2017 in Film: A Review
Article By Abbey Archer
Awards season is officially upon us – AKA, the only thing that saves January through March from being a total suckfest. On my personal blog (for 3 years now, I’ve written about some of the films that came out in the respected year for family and friends who, for some unknown reason, decide to trust my opinion. So this year, the team at CineMast wanted to publish it on the website. Lucky you!
I have to say right off the bat, I wasn’t very diligent this year as I have been in the past. My ratio of films seen to films I still need to see is not great. In my defense, I have 2 valid (to me) excuses — 1) I spent all last year learning (and possibly failing) to be a mom, since I birthed a child the year before; and 2) most of the films on my To-See list are rated R, and I have my stipulations with watching those kinds of films. I quibble, but it’s my life, so get over it.
With all that being said, here are my hot takes on 2017 in film!
Movies Seen in 2017: 26
Movies Yet to See: 40
Best Film of 2017 (seen thus far):
Anyone who knows me knows of my undying love for Christopher Nolan, so I may be a little biased — but you know what? I don’t care, because Dunkirk may be his Magnum Opus. The evacuation of Dunkirk is an incredible event, to begin with, and the way Nolan decides to tell the story in three parts — the mole, the sea, the air — over the course of a week, a day, and an hour is dynamic and refreshing. Choosing not to focus on one set main protagonist (though it could be argued that it’s Fionn Whitehead’s soldier on the beach), and focusing solely on bringing the audience into the event itself, is a wise choice: it feels as if Nolan found this story in a time capsule and revealed it to the world completely unchanged. This is not simply a war film; it’s an experience, one that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Favorite Film of 2017:
It’s probably a cliche at this point to give my Favorite award to a Star Wars film, especially one that has proven to be divisive between the critics and fans. But make no mistake, The Last Jedi has got people talking — good or bad. And for me, I’m sticking around to the end. What this one has over its predecessor, The Force Awakens, is an interesting story that delves deeper into the characters’ psyches — notably of the likable Rey, and the scary-but-ultimately-alluring Kylo Ren. The film has its problems, yes, but what Star Wars film doesn’t, at this point? (Even beloved Empire isn’t 100% perfect, guys, let’s be real.) It’ll be very interesting to see where J.J. Abrams take this in Episode IX … hopefully, somewhere that will be satisfying and epic.
I Was Not Expecting To Enjoy This As Much As I Did:
I finally had the chance to watch this indie-ish darling on VidAngel (which I used for all the R-rated films mentioned hereafter), and I was blown away by how much I dug it. The Big Sick is the semi-biographical tale of writer/actor Kumail Nanjiani, whose ex-girlfriend (later wife, Emily) falls into a coma, and he decides to stick by her until he wakes up — all while his family pressures him into an arranged marriage with a fellow Pakistani girl. This is a rare example of a very funny film that feels genuine throughout; it has a lot of heart at its core that, I think, doesn’t fall into Hollywood playacting. It feels like you’re watching a real love story … because you are.
Best Film That Was Marketed As a Genre That It’s Really Not:
When this film came out, I remember thinking, “That looks ridiculous and hilarious.” When I got to see it, only one of those assumptions was correct: it is ridiculous. And it’s actually pretty great. What makes this so memorable to me is the psychology between the two leads, Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, and the arcs their characters take, all while a giant lizard monster and robot terrorize South Korea. (And that’s all I’ll say on the plot.) These are easily their best performances, and while it could be argued that the film could have been something more, it’s one that deserves to be seen and analyzed as character studies.
Most Underrated Film of 2017:
I am honestly baffled by the backlash this film got. The Promise takes place during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which is a subject I admittedly need to look into more. It was called “schmaltzy” and “melodramatic”, but really, it doesn’t feel that way to me. Oscar Isaac continues to prove that his ethnic ambiguity may be his best attribute as an actor, and he is fantastic in this, no surprise. There are some real gut-wrenching scenes in this film, and for all the complainers out there, maybe now we’ll get some more adaptations of the Turkish massacre that happened in history.
Most Overrated Film of 2017:
How do I write a negative critique on Get Out without sounding racist or ignorant? (Because, contrary to what the world may think, I am neither.) As with the above-mentioned The Promise, I do not understand what the big deal about this film is. Sure, the acting is top-notch, and the premise an homage to old Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque films … but to be touted as “original”, “superb”, and “funny” is a bit of a stretch. It’s disjointedly filmed, downright absurd in some scenes, and just really falls apart in the last ten minutes. (“Get him, Grandpa”? Really?) Frankly, I don’t watch films to have its finger wag in my face about my supposed white privilege; I get that enough from the 24-hour news cycle.
The “Robert Downey, Jr.-Level Comeback” Award:
Remember when M. Night Shyamalan had some great films, then some truly awful films, and there seemed to be no chance of him coming back in favorable light? Yeah, me too. Who’d have thought that when Split came out that it would do just that? I think this may be the one film in 2017 that took everyone by surprise, from the jaw-dropping acting of James McAvoy to the truly outstanding twist at the end (no spoilers). This is easily Shyamalan’s best work since The Village, and to be quite honest, it’s great to have him back in top form. Now, please, dude, don’t screw up Glass. Please, please, please.
The Film That Puts Into Perspective What Being a Woman Means:
How did it take this long for Wonder Woman to get her own film? And really, with the way DC films have been going lately, this shouldn’t have been as good as it is. With lots of humor, heart, and pretty great action, Wonder Woman fired all cylinders and delivered the goods in the first 2/3 of its runtime. (Admittedly, the last 1/3 kind of falls apart.) But what really makes this film special to me is the underlying theme of what it means to be a woman. You don’t need to have God-like powers or a gorgeous face, to change the world; it takes love, kindness, and strength to be a force for good. And for a new, struggling mom with clinical depression/anxiety, this was what I needed to see to pick myself up and go forward in life.
Most Disappointing Film of 2017:
I had a sneaking feeling, going into this film, that I would not enjoy it … and I was right. To say I do not like Spider-Man: Homecoming is an understatement: I highly doubt I will ever watch this again. Right off the bat, the nicest thing I will say about this is Tom Holland, who is genuinely the best iteration we’ve had of Spider-Man. From there on out, though, it all falls apart. The action is dismal and not filmed well; the high school angle gets old (this is just my late-20s grumpy opinion); and overall, I was just bored by the whole thing. Michael Keaton should have been an interesting villain, but he’s not given enough time to be shown as a sympathetic character, which is such a tragedy. All in all, I was just left completely deflated by this.
Hugh Jackman Appreciation Award:
Unlike last year’s R-rated superhero flick, Deadpool, I did not feel guilty watching this film. (Thanks, VidAngel.) Logan marks the glorious end of everyone’s favorite X-Men member, taking a more western detour than the expected big-budget route. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and newcomer Dafne Keen are all aces across the board, and the story gives Wolverine a satisfying sendoff. Yes, it’s violent; yes, it’s bleak. But holy moly, I loved watching Hugh as an old, burned out Logan — especially considering him being his charming, sing-song man self in The Greatest Showman (which I have yet to see). Keep up the good work, man.
Can We Give These Guys the Oscar For Best Visual Effects Already?:
I mean, look at that picture. LOOK AT IT. HOW has Weta not gotten their dues for this yet? If you go back and watch Rise, you will see how far, even in 6 years, the effects have come to produce this flawless CGI. Joe Letteri is a VFX God, and with this level of perfection, there is no excuse for how crappy CGI can look in this day and age. (*cough*Justice League*cough*) And on that note, can we give Andy freaking Serkis an honorary Oscar, too? Come on, guys. Andy’s amazing, we all know this. Give him something, already.
Guilty Pleasure Film of 2017:
I will own up to my culturelessness (that’s a word, okay?) and say that I have not seen the original anime film. It’s on my list. That being said, I enjoyed the crap out of watching last year’s Ghost in the Shell. Visually speaking, even the grumpy haters admit it’s stellar. It’s not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it joins the list of dumb-fun sci-fi films that have come out in the last few years (alongside Oblivion and Passengers). I’m sure once I see the original I’ll change my tune … but for now, this gets a thumbs-up.
Worst Film of 2017 (seen thus far):
To wit, I have not seen The Emoji Movie (because I do not completely hate myself). I have, however, seen The Mummy … but even that didn’t infuriate me as badly as this Dumpster fire of a film did. I couldn’t even finish Kong: Skull Island, so it may be considered cheating. I don’t care. I can’t stand this stupid film. From the George Lucas-level dialogue to the crappy action to the thin as pulled taffy characters, this is just an awful excuse of a King Kong film. This is what’s going up against Godzilla in a couple years? Did they use the same people who did the CGI for Jurassic World? Ugh. Hard pass.
Most Anticipated Film I Still Need to Watch:
This beats out Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I, Tonya, The Disaster Artist, Brigsby Bear, and A Ghost Story. I am one of 5 people in the world that isn’t a big fan of the original Blade Runner. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch this film, though. I’m a huge fan of Denis Villeneuve: Prisoners is one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen; I still watch Sicario on a fairly regular basis, and Arrival took my Best Film spot last year. Plus, THAT TRAILER. *swoons* It’s the most beautiful trailer I’ve ever seen. Deak, you’re finally gonna get your Oscar!
The MVPs of 2017:
Granted, I’ve yet to see Mudbound and Lady Bird, but the acclaim can’t be denied. Patty Jenkins, Dee Rees, and Greta Gerwig have been doing a heckova job bringing women directors into the spotlight this year, and their films couldn’t be more different from each other. Jenkins gave us the highest domestic-grossing superhero film of the year, Rees sold her film of post-WWII racism to Netflix for a record amount, and Gerwig is getting serious Best Director Oscar buzz for her real-life comedy. These are the ones to watch out for, Hollywood; and I’m sure there are more female filmmakers to come on the horizon.
It’s His Award to Lose:
Gary Olman is on fire. Early on, long before the film even came out, he was generating buzz for finally getting the Best Actor Oscar for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. And now, since seeing it, I can honestly say that he deserves it. Virtually unrecognizable under makeup, he transforms into the divisive British prime minister — something that he increasingly became known for as an actor. Having not seen Daniel Day-Lewis‘s final performance in Phantom Thread, it could go the way of the retiring actor. But I doubt it. This is truly Oldman’s to lose.
Breakout Stars of 2017:
Side note: These 2 are adorable. Kumail Nanjiani and Gal Gadot have been around the Hollywood scene awhile, but they really shot to the top this year. Nanjiani was charming and great in The Big Sick, and he’s a hilarious guy to listen to in interviews. Gadot killed it as Wonder Woman, and has been shown to be an amazing role model for women everywhere. They both hosted their own episodes of Saturday Night Live, they seem like very nice people in real life (if they’re not, don’t tell me, ‘cuz it’ll break my heart), and I’m excited to see what they do next.
Most Versatile Actor Currently Working:
Adam Driver took some time to get in my radar, but now that he is, I’m very happy to see where he goes next. It took me until just 5 days ago to watch one of my top anticipated films of 2016 (Paterson), and it confirmed my initial feeling: this guy is a versatile virtuoso. He goes from playing a mild-mannered bus driver to a one-armed bartender from the South (Logan Lucky) to a truly terrifying, fascinating villain (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) so effortlessly, he makes it look too easy. And, um, he’s pretty hot, too. I cannot wait to see his career continue from this point on.
Hitting Me in the Feels, Hard:
Oh, man. I have so much love for these two. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are icons in their own right, and to see them reunite in The Last Jedi made me cry. The fact that we lost Fisher too soon in 2016 made it so much more emotional, and it’s safe to say that the world will miss her vivacity. And to have Hamill come back as Luke Skywalker and knock it out of the park was the icing on the cake. Here’s to their amazingness.
Favorite Soundtrack: Darkest Hour (Dario Marianelli)
Best Movie Line of 2017: “Failure is the greatest teacher.” – The Last Jedi
Funniest Movie Line: “You go online, they hated Forest Gump. The frickin’ best movie ever.” – The Big Sick
Saddest Movie Line: “He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.” – Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2
Most Powerful Line: “We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. We will know many old and famous states have fallen into the grip of the Nazi rule. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be! We shall fight on the beaches! We shall fight on the landing grounds! We shall fight in the fields and in the streets! We shall fight in the hills! We shall never surrender! For without victory, there can be no survival!” – Darkest Hour and Dunkirk (this is a cheat, since this is technically his famous speech, but I digress. It’s incredible.)
There you have it, folks. Overall, 2017 was a much better year than 2016. There’s a lot of films I still need to watch, but I’m also looking forward to some films to come this year. Here’s to another good year of film!