I realize that this list is a little late as we are 4 days into the new year, but better late than never, right? While 2017 was generally a mixed bag when it came to movies, it still gave us some of the best movies I’ve seen in years. But it also gave us some of the worst movies I’ve seen in years. There a some things that I want to mention before I begin. One: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not going to be on this list. I’ll tell you why. Disney has made the decision to release a Star Wars movie, spin-off or otherwise, every single year for the next 20 or so years. That’s the plan, anyway. As a result, I don’t think it feels right to put a Star Wars film on my Best list every year. I loved the last movie, but quite frankly, there were much better films that came out in 2017. With that in mind: Let’g get into the best and worst that 2017 had to offer.
This is one of the best thrillers that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a murder mystery that takes place on an Indian Reservation, involving the rape and murder of a young woman. A big-game hunter played by Jeremy Renner, with the assistance of a lone FBI agent played by Elizabeth Olsen attempt to track down how the girl ended up where she did and who killed her. It’s a fantastic murder mystery for many reasons, but one of the most obvious reasons is that it places a focus on a Native American community in Wyoming. It’s a very isolated group which makes some of the events in the film even more tragic. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen give the best performances of their careers and even the supporting actors like Gil Birmingham are extremely compelling. It’s an intense little thriller that I can’t recommend enough.
Darren Aranofsky is probably one of the most polarizing directors I’ve ever heard of. That’s one of the reasons why I love his movies. He doesn’t play by the roles as his movies are some of the most unconventional I’ve ever seen. mother! is his latest effort and it’s probably his most bat-shit crazy film he’s made yet. It involves a couple whose idyllic life is upended when strangers come knocking at their door. I’m not going to get into spoilers here, but let’s just say that mother! is a film that must be seen and experienced. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. Strong performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeifer and Ed Harris complement a film that is so unique that it kind of requires multiple viewings. This is also one of the most divisive movies of the year because of the subject matter. People are either going to love it or flat-out hate it. Thankfully, I loved it and found it worthy of being one of the best movies of the year.
I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Men films since the beginning and Hugh Jackman has been a large part of that. His performances as Wolverine have been really top-notch. Logan is Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the adamantium-clawed character and it’s his best performance yet as a physically and emotionally broken Wolverine struggling to survive in a world where mutants are dying off. Patrick Stewart also turns in a heartbreaking, yet compelling performance as the aging Charles Xavier. When young Laura enters the picture, however, things really get thrown into a tailspin as Laura is a mutant very much like Logan with the same healing capabilities and adamantium skeleton. She’s also inherited his blood-rage. For fans waiting for the Wolverine to finally go berserk, this is that movie. It’s extremely violent and has some pretty shocking moments. But it’s all tied together by a story that is essentially about family. I would not characterize Logan as a superhero movie, because it really isn’t. It’s more of a Western/Road Movie in the style of The Unforgiven. It’s one of the best comic-book based movies in recent years and I highly recommend it.
I never thought that I would ever consider putting an M. Night Shyamalan film on any of my Best Films of the year lists, yet here we are. Split is a true return to form for the director as he delivers a compelling and tightly woven thriller about a man who suffers from having more than 20 personalities in his head. James McAvoy’s performance really helps elevate the film to the level that it needed to be. It’s definitely one of those movies that really needs to be seen to be believed.
Brawl In Cell Block 99
This is one of those big surprises of the year. Vince Vaughn delivers one of his best performances in a very compelling yet extremely violent film. His character, Bradley Thomas, is forced to find and kill a particular inmate otherwise bad things will happen to his wife and unborn child. The resulting film is extremely fast-paced despite its length and absolutely intense. S. Craig Zahler, who wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk delivers another solid film.
When it comes to straight-up action movies, I have to hand it to folks from Indonesia: They know what they’re doing. Headshot is one of the most intense action films I’ve ever seen. Yet, for all that action, it’s the performances that really stand out. Iko Uwais is constantly proving that not only is he a great martial artists, but he’s becoming a great actor as well. The violence is pretty visceral but it’s also very satisfying. The story is actually quite interesting with Iko’s character suffering from bit of amnesia. It adds a very interesting dynamic to what happens in the film.
Christopher Nolan has done it again. The director of movies such The Dark Knight and Inception directs this story about the evacuation of nearly 400,000 soldiers from Dunkirk. From the moment the film starts to the moment that it ends, you’re thrown into a very chaotic and intense situation. The whole movie is about that situation and while it doesn’t really have much in the way of characterization, it really doesn’t need to, especially when you understand how important this evacuation was. For a war movie that is rated PG-13, it’s terrifying. It’s not about the gore or any of that, it’s more psychological. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Blade Runner 2049
Of all the movies that came out in 2017, Blade Runner 2049 had me worried the most. How can you craft a sequel to one of the most beloved cult classics of all time? It shouldn’t have worked, and in the hands of lesser directors and film-makers, it wouldn’t have. Thankfully, Denis Villaneuve was more than up to the task for really expanding on the world of Blade Runner. Visually, this is one of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen. The landscapes and the desolation that you see when get out of the main cities is beautifully bleak. While the performances from Ryan Gosling and Jerod Leto are really good, it’s Harrison Ford that really steals the show. He delivers his best performance in years. Like the original Blade Runner, this one is also a neo-noir detective thriller, and as such, it didn’t get the exposure that it deserved. It’s the kind of detective movie that we don’t see very often. While the other movies that I mentioned were amazing, I would have to say that Blade Runner 2049 is my favorite movie of the year.
Well, we gotta have a worst list, so here we go. There really weren’t a whole lot of movies that I can say I truly hated, but there were a few, so here they are.
The Emoji Movie
Fuck this movie. Fuck it sideways. As bad as movies have gotten in 2017, I was NEVER insulted the way this movie insulted me. It is a cheap, weak-ass knock off of better films like Inside Out. The animation is highly dubious and quite frankly cheap-looking(50 million dollar budget). The story is poorly written and highly predictable with characters that are extremely annoying. Quite frankly the concept was doomed from day one. I don’t who the idiot was that thought that making a movie about a smartphone function was good idea, but they needed to have their heads smashed against a wall. This was absolutely one of the worst movies in the last few years. EASILY.
Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire
Dragonheart was a fun little fantasy flick that came out back in 1996. It worked because it focused on the characters and it treated the dragon like an actual character. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for an hour and a half. The second film was a direct-to-video clunker that was really bad. Dragonheart 3, while not a classic by any stretch, was a much better follow-up to the original than it had any right to be. It actually had some really solid CGI and decent acting. I liked it. Dragonheart 4 is even worse than the second film. I didn’t think that was possible. I wasn’t expecting the dragon to be like Game of Thrones-quality, but it could’ve been at least as decent as the third film, but it’s not. Patrick Stewart replaces Ben Kingsley as the voice of the dragon, and honestly, it’s not quite the same. That’s not a strike against Mr. Stewart, but it is a very different kind of voice-acting. The acting is generally awful, the action scenes are poorly choreographed and the story is just WEAK. Direct-to-video films have come a long way since the early 2000’s, but this is a HUGE step backwards.
Broken Sword Hero
When Ong-Bak came out back in 2003, it opened my eyes to the awesome potential of Thai action cinema. Tony Jaa was the premier action star that brought attention to Thailand’s film industry. When it comes to action, Thai film tend to hit very, very hard. But in terms of story-telling, they miss the mark. Maybe it’s because I’m a Westerner and I have no real knowledge of how Thailand does things as far stories go. Broken Sword Hero is supposed to be the story of one of Thailand’s most legendary warriors, Thong Di. However, the film is boring, the acting is bad and the action scenes are dull and uninteresting. I was expecting a lot more, and it ended up pissing me off the longer it went on. It’s not a good movie.
There we are, the best and worst movies of 2017. Yeah, it’s a little late, but I assure you it’s been worth it. I’m very curious to see what 2018 will bring as far as movies go, so I hope everybody had a great holiday and season, and I look forward to bring you more in 2018.