We chose Blade Runner 2049 as our top movie of 2017. Set some 28 years after the events of Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, the movie follows Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant — the movie’s term for android — tasked with hunting down and “retiring” older replicant models. In the course of his work, he stumbles across a conspiracy, which in turn begins to unlock memories that — by all accounts — he shouldn’t have. The film is striking and visually lush, packed with gorgeous details that flesh out K’s futuristic Los Angeles and the locales he visits in his investigation. Director Denis Villeneuve somehow manages to pay tribute to the original film while telling a wholly new story that ties into the events of the first Blade Runner. Excellent support is provided by the likes of Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, and Jared Leto.
Steven Spielberg’s thrilling take on the sci-fi adventure that blew up the internet is nearly as beautiful to listen to as it is to look at. With barreling action both inside and outside the virtual world known as OASIS, your ears will thank you as you’re completely engulfed in sound, from the stylish ’80s soundtrack to the industrial wasteland of the Stacks, to the buzzign and immersive interactive world in which our hero Wade Wilson finds himself in a war for control of the world’s most important virtual universe. Get ready to plug in.
Few films are as expensive and extravagantly produced as those in the Star Wars franchise, so it should come as no surprise to see The Last Jedi — nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing — appear on this list. While fan reaction was mixed for director Rian Johnson’s first foray into the Force, few would dare to argue the fact that Episode VIII is a sumptuous buffet of blaster bolts, explosions, crackling lightsaber blades, and weird alien noises. If there’s any movie you’d want to watch in full, Dolby Atmos-enabled glory, it’s this one.
Summer blockbusters have become so rote that it’s hard to remember a time when big-budget action films dared to be a little mad. Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, set in the 23rd century, involves a New York taxi driver/special forces soldier (Bruce Willis) helping an ancient woman (Milla Jovovich) locate a superweapon capable of destroying a planet-obliterating evil. And that’s just the setup. Depicting a grotesque future where consumerism and industry have ruined the Earth, The Fifth Element is a gutsy sci-fi adventure with an imaginative setting and over-the-top action set pieces. The film’s sound design is also key, immersing the viewer in bizarre machinery and the alien music of Besson’s future.
Mother was one of the most controversial films in recent memory, causing some critics to gush and some to walk out of the theater in abject misery. Darren Aronofsky’s metaphorical tale follows Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), who lives with her husband (Javier Bardem) in an isolated house. Suddenly, two visitors show up (Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer), quickly followed by their sons, who turn Mother’s paradise into a kind of living hell. The movie progresses from an idyllic beginning into a frenzied, sin-soaked nightmare party, with particular detail paid to cinematography and sound design. You may not like watching this movie with your Atmos setup, but you will appreciate the effort put in.
It — adapted from the first half of Stephen King’s iconic novel — received universal acclaim for its deft blend of storytelling with graphic horror. By now, you probably know the story: Some kids in a podunk town discover a disturbing trend of child disappearances, and soon find themselves face to face with Pennywise, a killer clown capable of transforming into your biggest fear. If you like scary movies, this should be on your list, not only due to the unnerving performance of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise but also for its creative, varied horror scenes, capable of causing tremors in even the most hardened viewers. It is as atmospheric as they come, making it a perfect pick for Atmos.