Sunday, January 7, 2018

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2017

I pretty much fell off the blog in 2017. I ended up losing a job, getting a new job, starting a new relationship, and ultimately spending months in sheer terror as I panicked over what I was doing with my life. So updating a blog that I do not get paid for didn’t feel like a priority. But I’m still a stickler for tradition and my favorite one associated with this blog is my annual Top Ten Favorite Movie list. It’s a new year so let's go for it.

Same rules as always: this is a list of my favorite flicks, not necessarily the best ones as I’m unqualified to make that judgement. Also, I can only react to the movies I actually saw so there’s always a chance that I missed your favorite movie and that’s why it’s not on the list (or maybe I didn’t like it; whatever). If you are really up in arms about it feel free to post your own Top Ten list in the comments.

One thing I want to point out before we get started: The Last Jedi absolutely was on this list at#10 but was bumped of earlier on the day I’m writing this after seeing the current #5 film. Though it didn’t end up on the list I want to point out that I really enjoyed that movie and strongly believe it’s one of the best outings in the Star Wars franchise precisely because of how different it feels from a Stars Wars movie. Frankly, I do not understand why so many people hate it much.

My favorite movies after the jump.

#10: Wonder Woman
About damn time!
Boy, the new batch of DC superhero movies has certainly been pretty freaking bad, huh? Man of Steel was fine, Batman v Superman was bad, Suicide Squad was horrendous and even the new Justice League isn’t good at all. The fact that Wonder Woman was such a great film, the first truly good superhero film in the franchise so far, is an amazing feat. A really good origin tale for the icon character, Wonder Woman nails everything good about the comic book character and showcase it in a way that works extremely well on film. Clearly the best DC movie since The Dark Knight it’s also on the same level as most of what Marvel Studios has churned out. 

Also, how the hell did DC with all its problems manage to make a female starring superhero film before Marvel?

#9: Lady Bird 
All I can hear is Hank Hill calling out "Laaaady Biiirrd!"
Apparently not a biopic about Lady Bird Johnson, Lady Bird is actually the solo directorial debut of writer/actor Greta Gerwig (who previously co-directed Nights and Weekends). I will say that Lady Bird is familiar (the title character feels like a younger version of characters Gerwig had written before in movies like Frances Ha and Mistress America) but it still ends up being a really well made coming of age drama. Unshackled by the restraints of Hollywood, Lady Bird manages to tell both a sad and realistic version of a teenage girl on the verge of being a woman and maybe overestimating her own maturity. It a great flick that’s well acted and a nice surprise.

#8: Logan 
[Insert Johnny Cash song here]

Considering my distaste for the character of Wolverine, and the fact that there hadn’t been a wholly good film about him, I was shocked by how tremendously good Logan ended up being. Brutally violent in a way no X-Men film had ever been before, Logan also manages to be a touching and tragic film that somehow comes of as cynical but with a seed of hope; a complex theme for a film franchise nominally about an unkillable death death machine with claws. Also, the final shot of the film actually almost had me weeping in the theater, which something I would have never assumed would be possible in a Wolverine movie.

#7: Thor - Ragnarok 
Traditionally Thor has been the weakest of the Marvel Studios franchise, especially after the ho-hum efforts in Thor: The Dark World. Apparently taking a page out of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel took a chance and leaned into a more comedic route for the third outing and really hit the nail on the head with what ended up being my favorite superhero film of the year. Creating a story that while didn’t seem to take itself seriously still managed to keep the stakes high and be a huge game changer for the character of Thor and also even the Hulk. If superhero flicks are supposed to be fun (something Warner Bros and Fox seem to struggle with) then Thor: Ragnarok is the most fun I’ve had in this genre in a while.

#6: Baby Driver 
Probably the last time America will tolerate a Kevin Spacey movie
Baby Driver feels like an unofficial fourth entry into the Cornetto Trilogy; it’s a loving tribute to a classic film genre, in this case the heist/car chase type of films, that feels like a parody but obviously from a place of reverence. This flick is a just really fun and exciting. Technically the story is one we’ve seen a million times before; a crook really good at his job wants out but is pulled into one last job. However this is one of those instances where stylized action and directing really balances out the cliches. A quirky film that heavily plays around with music, Baby Driver is one of the few movies on this list that I feel legitimately has something everyone can enjoy.

#5: The Shape of Water
Well, that sex scene sure happened...

I’m not sure there’s a to I can say about this movie that hasn’t been said in more elegant terms than I am capable of. I will say that I was surprised by how different the reality of the Shape of Water was compared to how I imagined it after reading the reviews. Essentially a love story where one of the romantic leads is a monstrous fish man and the whole thing is set under an oppressive 1960s Cold War-era America and, yes, the film is as strange as you’d imagine with that sort of description. But ultimately it is a beautiful film that ended up being one of the most unique and touching films of 2017.

#4: The Big Sick 
Filmed in Chicago, which made me all giddy
Kumail Nanjiani is a very funny actor and comedian but he’s not a particular famous one, at least in terms of mainstream. Then he and his wife Emily V. Gordon went ahead and made this movie and now I want him to be the most famous person in the world and have all the money forever. A fictionalized account of the beginning of the couples’ romance. One part a story about a an Americanized young man trying to reconcile that identify with that of his Pakistani roots and one part guy awkwardly trying to interact with his ex’s parents. It’s one of the best romantic comedies I’ve ever seen, which is strange considering that one of the leads spends most of the film in a coma.

#3: Colossal 
I guess having it attack Tokyo was too cliche
I am and possibly always will be a staunch Anne Hathaway defender. I never really got the whole backlash against her, especially when she won the Oscar. I think Hathaway is a great actor who I’ve never seen give a poor performance, even if films I've not been a fan of. With that said, Colossal was one of the biggest surprises for me of the year. Ostensibly a comedy involving a giant monster destroying Seoul, the true meaning behind the film and the lengths it goes to get there were heartbreaking, devastating and, at times very funny. I don’t know if a lot of people caught this in theaters but if you can now try to watch it online ASAP.

#2: Coco
Prior to seeing the film I thought "Coco" was the dog
While Pixar hasn’t exactly been mediocre the last few years it has seemed like the days of them routinely churning out masterpieces had past, as Disney Animation has been repeatedly eating their lunch. Coco however feels like a returns to form after a barrage of sequels and cash grabs (Inside Out being the obvious exception). A story about both the importance of family and the importance of ones’ dreams being allowed to flourish, all within the colorful and gorgeous land of the dead. I hold Coco up against any of the Pixar greats, including Wall-E or Up, and believe me when I said I was opening weeping in the theaters all throughout this movies’ run time.

#1: Get Out 
No jokes here; just go watch this flick ASAP!
Most important movie of the year, bar none. This is the perfect horror film for the current political climate and, as a black man in America, rings all too close to home to me. The film is made all the more perplexing as it was made by Jordan Peele in his debut as a filmmaker. Seeing as he’s mostly known for performing in a sketch comedy show the fact that he made what I consider a damn near perfect flick on his first try simply does not make sense. And yet here we are with a film so good that literally every movie I saw this year ended up being compared to Get Out once I saw it in February….and none of them could knock it off its pedestal. One of the most tension filled movies I’ve ever seen this movie not only has the distinction of being very good it also manages to be a completely different yet still gripping movie when you watch it a second. Easily the best flick of the year and just has to be in the running for one of the best first time outings for a director.

Another year of films done. Let's hope 2018 churns out some good flicks as well.

In 2018 Black Panther came out and everything was good forever

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