Ah, yes. Here we are. It's the end of the year, and it's time to talk once again about my favorites. 2017, was an interesting year in cinema. It was a mixed bag in terms of good, and content. There was a lot of big Hollywood films that unexpectedly became critical darlings.
Full disclosure, there are three films that I missed which if you are looking for them, won't be on my favorites. The Post, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will be missing. I just did not have time to see them and some were released a little too late, or not wide enough.
Before we get to the favorites, lets talk about some of the bad.
A FEW OF THE BAD
Before you get to the treasure, sometimes you have to dig around mud.
Loud, headache inducing, loud, colorful, weird, incoherent and loud. The Last Knight is the lowest grossing of the Bay-led Transformers series. The saving grace for this painful series, has always been the amount of money they make despite how dismal they are. This always threatens us with more films. With the first non-Bay directed entry in Bumblebee on the way, and this one's lackluster performance, perhaps... Perhaps we have finally gotten rid of Mr. Bay. One can hope.
Once again, Ridley Scott tries to make a non-Alien film, in the Alien Universe, using the Alien franchise as a hook. Mis-marketed, dull and convoluted to the point of nonsense, perhaps it's time to just let this series die. With word that the Covenant sequel has been scrapped, maybe the powers that be think so too.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
The Last Jedi is a dull, muddled mess of a film. Rian Johnson was given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. The result is a poorly paced, poorly edited, mediocre melodrama, which uses the excuse of "subverting expectations" for a badly written plot. While it's not as bad as The Prequels, it's damn close. Story points go nowhere, character motivations are downright stupid, and the acting is more wooden then some of the bad CGI. But hey, your expectations were "subverted".
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, makes the mistake of becoming too much of a comedy show. Sure, the first film had comedy, but it was used where it was needed. In Vol. 2, it gets to be too much and it gets lost in its jokes. Kurt Russell is wasted as Ego and the father plot, is kind of mishandled. In a year where we got 2 and a half MCU films, Vol. 2 is at the bottom.
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, is an interesting and sometimes riveting, war tale. While I am not the best fan of Nolan, this one is kind of perfect for me. His simple story and use of real, tangible sets and effects, only add to the intrigue of the film. Dunkirk is short, sweet, and nicely done. It's Nolan restrained, but at the full use of his power.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
The first John Wick, made my top 10 of the year. In any other year, John Wick: Chapter 2 may have made it. It's just too crowded a field. However, Chapter 2 is a white knuckled sequel which ups the ante for the world, and the title character. Keanu, is still perfect for this role, and the film has some of the best action of the year.
Taika Waititi, managed to make a great Thor movie. How? By making a Taika Waititi film. Ragnarok is funny, entertaining to the end and is the best Marvel film of the year. It manages to move the character forward, and injects new life into Thor. Ragnarok is also a nice segue into Avengers: Infinity War. The movie should be seen for Jeff Goldlum alone.
In a year where mainstream horror got some big recognition, it gets no bigger than It. The flick made A LOT of money. It's a solid, often times frightening, creepy and loyal adaptation, of Stephen King's novel. Skarsgard, gives a great performance as Pennywise. It's not a Tim Curry impression, but something of his own making. At the end of the day though, the kids are what make It work so well.
It was rough year for DC. At least, that may be what the critics tell you. Sure, Justice League may have misfired for some. However, Wonder Woman did not. This is the best standalone DC film to date. It has heart, it has action, and may be one of the best origin stories told on the big screen. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot, carry this thing all the way through. The third act may fall into generic territory, but it's a small nitpick to an otherwise outstanding comic book film.
Logan, ends Hugh Jackman's run as Wolverine nicely. I think some people forget this is also Patrick Stewart's last run, as Professor X. Both Jackman and Stewart, give phenomenal performances here. Young Dapfne Keen, is also quite good. Logan is brutal, hard-hitting, different, and thrilling to the end. Literally.
9. WIND RIVER
Wind River is a powder keg of tension and intrigue. Taylor Sheridan, paints a perfect slow-burn, which eventually explodes into something shocking and brutal. Jeremy Renner, gives what may be his best performance, and plays well opposite Elizabeth Olsen. This is a film that unravels slowly, but pays off in more ways than one.
8. GERALD'S GAME
Yeah, yeah, It came out this year. However, this is the better Stephen King adaption. It's not as flashy as It, but it's much more effective. Adapting King's horror is hard. Now try adapting something that isn't all that good to begin with. Gerald's Game takes one of King's lesser works, and turns it into something special. Minus the last ten minutes, Gerald's Game is perfect. It's tense, unexpected, shocking and gruesome. Carla Gugino, is superb here as well.
7. THE BIG SICK
Funny, quirky and heartfelt, The Big Sick seems to be getting lost as we close the year. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, give two great performances. Kumail Nanjiani, is also surprisingly strong here. There's a scene in The Big Sick, that is downright heartbreaking. It has stuck with me ever since I saw it. There are a few really great messages here too. It is surprisingly very effective.
6. BABY DRIVER
Slick, stylish and fun, Baby Driver is something unique. Edgar Wright, turns something simple, into something that is much more. Anchored by solid performances and solid music, Baby Driver is an experience. In a time where comic book movies dominate, it's nice to see something a little different. When Baby Driver is firing on all cylinders, it's a great ride.
Even before the "surprise", Split is a fantastic film. It is a downright crime that James McAvoy, is being overlooked for awards consideration. With Split coming out so early in the year, it's something that was inevitable unfortunately. McAvoy, is mesmerizing and outstanding here. Anya Tyalor-Joy, is great as well. M. Night Shaymalan, made a good one. A very, very good one.
4. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
There's been some backlash over War for the Planet of the Apes. Sure, there is not real "war". It's mostly just a little skirmish. However, the real "war", is internal. Caesar's struggle with his acceptance of humans, and what they are really capable of is the real war. It could spell the end for his species. War for the Planet of the Apes, is and incredible piece of modern day film making. Serkis, once again shines as Caesar. Woody Harrelson, is a great foe for Caesar as well.
3. GET OUT
Get Out is a fantastic film. Not just on the surface, but beneath it as well. Jordan Peele, balances comedy, horror and social commentary, like someone who has been making these kinds of films for years. Daniel Kaluuya, is fantastic here. Allison Williams and the rest of the cast, are also fantastic. The less said about Get Out, the better. It's fantastic.
2. THE DISASTER ARTIST
Lough out loud funny, charming, solidly acted and immensely likable, The Disaster Artist is superb. James Franco, gives the best performance of his career and his naturally chemistry with is brother, Dave Franco, oozes off the screen. I literally have seen five minutes of The Room, but it doesn't matter. The Disaster Artist works on its own, and is a treat for fans of the original film. This is the first time ever, I have made an addendum to a top 10 list. However, I loved this movie that much.
1. THE SHAPE OF WATER
Guillermo del Toro's adult fairy tale, hits hard. It's stylish, takes bold chances and has a great message. Sally Hawkins, is phenomenal here and her supporting players, are equally as strong. Michael Shannon, is awesome as the foil in this. He turns something that is a bit one-note, into something more. This is a film that is different. There are things that may shock you at first. However, del Toro's masterful direction, pulls you into this film. It's unforgettable and fantastic.
Happy New Year, all!
TITLE: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
DIRECTOR: JAKE KASDAN
STARRING: DWYANE JOHNSON, KEVIN HART, JACK BLACK, KAREN GILLAN, NICK JONAS, ALEX WOLF, SER'DARIUS BLAIN, MADISON ISEMAN, MORGAN TURNER
TITLE: THE SHAPE OF WATER
DIRECTOR: GUILLERMO DEL TORO
STARRING: SALLY HAWKINS, RICHARD JENKINS, MICHAEL SHANNON, DOUG JONES, OCTAVIA SPENCER
TITLE: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
DIRECTOR: RIAN JOHNSON
STARRING: DAISY RIDLEY, MARK HAMILL, CARRIE FISHER, ADAM DRIVER, JOHN BOYEGA, OSCAR ISSAC