Worst Films of 2017

I recently posted my Top Ten Films of 2017, and an Honorable Mentions list. Now, here is my list of the worst films I saw in 2017.


Top Ten Films of 2017: Honorable Mentions

I recently posted this video counting down my Top Ten films of 2017.

In it I mentioned that there were several films that did not make the list but deserved some recognition. These are those films, in no particular order, with some brief commentary on why you should see them.

The Greatest Showman
Who doesn’t love musicals? If you don’t you must hate music, and joy because that’s all that they are. They are pure joy, and musicals featuring Hugh Jackman are especially joyous (even Les Miserables, though admittedly less so). This loosely follows the story of P.T. Barnum’s life. It’s an original story, with original music. It’s uplifting, the songs are catchy, and it’s so pretty to look at.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Of course after I talk about the joyous musical, I must mention the depressing comedy, which sounds like an oxymoron but really is perfect for describing this film. It is marketed as a comedy but it is a dark comedy. It deals with some very serious issues, and it isn’t always pleasant. The performances were great, and the story was quite moving.

Thor: Ragnarok
I have not been a big Thor fan but after this, he just moved up in my Avengers rankings. This film was hilarious, and took to heart the lessons taught by Guardians of the Galaxy, which were that you can have fun, and create a hell of an entertaining film that still adds to the greater Marvel universe. Plus, Jeff Goldblum!

This is how a horror film remake should work. It takes the original material, doesn’t mess with it excessively, and builds a solid story with quality actors to deliver one of the year’s creepiest films. The opening scene sets the tone for the entire movie, and left me with some very strange nightmares.

Get Out
Speaking of horror films, Get Out was a surprise hit earlier in the year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it was very tense, and had a clever premise that played out very well.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Yet another Marvel film, and essentially another remake. Finally someone got Spider-Man’s story right. I love Andrew Garfield, and liked Tobey Maguire’s take on Peter Parker but this role needed to be cast younger, and turing it into what is basically a teen movie that happens to star a superhero was the perfect approach.

The Hero
Sam Elliot is awesome, and should narrate everything. This was a small film that gave Elliot a chance to show audiences just how good an actor he really is, while also tackling a sobering story. If you missed it, definitely check it out on whichever streaming service you subscribe to.

wonder woman
Wonder Woman
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as many other people did but I definitely thought it was a step in the right direction for the DC films, and Gal Gadot was perfect in the title role. It still suffers from a weak third act, and CGI villain but overall it is a really entertaining superhero movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Couldn’t do an Honorable Mentions list without including Guardians Vol. 2. This was a perfect follow up to the galactic hit original, and upping the game by having Kurt Russell as the villain was a sure way to make it leave a lasting impact. Can’t wait to see the gang again in Infinity War.

Top Ten Films of 2016

In 2016 I saw 83 movies in theaters, 65 of which were new releases. It was a pretty great year for film. I went to the TCM Film Festival where I was lucky enough to see some classics I had never seen on the big screen. I also crammed in nine movies in the last two weeks of the year. I’m trying to be a little more official with my end of the year highlights, so here are my favorite new releases from the last year.

First, some honorable mentions:

The Finest Hours
Everybody Wants Some
Sing Street
Elvis & Nixon
The Shallows
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Edge of Seventeen

Like I said, it was a great year. I saw a lot of things that I enjoyed, and it was hard to narrow down the list to just ten. Each of these stuck with me afterwards and had some element that really stood out. What separates the top ten from the honorable mentions is that they not only stuck with me, they surprised me in some way. These are my top ten favorite new releases from 2016.

swiss-army-man10. Swiss Army Man
This was undoubtedly the most original film I saw all year. It is bizarre and moving in surprising ways, and I’m still not entirely sure I liked it that much. I thought Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe were outstanding. I was amazed that I found myself so emotionally attached to a corpse and the crazy guy carrying him around. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to everyone but if you’re looking for something unique, you can’t get much better than this film.

hacksaw-ridge9. Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson has made his return to Hollywood loud and clear with this film. I have always been a fan of his style, and I’m a sucker for heroic war stories. I’m also a sucker for Andrew Garfield. I’ve been enamored of him since The Social Network in 2010, and I was excited to see him grow further as an actor in this role. There is so much to appreciate in this film, from the acting and directing to the true story on which it is based. The real story is incredible, and Gibson has done a brilliant job bringing it to the screen.

civil-war8. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War is proof that the Captain America films have been the best in the Marvel universe at producing quality sequels. I’m an avid fan of the original, and firmly believe that the Captain is the best of the Avengers. I was blown away by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Civil War was my most anticipated film of 2016. I was very nervous right before its release. I was so happy that it kept up with the tone and quality of the previous film. I was also impressed with how it juggled all of the different character storylines in a way that felt fair to each. I believe that a large part of the success of the Captain America films comes down to perfect casting, especially of the title character. Chris Evans has done great justice to the character and his fellow castmates have followed by stepping up to his level.

manchesterbythesea7. Manchester by the Sea
It would be hard to say that I really enjoyed this film. It is heartbreaking and hard to watch but it is also incredibly well done. It feels like a very real look into a harsh situation where real, normal people, are just trying to stay afloat as they deal with impossibly tough issues. Everyone is excellent but Casey Affleck shines as an average Joe barely getting by after a plague of personal tragedies. He deserves the Oscar, and I only hope the Academy doesn’t make the same mistake it did with Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014’s Nightcrawler.

eddie-the-eagle6. Eddie the Eagle
Who doesn’t love an underdog sports story? Eddie the Eagle is the uplifting true retelling of Britain’s Olympic ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. This film is just pure happiness. It’s nonstop joy from start to finish. Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton have great chemistry. Jackman has charisma and oozes charm in every scene he is in. Egerton has great comedic chops but is also surprisingly moving as the very earnest Eddie Edwards, who no one takes very seriously. I watched this again recently, and had such a blast that I want to recommend it to everyone.

"Story of Your Life" Day 37
Photo: Jan Thijs 20155. Arrival
This was a science fiction film that ended up being a communication lesson. I don’t think there was any way I wouldn’t end up loving it. I don’t watch enough Sci-Fi considering it is one of my favorite genres. I especially don’t watch enough non-Horror Sci-Fi, which is what this film is. It poses the question of how do we even begin thinking of how to communicate with an entirely new species? Then it answers the question in a variety of ways because there are many ways to communicate. I’m still thinking about this film, and I’m still thinking about what it all means, and how it all ties together. I can’t end this review without mentioning Amy Adams, who carries the film with her performance. Another Oscar contender who deserves the acknowledgement.

10-cloverfield-lane4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Speaking of Sci-Fi Horror films, 10 Cloverfield Lane comes in at my number four spot. Another film carried by performances, in this case the three leads, John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. I don’t want to say much because I believe people should go into this film not knowing too much. What I will say is this a tense, slow burn that keeps you guessing from start to finish.

hell-or-high-water3. Hell or High Water
A modern western with yet more outstanding performances from all the leads. Everyone will praise Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster for their performances in this film, as they should because both actors are great but I was personally most impressed by Chris Pine. This film gave him the chance to stretch his acting chops in a subtle, yet effective way. He plays the quieter of two brothers, opposite Foster’s louder more reckless one, set against the law after a series of robberies. This is a thrilling story that pits the downtrodden against the righteous in a tense play for the finish line.

LLL d 29 _5194.NEF2. La La Land
A musical set in Los Angeles about the entertainment industry, from the writer/director of Whiplash, Damien Chazelle. I think the entertainment gods made this just for me. Okay, maybe not but man, I loved this film. It came very close to being my number one. I love musicals. I love Los Angeles, and films about it. La La Land combined all of those things in a beautiful, sweet homage to the City of Angels, and to the movie musical. The songs are wonderful, the story is endearing, and the leads are beyond charming. Everyone who considers themselves an Angeleno should see this, and everyone who loves movies should also see it.

the-nice-guys1. The Nice Guys
I kept going back and forth between my number one and two, and both, perhaps not coincidentally, star Ryan Gosling. They also have the same setting, although several decades apart. I firmly believe that I had a past life that took place in the 1970s in Los Angeles. I love films from the 70s, and I, of course, love Los Angeles. I also love buddy cop films, and private detective characters. The Nice Guys is a Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) creation that combines all those things I love with hilarious antics from the talents of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. I am so bummed this didn’t do better at the box office because I would love to see these two actors go at it again in these roles. If you have two hours to spare, this is a good, funny, original film that deserves some love.

2016 was a great year at the movies. Here’s hoping 2017 continues the streak.

Horror Movie Round Up Week Four: October 22nd-31st

maggieMaggie (2015)

In a post Zombie Apocalypse world, the disease that causes cannibalistic tendencies is managed enough by authorities so that family members can spend their last few weeks together before fully turning. This story follows a father who has to learn to deal with his daughter’s infection, and inevitable death.

I was really struck by how sad this was. I thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was quite good. He is mostly quiet throughout the film, and relies more on body movement and facial expressions to convey emotion. I loved the tone of the whole film, and the question it raises of what would you do to ease the suffering of a loved one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.


babadookThe Babadook (2014)

A single mother suffering from an undiagnosed case of depression must learn to cope with her emotions in order to protect her son from harm.

This movie gave me one of the worst nightmares I have ever had, which should be an indicator of how good it is. It’s scary and emotional, and plays on reality versus psychological terrors. The overall impact was very effective, and I love the ambiguity of it all.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.


the-furyThe Fury (1978)

After a failed assassination attempt on his life, a father searches for his psychic son who was kidnapped by government agents.

Another weird one from the creative genius of Brian De Palma, and another John Cassavetes film. This was interesting, kind of a fugitive-on-the-run flick mixed with supernatural elements. I thought the two genres worked well together, and I liked Kirk Douglas, as always. The ending was also a perfect payoff.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


brotherhoodofsatanThe Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

A family of three gets stranded in a small town where the children have been going missing, and rumors of Satan worshipping are beginning to seem more and more likely to be true.

For about the first half hour of the film you have no idea what is really going on, and while it can get a bit confusing, I think as a storytelling technique, it works. The rest of the movie is a race against the clock and the anxiety continues to rise until the very last minute of the film.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


kinopoisk.ruThe Mummy (1932)

A cursed mummy comes back to life and stalks a young woman who he is convinced is the reincarnation of his lover.

The classic monster movies are classics for a reason. There is magic, mystery, and death around every corner. Plus, the special effects still hold up. This is such a good story told succinctly and effectively.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.



Prom Night (2008)

A teenager is stalked at her prom by an escaped murderer who is obsessed with her.

Sadly this was only slightly better than the original. The killing scenes are at least viewable and offer some pretty good slasher fun. I thought the characters were better developed, and the killer’s strategy more planned out and logical. Though I thought the setup of the original was better, the execution of this film works more for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.


the-grudgeThe Grudge (2004)

An American nurse working in Tokyo visits a patient at a house that has a supernatural curse on it, and is subsequently exposed to the terrors of the curse.

I’m not entirely sure what it was about this movie but it really freaked me out. I didn’t think it was super scary but the idea of being unable to escape this terrible supernatural entity was very creepy. I also liked that the story was told semi out of sequence, and without title cards for the flashbacks. I thought this added tension and mystery to the film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.


the-flyThe Fly (1986)

A scientist’s experiment goes horribly wrong when a house fly accidentally ends up in his teleportation device as he is testing it on himself.

Why did I wait so long to watch this? Jeff Goldblum is one of my favorite actors and this is such a perfect part for him. He is convincing as the earnest scientist Seth Brundle who believes his invention will “change the world.” His transformation into a terrifying and unfeeling human-fly hybrid is that much more tragic for knowing that as a human his intentions were good, and his mind brilliant. The special effects in this film are practical in nature and more convincing and gruesome as a result than any computer could generate.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.


the-mistThe Mist (2007)

A group of townspeople get stuck in a grocery store when a mysterious mist spreads over their city bringing with it strange creatures bent on making them their next meal.

I had a tough time with this one. I loved the first hour and a half of the film with the uncertainty of what was going on, and the terrifying creatures showing up in waves. I also really liked all of the philosophical questions raised about human nature and psychology. What I didn’t really like was the ending, which I thought was really harsh. I get that that’s the point of it but it left me feeling gut-punched rather than melancholy and thoughtful, which is what I felt for most of the movie.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Frankenstein’s monster survives the attempt to kill him, and searches for companionship. Simultaneously Dr. Frankenstein is persuaded by his former mentor to continue his research on reanimation.

The Frankenstein novel is one of my favorite books, and although the movies aren’t super faithful adaptations, I have always enjoyed them. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen the Bride of Frankenstein before now. I know I’ve seen the Son of Frankenstein and I’ve seen other interpretations of the original story. I really liked this movie, even though the title character doesn’t appear until the last ten minutes of the film. I liked that it explored more of Mary Shelley’s original themes about nature versus nurture, and the harsh reality of quick human judgement.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Horror Movie Round Up Week Three: October 15th-21st

blair-witchThe Blair Witch Project (1999)

Found footage of three student filmmakers reveals the strange happenings of their trip into a Maryland forest for the filming of a documentary on the Blair Witch legend.

Much like last week’s Paranormal Activity, I think this would have been more impactful had I seen it when it first came out. I give it credit for being the first “found footage” film, and for telling a pretty good story. I thought the pacing choices were really interesting, and effective, with so much of the film focusing on the breakdown of the group, and the scary parts only happening at night. I still have an issue with the handheld camera style, and got a little sick while watching it but in this case I absolutely think it adds to the ambiance of the film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

dressed-to-killDressed to Kill (1980)

A call girl witnesses the murder of another woman, and then becomes entangled in a situation where she is the suspected killer, and is being terrorized and hunted by the real killer.

Brian De Palma makes strange films that I love. The Untouchables is one of my favorite movies. Dressed to Kill was pretty good. Some of it was a little too much for my tastes but overall I liked the film. I liked the mystery and how it played out. I thought there were enough red herrings to throw you off the scent of the true killer, and that the explanations at the end made sense and didn’t feel like cheats.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

prom-nightProm Night (1980)

Six years after a terrible accident ends in the death a young girl, a killer stalks down the other children, now teenagers going to their high school prom, that were the cause of the accident.

I thought the setup of the film was pretty good but the whole thing felt really sloppy. During the slasher scenes at Prom, you couldn’t see anything because the lighting was so dark, and there were random disco themes thrown in here and there, like they couldn’t tell if they wanted it to also be a dance film. That would have actually been really interesting, a slasher dance film. I have better hopes for the remake, which is on my list for this season as well.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

the-fogThe Fog (1980)

On the eve of its centennial, a small coastal California town is covered in a dense fog, and bizarre things begin to happen.

My second Jamie Lee Curtis film of the week was much more satisfying. I thought the creep factor was pretty high in the film, and I liked the basis for the story behind the fog. I also thought the characters were much more likeable and relatable.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

My Name is Bruce 2006My Name is Bruce (2007)

Teenagers unwittingly release a Chinese demon on their small Oregon town. The obvious solution is to enlist the help of B-movie star Bruce Campbell.

Everything about this screams cheese and I loved it. I enjoyed this purely because I’m a fan of Bruce Campbell. I don’t think many people outside of his fan base will get quite as much fun out of it but I laughed a lot.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

rosemarys-babyRosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young couple moves into an apartment next to an odd older couple. Weird things happen and once the young wife becomes pregnant, she begins to suspect that their neighbors are involved in nefarious activities.

In terms of horror movie length, this one runs a bit long, coming in at just over two hours, however, I did not see this as an issue. I actually liked that the filmmakers took the time to build suspense. I found Mia Farrow charming and sympathetic, and really felt for her as she struggled to understand what was happening to her.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

re-animatorRe-Animator (1985)

A new grad student involves his roommate in a strange set of experiments he performs on dead bodies.

This was such an over-the-top take on a Frankenstein type story, and I thought it was great! I loved the tongue-in-cheek tone, and the overly dramatic acting style. And let’s not forget the special effects which were particularly gory. Also, the music was great though it is almost a direct ripoff of the Psycho soundtrack.

Next week will conclude my Horror Movie a day series. Look forward to reviews of Maggie (2015), The Babadook (2014), and The Mummy (1932).