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What I Watched in 2017

On to movies. Overall, 2017 was a great year for speculative movies. Three above average MCU movies, a bunch of interesting reboots, and a Star Wars movie makes for a decent period to be an SFF fan. Correspondingly, I ended up seeing relatively fewer non-SFF movies this year despite there being several (Baby Driver, Wind River) that I really do want to see. 

"Chasm" by Morgan Crooks (2017)
Below are my picks for the movies of the year.

#1: Dunkirk. No real surprise there. I felt this was basically the movie of the year in July and little transpired between then and now to change my mind. Essentially this is a war movie built around a complicated structure weaving three disparate threads into one complete narrative. I'm not someone who thinks all war-movies are anti-war simply by virtue of showing the terrible fates of young men. This movie, for example, strikes a bleak and, at times despairing tone, to bring the drama of sacrifice on the beach of Dunkirk to its most poignant expression. This is a movie of pure action and tension put into service as an message against tyranny and carnage.

#2: Bladerunner 2049. Not everyone's cup of tea and although this was an undeniably beautiful film, it was also flawed in places. Nevertheless, I think I enjoyed this movie because it functioned as a true heir to the original movie. It took the original statement (both in terms of its fictional world and its artistic statement) as a jumping off point to further exploration. There are images from this movie that are among my favorite from the past few years.

#3: Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi. I've already written a couple of postings on this movie so I'll keep my comments brief. This was my third favorite film for reasons similar to Dunkirk - excellence in artistic expression. Although I am dimly aware that this wasn't everyone's favorite Star Wars movie, I have to confess to be stupefied by any reaction to this movie aside from awe and joy. From script, cinematography, to the way it subverts and extends the themes of Star Wars, this was easily one of my favorite Star Wars movies.

#4: Thor: Ragnorok. I think at some point Thor, as an MCU property, was meant to be the angst-ridden, family-drama series. Dark World in particular was a turgid slog. This movie was a joy from beginning to end. The confident and playful direction of Taika Waititi created a version of Thor which was somehow both heroic and blissfully sincere, set in a world clearly aware of how much of a goofball he is. Thor is portrayed every bit as arrogant and selfish as Tony Stark but somehow a great deal more loveable. Flash forward twenty years and this will be one of the go-to movies to describe why MCU was a more or less benevolent influence on cinema.

#5: The Lost City of Z: This was not a book I expected to ever see adapted to film. This was definitely not a movie I expected to see work as a one. The tale of an Amazonian explorer searching for the remnants of a forgotten South American civilization within the deepest parts of the rainforest, The Lost City of Z does something I wish a lot more movies did - tell a grand, epic story requiring decades and generations to complete. Its ending is devastating.

Other notables: Coco (near miss for my top five list), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name), Get Out, and Wonder Woman were all excellent movies.


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