The year is drawing to a quick close, and so are the films that are being offered up by studios. Having spent a large amount of time in theaters in 2017, I have seen the good, bad and more ugly, offering up my opinion on what is worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
It has been another rough movie year to be sure with films that gave us promises and then didn’t quite deliver, quiet films that made their way into theaters and surprised us all and head-scratchers that were far more confusing than they needed to be.
My Top 10 is from all genres with stories that made the biggest impression on me. There will be a few jaw-droppers as films you might expect to see won’t be there and films you might not have heard of are worthy of a second chance look.
So here is my Top 10 of 2017!
10. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” — The wait to see where the story of Luke Skywalker is going is finally here. The rebellion is attempting to escape the First Order while Rey tries to enlist the help of Skywalker. My 1977 self loves the opening music and yellow scroll preparing for another epic adventure. That being said, it will be interesting to see where the story goes, and I am looking forward to the Han Solo film. (PG-13 from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios)
9. “Thor: Ragnarok” — This was an unexpected pleasure for me this year because the tone changed to make it a really good time filled with action and laughs. Thor and Loki aren’t about to take any cosmic nonsense from Hela and it all works beautifully. (PG-13 from Marvel Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures)
8. “Last Flag Flying” — Starring Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston, the story is three men who served in Vietnam and coming to terms with where they have been and helping their friend deal with the death of his son. Have tissue on hand for both the laughter and the tears. (Rated R from Amazon Studios)
7. “The Post” — It is the story of The Washington Post owner Kay Graham and editor Ben Bradlee when dealing with a war cover-up and the four U.S. presidents that kept it going. When the White House discovers missing papers, they attempt to do everything to stop the American people from reading about it in the press. Steven Spielberg brings his spin on history in an epic way. (PG-13 from Twentieth Century Fox)
6. “Baby Driver” — Perhaps it was a frakken fantastic soundtrack that pushed this film to amazing heights, and even if so I’m OK with that! This film is fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, and I’m not just talking about from behind the steering wheel. Ansel Elgort takes the film from beginning to end — well done, young man. (Rated R from TriStar Pictures)
5. “The Hero” — Dear Sam Elliott, thank you for reminding me why you are such a treasure, not that I really needed reminding. This is the story of a man clearly stuck, and when life comes seriously knocking, he must find the joy in life that he has been hiding from. Elliott brings his southern drawl, sparkling eyes and no-apology wit to this role that is absolutely stunning. (Rated R from The Orchard)
4. “The Shape of Water” — Director Guillermo del Torro has brought a haunting beauty to a story that has moments of brilliant silence and moments of pure love followed by seconds of insanity. All of this wrapped up in the stellar performance of Sally Hawkins and fish man Doug Jones being watched over by Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and the deliciously evil Michael Shannon. (Rated R from Fox Searchlight Pictures)
3. “Victoria & Abdul” — I am clearly a fan of period pieces, but this film is just beyond amazing. Judy Dench once again portrays Queen Victoria, who is clearly in her later years and can’t find anything to be excited about. When Abdul comes to court, she begins a friendship that isn’t to the court’s liking or her un-princely-like son. The onscreen chemistry between Dench and Ali Fazal is every bit worth each frame of film. (PG-13 from Focus Features)
2. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — Frances McDormand gives a performance that will stay with me playing Mildred, a mother who is coming to terms with her daughter’s death. When she doesn’t feel local law enforcement is doing enough, Mildred finds a way to motivate them. Also starring Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, this is a film that screams must-see! I am cheering for McDormand come Oscar time! (Rated R from Fox Searchlight Pictures)
This is where you should be hearing a drum roll, as my No. 1 for 2017 is:
1. “Dunkirk” — Christopher Nolan has brought a film that is not just a story about a moment in history, but a film that is an experience. On the beaches of Dunkirk, Allied soldiers are surrounded by the Germans from land, sea and air in 1940. Nolan gives the audience the perspective from all three angles without much useless dialogue. Instead, he invites viewers into this world of war and all of the emotions that brings. There isn’t a character in this film that doesn’t bring every ounce of themselves to the story. (PG-13 from Warner Bros.)
My yearly bonus of number 11 is “All the Money in the World” — Director Ridley Scott takes us to 1973 Rome as J. Paul Getty’s grandson Paul is kidnapped and held for ransom. Mother Gail must go up against kidnappers who don’t believe she isn’t rich and Getty’s refusal to pay anyone any dime of his. Mark Wahlberg is hired to help to find the boy before there is no turning back. Christopher Plummer is eerily creepy, and I loved it. (Rated R from TriStar Pictures)
I also had a few guilty pleasure films this year that stand out, including “John Wick 2,” but then again, anything with Keanu Reeves busting heads works. There is the very funny “Table 19” as Anna Kendrick leads a group of wedding attendees who are stuck in the back of the room with a table of issues. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a return of the well-dressed agents who know you can fight evil and look good doing it. Every list should have a shark film, and “47 Meters Down” is going to be my pick that has bite, head slaps and yet I still love it. Finally, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” — Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson… need I say more?
Are there disappointments? Absolutely, and the list feels endless! “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” gives us a Charlie Hunnam and that’s absolutely it. “Alien: Covenant” is the next installment yet feels like bloody confusion, literally. Of course, there are the ridiculous that don’t need any explanation with “Baywatch,” “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Idris Elba had a busy year in 2017, but “The Dark Tower” isn’t high on my list, so I’ll just keep happy thoughts on his other works. Finally, “Justice League.” I know I’m going to get grief for it, but there wasn’t anything about the film that makes me want more.
There you go, my best and worst of 2017! This has been a year of either hit or miss and not much room for anything else in between. Theatergoers aren’t being fickle in what they are looking for when they spend their hard earn bucks, and they shouldn’t be.
In 2018, there are remakes, a return of the wizarding world, more frights with what has become our favorite insidiousness, a group of maze runners finish off their adventures, the final chapter of those shades in the fifties, more from the comic book world, family and animated films and, finally “Solo,” “Super Troopers 2” and “Deadpool 2” might make it all bearable!
Thanks for being a part of our 2017 at the theaters, and we look forward to joining you in the seats with a bucket of popcorn in 2018! Happy holidays to you and yours and a safe Happy New Year from all of us at the Military Press and Movie Maven.