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Jim's Top 12 Movies for 2017

 

As required by podcast and blogging law, one of us here at HHWLOD.com has to post our favorite entries in pop culture for the year. I drew the short straw and since I host the DCTV Podcast here at the site, and am a co-host of The Walking Dead TV Podcast (Sorry neither WD show made my list this year...) and of Nothing's On, a podcast about movies and TV, I decided to list my Top 12 Movies and TV shows of 2017. These aren't in any order, alphebetical, cardinal or otherwise. These represent to me the best dozen things I saw this year in these media, all for different reasons. Get ready not to agree with me, because I guarantee you won't.

 

Honorable Mentions: Spider-Man: Homecoming (I loved the John Hughes style take on Spidey and pals), Split, Mudbound, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Your Name ( a touching anime I saw this year but was later informed came out last year), The Bad Batch (goofy post-apocalyptic action with Jason Momoa and Keanu Reeves) Blade of the Immortal (easily the best straight up action movie I saw this year), Death Race 2050( a remake and sequel in one to Roger Corman's original Death Race 2000 with all of the over-the-top violence, action and social commentary that implies) and Electric Boogaloo The Wild True Story of Cannon Films. And an Honorable Mention and extra kudos to Brandon Peters for hipping me to Neil Breen's film Pass Thru. Breen is an auteur that makes Tommy Wiseau seem almost Spielbergian in comparison. On to the Dirty Dozen!

 

12) Thelma- Thelma is like Carrie retold by Kubrick if he were Norwegian. It's full of atmospheric shots and thoughtful camerawork as a young woman away from home for the first time at college finds her blossoming attraction for another student manifesting itself in supernatural ways. This movie might be overlooked by a lot of people for being kind of slow in pace but I found it compelling and the payoff for the slow burn totally worth it.

 

11)Super Dark Times- This movie took me by surprise. It melds the "kids on bikes" sensibility of Stranger Things with the impending doom and casual nihilism of Rivers' Edge to chilling effect as the cute love triangle we see set up in almost a sitcom-style way in the first third of the movie reverberates in dark ways as the movie progresses. The authenticity of the teenage characters and that kind of unreality of late adolescence blend so well here. The best teenage movie I have seen of this ilk since Donnie Darko.

 

10)The Lego Batman Movie- A Batman movie that deals with all the other versions of Batman in movies and TV, is filled to the brim with easter eggs and geeky references, and has a script that is much better written than it had a right to be. Will Arnett nails Batman here and the supporting cast are all equally invested in their characters, especially Zack Gallifinakis as The Joker. I have seen this one numerous times as it is a favorite of my kids but each time I am genuinely and pleasnatly suprised at how good this movie actually is.

 

9) Guardians of The Galaxy 2- I liked this movie more than most people I know. Maybe it's my long standing admiration of Kurt Russell, or my long standing admiration of Michael Rooker, or that the daddy issues that were the axis of the story seemed genuinely implemented. The humor in the film that bothers some of my colleagues does not bother me a bit and it did my geeky heart good to see the OG Guardians represented at least in passing by Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh and Ving Rhames. 

 

8) Dunkirk- This movie is like a muscle that keeps tensing more and more as it goes on. Nolan has legions of fans who gush about him but the praise in this case is totally justified. No one else is making films on this scale , with this complexity, and with this gravitas. Simply brilliant.

 

7)The Void- Back in the day I would rush to the local video store after school to have my choice of what to rent for the weekend. Many times I would rent horror and sci-fi movies based solely on their VHS box art and synopsis, and many times I was disappointed, but every once in a while I would find a real gem, a horror movie from out of nowhere with a wisp of a budget that would blow me away. This is the feeling watching The Void gave  me. It was cheesy and scary in just the right amounts and production choices made out of budgetary concerns actually work in the movies' favor. Thanks for taking me back to the 80s for a bit.

 

6) Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets- I put Valerian in the same category as the Wachowski's Speed Racer, a totally solid, visually stunning and totally fun adventure film that sadly got misunderstood by critics and lost in the shuffle of known franchises and blockbuster tentpoles that made up their respective summers. Valerian is fun, creative, upbeat science fiction on a grand scale with eye-popping visuals and a well-paced story told well. I hope that like Besson's other sci-fi epic, The Fifth Element, that more people will check it out at home.

 

5)Get Out- There has already been so much written about this movie anything I would add would be superfluous but I will point out that well-written, smart horror movies rarely get such critical attention, especially from a first time director, without being truly exceptional. Jordan Peele is able to mix racial overtones expertly with abject terror to create a hell of a ride and easily one of the years most unforgettable movies.

 

4) Logan- A fitting tribute and farewell to the character Hugh Jackman has played over the last 17 years in 9 films (counting his cameo in First Class) with incredible performances by Patrick Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen. James Mangold tells a very particular story in this film, more of a Death of a Samurai riff than a superhero movie, more interested with the personalities and interactions of the characters than grand action set pieces. Logan was more emotionally effective to me than I was prepared for upon first view.

 

3)Blade Runner 2049- I did not want a Blade Runner sequel. I didn't think the world needed a Blade Runner sequel, and after my huge disappointment upon viewing Prometheus I was of the opinion that Ridley Scott should leave his old franchises alone. But putting this sequel in the capable hands of Denis Villenueve was the smartest move he could have made. This movie in some ways fixes things from the first movie I didn't even know were broken while creating a new world that is influenced by the first movie but not in a slavish or exploitative way. I love being proved wrong in such a grand manner.

 

2) The Shape of Water- This movie is genius in so many ways, from the almost Bioshockesque production design to the believability of the script to the unusual yet totally plausible romance at the center of the film. Del Toro has yet IMHO to make a truly bad film and this may be his best, or at least my favorite. The subversion of the Creature of the Black Lagoon mythos into a touching love story could've come off ham-fisted and contrived but to the contrary this movie worked for me in every conceivable way. 

 

1) Star Wars The Last Jedi- Not only did Rian Johnson make a totally worthy installment that fits in the next leg of the SW saga, but also he did it by subverting fanboy theories, telling the story he wanted to tell and even inserting a meta message for the legions of SW fans themselves (Respect the past but let go of it and face the future) without missing a step. I grew up with SW. The first movie came out when i was 9 years old and I have always had a special connection to the saga even when it wasn't good. No other franchise has had as great an effect on me and SW was my springboard to my love of all film as I grew up. To get a SW film this intelligently put together, this thoughtful and this emotionally impacting ( I literally wept three times during this movie and had to sit in the car afterwards just sorting it all out) is a dream come true.

 

This hereby fulfills half of my legal podcasting obligation to list articles vis a vis 2017 movies. Next up: 2017 TV!

 

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