The older I get the fewer films I’m able to see each year, and frankly the fewer memorable films there seem to be each year. Here’s what stood out to me in 2017.
A Ghost Story
Just about the most original movie I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a slow, methodical, ambient burn, that continued to seep into me weeks after seeing it. It’s absolutely a state changer, and has some of the best long takes made in the last decade. You’ll love it or hate it. I loved it!
Absolutely should have won best picture for 2017, kind of a crime it didn’t. Jordan Peele’s direction in this film is masterful – incredible that this was one of this first long form projects. The acting, script, pacing, timing, mise-en-scene, they’re all exceptional. It’s creepy, funny, and illuminating.
This one nearly made my wife sick, beware it is an assault! It’s violet, dark, and shocking, like many of Aronofsky’s finest films. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is stunning as she’s in basically every shot of the film. The directing and cinematography is incredible, slowly turning up the heat and claustrophobia of this twisted adventure.
P.T. Anderson knocks it out of the park. A divisive ending, but one I thought was twisted and perfect in all the right ways. The score, costumes, performances, and cinematography are all exceptional, and it’s one of those lovely films that shines such a deep light on a specific moment and time that it truly feels timeless. Cinema needs more films of this caliber by top tier directors!
Blade Runner 2049
This should have been a disaster in every way. Sequels like this almost NEVER justify their existence, and this seemed like a long shot. Roger Deakins and Denis Villeneuve are a stellar combination, and make a film that’s both timeless and modern. Against all odds, this film has everything going for it, but falls just short of being a masterpiece in my book because of it’s very muddled ending – it can’t decide who’s story this is and flips near the end in a way that really sucks out all the meaning and felt very flat.
The movie Xmen fans have been waiting for since 2000 – Wolverine unleashed in full r-rated glory. A great example of why the best super hero movies continue to thrive – the super hero archetype is now being dropped into genre films, allowing for much richer and varied stories to be told. This doomed cowboy tale hits enough notes right that the terrible exposition and plotting almost doesn’t matter.
Extraordinarily violet – extraordinarily watchable. This is how you do real action with real weight and consequences. Some of the sequences in this are straight up exhausting to watch in the best way. Charlize Theron is in her prime here.
War for the Planet of the Apes
A fitting end to a powerful trilogy. The first 2 films were way better than they really needed to be as big budget summer tentpoles, and this one follows suit. Not quite as strong in the end, things feel a little confined in the major third act sequence. Tremendous acting all around though, and heart breaking in all the right ways.
The Last Jedi
You can’t say it was another clone like so many did with The Force Awakens! That said, the more time has passed with this one the less I really like it. A few amazing sequences, but really misses a few key pieces in my mind, with no real connection between the two biggest Jedi’s we’re excited to see meet. The “stubborn” lead female character is her character arc trope continues, and I’m not really sure what our central character learns in this story. Some very undefined and muddled force powers lead up to a climatic moment that should be a stunner and leaves most people confused and scratching their heads as it just wasn’t set up to make sense.