2017 in Film

The following is my list of my favorite movies of 2017. I’m not saying I think they were the best movies of 2017. Arguably Dunkirk is a finely crafted piece of film, but with only a couple of the characters being named on screen, it just didn’t connect to me emotionally. I’m sure Phantom Thread is fabulous as well, but I have zero interest in it.

Get Out – It was the first movie I saw this year, and it’s stuck with me all year long. There are so many subtle hints and jokes within this film, that I discover something new all the time. It’s a master class in screenwriting and storytelling. I read the screenplay too, which has a completely different ending than either the theatrical or the alternate ending. I can see why it was changed. I think he nailed it with the theatrical ending, but I do think the alternate darker ending is much more poignant.

get out

The Florida Project – Sean Baker is an incredibly innovative director who gets amazing work out of non-professional actors. Tangerine was his breakout movie and I like it a lot. I saw Starlet on Netflix, which has a non-professional in one of the two lead roles. I think it’s going to be great when Marvel comes calling and he casts She-Hulk as a first-time actress and gets an amazing performance out of her!

florida project

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – As of this writing, I’ve only seen it once. I absolutely loved a third of it. I think Rey’s storyline is absolutely fantastic. I just didn’t really care at all about Poe or Finn in this one. I’ve read a lot of the articles defending their stories, so I’m looking forward to being convinced that I’m wrong. It might just be one of those Star Wars movies though like The Empire Strikes Back where I like one part and dislike another. I absolutely hate the Hoth chunk in Empire, but that’s probably due to my intense abhoration of the cold.

star-wars-the-last-jedi-international-posterPatti Cake$ – It’s a real shame that this movie is getting lost. I loved it. I wanted to buy it for Allyson for Christmas on blu-ray and couldn’t find it in any store. No one even heard of it. It’s been dismissed as the lady version of 8 Mile, but that’s unfair. There are more threads and stronger supporting characters in this than 8 Mile has. In fact, the only comparison is that both movies are about struggling rappers. I really like 8 Mile a lot, but I love Patti Cake$ and recommend it highly.

Okja

     – This is one of those great movies that I can only watch once. It’s about a girl and her giant mutant pig. I like Paul Dano in this even. I normally can’t stand Paul Dano, but this movie is that good. It’s not good enough to make me like the overly cartoonish Jake Gyllenhaal performance. I believe the giant CG pig more than I believe Jake.

okja

Lady Bird – My favorite part of watching the television series “Norm” on DVD is a moment during one of the episode commentaries when Norm MacDonald and everyone else stops and watches in awe as Laurie Metcalf owns a scene where she doesn’t even have any dialogue. She is a top-notch actor. Lady Bird lets her shine. Saoirse Ronan is incredible too. I loved her in Brooklyn and didn’t once think of her as that character in this. Tracy Letts doesn’t have a false note as the dad either. I could just go on and on about the cast. Greta Gerwig wrote and directed a gem.

lady bird

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – This is my favorite movie going experience in Los Angeles. Allyson and I went to a test screening of this and before it began, writer/director Martin McDonagh sat down right next to us. I love Martin McDonagh a lot. I’ve read everything he’s ever published. I had to sit there for two hours trying to be cool and not gush. We were part of the focus group afterwards and at one point I loudly and dramatically grandstanded about how Martin McDonagh is the great writer of our generation and it would be a crime against art to change one moment of this film. I expected everyone either to slow clap or for Martin to want to be my best friend. Neither happened. We didn’t even make eye contact afterwards. I still think he’s the greatest and this movie is a fabulous exploration about the futility of seeking closure after a senseless act of violence. And in this age of so many senseless acts of violence, it really resonated with me.

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Blade Runner 2049 – I can’t wait to watch this again. I only saw it once in the theater and I definitely believe this is going to be one that I enjoy more and more with every viewing. Harrison Ford does his best work since Mosquito Coast, although apparently at the expense of wearing his street clothes to set! It’s a shame that it bombed at the box office because it does certainly feel like there’s at least one unresolved plot line.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – I’ve never been a superhero person. If I did have to pick my favorite though, it would be Spidey. I think the last Spider-Man comic I read was a Star Wars knock off that came out in the late 70s. I saw the three Sam Raimi films and couldn’t even tell you how many Andrew Garfield ones there were. I went into this not expecting much, but was really delighted. Jonathan Goldstein and Jon Francis Daly really crafted a nice character story where one of the characters happens to be a superhero. The sequence where characters are being driven to the titular homecoming dance has to be one of the best written and performed scenes in any Marvel movie.

spiderman

Happy Death Day – This is another one where I think we went to an early preview screening not knowing anything other than the genre and the title. It’s such a clever and self-aware take on the Groundhog Day motif. The actors are charismatic. The comedy hits. The scenes are clever. I did figure out the identity of the killer pretty early on, but now that I’ve written more than a few screenplays, I find myself watching movies like I watch standup, as a craftsman first and fan second.

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Stand Out Performances

I’ve already mentioned Laurie Metcalf, Saoirse Ronan and Harrison Ford. I haven’t talked about how great Willem Dafoe is. Okja depends almost entirely on you believing that An Seo Hyun believes in her role. And since he role is largely opposite the giant mutant pigs, and giant mutant pigs don’t really exist, that means she was acting opposite of nothing. She’s really great! Chips was one of the worst movies I saw this year, but the only redeeming part of it was Rosa Salazar in a painfully underwritten part. Jon Bass is by far the best part of the very uneven Baywatch movie too. I think it’s a testament to be able to shine in something not terribly good, so a pat on the back to the both of them. I thought Ray Romano was great in the unfortunately short-lived series Men of a Certain Age. I was used to him doing something more dramatic. He’s great in The Big Sick.

In a year of really funny performances for me, Ike Barinholtz nails it in Snatched. His pronunciation of “mama” alone is just gold. That movie was way funnier than I thought it would be. It’s another one where I saw it way early, so I’m not sure what the theatrical version is. We bought Popstar: Never Stop Stopping after loving the preview screening. The theatrical version was incredibly different than the cut we saw. In fact, when we saw Snatched, they had two different versions of it screening at the same time for different test audiences.

Disappointments

Calvary is my favorite movie of all time. Like, if I’m being objective and not just a Star Wars fanboy, Calvary is my film. I love it. I think it’s absolutely perfect. It’s written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, older brother of Martin. This year he released his follow up to Calvary, War on Everyone. It stars Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena. I like those guys. I hated War on Everyone to the point where I couldn’t even finish it. It was a chore to get through the first half hour. Sure, there’s a possibility that the last hour was great. I doubt it. Some horrible movies came out this year. Chips was garbage that ignored and even created giant plot holes just so they could deliver adolescent jokes. The Hunter’s Prayer was a movie that DJ Dangler and I saw two years ago in a small screening room on the studio. It was so bad that when the test audience started to politely applaud at the end, DJ stood up and yelled, “No! No! Do not applaud for that!” I thought that was going to be the last screening we were invited to. Nope, it made us rock stars with the marketing company. War on Everyone was worse than that. Wolves at the Door was such a bad movie that Allyson and I hoped it would get shelved instead of being released to save the careers of everyone involved. It’s a fictionalized account of the Sharon Tate murder and it worked hard to make an interesting story completely uninteresting.

My other disappointment is all the animal riding stuff in The Last Jedi. I felt like Rose and Finn riding their giant giraffe-cats around Canto Bright was a big step backwards in computer graphics. It looked silly.

My Number One Moment

When I walked out of Wonder Woman, I saw a little girl in a Wonder Woman costume literally fist pumping the air with joy that she just saw, what may be, the best movie of her childhood. She just was full of so much joy that she couldn’t keep it all inside. My eyes immediately welled up with tears of joy. Even now, months later, they’re doing it again, just thinking about it. For a piece of art to affect someone like that is really a special thing. I’m glad that people other than straight white males are getting heroes of their own to whom they can relate. As a straight white male, I already have plenty of on screen avatars. I’m thrilled we have Wonder Woman and Rey. I love the fact that the three human heroes of The Shape of Water are a handicapped woman, a woman of color and a gay man.

That little girl leaving Wonder Woman made me so optimistic for the future. I get it little girl. I really do!

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About Mike Bobbitt

Sometimes professional storyteller.

Posted on December 26, 2017, in Movie Madness, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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