Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TOP 10 MOVIE PICKS of 2017

Cinema pushes the bounds of our imagination. Being a visual artist, I find movies flex my mind and take me to new worlds. Whether at home on the couch or in a theater, we can be inspired.  Each year, I share my own Top 10 Movies of the Year to indulge my cinephile obsessions and express my opinions, hopefully turning you on to something cool to watch in the process.  This year, it was REALLY difficult to choose my favorite movies.  There were some really fun (and some lackluster) blockbusters over the summer, plenty of clever low-budget indies, and now a stellar line-up of films highlighting awards season.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm feeling some comic movie fatigue now.  Warner / DC released a solid Wonder Woman movie which was a world-wide success but offered no real surprises.  The much-anticipated Justice League really missed the mark with an uneven tone and a post-production hatchet-job which turned a dark, ambitious Zack Snyder project into the softball abomination Joss Whedon limped to the finish line with.  Marvel Studios produced a couple of entertaining, albeit by-the-numbers movies with Guardians 2 and Thor 3 (which went goofy by trying to replicate the space opera tone of Guardians).  Fox won out this year though with James Mangold's Logan.  It was a much needed breath of fresh air, playing out like a post-apocalyptic Western.

Where I certainly don't feel let down is with the continuing Science Fiction renaissance of the past several years.  You'll see a few of these in my list but others are worth mentioning to get us started.  New takes on old characters such as Kong: Skull Island were great. Samuel L Jackson is dynamite as Kong's antagonist (sans Captain Ahab).  However, Universal's attempt at The Mummy jump-starting their own monster movie universe was dead on arrival. Though flawed, the Blade Runner 2049 and Alien: Covenent sequels were both true to their source material and some satisfying guilty pleasures.  Mayhem, Colossal, and It Comes at Night are smaller-budget gems with sci-fi roots which show what great things can be done with acting, a solid story and minimal effects.

With political times, come timely political movies. With the American Press under fire more than ever before, Spielberg gave us The Post, which through the lens of one of the biggest stories of the 20th century highlights the importance of free and independent journalism. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (that's a mouthful- pun intended) tells the story of Deep Throat, the infamous informant whose information brought down the Nixon administration. It's worth noting that Liam Neeson gives one of his finest performances in the is film, which fell under the radar of the awards season.  On the funnier side, Downsizing served a clever satire on sustainability and had me in stitches.  Christopher Nolan never disappoints and managed to give a fresh take on the war genre with Dunkirk while Gary Oldman gives another legendary performance as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.  Lastly, I found Last Flag Flying to be a real gem of a movie with Lawrence Fishburne, Steve Carell, and Bryan Cranston playing Vietnam vets reunited for the funeral of Carrell's son, who was killed in the Middle East. The performances are poignant and deals with some heavy themes any military family could connect with.

Other films well worth the time invested were Jawbone, Brigsby Bear, I, Tonya, The Mountain Between Us, Free Fire, Catfight, Trainspotting 2, Wind River, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Beatriz at Dinner, Gerald's Game, Baby Driver, and Buster's Mal Heart!  Now on to the required viewing...