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Top 20 Films I Saw This Year

A few days ago I made a list of the films that came out this year ranked from worst to best (https://connorveenstra.blogspot.com/2017/12/films-of-2017-ranked.html). This week I'm going to discuss the movies I actually want to talk about.

2017 was the year where I doubled down on watching classic movies and movies that I just heard were great in general, which turned out to be a really good decision. However, I watched so many good movies this year that I couldn't bear narrowing the list down to just 10 entries. Thus, for this year I present to you my "Terrific Twenty (with Honorable Mentions)"!

Honorable Mentions:

Trainspotting: An important anti-drug film that will appeal to addicts and non-addicts alike.
Grave of the Fireflies: The first film to actually make me cry.
Godfather Pt. 2: Better than the first one, but still overly melodramatic and still not as convincing a decline story arc as Breaking Bad.
Don't Breathe: Tense, Hitchcockian horror/thriller.
Steve Jobs:

Films of 2017 Ranked

So, you remember all those Tumblr twats who were complaining that 2016 was the worst year ever just because Donald Trump got elected and a couple celebrities died? Don't you just wanna find those people and give them a good old face five? With a chainsaw?

2017, all in all, is what enlightened observers of history would call a "crapshoot" between sexual assault charges sweeping the entertainment industry and politics, more mass shootings than a heroin addict in church (ba dum tss) and not one, not two, but three hurricanes having their way with the entire Southern half of the continent. Where are the "worst year ever" people on this one? All I can hear are crickets chirping and an embarrassed cough.

At least the films were good this year, unlike last year when whatever wasn't a heated turd was just bland and whatever wasn't just bland was more grudgingly good than fantastic.

So as is custom with film critics with semi-regular (crappy) schedules like myse…

Logan Lucky Review

Logan Lucky is a 2017 heist comedy written (under a pseudonym) and directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film has been a hot topic of conversation among film circles, many dubbing it the most underrated film of the year.

Story
After Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets fired from his job as a coal miner he teams up with his brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and convict Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to rob a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

That right there is a pretty good setup for a heist movie; interesting setup, unique location, a cast of fun sounding characters and a setup for potentially interesting commentary considering America's (let's face it) not entirely positive view of the rural South.

Unfortunately, that doesn't keep the first half of the movie from being horribly paced. The film does the barest minimum of setting itself up, blowing through plot points so quickly in the first 10 mins that we don't really have time to either absorb them or feel the impact they should be havin…

Mother! Review

Mother! is not a film that cn be described in just one word or even one cohesive description. It's too shocking and bizarre to be fully conveyed in words. It's too full of competing messages and meta-narratives that to definitively state what it's actually about would be a borderline impossiblity. It has so many twists and gut wrenching surprises that to say anything more about it other than "Go see it" would be doing the potential audience a disservice to their viewing experience. This is a film overflowing with symbolism, allegories and other overlapping stories and is likely to be a movie experience you'll never have again.

For the record, the story is of Jenner Lawrence's unnamed heroine (Mother) as the much younger wife of an aging poet played by Javier Bardem. Both of them are living in a secluded cottage in the middle of the woods with the Poet looking to reinvigorate his creative juices while Mother fixes up the dilapidated house. Suddenly, people…

Requiem for a Dream Review

After watching Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream I have trouble finding the words to describe response to what I just saw. Despite the fact that the film as a whole is a brilliant piece of emotional, spectacularly crafted filmmaking it's the last 15 mins of the movie that tumble around my head as I begin to write this, burdened by a crushing sense of existential dread and depression that the film's final shot has had the cruel courtesy to leave me with.

The film, in case you're unaware, could be described as "bizarro Trainspotting" in as much as they're both anti-drug films that dissuade substance abuse by showing just how ugly, rotten and pathetic the life of a drug addict is. However, where as Trainspotting used its set up to tell a dark comedy that ultimately encouraged its viewers that they can escape a life of crippling addiction if they're willing, Requiem has no such positivity. In fact, the film seems to intentionally be doing everything …

Cube Review

Cube is a 1997 sci-fi/drama/mystery written by AndrĂ© Bijelic/Vincenzo Natali/Graeme Manson and directed by Natali. Though the film has received a mixed response with a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has gathered a large and dedicated fanbase that have turned it into a cult film.

Story
Five complete strangers find themselves trapped together in a strange labyrinth of connected rooms. Some of them are clear to pass through, but most are set with death traps that will kill you without fail if you step inside. It is eventually revealed that they are inside an enormous cube and assuming it has a door of some kind they can theoretically escape. If not, they will die.

One major thing I like about this movie is the tone, which is helped by the fact that (mild spoiler) we never actually see the cube that we're stuck in for the entire film. We don't know where it is, who built it or why and we don't even know what it looks like. This helps give the film this constant feeling of the unkno…

A Bad Day in Black Rock Review

A Bad Day in Black Rock is a 1955 mystery thriller written by Millard Kaufman/Don McGuire and directed by John Sturges. The film was nominated for three Oscars that year: Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Director.

Story
An army veteran named Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) stops into the very little town of Black Rock for reasons that are not at first made clear. He is treated with suspicion and passive aggressive hostility from the locals, especially when he starts asking the wrong questions.

The film does a good job of keeping you invested in the mystery of both who Macreedy is and why he's here and what the town is so skittish about, especially when we find out that the two parties are connected in some way. I don't want to give much away because being a mystery it really is best experienced going in blind.

The main character is immediately likable and intriguing. He has a quiet politeness to him which is simultaneously pleasant to experience and immediately suspect because you…

It Review

It is a 2017 horror film written by Chase Palmer/Cary Fukunaga/Gary Dauberman and directed by Andy Muschietti. Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Stephen King, the film was a box office smash grossing $58 million in its opening weekend. It's also garnered very positive review scores, with an 85% on the critic cite Rotten Tomatoes.

Disclaimer: a lot of this will sound very similar to the Nostalgia Critic's review of the film since I have most of the same things to say about it. While I did see the review before I saw the film and this most likely effected my viewing experience, I believe that I have distanced myself enough from that review in order to give my genuine thoughts and feelings on the film.

Story
After his little brother goes missing, Billy (Jaedon Lierberher) begins searching for clues as to what happened to him. During his search, he comes across and makes friends with a group of town misfits and they discover that they've all seen a strange, horrifying …

25th Hour Review

25th Hour is a crime drama written by David Benioff, who also wrote the novel the film is based on, and directed by Spike Lee. The film was critically acclaimed upon its release and is considered to be one of Spike Lee's best movies, second to Do the Right Thing.

Story
Monty (Edward Norton), a drug dealer, is arrested by the DEA for possession. He now has only a few hours to spend time with his friends and girlfriend before he's sent away for seven long years.

That's pretty much the plot of the whole film. Sure, there are other things going on throughout the day and night the movie focuses on, but in the end what we have here is a Candide-esq character study, with Monty looking back on his life and all the decisions that brought him to where he is now. It's a movie about excepting the consequences for what you do, as demonstrated not only in Monty's prison sentence, but also in the actions of his friend Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a high school teacher infatuate…

Blade Runner 2049 Review

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 sci-fi/mystery thriller written by Hampton Fancher/Michael Green and directed by Dennis Villeneuve. Despite high praise from critics and audiences who've seen it, the film has generated poor box office results, having made only $197 million by its third weekend against a budget of $150 million according to Indie Wire.

Story
Set 30 years after the original film, replicant Blade Runner "K" (Ryan Gosling) discovers a clue that leads to a miraculous discovery, drawing him into a conspiracy that leads him to question not only his own existence, but the structure of his entire world as he knows it. That's all I'm willing to give away because since this is a detective story at heart it's best going in knowing as little as possible about the plot.

The world they've set up in this film, like the first Blade Runner, is good, but has its questionable rules of how everything works. I understand that the film isn't going for realism and …

The Babadook Review

The Babadook is a 2014 horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent. The film was a huge sensation among film nerds when it premiered, being touted as possible the best horror film of the past decade.

Story
Amelia (Essie Davis) is doing her best to look after her young son (Noah Wiseman) in the face of a great personal tragedy. One night, she reads him a book called "Mister Babadook", which tells the tale of a monster that will never leave your house if you let him in. From that point on, Amelia begins having strange, disturbing visions as she holds on to what's left of her sanity.

While the setup on the surface isn't very original in that it's basically just another haunted house movie, it's the execution that makes all the difference in the world. This film really understands what makes great horror; it's not just that it scares you or unnerves you. Horror comes from theme and tone. The tone of the film is unforgiving, with harsh inconveniences like…

ParaNorman Review

Paranorman is a 2012 stop-motion family film written/directed by Chris Butler and co-directed by Same Fell. Upon its release the film was praised for its creepy atmosphere, mature tone and brilliant animation work. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2013 Oscars.

Story
Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an ostracized little boy with the ability to talk to ghosts. After discovering that there's a mysterious witch's curse that's going to strike the town that evening, Norman sets out on a quest with an unlikely gang of his sister, his equally ostracized best friend, his big brother and the local bully.

Whatever problems I might have with this movie (and trust me we'll get to those) I can't deny that the film is fairly unpredictable. There were quite a few story twists that I didn't see coming and were fairly compelling. It goes to some really dark places (for a kid friendly film anyway) and they work really well for the most part.

However, for being essenti…

Neon Demon Review

The Neon Demon is a 2016 drama/horror written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and co-written by Mary Laws/Polly Stenham. Though receiving neither critical acclaim nor box-office rewards, the film has become a much talked about oddity among film lovers and is considered by some to be a masterpiece.

Story
Aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to LA and begins to quickly rise in the world of California modeling. Though she excels at her new profession, her success attracts jealousy from other models, who believe they should be climbing higher than she is.

I'm not sure how much I should give away in this part of the analysis. On the one hand, there is some genuinely shocking stuff in here, especially some genuinely disturbing stuff in the third act, that would lose all its gravity if I told you what was going on. On the other hand, I'm not really sure I can whole heartedly recommend this to anybody precisely because of those shocking story moments. And when I say shocking,…

Halloween Review

Halloween is a 1978 slasher written and directed by John Carpenter. The film had a huge influence on the horror genre, becoming the archetypal blueprint for the slasher for many years to come.

Story
Michael Myers, a mentally disturbed man, has been kept inside an asylum since he killed his sister when he was six years old. Now, he's escaped and has set his sights on Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), a random teenager looking after two children on Halloween night.

If this movie sounds like a million other slashers you've seen, that's because this is the one that started them all. I bring this up, because I'm not knocking the story down any points precisely for this reason. I mean, the entire thing is predictable from start to finish. If you've seen Nightmare On Elm Street, It Follows or even just Cabin in the Woods, you know exactly how this is going to go. However, again, this is the film that gave birth to literally every trope you've seen in the serial killer horror …