Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Films Released in 2017: A Final Word

Closing the books on 2017
-- by FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher, with contributions from the usual gang

Despite the fact that they took place nine weeks into 2018, last week's Academy Awards marked the end of Awards Year 2017 for Hollywood.  It was a sobering year, marked most notably by the Weinstein scandal and its aftershocks that shook the film industry to its core.  Out of the ashes has arisen a movement for gender equality in Hollywood that for the first time may go beyond lip service and become a commitment.  Aiding that is the reality that the top acting talent today is largely female; harming that is the reality that box office is still dominated by males.  Example: the Rock earns more per year than Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone combined.  Now, we truly like the Rock and his movies, but please.  Still, we believe (hope?) the ripple effect will go far beyond the film industry and into society as a whole.

2017 also brought a revelation: we detested the black hole created when the Star Wars universe rebooted and hogged all of the holiday box office from better, but smaller, films, but we have to admit that there was one positive effect.  Some of the best and most enjoyable movies fled to the far reaches of the calendar.  Six of our top 15 films, including Get Out (February 24) and Dunkirk (July 21) came out at times usually reserved for dreck or popcorn fare.

Anyway, what follows are our Top-15 films of the year, followed by the best remaining films in separate categories, totally arbitrary ones (invented by the totally arbitrary Guy S. Malone, Researcher).  We do this year to year, based on the movies we have seen.*

* Disclaimer: We see around 50 movies a year, but our record for catching foreign films and documentaries hovers somewhere between embarrassing and abysmal (I will now don my cilice in repentance) so you won't see those categories here.  Also, in the land of King Scrapple, some of the best films zip through town so fast that by the time we get from the house to the theater they are gone.  For those, we call on the gang of movie serfs to apprise us.

15 BEST FILMS OF 2017:

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri - cool, bombastic crime thriller; best of the year

Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan's totally new take on the war film: nonlinear, with no stars

Get Out - Jordan Peele's breakthrough film stunned us with his satirical take on race relations

mother - Darren Aronofsky's Creation to Apocalypse allegory not meant for the popcorn crowd

Darkest Hour - Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn join Oldman as Oscar-worthy

Lady Bird - Greta Gerwig's coming of age film charmed the critical community and moviegoers

The Shape of Water - A treat for the senses; many liked because they ought to, but worthy of Oscar

Call Me By Your Name - Luca Guadagnino and James Ivory crafted a beautiful LGBT tale

The Post - Spielberg cake with Hanks, Streep, and a terrific supporting cast icing

- Scott Cooper and Christain Bale reunited in this simmering Western character study

Baby Driver - Don't judge a film by its title; Edgar Wright's hyperkinetic heist movie

The Big Sick - Culture clash, mortal stakes, and memorable performances elevate this rom-com

Detroit - Kathryn Bigelow excels in depicting war; the Algiers Hotel incident is war

The Phantom Thread - gorgeous film and performances, hampered only by a weird romance

Mudbound - Sundance darling was every bit the breakthrough that Get Out is, but less fanfare


Action/Adventure Recommended:
The Lost City of  Z- Historic drama with Charlie Hunnam as Amazon explorer Col. Percival Fawcett
American Made - Action-comedy with Tom Cruise as pilot Barry Seal, embroiled in Iran-Contra
Logan Lucky - Steven Soderbergh's rural Oceans 11 with the Charlotte Speedway as the mark
Wind River - Taylor Sheridan thriller; FBI agent and tracker investigate murder on a reservation
Good Time - Robert Pattinson, a small-time crook's crazy night, trying to get his brother out of jail

Science Fiction and Fantasy Recommended:

Blade Runner 2049 - Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins reunite in stunning fashion
The Last Jedi - the best Star Wars entry since The Empire Strikes Back (damning with faint praise)
Beauty and the Beast - Vivid, energetic live-action remake with Emma Watson, Dan Stevens
Personal Shopper - Olivier Assayas' moody ghost story, starring his muse Kristen Stewart
Okja - Young girl and fascinating beast defeat multinational capitalists in Joon ho Bong's fantasy
Kong: Skull Island - Kong meets Apocalypse Now, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson

Superhero Recommended:
Wonder Woman - Got a lot of early raves, but not enough to elbow into Oscar nominations
Logan - Original Screenplay nominee depicts end of an era with top X-Men Wolverine and Prof. X
Spider-Man Homecoming - Exciting, funny reboot with Tom Holland as the best Spidey yet
Thor: Ragnarok -  Laughs and action as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) saves Asgard from Cate Blanchett
Guardians of the Galaxy - A notch below the original, but still fun as the Guardians discover family

Films That Invoke the "mother! Warning": The following films will force you to think & question your belief system--they are NOT recommended for the popcorn crowd.
The Little Hours - Based on stories from the Decameron, Aubrey Plaza & Co are profane and funny
Ingrid Goes West - Aubrey Plaza again stretching boundaries, this time as a social media mental case
The Killing of a Sacred Deer - Yorgos Lanthimos' sins of the father parable is brutal and absurd
Beatriz at Dinner - Holds a mirror up to the ugliness of Ayn Rand capitalists and their sycophants
I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore - depressed woman recruits odd neighbor for retribution

The Meyerowitz Stories 79 - Finally, a good excuse to see an Adam Sandler movie, and no one did
Colossal 70 - Monster destroying Seoul psychically connected to US alcoholic (Anne Hathaway)
Their Finest - Propaganda film team boosts British spirits post-Dunkirk in this dramedy
LBJ 54 6.5 - Woody Harrelson as Pres. Johnson, driving through the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Circle - Sci-Fi fun with Emma Watson as a worker bee for charismatically evil Tom Hanks

Disappointments (S
econd disclaimer: We only see movies for which we have decent expectations, so even our disappointments are great art when compared to a lot of stuff out there.)
The Florida Project - Willem Dafoe's presence almost (but not quite) overcomes obnoxious children
Murder on the Orient Express - With Branagh, this looked like a sure thing. Stick with the '74 version
Victoria and Abdul - Even with Judy Dench and production values, this remains pedestrian
Kingsman: The Golden Circle - could've gone Monty Python route, regrettably chose Transformers
Life - Alien reimagining has cool cast and flash, but somehow it turns out dismal
The Great Wall - Multiple strategic blunders; Matt Damon should've given this one to Casey Affleck

Animated Recommended:
Coco - Runaway animated hit of the year
Ferdinand - Classic children's tale finally brought to the big screen
The Breadwinner - Strong-willed Afghani girl provides for her family
The LEGO Batman Movie - The LEGO movies are always better than we expect
Loving Vincent - The visually stunning oil-painted film covers for an OK story


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