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2017: The Year in Reviews (June)

If we’re comparing the movie year to the sports year, and the Oscars are the championship game and Oscar season is the playoffs, then what we’re getting into is the end of the season. We’re playing out last game, and we’re about to start giving out MVP awards and taking stock of how everything went.

Each year, at the start of the year, I preview everything I can that’s scheduled to come out (and even a bunch of stuff that isn’t scheduled yet). In doing so, I guess what I’m going to eventually rate that movie when I see it. So now, at the end of the year, as we recap everything that came out, we see how I did. Plus, also, I see everything, so this also can be used for people to see if something they didn’t see or know about during the year is worthwhile.

I’ve been posting reviews articles throughout the year (Part III was yesterday) that capture my thoughts as we go along. Don’t want you guys to think I’m trying to cheat these things. What I do in these articles is post what I thought I would think back in January, along with my actual reviews from seeing the films, and then a final rating, after having had time to digest the film for a period of time.

I turn it into a game to see how accurately I can guess ratings for all the movies a year in advance (I’m gonna see everything anyway. Gotta make it interesting somehow), but mostly it serves as a way to give a complete picture of my feelings about each movie I see.

We’re up to June.

Here’s how my ratings system works:

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten. (2016 examples: Kubo and the Two Strings, La La Land.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars means a likely top ten appearance, and for sure a top twenty spot. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall below top 15, unless there are a lot of them. (2016 examples: Everybody Wants Some!!, Hell or High Water, Midnight Special, The Nice Guys, The Red Turtle.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film a lot and will typically tell people it was great. It could end up in the top 20, but for the most part four-star movies end up in tier two. (2016 examples: American Honey, Deadpool, Hardcore Henry, The Light Between Oceans, Remember, Silence.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film was really solid. It’s not without its problems but it gave me more than just another decent movie. This is typically for movies that either were way better than expected or movies that were fine, but didn’t quite live up to expectations. There may be a few in tier two, but mainly this will populate tiers three and four. (2016 examples: 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Captain Fantastic, Edge of Seventeen, Rules Don’t Apply.)

* * * (3 stars) — It was all right. This is the ultimate ‘I enjoyed it well enough’ rating. Or ‘you can get through it’. The go-to rating for those ‘decent cable watch’ movies, as well as the ‘big studio movie that cost too much money to be anything less than this, but still wasn’t very good’. It has its strengths, but otherwise was just okay. If a big movie is only at 3, it means I didn’t really care for it. And if a movie that looks like a huge piece of shit is a 3, it means I was fine with it because it wasn’t that bad. 3 stars means I’m cool with it, but it didn’t do a whole lot for me. (2016 examples: The Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train, London Has Fallen, The Neon Demon, Suicide Squad.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — This is my indifference rating. I didn’t necessarily think it was bad, mostly I just didn’t care. There wasn’t enough there I liked to make it 3, and it was well enough made and held my attention enough that it didn’t go lower. This rating means either I’m passing on the whole thing and/or saying it wasn’t for me. A lot of horror movies and kids movies will end up here. (2016 examples: Blair Witch, Don’t Breathe, Gods of Egypt, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Trolls, Warcraft.)

* * (2 stars) — I did not like it. Usually 2 stars means it was relatively competently made (though not always), but it just felt like a very bad or generic version of that movie, with few redeeming qualities whatsoever. Pretty much everything from here on out is generally considered a bad movie, and it only comes down to how nice I’m being toward it and how angry it did (or didn’t) make me. (2016 examples: Bad Moms, Masterminds, Miracles from Heaven, Mother’s Day, Norm of the North.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — The film was awful. Look for these movies to make the Unforgivables list. No other way to explain a 1.5 star movie except — you understand when you see it. (2016 examples: The Boss.)

* (1 star) — It was so bad it was almost unwatchable. Typically a one star film is certain to be Unforgivable. Sometimes one star movies get saved by virtue of being a sequel or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. One we knew were gonna be a piece of shit going in). But in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2015 examples: none.)

0 stars — Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that should never have been made, and has actually lowered the bar for cinema as an art form and the world in general. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2016 examples of 0 star films: Zoolander 2.)

June

Wonder Woman

January’s preview:

3.5 stars is the absolute most I’m gonna get out of this. Which is what Marvel gets. And even that is a throwaway action movie grade. 3.5 just means ‘fine.’ I’m expecting 3 stars and another ‘Jesus, D.C.’ kind of vibe, ultimately getting saved from Unforgivable because of the feminine angle. But even then, there’s that concern of her focusing her immortal identity around a single dude. Maybe they won’t, but there’s a long history of movies like this that say otherwise. And we’re not gonna know until it comes out.”

“Let’s hope for the best. This might be D.C.’s last chance.”

“Justice League, if it holds, is not that far after this. That could end it all.”

The actual review:

“There’s a lot to unpack with this movie. First, without question or qualification, this is one of the most important films of 2017. Whatever you feel about it, this is a big deal and will help define the year that was 2017.”

“While this doesn’t invent the wheel (and even steals from Marvel pretty blatantly at times), it works.”

“Let’s not overstate the actual quality of the film. It’s good. It’s not great. But the parts of it that are great — they’re really great. That No Man’s Land scene is legitimately one of the most uplifting moments I’ve seen in a film in a while.”

“It was so entertaining that even I couldn’t find a way to shit on it. Because this is DC — I was looking to shit on it. After the garbage they’ve trotted out so far, I was hoping this would be terrible.”

“I’m completely happy with this film in every way. Sure, theoretically it could have been better, but at this point, is there a whole lot a superhero movie can do to differentiate itself? Especially a first movie in the series? This seems like a win all around.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. I don’t want to give in too much to the notion that it’s not the best movie ever made. Sure, it’s a pretty standard superhero plot. But you know what? Female superheroes don’t even get that much. So fine. If that’s what it took to get this to where it is, I’m okay with it. Because you know what? Every Marvel movie is the same goddamn plot too. You know what most of those don’t have that this had? A character we really liked, and an emotional arc that meant more than just what was on the screen. That No Man’s Land scene is still one of the most uplifting moments of 2017. I can point to flaws in this all day. But I can also point to how huge this was for so many reasons. So we’ll leave it like this — I really, really liked this movie a lot. I am not on board with overrating this and will not do it. But this movie will always be okay by me.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Captain Underpants

January’s preview:

“I cannot believe that stupid kids book I read when I was nine that was funny because it had Underpants in the title is now a movie.”

“It does not look good at all, but this isn’t for me. Which is fine.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“I remember when this book was published, that’s how old I am.”

“The book was definitely amusing when I was 10. At 28, the movie’s not really for me at all.”

“This rating is my standard for non-Disney, non-Pixar animated fare.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not for me. The child in me somewhere is delighted that this exists, but the movie didn’t really do a whole lot for me. I leave it to the kids.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Vincent-n-Roxxy

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“I thought this could be interesting but I’m never quite sure what they wanted it to be.”

“The romance is almost immediately interrupted by violence and then it just becomes a crime movie. People get murdered all over the place here, and I just couldn’t find myself invested in it past the leads.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was violent, and I liked the leads, but otherwise I’m not sure what the point of this was.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Dean

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Demetri Martin wrote and directed and stars this. Not sure I ever really got his comedy, and this pretty much seals that deal.”

“This just wasn’t for me. It feels like the script you right just out of high school as your first screenplay that feels like a big deal that’s just the same usual shit everyone writes.”

“It’s fine, but it’s almost every trope you can imagine. At least with him, there are moments of honest sincerity, and if this were someone else, those probably wouldn’t have been there.”

“Really, I spent this entire movie going, ‘At least it’s not Zach Braff.’ That’s really what I’m glad for here.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Hey, at least it’s not Zach Braff.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Band Aid

January’s preview:

“Oh, this could be fun.”

3 stars. Hope I can get 3.5 out of this.”

The actual review:

“Really solid indie. Married couple channels all their anger and frustration into songs. Rather than fight, they start a band.”

“My favorite thing about this movie? Aside from starring and being written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, it had an all-female crew. Which is absolutely fantastic. I support everything about this movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Big fan of how this one was made. Thumbs up.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Churchill

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Destined to be the lesser of the two Churchill movies that come out this year. This will be the Infamous to Darkest Hour’s Capote.”

“At least in the other comparison, Toby Jones was a strikingly good Capote, despite Hoffman giving the better overall performance, and I could point to something of interest there. Here, Brian Cox is pretty much just Brian Cox playing Churchill.”

“This — is just an okay movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

See it if you want to see Brian Cox play Churchill, otherwise just watch Darkest Hour.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

CarGo

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

Somehow I didn’t write one for this. Which is probably for the best.

This movie was instrumental in my watching all the shitty animated movies this year. The first was Ozzy, back in January or whenever that was. Then I came across a trailer for this and went, “Oh man, how terrible is this? Maybe I should watch it too.” And then everyone at the office said, “Don’t you fucking dare watch CarGo and then not watch (insert any of multiple TV shows that people love that I’ve never watched).” So of course I was gonna watch it. And then naturally it became a joke about how bad it was, because — spoiler alert — it’s bad.

It’s like if you took Cars (also, notice the release date. They put it out like ten days before Cars 3 came out, just to get people to rent or buy it thinking it’s that. Because people are dumb. This has been working for years. I remember when they made a bootleg Poseidon Adventure remake with Steve Guttenberg to capitalize on Poseidon coming out in 2006), and then gave it some sort of birth defect. It’s so fucking terrible, and yet, in that weird way, I enjoyed it. Still giving it a shitty rating, but it’s bad. And the joy I get from this is from talking about how bad it is, not actually watching it. I never wanna see this again.

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m so amazed that people put forth an effort to create this. I wonder if they don’t give a shit when they write this, or if the writer really thinks they’re creating some sort of art.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Exception

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Thriller about Kaiser Wilhelm. (If I had a nickel…)”

“You’d think it would be better, but it’s just okay.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Actors are fine, movie is whatever.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

It Comes at Night

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“I still have no idea what the goddamn title means.”

“This felt like a movie, just like Krisha, that I appreciated but didn’t particularly like. It was well made and it’s clear there’s a lot of good stuff in it, but I just didn’t really care a whole lot.”

“I appreciated this, but I’m gonna leave it to people who actually like it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m sticking with my original review. No idea what the fuck this was supposed to be, but I respect it. Never wanna see it again, but it was well made.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Mummy

January’s preview:

“It’s The Mummy. Starring Tom Cruise. That’s meant to start a universe of monsters. Too many clashing styles.”

“The Mummy alone earns somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars. Tom Cruise earns somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars. The universe is not promising. So 3 stars.”

“While I’m not so incredibly tied to the Brendan Fraser version (which I admittedly grew up with and love) that I’m against this take, I see a lot of potential pitfalls for this take, as evidenced by the tones in all of these kinds of franchise starter movies.”

“Plus, the fucking universal monsters universe — how do you pull that off? I just don’t see how they can try to do all this and make a really good Mummy movie. So I’m gonna be pessimistic about this and see if they can overcome it.”

The actual review:

“And you thought DC was bad at setting up a universe. My god.”

“This seemed ill-conceived all the way through to the point where none of us should be surprised that it turned out the way it did.”

“Cruise being who he is clearly exerted a large amount of control on the story and the finished product. And I’m curious to know if his influence meant ruining whatever the film was gonna be, or saving the film and making it the barely watchable that it is. My guess is the latter. But holy shit, man. Why did you bother?”

“I find it hilarious that it’s 2017 and there’s a situation where we all collectively prefer Brendan Fraser to Tom Cruise, and it’s not even weird.”

“By the way, shout out to whatever marketing genius thought this poster was a good idea. What went wrong with your movie:

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Something tells me I shouldn’t waste my breath, because there will be a lot more coming soon.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Beatriz at Dinner

January’s preview:

“I’m gonna go 2.5 stars, just because I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking I’m gonna like this and be disappointed.”

The actual review:

“For some reason I just don’t respond to Miguel Arteta’s films. Can’t explain why. I just don’t.”

“This was… moderately engaging.”

“I definitely felt engaged, so I can’t say that I was totally indifferent toward this, but it also didn’t do a whole lot for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Arteta movies just don’t do it for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Shimmer Lake

January’s preview:

“Sure.”

3.5 stars. Concept gives it a bump.”

The actual review:

“Of all the Netflix movies I’ve seen (which at this point is all of them), this is one of the good ones.”

“The conceit of this movie is that it’s told backwards. It’s something like five chapters, all told in reverse. So we begin with the last chapter, told in order. So when that chapter ends, that’s the end of the movie. And then we go to chapter four, and we watch that in order. And the end of chapter four is where the beginning of the movie (chapter five) started.”

“The gimmick of the film is what separates it from others. If it were told chronologically, it wouldn’t be as interesting.”

“The other thing the film does is cast comedic actors in very serious roles. Some directors have tried that, to varying degrees of success. It mostly works here, though it is a little weird, because it happens so much that it feels like there was a deliberate reason for it, which I just can’t figure out.”

“Otherwise, very solid, worth seeing, and better than the average movie.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this. It was interesting. Above average for Netflix and I like the backwards narrative conceit. Worth a watch.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Hunter’s Prayer

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“I’m sure it’ll be generic/watchable.”

The actual review:

“Generic action movie.”

“There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before and it’s not particularly good. But you know my affinity for these cable-level thrillers, so what would be indifference for most is a ‘I’m fine with it’ for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoy what I enjoy. So ‘bad’ for most people is, ‘meh, okay’ for me with these types of movies.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Megan Leavey

January’s preview:

“I mean, ultimately it’s a dog movie. So 3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Kinda thought this was gonna be worse than it was.”

“I felt like it was either gonna be overly either spiritual or pro-military in that off-putting way. This was pretty much just a movie about a woman and her dog. And I liked that.”

“This is a thoroughly okay movie. Which is the greatest compliment I can pay it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I can’t believe I got thoroughly okay out of this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Hero

January’s preview:

“Sam Elliott stars. That’s all I needed.”

3 stars.”

“The director did I’ll See You in My Dreams, so I’m expecting more of the same.”

The actual review:

“It’s nice. Has its moments.”

“Doesn’t really do anything particularly new or unique, but it gives Elliott a chance to have a nice performance on his resume.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Elliott is good, otherwise just okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

My Cousin Rachel

January’s preview:

“This is the second remake of a 50s movie starring Rachel Weisz. First she did The Deep Blue Sea, and now this. I’m sure most people have no idea what either one is.”

“Generally a good story. Not sure a whole lot could be done to make it great, but the director is typically one for a solid 3 star movie or a flat 3.5 star movie. So we’ll assume it’ll be one of them.”

“Let’s say 3.5 stars and figure it’ll either be a strong 3 or a 3.5.”

The actual review:

“Weisz is the only interesting thing about this. It looks nice, but otherwise is just okay at best.”

“If you’re gonna watch it, you’re either watching it because you love the novel, love the ’52 version, or love Rachel Weisz. And for those people, go for it. Otherwise, I think you’re okay without this one.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

She’s good, looks good, otherwise just kind of okay. This kind of story needs an auteur behind it to make it pop.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Once Upon a Time in Venice

January’s preview:

“I love that this is by the guys who did Cop Out and it’s basically the same story and also starring Bruce Willis. Hilarious.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Not quite a Bruce Willis paycheck movie, but close.”

“It’s more fun than you’d think, though not great overall.”

“This would have been one of those weird movies I saw on cable as a kid and enjoyed even though I’d know it wasn’t a particularly great movie. And there’s something to be said for movies like that.”

“There’s one moment in this movie where I’m guessing it’s supposed to be Bruce Willis leaving a voicemail on Thomas Middleditch’s phone, but it sounds like a completely random person. I’m pretty sure Bruce Willis straight up refused to do ADR for this movie and they had someone do an impersonation of him and put it in there. I wonder how many people even noticed.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Still can’t stop thinking about that one moment.

Otherwise, the movie was fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Cars 3

January’s preview:

“The teaser was interesting, because it suggested a darker tone. I’m not sure they’re gonna fully commit to that, but at least they’re changing up stories each time.”

“It’s Pixar. So 3.5 stars. 4 stars is likely the max here, and that’s if it’s really good. Pixar sequels rarely are great. The best this can be is really solid. So let’s hope for that.”

The actual review:

“All things considered, this wasn’t terrible.”

“The second Cars movie is by far the worst movie Pixar’s ever made. The first Cars was fine, but lacking that spark that made their great movies great. The second one felt purely designed to make money, and started an alarming trend of spinoff movies featuring side characters who should be kept as side characters because they’re actually quite annoying, the more time you spend with them.”

“This one takes the franchise back to what it’s always been about, and actually tries to have a nice commentary on athletes and aging and how quickly heroes are cast aside. They also try to do the progressive thing and switch over to a female protagonist for the future, which is clunky, but not that bad.”

“This could have been worse, and while it’s not great Pixar, it’s fine Pixar.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

After the John Lasseter thing, we have to be done with this franchise, right?

Or does that not matter, because money?

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Rough Night

January’s preview:

“Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz, Kate McKinnon and Demi Moore star. That is a much different cast than I’m used to seeing, which means I will give this more of a shot to be good than I normally would.”

3 stars.”

“I can’t ever assume a comedy will be good. It has to be watchable, and then we can go from there. How many mainstream comedies have I legitimately loved the past few years? Not that many.”

The actual review:

“More like a rough WATCH.”

“The state of comedy has made it such that I can’t even root for an all-female movie to be good and to succeed.”

“I’m happy this made every dollar it made and wish it made more — but guys… we gotta stop making these shitty, raunchy comedies that are copying a template that wasn’t even that great to begin with.”

“This movie seemed ill-conceived from the start. Why couldn’t it be as simple as the premise stated? Why did it have to get so overly complicated?”

“Everything about this movie just feels — off. Ultimately I didn’t care at all about this, but movies like this just make me weep for the state of the comedy genre.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is not an Unforgivable movie, but I did not like it.

I also hate that I can’t even root for female-driven comedies because they’re all-too-often driven by the same instincts as all the male-driven ones. I support everything about this movie except what’s on the screen. So I’m glad it made money, but I really wasn’t a fan of it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

All Eyez on Me

January’s preview:

“No cast I’ve heard of, the director hasn’t really done much of anything. Hard to think this will be anything more than passable at best.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“The music made me pay attention. Otherwise — this is not a good movie.”

“It was basically put together by his mother, so the whole thing is designed to make him look good.”

“This is not the Tupac biopic we should get, and just like that watered down Jesse Owens biopic from last year (and even the Jackie Robinson one from a few years ago, or the James Brown one), maybe one day these people will get movies befitting of their legacy.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Should we be surprised that biopics about black people don’t get the money or studio support to actually be good? That’s like the fifth one in as many years that just feels cheap, watered down, and not properly made. In a way, it’s shocking that Straight Outta Compton was any good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Score: A Film Music Documentary

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This was awesome. A bunch of film composers talking about their craft. Loaded with film scores and all the famous stuff you remember.”

“My favorite moment in the entire thing is when one composer comes into a converted church that they use to record scores in London, and he says, ‘John Williams was in here for Star Wars, and he conducted this opposite way, so the sound traveled in this direction. So he had the choir from ‘Duel of Fates’ over there.’ And then they immediately cut to real footage of the score being filmed, with the choir starting the beginning of ‘Duel of Fates’. It gave me fucking chills.”

“This should remind everyone of how important a good film score is (and how badly we’re in need of them now, in this era of absolutely terrible scores), and how great these people are at their jobs.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Loved this. Everyone should see it, because no matter what you think about film scores or doumentaries, the minute those scores start playing, you’re going to get excited.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

47 Meters Down

January’s preview:

“I feel like this is gonna be campy, and not really good. Because the premise sounds like it could be really good, if done right.”

“The director only has bad or schlocky horror on his resume. Mandy Moore stars.”

“So yeah, not expecting much out of this.”

3 stars? I guess?”

The actual review:

“It’s another shark attack movie. We all know how these work. The setups get more and more lazy, and they’re all pretty much just watchable at best.”

“This is a lesser version of The Shallows, which in itself was just decent. You could do worse for 90 minutes, but you could also do way better.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

“A lesser version of The Shallows” about covers it. Pretty generic and ridiculous, overall. This will rightly be forgotten pretty quickly.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

You Get Me

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Shitty Netflix movie. Standard ‘crazy white chick’ plot. Set in high school to make it even more annoying. Less than nothing of interest here.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Yawn.

Also, who is Bella Thorne and why is she a thing? Why is she in like, every other Netflix movie?

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Book of Henry

January’s preview:

“Let’s call it 3.5 stars. I’d like 4, I’ll probably get 3. It’s gonna depend on how cloying the whole thing is. The less cloying and more it feels earned, the better the rating will be.”

The actual review:

“This movie was fucking nuts.”

“If you saw the trailer, it has that moment at the end where you’re like, ‘What the fuck? Why does Naomi Watts have a sniper rifle?’ The crazy thing about this movie though is that it takes a CRAZY turn. The sniper rifle bit was crazy enough. But this movie takes an even crazier turn.”

“I can’t believe this movie happened. Did anyone think at all that the story was a bit out there when they green lit it?”

“That being said, I somehow got a perverse amount of enjoyment out of this, so I am giving it 3 stars. But holy shit, man. What is this movie?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

That twist, though. That’s the reason I’m telling people to see this. The best is that no one is tuned into this enough to really know what’s coming, and they have the sniper rifle thing from the trailer to distract them from what’s actually going on. My favorite thing is people coming back after seeing this and going, “What the actual fuck?”

You should see it. Trust me. It’s nuts.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Maudie

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Solid little movie. Sally Hawkins is always good, as is Ethan Hawke.”

“It’s not gonna change your life, but it should put a smile on your face. And that’s all you need.”

“Also, written and directed by women, and that’s something that needs to be championed.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Solid.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Transformers: The Last Knight

January’s preview:

“This one seems to be swinging for the fences. Unicron seems to be in there, Nazis and King Arthur.”

4 stars. 3.5 seems likely, but fuck it. I enjoy these movies.”

The actual review:

“Yeah, I know. Look, we know what these movies are. They’re completely incoherent messes. A jumble of noises and explosions and corny jokes. But I enjoy them. So there we are.”

“This, honestly, is probably the best since the first one. Or maybe the third one. I know we’re grading that on a curve, but still. I enjoyed it.”

“I will never defend these as actually being good movies, but they’re fun. And I got shitfaced afterwards at that Jimmy Buffett restaurant, so maybe that made me look back more lovingly on the film.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This franchise needs a reboot. It’s getting pretty tired.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

The Beguiled

January’s preview:

“Weird remake. Though I guess this is more ‘based on the novel than the previous film.'”

“It’s Sofia Coppola, so based on her previous stuff, she gets a minimum guess of 3.5 stars. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. Her last two films have been underwhelming.”

The actual review:

“For better or worse, I watched the original for the first time like a month before I saw this movie. Purely by chance.”

“And… having seen the original… this is the exact same thing. The story is exactly the same. So watching it felt like going through the motions.”

“The costumes looked better and the actresses were better, but overall it’s the same story, not really changed. I thought there would be some sort of feminist bent to it, but not really.”

“This one is slightly focused on the women more than the original. That one was more about Eastwood seducing them all, and this one was more focused on all of the women being attracted to Colin Farrell in different ways.”

“Sofia Coppola movies never feel like they have any depth to them. I didn’t feel any of the subtext that should be there.”

“It looked nice, and it was well-made, but I didn’t feel anything more there, which was exacerbated by the fact that it was exactly the same movie as the original. So, I liked it, but it felt unnecessary.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s solid, and I feel like some people will get a lot out of this. For me, it felt like a retread. Like, a renovated, spiffed-up retread, but a retread nevertheless.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Big Sick

January’s preview:

3 stars. Hope I can get more out of this, but not gonna get my hopes up. Sundance hype is usually just that, and I typically know better than to assume more. I’ll just be happily surprised instead.”

The actual review:

“It’s absolutely delightful, and wins because it’s based on real events and actually has something to say.”

“Whatever you think this movie is, it’s not.”

“It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s emotional, and it seamlessly weaves between all of those things, getting the best out of everyone involved. This movie is a delight.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is still one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s so sweet and so touching, and every bit that I could have been turned off by is countered by the fact that all of this is true and happened.

Everyone should see this movie. It’s so likable.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a star and a half.

Okja

January’s preview:

“I’m sold.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“This movie was so good.”

“It knew how to get people invested in it — by spending the first fifteen minutes with just the girl and the giant super pig. And with a crazy-ass Tilda Swinton speech. By that point, you were willing to go anywhere the movie went. Which… it goes some pretty damn weird places. And I love it.”

“I don’t know what the hell Jake Gyllenhaal is doing in this movie, but shit, he went for it. Whatever ‘it’ is. And I love everything he did.”

“This was a movie I expected to be good, but I never expected it to be as good and as touching as it was.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

One of the best movies Netflix has put out. Still one of the better movies of the year. It’s amazing. Everyone should see this.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Despicable Me 3

January’s preview:

“Why?”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“The first movie was cute. The second one was unbearable. This one falls somewhere in between.”

“Much like the Cars franchise, they spent too much time on side characters in the sequel and it really made it suck. And now they went back to telling a real story and getting close to whatever heights the first movie in the series reached, but at this point it’s just wash, rinse repeat.”

“There’s not much in this franchise for me. They get one, maybe two chuckles out of me, maybe one more, ‘Oh, that’s a good choice,’ and otherwise I don’t really care.”

“This is for kids. I leave it to them to enjoy it. I’m not the audience for this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I hope this franchise is done.

I hope.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Little Hours

January’s preview:

3 stars. This should almost exclusively be 3 stars.”

The actual review:

“It’s a movie about foul-mouthed nuns, what more do you need? There’s no story here to speak of, and there doesn’t need to be. It’s just complete insanity and very, very funny along the way.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s foul-mouthed nuns, man. Why wouldn’t you see this?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Baby Driver

January’s preview:

“Why do they put all the Edgar Wright movies in August? Don’t they know movies don’t make money in August?”

“Honestly I don’t even care what this is about, it’s Edgar Wright, so 4 stars. I hope I love it.”

The actual review:

“Good to see Edgar Wright back… it feels like he’s been mostly gone since Scott Pilgrim.”

“There’s a lot of little things in the movie I like a lot. Ultimately the story follows a lot of obvious genre progressions, so it’s never particularly surprising. And I’m still not sure how I feel about those last 15 minutes.”

“It has just about everything I like about the movies — a strong voice behind it, practical effects and action, a tone that holds up throughout and leads to a lot of smiles throughout the movie, and something that doesn’t leave you wanting.”

“This is one of the more solid films you’ll see in 2017 and one of the stronger directorial efforts. It’s impressive as hell and I liked it a lot.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Man, is Edgar Wright lucky that his movie came out when it did. Otherwise what would they have done?

I’m hesitant to speak at length about this, because I still do need to watch it again. But no matter what that second watch does to this, I still really liked this movie a lot. It’s unlikely to somehow make my top ten of the year, so I feel comfortable enough in saying — I really liked this movie a lot, and it is definitely one of Wright’s best films (not that he’s made a bad one yet). A true joy from start to finish.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Hired Gun

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Great music documentary about studio musicians. The guys who come in and work on a track and, god-willing, get hired to tour with bands.”

“What’s great is that it gives all the unsung people a chance to shine, but also shows just how talented these guys are.”

“I usually love music documentaries, and this is probably the best one of this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Loved this. Love me a good music documentary.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Inconceivable

January’s preview:

“Starring Nicolas Cage.”

“Well, I guess not starring, since he’s playing neither of the two women. (I’m assuming. All bets are off with him.)”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“The fact that this movie exists is (insert title here).”

“This is your typical crazy white lady movie. There’s an extra twist in here that makes it slightly more than that, but it’s still not good.”

“It’s actually really similar to that Will Ferrell/Kristen Wiig Lifetime movie they made. You know, the one you thought was a parody that actually wasn’t.”

“Yeah, this is another one of his boring paycheck movies where he’s barely giving a performance.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I hope he gets out of this rut soon, because it’s starting to get tiresome. Much like his performances in these movies.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

13 Minutes

January’s preview:

“Oh, well damn. I was not expecting something this interesting.”

“Gonna say 3.5 stars, even though there’s a strong possibility for just 3.”

The actual review:

“Interesting movie about a lesser known Hitler assassination attempt.”

“It’s solid. Directed by the guy who did Downfall. If you like movies with Nazis and assassination plots, this one’s worth seeing.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

If you like Nazis and assassination plots, this one’s for you.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The House

January’s preview:

2.5 stars.”

“3 stars is the best I’m getting out of this. Let’s just hope it’s not Unforgivable.”

The actual review:

“Well this certainly seemed like a surefire Unforgivable back in January. You show me a movie with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler in 2017, and I’m probably gonna assume Unforgivable.”

“Here’s how we shook out — within the first ten minutes, this was Unforgivable all the way. Then it settled in and I just didn’t give a shit. I was watching, and I didn’t care. Which was good. Then the ending happened, and I groaned, but I wasn’t that angry.”

“I mean, yes, these kinds of comedies make me angry because of how terrible the genre of comedy is at the moment. But I’m not sure this made me angry enough to make it Unforgivable. Which is actually kinda shocking. Still, this was bad, and that’s really the important thing here.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I didn’t like it, but it’s not Unforgivable. I don’t know how. I guess I caught it on a good day.

Trust me, no one would have been happier had it been Unforgivable. It makes my life harder with this not on the list.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

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One response

  1. Thank you. saw a few in there i haven’t sen yet!

    December 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

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