Women Reign Supreme
With the Oscars looming large, it's time to talk about the best performances I saw throughout the year! This year's list is filled with women: in fact, there's only two men in my entire top 10, and one of them shares the spot with the female lead of their respective film. No doubt this is the result of one of the strongest years for female actors I've ever seen. Certainly the strongest since I started writing this blog. Now, let's give more female directors the chance to shine, shall we???
For my reviews of each film discussed, click on the actor's picture.
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Let's just get this one out of the way first. Yes, Rami Malek was really good as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, he saved the film. If only the film he saved was any better. Ok, got that out of our system? Good. On we go, then.
Olivia Cooke, Thoroughbreds
A criminally underrated film that quietly went wide in early 2018, Olivia Cooke's deadpan, no holds barred, no shit taking performance in Thoroughbreds still haunts me today. Also you should watch this movie.
EXTRA Honorable Mention
Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade
I may have added this extra "honorable mention" just so I could gloat about Josh Hamilton. Because this is the best performance of the idiosyncratic character actor's career, and we cannot forget that it happened. Plus he has a speech at the end of the film that will floor you, so I want to be sure we never forget that, either.
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
While the movie has seemingly faded from our collective conscious for a variety of reasons, I still do love this breakout performance from Lady Gaga.
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
This intricate performance from Michael B. Jordan laid the cornerstone for the best villain in Marvel movie history, bar none. You've come a long way since Chronicle, dude.
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Regina King was a quiet force of nature in If Beale Street Could Talk, patiently waiting her turn to take over the narrative in this ensemble film. And when she did, it was worth it.
Daniel Kaluuya, Widows
In total contrast to Regina King, Daniel Kaluuya's screen-chewing, over-the-top, terrifying portrayal of the overtly villainous Manning brother can be felt every second of this film, regardless of whether he's on screen or not. Plus, there's this. A menacing scene like that always helps.
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
A rarity in cinema, this genuine, human portrayal of a shamelessly unlikable character was Melissa McCarthy's first foray into dramas as Lee Israel. It was certainly an arduous task, but she executed it with a quietly energetic performance. Her co-conspirator, the lovably flamboyant Jack Hock portrayed by journeyman Richard E. Grant, was equal to the task, and made for a wildly enjoyable film.
Sakura Andô, SHOPLIFTERS
This was my first experience with Sakura Andô, a successful actress in her native country Japan, this performance was the most human performance I saw all year. With the added bonus of some reservedly great moments like this scattered throughout as the icing on top of this humble, down-to-earth cake.
Joanna Kulig, COLD WAR
Again in total contrast, this heroically spectacular and overt performance was the most charismatic I saw all year by a significant margin. The Polish actress grabs hold of Cold War from the first moment she's seen until its closing scene, delivering an unforgettable amount of suave along the way.
The Breakout Actor of 2018 was....
Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians
Look at that infectious smile and tell me how Henry Golding doesn't make any film graced with his mere presence instantly better. I want to be stranded with him on a deserted island somewhere....
The Breakout Actress of 2018 was....
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Besides Yalitza Aparicio, who else could this award go to? Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher tore up this year's award's circuit with their quirky adorableness after her breakout performance in A24's depressingly underappreciated Eighth Grade. Any other year this performance would've netted her an Oscar nomination, but it will certainly net her more work in Hollywood.
The Feel-Good Comeback Story of 2018 was....
Glenn Close, The Wife
She never left us so it's not really a comeback per say, but the trajectory her film The Wife took the past few months was absolutely wild. What started as a small minority murmuring about the underrated brilliance of this performance blossomed into a heavy hitting, seemingly all but assured Oscar win that started when she shocked everyone, including herself, with a surprise W at the Golden Globes, of all places. Looking forward to the end of her unlikely arc Oscar Sunday!
The Actor with the Worst 2018 was.....
Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris, The Mule
Can you go back to yelling at a chair, please? Because you can't make movies anymore, dude. Someone has to deliver him the news.....
The Actress with the Worst 2018 was....
Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider
Hey, remember when Tomb Raider came out this year? Neither do I.
The Best Actor of 2018 was....
The Best Actress of 2018 was....
Say anything negative about Awkwafina and she will find you, and she will enthusiastically and hilariously change your mind. Because she is wonderful and needs to be in EVERYTHING ever made. Also, SHE'S IN AN ACTUAL BUNNY SUITE IN THAT PICTURE FROM CRAZY RICH ASIANS. WITH A LIME FOR A PILLOW NEXT TO HER. HOW DID THAT MOVIE NOT GET NOMINATED FOR PRODUCTION DESIGN OR COSTUME DESIGN FOR THOSE FACTS ALONE? Also. she was in Ocean's 8 and I loved her there, so there's also that.
The Second Annual Michael Stuhlbarg Award for Showing Up in Everything Goes to....
Yes, Josh Brolin was in two superhero movies that came out in the span of like two weeks, but he was also in Sicario 2. Plus, Carell gets the benefit of recency bias since all his films, Beautiful Boy, Vice, and the ill-fated Welcome to Marwen were released in the final six weeks of the year. So it feels like he's been on the award's circuit for a millennia promoting something. Even if one of those three films was garbage.
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
The Favourite gets my imaginary award for "best ensemble cast" if I had it, but if I was forced to pick one of the three actresses in the film, I'd go Rachel Weisz. She's menacing and diabolical, yet you can't help but feel for her as the film goes on. Plus, dat hunting costume dough. Want.
The scene below is a perfect example of the brilliance of her performance. She lurks in the shadows as you think you have a leg up, then she strikes and reminds you that you are not in control. At all. Which is also a good allegory for Rachel Weisz. In general.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Yalitza Apricio's legendary performance in Roma is this high on the list mostly because of the circumstances surrounding it. Not only was it the former schoolteacher's debut acting role, but it was on one of the most grueling sets for an actress ever conceived. Director Alfonso Cuarón shot this film sequentially and held back the script until only a day or two before that individual scene was to be shot, and even then Cuarón withheld key moments until they literally happened in front of the Yalitza's face. The result: a mesmerizingly genuine performance from the Mixtecan actress, one that stays with you long after the film's end credits rolled.
Toni Collete, Hereditary
My top performance has stayed in this slot since I first saw it all the way back in June. A grueling and epic performance from Toni Collete as the troubled and emotionally unstable Annie, the beauty of this performance can be found in the details, namely, in Collete's face. This performance features some of the best facial expressions I have ever seen in a film, which, combined with extreme and abrasive tonal shifts for the character, made this role as challenging as it was. Yet it was all effortlessly handled by Toni Collete. What's not to love in a borderline psychotic character, right?
Nothing can follow up a scene as emotionally gruesome as that, so I won't even try. Thanks for following me on this journey, friends! I'll be back with my all-encompassing 2018 film recap in a few days.
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By: Joseph Kathmann with a contribution in the animation section from Peter Kosanovich
The potential for two VERY different timelines
Never, in all my years writing this blog and covering film, has there been such a contentious Oscar season.
The Academy has presented one ludicrous idea after another and walked them all back, from Kevin Hart hosting the ceremony, (and subsequent non-apology "apology" over his homophobic remarks on Instagram) to the popular film category idea, to replacing last year's Best Actor / Actress presenters with more "recognizable" stars, to the ceremony itself not showing all 24 awards and acceptance speeches live on air, or all five original songs, in a shameless attempt to whittle down the ceremony's lengthy runtime. All of these shortsighted decisions, all walked back, were made by an Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences that seems to be in a shortsighted flux over a seemingly non-existent problem: the Academy Awards just are not as popular as they once were. Every year's ceremony continues to see a dwindling viewership, largely the result of chord-cutters and young people simply not tuning into the awards. Yet, for some head-scratching reason, rather than embrace the loyal following that continues to follow Awards Season with a religious zeal (hello!) and fully lean into the climatic celebration like the Tony Awards have, the Academy is desperately grasping at straws to maintain the relevance it once had 20+ years ago. Hopefully, they'll take a long, hard look at themselves and realize my demographic is not going to suddenly tune in because Avengers: Infinity War is nominated for a Best Popular Oscar, or because Harrison Ford is presenting the Best Supporting Actress category over Sam freaking Rockwell, and start to appeal directly to us movie nerds. But, what it gave us this circuit was a wild and tumultuous season of stupid ideas, walk backs, and apologies from an Academy that for some foreign reason had no earthly idea that us movie nerds and actual industry players would be upset when you announce Best Cinematography will not air live during the telecast because ABC wants to air some new show after the ceremony. (I don't know if that's still the plan, as it is now increasingly likely we're heading to another 4+ hour show.)
Anywho, ridiculous Academy decisions aside, this year's possible award winners have the potential to be the best set of winners I've ever seen. They also have the potential to be the worst, which means this year's Oscars will be the most emotionally unpredictable ceremony in my memory. And it all comes down to Best Picture. On the one hand, you have Alfonso Cuarón's Roma. My number 1 film of 2018, (spoiler for my upcoming year-in-review post) Roma is the current favorite (according to Vegas) to win Best Picture. The film is a cinematic triumph, and would mark the first foreign film to win Hollywood's most prestigious award. Ever. It would be a moving statement, both culturally and politically, from an Academy which is STILL in the recovering phases of #OscarsSoWhite, (let's not forget when that happened twice) and a sign of the changing demographics within this breadbasket of a nation and of the Academy itself. But, on the other hand, lurking menacingly in the shadows, is Green Book. A film which appeals directly to the old, white men of the Academy, a film which unabashedly draws parallels to Driving Miss Daisy, (which infamously won Best Picture the year Spike Lee's groundbreaking Do the Right Thing was released) and trudges out the same old, tired "white savior solves systemic racism" trope that has been told so many times before in old-school Hollywood. The film's director, Peter Farrelly (fresh off the "triumph" that was Dumb and Dumber To) has unashamedly leaned into these tropes, almost going as far as to slog out the stereotypical "I don't see color" line so many old, white men say when claiming they're not racist. And that doesn't even mention the issues the film has had on the awards trail - from stories of Peter Farrelly thinking its funny to whip his junk out on set in the past, to screenwriter Nick Vallelonga (also main character Tony Lip's son) endorsing Trump's racist, debunked, "Muslims cheering after 9/11" conspiracy theory. Oh, and the Shirley family condemning the film for not consulting with them at all during production. That's kind of important.
But, apart from Best Picture, there are 23 other categories to talk about. So, let's go through each of them, shall we? I've seen nearly everything nominated this year short of the live action / animated shorts, so I will give my pick for each category minus those two. As usual, the "who's the favorite" is the favorite according to Vegas betting odds. Those odds can be found here. Let's do this!
Writing: Original Screenplay
Writing: Adapted Screenplay
Short Film, Live Action
Short Film, Animated
Makeup and Hairstyling
Foreign Language Film
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Alright, folks! Hope this preps you for your Oscar watch parties next Sunday. I'll be back with more year-in-review coverage this week, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!!
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Why do we have to talk about Green Book now?
Hello again, friends! Welcome back to another wonderful and wild awards season. Did you miss it? I know I sure did! This year's Oscar nominations dropped today, and I have some feelings about them. There's gonna be a rant forthcoming about a certain film that I was hoping to never have to think about again receiving FIVE Oscar nominations, but beyond the absurdity of Green Book still being somehow relevant this awards season and some unfortunate snubs, the list is fairly decent!
Leading the way this year are The Favourite and Roma. Couldn't be happier seeing those two films at the forefront of the nominations this year. As much as I loved The Favourite, (with just a few films left to catch up on it will very likely be my number one American-made film of the year) I don't foresee it winning much outside of something like Film Editing. Roma, on the other hand, is already shaping up to be the film to watch this award's season. While it didn't win at the Producer's Guild Awards over the weekend (their best film prize SOMEHOW went to Green Book....brace yourselves, folks, the rant's coming) I think Best Picture comes down to either it or A Star is Born. You can also expect to hear Alfonso Cuarón's name called for Best Director, marking the fourth time in five years that a Mexican director wins the category. (Coincidentally, this unprecedented streak began with Alfonso Cuarón himself when he won Best Director for his amazing work on 2013's Gravity.) I also love that, in a year full of terrific performances from actresses, first time actress Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) still receives an Oscar nomination. It does mean someone like Emily Blunt for Mary Poppins Returns is left off the list as a result, but Aparicio is only the second Mexican actress to ever be nominated for the category. So I'll take it. Anyway, let's talk about some of the big winners, losers, and the perplexing decisions of this year's Oscar nominees!
Big Winners: Netflix, Disney, Amy Adams and Glenn Close, Spike Lee
Move over, old geezers. The Netflix revolution is officially here. The streaming behemoth made its presence felt in a HUGE way this year with a staggering 15 nominations, officially putting to bed the notion that the streaming platform can't compete with the big, traditional Hollywood studios. Outside of Roma's 10, the platform also had a solid showing for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a somewhat surprising entry given how little hype there was surrounding the film going into today. All of Netflix's attention has (justifiably) been on Roma, but to see the latest work from Joel and Ethan Cohen receive some love is pretty great.
Speaking of big winners, the titan of the industry, Disney, also won big. The studio leads all contenders with 17 total nominations, and, if you include Fox Searchlight's nominations (as Disney would like us to with the still-impending merger) that number increases to 32. That's right: 32! The BIG feat for Disney this year is Marvel's first ever Best Picture nominee, Black Panther. The film has displayed extraordinary staying power and is undoubtedly the most culturally relevant film of 2018, so it is well deserving of its 7 nominations. Even if (and probably when) it doesn't receive any gold outside of a technical category or two.
I was rather surprised to see Vice receive as much love as it did, particularly in the Best Director and Best Film Editing categories. I thought the film kind of fell apart at the hands of its director as well as the editing, but I guess I'm in the minority. Hopefully, though, the waves are parting for Amy Adams to finally take home her first Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category. Her portrayal of Lynne Chenney is probably the best thing about the entire film. Also, on an unrelated note, can we give some gold to Glenn Close, please? Her moving speech at the Globes was easily the best moment of the night, and it seems kind of ridiculous to give Best Actress to Lady Gaga before giving one to Glenn Close. (Now the most nominated person alive to not receive an Oscar. Would be amazing to see both her and Amy Adams break their win-less streaks on the same night!)
Finally, speaking of feats, congratulations to Spike Lee on his first ever nomination for Best Director and Best Picture. The legendary trailblazer has made a lot of films over his historic career, but has never been recognized until now. Very excited to see that, even if it is about 30 years past due!
Big Losers: If Beale Street Could Talk, Crazy Rich Asians, The "Boy" movies, Foreign films
Undoubtedly the most unfortunate loser of this year's Oscars is If Beale Street Could Talk. The emotional follow-up to Barry Jenkins Best Picture winner Moonlight, arguably the biggest upset of recent Oscar memory, If Beale Street Could Talk only snagged a meager three nominations. The film had something of a questionable distribution strategy, unceremoniously going wide the first week in January after the film was quietly held back a few weeks. I believe the sheer unknown of this film was one of the big factors in its unfortunate downfall, though I do expect Regina King to be the biggest obstacle to Amy Adams winning Best Supporting Actress. If this film has taught us anything, it's that the old "limited engagements December 31, going wide halfway through January" strategy for awards-y films seems to becoming a less viable one.
Speaking of snubs, how about the second most culturally impactful film of the year, Crazy Rich Asians, being completely shut out? The film, despite its extraordinary cultural significance being the first American-made film to feature an all Asian cast in over 20 years, was totally passed over by the Academy. I didn't expect this film to receive more than one or two nominations, but I thought a nomination for Production Design was a near certainty. After all, the sets of that film were even more rambunctious and luxurious than I could've possibly imagined, and fit the film's flamboyant theme perfectly.
Another surprising set of snubs goes to the "Boy" movies. Both Beautiful Boy and Boy Erased were shut out, which is only surprising when you think about the star power behind both of them. I thought Timothée Chalamet had a Best Supporting Actor nomination all but locked up. After all, this was the role he was hyped about when he was promoting Call Me By Your Name last year. Same for Steve Carell. Same goes for Lucas Hedges in Boy Erased. I'd say maybe this is a sign that obvious "Oscar bait" films don't work, but you know studios are going to make more "Oscar bait" films...
Finally, I gotta get on a kinda weird soapbox and briefly talk about the Best Foreign Film category. I'm not surprised Roma received a Best Foreign Film nomination. After all, it is a..... film who's dialogue is in a foreign language. But I'm a little sad that it did nonetheless, because, given the widely celebrated American filmmaker attached to it, Alfonso Cuarón, it had that category completely locked up from the moment its name was called. This ensures that an incredible slate of foreign films nominated - Shoplifters, Cold War, Capernaum, and Never Look Away - all have a zero percent chance at those 30 seconds of American cinema spotlight. Not to mention the snubs of Dogman, The Guilty, and Burning in the process. I wish there was a world where Roma wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Film and instead "simply" wins Best Picture, (of the list of nominees it is undoubtedly my pick for the category) but, lo and behold, that weird fantasy will not come to fruition.
Perplexing Moments: Green Book, Green Book, Green Book, Green Book, Best Director, Best Picture (still)
Alright, folks: we've come to it at last. Green Book. 2018's official "white man saves black man and solves the problem of systemic racism on a car ride" entry. For those that don't know, Green Book is a film from director/writer Peter Farrelly (of Dumb and Dumber acclaim) and stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. The film won the famed audience choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, which has always been a strong precursor to the Oscars, but almost immediately the film started running into problems. Personally, I kiiiind of enjoyed the film. There's wonderful chemistry between Tony Lip (Mortensen) and Dr. Don Shirley, (Ali) and there's some good humor. But the film's ending is waaaaaaaay too feel-good given the subject matter, as the film basically ends with a "and that's how we solved racism, kids!" vibe that was as uncomfortable as it is untrue. But that's not where its issues end. Ohhhhhh no. For a film that claims to be about solving issues around inequality and social injustice, its production was remarkably insincere. After its wide release, the real-life Shirley family (the film is based off of a true story) immediately condemned the film and its approach to Dr. Shirley's character, even going as far as to say they were not consulted AT ALL in the making of the film and calling it "full of lies." Which is frustrating enough as is, but even more so when, on the flipside, Tony Lip's own real-life son, Nick Vallelonga, co-wrote the screenplay. I haven't explicitly specified it yet, but you can probably guess which character is black and which one is white in this story. NOT ONLY THAT, but both writer Nick Vallelonga and director Peter Farrelly have found themselves in hot water the past few weeks: Vallelonga for endorsing a racist and thoroughly debunked Trump conspiracy theory on Twitter back in 2015 about Muslims cheering after 9/11, (ironically, the highest profile Muslim in Hollywood is in this film in Mahershala Ali. Awkward.....) and Farrelly for apparently thinking it was cool to whip his junk out on set back in the 90s.
SO. Now that you're caught up, there's no possible way this film could receive any nominations outside of like one for Mahershala Ali, right? WRONG. The film received a whooping, shocking, and embarrassing FIVE nominations, including nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, (Viggo Mortensen, who had his own controversy on the press tour of this film. Because seemingly every white guy had to have a racist moment promoting a film about "solving" racism!) Best Supporting Actor, (Mahershala Ali) Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay. WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Ya, obviously I'm going to focus on that last one. It is simply DISGRACEFUL that this film received a Best Original Screenplay nomination. I really haven't been this disgusted with the Academy since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. THE JOB of a screenwriter is to consult every source of a story based on real-life people. IT IS LITERALLY THEIR JOB, AND THEY DIDN'T DO IT HERE. And that doesn't even mention the fact that Nick Vallelonga, fresh off deleting his Twitter account after being caught endorsing racist conspiracy theories LESS THAN 4 YEARS AGO, can now call himself "Oscar nominated" Nick Vallelonga. Even if you put all of that aside. Even if you ignore the overt racism surrounding the writers of this film and how they went about writing this screenplay the story is not very good. Just on a strictly surface level, it is dumbfounding that Green Book made it into the original screenplay category over Eighth Grade. Bo Burnham's wonderfully pragmatic debut was inexplicably shunned by the Academy, and by FAR its easiest path to at least a single nomination was through Best Original Screenplay. In my opinion, Eighth Grade is the best overall screenplay of 2018, but, hey! Let's be sure to value freaking Green Book over it, am I right?
I'm becoming increasingly worried that Green Book is actually going to win Best Picture. It won the Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures at the Producers Guild Awards over the weekend, which strongly correlates with the Academy's own Best Picture. But it would be an incredibly regressive pick for a newly diversified Academy two years removed from handing Moonlight the very same award. I'm keeping an eye on you, Academy. Don't you even think about it.
Green Book clusterbomb aside, the only other perplexing categories are Best Director and Best Picture. With the later, it's more just my standard soapbox spiel I've been delivering for years now: you can have up to 10 films on the list, so why not have 10 films nominated for Best Picture every year? The rule preventing that is stupid, and for an Academy that was contemplating a "Black Pan-I mean Best Popular Oscar" category just earlier this year, ensuring 10 films receive Best Picture nominations every year would be a simple, easy way to alleviate some of their concerns. But, I guess we gotta have another Dark Knight disaster for the Academy to actually change this. Oh, and Bohemian Rhapsody being one of the coveted eight nominated films for Best Picture is almost as dumb as Green Book being there, but that's just to be assumed. At least Bryan Singer wasn't sexually harassing anyone. Oh? He was too? Well that's just groovy. Way to go, guys.
Best Director is something of a head-scratcher too. The category is Alfonso Cuarón's to lose, which I have no problem with, and Spike Lee received his first nomination, which is great, but the inclusion of Adam McKay (Vice) and Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) is a bit confusing. Especially since it ensured that no women received a nomination in this category (again) and people like Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) were shunned as well. None of them were ever going to topple Alfonso Cuarón this year, but it would've been nice to see them get some love.
So those are my immediate reactions to the 2019 Oscar nominations! As well as my lovely rant on FREAKING Green Book. As always, thank you for reading, friends! I appreciate all of you. I will be back with my usual Oscar coverage, as well as my 2018 recap, in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
https://www.goldderby.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Oscars-Logo-Statue.jpg (title banner)
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTEwMDIwOTA3NTReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDcyMTQ0MTYz._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,735_AL_.jpg (Crazy Rich Asians)
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYjE4ODUxMjEtYzRlZS00MTNjLTlkYWItNTRjY2ZjMDIzNTU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1499,1000_AL_.jpg (Peter Farrelly, Green Book)
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODY0NTg2NzE4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDUyNTQ3NjM@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (Alfonso Cuarón, Roma)
Hello, friends! This week, Enter the Movies turns five years old. It's very hard for me to believe that just five years ago I was starting this blog with a very humble (and poorly written.... not that that's improved much) review of Iron Man 3. This blog has been a wonderful outlet for me to express my thoughts and opinions on a host of films - over 400 and counting - and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it! From the bottom of my heart, thank you so, so much for sticking with me all this time. What started as a school project has emerged into a (mildly!) successful blog with a decent amount of views. This blog has let me maintain friendships with those of you I may not have otherwise, and it's helped me create some new ones along the way. The future is bright here at Enter the Movies. I have recently started volunteering for some local film organizations in Cincinnati, most notably Cincinnati World Cinema and their new movie theater, The Garfield, which deals primarily in documentary and foreign cinema, and I have no intention of slowing down my consumption/reviewing of mainstream studio films. The last five years have been a blast on the blog, and I can't wait to see what the next five years have in store!
To celebrate the anniversary, I thought it would be fun to make a few lists discussing cinema both personally and relating to the blog. Lists include films that inspired me personally, as well as (in my opinion) the best movies that I have had the opportunity to review on this blog. Among others. So grab your popcorn and enjoy my celebration of my obsession's (quantifiable) fifth anniversary!
Five Favorite Movie Moments
Let's start with some of my favorite movie moments over the years. None of these are in any particular order. I can (and often do) rewatch these scenes over, and over, and over, and over....
Armie Hammer Dancing in Call Me By Your Name
Any look at the end of a Damien Chazelle film
The speeches of The Wolf of Wall Street
Opening of Baby Driver
The sandstorm scene from Mad Max: Fury Road
Opening of Gravity
It would be kind of unfair to not mention some of my all-time favorite movie moments, including.....
"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" as it was one of the first times I actually thought to myself "How is this invincible character going to get out of this situation?" - from Goldfinger
"Introduce a little anarchy" as it is arguably the best monologue from what is still the best performance I have ever seen in a film. It's all in the hands, man. - from The Dark Knight
The jailbreak scene in The Fate of the Furious as it is the embodiment of the over-the-top, mindless action we crave in our summer blockbusters. (Words cannot describe how excited I am for the upcoming The Rock / Statham Furious spin-off) - from The Fate of the Furious
King Theoden's speech / charge in Return of the King because it is still my favorite movie speech of all-time. - from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
"I'm funny how?" because everyone could use more Joe Pesci in their life. - from Goodfellas
Five Favorite First-Watches
I've had a lot of great first-watches over the years, here are some of the ones that really stood out!
I was lucky enough to go into this Blomkamp film completely blind, and was greeted with one of the sharpest left turns I've ever seen. Featuring a breakout performance from Sharlto Copley, (a man who is notoriously one of the hardest people to work with in the business) District 9's sharp left turn caught me totally off-guard and gripped me for the rest of the film. In my opinion this is still the best project Peter Jackson has ever been a part of not named (the original) Lord of the Rings.
Yes, this Christopher Nolan film holds a special place in my heart because I was lucky enough to see it at the beautiful Landmark cineplex in the heart of LA on its opening night. I was in a packed house in one of the most gorgeous movie houses in the country watching a film who's first-watch is pretty unforgettable as it is. (Definitely the best within Nolan's catalog in my opinion.) When you add the stunning location, you end up with one of my favorite first-watches ever.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
This first-watch makes the list because it was my very first opening day screening. My mom took me, a newfound teenager, to see this film on its opening day, and I liked it so much that the film's poster became a birthday present later that year. (It's still hanging in my old room to this day.) This was one of the early times where I realized I may have a soft spot for this whole cinema thing, but combine it with the allure of a packed theater full of Star Wars fans looking for anything to ease the pain of the previous two installments, and you get one of my favorite first-watches.
The Hateful Eight
Another first-watch at The Landmark in LA, I was fortunate enough to watch the latest Quentin Tarantino flick in beautiful 70mm, complete with an overture and intermission. At the time The Landmark had been recently(ish) renovated, and the whole "screening movies in 70mm" idea was very foreign to cineplexes, so this marked the first time I had ever seen a film in 70mm. Needless to say, it was one of my favorite first-watches ever. While no 70mm viewing has ever matched this one, (I've also seen Phantom Thread in 70mm in that very same theater) it does add a strong sense of prestige to the screening, in addition to the extra level of immersion. If you haven't seen something in 70mm yet, I highly recommend it. (While it's not quite the same, the closest 70mm theater to Cincinnati is at the Indianapolis State Museum IMAX Theater.)
Ahhh, yes. You had to have known this one was coming sooner or later, right? I was lucky enough to see The Room for the first time at a midnight screening at Nashville's beautiful indie arthouse theater, The Belcourt. The majority of the packed house were all-to-familiar with the film commonly referred to as "the Citizen Kane of bad movies" and I knew I was in for something special when the first thing the moderator for the screening said was, "If you're in this theater to actually watch The Room, you can leave now." The level of audience participation with this lovably horrific film is something I'll never forget, and if you've never experienced it yourself then WHAT ARE YOU DOING GO FIND THE NEAREST MIDNIGHT SCREENING OF THE ROOM RIGHT NOW. DRIVE 300 MILES IF YOU HAVE TO. You'll thank me later.
20th Century Women
Ok this one requires a bit of explanation. A depressed and frustrated me walked into my favorite Regal in Nashville (Opry Mills ftw) the day after Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. On November 9 I was at one of my lowest points - wondering how a nation could dismiss someone like Hillary Clinton primarily because of her womanhood and elect a man with the maturity of a young child - and was just looking to take my mind off things with the latest thing from A24 to hit cinemas. I was greeted with a beautifully uplifting story, and simply perfect for that moment. The film featured one of my single favorite characters ever put on screen, Abbie, (coincidentally played by now indie-darling Greta Gerwig) as well as other intelligent, powerful, and complicated women. This first-watch is the embodiment of why I love cinema, and one that I'll never forget.
Also wanna give a shoutout to a few other films for providing me with a first-watch I remember fondly:
Titanic, because watching a film crew literally sink a life-size replica of the RMS Titanic on screen is something I'll never forget, even if I was only 6 at the time.
Saving Private Ryan, for being my very first R-rated film. (I was like 8 at the time and was freaking out over the fact that it was rated R. It was a different time, Oscar. It was a different time.)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 for being my favorite midnight screening. Sure, it's not a great film by itself, and it did start a very unfortunate (and hopefully already over) trend with two-part finales to the big YA adaptations of the early 2010s, but watching this with a huge group of friends from my dorm in a packed theater in Harrisonburg is still a memory which I look back on fondly.
The Five Worst Movies I've Reviewed
Might as well get it out of the way now and talk about the worst films I've seen since I started this blog.... uggggghhhhhhh
I Love You, Daddy
While most of these lists are not in any particular order, this film is, without a doubt, the worst film I have ever seen. (or reviewed) As much a jumbled mess as it is culturally insensitive. Louis C.K.'s vile mansplaining film featuring a repugnant "love story" between a Woody Allen-like character and C.K.'s daughter, this story made me so upset I had to stop it at several points so as to not throw my computer halfway across the room. The women, who in C.K.'s disgusting mind offset the vile subject matter, were clearly forced to read scripted lines written by C.K. himself, and the film was doomed to the depths of hell even before Louis C.K.'s own disgusting behavior became public. Now, unfortunately, this film is back at the forefront (least for me) thanks to C.K.'s misogyny-fueled attempted "comeback," when all I want to do is put this, and C.K., out of my mind forever.
Hey, at least this film did create to my go-to disgusted look, courtesy of Pamela Adlon.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Speaking of culturally insensitive films, we have 2018's Sicario sequel, Sicario: Day of the Soldado. A #MAGAs wet dream of what illegal immigration leads to and what our southern border looks like, this film has one of the most culturally insensitive openings I've ever seen as writer Taylor Sheridan (and director Stefano Sollima) turns illegal immigrants into suicide bombers in the south, complete with a sequence where they blow up a Wal-Mart. And if you think the cultural appropriation goes away after that, don't worry! It doesn't. This disgusting film came out right as our current president was separating children from their families at the border, which certainly didn't help its case. There are few films I have ever wanted to walk out of a theater during, however Sicario: Day of Soldado was definitely one of them.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Hey, remember when 21st Century Fox decided it was a good idea to remake one of the campiest films of the '90s 20 years later? I don't.
Speaking of good ideas, let's pair Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in a big budget movie set in space, and forget to spend money on literally any other aspect of this film. That'll go over well, right???
Kirk Cameron Saves Christmas
Just watch this trailer and tell me to my face that this can be a good movie. You can't do it. It was so bad that even Kirk Cameron was like "Bruh, I gotta take a break from this whole acting thing for a few years."
Also gotta condemn one of my favorite punching bags on this blog, Adam Sandler. Films like Grown Ups 2 were so bad that Sandler escaped the studio system and signed over his rights to Netflix. Even though that deal was massive so I'm sure he's REALLY struggling right about now....
The Five Best Movies I've Reviewed (in my opinion)
And now we talk about the films who's praises I've been singing for years, and will continue to do so for years to come.
La La Land / Whiplash
I routinely call La La Land the best film I have ever reviewed on this blog, and likely will continue to do so. The film creates a visual spectacle surrounded by an engrossing love story portrayed by two charming and charismatic leads, all wrapped up in one of my favorite scores of all-time. What's not to love? Also, Whiplash will be used in the same breath as La La Land thanks to one-part gut-wrenching story and one-part "the intimidating presence of J.K. Simmons."
Arguably the most culturally significant film released in the last five years, 2016's almost-not-Best-Picture Moonlight has not only been indie-darling's A24's most critically successful film, it rocketed one of the most talented filmmakers in the business, Barry Jenkins, into superstardom. All while telling an emotionally devastating, thought-provoking, and flawlessly executed story. The beauty of this film is in its minute details, and since its release it has done nothing but shine brighter as one of, if not the, best film of this decade. While I still prefer La La Land over Moonlight personally, I know I am also allowed to be wrong.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Likely the best film I've ever seen from a technical perspective, my top film of 2015 earns a well deserved place on this list. George Miller's third installment in the Mad Max trilogy was one of the gutsiest films to be produced, featuring a production cycle that was actually held up on multiple occasions because the area was physically unsafe thanks to freaking war. Not to mention maintaining the cars was the very definition of a nightmare. But somehow, despite the adversity, George Miller managed to craft one of the craziest films I have ever seen on top of its sheer visual brilliance. Oh, and the score is my favorite of the past five years, so that's a nice thing to have in your film too.
The first perfect score I ever handed out on this blog, Alfonso Cuarón made himself a household name with his seventh feature film, 2013's Gravity. To this day, almost five years later, this film still holds up remarkably well from a technical standpoint, and is likely the best space movie ever made. (To date, at least. *Looks at First Man*.....) Sure, its story is..... a little dull, but the technical execution here is breathtaking, with Cuarón's hand on the steering wheel. I still don't know how they got some of these shots....
I think 2015 was probably the best overall year for cinema on this blog. Between this, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, Room, AND Ex Machina? Man, that's a lot of great cinema for one year. Spotlight is probably the film that has most changed my life personally in the last five years. A stunningly dramatic interpretation of one of the most shocking exposés ever written, Spotlight shows how you can take a seemingly mundane story - tracking a story over the course of almost a year - and makes it gripping in every sense of the word. Couple that with the fact that this film (and story) highlights the ugliest parts of the Catholic church, which are (sadly) still very relevant today, and it's tough not to include this one on the list.
A big-time honorable mention here goes to Phantom Thread, which was my number 1 film of 2017, and featured two of the best performances I have ever seen in a film between Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps.
Also, speaking of ridiculous production cycles, Richard Linklater's Boyhood has to receive a mention thanks to its legendary 20-year production cycle.
Another one to worth mentioning (recency bias aside) would be my best film of 2018 so far, Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade. What a spectacular directorial debut from the former YouTube star.
Five Films that Inspired Me
To close out the retrospective, I wanted to take a moment and talk about some of the films that inspired me before I started writing this blog. These are just a few of the many films that I hold in high regard.
My first run-in with "found footage" films, this little 2008 film from Matt Reeves, Drew Goddard, and J.J. Abrams took me completely by surprise when I first saw it ten years ago. (It's also the only film I've reviewed on two separate occasions on this blog. Fun fact) It jumpstarted the careers of Lizzy Caplan and (for better or for worse) T.J. Miller, and still has one of the scariest scenes I've ever seen a movie. (You know the one) I think this movie caught lightning in a bottle when it first came out, and certain aspects of it are certainly dated now, but I still love it. This is still one of my favorite sci-fi movies of all-time.
Martin Scorsese Films
I know I'm cheating with this one, but Martin Scorsese is my favorite director of all-time. You honestly want me to pick only one of his films? Taxi Driver. Raging Bull. The Wolf of Wall Street. The Aviator. Hugo. Casino. Mean Streets. Goodfellas. How am I supposed to pick just one? Alright, well if I HAD to pick one to be my favorite, it would probably be Taxi Driver. Featuring an iconic performance from Robert De Niro that ensured he would never be referred to as "the guy from The Godfather: Part 2," Taxi Driver is a haunting character study that was inspirational for dozens of future filmmakers. with the famous "You talking to me?" sequence continuing to be a pillar of internal monologue sequences. Also the film features a VERY young Jodie Foster and has one of the last scores from the greatest film composer of all-time, Bernard Hermann, so there's that.
The Social Network
This film is primarily here because it has EASILY the best trailer ever made, but I think it is still the best film of this decade that I've seen. (Though Moonlight does have something to say about that.) A once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between my favorite screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, and one of the most meticulous directors out there, David Fincher, The Social Network was the launching pad for the careers of Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer, which is worth the cost of admission alone. Not to mention it has one of the best scores of recent memory (certainly the most groundbreaking) from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. All that aside, the collaboration between Sorkin and Fincher has proved to be one of the best collabs ever, and even though another collaboration would never reach the same hemisphere as The Social Network, I still really, REALLY, want to see it again.
The Bond Movies
So if you asked me what's my favorite movie franchise of all-time, I would say, without hesitation, James Bond. I discovered the franchise long ago at one of the lowest points of my entire life, and was inspired by the fictional hero. After all, if James Bond can talk his way out of being sliced in two by a lazer, why can't I make it through the next day? For almost 6 months, every Thursday night was Bond night at my late uncle's house as we went through each installment in the franchise, and at the time I didn't have much else to look forward to. Sure, there are many problems with this franchise, particularly around its awful treatment of women. (Which it's still having issues with to this day, unfortunately.) But I will never forget the uplift this franchise gave me at a time when I needed it the most. Hopefully the franchise can figure out how to make itself more gender inclusive in the future!
Also, for anyone wondering, Goldfinger is my favorite Bond movie. Gert Fröbe is SUCH A GREAT villain!
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
We've come to it at last. The film that is, in my opinion, the greatest movie I've ever seen. How do you make every second of something that's 251 minutes long engrossing? I have no freaking clue, but every second of that legendary extended edition (263 minutes long with the extra credits) is exactly that. The film still looks great almost 15 years later, (even better than The Hobbit trilogy, which is pretty amazing/depressing when you think about it) and features iconic performances from everyone involved. I mean, c'mon! There's like 20 people in this thing who's careers were defined by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. How many movies can say that? Also, I've been mentioning musical scores throughout this post....well, in my opinion, this film features the single greatest score ever put on film, highlighted by one of the greatest musical sequences of all-time. The goosebumps in this sequence are so real that I STILL tear up. It's indescribably magnificent, and puts the cherry on top of one of the great films of Hollywood cinema.
Well, thanks so much for reading everyone! I had a blast writing this retrospective, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as well! It's been a great couple of years here at Enter the Movies, and I am very excited to see what the next five years have in store. On to 2023!
Predictable, Boring, and Montages everywhere
As usual, these thoughts come to you immediately following the Oscars, and are being written from a bedroom of my brother's condo in Las Vegas. Definitely some interesting scenery over here tonight....
Well, Oscar season has come and gone. We're at the end of the journey for 2017's year in film, and this year the journey itself ended up being far better than the destination. While I never expected anything to top last year's Oscars, this year's felt very safe and predictable, as almost every favorite took home their respective categories. Don't get me wrong: I loved The Shape of Water. It was in my top films of the year. But winning over films like Get Out and Lady Bird and Call Me by Your Name and Phantom Thread (though I'll admit that last one is there solely because it's my personal top film of 2017).....really? That's what we're going to go with? The Shape of Water? OSCAR. That's really going to be 2017's poster child film? Is that right? Ugh.... There's very little doubt in my mind that 20 years from now we'll look back at this year's Oscars and do nothing but scratch our heads. The Academy had a real chance to show that they were changing through and through by giving this award to something like Get Out, and it let it slip out of its fingers. Hey: at least it wasn't Three Billboards, right? Don't look at Oscar....he's still mad The Greatest Showman didn't get a Best Picture nod. Ha.
I almost feel bad that I'm dissing The Shape of Water so much. It's an amazing film, don't get me wrong! But.....it just hits all the right notes for the traditional Academy voter, and for a group that is trying to convince people that it's not just a bunch of old white dudes that are out-of-touch with society, handing Best Picture to that film will not go about solving those issues. Is it a more interesting choice than usual? Sure. But we had a very unique list of nominees this year with a lot of films that broke new ground, so within this list outside of the obvious Oscar-bait of something like Darkest Hour, picking something like The Shape of Water feels like a "crowd-pleasing" choice. However, compared to some of the other awards given out, Best Picture seems saint-like. There were two TERRIBLE and out-of-touch decisions made by the Academy Oscar Sunday that were incredibly frustrating, especially in the wake of the #TimesUp movement: Gary Oldman and Kobe Bryant. Two men accused of SEXUAL ASSAULT in some shape or form can now proudly say they've won an Oscar in the height of what's supposed to be a new era. While Dear Basketball was almost laughed at by critics for being nothing but an ego-stroking animated short, the major star power behind it still allowed it to topple the Pixar dynasty and win best animated short, despite Kobe's sketchy past. And Best Actor. UGH Best Actor! WTF are you doing, Oscar?? All the great names in that category, and still you give it to freaking Gary Oldman for his quintessential Oscar-bait performance, all while ignoring his equally sketchy past? Give me a break, guys. That's like Bruno Mars winning Album of the Year at the GRAMMYs over the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Lorde. Oh waaaaaaaait......
I'm also a little frustrated that Lady Bird, the symbolic representation of the #TimesUp movement, walked away empty-handed but I couldn't really figure out a way to incorporate that into the previous paragraph so here's me complaining about it now.
That said, there were some bright spots. Frances McDormand EASILY won the night with her powerful acceptance speech. She wasn't my choice for the category, but asking the women of the audience to stand and be recognized and get their projects financed was extremely powerful. (Equally powerful? How few actually stood) It was the highlight of the night for sure. And, once again, the "In Memoriam" was terrific, and Eddie Veddar's cover of Tom Petty's "Room at the Top" certainly gave me some chills. (Pay attention, GRAMMYs) The original songs were all pretty darn good. Sufjan Stevens easily won the night here with his chilling rendition of "Mystery of Love." Though of COURSE his song got cut for time while "This is Me" got to do whatever the F it wanted. Figures. Mary J. Blige and Andra Day were awesome, too. I just wish Common didn't have to rap over Andra Day. Yes, I appreciate his relevant cultural messages, but he is SO pretentious. Day is singing her heart out and then Common has to come in and be all like LOOK AT ME. WHEE. I laughed at Jimmy Kimmel's bit in heading over to the Chinese Theater, (that dude mispronouncing Tiffany Haddish's name was the best part of it) but a LOT of people on social media were rolling their eyes there, so that joke didn't land with most. I can understand why: the Oscars went almost 40 minutes over time, so having a long joke like that didn't help things.
Though, speaking of going over time, I get that this is the 90th Academy Awards, but did we really need 37 film montages? That really seemed excessive, and by the Best Actor/Actress montages, even I was rolling my eyes and yelling at them to get on with it. Many (myself included) just look at that as ego-stroking from the Academy, (they can hide it behind "thanking the moviegoer" all they want, but that's all it was) and making up for it by cutting off the acceptance speech of the Best Picture winner (I couldn't tell which producer that was that got cut off, but boy was he mad that he couldn't say anything worthwhile) is not the way to cut down on time. Cut off a few montages, and let the winners have their moment. (I wasn't a big fan of that Jimmy Kimmel bit about giving a jet ski to the shortest speech, either.) Though, I will say, that #TimesUp tribute was the best moment of the night that wasn't Frances McDormand. Let's get more of those interviews and fewer montages, shall we?
Let's talk about a few of the winners I was happy about. ROGER FREAKING DEAKINS. That man FINALLY won his first Oscar! Only took the legendary cinematographer 14 tries to do it, but I will not lie I stood up and cheered when his name was called. I was also really happy for James Ivory, who was behind the wonderful screenplay for Call Me by Your Name. Fun fact: James Ivory became the oldest person ever to win an Oscar when he took this award home. And, of course, I was equally happy to see Jordan Peele walk home with an Oscar for his Get Out screenplay. It is so nice that we can now say "Oscar winner Jordan Peele."
I do have to take a second and express disappointment with some of the choices in the technical categories. I was REALLY hoping that Baby Driver would topple the behemoth known as Dunkirk, but at least it lost to one of the best films ever made from a technical standpoint. I was also disappointed with the Original Score category. I loved the score to The Shape of Water, (it was a top 5 score for me) but it was nowhere near as good as Johnny Greenwood's score for Phantom Thread, as well as Hans Zimmer's score to Blade Runner 2049, represented in the category by Dunkirk. But, hey! At least "Remember Me" beat out "This is Me" for Best Original Song, so there's that, right? Finally, we have to talk about possibly the biggest disappointment of the night that isn't controversial: Visual Effects. Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME? Yes, Blade Runner 2049 had some marvelous effects. (Particularly surrounding the character Joi-her sex scene apparently took a year to produce because of the effects) But.....once again, the Planet of the Apes franchise reboot, which is pioneering the art of motion capture right now, walks away without a visual effects award for its efforts. How has that trilogy gone 0 for 3 at the Oscars?? It's mind-boggling to me. Then again I thought Dunkirk had the best visual effects of 2017, so what do I know right?
There's really not much else to say about this year's Oscars. It was just kind of there, and overall it was pretty boring. It was the lowest watched Oscars ever, and frankly I can understand why. However, I'm excited about the future of the business in Hollywood. The year's list of nominees were awesome, and they'll continue to get better. Someone like Greta Gerwig may have walked away empty-handed this year, but there's no doubt she'll be back. As will people like Timothée Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Morrison, Johnny Greenwood, and Kumail Nanjiani/Emily V. Gordon. They all represent a new wave of talent in Hollywood that the industry hasn't seen in a while. They may not have had their talents recognized this year, but as time goes on this new wave that represents acceptance and diversity and bold new ideas will start to outnumber the old farts that have sat comfortably in their seats of power, voting for the easy and predictable choices for these categories, for years. There's no doubt in my mind that the east wind of new Hollywood is upon us. It's time to bundle up, Academy.
My Number: 4/10
And with that, another year comes to a close. It's been a wild ride here at Enter the Movies. Overall, I felt like 2017 was the strongest year I've seen for film since I started my blog in 2013. I'll be thinking about films like Phantom Thread, I, Tonya, Dunkirk, Call Me by Your Name, and Lady Bird for years to come. As for right now, though, it's about 1:30 AM on the east coast (it doesn't sound as dramatic when I remind you that it's merely 10:30 PM in Vegas. Don't forget I write this immediately following the Oscars ceremony) so my most immediate thought is about how nice this bed I've been leaning on for the better part of 2 hours looks. So, once again, thank you SO MUCH for joining me on this wild ride, friends. Can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. DEUCES!
https://media.giphy.com/media/3o6Zt59VpAzKf1r7zi/giphy.gif (Greta Gerwig gif)
What a year it's been for cinema. I know I say this every year, but this year feels a little different. I honestly believe we will look back at 2017 as a STRONG year for American cinema as a whole. There were a TON of duds, of course, most notably in the summer blockbuster season, but.... think about it for a second. We saw what is, in my opinion, the best piece of cinema from one of the great directors of our generation in Paul Thomas Anderson, (Phantom Thread) we saw the strongest entry into acclaimed director Edgar Wright's filmography, (Baby Driver) we saw visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro create his most ambitious and accessible film to date, (The Shape of Water) we witnessed one of the great sequels ever to be made from a man establishing himself as the best sci-fi director of the 21st century in Denis Villeneuve, (Blade Runner 2049) and we even saw a few people new to the director's chair give us some great cinema in Taylor Sheridan (Wind River) and my spirit animal, Greta Gerwig! (Lady Bird) All the while, Marvel dropped its strongest installment yet (and propelled indie director Taika Waititi into stardom in the process) with Thor: Ragnarok, and we're fortunate enough to still be able to witness Andy Serkis continue to pioneer the art of motion capture in War for the Planet of the Apes. Oh, and did I mention we saw yet another strong film from Christopher Nolan? (Dunkirk) What about the fact that we FINALLY got the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back? No big deal. Average year, right? Ya. I think this is strongest overall year for cinema since I started this blog back in 2013. So many great films, and here's my best attempt to make a list about them. Ready? I sure am. Here are the best films of 2017!
For the individual reviews of the films mentioned, click on the pictures.
Honorable Mention: Wind River
Exhibit A for how you know 2017 was a great year for cinema? Wind River is merely an "Honorable Mention" on this list.This movie, the "unofficial" directorial debut from acclaimed writer Taylor Sheridan, (he directed a film back in 2011, Vile, that wasn't well-received so we'll pretend it didn't happen) Wind River was a nitty, gritty, edge-of-your seat western-style thriller with some fantastic visuals and great acting. There were a few caveats holding it back from true greatness, (like the forced romance between Olsen/Renner, who are merely 18 years apart in age) but it doesn't change the fact that this movie featured career performances from the two main leads, and the story is a wild one, to say the least. It came out waaaay back in August, which is probably why it didn't receive any love from the Academy, (OSCAR! You mean to tell me that Denzel Washington got a Best Actor nomination over Jeremy Renner? Sure, guys) but man. For what is usually an off-time for Hollywood, (August releases) this was a breath of fresh air, to say the least. And I think when people look back at the success of a man like Taylor Sheridan, this will definitely be included in the discussion.
Honorable Mention: Molly's Game
The other honorable mention on this list is the directorial debut from acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Hard to believe this guy has been around since 1992 and has never actually directed a film. But, this movie is told exactly how you would expect an Aaron Sorkin film to play out: everyone knows everything at any given moment, and everyone is always smarter than everyone else. While it's not necessarily every viewer's cup of tea, it sure is mine so I couldn't help but love this flick. It also helps that pairing Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain, aka two of the sexiest people alive, was a GREAT idea. I would be totally OK with a film written by Sorkin that just has these two stars in a room talking/arguing. They make all their conversations look SO good, in every sense of the word. A few things held this back from being higher on the list, most notably the hastily written and shallow "Player X" character, but otherwise? This is 2017's smartest and sexiest film. If you're a fan of anything Sorkin has done in the past, you will probably like this one too.
10) The Disaster Artist
This one was really tough for me. Before the allegations against James Franco came out, this was an easy top 5 contender. It is a refreshing reminder of why I love cinema, and one of the more inspirational films I have ever seen. After all, The Disaster Artist is all about following your dreams, no matter how good or bad you may be at them. I love it! That message is pure beauty. And, it's also HILARIOUS. The story here is so hard-to-believe and so over-the-top, but it's so good that I actually went and saw it again the very next day. It WAS my "favorite" movie of the year. Until the allegations against James Franco arose.
I don't think it's fair to the rest of this crew to fault them for the allegations made against James Franco. Yes, Franco himself is dead to me, but should this movie be too? Initially, I was going to leave this film right where it was in the top 5, but....after more thought, Franco plays too big a role in this film to just ignore him entirely, and what he has done to women over the years is terrible. So, with that in mind, I put it at number 10 on the list. It's a great watch, no doubt. A film that successfully straddles the line of comedy and drama, and is a wonderful homage to the best "worst movie ever made" in The Room. I just wish James Franco wasn't a sexual predator that has terrorized women over the years. Those women's lives will never be the same, and neither should Franco's.
Ok, lightening the mood again. Hey, remember when we heard Warner Brothers was remaking It and got nervous? I know I did. After all, most reboots are disappointing at best, and given the fact that Warner Brothers was behind this one....I definitely wasn't too hopeful. Well, every once in a while a reboot can shock you, and It did just that. (And made boatloads of money for Warner Brothers in the process) It is a surprisingly strong film featuring a TERRIFYING rendition of Pennywise the DANCING Clown from Bill Skarsgård. He leads the charge in this film with his resonating performance of the clown, (that earned a place in my Fourth Annual Awesome Actors Awards as well, YA!) and there were a lot of good performances from The Loser's Club too! I did not think a studio like Warner Brothers would ok this much character development in their big-budget horror movie, but I'm glad they did. Well done, guys! Hopefully this shows studio execs that it's possible to make money off of big budget horror flicks, because we need more of these!
8) Baby Driver
Wow, there were a lot of great films in 2017. I freaking LOVED Baby Driver. The latest (and greatest) from acclaimed director Edgar Wright, this film is a heist movie that's also synced up to music for the vast majority of the flick. Everything is taken into account to achieve this, right down to doors opening/closing and even things like lights changing colors. I wish my life could be synced to the beat of whatever song I was listening to like this, because that would be pretty freaking awesome. Also, did I mention this film is great? It loses a bit of steam in the romance between Elgort and Lilly James, and it does feature Kevin Spacey, (though he has a relatively minor role so I think it's possible to forget about him here) but....man! It's nonstop, balls-to-the-wall action with over-the-top performances, all synced up to a FANtastic soundtrack. What's not to love? Need any more convincing on this one? Just check out the opening heist sequence, which happened to be my favorite movie moment of 2017.
7) The Shape of Water
We were fortunate enough to have several great sci-fi films this past year, and the latest from director Guillermo del Toro showed us just what one can do with CGI in 2017. The amphibious creature featured is an incredible example of motion capture, and was simply stunning to watch. Additionally the love story crafted is visually daring and wonderfully original, and its sold by one of the best performances of the year from Sally Hawkins. She is simply marvelous in the lead role, as she conveys an incredible amount of emotion through her hands and face while not being able to speak. This film also featured incredible production design, and a fantastic score from Alexandre Desplat. The movie pays homage to a lot of classic cinema, and the production design/score really added to this wonderful homage. This film is really spectacular. It received 13 Oscar nominations, and for good reason. The visionary pioneer Guillermo del Toro made his most accessible movie to date, (he has an impressive filmography, by the way) and it looks like he will have his first Oscar to boot for it. I highly recommend this one, especially if you are a fan of sci-fi.
6) Blade Runner 2049
I think there's a good argument to be made that Blade Runner 2049 will be one of the films that's "remembered" from 2017. Many even called it the best film of the year. Were it not for the major objectification of Ana de Armas, I may even agree with them. But, objectification of Armas aside, (I know that's the point of her character, but....it's 2017, and it's time for that to stop) this film is incredible. The highlight for me is the cinematography, which is EASILY the best cinematography I saw all year. It was breathtaking to see this film in a theater. And makes it even more of a shame that it under-performed at the box office. But, Academy, please: GIVE ROGER DEAKINS THE OSCAR FOR CINEMATOGRAPHY. He's only been nominated 14 times! UGH! Anyway, the colors, lighting, and cinematography alone are more than worth your time, and it tells a boldly original sci-fi story while still being a sequel. (Officially, at least) Also, it features one of my favorite scores of the year from Hans Zimmer, which adds so much depth and complexity to this film. Freaking brilliant, man. Oh, and Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are paired together. What's not to love there? Director Denis Villeneuve has crafted a true masterpiece for the genre if there ever was one, with breathtaking visuals and a wonderfully original story.
5) Call Me by Your Name
How I love this movie. Call Me by Your Name, the latest from director Luca Guadagnino, (first thing I've seen from him but to say I'm sold is something of an understatement) is a beautiful, charming, and heartbreaking love story that took me on more of an emotional roller coaster than any other film this year. It's shot on location in northern Italy in the early 80's and it makes use of both its setting and time period SO well. The production design of this film was probably my favorite for the year, as it felt like every choice on the set was meticulous and deliberate. Mesmerizing is the word that comes to mind. Additionally, the music choices here are superb. Using a song from The Psychedelic Furs was brilliant, and it gave us one of the greatest gifs ever of Armie Hammer dancing. Sufjan Stevens original songs are incredible, too! His main song here, "Mystery of Love," is easily my favorite original song in film in 2017. There's no doubt this is the best period film of the year, and well worth the watch if you want to see a truly complex and mesmerizing love story. Oscar, stop looking at the gif of Armie Hammer dancing, man. We have work to do!
4) Lady Bird
Coming in at number 4 is one of the best coming-of-age films I have ever seen. Lady Bird is the product of the incredible Greta Gerwig, who comes out swinging (to say the least) in her directorial debut. This film is amazing. It's a beautiful coming-of-age flick featuring a relatable and intricate relationship between the two women leads of this film, played beautifully by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. It's quiet, it's intimate, and it's executed masterfully in the hands of its director. Oh, and it's funny! I was busting my gut laughing on more than one occasion, then a few moments later I'd find myself getting emotional. Oh, and Timothée Chalamet/Lucas Hedges are amazing as Lady Bird's boyfriends. Talk about three young, great actors in this movie all at the same time. Who knows? Maybe people will look back at this film as a film of epic proportions 20 years from now when these 3 are some of the biggest names in the business. And Greta Gerwig better be right there with them! Anyway, it's one of the best coming-of-age films I've seen in a long time, so if that's the kind of film you're into, make the time to see this. Even if you aren't, you should still find this somewhere! I'm sure it will be easily accessible relatively soon on streaming services. Check it out!
The Best Comedy Outside the Top 10 Was....
2017 was yet another bad year for American comedies, however there was one that really stood out. The Big Sick comes from comes from the comedian Kumail Nanijiani and now wife, Emily V. Gordon. It's a crazy love story that's almost impossible to believe, but the incredible story of how Nanijiani and Gordon fell in love is something right out of the movies. These dramatic events are told exceptionally well, with a lot of good humor littered throughout. The themes investigated here are very profound, from the world of arranged marriages Kumail and his family deal with to the idea of dying while your still young to losing someone and trying to reconnect with them and a whole lot more. There's a well executed story-within-a-story here too as Kumail connects with his (at the time ex) girlfriend's parents while she's in a coma, who are played wonderfully by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. A story like this usually doesn't work. It usually bites off more than it can chew. But it's executed so well that it even earned itself a surprising (but deserved) Oscar nomination, and is EASILY the best comedy of 2017 too.
The Best Summer Blockbuster Outside the Top 10 was....
2017 was a BAD year for the big summer blockbuster. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it was the worst year for it since I started writing this blog. War for the Planet of the Apes, however, earned this award. If nothing else than for the fact that what this film series is revolutionary. The incredible motion capture achievements aside, I had a lot of problems with this film. Most notably the fact that this film almost felt like a bottle episode in a TV series. "Hey guys! It's time for us to go to WAR! .......with this one rogue military outpost." However, what it's doing within the world of motion capture is beyond incredible, and we are fortunate enough to witness the pioneer of this field deliver arguably his best performance yet. The legendary Andy Serkis portrays the lead ape, Caesar, and he what he does with the character, especially when you watch the behind-the-scenes footage, has to be seen to be believed, and its buoyed by an exceptional character arc. Even though the pacing is VERY slow, and at the end of the day not a whole lot happens to further the events of this franchise, it is still well worth the watch for the motion capture alone.
The Best Action Flick Outside the Top 10 Was....
This one was kind of a no-brainer. As probably any action fan knows, the John Wick franchise is at the top of the world, solidified by its strong latest installment, John Wick: Chapter 2. Once again Keanu Reeves shines as a fantastic action star, and pairing him (albeit briefly) with a screen-chewing Laurence Fishburne for the first time since The Matrix franchise was SO much fun to watch. "Somebody PLEASE get. This. Man. A. Gun." AH! I LOVE IT. This time around we also got a lot of world-building from the franchise, which was quite interesting! And....when we got to the action setpieces? Brilliant. How John Wick's action scenes are shot continues to be the modern pillar for the genre. ALL ACTION SCENES NEED TO BE SHOT LIKE THIS. No shaky-cam. Wideshots-a-plenty so we can actually see the action, mixed with subtle choreography to stage the whole thing. It's really not that hard! Other franchises are picking up on this, but still have a long way to go. Fortunately, though, the Boogeyman is here to save the day. I can't wait for the next one!
The Best Sci-Fi Film Outside the Top 10 Was...
Yay! I get to talk about Star Wars for once! If you want my in-depth thoughts, check out my review in the pic. Here, though, I just want to address all the haters out there, so to those who are disappointed by this film.....it is so rare to see anyone be given such free rein over a franchise as director Rian Johnson was for Episode VIII. That doesn't happen in modern Hollywood. (Looks at the clusterbomb that is the DC Universe) This film covers so much ground in such a short amount of time, and manages to feel so different than any other film in this franchise. Would you rather JJ Abrams just give us another version of Episode VI for the finale like he did for The Force Awakens? I know I would take something unique and original 10 times out of 10. Also, can we just marvel at how freaking beautiful the final big battle on the mineral planet is?? That sequence was one of the most visually stunning sequences I saw in all of cinema last year! Honestly, I'm quite sad this franchise is being handed back to JJ Abrams. Rian Johnson delivered EASILY the best Star Wars film since Episode V, and if he was allowed to finish his vision I think we'd have something truly special on our hands. Don't let the haters get you down, man.
The Best Horror Film Outside the TOp 10 Was....
Speaking of genres that did not have a good 2017.....the horror genre continues to have a rough go of it overall. While it did have its most successful film in YEARS, there were a lot of attempts at original concepts the fell flat on their faces, and even more tired installments to pre-existing franchises. (Hey, remember when the first Conjuring movie came out?) However, one film did stand above the rest, and that was the horror-slasher-comedy Happy Death Day. This film utilizes the Groundhog Day trope of reliving the same day over and over to get a lot of slasher-style deaths and mixes it with a lot of suspense out of the horror genre's pocketbook, then sprinkles on some humor for good measure. The final cupcake we ended up with was shockingly good! (Ya, making puns about the movie over here, no big deal) I really enjoyed the all-out performance from Jessica Rothe, and that freaking pig mask, man. That freaking pig mask. There were a lot of issues with the film, but it's also very accessible so if you're looking to get into the slasher/horror genres, this is as good a place to start as any.
The Best Superhero Film Was....
2017 was possibly the strongest year yet for Disney's Marvel enterprise. While the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel left something to be desired, the studio partnered with Sony to (finally!) deliver a strong new installment in the Spider-Man franchise, and it dropped arguably its best movie yet within its own universe with the hilarious, stylistic, and bombastic Thor: Ragnarok. Marvel took a huge gamble on little-known director Taika Waititi to revitalize what was previously the weakest character in their franchise, and from the first amazing trailer for this film we knew we were in for something awesome. Right we were. Thor: Ragnarok takes the off-the-cuff humor Marvel is known for and amps it up to eleven all while featuring a strong villainess played by Cate Blanchett. The movie shows some great relationships that are developed over its runtime, and it is just a blast to watch. Oh, and Jeff Goldblum screen-chewing to no end is pretty awesome, too. The planet we spend most of the film on is great, Thor and Hulk and Loki and Valkyrie are awesome, and FINALLY we get a film that uses "Immigrant Song" in a great way. Props to Taika Waititi for completely changing the direction of this character for the better!
The Best Film to Debut on a Streaming Service was....
Streaming services continue to be more and more prominent every year with their original content, so I figured it's about time I give them a shoutout on this list. There was a lot of BAD films to come out on these platforms (cough cough Bright cough cough) but Mudbound towered above the rest. The film features a delicate friendship between two WW2 vets (pictured above and played by Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) after they return home to rural Mississippi. As you can guess, people don't take too kindly to that sort of thing. Jonathan Banks is at the center of it all, as he portrays a vile and racist father to Hedlund and his brother, played by Jason Clarke. The film did have some shortcomings, most notably in Carey Mulligan's character, but the friendship between Hedlund and Mitchell was heartbreaking to watch, as was the end result of this dark and gritty film. The ties to modern systemic racism are very prevalent, but also subtle, which makes it that much more impactful. It's available to watch on Netflix right now, and I highly recommend checking it out.
The Best Animated Film I Saw was.....
I'll openly admit I watched only a few animated films in 2017 as the genre (least in America) continues to get worse and worse. However, just because American animation is slipping doesn't mean it's slipping across the big pond. Your Name. became the highest grossing Japanese anime ever last year, and after watching it I can see why. Its story is bold and unorthodox, and its visuals are breathtaking. The story itself is beautiful and heartbreaking, and there's some really great voice-acting to boot. If you are looking for an entry into the crazy world of anime, Your Name. is definitely it. And, even if you aren't, I'd say it's still worth a watch. It's quite criminal that the Academy did not nominate this for Best Animated Feature. PLEASE GET THE BOSS BABY OUT OF MY LIFE, OSCAR!
The Biggest Surprise In Film Was.....
You knew I was going to talk about this film sooner or later! While I wasn't the biggest fan of Get Out, (it's good, but was distractedly predictable for me) no film sparked a cultural conversation in 2017 as much as this did. Not to mention it was the most profitable film of the year. But the themes investigated here sparked a national conversation about subtle systemic racism, and it all came from.....Jordan Peele? OSCAR! Is that right? This is the same Jordan Peele from Comedy Central's Key & Peele? Seriously? Ok, then. Also, I love the cast of this movie as there were a lot of lesser-known stars thrown into the crux of Hollywood elite because of this film. The story of how its lead, Daniel Kaluuya, was cast is fascinating. Apparently Jordan Peele saw Kaluuya's episode of Black Mirror one night on Netflix and decided right then and there that he had to have him for this movie. And now he's an Oscar-nominated actor. I am a sucker for stories like that! So, even though I wasn't the biggest fan of this film, it's still pretty amazing to see a little crew make a movie with no budget that goes on to gross over $150 million domestically and net four Oscar nominations. We need more stories like that!
These last 3 films all earned perfect 10s on my blog. First off is the latest (and greatest) from master director Christopher Nolan. Dunkirk is a technical masterpiece and one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. FINALLY Mad Max: Fury Road has some company in this department. The film is shot almost entirely on IMAX 70 mm cameras, which made for some pretty epic wideshots on the sliver screen, particularly in the dogfights. The dogfights of Dunkirk are the best I've ever seen, and Nolan had to do some pretty inventive jerry-rigging to get these ginormous (and expensive) 70 mm cameras up on and around the planes to film these sequences, and that sort of dedication to the craft is what separates this piece from the rest. On top of that, the sounds are incredible. The sound design of Dunkirk is some of the best I've ever heard, and Hans Zimmer delivered a tense score that used a clever sound illusion to help up the ante for every scene. I hope you got the chance to see this one on the silver screen, because it is certainly an experience I won't soon forget.
2) I, Tonya
The most culturally relevant film of the year, I, Tonya is the story of Tonya Harding's famous figure skating career, as told by those who lived it. The film makes use of a unique interview-style of storytelling, which is perfect here because the two main accounts of her career (Tonya herself and her husband Jeff Gillooly) vary WILDLY, to say the least. I loved it! It made for a crazy ride as characters would seemingly change personalities from scene-to-scene depending on which interviewee that scene is based on. The editing needed to be executed flawlessly to achieve this, and flawlessly executed it was. I, Tonya also puts on an acting clinic as Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, and the one and only Allison Janney all put in some of their best work. Janney's all-out portrayal of the vile LaVona Golden was the highlight for me, as this character was over-the-top crazy, but Margot Robbie's portrayal of Tonya Harding was also exceptional. The movie is a BLAST to watch with an amazing soundtrack underneath it, and it's also HILARIOUS. The joke of the year is buried in this film. You'll know it when you see it. It's a damn shame this film didn't receive more love from the Academy, (it only netted three Oscar nominations....Darkest Hour, meanwhile, netted SIX. LOOK WHAT YOU DID, OSCAR.) because not only is it one of the best films of the year, its cultural message in the era of #MeToo could not be more on point.
While I, Tonya and its writer, Steven Rogers, doesn't take a side in answering the question of, "Did Tonya do it?" I think its primary message is, "Does it matter?" Given the circumstances of Tonya Harding's life, did we, the public, really need to vilify her for what she may, or may not, have done? As the #MeToo movement has shown, men were allowed to roam free with disgusting power complexes and their repulsive predatory behavior that we hardly blinked an eye at until now, but we had no problem destroying the reputation of Tonya Harding back in the 90s. This is definitely the question that you ponder over at the completion of I, Tonya, and that is why there could not be a more culturally relevant film for 2017. Check it out for that reason alone.
1) Phantom Thread
Here we are, folks. The best film of 2017 is Phantom Thread. The latest from arguably the best director of the last two decades in Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread is the simple yet elegant story of the relationship between its leads, a renowned British fashion designer, Reynolds, and his young muse, Alma. These two are played masterfully by the great Daniel Day-Lewis (widely considered to be the greatest method actor in the history of cinema) and the newcommer Vicky Krieps. It has EASILY the best performances of the year, as Daniel Day-Lewis is his usual, incredible self and Krieps proves to be every bit his equal. Daniel Day-Lewis has said this is his last role, but as one rides out into the sunset, another rises to take his place in Vicky Krieps. P.T. Anderson's phenomenal casting of this little-known Luxembourg-born actress makes this film spectacular. The writing behind her was incredible as well. She is such an intriguing character, and the arc she goes through is one of the best I've ever seen.
The relationship of Reynolds and Alma is the centerpiece of this film, and to say it's wild is something of an understatement. This film is from Paul Thomas Anderson, which naturally means it's going to be nuts in one way or another, but here the "nuts" aspect of it is very subtle, and fits in perfectly with their power struggle. That's what Phantom Thread is all about: the intoxicating power struggle between these two. I was completely absorbed by it. Also in the fray is freaking Lesley Manville, portraying Reynolds's sister, Cyril. She proves to be just as much of a boss as Alma is, and by the end of the film you realize that, even though Reynolds is a prominent (and powerful) fashion designer, the women of his life are the ones with the real power. Pretty relevant for this day and age too, if I dare say!
On top of some of the best acting I've ever seen, the score of this film is HAUNTING and beautiful, and deserves a shoutout. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood composed easily my favorite score of the year, and it compliments this film perfectly, inducing several goosebump-worthy moments along the way. Phantom Thread is easily the best film of 2017, and I think it is also the most approachable film to date from its acclaimed director, so I strongly recommend it. Only time will tell if it will be held in the same regard as 2007's There Will be Blood, but, given the fact that There Will be Blood is widely considered to be the best film of the 21st century, I'd say it's high enough praise just to be in the conversation. This film is still in theaters, and I cannot recommend enough going and seeing it on the silver screen. No doubt it's one we'll still be talking about 20 years from now.
Well, there you have it! My best films of 2017. Hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did! I look forward to seeing what 2018 brings. Hopefully it'll be every bit as good as this past year, right? One thing's for sure: 2018 has some big shoes to fill. Thank you SO MUCH for reading, everyone. I am incredibly grateful for you! I really hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them.
See you lovely people very soon with my recap of the 2018 Academy Awards. DEUCES!
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Let the festivities begin! I look forward to this post every year. As usual, 2017 was a great year for the world of acting. There were some terrific performances from some established stars, as well as some unexpected ones. We saw the "retirement" of one of the all-time greats in Daniel Day-Lewis, but, as one fell, two more rose to take his place in Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Day-Lewis's own on-screen partner in Phantom Thread, Vicky Krieps. These two skyrocketed to the top of the A-list world, and you can certainly expect to see their names mentioned again in the future. Seeing meteoric rises like that are one of the many reasons I am hopelessly in love with cinema. But, enough yapping out of me, let's get to the Fourth Annual Awesome Actor Awards!
For my individual reviews of the films mentioned, click on the pictures.
Honorable Mention: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Leading off this stellar list is the GREAT Willem Dafoe. He executes the brilliantly written hotel manager, Bobby, with exactly the kind of grace and poise you would expect from someone who's been in the game for almost 4 decades. I absolutely loved this character! He's a wonderful father figure for the main characters, and made himself a pillar for the newcomers in this film to bounce off of. Something like The 15:17 to Paris could've learned a thing or two from director Sean Baker's The Florida Project. By having someone like Dafoe so heavily featured, it gave the other members of the cast, almost all of which were staring in their very first film, a veteran to work with and bounce ideas off of. And, yes Oscar, his actual character was pretty darn good, too.
Honorable Mention: Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Next up on this list is the legendary Christopher Plummer. (Speaking of people who have been in the business for a long time) He showed the studio executives just how wrong they were when Ridley Scott came to them initially and wanted Plummer to play the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, but the execs wanted "a bigger name" like Kevin Spacey. But after the allegations of Spacey came out, Plummer came in with six weeks before the nationwide release and scrambled through 9 days of shooting to get all of the oil tycoon's scenes down, oftentimes learning the lines for his character minutes before shooting the actual scene. (Can you do that, Oscar? Didn't think so.) Afterwards, his performance was considered by many (myself included) to be the best part of the entire film. He was menacing and powerful, and ate up the screen every time he was on it. Not bad for 9 days of shooting, right?
10) Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
Kicking off my top 10 performances is my first-ever performance from a superhero movie. But, if there was ever a time to include a performance from someone playing a superhero, it would be for Gal Gadot's iconic rendition of Wonder Woman. While there were a good amount of issues with the film itself, (from the sounds of it most came from the studio execs trying to alter the vision of director Patty Jenkins) Gadot is the reason this movie was as successful as it was. Her performance was incredible! Gadot portrayed Diana with such a charming child-like innocence, and she also matured as a character right before the viewer's eyes. It was lovely to watch, and very refreshing to FINALLY see a woman have her own superhero movie. She just might've become my favorite superhero in the process as well. Too bad the DC Universe around her is a dumpster fire.
9) Jessica Chastain, Molly's Game
Coming in at number 9 on the list is Jessica Chastain for her smart and sexy performance as the lead character in Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut, Molly's Game. I wish this film had received more love from the Academy, but I had a blast watching Chastain rattle off Sorkin's unique dialogue style like it was child's play. She was always the smartest woman in the room, and brushed the men around her off like they were flies. The film was a wonderful female-led power story, and no doubt Chastain held it all together. I really hope Chastain and Sorkin do more things together, because she meshes with his style as well as any actor I have ever seen. What aboss of a character, and what a boss of a performance from Jessica Chastain.
8) Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
You know it's been a great year for actresses when the favorite to win its category at the Oscars only comes in at number 8 for me. Even though it's not at the top of my list, I can see why the Academy is partial to her performance. She (plus Sam freaking Rockwell) is the reason this movie was as good as it was. She's a total boss, (like Chastain, but on steroids) and she also has to display a pretty wide range of emotions throughout the film. Her character arc is awesome, and she executes this arc masterfully. Watching her go toe-to-toe with people like Sam freaking Rockwell and Woody Harrelson was awesome. This is certainly the best performance I've seen from this accomplished actress since her legendary role in Fargo. Check it out!
7) Christian Bale, Hostiles
Next up on the list was a performance from one of the last films I saw this year, Christian Bale in Hostiles. Bale is a master of the craft, and it's amazing to think that this performance is just another notch on his impressive resume. Bale combines intimacy and power flawlessly - his character is quiet and reserved, yet manages to control a room every time he's in one thanks to his commanding presence. I think this comes from Bale's demeanor, which he pulls off incredibly well. Sadly, there wasn't much else to like about the film, but Bale's dominating performance was more than enough to keep me invested single-handily.
6) Saoirse Ronan + Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Saoirse Ronan is no stranger around here: her performance in Brooklyn landed her in the top 3 in my Second Annual Awesome Actor Awards. This year, though, it didn't feel right to only include her and not include Laurie Metcalf. The two of them are the centerpiece of the charming and WONDERFUL Lady Bird, and it's impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other. This pairing is exceptional! Their chemistry is fantastic. One second they're arguing, the next they're talking about a beautiful dress they just found. They bounce off one another SO well, and they hit nearly every note on the emotional spectrum at one point or another. If you want an example of how great these two are on screen, look no further than their hilarious opening scene. This scene sets the tone for the movie and their relationship, and Ronan/Metcalf play it like they really are mother/daughter. Also, Saoirse Ronan is quite possibly the most talented young actress out there. The ceiling for her career is limitless at this point!
5) Bill Skarsgård, It
Wow, Oscar, seriously? This performance is only number 5? Alright, then. Guess it's safe to say the top 5 here are in a world of their own. From the first scene of this film, I knew we were in for a terrifying performance from Bill Skarsgård, the man behind the makeup of Pennywise the DANCING Clown. This movie was awesome for a lot of reasons, (did it really get no love from the Academy, Oscar? Seriously? Alright then) but I'd argue the biggest was for Skarsgård's haunting portrayal of Pennywise. No disrespect to Tim Curry, but his portrayal of Pennywise in the 1990 TV miniseries felt a little over-the-top. Skarsgård keeps the menacing clown grounded (as much as he can) and sells the roll with his mannerisms and body language. This performance reminded me a LOT of Heath Ledger's Joker, (which, coincidentally Skarsgård said was his biggest inspiration. See, Oscar? I can get one or two things right every so often!) and anything that reminds me of one of the greatest performances ever seen in cinema is DEFINITELY a good thing. If you can brave the horrors of this film, Skarsgård's performance as Pennywise is worth the cost of admission alone, and definitely makes me hopeful that the inevitable sequel is gonna be good, too. No doubt this was my easy best supporting actor performance of 2017.
4) Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Now we're into the thick of it. Sally Hawkins, man. She is asked the WORLD in The Shape of Water. And she delivers it all while not being able to speak. How do you convey emotion when you aren't able to use the complexity of your voice? Just ask Sally Hawkins. Her performance with this handicap was simply incredible. Many are calling it the performance of her career, and I can see why. There's one scene in particular, where she's trying to recruit her apartment-mate, played by Richard Jenkins, to join her in doing something illegal that just blew me away. I felt the pull of Hawkins all the way through the screen. There is so much passion, so much emotion, so much depth behind the eyes and arms of Sally Hawkins in this performance. It leveled me as much as the eyes of Nicole Kidman did in 2016. It is one of the best displays of acting I have ever seen, and one of many reasons why her performance is my number 1 performance from an actress in a lead role in 2017. (Here's another phenomenal scene where she conveys so much emotion with her eyes and arms) Seriously. Go see this movie for Hawkins performance alone, ESPECIALLY if you are a young aspiring actor. She puts on a clinic if I ever saw one. Wait, Oscar, you mean to tell me I have 3 more performances to talk about? Wow. This year was absurd.
Alright, friends. Before we get to the top 3, let's take a moment and hand out some "awards." This is the Annual Awesome Actor Awards, after all! What else would you expect?
The Breakout Actor Award Goes to....
Many of you may still be saying "Who?" as I hand this award to Billy Keoghan. But, if you haven't heard this name already, you soon will. After being the best thing about the surprisingly good The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Keoghan landed a major role in Christopher Nolan's massive blockbuster and Oscar-nominated Dunkirk. This dude can act. His deadpan performance in The Killing of a Sacred Deer chilled me to the core, and was the moment where I realized this guy's real potential. He doesn't have much on the calendar yet, but I suspect you will be hearing his name a lot more in the future. Plus, landing a major supporting role in a Christopher Nolan film always helps.
The Breakout Actress Award Goes to....
I'm going to do something a little unorthodox here, but Greta Gerwig is my spirit animal and I can do what I want so I'm going to give an award within the Annual Awesome Actors Awards to someone who didn't actually show up on screen at any point in 2017. But, for this wonderful, charming, and eccentric human being, 2017 was a great year. See, for those that don't know, Greta Gerwig directed/wrote the massive critical hit Lady Bird. Gerwig has been mulling around the indie section of Hollywood for over a decade now after getting her start in the mumblecore movement of the late 2000s, but hasn't gained that much notoriety over the years. To the point that you can still see her raw, unpolished emotions in her interviews/acceptance speeches (just look at her Golden Globes acceptance speech) as she gains a TON of notoriety for writing/directing Lady Bird and gaining two Oscar nods in the process for both. And a Best Picture nod for the icing on the cake. It's almost ironic that this amazing actress goes 10+ years in the business without making as much waves in acting as she should, then in her directorial debut she nabs two Oscar nominations. Well, I think it's safe to say after the massive success of Lady Bird, she can do whatever she wants. I don't think we're in the land of small-town indies anymore!
The Feel-Good Comeback Story Aaard Goes to...
Hong Chau has been in Hollywood for over 10 years. But, she has only starred in 2 films during that time, the disappointing Inherent Vice, and the (unfortunately) disappointing Downsizing. HOWEVER, her role in Downsizing was EASILY the best part of that film, and it has earned her a couple of Best Supporting Actress nominations along the way. She's received a lot of press over the past few months, most notably a major piece in the New York Times, as well as a coveted nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. For someone who was thinking about quitting acting after not receiving any audition requests for over a year, that's not a bad turnaround! It's unfortunate that Chau has been delegated to type-cast roles over the years, because she is an exceptional actress. Here's to hoping that the notoriety she's gained with these high-profile nominations carries over into 2018 and beyond! Please don't quit the business, Ms. Chau. You're too talented for Hollywood to lose you!
The Worst Actor of the Year was...
It's been a rough year for Matt Damon. Not only has he starred in two REALLY bad movies in Suburbicon and Downsizing, he was also bad in them. When the best thing a top-of-the-line A-list movie star has done in a year is an uncredited cameo in a Marvel movie, thaaaaaat's.....not good. He just wasn't very good in either of these films! I mean the material he was given wasn't all that great either, but....it's not like Matt Damon is a bad actor, so I don't know if he was just cashing in a few paychecks or what, but his movies were bad, and he was totally sleepwalking through them. That, coupled with the fact that he and his publicist couldn't get on the same page when it came to the #MeToo movement until JANUARY (apparently he knew Harvey Weinstein was harassing Gwyneth Paltrow and did nothing) are why he is more than deserving of this award. OSCAR! WHY WOULD IT TAKE ALMOST THREE MONTHS TO APOLOGIZE FOR SAYING SOME TERRIBLE THINGS? Oh. Because you're a jerk and don't have any respect for women? Ahhhhhhh.....you're so wise, Oscar.
The Worst Actress of the Year Was...
(Ok, so, gonna throw in a quick aside here. I'm listening to the Phantom Thread score right now as I write this because it's beautiful, and RIGHT when I scrolled over Chloë Grace Moretz photo, and I realized that I now had to talk about her, [which I've been dreading for a while now] the dramatic rendition of the film's theme, the one with the full orchestra at its loudest point in the entire film, started. IT KNOWS, MAN. Who says listening to movie scores in everyday situations doesn't have its benefits?)
No. NO GOD PLEASE. I DON'T WANNA. I LOVE Chloë Grace Moretz. I've been a HUGE fan of hers ever since 2010's Kick-Ass. She's a GREAT young actress, but.....what are you doing??? Moretz starred in three films in 2017. Two of them are ACTUALLY my bottom two films of the year, and the other....well, just click on the IMDB link for Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs and tell me, with a straight face, that that looks like a good movie. How could she be this desperate for work? She should be in the prime of her career, and she already has an established a very proven track record. But she slept-walked through both of the roles I saw her in in 2017, and the second of which just had to be I Love You, Daddy. Now, I don't fault her at all for being in this film: I'm sure she got paid well for it, and all of her lines/the presentation of her character comes to you courtesy of the sick, twisted mind of Louis C.K. But, as a simple matter-of-fact, she's still in the film! There's no way around it. I hand this award to her hoping that she gets better work. She REALLY deserves it. I'd put her right up there with Saoirse Ronan for some of the best young female talent Hollywood has to offer. She just needs to hire a better publicist. PLEASE find a good movie again!!!
The Best Actor of the Year Was...
You knew I was going to mention him sooner or later, (YES, I know I mentioned him in the introduction, Oscar!) but rare do you see a man with the level of talent and tenacity as Timothée Chalamet burst on to the scene in Hollywood. He tore our hearts to pieces in one of the best films of the year, Call Me by Your Name, and he added a rich and meaningful performance in Lady Bird just for good measure. Oh! And he was in Hostiles, but only briefly. He was good there too, though! His heart-stopping performance in Call Me by Your Name is the main reason he's receiving this "coveted" award. His character is one of the most complex characters I have ever seen in a film, and Chalamet played him with such courage and zeal, all while being sure to emotionally destroy you at one moment or another. The final scene of the film, in particular, is one of the single most devastating performances I have ever seen. AND he's forced to hold this scene over the course of the initial credits sequence, which means he's asked to hold these looks over the course of minutes, not seconds. In the hands of someone else, this scene would've fallen apart. (Little shot at Tobey Maguire there) But, in the hands of Timothée Chalamet? He knocks your heart out of the park. Combined with the rest of this phenomenal film AND his great performance in Lady Bird, he is easily the best actor of 2017. AND he's already being called a "Once-in-a-generation talent." There's that.
The Best Actress of the Year Was...
This one was EASY. No one went from 0 to 100 more in 2017 in terms of celebrity status than Vicky Krieps. Before she landed her career-defining role in the best film of the year Phantom Thread, she wasn't really a known entity to anyone, let alone me. Personally, I had never seen her in anything before: she mostly kept to German films outside of a brief supporting role in a film I never saw and know little about (other than the fact that it stars Emma Watson) called Colonia. But boy do I know the name Vicky Krieps now. All she had to do in Phantom Thread was go toe-to-toe with Daniel Day-Lewis. Maybe you've heard of him, Oscar? Maybe? Well, to further add to the stress of having to perform alongside the greatest method actor in the history of cinema, Krieps wasn't able to even meet DDL until the first time you see them on screen together. I know I can't even begin to imagine what that would've felt like seeing Daniel Day-Lewis for the first time. But....wow. Not only is she on equal footing as her male counterpart, I think she may be better. Her character arc is definitely going for this, but....sweet baby Jesus does Krieps look like a veteran A-list movie star along side a legend. There's a scene in Phantom Thread where Krieps makes dinner for DDL, and, during which a frustrated Lewis says to Krieps "Do you think I don't need you? Because I don't." To which, Krieps replies, "That's very predictable to you." OHHHHH! What a boss response, and Krieps delivery of that line sells it. Her simple look back at Daniel Day-Lewis speaks volumes, and is Exhibit A for why she deserves to be at the top of the A-list in Hollywood. And that's one of seemingly a million examples of Krieps masterful performance! She's so freaking good! Now, I will admit I'm giving her the award of "Best Actress of 2017" for a single performance as something of a cop-out. But, as I said in my review of Phantom Thread, as one actor retires, another rises to take their place. Welcome to the big leagues, Vicky Krieps. Oh ya, and remember the part where I said she put in a better performance than Daniel Day-Lewis. Not to foreshadow anything.....
The Michael Stuhlbarg Award for Showing Up in Everything Goes to...
Michael Stuhlbarg! Did you think I'd give this award to anyone else in its inaugural year? Michael Stuhlbarg has been EVERYWHERE in 2017. I've been a fan of his since he played the towering Arnold Rothstein in HBO's Boardwalk Empire a few years back, but he has enjoyed a true emergence into becoming "that guy you see everywhere" in 2017. He too was in Call Me by Your Name, but also showed up in the hugely successful The Shape of Water and The Post. Oh! And he was a major character in the TV rendition of Fargo. Because of course we all have the time to throw a TV series on top of three movies, right? While he was excellent (as usual) in all three of his films, I particularly liked him in (you might be detecting a theme here) Call Me by Your Name. He's just such a cool character in this film! He has several amazing monologues littered throughout, including one at the end that was simply incredible. Not to mention he was great in his other two films too! Let's see if he can ever match this level of productivity again.
Alright, guys! So, now we're down to the top three. It's past midnight in my world, so let's just dive right in, ya?
3) The Cast of I, Tonya
I could not decide on one actor to single out in this film. Allison Janney is the big one, (and my overall best performance for an actress in 2017) but it just didn't feel right to single her out and leave Sebastian Stan, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, and of course Margot Robbie in the process. All of these stars play off each other better than any other ensemble did in 2017. Leading the way is Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. These two are INCREDIBLE together as Tonya Harding and her mother, LaVona Golden, respectively. Every one of their scenes (like the one below) was gut-wrenching and had me on the edge of my seat because you didn't really know what they were going to do next. Then, when Robbie/Stan take center stage, (Stan plays Tonya's husband Jeff Gillooly) Janney comes back and "politely" reminds us that she's frustrated about her story disappearing in one of the best fourth wall breaking jokes I have ever seen. Yes, while the overall cast is excellent, Allison Janney steals the show as the dominant and forceful mother LaVona. She goes all-in to play this role, and I freaking loved every second of it. I was so engrossed by her character because it felt like she was constantly trying to one-up herself. When Tonya says, "You cursed me." You know what her reply is? "Spilled milk, baby." That's something only LaVona could ever dream of saying, and Janney delivers it with the conviction and poise it deserves. And Margot Robbie's labor of love to play Tonya was pretty darn good, too.
2) Ross Lynch, My Friend Dahmer
I'm going to be completely honest with you: most years, a role like this would be my best performance of the year. Ross Lynch, man. He puts in a career-changing performance as the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in this little-known indie film. He is simply haunting in this role, showing an attention-to-detail in his method acting that would make even Daniel Day-Lewis proud. He does everything Bill Skarsgård does as Pennywise, but he does all of it without the MAJOR crutch that full makeup provides. There is a SCARY presence to him in this film. Everything down to his walk is calculated, and it allows for some pretty haunting moments that aren't necessarily meant to be scary. There's a scene where Dahmer's "fan club" are discussing Satanic witch cults, and Dahmer comes up behind in a way that INSTANTLY draws your attention to him. Nothing happens, and afterwards you feel silly for feeling a bit of terror as he's walking towards the kids, but it's all there because of the performance from Ross Lynch. (OSCAR! Are you SURE that's the same Ross Lynch from the Disney channel?) This role hit me several months ago, but it has resonated with me more than any other role has in 2017. This film will seriously mess with your consciousness, but it is well worth the watch just for Lynch's performance alone. Were it not for Daniel Day-Lewis, this would be the best performance of 2017.
1) Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
We're finally here. The best performance of 2017, and I must say: it almost feels like a cop-out on my part to give this award to Daniel Day-Lewis. But he and Vicky Krieps were in a league of their own in 2017. DDL is arguably the best method actor in the history of cinema, and he reminds us all with his incredible portrayal as Reynolds in the latest from P.T. Anderson. His meticulous attention-to-detail is unparalleled, and the emotions he displays are all across the spectrum. But that's just the easy part for him. Everything about his character, all the way down to how he draws a dress, or holds his glasses when he talks, or how he crosses his legs and holds his arms when he speaks, is a deliberate choice from DDL, and how he feels Reynolds would act in any given situation.
It's a rare thing for A-list stars to be completely sucked into their roles. (I've mentioned this many times before) When I'm watching Tom Hanks + Meryl Streep in The Post, I am very aware that I am watching Tom Hanks + Meryl Streep. Now, that doesn't mean that they're performances are bad, it just means that I don't feel absorbed into the characters that they are playing. But no one, and I mean NO ONE, is absorbed into their characters better than Daniel Day-Lewis. I go into a movie like this eager to see DDL's latest role, yet somehow I walk out of it thinking, "Man, Reynolds Woodock is such a fascinating and complex character." How does this happen every time? His transformation is as complete as any I have ever seen, and it is certainly on full force here in Phantom Thread. It, as well as the performance from his female counterpart Vicky Krieps, are the best performances of 2017, and are represented in the best movie of 2017 Phantom Thread.
Well, folks, that's it. It's almost 1 AM in my neck of the woods, (talk about running over time, am I right?) and I can barely think straight, but I still gotta take a second and say: if you are still reading at this point, I appreciate you. Even if you aren't, I appreciate you! But really, if you are reading this far it means a lot to me that you would stick around to hear my thoughts and see me do my (silly) "awards ceremony." I wouldn't stay up until 1 AM doing this if I wasn't having fun, right? I'll be back again tomorrow with my final list of 2017 where I'll cover the best films of the year. Stay tuned!!!! Hello, bed. Is it me you're looking for?.....
https://www.maxim.com/.image/t_share/MTUxMDkyODY4OTg1OTg4NjM5/i-tonya-7.jpg (Allison Janney)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTA0NjQ0MTk5MDReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDM1OTUyMTQz._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,960_AL_.jpg (Timothee Chalamet)
https://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/vulture/2018/01/11/11-greta-gerwig-lady-bird.w1200.h630.jpg (Greta Gerwig)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMzgzNzg2MDg1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE0ODczMzI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,960_AL_.jpg (Michael Stuhlbarg)
https://assets.movietimes.com/v1/movie_images/159075/jU0P3CKOW7unc75cXl8RalLyo5i.jpg (Vicky Krieps)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BOWRiMThlOTMtNTUwNS00MjhkLTgwNTMtMzg1NmQyMThmMDAxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@._V1_.jpg (Barry Keoghan)
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https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTUxMTYzMzEwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzYyNzU2MTI@._V1_SX1498_CR0,0,1498,999_AL_.jpg (Gal Gadot)
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https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODliZTNkM2ItNWNiNS00ZTZlLTgzNzgtYjMzN2E3N2NkOWYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDkwNTM3OTA@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_.jpg (Ronan + Metcalf)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BM2I4ZDYwYmUtOGE4Yy00YTc5LWI5NmYtMjgyY2Y4OTIyMDk4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_.jpg (Sally Hawkins)
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2017/12/10-_jeff_gillooly_sebastian_stan_tonya_harding_margot_robbie_and_diane_rawlinson_julianne_nicholson_in_i_tonya_courtesy_of_neon_-_h_2017_0.jpg (I, Tonya)
https://format-com-cld-res.cloudinary.com/image/private/s--lZ2jGkLn--/c_crop,h_1700,w_3230,x_0,y_0/c_fill,g_center,h_1200/a_auto,fl_keep_iptc.progressive,q_95/v1/9e4c0ad5b5b9c578cccd4c0ad9318e63/Ross_Lynch_as_Jeff_in_My_Friend_Dahmer.jpg (Ross Lynch)
https://theplaylist.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/phantom-thread-paul-thomas-anderson-daniel-day-lewis.jpg (Daniel Day Lewis)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BOTg2NTE4NzYzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMyOTUzNDM@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (Hong Chau)
Well, no more putting this off. There were a lot of great movies to come out of Hollywood this past year, but for every great film, there was a bad one to boot. While I "accidentally" missed some of the obvious low-hanging fruit, like Flatliners and The Bye Bye Man, I did see my fair share of bad cinema over the past year. So let's talk about it, ya? As usual, I have my beverage of choice, (cider mixed with apple pie moonshine-it's delicious) and am ready to talk about the worst movies of 2017. Let's go!
For my review of each film discussed here, click on the picture.
(Dis)Honrable Mention: The Boss Baby
Kicking the list off is a film that SOMEHOW received an Oscar nomination. (OSCAR! IS....IS THAT RIGHT? HOW CAN THAT BE CORRECT? HOW COULD THE ACADEMY THINK THIS IS OSCAR-WORTHY? IS THIS REAL LIFE?) The Boss Baby is a perfect summary of everything wrong with modern American animation. I will openly admit I'm not a huge fan of animation as a whole, but even I am upset that this got an Oscar nod over something more deserving like Your Name. It's erratic. It's messy. It doesn't even have that good of voice acting! And so. Much. Baby butt. Like, ok guys: we get it. Baby butts can be cute! It's something that people go "Aw!" over, for some reason. (Obviously I'm not one of those people) But every other scene here features a baby's butt in some way. To the point that this film is uncomfortably obsessed with them. STAHP. Oh! And the "rules" of this movie? They don't exist! Like....do the parents know that the baby can do all the things he does? Why do I even care about this when everything else about this movie is so bad? Beats me.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: The Greatest Showman
Next up is a film that may come as a surprise to some, but....man. I did not like The Greatest Showman. I will admit that its big single "This is Me" has grown on me a tad since the film came out, (though "Mystery of Love" is still SO MUCH BETTER) but otherwise there isn't much here that I enjoyed. The film is just SO superficial. It makes P.T. Barnum into a hero, it villainizes everyone who took issue to the circus, and it glances over some of the more interesting aspects of his life like, you know, the part where Barnum exploited people that were different for his own gain. Nothing to see here, right? And....poor Rebecca Ferguson. I wanted to laugh out loud when her character, an opera singer, belted out a Celine Dion-lite number halfway through the movie. Oh, just enjoy it for the fact that it's a musical? Well, the choreography isn't even all that good! None of the dance numbers, save one, even utilize the props surrounding the circus itself. Y U NO USE CIRCUS? And the way it's shot....it's so freaking erratic! You can't get a respect for any of the dancing or singing when the camera is moving at a hundred miles per hour! The only sequence I enjoyed was the Efron/Zendaya musical number, which made good use of, you know, the circus, (and was the only number with good choreography) but this good sequence just frustrated me even more because it showed what could have been SIGH.
Alright, at this point I must've put a dent in this list, right? (Looks and sees that only the dishonorable mentions are done.) Oh no. NO. GOD NO. PLEASE GOD NO. (Starts crying into drink)
10) It Comes at Night
Next up on the list is a shockingly terrible film from A24. The studio had one heck of a 2016, including being the studio behind the shocking Best Picture winner, but they had something of an off year (for them, at least) in 2017 because they managed to drop a couple of bad films. (Don't worry though, they still dropped PLENTY of good movies too) Their latest crack at the horror genre was one of these bad films. There's a single good idea in this movie: a hallway that writer/director Trey Edward Shults gets a lot of suspense out of. Aaaaaaand that's it. Most of this movie is spent inside a house, which means frustratingly little happens for the vast majority of it. There's no pacing, and everything up until the final 15 minutes is just....boring! "Hey guys! Let's create a world where going outside risks imminent death, and then spend the entire movie inside!" - the creators of It Comes at Night. This is one house that you should avoid at all costs. (Don't worry, I'll be here all night. Maybe Oscar will take over for a bit? Oscar? Hello? .....)
9) The Mummy
Of all the crappy summer blockbusters we got this year, (there were many) this one made me the most frustrated. Sure there was a new Transformers movie this summer, (don't worry....it's coming) but unlike most, I was excited at the idea of a well-executed "Dark Universe" that Universal promised us would start with the release of this movie. I mean, c'mon! A universe where some of the iconic horror films of the 20th century are remade and interconnected starring some of the biggest names Hollywood has to offer? Where do I sign?? Unfortunately, the first film in this supposed new universe was rushed and featured a TERRIBLE exec/focus group influenced script. It was such a weak start to this new universe that Universal is already considering scrapping it. Which makes me so sad! I want my remake of a classic horror flick like Creature from the Black Lagoon! (I know, Oscar! The Shape of Water is a thing!) Ok. A TRUE remake, and not a spiritual one. Why did you start with The Mummy, Universal? Sure, it's a recognizable name. But it's also been barely 10 years since the last installment in that franchise! (Also mediocre) Why didn't you lead with something we haven't seen in a while, like Invisible Man? Oh, ya. And this movie is terrible. Did I mention that? WHY OH WHY is Sofia Boutella, the Mummy, barely even in this? (She's also the best part of the movie, which makes it even more frustrating) If you were going to ultimately make Tom Cruise the Mummy, (spoiler, I know, but who cares?) why don't you just lead with him?? Questions that we'll never get an answer to. RIP, Dark Universe. Gone too soon.
Ugh! Remember movies like this are why I need alcohol to get through this post. Hong Chau is wonderful. That's LITERALLY all you need to know about this movie. Because everything else about it is a disaster. (Man, I'm already tossing words around like "disaster" and I'm only on number 8!) It's so messy. This film is basically two stories thrown into one, and neither are particularly interesting. But at least the second half had Hong Chau! The first half was COMPLETELY pointless, as we get this big setup from Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig to do this procedure, just to have Wiig change her mind at the ABSOLUTE last minute for NO REASON AT ALL. Her character is completely pointless, which sucks! Then in the second half there is this apocalyptic message about global warming, which I'm all for, but it is SO overbearing. That word is putting it lightly, and it's all bound together by some TERRIBLE exposition. Just a big ol' can of nope. It's a real shame because this film is directed by the great Alexander Payne. He's made great films before, and he will again. This one, however, is a dud. But, hey. Hung Chau is wonderful in it, so there's that.
7) The Belko Experiment
This one is one of the lesser known films on this list, but it was nooooot good. For those that don't know, The Belko Experiment was a horror/slasher hybrid film that was centered around an interesting premise: kill each other, or we kill you. But, sweet baby Jesus was it anything but interesting. The characters sucked, the pacing was awful, and it ends up playing out almost EXACTLY how you expect it to. And, at the end, when it's time to talk about what it was all for, this film has the NERVE to go with "We're not at liberty to say." It's at this moment I would like to remind you that the script of this film was written by James Gunn. You know, the same guy behind the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Seriously? Unfortunately, this film is nothing more than yet another terrible installment in the slasher/horror genres.
Alright, while you ponder over the idea of James Gunn writing one of the worst scripts I have ever seen, I'm gonna go get a refill on my drink. I'm gonna need it to get through these last few.....
6) The Circle
Hey! I bet most of you saw this one and said, "Oh, ya! This movie was a thing!" (That was you, wasn't it, Oscar? I know what you're thinking....) It was hard to miss-its trailer was in front of nearly every film I saw in late 2016/early 2017. The marketing budget behind this was substantial, and I'm not really sure why. it was. Sure, they got Emma Watson to take a break from her wonderful philanthropic endeavors and paired her with the great Tom Hanks, but I think the die-hard Emma Watson fans were going to go and see this regardless of what the marketing budget was. Unfortunately, though, what we got was AWFUL. The story here is so freaking generic! And it's going to be a heavily dated film in just next few years with its absurd science fiction view on technology. But, things happen here that are so freaking stupid, and it's all centered around a "Oh! Look at what will happen to our privacy!" story that we've seen a million times before.It also doesn't help that Emma Watson is not that good. Sure, she's given nothing to work with, but guys like Patton Oswalt and Tom Hanks can clearly sleepwalk through a performance, (as they do here) which really brings Watson's shortcomings out even more. If you pair Watson with the right director, she's great. (Just look at The Perks of Being a Wallflower or The Bling Ring) But, when she's not....it can be somewhat hard to watch. It also makes me so sad that this is Bill Paxton's last role. RIP, man. You deserved better than this. :(
Five more to go! Oh no. I have to talk about Suburbicon again? NOOOOOOOO. This movie sucks! And it still blows my mind with all the A-list stars attached to it that it does. I still have no clue what happened to this film, but it is an absolute dumpster fire. It's a "whodunit" flick with the most obvious "dunit" in the freaking world. So, you figure out the mystery in the first 20 minutes. Now what do you do? Well, walking out is a good idea. Because if you stick around you're in for a story that is horrifically uninteresting, predictable, and messy. It can't figure out what it wants to be, all while being so obvious it was painful. And the acting is whatever. 2017 was a bad year for Matt Damon, and Suburbicon was no exception. He was clearly just in it for the paycheck, which makes no sense since it's George Clooney who directed this! And it was written by the Coen Brothers! WHAAAAA? (OSCAR! IS.....IS THAT RIGHT? HOW COULD THIS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY THE COEN BROTHERS?) The main story isn't interesting, (there's a side story that tries to tie into modern systemic racism that is very forced too) the acting is lackluster given the talent, and, well, everything short of the production design (which is at least OK) is so bland! It's like every other movie about the 50s wrapped into one cliche mess. At least Oscar Isaac took his screen chewing prowess up to eleven....
4) Transformers: The Last Knight
You knew this was going to be on the list sooner or later! Like Downsizing, this movie has exactly one redeeming quality: Isabela Moner. Unfortunately, she and the film's other major female star, Laura Haddock, are forced into constantly answering the "Why are you single?" question every other freaking minute throughout yet another trainwreck installment into this franchise. Which is a shame, because when they aren't being forced into relationships, they are both (but especially Moner) pretty awesome! Sadly, they are the only things that even remotely good about this film. The pacing is awful, (why are these things STILL 2.5 hours long?? OSCAR! WHO THINKS IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE A BIG STUPID ACTION MOVIE 2.5 HOURS LONG? Wait. Michael Bay? Ohhhhhh) the dialogue is awful, and the CGI is a giant clusterbomb. Michael Bay has a very distinct style. "Bayham," as it's called. But Michael Bay's unquenchable desire to throw as much visual stimulus as he can at you at any given moment makes this film a REALLY tough watch. You just can't decipher anything that's going on in front of you! And, of course, you have no idea where anyone is in any given moment, which means you simply don't care about any of the characters. Also, and maybe this bothered me more than others, but WHY is this film shot in THREE different aspect rations? THREE? (Just imagine Angry Joe said "aspect rations" there instead of "hours") It was so jarring and so distracting. Did he just not think people would notice the black bars on the screen constantly changing, sometimes shot by shot? Or did he just not care? How did this movie gross over $600 million? Oh, that's right. Because it was one of only a few American films to get a release in China. Least it didn't do too well there, either.
Oh, man. We're getting to the REAL bad stuff now. I don't understand what people see in Bright. Even though it's on Netflix, I wanted to walk out on this dumpster fire, sorry excuse for a sci-fi film. The "world" created here is TERRIBLE. Please, tell me what's interesting about the world Bright created. I'll wait. The effects are terrible. The action setpieces are hilariously corny. The overarching message on systemic racism is overbearing. There are literally ZERO redeeming qualities about this thing, and yet.....Netflix is planning a sequel? WHAT? Who thought....who thought this was a good idea? The acting isn't even all that good, which is sad because this film features Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, AND Noomi Rapace as the villain. I've been dreaming of the day Rapace would play an awesome villain, but today isn't it. The film hides her under a lot of BAD makeup, which means she isn't given the chance to do much of, well, anything! She's just sort of.....there. Like the rest of the film. Oh, and did you know that this film is trying to make an analogy to racism in modern America? Because if you didn't, you must've fallen asleep while watching this. Because it reminds you of its ties to modern American SO FREAKING MUCH. "Batting you over the head" is putting it lightly. What is there to like about this? The fact that orcs and humans hate each other? Because if that's all it takes to create an "interesting world," give me about 5 minutes and I'll think of something for you. Hard pass.
2) November Criminals
This film, however, I did walk out of. Most of you have probably never heard of this movie, to which I say.....congratulations. But, do you recognize anyone in that photo? Ya. That's Chloë Grace Moretz and Ansel Elgort. I'm guessing they got roped into this low-budget murder-mystery with massive paychecks. Them AND Catherine Keener and David Strathairm. (SERIOUSLY, OSCAR?) But, no one cared. I can hardly say I blamed them: this script is TERRIBLE, and there is literally nothing else going on here to stay invested. Every aspect of this film is just.....bad. Moretz/Elgort looked like they were reading a script off screen as they were saying their lines, and they had absolutely no chemistry. Their "romance" was the reason I actually turned this film off about halfway through. The movie establishes a relationship between them with some of the most disgusting logic I have ever seen. In today's #MeToo era, there is no place for this in cinema and, after the film decided to force another sexual encounter down our throats with the same despicable logic, I turned it off. Oh! And there are racial stereotypes here, too! Because of course there are! I still don't know what happened in this film, but.....honestly? I don't care. Neither should you.
Alright, guys! I'm almost done! I can tackle this last one, right? I mean....how bad could it be.....? Oh no, Oscar. You couldn't possibly....
1) I Love You, Daddy
NO, OSCAR. I DON'T WANNA. I DON'T WANNA TALK ABOUT THIS FILM EVER AGAIN. HOW WAS THIS TRAVESTY OK'D BY ANY STUDIO EXECUTIVE? WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? OSCAR? DO YOU HAVE ANY ANSWERS FOR ME? GAH. Even if you somehow, SOMEHOW, took this film out of the overall context of 2017, you don't get something that's even remotely good. The black and white? Doesn't add anything. Everyone outside of Louis C.K. and Charlie Day (there are some vulgar words I want to throw his way, Oscar) are sleepwalking, and the third act is as rushed as anything I've ever seen.
NO. I'm not done. Because you CAN'T take this out of the context of 2017. (My rage is building, Oscar!) This sorry excuse for a piece of cinema is indescribably misogynistic, and it made me legitimately sick to my stomach as I watched it. For those that don't know, this atrocity centers around Chloe Grace Moretz striking up a relationship with a Woody Allen-like character. A character who's faults are cast aside with "Oh, they're merely accusations, so it's ok, right?" NO. NO IT'S NOT OK. YOU CAN'T WRITE THIS OFF. And the projection in this movie!! Louis C.K. projects his own personal feelings onto the poor women in this film so much, as I guess in his sick, twisted mind he thought the premise of this travesty would be ok because Rose Byrne's character said it was! Ya, that'll do it, right Oscar? WRONG. I don't understand how this script was ok'd by a studio executive. I don't care if it was pre-Harvey Weinstein. Anyone with half of a heart could look at this and say, "Whoa, guys, we need to rethink basically all of this." Then, when you combine it with the fact that it was set to release in 2017, in the new era of #MeToo? Its distributor (The Orchard) deserved to lose every penny it spent backing this thing. There are no redeeming qualities to be found here, and there is no doubt this is the EASY winner for worst film of 2017.
(Takes a deep breath) It's done. It's over! I've made it through! I never want to think about these travesties ever again. You have been warned about these films, folks. Anyway, I'll be back again with MUCH happier posts. Next up is the Fourth (wow, fourth?) Annual Awesome Actor Awards, so stay tuned! And, you know what? I hope you found joy in my sorrow. After all someone's gotta take one for the team, right?
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BZjBhYmVmZGUtNjA4MC00NjFjLTgxNjEtY2VmYjk3N2FlODlmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,736_AL_.jpg (The Boss Baby)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTg4MjQyNjE0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjI0NDU3MjI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1575,1000_AL_.jpg (The Greatest Showman)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BZTUxNTE5YzAtOGM1OS00M2FhLTgzMjYtOTc2ZTc5YzU0MTFmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@._V1_.jpg (It Comes at Night)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjA3ODYzNTk1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjIyNzUzMjI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,739_AL_.jpg (The Mummy)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BOTBhYjA5MGMtZDliOS00NDA5LWJlYWUtNDUyYzNjYWY4MjVkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzg1MDQ1NzA@._V1_.jpg (The Belko Experiment)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMmY2MDNmMDMtZjkxMC00ZTI1LWFlMWMtMjBmZjY0YjI5YTZkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc1MTExNTk@._V1_.jpg (The Circle)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BZGUyOWFjN2MtOWM1My00ZmYzLWExYjQtOWVhMTEzMzIwYzFmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDE5MTU2MDE@._V1_.jpg (November Criminals)
http://img.wennermedia.com/social/louis-ck-i-love-you-daddy-2546ddf4-dc9e-4eb7-9dd8-48e88aae27a7.jpg (I Love You, Daddy)
Hello, friends! Enter the Movies recap of 2017 continues today with the best films no one saw in 2017! This list includes films that grossed under $15 million at the domestic box office according to Box Office Mojo. Now, keep in mind there were a TON of films that grossed under $15 million in 2017 that I did not see. So take this list with a grain of salt. However, of the films I did see that grossed under $15 million, these were the best! Do make an effort to see at least one of the films on this list. After all, almost all of them deserve your money more so than the latest summer blockbuster that'll gross $100 million. These are the films that come to you courtesy of filmmakers that are doing what they love for the sake of, well, doing it. Forget all the focus group tested BS. These films were made for the love of the craft. Check them out!
Honorable Mention: Your Name. ($5 million)
5) Loving Vincent ($6.6 Million)
4) A Ghost Story ($1.5 Million)
3) The Florida Project ($5.7 Million)
2) My Friend Dahmer ($1.3 Million)
1) Call Me by Your Name (around $15 Million)
There you have it! Hopefully I've given you at least one recommendation you'll find useful. As always, thanks for reading! I'll be back soon with the biggest disappointments of 2017! Ohhhhhhh boy.........
I could watch this alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll day.
Oh hai, guys. Today we're talking about the most disappointing films I saw in 2017. Ugh. Keep in mind these are the disappointing films, which does not equate to worst movies of the year. Don't worry, though. That one's coming. This list is a list of films that I really wanted to be good, and had high hopes for, but sadly didn't meet those expectations. So, without further ado, let's talk about sadness and stuff!
For my reviews of each of these films, click on the movie poster.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: The Fate of the Furious
3) Alien: Covenant
2) VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
1) Logan Lucky
Hope you guys enjoyed my look back at the most disappointing films of 2017! I'll be back again with a favorite of mine - the best films no one saw.Till next time!
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