My brain is running on empty again today and I have a few things I’d like to talk about in the video game sphere, but I don’t have my thoughts organized on any one particular thing yet. So instead of writing up a half-baked review or writing an opinion piece that bobs and weaves until it goes off the rails, I’ve decided to dip into the movie pool again. The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and since I haven’t really done a best of 2017 for movies (or anything really) I decided I’d put together the TMan Movie Awards. It’s a bunch of random categories I made up so I can talk a little bit about my favorite movies of the last year. Here we go.
Bestest Most Favorite Movie of the Year
Let’s be clear. Baby Driver wins all the categories. Well, not all the categories, but any category it would fit under. It was hands down my favorite movie of all of 2017 and if I was just doing an actual list of categories I’d just be naming Baby Driver over and over. So to spare you from me talking about Edgar Wright’s masterpiece over and over, I’m just relegating it to its own category. Here’s a small excerpt from what I wrote about it after I saw it (taken from another, now mostly defunct, blog of mine):
“Baby Driver is not a movie with a soundtrack – Baby Driver is a soundtrack with a movie attached. Car chases are essentially musical numbers; bullets during shootouts are fired in time with the beat. Kevin Spacey’s Doc doles out cash on beats 1, 2, and 3. While Baby is strolling down the sidewalk, he walks past trumpets in the window of a music store as trumpets play in the song. Edgar Wright’s direction is so tight that the music BECOMES the movie. It’s essentially a love letter to every person that always has a song playing in their head that they match up to their life or a story or anything in between.
The songs become part of the story. In a great scene, Jon Hamm’s Buddy asks Baby if he has a “killer track” that he listens to – to get pumped up or when he’s really ready to roll. Of course Baby has one, and the two sit there listening to it – except it’s drowned out and faded, as if you were hearing it through another person’s headphones as they’re listening to it. Which is exactly how Buddy and Baby are listening to the song. Baby’s favorite track is, of course, later played fully for the audience in the climax of the movie – but this is the kind of thought that Edgar Wright puts into the soundtrack. The songs aren’t just there for the audience’s pleasure, but are a part of the movie.”
So there you go. Baby Driver is my favorite. Now let’s talk about some other movies.
Best Superhero Movie
Spiderman has been my favorite superhero since I was a kid. Growing up, I was more familiar with his rogues gallery than Batman’s or the X-Men or any other popular superhero. I enjoyed the Sam Raimi movies for what they were and actually liked the Amazing Spiderman movies more than most people. But Homecoming is by far the best iteration of Peter Parker and Spiderman yet. Is it because it has the Marvel touch? Maybe. But Michael Keaton is fantastic as the Vulture (a villain who lacks menace in the comics but Keaton brings the character to a whole new level here) and the movie has one of the most surprising moments I’ve ever had towards the climax. It actually completely took me off guard and I wasn’t expecting it. The movie nails high school Peter very well and is one of the first Marvel movies to really have a superhero struggle with a secret identity. It’s funny, the action is great, and all the actors and actresses put in wonderful performances. In any other year it would stand out on its own as my favorite superhero movie, except for….
Logan is not just a great superhero movie. It’s a great movie that has superheroes. It breaks the mold of every other superhero movie – it’s not a feel-good romp and it doesn’t have the typical story structure of Marvel movies. It’s also not R-Rated like Deadpool where they’re having fun and use it as an excuse to tell dirty jokes. This movie is depressing. Patrick Stewart does amazing as an aged Professor X, Hugh Jackman is amazing as Logan as always, and the newcomer Dafne Keen shines as X-23. It’s a harrowing road trip movie that takes place in a bleak future and the movie never forgets to remind you of it. It also has one of the best villainous characters in recent movies that reminded me strongly of Robert Patrick’s relentless T-1000 from Terminator 2. It’s an amazing movie, partly because it’s unlike any other superhero movie that’s been released, but also simply because it’s an amazingly acted movie by itself.
So both Spiderman: Homecoming and Logan get my recommendation for the best superhero movie this year.
Best Oscar Best Picture Movie
The Shape of Water
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy The Shape of Water nearly as much as I actually did. It’s essentially a modern day fairy tale that takes place in the 1950s. It’s a love story between a mute woman and a fish man, and all the actors nail their roles. Michael Shannon is perfectly slimy in his role (and he’s not the fish man), Richard Jenkins is stellar as the tortured, gay artist living next door, Doug Jones is amazingly human as the fish man, and Sally Hawkins puts so much emotion into a character that cannot speak that she almost made me start crying during one impassioned scene. On top of that, like many of Guillermo Del Toro’s movies it’s beautifully shot. There isn’t much action, but you’re captivated by all the characters from start to finish. I’m hoping beyond hope it sweeps the Oscars this year because it’s a film that deserves it.
Runner-Up: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Blade Runner 2049
This movie was long at nearly 3 hours. But every scene was so wonderfully shot that I was in awe of the cinematography. I wished I could have paused the movie so many times just to take in the gorgeous backdrops. Everything was framed wonderfully and the combination of directing from Denis Villeneuve and cinematography from Roger Deakins just made this movie stand out more than any other from a visual perspective. I don’t use “breathtaking” as an adjective lightly, but it fits this movie to a T.
Runner-Up: Thor Ragnarok
Most Unexpected Movie
If you watch the trailer for Colossal, you’ll think it’s going to be a fun, quirky indie comedy romp that involves kaiju. Anne Hathaway gets up to shenanigans being able to control a giant monster on the other side of the world, hilarity ensues, etc. And that’s right – for the first half of the movie. And then the movie takes a hard swerve into some real uncomfortable territory. It’s hard to talk about this movie’s swerve without spoiling, but let me just say that Jason Sudeikis puts in this acting performance of his career in Colossal. Even a year later, I’m not sure on how I feel about this movie. It definitely stuck in my mind, but at the same time as I told a friend: this is the first movie where I really felt like I was actually tricked by the advertising. It was something, alright.
Best Action Movie
John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick was a masterpiece by itself. Its sequel dials everything up to 11. John Wick does more crazy things with guns and pencils, the action and gun fu is insane. Laurence Fishburne reunites with Keanu Reeves and really gets to chew some scenery while he does. Nothing really beat John Wick 2 all year in terms of frenetic yet easy-to-follow action. Because it tried to go bigger is better, it didn’t quite live up to the first movie. But any John Wick is still awesome and hard to compete with. It’s helped because the world-building in these movies ends up being so interesting. The world of assassins and hit men that John Wick is a part of really helps every action sequence be thrilling.
Runner-Up: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Best T-Man Movie
A T-Man movie has some very specific qualifications: It has to take place in a confined space of some sort – a building, an island, etc. It has to involve people turning against each other, usually in a competition to kill each other and be the last person standing, but not always – sometimes there are teams or they’re not competing per se, but they’re still slowly dying one by one. There may be outside forces, but the primary threat is always humans vs each other, not humans vs. outside threats. Good examples of T-Man movies include Circle (a 2015 film out on Netflix) and Operation: Endgame (2010 film maybe on Netflix?) and the most famous example is probably Battle Royale (a 2000 Japanese film). Movies that are close to T-Man movies but not actually them include most slasher horror movies (one unknown person is killing a group instead of the group turning on each other, and they are usually not in a confined space) and monster movies like Predator (again, the people aren’t turning on each other) but I still enjoy these movies a lot since they have components of a full T-Man movie. The Hunger Games would qualify as a T-Man movie if the majority of the movie was the Hunger Games instead of only the last third.
These types of movies ended up being called T-Man movies by my friends because I pretty much always enjoy them if they’re done right. The reason I enjoy them is because a lot of work has to go into the characters and setting to make things interesting, because you’re staying in one spot (so there may or may not be a lot of foreshadowing or setting up later scenes) and the characters have to be interesting enough to keep your attention for the movie.
Anyway, after that long explanation: Free Fire was the best T-Man movie this year. It’s a movie that primarily takes place all in one warehouse after a weapons deal goes bad and the two sides end up in a shoot-out stalemate. Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copey steal the show as they’re both hilarious. Cillian Murphy plays the straight man (sort of) wonderfully, and Brie Larson holds her own as the only female at the weapons deal. The movie is fast and funny and highly entertaining. It’s up there as one of my favorites of the year because it’s right in my wheelhouse, but I also think it’s a good movie in general too.
Runner-Up: The Belko Experiment
Best Horror Movie
I hate just classifying Get Out as a horror movie because it’s so much more than that. But it also does horror and unease better than nearly a decade of slasher films and paranormal activities. Jordan Peele’s take on that weird, abstract horror you feel in your bones is absolutely amazing and keeps you glued to the screen. There were lots of gasps and yelling when I saw the movie because the movie does a masterful job of making you feel just how out of place Daniel Kaluuya feels. There’s lots in the movie to make you think on top of actually scaring you. Thematically, it’s one of the best movies of the year, and I’m also glad that it is getting attention at the Academy Awards as well.
Best Movie Nobody Saw
I tried to talk people into seeing this with me in theaters but nobody wanted to, so I ended up sitting with my parents and watching it once it hit on demand services. Maybe it’s because it’s a redneck heist movie where the protagonists are robbing the Coca Cola 600, and only a certain demographic is interested in that kind of movie (hint: I’m in that demographic) but I’m sad it didn’t get as much attention as it should have. Stephen Soderbergh (director of the Ocean’s 11 movies) came out of retirement to direct this and it was worth it. Daniel Craig is fantastic (and very not James Bond, the man has range people) and both Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are hilarious as the two sorta-dimwitter brothers who come up with the plan for the heist. The movie is just as funny as any of the Ocean’s 11 movies and while the heist isn’t as grandiose it’s still a wonderfully fun time.
Runner-Up: Professor Marston & The Wonder Women
Best Dumb Fun Movie
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
So it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a buddy cop movie but it’s two guys on the run working together and getting on each other’s nerves. Sounds mostly like a buddy cop movie to me, right? Anyway, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have terrific chemistry and play off each other very well in this. On top of that, the action is actually not half bad! I was surprised! Gary Oldman kinda phones it in as he plays a typical Gary Oldman mustache-twirling villain, but he’s still entertaining to watch as well. This movie is really just a vehicle for Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Jackson to throw insults at each other and it works surprisingly well. I went into this movie saying “meh” and came out actually having enjoying myself way more than I thought I would.
Runner-Up: The Fate of the Furious
So those are some opinions for movies that came out in 2017. It was honestly a wonderful year for movies and there’s quite a few more I saw and enjoyed that I didn’t talk about here. But our time has come to an end. Hope you enjoyed my awards!