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2017: The Year in Reviews (November)

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.

Home stretch. We’re up to November.

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.)

November

Thor: Ragnarok

January’s preview:

“I think if we had to rank the Marvel movies by superhero, I think we’d all agree that the Thor movies are the weakest.”

“I have some hope that this one will be fun because Taika Waititi is directing it, and What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople were great.”

“Honestly, 3.5 stars. It’s Marvel. What am I gonna get out of this? They’re all basically the same.”

The actual review:

“This was fun as hell.”

“But the characters (Loki and Thor) have been well-developed throughout everything, so once we got here, they were able to pay off a lot of history with the way they did things.”

“It’s basically two movies in one. And like the first Guardians, you want the fun, weird stuff more than the plot.”

“Overall, this was just a good time, capping off a very fun year of Marvel movies.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This one was fun. Not sure it stayed with me, but it’s like that any Marvel movie truly does that. So for what it’s worth, I do think this is one of the better ones out there and is probably like, 7-10 overall for them, which is more than I thought I could get out of a Thor movie.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

A Bad Moms Christmas

January’s preview:

“Did we need this?”

2 stars.”

“Please don’t let this actually get made.”

The actual review:

“Why are we doing this?”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Seriously, please stop.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lady Bird

January’s preview:

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“I was blown away. I did not expect it to be as good or as emotionally satisfying as it was.”

“I truly did not see this one coming, and I’m so glad that it was as good as it was.”

“This is not only one of my absolute favorite films of the year, but I know that when I show this to a good number of people, it’ll be one of their favorite films of the year too.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m so glad this exceeded expectations the way it did. Years need movies like this, especially this one. And this is a movie I will be rewatching for years to come. Very, very, very much in love with this movie.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

Last Flag Flying

January’s preview:

“We’re aiming big.”

“I trust Linklater, so 4 stars.”

The actual review:

“The thing with Richard Linklater movies is — I always go in thinking, ‘Okay, sure. It doesn’t sound great, but he makes good movies, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.’ And then I come out going, ‘Damn, man, why are his movies always better than I expected them to be?'”

“What makes this movie so weird is that this is the first time that didn’t happen. This was exactly as I expected it to be. And because I’m so accustomed to them being better than I expect, I actually felt a bit disappointed by this.”

“It’s literally nothing more than what you see in the trailer. Which is just fine. That’s good.”

“Richard Linklater is nothing if not a man that can make anything watchable, and this is another solid notch into his already great filmography.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it, but it wasn’t anything more than just solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

LBJ

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Only played Toronto last year. Can’t imagine it’s terrible. At worst 3 stars.”

The actual review:

“This was solid. I had my concerns, specifically with the casting of Woody Harrelson. But I was able to look past the makeup and all that pretty quickly. He was good, and the movie was pretty good.”

“Never gonna be remembered as a major presidential biopic, but for what it’s worth, it’s a worthwhile film.”

“Rob Reiner finally makes something solid after years in the wilderness, and it’s one of those midlevel movies that is above average. These needs wider audiences.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Slight, but solid.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Singularity

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“John Cusack was one of the first to descend into paycheck VOD movies. Him, Bruce Willis and Nicolas Cage were the first generation. But now — jesus. It’s tough to say which one’s doing worse.”

“I have no fucking clue what this movie is. It’s just — I’m just gonna move on. Maybe there was half an idea here, but my god is it not interesting at all.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nope.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Most Beautiful Island

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“I liked this. I respected it more than I liked it, but still.”

“Ana Asensio wrote, directed and starred in this, and I like that she went out and made a movie for herself.”

“By the time you get to the third act, the film has taken a kind of ridiculous turn, even though I stayed with it for longer than most would. And even though what happens in the climax is nuts, the moment itself is pretty tense and well done. So, overall, I liked it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really appreciated the effort and was way more invested in this than I thought I’d be. Plus it’s only like 70 minutes, which is also good.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Gilbert

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“One of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Liked this a lot.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Daddy’s Home 2

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“One of the unfortunate byproducts of the comedy genre is — when a movie hits, they almost immediately rush a sequel into production. And think about it — how many legitimately good comedy sequels are there?”

“They’re doing it in order to make money and almost nothing else. They don’t care about you, or making a good movie. They’re like, ‘Well it worked, so let’s just do that again.'”

“I think there were only two moments in the movie where I laughed…. That’s really what kept me from going lower than 2.5.”

“But you know what? This is where comedy is. The lowest common denominator is the norm, and that’s just what it is. I’m not gonna punish this movie for making a quick buck, but I also don’t have to like it or ever watch it again.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Maybe let’s just try to make better comedies. Has anyone thought of that? Or are we just not capable of that anymore the way the world is?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Murder on the Orient Express

January’s preview:

“I have to guess 4 stars here. Minimum 3.5 stars. How can this not be good? Between the story and the cast, how can they fuck this up?”

The actual review:

“Branagh was quite good as Poirot, and I was invested. But then when the murder happened, I became even more invested than even I thought were possible.”

“By the end of the movie, I was all in.”

“I think the few ‘action’ beats were wholly unnecessary and took me out of it, but overall, I really, really liked this.”

“I will say that I came out of that theater going, ‘You know, with as little from this year that I really, really liked, this actually was one of my favorite movies.’ So there it is. I really liked this movie. Did not expect that going in, and am totally fine with it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did really like this. Not something I would say is gonna make the top ten, or even particularly stay with me, but this was quick-moving, engaging, and I found myself with it more than a lot of other movies this year. And in a year like this, where so little actually engaged me more than on a passing level, that’s big.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

January’s preview:

4 stars. McDonagh automatically gets that much. In Bruges is a perfect film and Seven Psychopaths is amazing. No reason to think this won’t also be fantastic.”

The actual review:

“I am predisposed to loving a Martin McDonagh movie, so this should surprise no one.”

“This, in a way I was not expecting, perfectly balances comedy and tragedy seamlessly, and constantly gets you going from laughing to completely pulling the rug out from under you within moments.”

“Everyone in it is so great and the minute I saw it, I thought it might be my favorite film of the year. That was back in October. I’ve seen a bunch more stuff since then, and I’m not sure if that’s changed.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Still really love this. We’ll see just how much in a few days. I’m still gauging all that stuff now.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

O Matador

January’s preview:

“I heard western and I was sold.”

3 stars. Not gonna assume bump, but I hope it’s decent.”

The actual review:

Portuguese western on Netflix. It was fine. I might be the only audience for this, though.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Glad I saw it. But I’m good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Thumper

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“I have a bad habit of watching VOD movies that sound remotely interesting.”

“This is a completely by-the-numbers undercover-DEA agent trying to bust a drug dealer by getting inside. It’s like a bad version of Rush, without the cool drug scenes and more about the undercover identity stuff. Not for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nah.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Mayhem

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Destined to be the forgotten cousin to The Belko Experiment. And you know what? This is a better movie.”

“It’s a lot of fun. I enjoyed the shit out of it.”

“Also, major shout out to Samara Weaving, who was a major standout in three movies this year.”

“For those of you who thought The Belko Experiment was good, check this out. I think it’s better and I think you should see it because you might just like it better too.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely see this if you’re interested in Belko, because I do think this is a more fun movie.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Thelma

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

It was fine. It’s that ‘first love/puberty’ analogy (like the one where they turn into a werewolf at puberty, or whatever), but done foreign. Didn’t love it, didn’t dislike it. Totally fine.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Pottersville

January’s preview:

“Michael Shannon mistaken for Bigfoot? In.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

Couldn’t wait to see this. And man, is it everything I wanted.

The movie is almost deliberately bad, in a way I couldn’t stop loving. It’s designed to look like this off-kilter, bargain bin DVD movie. That’s the charm!

My favorite description of this movie was about Michael Shannon’s character: “He’s pretty much George Bailey, but paired with the intense, unsettling visage of Michael Shannon.”

I liked this a lot.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s on Netflix now, so check it out. I’m sure you’ll hate it. This is a movie that I think, if you don’t get what it’s going for, you’re gonna be actively turned off from it. Which is why I want people to see it. I can’t wait to see those reactions.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Breadwinner

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This was awesome. Directed by one of the two directors of The Secret of Kells.”

“It’s a really lovely film and one of those films that works as a work of art and a piece of entertainment. Not a lot of adult animated films out there, especially not ones that look as good as this one does.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Big fan, and this will be that movie that gets nominated for Best Animated Feature that people kind of know about but never see. And just know, you can change that if you want to.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Bitch

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Interesting movie.”

“The opening scene is her trying to hang herself. She plays a housewife who has a psychotic break and ends up in the basement, naked and acting like a wild dog. So yeah, interesting is the word.”

“It takes a lot of weird turns, almost going too big on the comedy in the first act, with the undercurrent of the whole dog thing going throughout, and then it pivots into a pretty emotional drama in the final stages of the film.”

“It’s definitely something I respect as a creation. I’m just not sure how much I liked it past a weird fascination with the fact that it exists and is absolutely nothing like anything else out there.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not sure I can recommend it, but it’s definitely beyond anything you’ve seen before.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

January’s preview:

4 stars.”

“I trust Gilroy after Nightcrawler.”

The actual review:

“I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the film.”

“The movie does feel slightly compromised. It’s as if Gilroy wrote a great script that became lopsided once Denzel signed on.”

“It’s a movie that could have been made as a noir in the 50s. And I love when that’s the case.”

“Denzel gives one of his best performances in twenty years.”

“I really liked this movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good, and reminds me of the kinds of films I love.”

“This is legitimately one of my favorite films of the year. I loved it.”

“I will warn all of you — if you’re looking for something like Nightcrawler or as good as Nightcrawler, this is not that film. If you just go in to watch a movie, you might be pleasantly surprised.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really loved this. I’m gonna be a major supporter for this movie going forward. I think the reviews went too harsh on this because of Nightcrawler. I think this movie is gonna grow in esteem over time. A lot of the early, bad reviews came from a festival screening where the movie was 15 minutes longer. Still, I can’t see why people were so ‘ehh’ on this. It’s really engaging and really well done. A fantastic character piece with great work by Denzel. But whatever. I’m just gonna like it, and then when people rediscover this in ten years, I’ll be sitting here like, “Motherfucker, I liked it all along,” and then no one will believe me. That’s how it always happens.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Man on the Moon is one of my favorite movies, and this was such a wonderful watch.”

“Jim Carrey is one of the best actors who is also one of the more interesting people. He’s in a place right now — some would say it’s not a good place — that makes for a perfect watch. Because he’s so reflective and so open in his responses, and that, along with the footage (which is just nuts), is absolutely incredible.”

“It says so much about art and artist and the lengths some people go to create art, and so many other places that I don’t even want to get into here.”

“Just see this. Everyone should see this movie, even if they haven’t seen Man on the Moon. It’s an amazing piece that this exists.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This might be my favorite documentary of the year. Please see this. It’s incredible.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Justice League

January’s preview:

“This is post-Batman v. Superman. And from the looks of it they’re trying real hard to let you know this is not gonna be the same as that movie. It might be as bad, but it’s not gonna be as serious. This one’s gonna throw in joke after joke. You know, like Suicide Squad did. And didn’t that turn out great?”

“Again, they’re taking the group movie to set up individual movies. I’m not even remotely sold on this as a universe. But you know what? I’m gonna go 3.5 stars here.”

The actual review:

“Why, D.C.? Why are you doing this?”

“I have a lot of thoughts on this movie, but we should probably save them. You’re either gonna get them in the November recap article, or perhaps a few days after that. I’m still deciding. But trust me — they’re not good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

You’re not getting them in the November recap article.

This was bad.

* * * (3 stars)

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

Mudbound

January’s preview:

“Sounds good.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“I was extremely hesitant about this for two reasons. One was for quality and the other was practicality. The practicality aspect was — there’s no way this is gonna go anywhere with Oscar voters after being on Netflix, right? And that seems to be proven true. The more important part was that I had heard nothing but amazing things about it, and while I had decent expectations that it would be good, I didn’t want the noise to be so loud that there was no way for me to like it.”

“When I started this, I was bored. It’s a really slow movie in its opening moments. Took me like a half hour to get into it. But once it found its footing, I was very invested. By the end I was totally on board with it and liked it a lot.”

“I’m not going near the word ‘masterpiece’, and I’m also not gonna make this out to be anything more than it is — which is a really solid film and a great sophomore effort from Dee Rees.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really solid movie. Not gonna stay with me at all, since it felt like I’ve seen all this stuff before, but it’s really well done with some solid performances. I don’t need anything more than that.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

A Christmas Prince

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“This sounded like it was gonna be awful. And even ten minutes in I thought it was gonna be awful. But it slowly won me over.”

“It’s a cheesy version of those 90s romantic comedies, but I don’t know. I kind of liked it. I don’t know why?”

“It’s not good, but it reminded me of those movies I saw as a kid in the 90s, so it got me to smile occasionally. That’s really all I needed.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m fine with this. Never seeing it again is a good way for me to preserve the good will I have toward it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Almost Friends

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“Decent little movie.”

“Not the greatest film in the world, but it has a certain amount of charm. All things considered, you could do worse.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s perfectly okay.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Fantastic Woman

January’s preview:

None

The actual review:

“Daniela Vega is great here, and the movie is pretty solid. Definitely one of the better foreign films of the year.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Thumbs up.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Star

January’s preview:

“Sony releasing Christian animation. Which is basically posting signs saying ‘This is not for you.'”

2.5 stars.”

“I’m gonna be nice and assume indifference.”

The actual review:

“So this is an animated movie about the animals that were present at the birth of Jesus. As you can gather — it’s not very good. And on top of that it’s faith-based, so I like it even less than I do these usual bad animated movies.”

“I can accept a bad movie, but a bad movie that’s also trying to teach me religion — nah.”

“Let’s just be glad I probably don’t hate it enough to make it Unforgivable. But holy shit was this bad.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Actively did not like this.

* * (2 stars)

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

Wonder

January’s preview:

“So yeah. That seems… like one of those kinds of movies.”

“At best I’m getting 3 stars out of this. But this looks too cloying for that. So 2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“I had such bad expectations for this.”

“You tell me a movie is directed by the Perks of Being a Wallflower guy, starring Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, and is a family movie about a kid with a facial deformity, I think, ‘That’s gonna be garbage.'”

“This movie was really fucking good. (Relative to what I thought and how these types of movies usually go, of course.)”

“They endear you to the boy really fast, they don’t get too on the nose with the situations they put him in, they don’t let the adults get into their usual… schticks, I’ll say (I had a countdown to when Owen Wilson’s first “wow” was gonna be — I don’t think there was one!), and it’s just a really likable movie.”

“The ingenious aspect to this movie is that it switches perspectives. Once we get through the kid’s first day of school, it suddenly shifts gears and shows you what the sister was going through that day. And I really liked that.”

“Count this as one of the most delightful surprises of 2017 for me, and I’m gonna be a big supporter of this film going forward.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely very solid. This was a movie I knew my parents would like. It’s just broadly likable, and actually well made on top of it. I’m very glad I didn’t hate this, because, just like the Snowman, they gave us all the clues. But unlike that movie, this one actually worked!

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

Revolt

January’s preview:

“Seems small in scale and solid in premise. 3 stars.”

The actual review:

“This was a weird movie.”

“It’s engaging enough, but there’s not a whole lot there.”

“If you have 90 minutes to kill while cleaning or ironing or something, it’s not the worst movie to have on in the background. Otherwise, not much you’ll get out of it unless you really like either of the stars.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s fine. Not great.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Sweet Virginia

January’s preview:

“Uhh, okay.”

3 stars.”

The actual review:

“Low rent potboiler thriller.”

“Jon Bernthal and Christopher Abbott and Imogen Poots are in it, so that was nice. Otherwise it did absolutely nothing for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Interesting for the people involved, otherwise just meh.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

January’s preview:

None.

The actual review:

“I’m so happy they made this. At first, people didn’t know who she was. Then she became a sort of trivia answer. The frequency hopping and all that. But someone needed to tell the story. Maybe they’ll make a feature out of the story one day and it’ll be great.”

“No documentary could have captured how interesting the story is, but at least this one did a solid job of it.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Definitely worth seeing. Here’s hoping for a good feature one day.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Man Who Invented Christmas

January’s preview:

“This either needed to be about cocaine or Charles Dickens. So good job there.”

“The director did Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which I really liked.”

3.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“This story is essentially Shakespeare in Love but with Charles Dickens.”

“Some of the moments work, others — he’s sitting in a restaurant and the waiter comes in and goes, ‘I’m Marley, sir, can I get you anything,’ and he looks at him curiously and goes, ‘Marley, ehh…?’ and writes down the name. And it’s like — all right, we fucking get it.”

“It’s a perfectly lovely movie. Some people will really love this. It’s very likable and very fun. Destined to be a nice little hidden gem, much like the director’s previous effort, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which is fucking lovely and people should go out and see immediately because it’s so good and so underrated.”

“We were talking about it at the office and someone said, ‘Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.’ Which, no, he didn’t. Which got me to thinking — that title kinda makes him the Christopher Columbus of Christmas. You can say he invented it, but we all know how many brown people died under that flag.”

“But anyway, it’s lovely. Go see it. One of the nice little gems of the year that no one knows about.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Very lovely and worth seeing. One of those three star movies that’s more than 3 stars. A nice gem that should be checked out.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Hangman

January’s preview:

“Al Pacino paycheck movie.”

“These tend to be worse than other actors’ paycheck movies.”

2.5 stars.”

The actual review:

“I’ve become fascinated by these kinds of movies. On the one hand, they’re working, but on the other — is this really all that’s out there for them? Yeesh.”

“This is about a serial killer who is playing a game of (insert title here) with the cops. Doesn’t amount to much.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I was spot on all around with this one. Go me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Darkest Hour

January’s preview:

“Joe Wright directs, Gary Oldman plays Churchill. And honestly, based on those two and the photo I saw of Oldman as Churchill, 4.5 stars.”

“I want this to be a top ten. And at the worst, I want Gary Oldman to get an Oscar. Please let this be great.”

The actual review:

“This was a safe movie for Joe Wright. Pan was a huge bomb, so what he did was take a movie that was a surefire critical success. That doesn’t diminish what this is, but that is what is going on.”

“The minute Gary Oldman was cast as Churchill, we knew what the deal was. And the minute we saw that photo of Oldman as Churchill, it was sealed.”

“There was no way this would be anything less than a four-star movie.”

“Oldman is incredible as Churchill, and will finally win his Oscar for it. He is not Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln good, where I’m watching the movie and straight up believing I’m seeing President Lincoln on the screen. But there were a few moments where I did lose myself in the performance. Which was enough to counter the few moments where it was very obvious I was watching Gary Oldman.”

“The writing is very, very good (and often going unnoticed, I feel, in the reviews for this), and Joe Wright brings his visual sense and crafts a very classical, very gorgeous film. Can’t wait to see this one again.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I might be getting one of the two things I wanted back in January, which is great.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Call My By Your Name

January’s preview:

“I’m down.”

“James Ivory is credited as a writer. My guess is he tried to do this years ago and Guadagnino jumped in and rewrote his script.”

3.5 stars. Hope I can get four out of this. Sounds good.”

The actual review:

“This was delightful. I’ve been a fan of Luca Guadagnino for a little while now and I knew that this was gonna be something I liked.”

“I also knew I wouldn’t like this as much as everyone else — because this was destined to be the overrated film of 2017. But I’m honestly even okay with that.”

“This was really captivating. I loved how laid back it was and how simple all the scenes were.”

“The highlight for me was Michael Stuhlbarg. He wasn’t in the movie as much as I’d want, but that monologue he has near the end — my god. That is what elevated the movie for me from some nice romance to something truly remarkable.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

One of the better films of 2017 that I was destined not to love as much as everyone else. Maybe if I caught this before everything else, it might have been slightly higher than it is, but a 4 star movie that I like a lot that’s really solid — I don’t need anything more out of it than that. Is this an unqualified masterpiece that should sweep all the awards? No. But I disagree with at least one or two of those assessments every year. So how is this anything different?

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Coco

January’s preview:

“It’s Pixar and it’s original, so they get an automatic 4 stars.”

“Outside of that, not sure I’m particularly interested in this, since it sounds like it could maybe be like that Book of Life movie.”

“But it’s also Pixar, which means it can’t really be that bad. Especially since it’s not a sequel, and it’s not a creepy world where cars watch other cars race.”

The actual review:

“Pixar did it again.”

“The first fifteen minutes, I kept going, ‘It’s fine, it’s fine, but I’m not that into it.’ Maybe it’s because I was subjected to that never-ending shitty Olaf cartoon beforehand. By the midpoint of the film, I was totally in, and by the end, I was in love.”

“This was absolutely wonderful. I don’t understand how they can be this good at coming up with original material. And it only makes me angry that they’re gonna do nothing but sequels for the next two or three years.”

“Please tell me they have more of these in the pipeline, because my god, are these movies amazing.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

How the hell does Pixar keep doing this?

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

– – – – – – – – – –

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2 responses

  1. I can’t wait to see you rip Zack Snyder another new asshole in the Unforgivables list. He deserves it for making such awful films.

    December 28, 2017 at 5:09 pm

  2. Also, maybe Marvel is starting to pay attention to your words.

    January 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm

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