My Year in Movies – 2017 Edition

My Year in Movies – 2017 Edition

By: Kevin Jordan

Something smells rotten.

Is it just me or does 2017 feel like it has lasted about a hundred years?  Between hurricanes, forest fires, racists, sexual harassers, gun massacres, and the systematic destruction of reason, decency, and ethical governing by the elephant party and the worst president this country has ever seen, I’m surprised aliens haven’t finally intervened on behalf of the rest of the appalled universe to put a stop to the human experiment.  Of course, none of those hold a candle to the massive conspiracy and threat to human survival presented by Rotten Tomatoes.

There are two controversies rocking the country – as long as you are reading the entertainment section of your favorite newspaper, magazine, or website and think the most important news story is whichever tramp (male or female) was rejected on the latest Bachelor(ette).  The first controversy is how Rotten Tomatoes (RT) is actively trying to torpedo movies just because they are filled with people who simply hate movies and are definitely trying to poison all kittens and puppies.  These monsters have the nerve to add up the number of positive reviews for a given movie, divide by the total number of reviews for that same movie, then multiply the result by one hundred, and publish that number on the Internet.  I mean, who does that?

There were studio heads, producers, and directors blaming bad scores on Rotten Tomatoes for poor box office returns on movies like Baywatch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and The Mummy.  Nevermind that these movies were objectively shit; it’s easier to blame a website for all their woes, a website that doesn’t even publish its own reviews, but does provide a convenient place to find links to hundreds of reviews.  Also, ignore that studios love slapping good Rotten Tomatoes scores all over commercials for movies that are positively received by the body of film critics referenced by RT.  The best part of the controversy is that Rotten Tomatoes is mostly owned by Fandango (75%), a unit of NBCUniversal which also owns Paramount Studios.  The other 25% of RT is owned by Warner Brothers.  In other words, film studios are blaming their own review aggregator for tanking their own movies.

If you think I’m exaggerating, here is a fun quote from producer, director, and accused sexual predator, Brett Ratner, about Rotten Tomatoes – “I think it’s the destruction of our business,” Brett Ratner, the director, producer and film financier, said at a film festival this year. – NY Times, 9/7/2017.  Of course, Ratner is also responsible for garbage like Movie 43 and Hercules, so he’ll punch a baby if it means an opportunity to shift blame away from his own failings as a filmmaker.

The bigger picture here is Hollywood and film journalists looking to blame something or someone for the poor box office returns of 2017.  Even before the summer had really kicked off, articles were already popping up (in June) about big budget flops (The Mummy and King Arthur) and how it was all Rotten Tomatoes’ fault.  By the time September rolled in, there were full-throated sky-is-falling articles about the worst summer box office in fifteen or twenty years, depending on what numbers you used.  If this shrieking sounds familiar it’s because some of the same banshees have been decrying decreased ratings of NFL broadcasts.  In the NFL, the Rotten Tomatoes boogeyman has been replaced by the national anthem protests (equally as stupid and baseless as blaming Rotten Tomatoes) because they can’t admit to themselves that a combination of a diminished product (anyone know what a catch or pass interference is anymore?), safety concerns (nobody wants their kids to have brain damage now that science has proven the link), and increased entertainment choices are the real culprit.  Plus, considering the shitstorm that is the current White House administration and Republican Party, maybe ratings are down because people are paying more attention to the ghastly current politics and important current events rather than indulging in escapist entertainment.  See what you did voters who helped elect Trump?  Bad voters.  Go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

Anyway, by the time all our kids were back in school, blaming Rotten Tomatoes had quieted down a smidge and that smidge was filled in by the annual bullshit of blaming poor box office performance on “too many sequels, remakes, and franchises.”  Fuuuuuuuuck!!  When will that idiocy stop?  I already discussed at length in my review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle how this idea is complete nonsense and easily disproved simply by looking at the top of the list of box office receipts for individual movies on the year.  I even included a link to one article pushing that nonsense and another debunking that nonsense.  In the last three months, that list may have changed slightly with Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which only further proves the point that the vast majority of moviegoers cannot wait to spend more money on the next sequel/franchise/remake.  Then, this article came out in October to tell us how people were sick of sequels, but would make an exception for Blade Runner 2049.  Not only did this article commit the same sin I’ve just described, but they also managed to be wrong about people going to see Blade Runner 2049 (just $258 million on a $150-$185 million budget, which is probably an eight-figure loss after marketing costs, etc.), though they didn’t stay away because it was a sequel (they stayed away because Blade Runner is a cult classic and also because it’s just weird).  For the sake of all our sanity as well as honest journalism, shut the hell up about people being tired of non-original content.  They aren’t and they never will be.

(Note: In case you are wondering what the highest grossing “original” movie is, Dunkirk sits at sixteenth, and we’re stretching the definition of “original” with Dunkirk.)

The funny thing about this whole controversy is that the box office on the year was actually good and will be the second highest, if not highest, in history (North American only; international won’t break the record), rendering it a 9-out-of-10 on the stupid controversy scale.  As of 12/23/17, box office mojo has 2017 at $10.405B, and that was without another week of The Last Jedi on the books, not to mention the opening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.  Here are the previous five years’ totals:

  • 2016 – $10.745B
  • 2015 – $10.454B
  • 2014 – $9.872B
  • 2013 – $10.391B
  • 2012 – $10.326B

With the exception of 2014 (who knows what happened there), it sure looks like it doesn’t matter what movies come out every year, but does look like studios can bank on North Americans spending around $10.5B on movie tickets every year.  Again, just stop it.

The second controversy is that we movie critics are idiots; that we should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.   While it is definitely true that a lot of film critics are massive film snobs, there are very few that are idiots.  That is the crux of the argument that people were making when blaming Rotten Tomatoes for poor box office performance.  I will concede that a lot of reviews are worthless in that they make statements and judgements without providing supporting evidence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong.  Take Lady Bird for example.  The last time I checked, Lady Bird had 206 positive scores and one negative score, but the actual reviews of the film ranged quite a bit.  The one negative score was given by a guy who thought the movie was only okay, but gave it a negative score because he felt like being a dick (he literally admitted to tanking the perfect score on purpose).  He should never be allowed to review movies again for that little stunt (I feel the same way about baseball writers who don’t vote for obvious hall of famers like Ken Griffey Jr. because of similar petty and self-aggrandizing reasons), but he probably made some good points in his review.

The problem with Rotten Tomatoes scores is it doesn’t take into account what reviews actually say, instead just tabulating the results of the binary positive/negative question they pose to critics.  For this reason, Rotten Tomatoes score is a terrible tool to use to judge the quality of a film (which we’ve pointed out many times on the Movie Fixers podcast).  What you should be doing is reading several reviews for a movie, finding critics that you like or agree with or that make good points about that movie, then reading their takes on other movies.  If you disagree with or don’t like what a critic says about a film, move on.  Don’t make disparaging comments or death threats (this actually happens), just move on.  That Lady Bird douche-nozzle doesn’t deserve that kind of response, nor any response at all for that matter.

Which brings me to one last question that some filmmakers have posed – should lowly, non-main-stream critics such as myself be treated as equals with critics employed by The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post?  I saw this question posed in another piece analyzing the Rotten Tomatoes blame game and I thought it was even more snobby than the fartsiest of artsy film lovers.  It ignores how restricted many of those critics are in what they are allowed to say in their reviews.  They all rely on advertising from the same conglomerates that make those movies, so they have to temper their opinions to some degree (sometimes going way overboard with the brown-nosing).  They also go out of their way to write vague generalities and plot summaries, but will sometimes go into detail about technical aspects of films because that’s how little they understand the vast majority of filmgoers (who really don’t give a shit about things like editing).  If anything, critics like me are more valuable to readers because we are free to discuss detailed plot points and characters and we are honest (sometimes brutally) about the movies we review without having to worry about ad-money being pulled.  What I’m really saying is “do you guys hate me?”

(Note: I wrote lengthy reviews for nearly all of the movies listed, so if you missed any, you can find them all here.)

My Top 5

Out of the seventy-one movies I saw this year, there were plenty of really good films to choose from.  Unlike last year, the top five were pretty obvious to me and I’m sure some of you will vehemently disagree.  Just remember that you are really just pissed off at 2017 in general, not me.

  • Thor: Ragnarok – Like the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok isn’t the best movie of the year, but it is easily the most entertaining. Deciding not to take itself so seriously was the moment of a genius for this film, as Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston showed how much range they have as actors.  Not to mention the rest of the cast, who were visibly have the time of their lives in this film.
  • Get Out – I was terrified that Get Out was going to be a huge letdown because of the amount of hype it was getting from everywhere, including my friends. When I saw that it was directed by Jordan Peele and was a combination horror/comedy, I thought for sure everyone had gone mad.  Turns out they were underselling one of the most unexpectedly great movies in years.
  • The Lego Batman Movie – Apparently, the key to making good Batman films is just don’t let Zack Snyder near them. I was curious to see if the creators of The Lego Movie would be able to recapture the magic of that film, especially because they were dipping into a well-swum lake of DC material.  Not only did they succeed, they also showed that Batman doesn’t have to be deathly serious.  Remember that DC.
  • I, Tonya – After watching Get Out and almost seventy other movies, I was ready to give Get Out the gold. Then, Margot Robbie skated in and pulled the opposite of a Tonya Harding by nailing a film that was just as unexpectedly amazing as Get Out.  It was so good, I just broke my own rule about bad puns.  (Note: I’m breaking another rule by including a movie you can’t see until 2018 so I can tell you to absolutely go see it in 2018).
  • Dunkirk – Normally, I wouldn’t rank a movie with such little character development and plot this high, but Dunkirk wasn’t intended to showcase those things. It was intended to make you feel like you were right alongside with a handful of folks in a desperate situation in our history.  Like with Interstellar, this movie is best seen as large and as loud as possible and the tension will have you wound tighter than a snare drum.

You Almost Made It

Like I said, there were plenty of really good movies to choose from.  If you named any of these next few movies as being in your top movies of the year list, I would just nod at you.  For me, the difference between these and my top five was these didn’t wow me the way the top five did.

  • Logan – Not gonna lie, I was mildly disappointed in this movie and I think the critical reception was a bit over the top. Yeah, it is a very good film, but Logan fights a clone of himself.    I enjoyed it, but just because a film is gritty, doesn’t make it award worthy.  It’s the third-best superhero movie this year, which says something about the quality of superhero movies.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi – There are several parallels to Empire Strikes Back that people have weirdly chosen to ignore, even though those same people were nearly apoplectic about The Force Awakens having several parallels to A New Hope. In both cases, the movie worked well, though Leia Force-magicking her way out of certain death was a low point in the Star Wars  Conversely, the kamikaze scene was a visual high point in a franchise brimming with visual high points.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes – Three movies in and this franchise is still magnificent. Perhaps the best thing about it is how it deftly sidesteps a cliched showdown between the hero and the villain.  If not for Get Out and I, Tonya coming out of nowhere, this would have made my top 5.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming – If you are still one of the few people who hate Marvel (I’m looking at you DC fanboys who think Suicide Squad was anything other than a shit sandwich), even you have to admit that Marvel knows what they are doing after they rescued Spider-Man from the grave Sony dug. Perfect casting and keeping the scope of the problem small gave us the second-best superhero flick of the year.
  • Hidden Figures – Technically a 2016 film and my rules are starting to resemble the nonsense of the NFL. I’m talking about it because I didn’t see it until 2016 and it needs to be talked about, especially in a year filled with racism making a comeback.  It’s a great story about three brilliant women, but doesn’t go far enough in displaying the racism those women had to put up with.  What’s worse is they had to put up with it at a place (NASA) filled with people who definitely know better and we shouldn’t be sugar-coating that.
  • The Post – A great look at a moment in time where the press had a choice to make between informing the public about the massive lies coming out of the government or cowering in fear at a man doing his best impersonation of a demagogue. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Let’s hope this great film is playing on repeat in every news room in the country. (Note: Also not opening until January and also, definitely go see it.)

The Squirmers

These movies were very good, but every one of them is tough to watch for one reason or another.  And, just like the previous category, rewatchability played a big factor in my rankings here.  So, they get a separate category so you don’t mistake them for family affair.

  • Gifted – McKenna Grace is an amazing actor for such a young girl. If you don’t cry during the scene where her father leaves her at the foster parents’ home, you are dead inside.  She even pulls this move again in I, Tonya and I’m tempted to say she should be banned from acting for the next five years so I don’t have turn into a blubbering mess again.
  • The Founder – The kind of movie that makes you mad because you already know how the story ends. Ray Croc is a terrible person, not only for fucking over the McDonald brothers, but for being solely responsible for the blight on humanity that is modern McDonald’s.  The film offers us a glimpse at an alternate reality where the food at McDonald’s is actually edible.
  • Wind River – There is a pretty rough rape scene to get through, but one that doesn’t cross the line into gratuitousness. Mix in the racist commentary (directed at Native Americans) and you’ve got 2017 summed up in a single movie.  It’s a good little murder mystery, but will make anyone with a soul angry that this shit still happens in this country.

Surprisingly Decent

It’s almost impossible to go into a movie without some sort of expectations.  Usually, it’s due to something you saw in a trailer, actors who are in the movie, or the director.  In this case, my expectations were all low or guarded expectations going into them and was pleasantly surprised at the end.  Some of these were even better than decent.

  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – I know, right? No, seriously.  The fact that this movie wasn’t an absolute pile of garbage was a shock to everyone.  Maybe the most fun part was watching the limits of Dwayne Johnson’s acting ability on full display as he desperately acted his heart out to not come off as himself and getting about halfway there.  This film was exactly what I needed to end the year on.
  • Split – Nobody but M. Night Shyamalan’s mom expects his movies to be anything other than crap, so of course everyone was pleasantly surprised when Split didn’t suck. Of course, that had a lot to do with James McAvoy being a brilliant actor, but I’ll give Shyamalan some credit as well.
  • It – I was terrified (no pun intended) that this remake would be another in a long line of poor Stephen King novel adaptations, but found myself satisfied by the end of the film. I was definitely disappointed in this version of Pennywise and some of the characters, but it was still one of the better horror flicks I’ve seen.  But, I will still go into part two (when it comes out) with the same low-ish expectations.
  • American Made – If Tom Cruise is playing against type, I’m in. Based on the movie poster and trailers, I was expecting another typical Cruise-as-invincible-spy flick.  Instead, I learned something about history and watched Cruise play a dopey schmuck to perfection.
  • The Disaster Artist – I was skeptical considering its subject, The Room, is a world class piece of shit of a film that doesn’t deserve to be mentioned with other bad films since The Room was made by people who had no idea how to make a movie (director/producer/writer/main actor Tommy Wiseau also bankrolled the film, including booking a theater for two weeks to run it). Whereas other bad films were created by accident by people who at least knew what they were doing, The Room is what would happen if a bunch of nine-year olds with six million dollars made a movie.  The Disaster Artist perfectly captures that.
  • Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – I keep forgetting how much I enjoy Sam Rockwell and how great he always is. The reason this movie didn’t end up with The Squirmers (due to getting another glimpse of racism in America) is because it has the kind of title that screams “film snobs unite” and I was expecting to be bored.  Instead, I was riveted during the film because it manages to not just be about three billboards.

Movies for Me

Many of these movies are for you too.  A couple of them are even really good and probably belong in the You Almost Made It category.  For the other ones, I believe everyone should have guilty pleasure movies.  This is how you know I’m not a film snob, even when I do gush about movies like Three Billboards.

  • Kong: Skull Island – This movie knew what it was and dove all the way in on it. Kong was awesome, Samuel L. Jackson was a caricature of himself, the other monsters were imaginative, and Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson ran around looking gorgeous.  It was everything I thought it would be.
  • The Dark Tower – Look, I get that this movie did not do any justice to the Stephen King’s opus magnus, but Idris Elba made it worth a viewing. I was just happy that someone finally got something to screen and now they can learn from their mistakes when they make a real adaptation.
  • The Lego Ninjago Movie – I understand that this film was nothing more than an advertisement for Lego toys, but I love Legos. Plus, the movie was pretty solid and my son loved it as well.  That’s enough to get the job done.
  • The Great Wall – There’s always one of these movies that cause people to look at me sideways. Moving along.
  • The Foreigner – Jackie Chan. Need I say more?
  • American Assassin – This one is here purely for the nostalgia of 80’s action flicks and crazy Michael Keaton. Watching him gleefully chew on a guy’s ear made the stupid political content worth putting up with.
  • Gold – Another flick that taught me something about history and managed to not be predictable to boot. If that’s not enough, seeing Matthew McConaughey transform into a fat, ugly version of himself was fun. It was very similar to American Made, but about a piece of history you had never even heard a peep about.
  • Wish Upon – Unlike The Room, Wish Upon is a bad movie that actually is fun to watch. Or, at least was when I saw it with a theater full of chatty Cathys.  The film was unintentionally funny (to be fair, there were intentionally funny parts as well) and the opposite of scary.  My mood at the time made me forgive everything bad about Wish Upon, which tells you how close it was to being in categories much further down in this article.

Meh…(or Movies Not for Me)

I was going to create a whole new category called Movies Not for Me until I realized that was the definition of meh.  So, flip a coin on these films.  All of these movies were decent, though a couple of them are wildly overrated.  None of them spoke to me in any way, but maybe they spoke to you.

  • Lady Bird – Rotten Tomatoes controversy aside, I found Lady Bird to be a movie with actors. It had a couple of moments that peaked my interest, but only a couple.
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas – If I actually liked Charles Dickens as an author, I might have been more interested in this film, but Great Expectations scarred me for life. I still like A Christmas Carol, but only when it has Bill Murray or is animated.
  • Baby Driver – I was tempted to throw this movie in with the other Letdowns, but it was only a letdown because the word-of-mouth blew the expectations to impossible heights. Unlike Get Out, Baby Driver didn’t even get close to the critical reception and nothing in the film made me stop and think “so that’s what they were talking about.”
  • The Shape of Water – Classic example of a movie that is far less clever than it thinks it is. That basically describes nearly every film in Guillermo del Toro’s filmography.  At least we have Pacific Rim 2 to look forward to next year.
  • Darkest Hour – Gary Oldman was fantastic, but you have to be more than a serious history nerd to call this movie a must-see. I am a very serious history nerd and I still felt very meh about this film.

We’re Really Only in it for the Money

Better known as ‘popcorn flicks,’ these are the movies that are uninspired, big-budget, CGI-heavy blockbusters.  All of them were very short on story, incredibly redundant, or based on hugely popular video games that also have no real story.  People are starting to recognize some of these films earlier and spending their money elsewhere, but we still have a lot of work to do to get this category down to zero entries.

  • Justice League – This is a step up for DC in my book. The franchise still has no direction or vision but at least Justice League didn’t want to make you strap cherry bombs to your Superman and Batman action figures.
  • Beauty and the Beast – The highest grossing film of the entire year was a movie that was an uninspired, nearly frame-for-frame remake of the animated, 1991 Disney film. Don’t tell me people are sick of remakes.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight – Michael Bay keeps swearing that this is the last Transformers film, three films running now. As long as each movie brings in more than half a billion dollars, it will never be the last.  But, when a film stoops to baby dinosaur transformers, it really, really should be the last.  For all our sakes.
  • Cars 3 – Disney is still getting mileage (pun intended) out of a franchise that is definitely 1-for-3 in the good movie department. Even my five-year old was bored during this film and he’s been watching old Mickey Mouse cartoons on repeat.
  • The Mummy – As bad as this movie actually was, I didn’t slam it more because I’m curious where Universal is going to go with the so-called Dark Universe they are attempting to launch with this movie. Plus, they essentially advertised this film as a money grab.  Considering this movie crashed and burned, I’m not sure I’ll ever find out where this universe is going.

We Decided We Weren’t Just in it for the Money

These movies are no less money grabs than the films you just read about, but they actually tried to provide some decent entertainment for your money.  A couple of them are even getting award talk, though I’m not sure that should be anything more technical awards.

  • Wonder Woman – This might be the most overrated film of the year. Gal Gadot was great and it was nice watching a movie that wasn’t fully controlled by the Snyder machine, but it still had some terrible components equal to the shit spewed out in previous DCEU films.  But, Wonder Woman can save the franchise if they focus on making movies similar to the second act of Wonder Woman, which was several orders of magnitude better than anything in any other DCEU film.
  • Despicable Me 3 – I was very surprised that the fourth movie in the Despicable Me franchise managed to feel fresh. It had a fun villain, a fun plot, fun jokes, and the minions still aren’t annoying as they totally should be by now.  Plus, my kid loved it so how bad could it really be?  Don’t answer that.
  • Murder on the Orient Express – A very good reimagining of a story that has been done multiple times. Though, maybe I’m just cutting it a break because I had so much fun writing the review.
  • Blade Runner 2049 – I still have no idea what I really think about this movie, but I recognize how well-made it was. I will definitely watch it again to see what I missed, but that’s also the reason it’s not higher up on my list of films.
  • Alien: Covenant – After the Prometheus debacle, I was kind of hoping they would just start the franchise fresh somewhere else. I was definitely guarded going into Alien: Covenant knowing it was a direct sequel.  My expectations were greatly exceeded when Covenant turned out to be more of a redo than a sequel and was also a good film.

The Letdowns

The second category where expectations are key.  This time around, I had high expectations (foolishly) and walked out of the theater (or away from my DVD player) grumbling.  It’s their own damn fault though, mostly by just being plain lazy on some fronts, especially story.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 – Marvel was way overdue for a stinker and it’s kind of obvious now that this film would be the source of that odor. The first Guardians far exceeded predictions and the second one featured Baby Groot because Disney wanted to sell toys for the six months prior to the just-in-time-for-Christmas porgs of the The Last Jedi.  While entertaining, GotGv2 was doomed to be a disappointment, just not as much of one as it turned out to be.
  • Ghost in the Shell – I keep getting my hopes up for the next Scarlett Johansson action flick (that isn’t Marvel) and I keep getting disappointed. Ghost in the Shell wasn’t nearly as idiotic as Lucy, but it was definitely more boring.  I almost fell asleep more than once during the film and that really shouldn’t happen during her action films.
  • Atomic Blonde – This movie was the toughest to categorize because I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. Ultimately, I realized it was a Letdown because no film featuring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy should leave you questioning whether or not you liked it.
  • A Cure for Wellness – One of several movies this year that completely craps on itself in the final act after a good build-up prior to that. This film literally rips its own face off and left me in awe in all the wrong ways.
  • Battle of the Sexes – Another movie that craps on itself in its second half, though not nearly in such an obvious way like A Cure for Wellness. Battle of the Sexes suffered from trying to tell way too many stories in a single movie and crumbled under the weight of it all.  And if you are looking to see a little tennis played in the film, be prepared for a very little.
  • Life – Lather, rinse, repeat. Like the previous two films in this category, Life features filmmakers who just gave up at some point during the film.  That reason alone is enough to make a movie a Letdown, but Life tried to distract us from noticing by throwing out a few novelty deaths.  It didn’t work.

A Waste of Time

At least ‘The Letdowns’ contained some entertainment value.  These films were all very boring, not the least bit entertaining, and lacked any plot beyond the initial premise.  They are the very definition of “two hours of your life you will never get back.”

  • A Ghost Story – This movie could be the new title of this category as it is literally 85 minutes of Casey Affleck in a sheet doing and saying nothing.
  • It Comes at Night – This one is here for two reasons. One is because it has no payoff after an hour-plus of build-up and the other is because we never find out what comes at night.
  • War Machine – Also a Letdown, War Machine was a waste of time because its only redeeming value was watching Brad Pitt do a weird run. This is also the best of the Netflix movies I watched, which shows how far Netflix has to go in terms of feature films.
  • The Lost City of Z – A movie about an explorer I’ve never heard of? Who lived around the turn of the twentieth century?  Who went looking for a lost Amazonian city and never found it?  And the movie is two hours and twenty minutes long with almost zero action?
  • Good Time – If only the title delivered on its promise. With basically zero plot, nonsensical characters, and an awful color palate, this movie was anything but a good time.
  • Going in Style – An unfunny remake of 1979 film, featuring two out of three main actors not known for comedy (Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine – there is definitely only one right answer here) and a plot that really, really isn’t funny. If you were hoping for laughs and are under the age of one hundred, anything else is funnier.
  • Live by Night – I’m probably being a little harsh on a movie that has a couple of decent scenes, but gangster films are really not my genre. The real issue with this movie is I completely forgot about it within a couple weeks of seeing it and had to re-read my review just to jog my memory.  It probably falls somewhere between meh and a waste of time, but I seem to have issues with movies containing the word “Night” in the title this year.

Not the Worst, But You Sure Tried Hard

There were a lot of really good movies this year and there were a lot of really bad movies this year.  Two of these will make you wonder what could possibly be worst, but I promise you there were definitely worse.

  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Come on Hollywood! This movie didn’t tank at the box office because critics called a spade a spade, it tanked because it was a lousy film.  Plus, we’ve seen other Guy Ritchie movies, which made this mess of shit that much easier to label it for what it was.
  • CHiPs – This is a movie that postulates that the new, hot sex craze is people eating out each other’s butt holes and it postulates that with almost no humor. First, gross.  Second, Amy Schumer definitely made it clear where fudge is made (in her music video for Milk, Milk, Lemonade).  Third, GROSSSSS!!  Fourth, that kind of humor perfectly captures 2017.
  • Baywatch – Not even The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) could pull a decent box office out of an unnecessarily expensive movie that was a bad idea before anyone even considered it as an idea. If the filmmakers had known what the movie should have been, it would have been rated-R and filled with naked people.  In other words, shit or get off the pot.
  • Table 19 – We’ve all been invited to weddings we really didn’t want to go to, but attended anyways because of the social contract (we should really renegotiate that contract, by the way). Table 19 should have been a caricature of a wedding reception, but instead was all too similar to every boring-ass, why-are-we-here reception at least two of our cousins have held.  If you can’t guess which cousins, it was probably your own.
  • The Only Living Boy in New York – This movie highlights why people like to hate New Yorkers. Pretentious attitudes and believing they are the only people on the planet makes them worthy of disfiguring, infectious diseases.  Though, I still can’t figure out the kind of stupid it takes to bitch about the coastal elites while electing one of those very same fuckers President.
  • The Space Between Us – This film tries to make space cool to tweens and teens by including texting and meet-cutes across eighty million miles. If our space program dies, this movie will have had a lot to do with it.

Pooping on the Silver Screen

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for – the five worst movies of the year.  To be fair, the last two in this list are far worse than anything else I saw this year.  And I could easily have put any of the previous five into this category.  I just had a harder time thinking of positives for these so I stopped trying.

  • Death Note – I’m thinking maybe it’s time to stop trying to make regular, live-action movies out of manga. Or let Marvel try to adapt it.  Either way, this movie was embarrassingly awful and not even in a fun way.
  • The Bad Batch – The weirdest thing about Netflix making bad movies is that they do a really good job with episodic series. I haven’t watched their full slate of films from this season, but the three I did see ranged from wasting my time to wishing I could gauge my own eyes and eardrums out.  If you ever wanted to see how not to make a movie about cannibals in a wasteland featuring Keanu Reeves and Jason Mamoa, has Netflix got the, er, ‘film’ for you.
  • Fist Fight – Charlie Day is a hilarious human being, but this shitty movie beat the life out of him (seriously breaking my no bad pun rule) and every attempt made at comedy. To paraphrase Ice Cube, fuck this movie.
  • The Snowman – I still can’t get over the main character’s name being Harry Hole and this film featuring zero sex. Or intrigue.  Or drama.  Or coherent writing.  Or entertainment value of any kind.
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – And thus we have the worst movie of 2017, a shit storm the likes of which visited Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico this year, but more appalling because this movie was on purpose. (Note: in all seriousness, donate to relief funds for any of the hurricane victims.  I did.)

Pooping on the Silver Screen: The Sequel

This is the bonus category for movies that were made as sheer money grabs, but were also terrible movies in general.  They are the shitty sequels that keep getting made because you won’t stop watching them.  I expanded my top five to a top six, so consider these three of the worst eight movies of the year.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – This franchise has sunk so low it even managed to kill the few bits of remaining charm in Jack Sparrow. It’s at least two movies past time to let the series sink to…nope, not even worth a bad pun.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Somebody really, really wanted to get a Kingsman sequel out fast to capitalize on the good will obtained by the first film. Somebody also wrote a really, really pathetic screenplay that took that good will and flushed it down the toilet of a cheap Mexican restaurant’s bathroom.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 – Chapter 1 was inane and shallow, but at least looked kind of cool and made you think it might be a decent prologue to an interesting story. Chapter 2 proved Americans don’t read good.
  • The Fate of the Furious – If people are going to lose their minds over Rotten Tomatoes scores, they should be losing it over any Fast and Furious movie with a score over single digits. These films are beyond dumb and should always be the rebuttal to the moron stating that people are sick of sequels.

In terms of movies, 2017 was no better or worse than 2016.  There were good movies, bad movies, mediocre movies, and documentaries.  DC took baby steps forward and Marvel finally laid an overdue egg.  There wasn’t a great science fiction movie, but Blade Runner 2049 sure gave it a shot.  2018 promises a bunch of movies to look forward to, good, bad, or otherwise.  Yes, there a more sequels, remakes, and franchise flicks coming and, unless you stop paying to see them, at least stop complaining about them.  There will be plenty of original fare as well, you probably just have to read past the main marquee at the theater to get to them.  Most of all, use Rotten Tomatoes the way it was intended by completely ignoring the score and reading some of the reviews beyond the one sentence nuggets in the reviews list.  Just remember that they are only opinions and you can simply choose to ignore them.  There is no need to comment or tweet out or hateful shit to people just because you disagree with them, no matter how presidential it might seem.  Wow, did 2017 suck.  Here’s hoping 2018 brings us a lot less of the same.

Warner Bros. 2014 Fall/Holiday Preview


DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Family Adventure) September 12
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Dramatic Comedy) September 19
ANNABELLE (Supernatural Thriller) October 3
THE GOOD LIE (Drama) October 3 (Limited)
THE JUDGE (Drama) October 10
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (Comedy) November 26
INHERENT VICE December 12 (Limited)
OF THE FIVE ARMIES (Fantasy Adventure) December 17***

Dates are subject to change

* In theaters and IMAX ** In 3D and 2D in select theaters *** In 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX

Credits are not final and dates are subject to change. For downloadable general press information, please visit:

In theaters on September 12
(Alcon Entertainment)

Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writer: Charles Martin Smith
Producers: Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Richard Ingber, Steven P. Wegner
Executive Producers: David Yates, Robert Engelman
Cast: Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble,Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Bethany Hamilton and Morgan Freeman

Family Adventure. “Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and rehabilitation—thanks to the invention of a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” Several years have passed since young Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr.), rescued Winter, a young dolphin who lost her tail after being entangled in a crab trap. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman), who developed a unique prosthetic tail for Winter, they saved her life against all odds. In turn, she helped save the Aquarium—as people came from far and wide to see the courageous dolphin firsthand, enabling CMA to greatly expand their mission to “rescue, rehabilitate and, when possible, release” injured animals. Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the elderly dolphin Panama, passes away, leaving Winter alone and grieving, unwilling to engage with anyone, even her best friend, Sawyer. However, the loss of Panama may have even greater repercussions for CMA. The USDA warns Clay they will have to move Winter from the Aquarium because regulations require these social creatures to be paired. If they don’t find a female companion for her—one that she accepts—CMA will lose their beloved Winter. But as time runs out, there may still be Hope…

This film has been rated PG for some mild thematic elements.

In theaters on September 19
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Screenplay by Jonathan Tropper
Based on the novel This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Producers: Paula Weinstein, Shawn Levy, Jeffrey Levine
Executive Producers: Mary McLaglen, Jonathan Tropper

Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk, Abigail Spencer, Ben Schwartz and Jane Fonda

Dramatic Comedy. When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide— driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.

This film has been rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use.

In theaters on October 3
(New Line Cinema)

Director: John Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Producers: James Wan, Peter Safran
Executive Producers: Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter, Hans Ritter

Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard

Supernatural Thriller. She terrified you in “The Conjuring,” but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut—visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month. New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “Annabelle” begins before the evil was unleashed. John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia—a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now…Annabelle.

In theaters on October 3 (Limited)
(Alcon Entertainment/Imagine Entertainment/Black Label Media)

Director: Philippe Falardeau
Writer: Margaret Nagle
Producers: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Molly Mickler Smith,
Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill
Executive Producers: Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Kim Roth, Ellen H. Schwartz,
Deepak Nayar, Bobby and Deb Newmyer
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal,
Kuoth Weil, Corey Stoll, Sarah Baker

Drama. They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.”Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America. In “The Good Lie,” Philippe Falardeau, writer and director of the Oscar–nominated Foreign Language film “Monsieur Lazhar,” brings the story of their survival and triumph to life. Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Kuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war, star alongside Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon in a film written by Margaret Nagle, writer of the award-winning HBO projects “Boardwalk Empire” and “Warm Springs.”

This film has been rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence, brief strong language and drug use.

In theaters on October 10
(Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures)

Director: David Dobkin
Writers: Screenplay by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque
Story by David Dobkin & Nick Schenk
Producers: Susan Downey, David Dobkin, David Gambino
Executive Producers: Herbert W. Gains, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Kleeman, Bruce Berman

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong,
Dax Shepard, Billy Bob Thornton, Leighton Meester, Ken Howard, Emma Tremblay,
Balthazar Getty, David Krumholtz, Sarah Lancaster, Grace Zabriskie, Denis O’Hare

Drama. Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. and Oscar winner Robert Duvall are teamed for the first time in the drama “The Judge.” Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge (Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

In theaters on November 26
(New Line Cinema)

Director: Sean Anders
Writers: Screenplay by Sean Anders & John Morris
Story by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Sean Anders & John Morris
Based on characters created by Michael Markowitz
Producers: Brett Ratner, Jay Stern, Chris Bender, John Rickard, John Morris
Executive Producers: Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Michael Disco, Samuel J. Brown,
John Cheng, Diana Pokorny
Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, Christoph Waltz

Comedy. Fed up with answering to higher-ups, Nick, Dale and Kurt decide to become their own bosses by launching their own business in “Horrible Bosses 2.” But a slick investor soon pulls the rug out from under them. Outplayed and desperate, and with no legal recourse, the three would-be entrepreneurs hatch a misguided plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son and ransom him to regain control of their company in this follow-up to the 2011 hit comedy “Horrible Bosses” that reunites stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as everyone’s favorite working stiffs. Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey also reprise their starring roles, while Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz star as new adversaries standing between the guys and their dreams of success.

This film has been rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout.

In theaters on December 12 (Limited)
(Warner Bros. Pictures/IAC Films)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon
Producers: Joanne Sellar, Daniel Lupi, Paul Thomas Anderson
Executive Producers: Scott Rudin, Adam Somner

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Reese Witherspoon,
Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom

“Inherent Vice” is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin…well, easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused – except this one usually leads to trouble. With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists… Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp – all Thomas Pynchon.

In High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D), other 3D and 2D formats and IMAX in select theaters on December 17
(New Line Cinema/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro
Based on the Novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Producers: Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Executive Producers: Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins, Carolyn Blackwood

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace,
Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner,
Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage. Also Starring Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Adam Brown, John Bell, Manu Bennett, John Tui.

Fantasy Adventure. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town. Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

The Equalizer

Opens Friday, September 26
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: Richard Wenk
Based on the Television Series Created by: Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
Produced by: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Denzel Washington, Alex Siskin, Steve Tisch, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge, Michael Sloan
Executive Produced by: Ezra Swerdlow, David Bloomfield
Stars: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, with Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo
The EqualizerIn The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

The Drop




Watch the Trailer:

Directed by:
Michaël Roskam

Screenplay by:
Dennis Lehane

Based upon the short story by:
Dennis Lehane

Produced by:
Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Mike Larocca

Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Ann Dowd, James Frecheville

THE DROP is a new crime drama from Michaël R. Roskam, the Academy Award nominated director of BULLHEAD.  Based on a screenplay from Dennis Lehane (SHUTTER ISLAND, GONE BABY GONE), THE DROP follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” in the underworld of Brooklyn bars.  Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past.  Also featuring Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ann Dowd and John Ortiz.

THE DROP opens in select theaters on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th