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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Films of 2017

As I note every December, I watch a lot of movies, though most are viewed on my television -- on DVD, from DVR recordings, or streamed from Netflix or Amazon Prime. Because I have not yet seen that many new films in the theater, I cannot yet write a credible post on the best movies of 2017. Most of the highly touted films are released in December, a very busy month. Eventually, of course, I will see them.

Again this year, I missed several of the summer blockbusters as well.

Indeed, the best films I saw this past year were movies that I originally missed in the theaters in prior years. I saw many late 2016 Oscar-bait films in theaters earlier this year. Again, I'll surely see most of the 2017 Oscar-bait films early in 2018. I tend to discuss those films in my posts about the Oscars.

To make this abbreviated 2017 list (in other words, to jog my memory), I scanned the top grossing movies of the year, as well as IMDB's most popular titles for 2017. I also consulted Metacritic.

In rank order of my preference, these were the top 2017 films I saw this year, as best as I can recall:

Lady Bird **
Dunkirk **
Baby Driver **
The Big Sick **
Get Out
Wind River

** I saw these films in the theater.

There are some serious Oscar contenders there, I think. I suspect Laurie Metcalf will deservedly receive a nomination for best supporting actress (Lady Bird) and I would not be surprised if Saoirse Ronan (best actress) and Greta Gerwig (direction) are also nominated. It is difficult for a comedy director to receive this kind of accolade, however, which also likely hurts the film in the Best Picture category. Still it is an excellent coming-of-age movie that I highly recommend.

Dunkirk is the kind of war movie based on real events that often does well in the Best Picture category, but the ensemble cast may be hurt in the acting categories. The well-done heist film Baby Driver seems likely to receive technical nominations. It was very entertaining and perhaps the last memorable Kevin Spacey film for awhile.

I also really enjoyed The Big Sick and recommend it highly. Get Out has already been receiving a lot of great press for its comedic and critical use of the horror genre to reflect upon a major social issue (racism, and white privilege, in this instance). That's my kind of horror film!

Did you miss Wind River and Columbus? Check them out! The former is a crime drama set on native land and the latter would make a good double feature with Lady Bird as it addresses similar themes. The female protagonist is coming-of-age, has a complicated relationship with her mother, and is ambivalent about a future away from her local community.

The bulk of the my 2017 list consists of genre films -- comedies, action flicks, and science fiction. They are not ranked very carefully, though I think that the ones near the top are superior to the ones near the bottom.These were all OK, but flawed films:

Logan Lucky
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I Don't Feel At Home in This World Anymore
The Lovers
The Meyerowitz Stories
The Incredible Jessica James
War for the Planet of the Apes
It **


 I Am Not Your Negro

Only a couple of these films are doing well in end-of-year critic lists, but virtually all of them are worth watching. Even the ones at the bottom are likely fine for fans of traditional horror and Wolverine.

Logan Lucky has been described as a hillbilly Ocean's 11 and I'm a big fan of heist movies. It was especially funny when Daniel Craig was on the screen. It could have used a tighter edit, however.

The sci-fi Guardians 2 was also over-long and I get bored with comic-book battle scenes (whether involving spaceships or hand-to-hand combat), but the dialogue was a notch above the norm.

Okja was really entertaining and funny until the plot got very serious about the way meat is mass produced in America. That final portion of the film made this black comedy not-so-funny. Actually, a similar point could be made about I Don't Feel At Home in This World Anymore and Colossal. Colossal's message about gender was less clear than the racial message of Get Out, which is unfortunate because it had a strong hour of entertainment.

The family dramas The Lovers and The Meyerowitz Stories are worth your time, but neither is easy to watch. Jessica Williams showed a lot of promise in The Incredible Jessica James and I recommended this film to others right after seeing it.

The latest Apes film was OK, but it didn't really have an important social message and was mostly a technical marvel. The Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now comparisons seem like a stretch to me.

When I'm physically exhausted and/or mentally tired (and sitting in the dark), I sometimes nod off during even the best documentaries. I'm afraid that happened during my viewing of I Am Not Your Negro. I saw 90% of it, but the film deserves another viewing and perhaps elevation to the upper list.

Here's the annual list of 2017 movies that I intend to see in the future (hopefully in 2017):

Films of 2017 to see:

1922, Alien Covenant, All the Money in the World, American Made, Atomic Blonde, Ballad of Lefty Brown, Battle of the Sexes, Beguiled, Berlin Syndrome, Blade Runner 2049, Buster's Mal Heart, Call Me By Your Name, Catfight, Darkest Hour, Death of Stalin, Detroit, Disaster Artist, Downsizing, Florida Project, The Founder, Foxtrot, From Nowhere, Gerald's Game, A Ghost Story, Girl With All the Gifts, Girls Trip, God's Own Country, Good Time, Happy End, Headshot, The Hero, Hostiles, Hounds of Love, I Daniel Blake, I Tonya, Ingrid Goes West, It Comes at Night, John Wick: Chapter 2, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Kong: Skull Island, Land of Mine (Under Sandet), Little Hours, Lost City of Z, Marshall, Moka, Molly's Game, Mother!, Mudbound, Norman, The Party, Personal Shopper, Phantom Thread, Polka King, The Post, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, Quiet Passion, Salesman, Sense of Ending, Shape of Water, The Square, Star Wars The Last Jedi, Stronger, Super Dark Times, Survivalist, Sweet Virginia, T2 Trainspotting, Their Finest, Thor Ragnorak, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, To the Bone, The Trip to Spain, United Kingdom, Wakefield, Win It All, Wonder, Wonder Woman, You Were Never Really Here.

Keep in mind that I didn't get around to seeing many 2016 movies from last year's wishlist:

13th, 20th Century Women, Above and Below, All the Way, Allied, American Honey, April and the Extraordinary World, Autoposy of Jane Doe, Band of Robbers, Barry, Bleed for This, Born to be Blue, Captain America: Civil War, Cemetery of Splendor, Certain Women, Christine, Creative Control, The Dark Horse, Deepwater Horizon, Denial, Doctor Strange, Don't Breathe, Elle, The Family Fang, Fences, The Fits, Florence Foster Jenkins, Francofonia, Glassland, Hacksaw Ridge, Hitchcock/Truffaut, Hologram for the King, Imperium, Indignation, The Infiltrator, The Intervention, The Invitation, Jackie, Krisha, Last Man on the Moon, Little Men, Louder than Bombs, Love & Friendship, Loving, Maggie's Plan, Meddler, Miss Sloane, Money Monster, Neruda, Notes on Blindness, Patriots Day, The Phenom, Queen of Katwe, Sausage Party, Silence, Snowden, Southside with You, Take Me to the River, Things to Come, Tickled, Time to Choose, Toni Erdmann, Tower, Under the Sun, Valley of Violence, Where to Invade Next, The Witch, and Zero Days.

Virtually all of those films are now readily available -- as DVDs at my University library or as recordings on my DVR. A few are on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc.

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