet. The movie also stars Willem Dafoe as the stern but compassionate motel caretaker. It's easily one of the best things we've seen all year.
The latest installment in DC Comics' superhero franchise, "Justice League" (starring Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa), is finally here. Superman is dead (or is he?) when Batman realizes an imminent threat to humanity is coming to Earth, so he turns to Wonder Woman to help him assemble a team of heroes with unique talents — enter Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg — to help him save the world. Though critics struggled to like it, early audiences enjoyed this adrenaline-pumping adventure. (And now that we've seen Aquaman in action, we can't wait to see Jason headline his own adventure flick in 2018!)