A Recap of the Worst and Best Movies of 2017
Here we are again, at the start of a brand new year.
2017 was the year I decided to go back to school and continue my education. For that reason, as well as a few others that were beyond my control, I did not get to see such critically praised gems like The Shape of Water, All the Money in the World, The Florida Project, and Molly’s Game.
I did, however, get to see The Emoji Movie.
Instead of waiting several weeks to see the aforementioned movies to decide whether or not they belong on my Best of the Year list, I decided instead to go ahead and make my Best of the Year list based on the movies I did watch and love. And unlike the previous years, where I broke up the Best & Worst lists into two separate hubs, I decided to add both lists into this one single article.
Since I want to end the article on a positive note, I’ll go ahead and start with the worst movies of 2017, starting with the…
Detroit: A gruesome and off-putting film that lingers on scenes of physical and psychological abuse without adding any depth or meaning to them.
Beauty and the Beast: I hated this film. It may have scored big at the box office, but this miscast and completely unnecessary mess just didn’t do it for me.
1922: I didn’t see The Dark Tower, which came out in August. Just keep that in mind when I say that 1922 is, in my mind, the worst Stephen King adaptation of the year, an ugly, off-putting and meandering misfire.
Flatliners: I actually really enjoyed the original movie, but this incredibly absurd remake was just unintentionally hilarious.
Rememory: A good idea that is squandered in so many different ways, Rememory was nothing more than a waste of a fine cast and a potentially great story line.
And now onto the main event. The ten worst movie experiences that I had during 2017.
10. Leatherface: This movie didn’t anger me or offend me as many of the films from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series have done. But this misguided mess makes so many bad decisions (it claims to be an origin story for the title killer, but instead plays out as a road trip where we’re not even sure which character is the real Leatherface) that it just bored me and frustrated me more than anything. It also features the single most disgusting sex scene that I’ve seen in many a moon.
9. Shimmer Lake: One of the few Netflix originals that I just loathed, Shimmer Lake is a gimmicky mystery thriller where the more we learn about what’s actually going on, the less interesting the events seem to be. The movie follows the 2001 thriller Memento’s style of storytelling by telling its story backwards, but whereas that movie did it to put you in its main character’s head, this one does it to be clever (and it’s anything but that).
8. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Maybe I’m just not a fan of Guy Ritchie’s style of filmmaking. I didn’t like his take on the Sherlock Holmes character, and I found his version of the King Arthur legend to be absolutely depressing. Incredibly off-putting and ugly to look at, when this movie had finished, I was very unhappy.
7. Don’t Hang Up: A moronic, grossly over-stylized Dead Teenager movie, Don’t Hang Up is one of those horror movies where you want to see the main characters die. It’s a total bore, but it didn’t make me as angry as my next film….
6. Better Watch Out: A nasty, evil-spirited little film that (somehow) won the affection of a lot of critics and audiences. It’s basically a babysitter thriller/ black comedy that grows more stomach churning the more it plays out. This is one of those movies that makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.
5. The Emoji Movie: Hands down one of the worst and most disturbing animated movies that I’ve ever seen, The Emoji Movie wasn’t as bad as you initially thought it might be. It was actually much, much worse!
4. Justice League: I honestly can't think of a single thing I liked about this movie. The visuals are ugly as sin, the action scenes are chaotic and often times pointless, and the film's attempts at humor fell painfully flat every time. I never thought this movie would make me nostalgic for the likes of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it did. It was completely atrocious.
3. Death Note: Oh yeah....this thing..... Best to forget it ever existed.
2. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press: I’m not very political, but when my brother (who is very political) showed me a Youtube video by conservative Paul Joseph Watson called "Dear Mainstream Media," it really opened my eyes to just how crooked and dishonest the media really is. So when this documentary came out defending the mainstream media from its critics, I was curious to see what the results would be. This is a lazy, one-sided, and shameful train wreck of a documentary that doesn’t address any of the criticisms made against the mainstream media. Instead, it pretends like there are no criticisms in the first place, and throws a thoughtless pity party for the media officials accused. I grew frustrated with it at first, but once it reached the final third, I was positively livid at the movie. This is one of the absolutely worst documentaries that I’ve ever seen, yet as atrocious as it is, it’s a masterpiece when compared to….
1. mother!: I hated this movie as much as any film that I’ve reviewed in the almost six years I’ve been a film critic here on Hubpages. Offensive in ways you couldn’t even imagine, pretentious beyond belief, and filled with some of the most embarrassing performances from such a talented cast, mother! was an agonizing experience that dragged out for what seemed like an eternity, and it's the one film this year that I truly regret ever seeing.
Now that those horrid monstrosities are out of the way, let’s talk about the Best films of last year, starting with the….
John Wick 2: I loved the hell out of this movie, even more so than the original. Surprisingly engaging, super stylish, and totally bad ass, this is my second favorite mindless action flick of 2017.
The Devil’s Candy: While very short, this is a superbly crafted horror thriller with some truly disturbing moments and a shockingly excellent performance turned in by Ethan Embry (I like the guy, but I didn’t think he was capable of acting of this caliber.
Spiderman: Homecoming: A good Spiderman movie but a terrific Peter Parker movie, I can’t wait for Spidey’s next stand alone film.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Let the haters hate. While not quite as good as The Force Awakens, it’s miles better than the dreary Rogue One, and is a supremely entertaining sci-fi adventure in its own right. I can’t wait for the next one.
The Lego Batman Movie: My favorite animated movie of last year, although to be fair, I still haven’t seen Coco yet.
With those out of the way, let’s get to the ten absolute best films of 2017.
10. Gerald’s Game: I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to watch this movie. I certainly wasn’t expecting something so nightmare inducing or amazingly acted. Gerald’s Game may just be the scariest Stephen King adaptation of 2017, but it isn’t the best. I’ll get to that in a moment.
9. Logan: Violent as hell but emotionally compelling and surprising thoughtful, Logan is an excellent swan song for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character, filled with great action, moments of laugh-out-loud humor and some surprising themes about violence and the toll it takes on those who commit violence. This isn’t just a damned good Marvel movie; it’s a damned good movie, period!
8. Kedi: The cat lover in me just had to add this movie. A documentary about the street cats of Istanbul and what they mean to the people there, this is one of the warmest, loveliest films that I’ve seen all year. In a time of terrorism and political unrest, this is a movie to treasure.
7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri: Compassionate, observant, and darkly funny, Three Billboards… is a winning experience featuring one of Francis McDormand’s best performances to date. The final scene in the movie is note perfect, offering no easy answers and allowing the film to continue developing in your mind long after the end credits begin to roll.
6. It: I’ve already pre-ordered my copy on Blu-ray. I’ve seen this movie twice, and I’m ready to see it again. The kids here are fantastic, Bill Skarsgård makes for a terrifically creepy Pennywise, and the visuals are at times eye-popping. I just loved this movie so much. Come on January 9th. Bring me my movie!
5. Darkest Hour: I may be in the minority by saying this, but I thought this movie was miles better than the vastly overrated Christopher Nolan epic Dunkirk. Gary Oldman knocks it out of the park as Winston Churchill, and if cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel doesn’t win the Oscar for his work here, well then somebody’s not doing their job.
4. War for the Planet of the Apes: An epic final chapter to what has proven to be a truly epic trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes is a masterpiece filled with eyegasmic visuals, award-worthy performances turned in by Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson, and a musical score by Michael Giacchino that still haunts me to this day.
3. Thor: Ragnarok: This movie is just pure fun. If you liked the previous films in the Thor franchise, you should love this one, and if you hated the previous movie….well, I just can’t see you not loving it.
2. A Ghost Story: Filmed in a square frame with dull edges (so that it looks like an old photograph in motion), David Lowry’s A Ghost Story is a cinematic treasure that asks some pretty profound questions about life and the meaning of existence (I know that sounds pretentious, but it really works). There’s no narrative, and there doesn’t need to be. This is a movie about moments, both the big and seemingly insignificant ones. It’s a testament to the movie’s power that one of the most heartbreaking moments of the year is a very long shot of a recent widow sitting on a kitchen floor and eating a pie. In any other year, I would gladly place a movie like this in my number one spot without hesitation, but then Netflix released a documentary back in October, and that little gem got to me more than any other film this year. It was a movie that received very little attention, and last I checked, it doesn’t even have a Rottentomatoes score. That movie is…….
1. Kingdom of Us: Wow. Just….wow! The Netflix documentary Kingdom of Us follows Vickie Shanks as she and her seven children (six girls and one boy, and all but one have been diagnosed with autism) struggle to cope with the tragic suicide of the family’s patriarch Paul years after the event. The film itself follows the family over the course of a couple of years, through the good times (such as when the kids surprise their mother on Mother’s Day) and the very bad (the youngest child Pippa has to be hospitalized for months because of her depression). This is a personal, deeply lacerating, and unforgettable motion picture experience, a look into a brave and lovely family choosing to hold onto the possibility of hope and happiness even with the many terrible unanswered questions that Paul’s suicide left them with. The film’s portrayal of Paul is especially haunting. He was a loving and decent family man struggling with a darkness that he could no longer control and that his family couldn’t understand. It was so frightening that it’s suggested, at one point, that Paul had made plans to murder his family, and Pippa theorizes that he took his own life as a way of protecting them. While that seems to be a logical assumption, there are hints sprinkled throughout that the family struggles with its own darkness that’s just as unpredictable and potentially devastating as Paul’s (One of the daughters loses her cool during her birthday party when one of her sisters won’t wear a birthday hat). There are many moments of sadness in the film, the most affecting of which comes after the family watches a video of Paul, and Pippa admits that she didn’t remember her father’s voice. There are also moments of warmth and love, such as when the daughters all perform a song together for a talent show. When the end came, and we see a collection of family photographs while the Shanks children sing their father's song "Fly Away," let me tell you that the tears began pouring like waterfalls. One thing’s for certain, though: for the duration of this movie’s 110 minutes, I was completely and totally absorbed and emotionally invested in the proceedings. I grew to love this family so very much, and to director Lucy Cohen, I just wanted to say, ‘thank you.’ Thank you for introducing me to these beautiful and courageous souls, and thank you so much for your movie, which is easily the best of 2017.
I’ll try to keep up with newer releases in 2018, but given how hectic my work and school schedule appears to be, it won’t be easy. Either way, I hope everyone enjoyed reading this, and I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful new year.