New Years Movie Roundup 2017

I didn’t get to the movies as much as I would have liked this year.  Missed out on a lot what with traveling and family. Slept on Mother!, Last Flag Flying,
Professor Marston And The Wonder Women, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Disaster Artist, Happy Death Day, The Shape Of Water, Hostiles, All The Money In The World, and Molly’s Game.

However, there was a lot of great stuff released this year. My top ten new release viewings of the year were –

1. Blade Runner 2049 – I was never clamoring for a Blade Runner sequel, but Villeneuve’s masterful revisitation of Ridley Scott’s seminal dystopian noire was far and away the finest movie I saw in 2017. For the first time in years I sat through the end credits not because I was waiting for some cutesy fan stinger, but because I was completely flabbergasted by what I’d just seen and in awe of the achievement of everybody involved. An instant classic, even, I would venture to say, surpassing the original.
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2. I Am Not Your Negro – Documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson about the unpublished writings of James Baldwin regarding the civil rights movement in America. Literate and harrowing, this film should be required viewing not just for everyone trying to understand the histrionics of the racial divide in this country, but by every American period.
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3. Your Name (technically a cheat as it really came out end of last year in limited release) – What I expected would be a cutesy lark of an anime about a boy and a girl randomly switching bodies turned out to be the most moving and heartfelt fantasy film I’d seen in years, and easily the best Japanese animated movie to come along since Miyazaki. I was honestly riveted by the unguessable twists and sometimes dark turns it took.
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4. T2 Trainspotting – Another sequel I didn’t know I wanted till I was once again immersed in the lives of Ren, Begby, Sickboy and Spud. A punchy, raw, honest and at times hilarious look at the onset of middle age in characters who had so encompassed the frenetic wildness of youth. Seeing them again was like going home.
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5. Coco – Vibrant, glorious, passionate Mexican fable from Pixar about a boy who pines for a life of music in a family where past tragedies have driven all music from their lives. The comparison to the Del Toro produced Book of Life is unavoidable, but while there are some similarities, this stands admirably on its own as a loving meditation on family, art, and reconciliation.
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6. Brawl In Cell Block 99 – I wasn’t a fan of Bone Tomahawk, but S. Craig Zahler’s crime thriller followup about a reluctant crook forced to do dirt behind bars to keep his pregnant wife safe was a top watch, with a brutal, intimidating performance by Vince Vaughn, brilliantly cast against type – well, I can’t say that. Vaughn is a big guy, and it just took a stroke of genius from Zahler or his casting director to recognize in him the capacity for such a violent, physical role.
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7. Alien Covenant – A lot of people have completely hated Ridley Scott’s enigmatic prequels to the Alien franchise. I’m not one of them. I still think Prometheus is a flawed masterpiece, and I derived giddy enjoyment from the followup, which subverted my expectations of another mysterious exploration of the Engineers and instead presented itself as a grand guignol Hammer Frankenstein movie set in space while still continuing the underlying theological themes of its predecessor.
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8. Lego Batman Movie – Possibly the single funnest Batman movie ever made, sending up every iteration of the character while never devolving into mere thoughtless parody, and thus displaying more genuine love for the character than any filmmakers have shown thus far. And there was even a Gymkata joke. 

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9. A Cure For Wellness – This was a gem of a horror picture about a man trapped in a remote mountain sanitarium boasted some of the most staggering visual compositions outside of Blade Runner 2049 and perhaps Killing Of A Sacred Deer, but it was much maligned for a perceived tonal shift in the last reel. I didn’t get the hate. I was hypnotized by the dread and like Alien Covenant, found the ending appropriately Hammer-esque. I still can’t believe people preferred The Void to this. 

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 10. The Girl With All The Gifts – I might be the last guy on earth that’s still open to a good zombie movie. This one was very good, from its gripping opening to its Richard Matheson-esque denouement.
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Let’s hope 2018 brings some happy watching. Feliz ano nuevo.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good list, Ed.


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