Listen, guys, I’m going to let you in on a big secret: I’m woefully unqualified to write for any movie site. And of the many reasons why, one always comes up around this time of year. I don’t live near any art house or smaller theaters, so unless movies come to the theater attached to the nearby mall (hey, $5 matinees every day!), I don’t get to see them until home video, usually the year after.
And because I’m not a big fan of movie theaters in general, I usually only end up going if my movie nerd friends are talking about something a lot, which heavily weights what I end up seeing. I’m not particularly a huge fan of action blockbusters, but for some reason they’re the movies I end up seeing the most. (Keep an eye out for our 2018 media resolutions, in which I’ll address this more.)
So, since writing a “Best of 2017” list would be pretty impossible and unrepresentative of my interests, what you’re getting instead is a complete ranking of every 2017 movie I saw, from first to worst (with links to articles). Here’s to all the great movies from this year that I’ll finally be able to tell you about in 2018!
Every 2017 Movie I Saw in 2017, Ranked
1. Alien: Covenant
It may spend its first half hour playing out the standard tropes of the Alien franchise, but once you arrive in Michael Fassbender’s bizarre alien Dracula castle, it becomes something else. Bonus points for being one of three movies to prominently use “Take Me Home, Country Roads” this year. (Read Liz’s commentary here.)
2. John Wick: Chapter 2
All of my friends put up with a lot of talking about the original and this sequel over the last 2 years or so. (How does the economy make any sense? Getting rid of a body costs as much as a drink?) But this one felt much, much cooler than the original to me, which relied on goofy-looking dudes in suits being inherently visually fascinating. Also, no Marilyn Manson this time.
I will stand by my fervent anti-Stephen King bias—I think he’s atrocious—but this movie helped me get the appeal. There is a sense of a genuine wider American horror mythology at play here, much wider and less place-dependent (and less explicitly dependent on racist fears) than Lovecraft. Everything about Beverly was exhausting and lazy, but I get why this was a phenomenon. (Read Rick’s review here.)
4. The Little Hours
I have a piece on this in the works, but frankly, I am always going to be excited about an adaptation of 14th century writer Boccaccio’s impossibly ribald Decameron. It’s the definition of slight, but Kate Micucci (Garfunkel & Oates) is a revelation, and it manages to use Jemima Kirke’s aggressively irritating affect for good.
5. Happy Death Day
Yes, it’s just Groundhog Day as a horror movie, but the free mixture of pop music empowerment and horrible murder makes this something really curious and charming. One particular montage set to Demi Levato’s “Confident” is simply the best use of music I saw this year. (Read Liz’s commentary here.)
6. xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
Vin Diesel’s throbbing cock became sentient and made a movie. Two stars.
7. Baby Driver
What idiot called this car chase movie with intensely weird Oedipal themes “Baby Driver” and not “Oedipus Wrecks”? Thank you.
What would this movie be if it ended the frame before Harrison Ford showed up on screen? The idea that Rick Deckard—less a character than a narrative point in the original film, a fold in the world that helped reveal how the viewer’s assumption of the protagonist’s point of view can make them complicit in quiet fascism—is suddenly to be embraced as hero could be done, but it would require a hell of a lot more set-up than we get here. I do appreciate the implication, however, that Edward James Olmos has the magical ability to intuit what animal fills the fantasy life of each character. (Read Liz and Rick’s conversation here.)
10. Brawl in Cell Block 99
Someone will probably make the argument that we’re not supposed to like Vince Vaughn’s protagonist here—I tend to assume that a movie with a traditional narrative wants us to not just empathize with, but like our protagonist unless there’s strong evidence to the contrary—but there is a thick gross layer of tough-guy worship over this movie. It’s firmly in the tradition of Taken or Die Hard, movies for divorced dads who sit at home thinking, “Oh, she thinks I’m prone to violence now, but when she’s kidnapped by ambiguously ethnic criminals she’ll appreciate me.”
This is only ranked so low because I was so hyped up for it. There’s one perfect moment: when Wolverine instinctively uses his body to protect the limo from gunfire. That brief moment perfectly encapsulates the world he’s living in and his place in it. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is unbelievably boring (everyone always knew that getting stabbed with claws is violent and horrible—seeing the blood oozing out adds nothing). I’ve never felt more separated from other movie dorks than on this, honestly.
13. Kingsmen: The Golden Circle
Axe body spray in an Yves Saint Laurent bottle. Points taken off for the absolute worst usage of “Take Me Home Country Roads” this year. (Logan Lucky apparently used it, too; I’ll let you know how it was in 2018 sometime.) (Liz’s review here.)