The Best and Worst Movies of 2017
Kevthewriter picks the best and worst movies of the year.
Last year I did a bunch of articles talking about my thoughts on the movies I saw that year. While I only posted some reviews here and there this year, I’m now going to count down the best and worst movies of the year. Let’s get the worst out of the way first!
The Worst Movies of 2017:
#10: The Greatest Showman
Remember those late 90’s animated musicals about historical events like Pocahontas, Anastasia, and the animated version of The King and I? Did you ever want a live action version of them? No, well Fox thinks you do so here you go! It’s a movie about P.T. Barnum that is so historically inaccurate there’s no real reason to make it about P.T. Barnum, they could have just made this about a fictional circus owner and his troupe! Speaking of the troupe, we never get to know any of them besides Zendaya and, to a much lesser extent, The Bearded Lady and The Dwarf (and even those two feel like underdeveloped characters). I mean, I know you couldn’t develop all of them, but they are in the movie so little that, despite their assertions that “they are a family”, I never feel like that’s the case. In addition, Zendaya and Zac Efron’s characters’ romantic relationship is underdeveloped. Speaking of romantic relationships, are we really supposed to believe Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams are the same age? Come on, movie, she was playing teenage girls when he was Wolverine, we know they’re a decade apart in age!
But what about the musical numbers? Well, the set design is fantastic and the choreography is great. But the songs sound too auto tuned which, well, I’m not a fan of autotune to begin with but it really didn’t fit the time period in my opinion. The only song I enjoyed is “This is Me” which I’ll admit is very autotuned but it’s also very catchy (while, IMO, the other songs are just forgettable):
We live in a heated political climate right now and racial tensions are on the rise. There have been many good movies about racial tensions that have come out in the last couple years including Moonlight (well, that was more about homophobia but still…), Get Out, Hidden Figures, etc. But just because racial tensions are on the rise doesn’t mean you can force political commentary into movies they just don’t belong in. Such is the case with Suburbicon, a movie that ends up feeling like two movies into one, a crime thriller comedy about a family in the 50’s being under investigation for murder on one hand and a drama about a black family surviving racism and prejudice in a white town on the other hand. These two plots don’t really sync up other than the two families living next door to each other and, as a result, the movie comes off as a mess that doesn’t know what movie it wants to be. George Clooney, next time you want to make a movie relating to our political climate, be more careful.
#8: Brigsby Bear
Before you throw tomatoes, hear me out. I wanted to like this movie: I mean, a movie about those creepy children’s puppet shows from the 80’s? Sure, sounds fun! And it’s obvious that Kyle Mooney had a lot of love for these shows and the Brigsby Bear segments do recreate them well to a T. But, like Glass Castle, it felt like the movie was glorifying abuse and I just couldn’t get into it. Granted, Mark Hamill and his wife didn’t physically abuse the main character but the fact that they kidnapped him and made him believe the world had ended is still messed up and we don’t really get to know him or his wife enough to even try justifying what they did. Plus, I just find it hard to believe that a bunch of adults would love a show like Brigsby Bear as much as the main guy does, especially considering its messed up origin (Hamill made it as a fake TV show to entertain Mooney). I’m sorry but I just can’t get into this movie.
#7: The Glass Castle
What an oddly morally bankrupt movie this was. For most of the movie, it’s an interesting study about how abuse shapes people but then, in the last half hour, they decide to make the abuser the hero of the story and make it that all his abuse was okay “because he loved his family” which is complete bull. It’s too bad because the acting from Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson is great but it sucks they had to make The Dad the good guy.
#6: All Eyez on Me
What a disappointing biopic about Tupac! The production values are pretty low for a big screen movie and make the movie look like something that should’ve played on BET. The actor who plays Tupac is good but some of the other actors either phone it in or are over the top, including the lady who played Tupac’s Mother, who does a terrible Jenifer Lewis impression throughout. Also, while the movie does get into some of Tupac’s flaws, it feels like it’s just skimming over a lot and becomes a generic biopic instead of the great biopic that a figure like Tupac deserved. And did Notorious BIG really need to have ominous music always following him, even when he wasn’t doing something bad? Why is this movie trying to portray him as Deebo?
#5: The Snowman
Hey look, someone made a mystery thriller remake of Jack Frost. And not a very good one at that. Problem with this movie is that the “mystery” is incomprehensible and doesn’t feel like it really goes anywhere. It also has scenes and characters that feel really pointless (looking at you J.K. Simmons). But the worst thing about it is poor Val Kilmer who looks very ill and is poorly dubbed over by another actor. At least the cinematography and scenery are good but, otherwise, it’s a very incoherent and muddled thriller.
Poor Christina Hendricks should really stay away from Christmas Movies because, whenever she’s in them, they tend to suck. Especially when her characters have affairs with men old enough to be her father (Billy Bob in Bad Santa 2 and Ron Perlman here). This movie is just weird. It’s a Christmas Movie about a small town coming together because they think Bigfoot is in their town. I’m not kidding. Why do they think Bigfoot is in their town? Because Michael Shannon (yes, that Michael Shannon) got drunk and dressed up as Bigfoot once so he decides to dress up as Bigfoot every night to give the town something to enjoy. And, to make things even dumber, his Bigfoot Costume is a gorilla costume. Yes, this entire town can’t tell the difference between a guy in a gorilla costume and Bigfoot. But it gets weirder (and stupider). The reason he dressed up in a gorilla suit is because his wife cheated on him and, when he found that out, he also found out she’s a furry. If you didn’t think this movie could get weirder, for a movie like this, it feels weirdly safe and non-edgy. It feels like a Hallmark Christmas Movie with furry and sex jokes, which is just a weird tone for a movie. It also has a Crocodile Hunter reference. When’s the last time people made Crocodile Hunter references? 2003? Kinda late movie.
#3: The Book of Henry
*Sigh* Safety Not Guaranteed was cute and Jurassic World was…okay. I didn’t hate or love it as much as other people, although I will admit it is flawed. But Colin Trevorrow basically made the Collateral Beauty of the year here. The title character, Henry, comes off as too precocious and narcissistic that he comes off as annoying rather than charming. He’s like a more irritating version of Arnold from Hey Arnold! The plot is also ridiculous and, when Naomi Watts decides to threaten the police chief with bringing in the FBI to investigate him abusing his stepdaughter, I have to wonder why she didn’t just think of that instead of trying to kill him because her “genius” son said so. Speaking of the abused girl, we don’t get to know the character at all aside from her being abused. In addition, the movie tries too hard to come off as quirky that the characters just come off as weird and not at all like real human beings. The editing is also bad. The only positive I can give it is that the actors, though their given an awful script to work with, try their best. The only exception is Jacob Tremblay, whose performance is really one note. I know he’s 11 but he did a way better job in Wonder than he did here.
#2: You’re Killing Me Susanna
You may or may not remember this but I put this at #6 on my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016 list but, seeing as I did see this in 2017 and this movie is just so awful, I’m going to put it at #2 here. To reiterate, the whole movie is centered around an unlikable couple that never change and keep doing the same annoying stuff that drives the other away and yet always, always get back together. There is no real depth to these characters or any reason to find them interesting. In addition, it’s mean-spirited and the supporting cast are all stereotypes and, at the end of the day, it’s just a very pointless movie.
And the worst movie I’ve seen this year is…
#1: Walk of Fame
I have previously reviewed the movie so I’ll just keep this short: the acting, aside from Malcolm McDowell and the female lead, is awful, there is no real plot, the characters are poorly developed and written stereotypes, the script feels like it keeps making stuff up as it goes along, and the production values are bad even for a Direct to DVD flick. It’s literally the closest thing you’ll get to finding out what would happen if Tommy Wiseau directed The Disaster Artist.
Now that we’ve gotten those pieces of dreck out of the way, let’s look at the good stuff, starting with…
#10: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This has been a divisive movie for Star Wars fans and audiences but, I have to admit, I liked it. Some things didn’t make sense and could’ve been explained better (how can Leia breathe in space and knows how to will herself back to her spaceship? Not kidding, that really happens) but, all in all, it was pretty good, especially after the average Rogue One. Like most Star Wars movies, it’s visually beautiful but it also manages to ask questions and deconstructs the Jedi legacy from the past few movies while still building a sense of hope that, while the Jedi may have not been perfect, that doesn’t mean things can’t get better. Luke’s arc is interesting as well as Rey and Kylo’s and done well for the most part.
Oh and it’s nice to see Finnick the Tiny Fox from Zootopia getting work:
#9: The Disaster Artist
Franco’s take on the making of The Room is definitely an interesting and fun one. It serves as a good tribute to fandom of so bad it’s good movies while definitely not shying away from the rather messed up origin story of its subject (The Room). It’s very funny and James Franco is great as Wiseau. It’s also a relatable flick about always trying to achieve your dreams while wondering if, at the same time, you’re not good enough and being insecure about yourself. If there is one problem I had with it, it’s that I wish they didn’t replace what really happened with cliches. What I mean is, there are things in the movie that didn’t happen in real life that were cliche and it would’ve made more sense to just have them use what really happened. For example, in the movie, Sestero goes on a lot of auditions but gets nothing and is relieved when he gets into The Room because he finally got a part. Sounds pretty typical right? And not really what happened. In real life, Sestero actually did get in a few big movies and TV shows (he was in episodes of Days of Our Lives and Nash Bridges and had a bit part in the Ron Howard/Matthew McConaughey flop, EdTV, which, to be fair, wasn’t mentioned in the book) but didn’t get enough jobs to really make a living on it and he wasn’t even going to play Mark, didn’t want to do it, and only got the job because the first actor they cast quit. Oh and The Room didn’t become an overnight cult success, like the movie said it did, it took a few years. And, while I realize they can’t include everything from the book, why change these things? Were they just too cheap to pay the producers of Nash Bridges? Whatever, while I didn’t think it needed to resort to the cliches it did, it’s a pretty good movie overall.
#8: Spider-Man: Homecoming
After the adequate Amazing Spider-Man and the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man 2, this was a great comeback for Spidey and the best MCU film of the year. The movie nicely portrays the struggles Peter Parker goes through to live a double life as a high school student and Spider Man at the same time. In addition, he has a nice arc where he realizes where he stands in a world full of heroes. It also has one of the best MCU villains in Adrian Toomes, who manages to be just as interesting if not more interesting than Spidey himself. It’s also a pretty funny movie and the supporting cast is fun. If there is one problem I had with it, though, it’s that Liz Allen is a bland love interest, which is a shame because her predecessor, Gwen Stacy, was probably the best Spider Man love interest yet (despite being stuck in a pointless franchise). Otherwise, Welcome Home, Spidey.
#7: Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri
This is how you make an interesting movie about horrible people. Hardly any of the characters in the movie could really be described as likable but, as the movie goes on, you start to really understand them, get their side of the story, and realize why they are the way they are. It’s a very funny movie but also has a lot of drama and balances them both pretty well. The cast is also great from beginning to end. I only had two problems with the movie. First off, the movie mentions a lot that the cops in the town like to harass minorities yet none of the minorities, except for maybe the black police chief, are really developed at all as characters and we don’t really get to know them, which is kinda odd in a movie that is trying to talk about police brutality. Also, while the movie utilizes most of its cast well, Peter Dinklage is completely wasted in a (no pun intended) small part. Seriously, Hollywood, you don’t need to cast Dinklage in every dwarf role (more about that below), you could have hired someone else (considering this is from the same Director as In Bruges, maybe get the dwarf from that movie?). Otherwise, though, this is a great movie and definitely worth a watch.
#6: The Meyerowitz Stories
Hey look, Adam Sandler is in a good movie for once! Like Molly’s Game, the dialogue is very snappy, smart, and interesting. The characters are all complex and intriguing and the acting is great. Sandler gives one of his best performances in years and Hoffman, Stiller, Thompson, et. al give great performances. Also, like Molly’s Game, the movie has some interesting things to say about family dynamics. But, most importantly, thank god Adam Sandler managed to find himself in a good movie for once.
#5: Molly’s Game
Aaron Sorkin has written some very good movies, hasn’t he? And, with Molly’s Game, he’s proven he’s also a good director. Molly’s Game has smart, snappy dialogue, courtesy of Mr. Sorkin. It also manages to be an intriguing character study about the effects that pressure can have on people and how someone’s livelihood can change the course of their life. Molly is a sympathetic character that you can see why her life went the way it did. The supporting cast is also good, with Idris Elba and Michael Cera (completely playing against type) being standouts. My only qualm with it is that I had mixed feelings on Jessica Chastain’s performance. She’s a good actress and she tries her best but I feel like her voice didn’t always fit the character so she sometimes came off as miscast. Otherwise, though, this is a really snappy poker drama.
#4: The Big Sick
The Big Sick is a charming romantic comedy that’s funny and has a cast that has very good chemistry with each other. In addition, it balances comedy and drama well and manages to interweave themes of honesty, religion, and family nicely. There’s one word for it: likable.
#3: Get Out
Get Out is an intense horror thriller that manages to be very creepy and scary, have a few laughs, have a good soundtrack, has good direction, and also, unlike some movies (*cough* Suburbicon *cough*) has some very interesting, effective, and downright scary social commentary. It also manages to make the bad guy from Billy Madison and Bill from King of the Hill scary, something you wouldn’t expect any movie to do.
Anne Hathaway has been laying low for the past few years, hasn’t she? Seems like since she annoyed everyone at The Oscars in 2013, she hasn’t been as prolific as she used to be. Sure she still pops up here and there (like Interstellar and *groan* Alice 2) but not as much as she did beforehand. But she thankfully got another acting job and it’s probably her best one yet as she and Jason Sudeikis are both great in this movie. Not only that but it serves as a fun satire of kaiju monsters as well as a clever character study about the self-destructive effects of alcoholism that blends the two genres beautifully. The special effects are also great, especially for an independent movie, and the world building for how the kaijus come to be is interesting and well done. It might’ve fallen a bit under the radar but, if you see it on Netflix, check it out.
And the best film of the year is…
#1: Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza is an actress who tends to make a lot of bad movies (Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, Life After Beth, and About Alex come to mind). And she’s the best part in all those movies. Finally, though, there is a movie that makes good use of her strengths. Ingrid Goes West is an interesting satire and exploration of Instagram/Internet Culture that also doubles as an intriguing character study about loneliness and identity. The supporting cast is also very good, with O’Shea Jackson Jr. being a standout as a Batman obsessed landlord whose favorite Batman movie is, of all movies, Batman Forever. My only qualm with it is that the movie wastes Pom Klementieff in a role that’s so minor she only gets about two lines. When she was on screen, I was legitimately confused why they got a girl who played a marvel superhero for such a small role (and I checked, she filmed this after Guardians 2). Otherwise, this is a great, intriguing little film and you should check it out.
Now that I’m done with the best and worst movies of the year, let me go over some movies I had personal feelings about. Starting with…
The #1 “It wasn’t THAT bad” movie:
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a good movie but it wasn’t really a disaster either. It’s mostly just forgettable. Only things that really stuck out with how bad they were was that the villains plan wasn’t that coherent or clear and I wasn’t really sure what exactly they were doing that was bad. Sure we saw how their program was leading to bad things but the movie wasn’t clear how THEY were at fault besides creating the program. Didn’t help that Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt were barely in the movie. Second problem is the acting, which is disappointingly mediocre for a movie with such a good cast. Emma Watson’s American Accent comes and goes, John Boyega is cast in a role that, considering he’s playing an embittered veteran of Hanks and Oswalt’s company, seems like it should’ve gone to someone older (and not someone whose obviously Watson’s age), and the Kid from Boyhood is terrible. And the third problem is I’m not sure it really knows what it wants to say. Is it pro-social media/technology/etc.? Is it anti? Is it trying to not be so black and white and consider the problems and uses of our social media landscape? It seems like it can’t make up its mind. It’s like this year’s Men, Women, & Children.
But, while this movie’s definitely flawed, considering the things I heard about it, I was expecting something much worse than what I saw.
Honorable Mention: Live by Night, which I thought was just…there. Not good, not bad, just there.
The #1 “Most Disappointing” movie:
Sam Elliott is great as the lead character. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by a movie that is more interested in the character’s boring May/December romance with a woman over 30 years younger than him (played by Laura Prepon) than it is really developing and analyzing him as a person and how his old age has shaped how he feels about his old career as a western star. It ends up being kinda like this year’s The Comedian, only with a more entertaining lead performance (no offense Robert Deniro).
The #1 Most Perplexing Movie of Next Year:
My Dinner with Herve
Peter Dinklage, a white dwarf, is playing Herve Villechaizve, a half-white/half-filipino dwarf who definitely looks more like the latter than the former, in this movie. To make matters worse, Peter is producing this movie and, from what I heard, it’s basically his passion project. So his passion project requires him to use yellowface. I just…what? I mean, Dinklage has made it known he is not exactly happy with how Hollywood treats dwarfs and I can definitely understand because, let’s be honest, pretty much every movie, TV show, etc. that has a dwarf in it where the dwarfs are treated as normal people are only movies that he’s in. And that one episode of Mr. Robot where one of the hackers was a dwarf and no one commented on it and that’s about it. But, considering he isn’t happy with how dwarfs are treated in Hollywood, why doesn’t he use this movie as an opportunity to give another dwarf actor, one whose Filipino, a chance to be in the spotlight for once instead of having him play a person WHO DOESN’T LOOK EVEN CLOSE TO HIS OWN RACE?! I mean, what’s next, is he gonna make a movie about the making of Bad Santa called Bad Elf: The Tony Cox Story and wear blackface throughout the whole movie? Even the makers of Bad Santa (and maybe even the 2nd one) would find that too much.
Seriously, this is really disappointing coming from him. Dude, if you wanted to play a real life dwarf actor, ya shoulda made a Billy Barty movie. I mean, he was a child actor, created The Little People of America, Voiced Figment the Dragon, and was the subject of a lawsuit because he apparently screwed some people out of money, there’s a movie there. And he was, y’know, white. Not just half-white, completely and utterly white.
The #1 Cliche Movie Studios Should Really Get Rid Of:
Animated Movies that end with Everyone Dancing
It’s 2017. Why are animation studios still trying to bank off the success of one random scene in Shrek, a movie that came out 16 years ago? I mean I’m sure kids love it but would they really mind if almost every animated movie stopped having their characters dance at the end for a while? Would Little Johnny really go “That movie was funny and all but the characters didn’t dance at the end so I’m going to give it 0 stars”. Somehow I doubt that.
Honorable mention goes to casting celebrities in minor, unimportant roles you could’ve given to a bum off the street. Speaking of animated films, did we really need Conan O’Brien as The Riddler in The LEGO Batman Movie? Would children and their parents really care if it was a professional voice actor or one of the writers/animators/directors/etc. voicing a character with two lines?
I mean it was a fun and pretty good flick, don’t get me wrong, but man the supporting cast was wasted in that movie!
And The #1 “Most Overrated” movie:
I’m sorry but I didn’t care for it. Like all of Nolan’s movies, it’s well-directed and has terrific cinematography and production values (the sound design is fantastic) but the characters are boring. I mean, I’m not looking for deep characters with backstories but at least give them SOME personality. Especially if you’re going to hire talented actors like Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy to play them (Mark Rylance was the exception, his character was good). I mean, the internet made a big deal about Harry Styles being in this movie but, and maybe it’s because I’m not that familiar with One Direction, I couldn’t even point him out in this movie because every actor in this movie around his age looked and talked almost exactly the same. I’m sorry, if you enjoyed it great, but I just couldn’t get into it. It just bored me.
But that’s all I have. This year, like many, has had some real stinkers but some gems too. And then a lot of movies that were average or bad but not terrible. But the best of the best (and the worst of the worst) will always stand out.