2017 was an interesting year for movies, and not just because of the real-life spectacle and drama coming from Hollywood. The old film studios aren’t just imploding due to sex scandals, they’re also imploding at the box office. The new Star Wars was the only thing staving off a dismal year. 2017’s summer movie season was the lowest grossing summer for the movie business in 25 years. There are more interesting films coming out on Netflix than being released in the theater. Several Netflix releases are among my favorite films of the year.
I certainly didn’t see every movie to come out in 2017, but here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):
Detroit. Written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit dramatically recounts an incident in which three black men were allegedly murdered by police at the Algiers Motel during the 1967 Detroit Riot. Despite some creative license with characters, events, and dialog, Detroit feels authentic, and its emotional impact is incredible. Although Detroit doesn’t disguise its message, it isn’t entirely one-sided, showing the destructiveness of the mob and the efforts of some white policemen and authority figures try to combat the excesses of racist officers. By far the best historic drama of 2017. [Read more…]
Ingrid Goes West. A social-media obsessed woman with borderline personality disorder moves to Los Angeles to insert herself into another woman’s life, severely disrupting the lives of everyone she encounters in this dark comedy by debut writer-director Matt Spicer. Its humor mainly comes from Aubrey Plaza‘s performance as Ingrid Thorburn, the unfortunate young woman just looking for a best friend. It’s a shame the film didn’t do better at the box office, but its dark lampooning of our superficial obsession with social-media probably hit too close to home for most audiences. [Read more…]
IT. Seven pre-teen outcasts overcome their fears to confront a shape-shifting creature that takes the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and awakens every 27 years to feed on children in this latest film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name. Written by Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga and directed by Andy Muschietti, It revives classic American horror by delivering more than just jump scares. It was genuinely scary, but also at times heartfelt, funny, and sincere. After years of terrible American horror films, I hope the success of It inspires a more creative, intelligent approach to the genre. [Read more…]
Super Dark Times. Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, and directed by Kevin Phillips, this indie film’s competency highlights why Hollywood is failing. Younger, more creative filmmakers are using technology and innovation to craft solid, beautifully-rendered films that put big-budget studios to shame. The movie is structurally sound, competently written, and the dialogue is believable. Super Dark Times is not a perfect movie, but it’s not trying to be. Its simple authenticity comes across more like a documentary than a feature film, and its style takes you back to the early ’90s without overtly playing on nostalgia. [Read more…]
War Machine. War Machine stars Brad Pitt as General Glen McMahon, a fictional commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2009. It is a savage parody of General Stanley McChrystal and the U.S. and Coalition War in Afghanistan, based on The Operators (2012) by Michael Hastings, a sleazy reporter for Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. I haven’t read The Operators, so I don’t know how closely the film adheres to the book, but writer and director David Michôd nailed it as far as I’m concerned. [Read more…]