2017 was terrible, but the movies weren’t. They’ve always been there to help.
Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones may be the MDMA-spun romance stars of Creevy’s frantic Autobahn adventure, but the movie’s true backbone rests in the hands of its veteran heavies, who come to learn they’ve outgrown their own crime games. COLLIDE‘s hyperkinetic action revels in its committed comic book-level excess. Any movie in which Anthony Hopkins boorishly calls Hoult “bro” while Ben Kingsley habitually calls him Burt Reynolds is a piece of candy.
A strong ticking time bomb film with an assured perspective and voice, Chon demonstrates his powerful ability to contextualize real-life horrors with character writing and implications that reach far beyond our narrative comfort zones.
Jeremy Renner shows up as a mafioso for one scene and three minutes later Jason Mantzoukas’s house is on fire. I don’t care how “Sunday 2pm hungover watching TBS” this movie is, it’s hilarious.
I would pay an ungodly sum of money to be a fly on the wall for the conversation between Robert Altman and Brian Yuzna that eventually led to this movie being made.
One of approximately seventeen million traits that make this bizarre spectacle so memorable: every action sequence is Dane DeHaan doing his best POINT BREAK Keanu Reeves, thrown into the market chase from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Besson’s latest is playful, sincere, and gloriously operatic in its aspirations.
FAVORITE MOVIEGOING EXPERIENCE OF 2017:
Wright’s action-musical is a bonafide pop art orgasm — a film with rhythm, sound, style, and flavor that pushes what “movies” are capable of accomplishing into a new dimension.
The Q&A at my BABY DRIVER screening eventually turned into the film’s technical consultant — a veteran bank robber with 30 heists and a decade of prison under his belt — holding court on stage over how awesome it is to select albums for the getaway.
Scott continues his strange-but-delicious decent into a fetish for contempt and punishment with a fascinating, terrifying, bloodthirsty movie about biblical creation and obsession told through the lens of gothic and Victorian horror. Don’t let the title fool you: the ALIEN prequels are David’s science lab now.
The homemade aesthetic, a wily Tom Cruise performance, and a true story so insane do enough heavy petting with each other to ensure that this is Liman’s best film since GO.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a transfixing cinematic experience that echoes and expands upon the original film in unprecedented ways. Villeneuve delicately guides us to avoid seeing the ever-popular “chosen one” narrative cliches, and makes new footsteps to point us toward a finale that’s more emotional than any of us could’ve predicted.
Like any truly great film, things start to get insane when Udo Kier shows up in a suit at the 70-minute mark. I continue to be impressed by Zahler’s spacious approach to staging and framing, and his B-movie-inspired approach to Bradley’s last stand is exactly what genre cinema needs.
Aims to deliver modern Grand Guignol horror TO THE MAX and definitely succeeds, thanks especially to Jason Isaacs’ chilling performance and Bojan Bazelli’s eerie cinematography. A stunning, torturous nightmare of gaudy proportions.
The beauty of experimental films is that they can stir up broad conversations about the execution and reflection of art and how we feel. A GHOST STORY is extremely light on exposition, dialogue, edits, and “plot,” but it has more than enough of what’s needed for a conversation. Why do we engage with life if, when we pass on, we’ll just be waiting for external forces to provide us with closure? We write our own answers.
A soap opera engulfed in flames that exposes the abuse, misogyny, and misperceptions of truth to the way its infamous story has been objectified and trivialized by shallow celebrity culture. Robbie is sublime, Janney is lethal, and Stan is brilliant.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 is the brand of action cinema that has consistently proved itself to be king. It celebrates its roots in the same approach to choreography and stylistic rhythm that has made the Hollywood musical an equally adored genre. If we can applaud Gene Kelly’s dancing, then we should absolutely be cheering for Keanu Reeves with tactical weaponry.
Its bizarro oddities and twisted humor are instantly iconic — everything from the creative creature designs, to the Sam Raimi-inspired in-camera idiosyncrasies, to the moment in which Tom Hiddleston is slicing pterodactyls with a samurai sword while wearing a gas mask. This is one of our era’s wildest blockbusters.
Spielberg’s latest champions the First Amendment’s right to journalistic free speech just as loudly as it celebrates the thrills of text blocks falling into place, insomniac deadline crunches, and your first lemonade stand. A wonderful film about pushing forward and making all the right moves in the face of adversity.
A seriously touching chronicle of America’s “most American” band, and a fascinating study of how cultural trends in music rise, warp, and morph through time and space.
Peele’s assured debut is a testament to the fact that the peculiarities once suggested to us by “The Twilight Zone” will never fade away. They’ll arrive in our lives with tremors that can threaten to reshape social boundaries, personal relationships, and entire cultures.
What a satisfying pleasure it is to see pure visual creativity applied to a sincere story of compassion, desire, and connections. The entire film is a sonnet that celebrates the things that make us different, and it sings loud and proud. Bless it forever.
I’ll never be wholly certain of what this film is “about,” but it’s a fun [?], tumultuous narrative head rush of loud personalities, underseen corners of urban sprawl, LSD far too strong for humankind, an alarmingly precarious bank robbery, the raw stench and sweat of white and Gen Y privilege, FKA Twigs, Utz chips, bizarre fashion choices, chaotic chip reader dilemmas, and Robert Pattinson’s finest work to date.
The most horrifying and bizarre argument in favor of pre-existing condition coverage you’ll ever see with your own eyes. I’m sure it will be seen as a horror film for decades to come, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the hardest I’ve laughed at a dark comedy in ages.
The most “lived-in” film of 2017, LADY BIRD is a total delight from every perspective. It’s rich with little details that made adolescence an elevator ride of dramatic ups and downs, and ends with a mother-daughter moment made for screenwriting textbooks.
Many of Christopher Nolan’s films have been about the subconscious ticking clocks that count down the life expectancy of his heroes’ masculinities. DUNKIRK is his magnum opus. It focuses on many characters, most of whom are seemingly nameless. But they are all motivated by the same things — to survive, to make sure their struggle isn’t for nought, to make sure their efforts have lasting legacies. But the clocks pushing them forward have no manual start/stop function. Trapped on the beach without any reasonable expectation of what will happen next, their ears ring with the noise of an impartial ticking second hand that could decide their fate at any moment. DUNKIRK is the summation of his talents as a storyteller, as a poet, as an architect, and as a visual artist. It deserves ranking as one of the most stunning art films of this or any century.
A creative, funny, scary, and affecting film about identifying various forms of manipulation and abuse and doing everything in your power to get them off of this planet.
“But I thought it was a movie about giant monsters…?” you might be wondering.
Well, at this point I’d wonder whether or not you’d consider manipulators and abusers to be giant monsters.
An insanely funny sequel with unexpected dramatic muscle; ghosts haunt us, but the ghosts are us ourselves. Creatively breaks through traditional sequel trappings in unprecedented ways to show how some people can be so obsessed with history and their own pasts that they’ll be forever too stubborn to adapt.
I grew up with a very specific type of anxiety that corners and bullies a fear where no matter how clear my words are, no matter how loudly I express myself, people can still misinterpret me and deliberately disregard my interests. I would see myself spinning into a serious meltdown if I ever felt unheard, shoved aside, dismissed, betrayed, tricked, or lied to. I thought that phase of my life had ended. But then I saw Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, which found a way to channel that anxiety into a 2-hour hellscape, and because of that it is possibly the scariest movie I have ever seen. I almost had a full-blown panic attack in a movie theater.
I have had elaborate, horrifying nightmares that aren’t half as scary as this film. I know it sounds hyperbolic, but I straight-up cannot believe that this film exists in the form we’re seeing.
But I suppose I should just let Martin Scorsese do the talking:
“After I had a chance to see mother!, I was even more disturbed by this rush to judgment, and that’s why I wanted to share my thoughts. People seemed to be out for blood, simply because the film couldn’t be easily defined or interpreted or reduced to a two-word description. Is it a horror movie, or a dark comedy, or a biblical allegory, or a cautionary fable about moral and environmental devastation? Maybe a little of all of the above, but certainly not just any one of those neat categories.
Is it a picture that has to be explained? What about the experience of watching mother!? It was so tactile, so beautifully staged and acted — the subjective camera and the POV reverse angles, always in motion … the sound design, which comes at the viewer from around corners and leads you deeper and deeper into the nightmare … the unfolding of the story, which very gradually becomes more and more upsetting as the film goes forward. The horror, the dark comedy, the biblical elements, the cautionary fable — they’re all there, but they’re elements in the total experience, which engulfs the characters and the viewers along with them. Only a true, passionate filmmaker could have made this picture, which I’m still experiencing weeks after I saw it.
Good films by real filmmakers aren’t made to be decoded, consumed or instantly comprehended. They’re not even made to be instantly liked. They’re just made, because the person behind the camera had to make them.”
EVERYTHING ELSE I SAW IN 2017:
SLEEPLESS / xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE / THE GREAT WALL / LOGAN / WILSON / THE BELKO EXPERIMENT / SONG TO SONG / THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER / THE LOST CITY OF Z / THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS / FREE FIRE / HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER / GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 / WONDER WOMAN / THE MUMMY / IT COMES AT NIGHT / THE BOOK OF HENRY / THE BEGUILED / 47 METERS DOWN / OKJA / DETROIT / THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD / LOGAN LUCKY / VICTOR CROWLEY / IT / BATTLE OF THE SEXES / WOODSHOCK / KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE / GERALD’S GAME / HAPPY DEATH DAY / JIGSAW / MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS / CALL ME BY YOUR NAME / THOR: RAGNAROK / THE BIG SICK / WIND RIVER / THE DISASTER ARTIST / THE GLASS CASTLE / STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI / ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. / MOLLY’S GAME / DOWNSIZING / JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE / I DO… UNTIL I DON’T / HOSTILES / MONSTER TRUCKS / THE BAD BATCH