In the movie world, 2017 was all about highlighting new perspectives, cinematic innovation, and representations of diverse characters. Though not at all an exhaustive list, here are our picks for 7 of the best films of 2017! (In no particular order.)

1. LADY BIRD

4 Golden Globe nominations, 3 SAG Award nominations, 8 Critics Choice Award nominations, and a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes – making it Rotten Tomatoes’ best reviewed film ever! Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is soaring at the box office – its just surpassed 2016’s MOONLIGHT as the highest grossing film from A-24, not to mention the fact that its topping the shortlist of Academy Award front-runners. Altogether hilarious and heartwarming, this impeccable coming-of-age story centers on Christine “Lady Bird” (Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN) who longs to leave her Catholic High School in Sacramento, while her mother (Laurie Metcalf) works tirelessly to keep the family afloat. Associated Press raves, “Left to her own devices, Gerwig has arrived and solidified her place as one of the most invigorating, observant and authentic voices in movies today with a director’s acumen to match.”

2. THE BIG SICK

Rocking a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this touching story stole our hearts this summer. Based on the real life of its star Kumail Nanjiani, it follows comedian Kumail, who meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at a standup gig, and sparks fly. The two are drawn to each other so magnetically that their flirtation blossoms into a relationship, despite Emily’s claims of a desire to remain single. Meanwhile, Kumail’s traditional Pakistani parents have other expectations for him, which causes major problems. Kumail’s entire life turns on its head, however, when he receives word that Emily is in the hospital, and he, alongside Emily’s parents (Ray Romano & Holly Hunter), are by her side throughout this unexplained illness. This is truly a rom-com like no other. Rolling Stone sums it up: “Comic Kumail Nanjiani and his wife/co-screenwriter Emily V. Gordon carve this heartfelt love story out of her health crisis and their own culture-clash relationship. Not just the funniest romcom in ages, it’s one of 2017’s best films.”

3. GET OUT

Likely the most unique film of the year, this sleeper hit from Blumhouse marked Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and examines race relations and prejudices through the lens of a thriller. The film centers on Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes on a weekend trip to his girlfriend Rose Armitage’s (Allison Williams) home. What starts out as a peaceful visit elevates into a terrifying nightmare as Chris discovers the horrific truth about the Armitage family. New York Magazine says, “Get Out is the satirical horror movie we’ve been waiting for, a mash-up of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and The Stepford Wives that’s more fun than either and more illuminating, too.”

4. THE FLORIDA PROJECT

Visionary director Sean Baker (TANGERINE) crafted something truly magical with THE FLORIDA PROJECT. Led by pint sized stars, with six year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) at its helm, it examines an impoverished life on the outskirts of Florida’s Walt Disney World. Moonee and her friends make life a fantastical adventure all their own, licking ice cream cones and running towards rainbows, while the adults around them struggle to make ends meet. Newcomer Bria Vinaite stars as Moonee’s single mom, and the legendary Willem Dafoe gives a career-best performance as Bobby, the manager of the motel where they live. Grab your tissues, because you won’t get through this one without a few tears. Boston Globe raves, “The Florida Project is – in nerve, guts, heart, and mind – one of the finest films of 2017.”

5. THE SHAPE OF WATER

Guillermo del Toro’s genre-bending masterpiece is easily heading towards an Academy Best Picture nomination. With an acclaimed performance by its leading lady Sally Hawkins (BLUE JASMINE, MAUDIE), and a Beauty and the Beast meets Creature from the Black Lagoon premise, it follows a mute janitor (Hawkins) who stumbles upon a classified experiment in the form of an aquatic creature (Doug Jones), who she ultimately falls in love with. With expert direction by del Toro, this film is truly the other-worldly fairy-tale that you didn’t know you needed. Seattle Times raves, “You never know where The Shape of Water is going. But, like water, you let it engulf you and sweep you away.”

6. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Amid the glorious backdrop of an Italian summer in 1983, Luca Guadagnino’s Golden Globe nominated film centers on a young man (Timothee Chalamet), whose life changes when he meets the scholar (Armie Hammer) who arrives at the family villa to assist his professor father.  Their attraction is undeniable, and the two form a relationship that will change their lives forever. With the blend of impeccable performances and the stunning setting, this is certainly on our list of the year’s best. “A spellbinding, almost ecstatically beautiful movie that gains even more heft and meaning in its final transcendent moments,” says the Washington Post.

7. A GHOST STORY

Academy Award winner Casey Affleck (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA) stars alongside Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara (CAROL), in what is certainly one of the most memorable films of the year. From director David Lowery, the film crafts an examination of loss, legacy and memory, when a ghost (Affleck) returns to his home to console his wife (Mara). He finds that in his present state, however, he is detached from the restraints of time, and embarks on a journey across the enormity of existence. The New Yorker says, “the questions that Lowery raises hang in the air, like motes of dust, long after the movie is done,” and we couldn’t agree more.