Good news, everyone! I got through my whole "What I'm Excited For" list for 2017 and Dork Shelf got me into TIFF to review some great movies! So what were the best 5 of 2017? I'm going to hit you with: Get Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Brigsby Bear, Blade Runner 2049, and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri!
January's winner is... Split! Do people not like this movie because of the director? Do they resent it because people built up the "TWIST?" I don't know. I verge on being an M. Night detractor and I couldn't front on the trailer for this movie. Why? I just wanted to see McAvoy ACT! Guess what I got? A pretty thrilling movie with James putting in a performance that would get him some award talk in a fair universe. But, I suppose we'll just pretend like everything about this movie was bad because of who directed it.
Silence ain't bad. It's just really long and I was distracted by Andrew's accent. Other than that I dug what Marty was getting at. This may also be a case of me just being a Scosrese fan boy! The Founder gave me everything I was expecting and then some! This film was way better than I thought it would be and yet here we are with it not winning the month. Sleepless features another strong performance by Jamie Foxx but a story that didn't really grip me the whole time. Live By Night was really weird. There's a scene where someone asks if Ben Affleck's wife is one racial epithet or another racial epithet then Ben Affleck responds with both... I guess you're supposed to cheer for him because it's followed by him killing that person... I don't know at least he didn't direct a lukewarm batman movie I guess.
I know Triple X 3 is a technically bad movie, but boy was it fun! Remember when Ice Cube came back? Honestly, if you can't get excited for something like that, you just aren't watching movies the right way.
February's winner is... Get Out! Obviously. I went into this movie scared... because I'm afraid of horror films, but this movie is so well written, acted, and directed that it's hard to categorize it as anything other than a really good movie. Plus, it features someone I told you to watch out for in Daniel Kaluuya!
I am Not Your Negro is more important than it is enjoyable. That isn't to say it isn't. Watching James Baldwin do his thing is great, but since it's limited to Sammy J reading things written by Baldwin, it feels like there could have been more explored. Still worth watching if you haven't yet. Turns out LEGO does know how to get Batman right. This was definitely the Batman movie Ben wishes he could make drawing from every corner of the rogues gallery (and some other rogues galleries) and even introducing Robin, Batgirl and Alfred in a cowl. The movie was well done, but I didn't like it as much when I saw it the second time. Fist Fight also surprised me. It's not great but it's really fun and even though I didn't want to really see it, I certainly enjoyed the titular fist fight. The movie really earns the amount of time spent on the fight.
Maybe Paterson was a bit too subtle for me? I enjoyed moments in it, mostly the ones with Paterson's girlfriend and, another person you should watch, William Jackson Harper! But overall felt underwhelmed. I was also underwhelmed by John Wick 2, but I wasn't a huge fan of the first so I think that is pretty good for the sequel that I really enjoyed some of the action scenes.
March's winner is... Kong: Skull Island! Bruh, I've been telegraphing this from time! I'm in the bag for Jordan Vogt-Roberts' films! I don't get why people hated on this film. It brought back the feelings I had during Jurassic Park... maybe because Sammy J used one of his lines from that movie. The point is there were some characters played by Tom Hidelston who felt shoehorned in but that didn't take away from the fun John C. Riley and Samuel L. Jackson injected into the film. To say nothing of the monsters and visuals on display throughout.
Yeah... Logan is good, but not great, that's just my opinion. If you want more insight into how I felt, then listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about that. You can also listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about Power Rangers to learn why I liked it even though no one else seemed to. I'm here for the Goon movies. They know how to portray hockey and I'm invested in Doug, Ross, and even Xavier. Plus there was a Popular Mechanics for Kids reunion in this movie so, deal with my enjoyment of it!
Table 19 continues to prove Stephen Merchant needs to be in more things. I liked the cast a lot but there was something that felt about the whole affair. Why did everyone lie about Beauty & The Beast being good? Whatever, I'll be acting like The Lion King is the best thing ever made no matter what when it comes out so I can't really hate. Ghost in the Shell isn't worth talking about. We didn't even cover it on Spoiled Rotten...
April's winner is... Colossal! I have to say that this win comes from a place of me genuinely feeling that a certain reveal came out of nowhere and, though it's not hard to surprise with stuff like that, it was still such an interesting wrinkle in the story. It elevated this already pretty interesting concept. Look at how far Anne has come! From Princess Diaries to one of my favourite movies of the year! I refuse to look back at the other months I've talked about, but this movie might have been the the first in a year where a lot of women got beat up on screen... what a weird year 2017 was for that.
Free Fire almost won the year but then I realized, it didn't really surprise me and I wasn't that taken with it overall. It's got a great cast a lot of swearing and gun play THO! I really liked Gifted too. It should be pointed out that I thought McKenna Grace was the goods in both movies I saw her in this year.
Want to hear a somewhat positive review about Fate of the Furious other than, it's better than Justice League? Listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about Fast & Furious 8! I think The Circle is stupid. They sold me on John Boyega then kept him in the shadows for most of the movies and made Hermione stupid for the whole movie. Like she's really never ahead of the bad guys. Who wants that?
May's winner is... Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! This wasn't a particularly hard month to win, but that's not important. I've never been so emotionally moved so consistently by a movie... I think? The characters were fleshed out (as long as they weren't called Gamora) and I still think about the movie to this day. Listen to me defend it on the Spoiled Rotten episode about GoTG 2!
I guess Alien: Covenant was ok. But I don't have strong feelings about the Alien franchise. I like the first two films and only the only other films I've seen in the franchise are this one and Prometheus. So if you think this movie sucks then I won't fight you on it. But I will ask you to listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about Covenant! War Machine was fine if not a bit forgettable. Maybe just not a film for me. I think it grabbed other people better. Speaking of not reacting the same way as everyone else to films. I didn't think Baywatch was the worst thing ever. It wasn't great but Pauline and I enjoyed ourselves. Pauline more than me but whatever, man.
Snatched, somehow confounded Pauline, because she didn't think it needed the kidnapping storyline. I just think maybe it didn't need to happen. But who am I to doo-doo on people's art? Did Johnny Depp even like making the 11th Pirates movie? He didn't look like he was having fun, and I didn't have fun. A pity really.
June's winner is... The Big Sick! Everything about this movie works for me. I used to listen to Kumail's podcast and already knew aspects of this true story but the addition of Emily's parents and dealing with the aftermath of her time in the hospital was what really made this movie work. I also appreciated that we got some insight into the women who were being set up with Kumail. The movie has some surprises story beat wise and just with how deep it can get.
Sorry Wonder Woman fans. I stand by my initial reaction to the movie. It's really well done, independent of expectations you had based on the other DCEU films. It has a great main character. But the re-watchability suffers due to the "twist" they wanted to have. Want more details? You got it, you can listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about Wonder Woman. Baby Driver was good. It had actors I like and a director I have enjoyed up to and including now. There was just something that didn't connect with me this time. Given that it's an Edgar Wright film that means it's just really good instead of AMAZING! I also wanted to really really like Rough Night. I just liked it kind of. Okja was ok. It didn't affect me the way it did others.
I didn't hate Transformers either this year. I know I'll be watching these movies forever since my Mom loves them and I'll go see them with her, but I honestly didn't have a problem with this movie outside of the normal issues that come with a Michael Bay transformers movie. I guess lowered expectations. The House also benefited from my lowered expectations. Plus I'll see anything with Will Ferrell (note that I can't get down with movies starring Mel Gibson though) and Amy Poehler in it.
I can't say anything about Captain Underpants... I was tricked into seeing it because a critic said they liked it then I realized they loved the books growing up. I was also tricked into seeing Despicable Me 3 because I thought Trey Parker's involvement was a sign of how good the movie would be. There were some cool visuals and I do still think the minions can be funny in these movies, but overall this movie was clearly not for me. Also what was with just reusing Pharrell songs? Like even ones from Hidden Figures. The Mummy wasn't good. But I also just feel like it's a bland movie more than a horrible movie. Also Tom wasn't doing his usual shtick. He was playing a bad guy but not like in Tropic Thunder. He was a complex character in a movie that didn't have time to get into it. Let's just forget the 2 Pac movie happened and maybe a better one will come out soon.
July's winner is... Brigsby Bear! There was something about this movie that just drew me in and never let me go. This movie isn't interested in making you laugh all movie long or have you think about how crazy the protagonist is. It's a movie about how friendship and doing what you love is important. I loved how Kyle Mooney's character was able to avoid fish out of water tropes just by being so enthusiastic about something and making people lean into him. Including a filmmaker. That's right this movie is also about making movies and I'm all in!
Even though I didn't really seem like I was that in to Spider-Man: Homecoming, as evidenced by the Spoiled Rotten episode about Homecoming, it turns out I really liked it and it was up there when I was thinking about what would win July. Dunkirk was also there. It feels like the exact movie Christopher Nolan wants to make for eternity. The way he was able to work around human emotions on a character to character basis was truly masterful. I don't mean that as some kind of underhanded insult. I really like Christopher Nolan. I just recognize that he has strengths and this movie definitely played to them. People don't like the way this movie unfolds but I really enjoy that it makes watching the movie more active than passive.
I don't think I like the Matt Reeves Apes movies. Listen to Ben, who feels differently, defend that movie on the Spoiled Rotten episode about WFTPOTA. Atomic Blonde was cool I guess, if not a bit too intricate near the end. Girls Night was way too built up for me before I saw it. There's no doubt that Tiffany Haddish had a great year that also featured an amazing stand up special, but the movie is just ok. I hope more movies like this are made so that they can grow and get better. The real stinker of July was a surprise to me since I like everyone involved. The Little Hours did not work for me.
August's winner is... Ingrid Goes West! I watched this movie twice. Once with Pauline, and then again the next day. It really stuck with me. It went well with Aubrey's strong year featuring Legion! But, I think it's obvious that I loved this movie because it featured a black man named Daniel who writes Batman spec scripts. Yeah eerie close to my lifestyle! You can miss me with that Catwoman sex stuff though and Pinto's overall misunderstanding of what makes Selina Kyle tick.
Logan Lucky is definitely second place. The nickname Ocean's 7/11 is apt. I don't want to diminish, since it takes a turn after the actual heist that I really liked and set it apart from the Ocean's films. Plus it had a late in the game character played by someone I don't usually like but that person killed it in this movie! Watch it if you haven't! I also really enjoyed The Hitman's Bodyguard while understanding that it shouldn't be winning any substantial awards.
I don't get the love for Good Time. I feel that should all be shifted to Split. Patti Cake$ pretty much played out how I thought it would but with the weird addition of an Australian accent playing peek-a-boo throughout the film. I also felt someway about the film positioning the black people as the ultimate bad guys for not wanting to accept all the white people trying to be rappers.
Detroit depressed me. I get that it's a well made movie, but I've never seen a movie that went out of its way to punish or kill every black character. And I'm including movies about slavery. There is usually one success story somewhere to be found.
September's winner is... Mudbound! A movie I got to see and review thanks to Dork Shelf during TIFF! I thought I might like it but was surprised by how thoughtful it was and how it didn't go the way I assumed it would once the KKK were revealed. I mean it did... but there was a redeeming aspect to the story. Anytime a movie can surprise me I have to respect it. Plus the movie was interesting story.
Battle of the Sexes was up there for me. I really like sports movies where people are forced to acknowledge their kid is great or the underdog has a personal best or even a win. I enjoyed the cast and a specific scene where a dutiful husband plays his position even though he's just found out his wife is cheating on him. You don't get to see scenes like that everyday and I appreciated it. Kingsman 2 might not be as good as the original but anyone saying it sucks couldn't have liked the first one as much as they think. It's a pretty good follow up. My main concern was with it's eagerness to sideline characters. Some of those characters who were heavily showcased during trailers. Mother! has aged well with time in my head. It's not my favoruite Darren Aronofsky movie but it's good and that's too bad because the trailers didn't want to sell the real movie. IT was good but not great, and that's good because I have no nostalgia for it. I saw the original tv special after the movie and don't ever plan on reading the book.
Brad's Status has some good moments but it's clearly for a different audience. I'm also not a fan of the constant narration in this film, or any film really. Home Again wasn't even good for die hard Reese fan, Pauline. Unfortunately we saw it for her birthday, so I guess I have to apologize for that. How come they tried to sneak an episode of Entourage into a movie ostensibly about Reese's post-separation life?
October's winner is... Blade Runner 2049! I definitely think this is a sequel that outdoes the original. I was afraid Ryan would dial down his charm, but he brought the charm and carried this film really well. I admit that I'm a Denis stan, but I think he did a great job of taking things from the original Blade Runner and expanding on them in a way that led to a worthwhile sequel. Since this movie is wrapped in mystery I won't go any further into what I like about this movie, but seriously, watch it already if you haven't!
The Florida Project was the runner up. I saw this movie on a whim afraid it was going to be the feel good white saviour movie of 2017. Despite what reviewers will tell you, this is not a Willem Dafoe film. The movie belongs to Moonee played by Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite, who plays Moonee's mom. This is a great slice of life film about a motel running distance from Disney World. The last scene really got me choked me up but the movie works because of these two unknown actors.
Meyerwoitz and Marshall both have aspects that make them worth watching but are ultimately too movies that aren't particularly memorable. That leaves The Foreigner based on a book with a surprisingly problematic title that I'm sure you can figure out before the credits reveal. The movie works because everyone likes watching Jackie Chan do his thing. I would say though, he didn't get enough screen time for my liking.
November's winner is... Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri! Pauline and I agree on this pick. IT's actually one of her favourite films ever, and it's definitely in my top 5 of 2017. I'm all in when it comes to Martin McDonagh! He made In, Bruges after all! The way he writes is what I aspire to get to so I'd like to think this movie is the closest thing to what a movie I'd write would be like. That might explain my love for it.
I have to get something out of the way now. Jim & Andy was weird for me. I appreciated the insight into the making of a great film, but it also made me kind of angry at Jim Carrey. I want to know that actors are actually being paid to act. Not be taken over by spirits that cause everyone grief. The title is kind of indicative of how the film can be "a bit much" so at least it has that going for it.
Let's talk about the the other movies now. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is probably the runner up for this month. I was put off by what the ultimate point of the movie was, but I really liked the performances, especially homeboy from Dunkirk, Barry Keoghan. Plus we all need to get out of our comfort zone every now and then. Lady Bird was a really nice movie and continues Saoirse Ronan's streak of being great in good films! Don't think that Thor wasn't considered too! I knew Taika would save Thor from having three bad movies in a row! I'm still confused as to why people are saying a comedy is too funny... but whatever, I dug it and you can hear more about that on the Spoiled Rotten episode about Thor 3.
I'll also never understand how any fan of DC or comic book films in general could enjoy Justice League. If you don't want spoilers, read my review on Dork Shelf. If you want to hear my deep thoughts about it and how it's not as good as Fast 8, then listen to the Spoiled Rotten episode about Justice League.
December's winner is... I, Tonya! Bet you didn't see that coming! I loved this movie! Yes it's being compared to Goodfellas and I can see why some people say that. I also liken it to the time Scorsese remixed his own joint with The Wolf of Wall Street. All of these movies have bad people at the center of them and there is talking to the camera and cool music... I don't know where I was going with that... I just like the movie and maybe it's because other movies I really like. Alison Janney, McKenna Grace, and of course Margot Robbie are amazing in this movie, as is everyone else but those three women THO!
The Last Jedi and Molly's Game were close. If you want to hear my in depth thoughts on The Last Jedi, then you better believe there's a Spoiled Rotten episode about Star Wars 8! Molly's game was great because I'm all about Aaron Sorkin writing, and it was cool that his directorial debut didnt' show signs of too much self indulgence. Jessica Chastain turns in my favourite performance of hers in this movie and Idris Elba is no push over in this either. They teased a mean Kevin Costner in this movie and I didn't much care for that, so thank goodness for that last scene he's in. The Disaster Artist was fun but might be a bit too inside baseball for everyone. Maybe not? I just think there are a lot of hurdles to get over before you get to what is so great about the movie.
I liked The Shape of Water more than Call Me By Your Name but they're both movies about love stories that I thought could have been more engaging. Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins were the saving grace for The Shape of Water. They give such great performances. I like that Octavia is getting work but I'd like to see her play something other than a maid or someone's magical negro more. MORE HIDDEN FIGURES! LESS THE HELP PLEASE! I know I'll have to defend my stance on Call me by Your Name but I think it comes down to Michael Stuhlbarg having a great closing scene and the movie featuring some other strong performances but not enough weight to the consequences/sacrifices/risks of the Armie Hammer & Timothée Chamalet relationship. Just my take. It would have been nice to see Dunkirk and Darkest Hour as a double feature... or maybe not. The movie hung its hat on Gary Oldman's performance. Not an all together terrible idea, but certainly not the makings of a great overall viewing experience.
I fell asleep during Bright. I never fall asleep during movies really... I did rewind it and watch it in full... it's not great but there's a cool world to be explored. Too bad they have such a childish take on the whole race relations topic. I guess I'm saying it's bad but not "worst thing I've ever seen bad."
Ok so that's how I got the top 5 out of the top 12. What is the best film of 2017? Well Guardians and 2049 were great sequels to movies a genuinely like. I think about them in relation to what preceded them more than how they stand on their own. I think that means neither of them are the best film of the year.
Brigsby Bear took me by surprise, so that's good. I really like how heartfelt it was. Kyle Mooney feels like the guy that would go for laughs through the bizarre but, instead, this movie just wants you to see what can happen when you are truly enthusiastic about something. I really liked the message and the way it was delivered but this movie still isn't #1.
2017's winner is... Get Out! The script is air tight and it's a wonder that a movie like this got made and did as well as it did. It also made me like Alison Williams. Something about her performance led me to believe she recognized and understood what was being explored in this movie in a way that other actors like her might not. The ways black people have faced racism and how they face it now are on full display in this movie and I appreciated it. There was also that nervous laughter that escaped my mouth when I first saw the trailer about a black man visiting his white girlfriend's parents for the first time. I understood what was scary about that without resorting to satire. By the way, big ups to Pauline for seeing this movie with me and my parents!
Three Billboards is the movie I expect to do well at the Oscars. It's such a well made movie and deals with complex issues and complex characters. unfortunately it was released in the same year as Get Out! I know Get Out won't be pulling a Moonlight but I still loved watching it and dissecting all the smart ways the movie unfolded.