Monday, December 18, 2017

best of 2017: movies

Finally, it's time for my favorite movies of 2017!  A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first released in 2017, but that's when I saw 'em.
  • Aside from the first movie listed, which was definitely my favorite of the year, these aren't in any particular order.
  • If I see anything else before the end of the year which belongs on here, I'll update accordingly. 
  • There are a few miscellaneous tidbits at the end of this entry too.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. Logan:  In the near future, Logan (aka Wolverine) is slowly losing his regenerative powers.  (He even has to wear reading glasses, which I thought was a nice touch.)  All he wants to do is save enough money to buy a boat where he and Professor X can safely live out the rest of their days, but he reluctantly finds himself charged with getting a young mutant (newcomer Dafne Keen, who's really good) to safety.  It's violent, dark, exciting, often quite funny, and the performances are terrific.  (Patrick Stewart deserves a supporting actor Oscar nomination.)  And ooof, the feels.  So many feels.

2. Wonder Woman:  After learning of a massive war from a pilot who crashes on her island, Diana leaves home to help out.  I was going to give this a double star until the last third, where it stumbled a bit, but it was still extremely enjoyable.  

3.  Lady Bird:  The title character is actually named Christine, but she's renamed herself Lady Bird in an effort to stand out.  She lives in Sacramento with her family, but she wants nothing more than to break away and move to New York City.  A wonderfully true look at the love/hate relationship between mothers and daughters, with exceptional performances by Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird and Laurie Metcalf as her harried mother.

4. Arrival:  When aliens arrive on Earth, a linguist (Amy Adams) is hired by the government to figure out their language and what they want.  Intelligent, heartbreaking, and a wonderful cast.

5. The Edge of Seventeen:  Surly Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has always lived in the shadow of her super popular older brother Darian.  She finds comfort spending time with her best friend Krista, but her world falls apart when Krista and Darian start dating.  Excellent performances and a great script; it was like an updated John Hughes movie.

6. A Monster Calls:  Trying desperately to cope with his mother's impending death, young Conor (Lewis MacDougall, who's terrific) is visited by an enormous tree creature who promises to tell him three stories in exchange for the truth that Conor can't bring himself to admit.

Ooof...JFC.  I can't imagine anyone not being touched by this movie, but if you've ever loved someone with a terminal illness, it's going to fucking WRECK you.  It's one of the most honest depictions of grief I've ever seen.  It bombed hard at the box office, probably because it was sold as a fantasy film for kids, but honestly, I think most kids would be traumatized by it.  For adults, though, it's beautiful and cathartic.

7. Baby Driver:  Baby (Ansel Elgort) works as a getaway driver for a group of bank robbers, but when he falls in love with a pretty waitress, he wants out.  Stylish as all hell (check out that uninterrupted shot near the beginning) and a whole lot of fun.

8. The Handmaiden:  A Korean woman is hired to serve as a rich Japanese woman's handmaiden, but she's secretly conspiring with a con man to steal all of her money instead.  Gorgeously shot, clever, and erotic.  I was also really impressed by how they adapted Sarah Waters' novel Fingersmith; they kept the meat of the story but added a very unique spin.

9. Rogue One:  In this very dark Star Wars prequel, the Rebel Alliance learns of a flaw in the Death Star and sets out to steal the plans.  Great casting and exciting action sequences made this a very fun afternoon at the movies.

10. Moana:  After demigod Maui's antics put her island in jeopardy, young Moana sets off across the sea to right his wrongs and save her people.  Beautifully animated and quite charming.

Bonus stuff!

SEEN IN THE THEATER:  Rogue One, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Lady Bird, Star Wars: The Last Jedi


MADE ME CRY (OR AT LEAST TEAR UP):  Rogue One, Finding Dory, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Logan, Moana, A Monster Calls, My Life as a Zucchini, The Zookeeper's Wife, Colossal, Wonder Woman, Born in China, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wind River, Your Name, Kedi, Lady Bird, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PLEASANT SURPRISES:  Life, The Great Wall, T2 Trainspotting, Passengers, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, My Life as a Zucchini, The Handmaiden, Finding Dory, The Villainess

STARE AT A WALL FOR 2 HOURS INSTEAD, IT WILL BE MORE ENTERTAINING:  Independence Day: Resurgence, Jack Reacher: Never Look Back, Rings, Jason Bourne