The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

by Kevin Muller

The Worst Films of 2017

10. Suburbicon

George Clooney took a shot at directing a film that was scripted by the Coen Brothers.  Unfortunately, the groundwork laid by the brothers wasn’t strong enough for Clooney to make a good film. It is spectacular failure. The first half of the film leads us through an interesting story that drops the ball in the second half. Clooney decided to combine an unproduced script, a crime film, and the true story of a black family living in a white suburb, into one movie. The problem is that both scripts have totally different tones and themes that could’ve worked if they had their own movie, but by mashing them together, it created a narrative mess that you can’t pinpoint where it starts and ends.

9.  Rough Night

Women can be funny and be successful, but they can also be unfunny and produce crap. Men have been dabbling in the dark comedy genre for years. Some of their films have been successful, while others have been duds. Here, we have the murder of a stripper, drugs, and murder mixed with at an attempt at comedy. Characterization is important in any film, especially in films like these, and that is where this film fails. These characters are some of the most annoying and unpleasant ones to appear on screen back in 2017. Also, who thought having a guy being in a diaper for more than half the film was funny and a good idea? Somebody give that man his SAG card, or a raise, it was an embarrassing role to play that, and just sunk the movie lower than it already was.

8.  50 Shades Darker

The first film was pretty bad, but it felt like it knew it was terrible. This time, the change of director has replaced the self-aware attitude with self-seriousness. All the things that happen here are so incredibly over the top to the point of hilarity; the exact opposite of what the film wants you to feel. Anastasia is still just as big as an airhead as she was both in the books and the first film, while Christian is still as vacant and uninteresting as he was in the original source material too. The third film has come and gone with what looks like little improvement. I need to see if it has sunken lower than this one. Why put myself through the torture? Because Mr. Grey would want it that way.

7.  Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Well, at least those films are only three and not six films that have spit on the source material for 15 years. As a lover of the games, it is a damn shame that we didn’t get to see the story of men playing God and the nightmares they create.  No, all we got a CGI shit fest that is just as tiring as it is boring to watch. While it is an improvement over the last one, it is still dumb as hell. The only salvation is that it’s over and a reboot is in the works. Hopefully, they will grasp on to the original story, but that’s wishful thinking.

6.  Jigsaw

This was supposed to be a reboot on a franchise just as tired as Resident Evil. It wasn’t going to be called Saw, but Jigsaw. It was going to change the game with the rules set by the franchise and start anew. Blah, blah, blah… it was exactly the same thing as the other eight movies and the quality actually got worse. If there was ever a trap that involved the beating of a dead horse, this movie would be the person stuck in the trap.  

5.  Rings

This one was delayed consistently over the last two years. That alone warrants worry for a franchise that shouldn’t have gone past number 1. The scares are cheap and hilariously ineffective. Worst of all, they strip the mystery of who Samara is and the curse of the tape. The writing, acting, and directing are all just so forgettable and terrible. Horror can be a great way to escape, but this one isn’t frightening, but something more painstakingly worse…boring.

4.  Pitch Perfect 3

Anyone who knows me, knows about my love for Anna Kendrick. She is quirky, witty, and beautiful. When she began this series, back in 2012, it was a fresh idea that worked so well because of its confidence in a cheesy idea and the actors selling the parts so well. It is understandable that these girls wanted to come together and make a swan song to a series that made their careers, but there is no excuse to the narrative mess. Plot points are dropped, characters come in to add to the non-sense, and it was all off key. In short, it has an aca-parody of itself.

3.  The Circle

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. Those two names should’ve not only brought in the public, from her young fans to just about everyone who loves Hanks, but also resulted in a half way decent movie. The idea is there, and under the fingertips of famous writer David Eggers, it should’ve worked. This could’ve been a seductive and interesting piece about the powers and dangers of the social media, but it just sits there relying on the star power, and the unfulfilled promise of the idea. It is such a cold turkey of a movie that is just so damn vanilla in its approach. The sense of danger exists, but this is an excuse to keep looking at your smart phone.

2.  The Snowman

Is it fair that this is here? Shortly after the release, it was discovered that the movie ran out of money and about 25% of the film wasn’t completed. So is it fair to penalize a film and place it this high? You don’t need a film degree to see where this thing starts flying off the rails. It is very noticeable when characters disappear and intentions become so unclear. Even before all that happens, the movie is just incredibly uninteresting. The idea of a man who uses snow to add flair to his murder scenes should’ve worked. You also have Fassbender, who is an actor of incredible skill, who looked entirely bored here. Since these are based on novels, it was planned to have Fassbender lead his own series. The slow and dull nature of this movie could put a sugar induced four year old to sleep. Even when the mystery is solved, you feel absolutely nothing. Nothing connects, makes sense, or worse, makes you care about what is going on up there on the screen. Val Kilmer, who is pretty high on the cast list, just disappears without explanation half way through the movie. Damn it, Val Kilmer deserves better than this.

1. Transformers: The Last Knight

I was really thinking about putting the The Snowman on the top.  Hell, Michael Bay’s new film is a completed film, unlike The Snowman. It is also another pain inducing film in this series that just gets worse every movie that comes along. It is just getting so tired, the attempts at humor are awful, and unfunny. The story is just all over the place.  Where this movie fails the worst is what is supposed to be the best part of a million dollar blockbuster, the action. All Bay knows how to do is make things explode, have characters jump in slow motion, and place the perfect amount of advertising into each scene. The animation is ugly as hell, it is over the top, and tacky looking. It is as if somebody is just throwing pans around for almost three hours. These movies, outside of the first one, are just vacant of soul. They don’t contribute to anything besides Bay and his producers lining their pockets with more undeserved cash.

 

The Best Films of 2017

10.  Ingrid Goes West

As with its lead star, Aubrey Plaza, the film is weird, odd, strangely funny, but works in a weird way. Plaza stars as a woman who is on the verge of a mental breakdown whose only escape is social media. Throughout the movie, the film uses her and the Elizabeth Olsen’s self-absorbed Instagram princess to examine the current nature of today’s generation. Of course, the examples are presented in an extreme way, but it doesn’t change the fact that the satirical nature of the film works so well because you know people like Plaza, Olsen, or any of the shallow people they surround themselves with. Above all, Plaza makes a pathological and mentally ill woman into a somewhat redeeming protagonist.

9.  The Florida Project

A character piece about a mother and daughter who live in a rundown hotel ran by a saint of a man. These characters, along with the other inhabitants, take advantage of this poor man. The man is Bob and played by an actor who is always the villain or creep. That actor is Willem Dafoe and he is just great here. Bob is a man with a huge heart who knows he gets taken advantage of, but knows these people, no matter how flawed they are, are people. Moonee and her mother, Halley, are such vile people but can you blame them, especially the child, since they live in a world with little to no rules? The film unfolds in a realistic nature where this rebellious attitude starts slowly biting them in the ass. As quoted in the Talmud “sin is sweet in the beginning, but bitter in the end.” Still, when their time does come, it is heartbreaking.

8.  Kong: Skull Island

Where the 2005 version about the famous giant ape was more of a dramatic retelling, this one was more action orientated, and it brought it tenfold. This one has such a bad ass attitude and wears its ‘rock and roll’ nature on its sleeve. The mythology is also played with a bit more to create a history that makes the island more than just a battlefield. The action set pieces are fun, thrilling, and in parts, a bit frightening. (Giant bugs always get me). John C. Reilly, an actor who goes back and forth from drama to comedy, with him making more of a career on the latter, elevates this film even further. He is both hilarious and adds much to the island’s history. Plus, Sam Jackson’s persona is used effectively as a crazed military general. I never knew I needed to see Kong and Sam Jackson have a stare down, but I am glad I got to see it. Overall, this is just a one hell of a ride.

7.  T2: Trainspotting 2

Most sequels that have large gaps between them, fail to capture what made the original work. Danny Boyle had 21 years to cook up a proper story and he succeeded. This doesn’t feel like a cheap cash in, but well thought out continuation of the events of the first. Boyle was lucky to get his cast back and they are given a lot to work with the second time. These are men who are stuck in the consequences of their past mistakes. Though these men did survive constant drug use, they are having trouble living their unfulfilled lives. Some of them are trying to better themselves, while others continue to make the same mistakes, just like real people. Boyle’s intensity hasn’t softened. The film has tense moments, many that are breathtaking, are perfectly steered by the director through frantic camera work, musical choice, and his actors. It’s rare that a sequel is this good, but also doesn’t lose the momentum of the original film that is over two decades apart.

6.  The Lost City of Z

Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattison are both worthy actors who are known mostly for their work as a bad ass motorcyclist and a vampire….who sparkles. Both of these actors do fine work as a team who is chasing their own white whale in the form of a lost civilization. Hunnam becomes more of the obsessed with finding the city. It is a study of a man who lost his life, literally and figuratively, in pursuit of his own personal gain. The atmosphere here is beautifully presented and the madness done even better. All these movies on here are worthy, but this one got under my skin.

5.  The Shape of Water

Tel Doro’s fable is weird. A mute women falling in love with a fish man? In any other director’s hands, it wouldn’t have worked at all. The master of fantasy dips into all genres with no problem whatsoever. It is a romance, musical, horror, and political thriller all in one. Sally Hawkins, without uttering a word, conveys so much with physical acting. It is a silent film era performance in a modern movie. It is a pleasure to watch. The film also goes places that I didn’t think it would, but it doesn’t seem perverted at all. It is done respectively and with a personal touch. Del Toro is a known lover of the monster genre and with The Shape of Water, he has made his monster masterpiece.

4.  Get Out

It is always great when new talent emerges as Jordon Peele did this year with his simple story. The story of a black man meeting his white girlfriend’s parents, that turned into something so unique, daring, creepy, and in parts, hilarious. We all knew the last trait was in the bag since he was a part of the comedy duo, Key and Peele, but we had no idea what he had in store for us when we watched his first film. The most impressive feat of all is that he steers the story to a place where you never would’ve guessed. You may think you have an idea where it is all going, but Peele plays with your head like a puppet master does with his puppet’s strings. For all this to work, the writing was only one part of this intricate puzzle. Peele got some damn fine actors to guide you throughout this journey. Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, and Allison Williams bring this madness to life for their director. It is full of some beautiful and haunting imagery and moments that will make your skin crawl. A year later and the film was nominated for 4 Oscars, including one for best picture, and won best screenplay.  Peele seems like a good dude, and a genius on top of it, so I can’t wait to see what he brings us next.

3.  Coco

The power of music is something that is used in education and many type of therapies. That is one of the big aspects of Coco and why it works so well. It shows that the language of music is universal. Oh, it is also beautifully animated too. The colors just pop out at you and the grandness of the environments is something to greatly admire. Most of all, Pixar has created a fun, touching, and interesting story based on the famous Mexican holiday. It pays great respect to the culture and shows the beauty of it. The music is also incredibly catchy and full of meaning. The film’s famous song “Remember Me,” was well deserved of the Oscar. It is something that families can enjoy for years to come.

2.  The Phantom Thread

This is probably the most polarizing film of this list. Many of you will probably strongly disagree that it is here. It is just so damn nasty, naughty, and beautifully made. In his final film, Daniel Day-Lewis is a master of dress making. Where he succeeds in creating dresses, that the high society of England pay high dollar for, he falters in being able to connect with a human being. That is until Alma comes into his life and shakes it up. As with “Get Out,” this goes places where you would never think judging it on the surface. Director Paul Thomas Anderson has always been in love with the darkness of the human spirit and what makes us tick. Here, he crafts a story about two broken people coming together and inspiring each other to push one another forward. The acts which they do, is where the juiciness exists.

 

Before I unleash number one, here are the films I have chosen in previous years.

1993- Schindler’s List

1994-Pulp Fiction

1995-Seven

1996- Everyone Says I Love You

1997- Good Will Hunting

1998- The Truman Show

1999- American Beauty

2000- Traffic

2001- A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

2002- The Hours

2003- Mystic River

2004- Sideways

2005- Batman Begins

2006- United 93

2007- Hairspray

2008- Doubt

2009- Up in the Air

2010- Inception

2011- Hugo

2012- The Master

2013- Her

2014- A Most Violent Year

2015- Room

2016- Moonlight

2017…….

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This film comes at you full force and doesn’t pull any punches. Frances McDormand, who just won the Oscar for this, is at her very best in the story about a mother who has had enough with the people in charge. In an act of desperation, she buys three vacant billboards outside her town and communicates a message to the local police department. This acts as a catalyst for change to this small little town, especially its characters. What is most impressive about this movie is that its characters are normal people who do change throughout the course the film. At first, McDormand’s character is someone to get behind and cheer for since she has the courage to do what many people don’t do, stand up to the man. As the movie progresses, her stubborn nature may change your feeling about her actions. Writer and director, Martin McDonough, doesn’t care, he has created characters who do what they want, when they want. Sam Rockwell, who also won the deserved Oscar for his work here, starts out as such a vile character, but by the end he gets you to sympathize with him. His journey is one of the best parts of the film. It is so damn well executed by Rockwell. Personally, I thought he was better than McDormand. Outside of the acting, the thing moves with such a rapid pace and it is funny as hell. Some of the moments that involve rebellion are so outlandish that you won’t believe what you are seeing. McDormand gives the character a vulnerability. We understand why she doesn’t show it often in the movie, so it is well earned when it happens. McDonough’s movie is insightful, full of humor, and wit. It wears its rebellious nature on its sleeve and takes us on one hell of a ride.

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