If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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My Top 10 Films of 2017

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As with my personal list of the bottom 10 films of the year, this list is solely determined by what happened to end up as the 10 highest-ranked films on my personal list. It wasn’t as if I started with a list of films I liked and had to pick 10 – this is just what fell into place over the course of the year.

I’ve decided to do something different this year and list my top 10 alphabetically rather than in ascending order of quality. First, because I don’t want to diminish the suspense regarding the outcome of my upcoming Film Awards, but second, because this is a very tight group of films, especially my top 5 (which you’ll discover soon enough). I could see several films ending up as my #1 of the year, given enough time and repeat viewings.

So I’ll do as King Arthur did (the actual King Arthur, not Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie’s idea of Arthur) and invite these 10 films to sit at my table as equals. The point isn’t which one is the best – the point is that they’re all great.

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My Bottom 10 Films of 2017

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Two film quotes come to mind:

  • “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”
  • “You thought you had to become Bigfoot to save this town, but you saved it a long time ago by just being you.”

One is from a good film. The other is from a film on this list. And this list represents the darkest cinematic nights of 2017…at least those I bore witness to.

I should note, I saw a lot fewer films this year than in previous years, and a lot fewer bad or even mediocre films. But a bottom 10 there had to be, and here they are.

 

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My Most Underrated Films of 2017

The same rules apply to this list as to yesterday’s list. These are subjective choices, rooted in my perception of how well a film was received, and how well it should have been received. Many of these films got good reviews (there weren’t many films this year where I seriously diverged from the critical consensus, honestly), and a few of them were widely seen to one degree or another, but all of them, I think, deserved to be embraced more fully than they were.

It might be a less forceful word, but “underappreciated” might be more accurate for what these films are. And I hope you’ll either take a chance on them and appreciate them too…or you already have and will share them with someone who will.

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My Most Overrated Films of 2017

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Loved by some. Not by me.

The key word here is “my.” This list is purely subjective; these are the films which were praised, honored, and loved by others, but which left me cold, disappointed, or simply scratching my head. This was a trickier year than usual to compile this list, in part because I saw fewer films, but in part because there wasn’t a major critical/awards juggernaut I was itching to take down – there wasn’t a La La Land for me to vent about.

The overrated films of this year, for the most part, frustrated or disappointed in more complex ways, and so I hope this list is relatively light on bile; I felt most of these films were overrated because I saw how I felt they could be so much better – and too many fellow viewers didn’t see that or let it slide.

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The Films of 2017 in 150 Words or Less: Part II

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Like hell you did. Or if you did, the editing did a great job of hiding it.

Since I published the first batch of 2017 reviews, I’ve only seen an additional 14 films for the year, partially because of the limitations on my time and money, and partially because there have been fewer films I felt I truly had to see. I hope to catch up over the next four months (I will be pushing my film awards back to allow myself more time), but I will likely not come too near the 118 films I saw for last year – still a personal record.

Still, films I have seen, and films I will discuss.

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BLADE RUNNER 2049 Review – ****

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Orange and teal. Human and replicant. Real and unreal.

Coming out of Blade Runner 2049 a second time, I felt assured in saying what I had initially hesitated to claim: that this is a great film, a true epic, a sequel which can hold its own against a formidable forebear, and which stands on its own as a most impressive piece of entertainment, and one of the year’s best films.

As promised, I will echo my response to Mad Max: Fury Road and interweave my present thoughts on the film with my initial impressions. But I think there was a greater leap in my estimation of the film in question with Fury Road than with 2049; there, I hadn’t fully grasped that I was indeed dealing with a masterpiece, while here, I suspected – I wanted badly to believe – that I was, and the second viewing confirmed that.

As before, I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but if you wish to go into the film knowing as little as possible, and I strongly recommend you do, now is the time to leave.

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THE LIGHTSHIP Review – **

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“In a world of vagaries and inconstancy, Captain, it amuses me to set a course and to stick to it.” (Source)

The following review was originally written in 2011. Aside from some minor re-editing, it is presented in its original form.

The Lightship is another entry in the “foreign filmmaker goes Hollywood” cycle, mitigated somewhat by the fact that director Jerzy Skolimowski had worked in British cinema for about 15 years prior to this, and that the film was shot near the German island of Sylt (it’s meant to take place off Cape Hatteras)…but it nonetheless fits into the mold of such films frequently being pretentious duds. Not that The Lightship is without its flashes of interest, but for the most part it feels like a self-conscious attempt at profundity, made memorable largely by an intriguing central performance from Robert Duvall.

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