2017 Movies: Best of the Year

Three-and-a-half years late. My list of the best and worst movies of 2017. Major caveats. I have not seen The Florida Project, The Shape of Water, The Phantom Thread, Mudbound, or Call Me By Your Name, five movies that garnered sixteen major Oscar nominations between them. The Florida Project and The Shape of Water are on my list of movies to be watched so this list may change.

2017 was the year of Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, undoubtedly the years best and a masterpiece that should have been among the 2010s best movies. mother! should have won best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress. Maybe editing and cinematography as well. But it got nothing but mixed reviews among critics and viewers.

2017 was the year Kevin Spacey was dropped from All the Money in the World just several weeks before its release date (Spacey was accused of sex crimes and replaced by Christopher Plummer). Director Ridley Scott chose to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes and release the movie on time. In a time when many shows were being canceled due to accusations against their principals I feel like Scott is a hero for going the route he did, and making a good movie to boot.

As I said in the intro mother! is a great movie and my choice for best of the year. I can only assume the subject matter and the way it is portrayed turned off enough critics. Director Darren Aronofsky and star Jennifer Lawrence began dating during preproduction, a three month long process that had the cast and crew “film” the movie in its entirety several times, and a process that Lawrence slept-walked through, waiting for actual filming to start to put her game face on and start performing. Her performance as “mother or Earth)” is tremendous and should have won her her second Best Actress Oscar. I read somewhere that the camera is on Lawrence for the whole film: from her POV, from another character’s POV, and from third-person POV. So she definitely carried the movie. Javier Bardem as the “Him (or God)” is great, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfieffer as “man” and “woman” or (Adam and Eve) are great…these four all should have won acting awards. I felt myself actively imploring for Him to help Mother when the people, his adorers, flock to and invade the house that Mother is rebuilding and getting angry when he wouldn’t help. As the adorers were tearing up Mother’s new home i got angrier again because nobody was doing anything to stop them. The ending, when humans literally cannibalize themselves is frightening. I love this movie.
John Wick 2 is among the rare exceptions in that the sequel is better than the original. (Spiderman 2 is better than Spiderman 1 and would be the second. Godfather 2 and Empire Strikes Back may be better than the movie that preceded them but I prefer the first) John Wick is the role Keanu Reeves was born to play. More so than Neo. Reeves is so cool and slick and does the fight scenes so well. It’s as if this is the person he really is (and he might actually be. he is a martial arts practitioner and does training with guns) and is not having to act. The fight scenes are terrific, the tunnel and museum shoot out scenes are masterful. Just a great movie all around. Except for one thing and that’s Common. Common plays the bodyguard of one of Wick’s victims and is the movie’s secondary antagonist. He has no acting ability or natural charisma. He’s wooden and boring and delivers every line in every movie the exact same way.
When I saw the ads for Baby Driver I was like ‘meh’ and waited until it was free to watch. A mistake. Baby Driver is exactly the kind of movie that should be seen in theaters. Fun, exciting, entertaining, likable characters you can root for, and bad guys who are easy to hate. The ending is preposterous (Baby is going to prison for a long time, no matter how many old people he was nice to) but the ride there is a blast. Lily James as Baby’s girlfriend proves with good material she can play a good character.
See above. I avoided Logan Lucky due to the presence of Daniel Craig and Channing Tatum and Steven Soderberg, whose ‘Oceans’ movies I hated. Again I was wrong for doing so. I loved this movie and while watching became nostalgic for the simple life of rural West Virginia, a place I’ve never been to. The acting is top notch. The story and mystery. Logan Lucky also features Daniel Craig expertly doing some kind of American accent.
I haven’t liked a single X-Men movie but I gave Logan a chance because it’s not an X-Men movie and I like Hugh Jackman as an actor. And Jackman’s Wolverine is the only interesting X-Men. Logan has flaws but as it focuses on the relationships between, Wolverine, Professor X, and Laura it works. All three actors are great together. The action scenes are good. The fight scenes are good.
If Keanu Reeves was born to play John Wick then Charlize Theron was born to play Lorraine Broughton, a female mashup of James Bond and John Wick. Cool, stylish, sexy, tough, smart. She drinks, smokes, fights, fucks. Her look is amazing: the blonde hair, sunglasses, skirts, blouses, coats. And she’s ruthless. Putting the mission over personal relationships. Theron’s performance as Broughton is acting as it’s finest. Theron is the best actor going and dissolves into the character she’s playing. Broughton is no different. Theron created a complete character and played it to the hilt. She’s lauded for her performances routinely and should have received acclaim for this movie. The fight choreography is top of the line. Staged and shot by the consummate pros. There’s a behind the scenes feature where Theron talks about how they went about creating the fight scenes in such a way that it’d be believable for a woman to best men who are much larger than her. So they set up the fights so that Broughton is using whatever methods and tools she can to win. Theron herself said they had to figure out how a woman could punch men over and over without her breaking her hands. The story is kinda muddled and drags just a bit at one point, and i had to watch Youtube videos for explanations on what happened.

Atomic Blonde also made use of the “one-take” technique, where the scene is shot in such a way that it appears like it was done in one take. Most of the time they’re not and there are several places in Blonde’s stairwell fight scene where the cuts are obvious. But on first viewing it looks like it was done all at once. And Theron did all the stunts. That’s her being thrown down the (padded) steps.

John Paul Getty III, grandson of J Paul Getty, was kidnapped by the Italian mafia in 1973 and held for several months before Getty agreed to pay his grandson’s ransom. All the Money in the World tells that story, from just before the kidnapping until just after Getty III’s rescue. World is a really good movie. Perhaps not great, but is really good. At the time of its release World was more known for the fact that Kevin Spacey, who had been cast as J Paul Getty and filmed all of his scenes, was fired six weeks before the movie’s release date and replaced by Christopher Plummer. Director Ridley Scott rounded up the crew and cast, who worked for scale accept for Mark Wahlberg who insisted on much more, and refilmed all of Spacey’s scenes. Plummer may have been the obvious choice to play an old miserly businessman but it would have been interesting to see Spacey’s take on it. I feel like Scott should have had an award or something named after him for not scuttling the project. ATMITW was released as scheduled.
Low budget and intense you’ll have a good time watching Good Time. Robert Pattinson does one of his better acting jobs.
I was shocked that I liked Get Out as much as I did. The hype was intense and its Rotten Tomatoes score was 100%. A great movie until the finale, which is too short, and the protagonists escape and revenge seems to come too easy (how Daniel Kaluua was able to get enough stuffing out of the chair and into his ears to block all sound while his hands were tied to the chair didn’t seem plausible) and the ending itself, where the “final girl” defeats her attacker, may be the standard for horror movies. but does not really work within the social critique Jordan Peele is going for. I was also kinda upset at the Oscar buzz and nominations and wins Get Out received. Get Out is not as good as Halloween or Scream, and neither of those movies won awards. Also, Peele seems kinda racist (“White girls do it to you every time”).

The Worst Movies of 2017

These are the movies that received 1.5 stars out of five or less. Some of them are zero star movies but Letterboxd does not have a zero star option so those movies got 0.5/5. From zero to one-and-a-half stars:

Dwayne Johnson is another stuckup jackass and a total bullshitter. But he’s great at it and people love him. Even when he makes bad movie after bad movie after bad movie. San Andreas, Rampage, Empire State, Hercules, the Fast movies, Skyscraper, G.I. Joe, Central Intelligence. Baywatch is abominably bad.
“Hi. I am the Devil. I want to kill. Please follow me down this dark stairwell into my basement. It’s ok, even though I just told you that I want to kill you nothing bad will happen. Now. Stick your head in that egg that just opened. Don’t worry. It’s safe.” Ridley Scott goes way too deep into the mythology of the aliens and focuses too much on Michael Fassbender’s robot twins and not enough on just alien-ing.
All the new Apes movies suck including War for the Planet of the Apes. Because this is an ape movie and the apes can’t be the bad guys Woody Harrelson gets that task and does the exact thing he does with every role. The main battle is between bad humans and really bad humans. The bad humans beat Harrelson’s really bad humans but a deus ex machina in the form of an avalanche wipes out the remaining humans and the apes are free to form their own society.
Typical serial killer who taunts cop movie. The only highlights are the awful dialogue and marveling at how much makeup Sarah Shahi is wearing, Brittany Snow plays a reporter who is allowed to tag along with the main homicide detective, played by Karl Urban, even though she faces danger constantly. Al Pacino is the cop he must come out of retirement to help out.
I kinda liked The Mummy when I watched in the theaters. Then I tried to rewatch it at home and realized how bad it is.
A terrible remake of the bad 1990 ‘Flatliners.’ Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad plotting and story. Too bad to watch so i shut it off.
Sibling criminals commit crimes. Get caught by both the police and gangsters alike. and are not jailed or killed because they convince the gangsters that they, and only they, can steal the thing the gangster really wants. One sibling is level headed (Scott Eastwood) and one is an impetuous smart ass (Freddie Thorp). You can guess which gets his way. The brothers have to steal a car or the bad guy will murder the level headed brothers wife (Ana de Armas). The brothers steal the thing, trick the gangsters and cops, and live happily ever after. The plot is done poorly, the action scenes are not exciting. Scott Eastwood even does the “squint” thing his father is famous for.
Probably Tom Hanks’ worst movie, though I haven’t seen them all and I’m generally not a fan of his, and this isn’t his movie. It’s Emma Watson’s ‘The Circle’ is about a new app that allows people to track and expose any person, at any time, know where they are (Wouldn’t it be cool if hundreds of people could look for a wanted criminal instead of just the police?) and the consequences of such an app being abused. Emma Watson stars as an eager enthusiastic young women who is excited to get the chance to work for the hip tech company run by Hanks and Patton Oswalt. She soon discovers the company has secrets and is contacted by the app’s developer, John Boyega, who has been ostracized from the company and now lives in the mainframe room. Watson seeks to out the company after the app’s users kill her friend. The company then tries to kill her. Call it ‘Silkwood’ without radiation. A terrible movie but it does the highlight sickness that has enveloped modern society with its addiction to tech.
Took much too long to the killing giants part of the movie so i shut it off.
So long and boring. Visually looks great but a story that takes forever to develop and a plot going exactly where we thought it’d be going when we first saw Ryan Gosling on the poster with Harrison Ford.
Sweet Virginia spends a decent amount of time setting up characters (who they are, why they are where they are, their plans) who are only to be murdered a few minutes into the movie. Maybe this is a good movie but watching Jon Bernthal do his usual thing does not interest me.
Made it about five minutes before getting bored and shutting it off.
Guy Ritchie’s take on the King Arthur legend. Filmed with the typical quick-cuts with modern music thing Ritchie always does. Hunman looked good punching a heavy bag but I could sit through this.
A dull movie with no reason to exist except to perpetuate the hero myth of…well just about anybody. While fighting a forest fire in in Arizona in 2013 nineteen fire fighters died. Almost all of the movie is set up. Backstory about family, the problems of the young fire fighters, defunding possibilities, an ambitious team leader. Only the Brave spends more time on guys running up and down hills than it does on actual fire fighting. Boring. Josh Brolin is fairly interesting. But Jennifer Connelly seemed to have forgotten how to act and Jeff Bridges does his ‘merf merf merf I’m a real cowboy not an actor thing’ he’s been doing for fifteen years. The event that kills the firefighters comes and goes in a few minutes. Like here comes the fire boys then whoosh they’re gone. More time is spent on reaction shots than actual action shots.
Reviewers have made note of this already but I will also ask how can alcoholic chain smokers be as fit as Michael Fassbender’s detective is in ‘The Snowman.” He drinks and smokes constantly yet is in good enough physical condition to sprint several hundred yards through the snow. ‘The Snowman’ features a brief and shocking cameo by Val Kilmer. Shocking in how Kilmer’s appearance has changed and the suddenness of his character’s death. The typical ‘serial killer murders women in weird ways and taunts the cops’ movie with a twist ending.
At the beginning of Hostiles Indians murder Rosamund Pike’s husband and children yet a few weeks later she is happy and smiling and recovered enough to fall in love with Christian Bale. Literally the last shot of the movie is Bale and Pike smiling as they board a train together. Hostiles is designed to be really “gritty.” We know this because all the male characters mumble when they talk and every few minutes someone is murdered without any visible reaction from the other characters.
Kenneth Branagh can be such a pompous jackass. I believe Emma Thompson divorced him (i was about to say because he is such a pompous jackass but a quick tells me he cheated on her)…so i can’t finish this thought. Anyway, as Poirot Branagh affects some horrible accent designed to mimic Poirot’s Belgian accent and plays Poirot more like he’s James Bond with foot chases, shootouts, fist fights, etc. Poirot was a thinker, relying on his “grey cells” and not his fists to bring murderers to justice. The actors are all overacting with some of them acting poorly. The story is changed so much to ruin it. Branagh even inserts a fake scene into the movie’s opening to display what a great detective Poirot is, like anyone watching this movie wouldn’t already know that. Branagh is also remaking ‘Death on the Nile’ which I’m sure he will also ruin.
Probably a great movie with a great performance by Gary Oldman. Ten minutes in I was already bored by the movie and by the ‘cranky old man’ schtick so i turned it off.

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