Christmas songs aren't the only sound filling the air lately — that low buzzing noise from every corner of the internet signals that other Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, the release of every best, Oscar-Worthiest, weirdest and most-overlooked film list of 2017. It's unlikely that you need a guide to the big-budget tentpole movies of the year, since either you've seen all those already in theaters, or at the very least, you've probably skated by having just seen their trailers over and over. But for the films you might've heard about and meant to check out and didn't, we've got you covered with this list of the 23 2017 movies you missed you need to watch ASAP.
Consider it a handy cheat-sheet for prioritizing movies that will generate the most interesting discussions. That includes underseen Oscar-bait that could use a boost, mid-budget genre films that might've flown under the radar, and some which picked up steam in the press, but that you might have missed in theaters. The one thing all these films have in common is something irresistibly compelling to talk about, so you'll be totally set for conversation at every holiday party and gathering this December without breaking a sweat.
1'I Am Not Your Negro'
Based on writer and social critic James Baldwin's unfinished story, this very personal examination of racism in the United States is compelling, intense, and absolutely required viewing.
M. Night Shyamalan manages a solid Hitchcock-style thriller, scene-chewing and complete lack of psychological understanding and subtlety included. Come for the campy acting, stay for the "twist" that actually got fans of his earlier work excited again.
Though anthology films are usually uneven, this all-female horror triptych pokes into interesting corners of the genre while focusing on the emotional labor of ladies.
This might be the most obvious film on the list, but if you still haven't seen it, now is definitely the time. For those normally horror-shy, no need to fear any monsters or jump scares, just the terrifying idea of being considered less than human by your fellow man.
5'I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore'
An escalating dramedy of confrontation and privilege, neighbors Ruth and Tony set off to figure out who exactly stole her stuff. Their vigilantism yields some results, but Ruth's insistence on the morality of the situation leads them down an increasingly dark path.
Parisian activism in the AIDS era that somehow manages to be true to the times, small-scale personal, and still capture the overall difficulties of collective engagement. For a film about people staring death and pandemic in the face, it's the most alive you'll feel watching history.
A horror film about a vegetarian veterinarian forced to eat meat in a hazing ritual who finds... she has a taste for it. True gore fans won't be disappointed, nor will those looking for a deeper examination of sisterly dynamics.
The sequel that took 20 years and was worth the wait, T2 is a meta-look at the realities of aging out of your old scene, in every sense of the idea.
9'John Wick: Chapter 2'
The first John Wick showed why those who perform the stunts should get behind the pen and camera for action movies. Keanu Reeves' performance lended depth to a fun action movie, and the sequel gives him more room to deepen Wick's character as he becomes a hunted man with nowhere to hide.
10'My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea'
This animated feature from comic artist Dash Shaw somehow meshes the actual emotions of being in high school with action-movie logic to create a surreal gem. With a stellar voice cast and Shaw's bright, bold visuals, this is one to catch up on.
11'It Comes At Night'
A terrifying horror film hinged more on what's not seen. It also explores the paranoia and personality conflicts that lie at the heart of most terrifying experiences, even without a potential monster outside the room.
Cross Studio Ghibli with PETA propaganda, and you start to get at Okja. The film is controversial, to say the least, but all can agree that it effectively protests inhumane and harmful practices against animals.
Sofia Coppola strikes again with an all-star cast, this time set in the Civil War. You could cut the claustrophobic repression and tension with a knife, though there's other things getting sliced in this tale of a wounded soldier amid an all-girls' boarding school.
14'Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets'
Possibly one of the most expensive independent films ever made, this love letter from Luc Besson to France's most beloved and longest-running comic series is an absolute delight. An over-the-top, put your brain on a shelf colorful romp where the men are charming jerks and the women are way, way too good for them.
Robert Pattinson has been rightly praised for his performance in this kinetic NYC heist film, but everyone does an outstanding job of keeping up the tone and pace in this twitchy film.
Raunchy comedies don't usually top critics' lists, but that doesn't mean they're not worthy of praise. With an all-star cast and breakout performance by Tiffany Haddish, this story of getting the girls back together for one last fling will have you howling.
17'The Lost City Of Z'
A flawed but gorgeous film about male ego and empirical attitudes, this based-on-a-true-story epic is worth seeing for the jungle photography alone.
18'Ingrid Goes West'
A darkly comedic examination of persona and mental illness in the age of social media. Aubrey Plaza goes all-in on this examination of presented images versus actual human loneliness and connection.
A compelling character study of a young man in turmoil, Beach Rats is a dreamy look at his life in flux.
20'Professor Marston And The Wonder Women'
Sure, it's a Very Serious Drama going for Oscar gold, but it's also the rare period drama that doesn't treat polyamory or kink like a freakshow, and the rare movie, period, directed by a woman.
21'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'
From the director of The Lobster, this equally opaque tale of revenge is rooted in ancient myth, but brought into present-day.
22'Call Me By Your Name'
Everyone's been talking about this lush, erotic coming-of-age tale, and not just because of the two handsome leads. The sensitive, emotional rapport between them feels real, and the emotional coup-de-grace at the end has left many reaching for their hankies.
23'The Shape Of Water'
Despite not even coming out until December, the latest from Guillermo del Toro has had people talking for months. His fairytale take on the Creature From The Black Lagoon has gotten rave reviews from the few who have seen it, so get ready to jump on this one soon as it hits theaters.
After watching the films on this list, you'll be ready to confidently step into any holiday gathering and hold your own in conversation. At least until New Year's, when everyone will be back on the same page — until then, happy holidays.