Film

2017: The Skinny

Welcome to the SEVENTH Annual Skinny!

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Hello to all 4 of my readers!

It is time to take a look at 2017, henceforth known as “2016 Part 2: Electric Trumpaloo”.

The purpose of this annual post is to review the films and TV of 2017. We do this in lists. As is standard for this site, I give “Skinnys”, mere blurbs, on each subject (primarily due to my lack of literary ability).

Before we get started, I have provided links to all 470 films I have seen in theaters.  I will repeat; these links are the list of EVERY MOVIE I have seen in a theater. As a film lover, that means a lot to me. The act of sitting in a darkened theater is almost religious to me. It is a sacred space where fabulous artists transport us to different worlds. It took quite a while to compile this list. It represents 31 years of film. I am honored to share it with you.

Disclaimer: This is the place where I mention that that I have not seen everything. I am not a professional reviewer, and am only able to see a small, very small, fraction of the major releases never mind every indie movie that is the darling of film festivals. This is also not a list of the objectively BEST films of the year. This is an incredibly subjective of my personal favorites. My biases will influence my choices. Judge me accordingly.

One interesting note I wish to mention is that Moviepass has allowed me to see far more in the last 2 months than I normally would have. I am usually a skinflint at the cinema, saving my money for the big releases. That 9.99 a month price point is allowing me to hit the local art houses. Films Indie and foreign gems I usually catch on Netflix are open to me during their theatrical runs. This is a game changer for me. I hope Moviepass operates for many years to come.

Without further delay, let’s see what I saw!

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10: The Young and the Restless – 2017 is the year I was yanked back into Y&R. The continuing adventures of the Newman, Abbot, and Winters families in Genoa City were welcomed back like an old friend. I’ve always been a fan of long form storytelling, and this is the gold standard for the slowly fading soap genre.

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9: Turn – I was sad to see the story of the Culper spy ring come to an end, but it did so in excellent fashion as the Revolution ended and American was born. The cast was excellent, particularly Washington and Arnold, as the fallout of Benedict’s betrayal influences the story. Abe’s story has a great finish as he makes his way into the enemy camp to spy. Great stuff.

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8: Billions – This is an excellent show. Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis are giving us some really awesome drama in the ongoing tale of DA Chuck Rhoades’ attempt to take down Billionaire Bobby Axlerod. Appointment television.

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7: Survivor – I can’t believe they dragged me back, but they did. This season of Survivor was one of the craziest they’ve ever done. The twists and power plays were phenomenal.

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6: Star Trek Discovery – Man, this is the year of division. Star Trek was not immune. The fan base is being torn apart by those that like the new show and those that hate it. I am of the former. I enjoy the update to the series and find the darker story lines to be fresh and more than welcome.

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5: Star Wars Rebels – The adventures of Phoenix Squad are coming to an end. We are half way through the final season of this excellent show. It will be missed.

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4: The Toys that made us – This just premeired this month, and it is wonderful. The first 4 episodes examine the history of Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe toys. Right up my alley.

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3: Game of Thrones – This was an awesome season in that many plot threads have now converged. All of the stories finally are centering on the threat of the Night’s King. While the action has increased, the writing has noticably decreased. This is solely because they ran out of book. While they know how the series ends, without the guidance of the finished books the detail of the story is lost. That is okay though, as Ice Dragons and zombies more than make up for it.

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2: Narcos – This show faced a huge battle to stay alive. Season two ended with the death of Escobar. This season moved beyond him and proved that it can survive.

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1: The Crown – The Gold standard on Netflix right now. Season two ends the story of this cast. Season 3 will time jump about 20 years and have new actors. If they can maintain the quality of seasons 1 and 2, they will be fine.

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1+: Twin Peaks: The Return – Oh yes, there is something above #1. This transcends TV. I am not sure what else there is to write about this. In 1990, David Lynch and Mark Frost changed TV forever. In 2017 they did it again. There is nothing like Twin Peaks. It was amazing. It was art. I am still suffering from withdrawal. Kyle Maclachlan has every TV acting award locked this year. If this doesn’t win Emmys I riot.


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These are, mostly, movies everyone had access to at the local cinema. I cannot see everything. There are several I wish I had seen, and many others I am glad to have missed. My crap filter has developed to the point where I can save myself a lot of aggravation. Despite this, some garbage does make it’s way in.

2017 was a banner year for me, thanks to Moviepass. 1997 and 1998 were my best years for film (by quantity). I saw 29 movies each year. 2016 was the lowest viewing of my adult life. 2017 is now the highest; I saw 34 films. Most were OK, Many were excellent.

Original reviews can be found on the 2017 Movie Page , and below.

My 34 films of 2017

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Geostorm – This marks two years in a row where Gerard Butler skunked my list (Gods of Egypt: 2016). This movie was remarkable stupid, and I can take quite a bit. Nothing else was close to this turkey. (Review)


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These 20 films are listed under “Okay” because that is what many of them are- OK. Some of these are outstanding. The quantity of films being seen make it tougher to narrow down a top 10.

Alien Covenant Murder on the Orient Express
American Made Pirates of the Carribbean 5
Battle of the Sexes Professor Marston
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 Spiderman: Homecoming
Hidden Figures The Dark Tower
It The Foreigner
John Wick 2 The Greatest Showman
Justice League Wonder Woman
Kong: Skull Island Wonderstruck
Live by Night  War for the Planet of the Apes

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These films, while technically the first time I’ve seen them in theaters, are not 2017 films. If they were, they would take the top 3 spots of the year. These anniversary re-releases are an excellent way for me to see my absolute favorite movies on the big screen.

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Blade Runner – This showed the night before 2049 premiered. It is a testament to the sequel that it can stand up to the original in back to back viewings (more on that later in the list). Rutger Hauer was amazing, his finest role. Ford was meant for the Film Noir world of the future. A masterpiece from Ridley Scott. Despite being 35 years old the film looked fresh as ever on the big screen.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – This is one of my top 5 films of all time. I cannot adequately express my emotions watching it unfold in a Cinema. It was stunning, a true moment in my life. This was my childhood, larger than life, on the screen. Live long and prosper.

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The Godfather – The 45th Anniversary release of one of the greatest films ever made. I was truly amazed at how quickly the film passed. I have seen this movie dozens of times, but this viewing was amazing. The detail in this remaster is awesome. I am hoping they do the same thing for part 2 in 2019.

 

 

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Yes, this mammoth haul of 34 films allowed me to do a proper top ten this year. I was amazed at how tough it was to break it down to 10, but we got there. In previous years, several of my “Okay” selections would have made this list, easily. A good problem to have.

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10: Logan – The Fox era of X-Men is winding down. With the purchase by Disney, I expect some sort of a reboot is imminent. Hugh Jackman, prior to the sale, made this: the final Wolverine movie with him in the role. It is also the last film for Patrick Stewart. This was an excellent swan song for them. We’ve been waiting 17 years for a strong take on the characters and they finally delivered.

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9: The Square – This film, winner of the Palm D’or at Cannes, was an excellent look at the world of modern art, and a meditation on modern humanity’s capacity to have empathy for one another. Claes Bang gives an excellent performance as the Museum Director. Elizabeth Moss shines as a reporter doing a story on the museum. Don’t even get me started on the ape-man. Easy to see why this took the gold.

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8: The Florida Project – An outstandingly well acted look at a childhood in poverty. Brooklyn Prince and Bria Vinaite made their debuts in award caliber performances. Willem Dafoe works his usual magic as well. Powerful stuff. This is a film from A24, a production company that is making a strong case to be the new American gold standard for film studios. They will be on this list 2 more times. In fact…

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7: The Disaster Artist – James Franco may be winning an Oscar for Best Actor in a few months. His take on Tommy Wiseau was fantastic. This look at the making of one of my favorite “bad” movies is actually a love letter to film. He turns the story of ‘The Room’ into a bizarre feel good journey as Tommy and Greg Sestero try to live their dreams. Surprisingly inspiring. An A24 Production.

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6: Thor Ragnarok – The best of the Thor films. The best of the Hulk films. Pitch perfect from start to finish. This is one of my favorites of the entire Marvel saga (thus far). So good. Jeff Goldblum is a national treasure.

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5: Lucky – Hot on the heels of his appearance in Twin Peaks, Harry Dean Stanton delivers his final starring performance as Lucky. David Lynch even pops in to play his friend. You can almost tell that he was aware that this was the end. At 90, it probably wasn’t a huge leap of imagination. As far as cinematic bows go, this was a hell of a way to go out. He may get nominated posthumously. RIP Harry Dean.

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4: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – Frances McDormand leads a stellar cast as a grieving mother seeks answers to the death of her daughter. All of the leads, and the supporting cast, deliver some of the best acting of 2017. Look for Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell to get some love come awards season. This was a damn good movie.

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3: Lady Bird – A stellar film. Many people will peg this as their #1 film for 2017, and they are justified. Greta Gerwig debuts with a very personal film that is expertly written and directed. The cast is phenomenal. Saoirse Ronan is going to be battling it out with McDormand for Best Actress. Laurie Metcalf is my current favorite for Supporting Actress, and Gerwig has a shot at Best Director, not sure if they want to give it to a first film though. If the movie was this awesome for me, I can’t imagine what it is like for women. Astoundingly good.

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2: Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A part of me wanted this to be #1. I am, what I consider, a true Star Wars fan. I love it warts and all. However, I can admit flaws when I see them, and this film had some flaws which keep it out of first place. However, they weren’t enough to make this a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination.

The overall writing and directing were excellent. Rian Johnson created a story that had me guessing every step of the way. The acting was the finest in ANY of the series, Mark Hamill and Adam Driver being the standouts. I can understand people not expecting the choices Johnson made with the story, but to say this is the worst of the series because of that is bullshit. This film did what “Empire” did 37 years ago, it took what we knew, turned it on it’s head, and took us in a new direction. As opposed to “Empire”, this film ends in a place where I have no idea what is next. I can’t see how they will end this trilogy, and that excites the hell out of me. In the overall scheme, The Last Jedi is second only to The Empire Strikes Back, to me. It further reinforces my view that some people would not know a good movie if it bit them in the ass.

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1: Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villenueve is a Master. Roger Deakins in a Cinematography God. Bring them together for a sequel to the most visually enthralling Sci-Fi film of the last 39 years and you have a Masterpiece. This was the most stunningly beautiful film of the year, perhaps since Fury Road. While that film was all action, this one is all atmosphere. Deakins practically makes love to each scene of the movie. Every frame could be a painting, as they say. Villenueve came on my radar with Arrival. Now he is preparing to make Dune, my favorite Sci-Fi Novel. I cannot imagine what that will bring us.

This story is amazing. The voyage of K to find Deckard was well executed, only enriching the original. Ryan Gosling, who was in 2016’s “The Nice Guys”, repeats as star of my #1 film two years in a row. He is the Yin to Gerard Butler’s Yang. The mystery surrounding Harrison Ford’s Deckard remains intact as he gives us another great performance. The supporting cast was well chosen and each delivers great work. Ana De Armas in particular as Joi made quite the splash. Even Friggin’ Dave Bautista showed some amazing depth as an aging Replicant trying to protect Deckard’s child.

This beats out a Star Wars flick I consider to be second only to The Empire Strikes Back. Let that sink in.


That is the end of our yearly review. Thank you to the, dwindling, number of you that find some interest in this blog. It is always a pleasure for me to reach the end of another year and take stock of my favorite hobby. To be truthful, it’s not even a hobby anymore; it is a passion. I love the dramatic arts quite dearly, and even if there are only 2 people reading this travesty of grammar that I call a blog, I will be happy. This is my journal, capturing little slices of my life so that they won’t be lost in time, like tears in rain.

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See what I did there? hehe. Happy New Year.

 

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