I frequent three key pieces of media that people normally put in “Top X” Lists at year’s end / beginning. Those media are video games, music, and movies. These are three that I pay attention to, break down, and analyze obsessively with every opportunity I get. This does mean that I don’t get to actually reach a specific number for any of these media. There were maybe three or four movies this year I watched that I think were favorites and worth bringing up again for a brief breakdown of my perspective on it. But this does mean I get to talk about these things briefly, in no particular order, without having to get too ingrained in them. And for a guy who has gone by “The Typer” before, I think this might be a particularly advantageous scenario to sit down and talk about some of my favorite pieces of entertainment this year and why without getting too long winded. So, here we go, starting with the category I consume the least:
TYPER’S TOP MOVIES OF 2017
Everything amazing about Get Out has already been wonderfully said by numerous critics and by those who can say it better than I. Get Out was an incredibly refreshing thriller of a film that’s well shot, doesn’t waste your time time, and can serve as a great conversation about many things. Can’t recommend it enough, and I also can’t recommend the movie’s bonus features enough as well (especially the deleted scenes).
This was my own equivalent of “Get Out” this year as I spent weeks looking forward to this movie and then days afterwards reeling from it in retrospect. This movie where Anne Hathaway realizes she is controller a giant kaiju monster across the world features a knockout performance by Jason Sudekis that is likely to be heavily overlooked by his own fans, and Anne Hathway is stellar as usual. Instead of a deconstruction of monster movies ala “Cabin in the Woods”, Colossal is a movie that explores the monsters within individuals and the things that shape those monsters and where their nature comes from. The script writing tightly explores deeply rooted issues of abuse, depression, alcoholism, and self-worth and confidence that comes out the other end as something wildly cathartic with a second viewing.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 definitely explores some subject matter worth discussing that Lindsay Ellis talks about expertly on YouTube. But Wonder Woman is perhaps the winning hero movie this year in my heart. This movie isn’t a favorite because it’s nice to see a DC movie this year that has everything assembled correctly (though it is…). And it’s not just because it lacks the editing and script re-writing issues that movies like Thor: Ragnarok felt slightly hampered by (it’s good, but the beginning 30 minutes felt weird). Wonder Woman succeeds for many of the reasons you might’ve already heard: A female lead that feels about as well-fitting to her role as Chris Evans does Captain America, a well told story that explores the “fall of man” as a talking point, an anti-conflict stance clashed against the morally-grey setting of World War I to reinforce those talking points, and Patty Jenkins directing to boot. Include all of that with the impressive mythic storytelling approach to Wonder Woman’s background and there’s all sorts of reasons to celebrate Wonder Woman as the first breakthrough female-led film of this super hero generation.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This one is still pretty fresh and in theaters so I won’t get into massive detail about it. And Star Wars always feels like one of the best “water cooler” movies every year where everyone sees it or reads up about it and offers their insight about it to those around them. So I don’t think there’s a lot to be said of addition to what’s already out there surrounding this one. But I can say that as a long time fan of Star Wars growing up (on the original films and surrounding video games, the good ones) that I’m certainly not threatened by a Star Wars character with purple hair, or exploring a character path involving fear of generational mistakes leading to drastic unwanted results. I also don’t feel the need to take Mark Hamill’s words out of context and ignore the part of his talks about this movie that back up why Luke’s character goes the direction the story takes him. I think it’s unfair to twist his words into him hating the current owners of Star Wars. Also, throughout this whole film, which involves a fair amount of lightsabers, no two lightsabers clash in the whole running time. And I think there’s an extremely good subtext surrounding that when you consider the two characters who wield those lightsabers, and what paths they’re taking in this entry in the storyline. Time for me to move on.
I’m not the biggest horror movie fan. I don’t have a problem with them, but horror movies have always been followed by cheap schlock, to good and bad ends. The last two horror movies I can recall watching and thinking they’re really smart examples of their genre were “It Follows” and “The Conjuring”. “IT” definitely lands in that category for me this year. It’s not horribly inventive, it’s a remake, but it’s a well done one that explores cultural issues with a well written script and likable cast. When watching it, I also thought a good deal of the dialog was funny, smart, but it certainly wasn’t memorable. I can’t recall a single funny line the comedic character said in this movie. But unlike so many other horror movies that lead to a jump scare without anything to scare you with, placed in the dark, and then scares you with that jump scare, IT instead took a more literal interpretation of Pennywise’s torture-methods to scaring and devouring children. IT, the film, attempts to devour the audience by showing itself in broad daylight at times, revealing its monstrosity to you, telling you it’s going to scare you, and then tries to chase you down and scare you in the process as well. While there’s something to be said about the overuse of jump scares and loud music in hollywood still, IT was definitely a well crafted remake that’s more than just shock and awe.
Oh boy was there something special to me about Baby Driver. Most of the actors in this film brought their a-game as expected, but Ansel Elgort shined as a silent individual whose motivations and intents were carefully explored by Baby’s surrounding characters in this musically-synchronized action thriller. I once heard someone say there were just three scenes where the movie and music synchronized. Those people weren’t paying close enough attention to the scenes without action and I’d really recommend you rewatch the film if not just to enjoy the set and choreography detail happening in those down-time musical sequences. As someone who takes pleasure in synchronizing physical actions to musical pacing, Baby Driver was something special.
The Shape of Water
Someone once described to me Guillermo del Torro’s great strength as a director is in the fact that the fantasy worlds he creates are ones that he believes and perceives to be real. I’m not 100% certain on that as fact, but I feel confident in saying that G.D.T. is one magical fairy-tale director. I just saw this film two days ago but quickly had a passionate Twitter reaction surrounding it. Not enough can be said about The Shape of Water. Sally Hawkins and the supporting cast for this movie are phenomenal. The setting and reflection of American culture and idealism as the critical exploration in this story serves as a time to highlight and give attention to the rejected and ignored. It’s bold, beautiful, and unbelievably refreshing in a world lost to 80s nostalgia and recreation. The Shape of Water is getting accolades left and right but I think so many people will still overlook it for the feminist angle it might be providing. I’m really not one informed enough to say how this film stands from a feminist critique but I know I certainly felt an uncomfortable level of male-dominating society in this story well portrayed by Michael Shannon’s character. G.D.T.’s movies have a history of underselling so I can’t recommend it enough: Go into this movie with your mind open and for Guillermo’s sake, try to see it while it’s still in theaters. It’s just magical.