The films of 2017: a summary for the holidays

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Gazette critic offers his take on what was naughty and what was nice in the theatres this past year

Sitting down with my figgy pudding as always, I like to spend the last week of the year reflecting on all of the films that came out in the 51 weeks previously. I don’t get out to the movie multiplexes as often as I used to, but that’s mostly because so very many of the new releases on offer are so very similar to past titles that I’ve already seen.

Still, I pay attention to movies and the movie industry, which is increasingly becoming a monopolized environment. Just last week, Disney announced that it would be buying 21st Century Fox in a multi-billion dollar deal. That means that at some point in the future, you could theoretically watch a superhero spectacle with the Avengers, the X-Men, Chewbacca and R2D2, and Mickey Mouse, along with Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and the entire CG cast of Avatar, possibly also the Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure that I’ve lost track.

It’s important to note that, of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2017 (so far), the one that comes in at the top is the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast (at $1.26 billion U.S.), which is owned by Disney. Disney also owns #6, #7 and #9, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales with $863 million, $843 million and $794 million respectively. Universal gets a solid second place with The Fate of the Furious and Despicable Me 3 at the #2 and #3 spots, both totalling something like $2.24 billion. Sony Pictures had Spider-Man: Homecoming at #4 with $880 million and United Entertainment brought Wolf Warrior 2 to the world with $870 million.

Wait, what? You’ve never even seen the original Wolf Warrior? It’s a Chinese action drama about SWAT troops fighting a drug lord. The sequel, featuring the story of a loose cannon soldier fighting bad guys around the world, is now the first non-Hollywood film to be listed on the all-time global top 100 box office. That’s saying something for world cinema but it probably means that someday Wolf Warrior will be bought by Disney too.

But I digress.

This was also the year that Wonder Woman became the greatest superhero movie. Fair disclosure: I still haven’t seen it, having had my stamina and resolve thoroughly obliterated by the monstrous Batman v Superman. I have it on reliable authority that the new DC comic book superhero movie (by Monster director Patty Jenkins) was awesome, even if it still had to feature a female character in a mini skirt. Some things I will never understand. Original stories are adapted and changed all the time except Princess Diana (yes, that’s her real title) will always be forced to save the world in a gold bikini. Anybody besides me see the tragedy there?

Speaking of gold bikinis, we just had another Star Wars movie come out but Princess Leia is now General Leia, which is good. The Last Jedi was two-and-a-half hours long, however, which is not good, unless you’re looking for ways to spend more time away from your family around the holiday season, in which case, it’s good again. If that’s the case, you should also check out Downsizing, although the new Matt Damon movie only seems like it lasts forever.

All in all, my favourite movies of the year revolved around the thriller/horror genre if you can believe it. It was great, especially because of its young ensemble cast-mates. I’ve always said that Stephen King stories succeed because of their hearts, their relatable personifications of characters that you’d much like to get to know in your own life. The beasts are okay too, and Bill Skarsgård does a fine job of Pennywise, the supernatural clown with a penchant for red balloons and sewer grates. I still prefer Tim Curry’s version from the TV movie in the 1990s, however. It had better acting whereas this one survives on its reliance on CG effects. Bah!

I also wholeheartedly approve of Get Out and Split, both movies that do so much with excellent stories, strong acting, and lower budgets. Who knew that comedian Jordan Peele had such great directing chops? Well, we all do now that we’ve seen and marvelled at Get Out. And M. Night Shyamalan has proven that he still has what it takes to make Hitchcockian thrillers in the modern day. This makes me happy.

Here are some other notes on films that came out this year:

  • Blade Runner 2049: nobody asked for this but it still seems like a movie I should watch, mostly because it was helmed by Denis Villeneuve, who can do no wrong. Producer Ridley Scott has been adding sequels to some of the best sci fi movies of my youth, namely the original Blade Runner and Alien. I wish he would stop and concentrate more on things like the upcoming All the Money in the World, which I’m desperate to see.
  • Kong: Skull Island: another remake of a classic sci fi story, made even more implausible. It’s a small tropical island and yet this 100-foot high ape can still sneak up on people? Can’t they smell all that wet fur? Anybody with a dog knows how unlikely that is. My disbelief was not fully suspended. The soundtrack was pretty good though. Look for more of Kong and other supernaturally large animals in future spinoffs.
  • Baby Driver: all I heard was how awesome this was, especially because of its soundtrack. Smart move, Edgar Wright, for having a main character with headphones on the whole time. Chalk this up to another on my holiday reserve list at the library.
  • The films of December including The Shape of Water, The Disaster Artist, I, Tonya, All the Money in the World, Molly’s Game, Phantom Thread, and The Post. Is there any way to see all of these before Jan. 1? Is everybody certain that none of these are owned by Disney?
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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.