One of my New Years resolutions last year was to watch 100 movies in 2017. Ideally I wanted to do 50 older movies and 50 theatrical releases. I’m not sure my numbers are exactly as accurate as I want to be — oddly I think I saw more 2017 releases than old movies which makes… no sense? — but I did a pretty good job nonetheless! It’s a fun resolution, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to watch more movies. Or do nothing, I don’t care.
Here is everything I have to say about those movies.
The 2016 leftovers
Neruda (Jackie was better!), Lion, 20th Century Women (a perfect movie), Hidden Figures, Elle, Paterson, Toni Erdmann, Silence (you should absolutely see this if you haven’t), The Nice Guys (nobody wants to see your dick, dude!), Now You See Me 2 (lmao no), Sully, Nocturnal Animals
Other older movies
The Aviator, Zodiac (literally how did I wait this long), Saving Private Ryan (I actually saw this in high school but had forgotten a good 95% of it; Giovanni Ribisi is… hot… ?), Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Kill Bill Vol. 1, The Fast And The Furious, The Great Beauty, Paper Towns (fell asleep four times), The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, You’ve Got Mail, The Three Musketeers (the 2011 version, because my Orlando Bloom phase is, uh, ongoing), The Host, Following, Insomnia, West Side Story, Can’t Hardly Wait, Minority Report, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (the original; what a blast!), Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Reservoir Dogs (Tim Roth is… hot… ?), Clueless, Blade Runner, Near Dark (BILL PAXTON HAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE HOT RIP), The Hurt Locker, Gangs Of New York, I Am Love, Paddington, Fish Tank, Withnail & I
There was no real rhyme or reason for the older movies I watched. I tried to fill in some major oversights — West Side Story, Reservoir Dogs, Clueless — and provide context — Insomnia, Blade Runner, The Aviator, Minority Report, The Host, Fish Tank — for the work of directors I like a lot. Some I watched out of passive and/or sadistic curiosity — The Three Musketeers, Paper Towns — and others I watched because The Music Box showed them — Near Dark, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three. Isn’t it always just better to see older movies on a big screen? Support your local theaters!
And now, 2017!
It was a great, great year for movies, and anyone who tells you otherwise fucking hates movies. :)
The animated movies
I liked all the animated movies I saw this year, because I’m at the stage of my life where nothing is forcing me to see ones that look bad.
The Lego Batman Movie
I saw this with my brother on a quiet night in Tulsa when I went to go see him in February. I think we were two of a dozen people in the theater, and we were definitely the only non-children and non-parents in the audience. We laughed harder and louder than anyone else. Owen now tells me he has no recollection of this movie whatsoever. Whatever. It’s so much fun.
I figured out where it was going about 20 minutes in and still spent the final third crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. This is the best Pixar since Wall-E!
I did a shitty job with docs this year!
The only movie I saw this year that made me feel remotely good about human nature.
Score: A Film Music Documentary
[extremely “not to brag, but” voice] I know too much about film scores already for this to have been very interesting, but it was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning and Hans Zimmer wears a good outfit in it.
I watched this for work.
Nobody Speak: Trials Of The Free Press
I watched this at work.
I hated this! It’s not an outright bad movie, but it was far too long and much too violent for my taste.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
I fell asleep!
This was formulaic, sure, and had some uhhh parts, but altogether charming and winning. The platonic ideal for Marvel movies is something that I feel comfortable putting on while I cook dinner, and this is more than definitely that. Chris Hemsworth is our second-best famous Chris, and I hope making a profitable Marvel movie allows Taika Waititi to make whatever he wants in the future. I’m still muttering, “Piss off, ghost!” to myself.
The miscellaneous franchises, sequels, remakes, re-imaginings, and extended cinematic universes
I can’t fault any movie that gives us 1) a winning Haley Lu Richardson performance and 2) a new Blank Check joke.
xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage
It was good.
John Wick: Chapter Two
I think fondly and often about my boss pumping her fist and screaming with joy continuously throughout this movie.
Beauty And The Beast
This movie sucked, but two of its songs wound up on my end of year Spotify playlist.
The Fate Of The Furious
Good job, Jason Statham and Luke Evans.
This movie is great.
Kong: Skull Island
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Good job, Mark Strong.
King Arthur: The Legend Of The Sword
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Good job, Michael Giacchino.
Blade Runner 2049
While not in my top ten, this is a movie I was surprised to like as much as I did. The tragedy of it resonated so deeply with me, and it almost exists in direct response to many Very Special Boy science fiction movies. I really recommend it!
Crack ’em ups
The Big Sick
Thirty minutes too long!
The two movies I saw in the little theater at The Music Box with my coworker Chris Gilman in which we saw a trailer for Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards and both times I said, “I’m gonna see that,” and then never did
I was perhaps a little cooler on this than a lot of people I know, but it was, in fact, gorgeous to watch and like I said earlier, that Haley Lu Richardson is very, very special.
Beatriz At Dinner
I love Mike White and I love Selma Hayek and I love Connie Britton, but this truly felt like it was written in utter panic after the RNC convention last year.
I, too, have friends from high school who are alcoholics now.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Good job, Caleb Landry Jones.
Sometimes, things that are expensive are worse
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets
The market scene is such a blast, but I slept through the entire third act.
What a fun and exhilarating first 35 minutes followed by the rest of the movie.
This might actually be the first movie that is about trailers for better movies.
Congrats on buying so many songs from the past that we all know and love.
I thought this was good and solid until I saw Reservoir Dogs and now I’m like, oh this is… the same movie but way worse… which, still. Lots of really fun performances (Sharlto! Cillian! Jack Reynor!) and also a profound waste of Brie Larson.
120 Beats Per Minute
There were some conventional aspects to this movie that left me a little cold, but the scenes involving the nitty, gritty political process of an activism group were astounding and precise. I loved Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in the Belgian movie Je Suis A Toi a few years ago, and he gives one of the best performances of 2017 in this movie.
A Quiet Passion
A Quiet Passion? More like… a quiet boredom!! I’m sorry!!!
A Ghost Story
Genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this.
It was a disservice not to release this movie in theaters. I watched it at home, alone, on my laptop and found it mostly unremarkable. About a week later, I watched it with my parents on their relatively big TV, and I was so moved by it. It deserves a big screen experience! I love Paul Dano!
The Shape Of Water
mfw Michael Shannon cronch the candies :’)
Dunkirk-related movies that had the audacity not to be called Dunkirk
This is one of those movies I walked away from thinking it was pretty good, and my fondness for it has only grown over the course of the year. Moving and delicate and funny. Plus, of course, Bill Nighy.
Look, I love process and I love Joe Wright, but this did absolutely nothing for me, and if you think this is Dario Marianelli’s best Wright-affiliated score, you’re high!
I thought this was an amazing movie right up until I saw Lady Macbeth, which does a lot of similar things but about 10 times better.
Could not tell you the number of times I said, “[extremely Riley Keough voice] the Coca-Cola 600’s the biggest race of the year” after watching this.
Battle Of The Sexes
I saw this on the first day of my period and cried very hard, which is the ideal state of mind to watch this movie in.
The Meyerowitz Stories: New And Selected
The Florida Project
Still puzzling my way through that ending, but it is a very special movie.
Wending, melodic. A little overstuffed, but stunning nonetheless. Jason Mitchell is amazing.
On the count of three, we’ll all shout our favorite character in this. One, two, thr — PLEMONS.
I liked this the way I like eating a whole thing of Sour Patch Kids or drinking a giant Cherry Coke — I know it’s full of shit that’s bad for me, but I had a great time with it. I wish a smarter and more interesting person — dare I say……….. a woman? — had directed it!
Probably about the cruelest thing I could have watched on a day when it was 1 degree outside.
My ten favorite movies of the year
10. Wonder Woman
Heroes’ journeys involve learning, typically, and a lot of the superhero ones revolve around the titular hero shedding their ego, learning to care and listen and collaborate with others. But Diana doesn’t really do that. The things she learns are about war and the realities of pain, but her altruism remains steadfast. A note I scribbled down while watching it just says, “BELIEVE WOMEN.” I laughed at it after the movie: it’s dramatic, and the force at which I wrote this note sent ink bleeding all over the page. But that’s the thing, Diana doesn’t lose faith in herself. She doesn’t doubt, even though every man around her does. She doubles down on her compassion and her honor, so much so that everyone around her is forced to take her at her word.
9. Baby Driver
8. Good Time
His love for his brother does not propel him; it drags him. It’s a block of concrete tied to his leg. And this ties you — me, us — to him as well. It’s not safe to like Connie — the movie would actively discourage you against it, I think! But he is the hero whether you accept it or not, because he’s acting out of love (mostly; it’s a cocktail mixed with obligation and pride). But we like love — it works, it’s a motivation we understand, relate to, sympathize with. Why doesn’t he stop? I thought to myself, two, three, five times throughout watching it. Go home, pack it in. You can’t, why bother? Love, you dummy. It’s a death sentence.
7. The Square
If you thought the Östlund wasn’t going to be on my top 10, you’re new here.
For all that happened in this awful, stressful, fucked-up year, we will always be able to look back and recall that Harry Styles was confusingly but legitimately great in a Christopher Nolan movie. This was my favorite piece of writing about Dunkirk.
5. Get Out
4. Lady Bird
Second-best Saoirse Ronan vehicle after this:
3. Lady Macbeth
I will have formal writing on this in the New Year (subscribe to Bright Wall/Dark Room!), but nothing left me quite as perturbed as this gorgeous, haunting movie. Florence Pugh gives the leading performance of the year.
2. The Lost City Of Z
When the group of kids from my college who studied abroad in Ecuador returned, they kept using “Ecua” as a prefix for things like, “Ecua-classes” and “Ecua-families” and “Ecua-grades,” and this movie is literally the most beautiful vision of that tendency. I only know how to be glib about this one because it breaks my heart in such a specific way that I’ve yet to find the words to explain it. Score of the year, too.
1. Call Me By Your Name
— “What you two had, had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good, and you were both lucky to have found each other, because… you too are good.”
— “I think he was better than me.”
— “I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you, which flatters you both.”
My official ranking of everything is here on Letterboxd. See you in 2018!