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Most Enjoyable & Most Disappointing of 2017

by Tony Medley

Here are my lists of the most enjoyable and least enjoyable/most disappointing/most overrated films I saw during 2017. The negative category includes some films that, while not the worst, were disappointing or overrated, or, while enjoyable, had huge flaws. The positive category is just how much I enjoyed them, not rated as I would rate an Oscar®-winner. But don’t look for any of these in nominated films because I rate them on how well they are made and how entertaining they are. The Academy apparently now rates them on how politically correct they are, and nothing else matters. The "Most Disappointing" are listed by rank of how much I loathed them with #1 the most loathsome. Speaking of loathsome, this was the worst year in my memory for movies. The fact that the five largest grossing films of the year consisted of 4 comic book films and Star Wars indicates that were “All About Eve” made today it would probably go straight to video or have no showing whatsoever.

Most enjoyable:

  1. Loving Vincent: How good is this? I avoid animated films like the plague. So for me to name this, purporting to reveal the real story of the demise of Vincent van Gogh animated by oil painters in the style of van Gogh, as the best of the year, it’s gotta be something special!
  2. Maudie: Sally Hawkins is getting all the Oscar® raves for “The Value of Water” but you’ll never see a better performance than what she gives in this, a film so good it blew me away.
  3. Rebel in the Rye: A compelling portrait of the elusive JD Salinger that had me mesmerized.
  4. I, Tonya: Gives a completely different take on Tonya Harding but worth seeing also for the supporting performance of Paul Walter Hauser who plays a villain dumber than a rock.
  5. The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee: If you pay attention to this fascinating documentary you will realize that, hidden by his charm, he was not an admirable man or an honest, unbiased newspaperman.
  6. Paris Can Wait: Like a fine wine, this ages well. The more I think about it, the better I like it.
  7. Wind River: The only movie I paid to see, and it was worth every penny.
  8. 13 Minutes: The unknown true story of an heroic attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1939.
  9. The Promise: Finally, Hollywood shines a spotlight on the shameful Turkish genocide of over 1 million Armenians during WWI, something that is a fact of history but which the deceitful Turks deny, just as the Japanese deny their equally despicable “comfort women” program that enslaved hundreds of thousands of Asian women to sexual slavery in the ‘30s and ‘40s. And it’s a good, suspenseful movie to boot.
  10. The Journey: This fictional dialogue between Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), the closed-minded leader of the Protestants, and Martin McGuiness (Colm Meany), the leader of the IRA, who had never met but hated each other, does what movies should do; it educates and entertains at the same time.
  11. Thank You For Your Service: This is a brilliant film with realistic battle scenes at the beginning and important revelations that finally leaving the battle and returning home is actually just the beginning for our brave warriors, rather than the end of the strife.
  12. Only the Brave: Any eye-popping movie about what it’s really like to fight a fire.
  13. The Greatest Showman: Good music and dancing, and I came out of it feeling good, even though I knew the story was Hollywood Hokum.
  14. Marshall: A charming young Thurgood Marshall before joining SCOTUS and as you’ve never seen him.
  15. Downsizing: I went into this thinking it was really a dumb idea and not expecting much but turns out it is believable enough to tell an interesting story.
  16. The Dinner: A psychological thriller about two couples with a lot of problems; for a fairly long film full of talk, the pace is outstanding.
  17. Beatriz at Dinner: What sets this film apart is the party dialogue of the exceptional script. Most movies that try to display slice of life dialogue fail dismally because it is so stilted and phony. But the dialogue in this film is so true to the characters’ respective personalities that it expertly displays a realistic interaction of such a group.
  18. American Made: Based on a True Lie: The lie is that this is a true story, but, regardless, this is an entertaining, well-made film, with good pace and action.
  19. Beauty and the Beast: Despite lots of flaws, an enjoyable trip.
  20. The Zookeeper’s Wife: Notwithstanding being a calculatedly sexist movie (made entirely by women) that purposefully minimized the heroism of the husband, it’s still a fine movie and a good entertainment.

Also worth seeing: Live by Night, The Lost City of Z, A Woman’s Life, Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver, The Comedian, Lady Macbeth, Midnight Return, Kong: Skull Island, Victoria and Abdul, and War for the Planet of the Apes.

Most Disappointing:

  1. Pitch Perfect 3: This is not the worst film of the century; there was, after all, an original Pitch Perfect in 2012.
  2. The Post: Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks confirm how ignorant, biased, and ill-informed they are in this politically motivated snorer.
  3. Darkest Hour & Churchill: Two fantasies that libel the memory of Winston Churchill but have as much in common with the truth as the TED movies have with real life.
  4. Wonder Woman: How much did I loathe this idiocy that gives women their own Superhero and completely distorts history? Let me count the ways.
  5. A Cure for Wellness: It’s hard to get your mind around the fact that these are real people so cartoonish they are.
  6. Baywatch: See Pitch Perfect 3, supra.
  7. Daddy’s Home 2: ibid.
  8. Transformers: The Last Knight: Yet another one of Mark Wahlburg’s really bad choices. He’s better than this rubbish, but, then, so is Anthony Hopkins, who also cashed a paycheck for this.
  9. Unlocked: A film made by people too cowardly to make a film about an Islamic terrorist so they made one about an American terrorist, with a motive for why the villain does what s/he does that is one of the most imbecilic in the history of intelligent thought.
  10. Free Fire: Advertised as a comedy, there is nothing remotely humorous in this nihilistic abhorrently violent nonsense whose sole purpose seems to be to desensitize its audience to brutality.
  11. John Wick Chapter 2: ibid, except I don’t think they thought they were making a comedy, although attributing “thought” to the people who made this thing is giving them too much credit.
  12. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Writer-director Guy Ritchie doesn’t come to this game of putting his own spin on hallowed literature as a virgin. He did the same thing with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and I loathed this one almost as much as I loathed each of those.
  13. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press: A prejudiced, partisan, ham-fisted polemic, so biased it would embarrass Pravda.
  14. Table 19: Too silly and trite to be involving. On the plus side, it was less than 90 minutes long.
  15. Wilson: Warning! This is a movie for nobody. It is violent, profane, and without any redeeming social or entertainment value.
  16. Murder on the Orient Express: Excruciating to sit through because it’s a “star turn” for director Kenneth Brannagh and he suffers terribly in comparison with his predecessors Peter Ustinov and David Suchet playing Agatha Christie’s P.I. with the little grey cells, Hercule Poirot.
  17. Kingsman: The Golden Circle: The first was a surprisingly good spoof of James Bond movies. This sequel, however, is simply ridiculous.
  18. The Snowman: Michael Fassbender sleepwalks through the role, barely hitting his marks and mumbling his lines. He is poorly directed by Tomas Alfredson, from an even worse script. Val Kilmer”incomprehensible slurring has little or nothing to do with the plot. Nor, really, does his presence in the film.