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2017: The Year in Reviews (October)

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.

On to October.

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.)

October

Blade Runner 2049

January’s preview:

“So yeah. They’re making this. But hey, if you’re gonna make it, go big.”

“Denis Villeneuve, coming off Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival, and Roger Deakins. That’s all I need.”

“Based on the talent involved — minimum 4 stars. I can’t assume anything higher, because I don’t love the original enough to go higher. But fuck, I hope I get 5 stars out of this. I’m not discounting it because the original isn’t in my 200 favorite movies of all time. I hope it’s great.”

The actual review:

“Going in with almost zero expectations (and everyone else trying to spoil it as much as possible for me, with the revealing trailers and the non-spoiler talk that gave everything away), this absolutely surpassed everything I could have ever expected it to be.”

“I’ve watched it twice now, and it’s only getting better in my estimation. It’s really engaging, and I really like almost everything they tried to do.”

“There’s something about the way Villeneuve shoots his films that draws you into the story and rewards you when you watch it again and again.”

“If anything I could say that certain aspects were underdeveloped. So, in all, a huge accomplishment here and something that I am less hesitant now than I was two months ago to call one of my favorite films of the year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m going up. This has only gotten better for me in subsequent rewatches and this has an outside shot at a top ten, which would be four in a row for Villeneuve.

Just know that I could have stayed at 4 and been right about this, but I wanted to let you know just how much I liked this movie.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

The Mountain Between Us

January’s preview:

“Directed by the guy who did Paradise Now and Omar and starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.”

“…okay.”

3.5 stars. I hope I get more. This sounds pretty awesome.”

The actual review:

“This certainly seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“It’s got all the elements to make it watchable, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. It just gets boring in the middle. And the third act — yeesh.”

“Let’s just call this a disappointment that didn’t quite work and go from there.”

“Maybe if this were 1956, and it starred Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones I’d give more of a shit, and it might work, but not in 2017.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m picturing the Rock Hudson/Jennifer Jones version and it sounds way better than this.

* * * (3 stars)

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

My Little Pony

January’s preview:

“This is a thing that I completely missed. That weird thing where guys fuck the ponies, or whatever they do. I guess it’s because I don’t do drugs and watch cartoons?”

2.5 stars. I just don’t care about this. I don’t care who’s in it, or what it’s about. If I get 3 stars (or even more, if that’s a universe that is even fathomable), I would be surprised.”

“2017 seems like it’s gonna be the year of ‘not for me.'”

The actual review:

“I don’t understand this, but I thought I’d try to watch this to see if I could figure it out. Nope. Still no clue. Moving on.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

2017 definitely is the year of ‘not for me’.

In case you thought I was magically gonna turn into one of the people who wanted to fuck the ponies — didn’t happen. Maybe next thing.

* * (2 stars)

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

The Florida Project

January’s preview:

“I know what that sounds like, but it’s being directed and written by Sean Baker, who did Tangerine. So you gotta give him the benefit of the doubt on that.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“LOVED this. Sean Baker follows up Tangerine with an even more exciting and vibrant follow-up.”

“This movie is so great.”

“He shoots this entirely on film, with a very pointed and deliberate use of handheld in a very specific moment, which takes the film from the beautiful to the sublime.”

“I really, really loved this movie and am so glad it’s getting all the acclaim it’s been getting. This is one of my absolute favorite films of the year.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m all about this movie, and I hope everyone sees this.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

Brawl in Cell Block 99

January’s preview:

N/A

The actual review:

“Ho-ly fuck.”

“My god, did this not disappoint. It does an interesting thing where it starts off really emotionally, with this great scene between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Carpenter, and then it gets more B movie as it goes along.”

“There are moments in this film, just like with Bone Tomahawk, where the violence happens and you’re not ready for it and actively laughing and screaming and wincing at the same time.”

“I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, and if you’re a fan of Bone Tomahawk, just put this on and know as little about what you’re getting into as possible. Because you will not regret it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is quietly one of my favorite movies of the year. It knows what it is and what it wants to be and doesn’t try to be anything else.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Una

January’s preview:

“Difficult subject matter. That’s probably why this hasn’t come out yet.”

3.5 stars. Good acting counts for a lot.”

The actual review:

‘This was based on a play, and I feel like it might have been better served as that. Or maybe in different hands?”

“It’s not an easy film and the subject matter is, obviously, not something most people deal with on a regular basis. I feel like the film does not ask the same questions the play does, because it’s clear what questions there are within the story.”

“I appreciate the difficult story, even if it is icky in a lot of ways, but the movie really doesn’t go anywhere particularly interesting, and that feels like a shame given everyone involved.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Disappointment based on the people involved, but I’m not sure how much better a film this could have been. Maybe it was just better off as a play.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Walking Out

January’s preview:

3 stars. Sounds western-y.”

The actual review:

“Dad and kid go into wilderness to hunt shit. Stuff goes wrong. Kid has to man up and get dad out before they both die.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Works well enough.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Better Watch Out

January’s preview:

N/A

The actual review:

“A very twisted Christmas movie. The trailer makes it look like one thing, and it’s very much not that. In a way, it’s more interesting than what they set up, but it leads to a very weird movie.”

“I definitely enjoyed it enough to say it was okay, but this is definitely not what you think it’s gonna be.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

There’s nothing I can say about this movie except — that weird turn is definitely worth talking about. Other than that, I’m not particularly interested in it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Marshall

January’s preview:

“Aww yeah.”

“Chadwick Boseman plays Thurgood Marshall, since apparently he’s the only black actor that can play famous people.”

3.5 stars. I think this can be good. The writers can be solid. Reggie Hudlin hasn’t directed a feature in 15 years and the last one wasn’t good, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say this can be solid. Not seeing great, but hey, you never know.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

The actual review:

“Solid. These movies are always solid. They’re never great, but they’re always fine.”

“Chadwick Boseman is good, Josh Gad is fine. It’s a trial movie. Those are always interesting.”

“This is that kind of midlevel movie they try to push for Oscars, that everyone knows is not really that good, but we’re all just kind of positive about. Which is fine.”

“Chadwick Boseman has cornered the market on slightly-above-average biopics.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

3.5 the one time, and then I never see this again except when my parents randomly have it on when I come home. That’s what this is. The fine-enough movie your parents will watch on cable because it’s broadly appealing and hits all the formula beats.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Goodbye, Christopher Robin

January’s preview:

“Director is Simon Curtis, who did Woman in Gold and My Week with Marilyn. So solid Oscar-realm projects without any real bite to them.”

3.5 stars. Might be able to get 4 out of this, but I won’t get my hopes up.”

The actual review:

“It was designed to be no less than a 3.5 star movie. Seemed like it could have gotten to 4, but I really didn’t feel like I cared that much about it.”

“Here’s a guy haunted by the war who created Winnie the Pooh. But we don’t feel the joy there. We don’t see him really create it so much as we see his life and his relationship with his son, the byproduct of which is that he creates this thing, which ultimately ruins his relationship with his son.”

“I could have used a little more of the fun and whimsy that you get from actually watching Winnie the Pooh. But as it is, it’s very well-made.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I had this shit cold. “Solid Oscar-ream projects without any real bite to them.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Happy Death Day

January’s preview:

None.

This was supposed to come out in January and they swapped it mid-year with the Insidious movie that’s coming out next week.

The actual review:

“It’s Groundhog Day, only the protagonist gets brutally murdered at the end of each day. It’s an ingenious premise.”

“The movie’s a lot of fun. As far as these Blumhouse releases go, this is a smart one. A smart concept, fun execution, and not enough money against it that it has to overachieve at the box office.”

“Definitely one of those movies I’d recommend from this year, and one that I would say will be a cult, Netflix favorite in a few years once people start to get the ability to see it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this. No real substance and not something I’ll see again, but it was a really solid movie born out of a great concept.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

January’s preview:

“Noah Baumbach movie.”

“I mean… it’s Baumbach, so I can’t assume more than 3 stars. I hope for more, but I generally am put off by his movies, by and large. So we stay with the standard and see where it goes from there.”

The actual review:

“I’m generally not a Noah Baumbach fan. Frances Ha is the only one I can really say that I liked. The rest, either I hate them, or I just don’t care. This one, closer to don’t care, but I did kind of like it.”

“Adam Sandler is good, and Dustin Hoffman is good. Elizabeth Marvel is great as the sister, and Emma Thompson is great in limited screen time.”

“It’s more the performances than anything else. Because I can’t stand the New York intellectual thing. People going to art exhibitions and complaining about one-percenter problems. Not for me. But there was enough other stuff to overcome that for me.”

“Overall, I’d say they liked this. Which is an improvement.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

An improvement, and I do like that scene where Sandler and Grace Van Patten sing at the piano, but still not something I’m gonna want to rewatch.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

The Babysitter

January’s preview:

“A horror movie directed by McG. Great…”

2.5 stars. I’m being nice.”

The actual review:

“It’s about the same as every Netflix movie. They’re one of two things: totally fine and watchable but unspectacular or ‘whatever’. This one’s totally fine and watchable.”

“It’s a comedy horror with coming-of-age elements. I thought it was gonna be generic and forgettable, but it’s fun. It’s got moments that are enjoyable. So three stars.”

“Not something I need to see again, but it’s adequate. About the same as anything else McG has made.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

The only standout here for me is Samara Weaving, who has like three or four standout performances this year. The rest, take it or leave it.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Secret Scripture

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Gonna stick with 3.5 because of Rooney Mara and Jim Sheridan. Could be wrong, but I’m hopeful.”

The actual review:

“What happened to Jim Sheridan?”

“It’s — okay. Maybe?”

“It’s not that great a film, but I like Rooney Mara and I wanted to be engaged by this. Ultimately it’s just kind of meh and makes me wonder if Jim Sheridan is just done making good movies.”

“Maybe he stopped having something to say after In America. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to someone. Look at Cameron Crowe after Almost Famous. It’s possible people are just creatively spent. Here’s hoping Jim Sheridan has one more good movie left in him.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Here’s hoping, indeed.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Foreigner

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Overall, decent.”

“Jackie Chan is really good, and they use him the way they’ve been using Schwarzenegger recently, which is limiting his screen time and letting him not say as much to add dramatic resonance.”

“He gets to use his age in his action sequences to really help further the film. The scene where he’s hiding in the forest and taking dudes out was awesome.”

“Overall, the story is whatever. But the action mostly works and Jackie Chan is good. So it’s fun. Worth your time.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Liked it. Nothing much more than that, but who needs more?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

78/52

January’s preview:

N/A

The actual review:

Haven’t seen it yet. Probably this week. It’ll be soon.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Breathe

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Garfield generally makes good decisions, quality-wise.”

The actual review:

“It’s a very sure-handed debut (by Andy Serkis).”

“Most of this movie definitely works. Though, given the subject matter, the story is prone to being overly sentimental and all that. But, fortunately, the main character isn’t one for sentimentality, so that cuts it a bit.”

“Though the film is still trying to be that classical Oscar bait kind of movie and can’t help but indulge in those things. So it’s kind of uneven, but ultimately works.”

“You’re never gonna call this your favorite movie of the year, but you will look back on it and go, ‘Yeah, that was a good movie and a good notch on Serkis’ filmography.’ Which, for a debut, what more could you ask for?”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s what I said. Solid, not something that’s my favorite, but it works.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman

January’s preview:

“He created the lie detector and Wonder Woman. Surprisingly, I can see the connection. Oh, and polyamorous. Okay, then.”

“You’d think it would be a bigger film than this, but I’m interested in the material. 3 stars.”

The actual review:

Haven’t seen it yet. Within the month.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

The Snowman

January’s preview:

4 stars. Gotta assume four here. Hell, I want 4.5 out of this.”

The actual review:

“By the end, no one should have been surprised that this turned out the way it did. I mean, they gave you all the clues.”

“You know it’s bad when your director, while doing press for the movie, goes, ‘Yeah, we were supposed to shoot 15 days in Norway, but the studio said we couldn’t, so we literally didn’t get to shoot a bunch of stuff we needed to make the movie work.'”

“The whole thing is so turgid and boring. Fassbender is playing a depressed alcoholic, and he looks like he’s miserable and going through the motions.”

“It’s a shame. I had such high hopes for this, and it ended up as one of the five most disappointing films of 2017.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

They gave you all the clues.

But this was one of the most disappointing films of 2017. Damn shame.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star.

Geostorm

January’s preview:

“Basically a 90s movie made in 2017. I’m sure this will end well.”

3 stars. Just because I assume it will be so insane that it’ll be worthwhile.”

“Gerard Butler might stab that geostorm in the face.”

“You can probably take out the ‘might.'”

The actual review:

“Dean Devlin is a guy who wrote Independence Day and seemingly came up in the 90s, when batshit crazy action movies with ridiculous premises flourished and were actually considered good in certain cases. And apparently he thinks it’s still the 90s, because the minute we all saw this we went, ‘What? Seriously?’ Because everything about this is dated as hell.”

“Maybe he could have turned a corner and made it fun. But no. 2012 barely worked, and that was almost ten years ago now. I’m not really sure why they made this or how they managed to get so much money put into it.”

“It’s perfectly fine. You can watch it and not despise it, which is the worst thing possible. Because now we’re left with a fairly competent movie that accomplishes nothing and isn’t good enough to like or bad enough to say is a huge piece of shit and laugh at.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I mean, he kinda stabs in the face, right?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Geo-Disaster

January’s preview:

N/A

The actual review:

“This is the shitty, straight to VOD ripoff of Geostorm, designed to get people looking for Geostorm to think this is it and accidentally spend $10 on it while scanning their DirecTV.”

“I watched the two films back to back, and I wanted so badly to think this was the better film. But it’s not.”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time, but this is the non-fun equivalent of those SyFy movies with desert shark tornado vampire transformers or whatever they have now.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nope.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Only the Brave

January’s preview:

“Looking like another Deepwater. But I like the cast a lot.”

3.5 stars. Hoping for 4. Hoping for more than 4. Let’s see. The Deepwater/disaster thing hurts it. Since it’s kinda hard to think something like this could ever go higher than 4 for me.”

The actual review:

Will see it within the next ten days.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Same Kind of Different As Me

January’s preview:

“What?”

“3 stars. Oh, no, never mind. Saw a trailer. 2.5 stars.”

“I might be able to get 3 out of this, but… that trailer, though. This is a ‘faith’ movie with a better cast than usual.”

“Still Greg Kinnear though.”

The actual review:

This was BORING. These faith-based movies do nothing for me. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t give a shit. I’m happy to see Djimon Hounsou get roles, but it’s the same thing he’s played before. And the same thing Greg Kinnear has played before. And Renee Zellweger, hey she’s still working. So there’s that. But overall — just a big ‘didn’t like’ from me.

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Same kind of bullshit as usual.

* * (2 stars)

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

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Didn’t we say all we really needed to say with the first Boo! A Madea Halloween?”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t we, though?

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Jungle

January’s preview:

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“Harry Potter and the Lost Jungle. That’s the movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I mean — I’m not wrong.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Dealt

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“So this is a documentary about one of the best card mechanics in the world. He can do things with cards that almost no one else can. He’s so good at manipulating cards that he counts as a magician. Also, he’s fucking BLIND!”

“The documentary focuses a lot on his lack of sight and all that, but you need to see this purely for what he does with the cards. It’s incredible.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Highly recommend checking this out, if only for the first 20 minutes or so.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Bad Day for the Cut

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Awesome Irish revenge thriller. Fifty year old dude still lives with his mother… until she gets murdered. And then violence ensues. It’s a lot of fun. This is gonna be a great Netflix watch one day for people.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Thumbs up.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

1922

January’s preview:

“Sure.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“One of the more straightforward Stephen King stories.”

“It’s perfectly fine. Thomas Jane gives another under-the-radar, solid performance, and Molly Parker is great as the wife.”

“Overall, a decent movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Works well enough for Netflix.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Wheelman

January’s preview:

“Okay, okay. Director’s done nothing before, so this’ll be a down and dirty B movie. Which means an automatic 3 stars. That was simple.”

The actual review:

“This was awesome. It’s Drive meets Locke.”

“It was a lot of fun, and one of the best Netflix movies I’ve seen (which, I know, is not the highest bar in existence).”

“Just pure adrenaline from start to finish, and just really well done. Definitely one of those movies I’d recommend for people to check out.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

One of my favorite Netflix movies of all of them. So much fun.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

January’s preview:

“Yorgos Lanthimos directs, and that’s all I need.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“One of the funniest moments of the year for me was watching Colin Farrell spinning in a circle.”

“I don’t even know how to begin to explain this movie or my reaction to it. The Lobster at least has that great premise, and then you can talk about how darkly funny and fucked up it all is. This — what the fuck, man.”

“That story he tells his son… or Alicia Silverstone wanting him to taste her tart… Lanthimos is nothing if not one of the most unique voices working today.”

“This movie is so fucked up, and so funny in the most fucked up ways. See it, it’s great.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this a lot, but man, was it fucked up.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Wonderstruck

January’s preview:

“Todd Haynes is directing this, so I’m in regardless.”

4 stars.”

The actual review:

“Count this among the most disappointing films of 2017.”

“You have Todd Haynes, whose last three movies are Carol, I’m Not There and Far from Heaven, and it’s based on a book by Brian Selznick, who wrote Hugo. Oh, and half the film was gonna be in black and white and is portrayed as a silent film. So there was really no chance of me not liking this. You would think.”

“It just doesn’t really work. Small parts of it do, here and there, but ultimately it just feels really uneven. The editing in the first twenty minutes is so choppy I had to stop the movie and watch it again a different day just because I thought it was me. But no — the movie is so crazily edited, it’s actually jarring.”

“The pieces don’t sync together at all, and the transitions are not good. They actually take you out of the movie. It doesn’t do a good job of situating you in the story whatsoever, and by the time you’re well into the movie, you don’t care about the characters.”

“Brian Selznick seems like a guy who writes stories that are kids going on adventures. They’re full of whimsy. Todd Haynes is a guy who knows melodrama. The two do not mix. That’s what happened with this movie. Todd Haynes was not the right director for it.”

“It was worth a shot, but it just doesn’t work. And given that Todd Haynes is incapable of making a bad movie, you’re left with a movie that’s just hugely disappointing.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Top five most disappointing for 2017, probably with The Snowman, Downsizing, Suburbicon, and quite possibly The Last Jedi. But we’ll get to that list another day.

This one just didn’t work, and it’s a damn shame, because this movie needed that extra one or two to go positive.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

B.P.M.

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“French movie about AIDS activists in the 80s that’s been all over the Foreign Language circuit. Wasn’t for me.”

“It was fine, but all of those things just added up to a movie that was not my speed. So it didn’t do a whole lot for me. It happens.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Meh.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Silent Voice

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“It’s fine. Didn’t do much for me, but I got through it just fine.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Just fine.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Bachelors

January’s preview:

3 stars. Let’s give this a shot.”

The actual review:

“Very solid movie.”

“Somewhat by the numbers, but it has enough strong moments to make it through without being too generic.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Works the once.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

One of Us

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“One of the most fascinating documentaries I saw this year.”

“It’s really good. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Big thumbs up.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Jane

January’s preview:

N/A

The actual review:

“Incredible documentary. I don’t necessarily care that much about the subject matter, but it does use never-before-seen footage of Jane Goodall living with the apes, which is beautiful.”

“The highlight of the entire film is the Phillip Glass score, which is absolutely astounding. It’s so good that it might legitimately be nominated for Best Original Score. That, to me, took a good film and made it way better.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

But that score, though.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Square

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Premise sounds interesting and the director has at least one really good film under his belt. Until he steers me wrong, no reason to think this won’t be good. This could be like The Lobster following up Dogtooth.”

The actual review:

I’ll see this in the next ten days.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Novitiate

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Hope it’s great.”

The actual review:

“This is a great movie about the dedication it takes to join a cult. (I’m only partially kidding.)”

“You know it’s about nuns from the poster, but the title refers to the period where women train to become nuns. It’s like getting your Master’s. Only at the end, you get married to the big invisible dude in the sky. Think about this as like, An Officer and a Gentleman but with nuns. Only, in their mind, they gots some place else to go. You know, in the afterlife.”

“It takes place in the 60s when Vatican II came together and modernized the church. It’s like a reverse Cabaret, but with nuns instead of Nazis.”

“To me, the first part of the movie was just like watching an old gangster movie, with the impressionable youth being seduced into a life of crime.”

“Melissa Leo was basically Nurse Ratched of the nunnery for half the film. Which was nice. She never went as far overboard as I thought she would, and I like that the film allowed room for complexities within the characters (especially hers) and also left room for the audience to fill in some blanks along the way.”

“All the performances were really strong, and it was a very sure-handed effort by the director Maggie Betts.”

“Also, huge shout out to Julianne Nicholson, who is sort of an unofficial MVP of this year. I’ve seen three performances of hers (all of which in like, a ten day span) that are all fantastic… (she’s) one of the most underrated actresses working.”

“Despite being a heathen who has zero respect for the church and all the shit they do, who also does appreciate faith when done the right way, I will say I liked this movie quite a bit.”

“Plus, I saw it in a theater in West Hollywood, which was definitely the best way for me to experience it. We all laughed at the right moments. It’s nice to be reminded you live around people who also find the same shit ridiculous that you do.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really liked this movie a lot. Definite recommend.

I like watching these types of horror movies about really religious people.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Amityville: The Awakening

January’s preview:

“Yeah…. not interested in this.”

2.5 stars.”

“Erring on the side of indifference.”

The actual review:

“So this happened.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not really worth your time. Though shout out to whoever managed to get that cast.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not that these people are above a movie like this, but also, how did they get them for a movie this badly written?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

All I See Is You

January’s preview:

“Seems like a fairly generic thriller. Though I do like Marc Forster, so that’s what I’m having trouble with reconciling. He is pretty consistently a 3.5 star filmmaker, though the cast and release date are not promising.”

“I’m gonna say 3 stars, just because I don’t know if I’m gonna be on board with this. Plus, I think this has a chance to potentially drop lower, whereas the ceiling on this only seems to be 3.5. So let’s play the odds.”

The actual review:

“I thought it would be more of a thriller than it was.”

“I thought it was gonna be some kind of Hitchcock movie.”

“It’s more of a drama than anything. But it’s disjointed and never really goes anywhere. It spends way too much time on scenes of, ‘Oh my god, I can see again! … Then when it sortof gets into the thriller-y aspects of the plot, it takes too long and doesn’t dip its toe into it deeply enough.”

“Overall, it’s a movie that should have been a VOD disaster that instead is made watchable but forgettable by its director. Marc Forster has made some solid movies and I’m not quite sure what he’s doing here.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It looked nice, and the director made a bad movie watchable, but this is not good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Crash Pad

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“This had ‘awful’ written all over it. From how much of a little bitch Domhnall Gleeson’s character is from the get-go, to the awful set-up, to just about everything.”

“But it got a few laughs out of me. I’m not sure how. But it did. So I gave it three. Not great, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Ehh. I was fine with it. Not great, though.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jigsaw

January’s preview:

“Pretty sure I haven’t seen anything past the first one. Definitely not planning to start now.”

2.5 stars. For the cause. I won’t see this.”

“So many skips this year.”

The actual review:

Didn’t see it.

Final thoughts:

There was no chance on this.

How close was I?: N/A

Suburbicon

January’s preview:

4.5 stars.”

“I can’t not, with the people involved. Anything less than 4 stars is utter disappointment. I need this to be a top ten. It’s got so many great pieces to it. Please don’t let this turn out like Monuments Men.”

The actual review:

“Well this was one of the most disappointing films of the year.”

“Which is the second time that’s happened with Clooney. It’s because he’s made one near-masterpiece already and always manages to get insane casts for his movies.”

“This one, though, on top of all that, had a script originally by the Coen brothers. So you’d think there’s no way this could be screwed up. But, here we are.”

“It’s not that the movie is bad. It’s interesting. There’s some good stuff in it. It’s just that George Clooney isn’t the right guy to direct a Coen brothers movie, and also that it’s clear that the movie was made right as Donald Trump became president, so they changed a part of the narrative to reflect that.”

“The result is a movie that just feels pretty angry. And it alters the tone of the whole thing to something that was not originally intended.”

“It’s very uneven, but I liked it as an interesting artifact for the time. Not really something I can recommend, but I will admit to liking it more than most have.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked aspects of it, and I appreciate the effort, but it’s not great. I wonder what the Coens would have done with this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star.

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

January’s preview:

3 stars. Ensemble, multi-director movies tend to be watchable.”

The actual review:

This wasn’t good.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nope.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

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

Keep Watching

January’s preview:

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

Haven’t seen it yet.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

Thank You For Your Service

January’s preview:

3.5 stars.”

“Miles Teller typically is best when his characters have to go through some shit. I think this’ll be good.”

The actual review:

Haven’t seen it yet. Will in the next ten days.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

– – – – – – – – – –

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One response

  1. chinoiserie

    Since you like Disney movies and Harry Potter is that hard to understand if people like MLP? Its just ponies and more kiddie, expecially this film. You just need to get used to it and this film was made for fans. The show is more Friends like so more about comedy. Not that you need to like it, you just made the usual fetish/drugs comment so I just wanted to say this.

    December 29, 2017 at 1:47 pm

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