I’m not going to lie – 2017 was not the year for me to resurrect my annual “Best (and Worst)” list.  2017 was an embarrassment of riches for me, because of the exactly 100 films I watched between January 1 and December 31 at least 30 could be argued as “top ten” worthy.  What a great problem to have, right?  I suppose.  But that makes choosing my actual top ten fairly grueling, though it really does say a lot about how great I feel each of those films are.

As in past years, any film that I saw for the first time in 2017 was fair game, regardless of release date/year.  Also carrying on from past years will be a list of  “Honorable Mentions” but this year was so freakin’ good that I have to include an “Also Recommended” list as well.  Since I have so much to write about I’m going to try to keep each entry brief in the hope that they will A) Act as a source of recommendations and/or B) Start the conversation – you can e-mail me anytime at ssampon@hotmail.com


Top 10 Films of 2017 
(In Order)

10. Krisha (2015)
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There are few films I see where afterward I am both aching to talk about it and finding myself unable to find the words to do so.  Krisha, by first-time director Trey Edward Shults, is one of those films.  Krisha stars Krisha Fairchild, a troubled and broken woman who returns to her family after ten years to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Krisha could not be more fragile as she maneuvers around her large and boisterous (read: normal) family, who tentatively embrace her back into the fold but keep themselves at arms length.  As the day(s? I think it’s one day but that’s a little unclear) wear on Krisha’s tenuous grasp on “normalcy” and propriety gradually slips and she spirals into a very dark place as she finds it harder and harder to face her past and her demons alone.

Krisha is a complete knockout of a film, in that it really smacks you across the face – and I could not have loved it more.  Shults frames the film with a close up of Krisha that means something so different at the end than the beginning, and is really an unsettling way to begin the film.  In its relatively short run time (about 85 minutes) it provides a tremendous amount of tension and story.  And oh, the story… Shults, who also wrote the film, doesn’t give us a straight forward narrative.  He unravels the story organically through a number of conversations, a picture on the wall, an overheard sentence coming from another room that isn’t part of our central focus at the moment.  I can’t think of a better word to describe it than exquisite.

Krisha succeeds on so many levels, and while I’d heard good things about it since it hit my radar several months ago it was so much more of everything than I expected.  For me, Krisha was near perfection, and as a debut work it shows that Trey Edward Shults is going to be someone to watch for in the future.  It’s also currently available for free on Amazon Prime Video.

 

9. Columbus (2017)
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Columbus is the directorial debut by film essayist Kogonada and stars John Cho as Jin, a man who arrives in Columbus, Indiana after the collapse of his father, an architecture scholar.  Jin is there at the behest of his father’s colleague (Parker Posey) despite their lifelong contentious relationship.  In the same town, Cassie (Haley Lu Richardson) is a recent graduate torn between staying to care for and watch over her former meth-addict mother and taking the opportunity of a lifetime to pursue her scholastic dreams.  Jin and Cassie meet and proceed to spend time together walking around the town in part to avoid the complicated decisions each have to face while Cassie introduces Jin to some of her favorite buildings.  You see, Columbus, Indiana is known as the Mecca of the Midwest and is filled with incredible modernist buildings designed by I.M. Pei (my personal favorite) Harry Weese and Eero Saarinen among others, and Cassie is a bit of an architect nerd.

The principle star of Columbus is the architecture, and Kogonada, with cinematographer Elisha Christian provide the audience with chest-achingly beautiful shots throughout the film.  So many scenes are long shots where the actors are like figurines in a grand diorama, and the framing is absolutely exquisite.  I was reminded of the perfection of Wes Anderson’s set designs, only without the whimsy and a heaping handful of starkness.  I’m usually all about the narrative (or at least SOME kind of story) so it’s rare that I say this, but Columbus is so perfect as a photographic essay that it could have succeeded without any depth of narrative.  That’s why it was so pleasantly surprising that despite its many moments of silence and subtlety, there is a compelling and unpretentious story from both of the principle characters that intertwines and grows organically to a slightly surprising conclusion. You get a lot of beauty in this film, but there is also some substance to go with the style, and that’s altogether too rare in modern cinema.  Columbus is currently available for rent on Amazon Video.

 

8. The Lobster (2015)
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Director Yorgos Lanthimos has made a career of creating strange, disturbing and thought-provoking films, including 2009’s Oscar-nominated Dogtooth (which I loved for the most part) and the recently released The Killing of a Sacred Deer (which is on my shortlist to watch in the near future.)  2015’s The Lobster follows in the same vein and is sublimely strange.  The film takes place at some point in the future in a world where single people are required to attend a 45-day stay at the Hotel, where they must find a romantic partner or risk being turned into the animal of their choosing.  Colin Farrell is David, a recent widower who is staying at the Hotel with his brother (now a dog.)  Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly also co-star.

I loved The Lobster for the its ability to be completely batshit strange and often quite disturbing many times, yet still manages to be pretty romantic.  There were suspenseful moments when I was on the edge of my seat, but then there would also be wonderfully absurd quieter moments where a flamingo wanders through a scene in a forest.  It’s never addressed, but there it is.  Farrell and Weisz have never been better; I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see mostly mainstream actors play against type in an independent film.  The Lobster is unlike anything I’ve seen before and dismissing it as “quirky” would do it a disservice.  It’s simply sublime and one of the darkly funniest films I’ve ever seen.  You can currently watch The Lobster for free on Amazon Prime Video or it is available on Netflix DVD.

 

7. Good Time (2017)
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Good Time, directed by Benny and Josh Safdie stars Robert Pattinson as Connie, a small-time criminal in Queens who engages his developmentally disabled brother Nick (played by Benny Safdie) in some of his crimes.  When one of them goes south and Nick winds up in jail, Connie is on the run and spending a desperate night trying to get Nick out before something terrible happens to him.  Good Time sometimes feels like a documentary in the cinema verite style, sometimes it evokes Scorsese’s gritty 70’s NY films like Mean Streets or Taxi Driver, but it is on 11 throughout the film thanks to the amazing direction of the Safdies, a script so realistic that you sometimes forget what you’re watching is a feature film and an incredible performance by Robert Pattinson.  (This is not the first time I’m going to be aghast at myself in this list – just wait until #5.)

Good Time was not a blockbuster film, (I can’t find a budget but it grossed 2 million domestically) and other than a few of my filmy friends every time I mention this film people think I’m talking about the 1970’s TV show.  The fact that Good Time has ended up on so many top ten lists of people in the industry without a widespread release speaks to its strengths.  It’s gritty, and it’s full of action and even though you question all of Connie’s decisions you still cheer him on.  This is a sign of a great film, and Good Time is truly among 2017’s best.  You can rent Good Time on Amazon Video or get it on Netflix DVD.

 

6. Stranger in Paradise (2016)
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Stranger in Paradise is probably going to be the one film on this list and probably one of only a few altogether on my Best/Worst list that you’ve never heard of.  And you need to change that – PRONTO.  I saw it at this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival and was absolutely blown away.  Stranger in Paradise is a fiction/documentary hybrid that addresses the European immigration crisis.  In three different acts, an actor addresses classrooms of recent immigrants who have just arrived at a European refugee camp.  In the first, he talks to the class (all real immigrants who are not in on the film’s thesis) with the right-wing conservative perspective; addressing them harshly and despite their protestations, essentially calling them deadbeats who will live off the system and topple the welfare state.  In the second, he does a complete 180 and takes the left-wing liberal perspective, speaking with empathy and praising them as “explorers” while telling them they are owed asylum based on past transgressions by Europeans on their lands and people.  And finally, he addresses the third class in the exact manner normally conducted by immigration authorities; weeding out students in groups based on their motivations and pasts according to current law.

I was initially not going to watch Stranger in Paradise because I’m not really a fan of exploitative cinema where every day people are messed with by (usually) a buffoon for “comedic” purposes.  And while I still wonder what actually happened with the real immigrants (were they told about the experiment later, etc.) I felt like the film treated them with the respect I was hoping it would.  Most importantly, it really gave me food for thought on all perspectives, though I found the reality “act” to be the most terrifying of all.  Stranger in Paradise is an absolutely fascinating sociological experiment and truly a pleasant surprise.  It made me care and think deeply about a topic that I’m far removed from (though we have our own little issue here in the U.S.) and when it was done I had a visceral need to talk about it (cue the long-suffering boyfriend who had to listen to me go on and on about something he had no idea about.)   Unfortunately, I can’t find any commercial sites offering this film, but if you come across it do yourself a favor and watch it.

 

5. Personal Shopper (2016)
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I know, this is the part where you’re going to think I went off the rails.  The moment when you have to decide whether or not I’ve lost my mind.  The moment when I tell you that Kristen Stewart is really good in Olivier Assayas’s film Personal Shopper.  Because she is good.  Really good.  And Personal Shopper is a strange, ethereal and wonderful film that knocked me for a loop in so many ways.  Stewart plays Maureen, an American who lives in Paris and works as a personal shopper for a horrible socialite while she tries to contact her recently deceased twin brother through their psychic contacts.

Sounds kinda out there, huh?  It is, and it’s amazing.  French director Assayas is quickly becoming one of my new favorite directors, and with Personal Shopper he takes kind of a strange and metaphysical story that is at times heart wrenching and often pretty scary.  Not to mention the tension… one of the plot points in the film is that Stewart receives creepy, invasive and unrelenting text messages from an unknown sender, and she nor the audience know if the sender is alive or dead.  Despite the amount of suspense and action in the film, Personal Shopper also has a sleepy and dreamy feel, and just when I thought I had it figured out there is a really great WTF ending that had me staring at the screen for about five minutes and then madly Googling the film to see what other people’s theories were.  I loved this movie, and if you’re able to see it on its Criterion release, I would recommend that, otherwise it’s available on Netflix DVD.

 

4. Lady Bird (2017)
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It’s so rare nowadays for a film to become almost universally adored and still be uncompromising and so damn good.  Lady Bird, indie ingenue Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut (she wrote it too) stars the always good Saoirse Ronan as the title character; a teenager desperate to get out of Sacramento and out from under her mom’s thumb to go to college out east.  Laurie Metcalf (an almost certain lock for Best Supporting Actress this year) plays her mom, who struggles to keep her family’s dire financial situation afloat and to impart her brand of wisdom to Lady Bird.  It’s a coming-of-age story without that label’s banal principles.

If you know Greta Gerwig’s work, you’ll see her all over this film; it’s like Frances Ha’s origin story.  There’s nothing technically remarkable about the filming of Lady Bird, and it’s not a flashy film.  What it does have is a story that will resonate with so many people (myself included) and characters that are incredibly relatable channeled by actors that were born for their roles.  You can’t even call anything a performance in Lady Bird, it’s all just so natural.  Laurie Metcalf can slightly tilt her head and in that moment it’s devastating to her daughter and to the audience.  Even people who purport to have a perfect relationship with their parents will find a piece of themselves in this is film.  In a year when there were a lot of strong independent films to choose from Lady Bird deservedly has risen to the top of the pack.  I can’t wait to see more from Gerwig in the future.  As of now Lady Bird is still in the theater and depending on how it does for Oscar nominations (a near lock for a nom in most of the main categories I’m assuming) it will probably be widely released again.

 

3.  Moonlight (2016)
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Who knew an image of a little boy turning toward the camera could be enough to reduce me to tears every. time. I. see. it. almost a year later?

There are few films that hit you between the eyes and are engrossing from start to finish, but it’s even more special when it’s an independent film on a shoe string budget that packs such a wallop.  Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins and based on MacArthur Fellow (and co-screenwriter) Tarell Alvin McCraney’s autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is one of those films.  Moonlight is about Chiron, an African-American boy struggling with his sexuality while growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood.  The film follows Chiron through three seminal stages of his life, beginning as a young and shy adolescent who seems to be the only one around him who doesn’t fully recognize his own homosexuality.  As Chiron grows into his teen years, his home life becomes more unbearable as his mother is now in full-on addict mode and his school life is as traumatic as always due to bullies.  He finds solace in a long-time friendship with Kevin that becomes more until a terrible betrayal that sends him reeling into adulthood.  Chiron is now following in Juan’s footsteps as a drug dealer, but despite his pumped up physique and grills, he’s still the same quiet and introspective person he always was, searching for himself.

For such a small film, Moonlight is an absolute monster.  Despite (or perhaps because of) its relatively limited dialogue – I’m not sure Chiron says more than 100 words throughout the entire film – I found myself leaning in and becoming immersed in what was happening on the screen.  I saw Moonlight and Jackie on the same day and though you could not have two more different films, there are some striking similarities that make both films amazing.  So much of the film – particularly the first two segments – is shot from behind Chiron, which makes the audience experience things with him.  One would think that this could distance the audience from its protagonist but it in fact draws you nearer.  Like Jackie, I was also struck by the beautiful score by Nicholas Britell which, where it not for being nominated against La La Land would have taken the prize any other year.

While there are a few recognizable actors in Moonlight there are no “stars”, yet viewing the cast as a whole I would consider it to be one of the best in recent memory.  Mahershala Ali (who won the Oscar for his role) in particular made such a mark in such a small amount of screen time, and all three actors who portrayed Chiron were outstanding and gave achingly natural performances.  Honestly, I don’t even know how to begin to praise director Barry Jenkins for his work other than to call his work an utter masterpiece.  He’s so young, and Moonlight is only his second feature film so I’m really excited to see what he does next.  Plus, he’s a complete film nerd so he’s my mishpocha.  After ugly crying for about ten minutes, I walked out of Moonlight saying that this could be one of the best films I’ll see all year.  11 months later and it made the cut even after a tremendously strong year for films.  Moonlight is available everywhere at this point, including free on Amazon Prime Video and via Netflix DVD.

 

2. Phoenix (2014)
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I don’t even know where to begin with this film.  The story is somewhat complex: a Jewish German former nightclub singer is terribly maimed in a concentration camp during World War 2 but survives.  After facial reconstruction surgery and a long recovery, she sets out to find her estranged husband, a German (not Jewish – this becomes important) musician – all against her friend and caretaker’s advice.  After locating him, he doesn’t realize that it’s her but sees enough resemblance to talk her into joining him into a scheme of playing the part of his (presumed dead) wife so she can inherit all of the wealth coming to her due to the loss of her family in the war.

Still with me?  What follows is a suspenseful, devastating and mind-bending film that had me gasping for air sometimes and riveted at all times.  I watched this movie several months ago and the ending still makes me tear up when I think about it.  I don’t even want to talk about it too much because I think the best way to experience it is cold, the way I did.  Just trust me – you have to see Phoenix – it is one of the best films I’ve ever seen.  Phoenix is available on Netflix DVD, and if it’s the Criterion version (which I think is the only release) you’re in for a treat – it’s a beautiful transfer of a beautiful film.  Hell, if you know me personally I’ll lend it to you so you’ll watch it!

 

1. Manifesto (2015)
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Well, this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me personally because I wouldn’t shut up about it for weeks after I saw it at this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival.

Directed by Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto stars Cate Blanchett in 13 roles, ranging from news reporters to a homeless man to a punk rocker, delivering portions of various manifestoes ranging from Karl Marx to Stan Brakhage to Jim Jarmusch in a series of imaginative and clever monologues.  Conceptually, “Manifesto” began as an art installation by Rosefeldt with screen simultaneously playing videos of Blanchett reciting various manifestoes in numerous characters.  Manifesto (the film) is told in a linear style, with settings both literal and metaphoric.  The Dada manifesto, which announces the death of art, is performed as a eulogy at a funeral (an amazing scene) and in my favorite scene of the film, Blanchett, resplendent with a big hair wig and fake smile, converses about Conceptual art as a breaking news story with a reporter on satellite feed (also Blanchett, natch.)

Rosefeldt provides the audience with an exquisite visual experience, with many scenes introduced by a sweeping overhead shot and all are absolutely stunning.  Many times, the imagery is so powerful that they could overtake the manifestoes themselves if they weren’t being delivered by Cate Blanchett.  I’ve been a fan for years and consider her to be an amazing talent, but Manifesto cements her as our greatest working actress today.  It’s an understatement to say that she’s a chameleon, and she outdoes herself in this film with her more than a dozen vastly different personas that range from over the top drama to subtle but effective.  There is just so much that is good about this film, and twice I was that weirdo who said out loud to myself, “God, I LOVE this movie!” I want to tell everyone I know to watch Manifesto, but I know that it’s not going to be for anyone who looks for a plot in their films.  I REALLY recommend taking a chance on this one though – even if it ends up not being your thing you’re still going to see something incredible.  It’s often hilarious and Blanchett is jaw-dropping and above all, it’s a work of art.  OMG seriously.  Watch this movie.  Right now Manifesto can be seen for free on Amazon Prime Video and is also available on Netflix DVD.


Honorable Mentions (No Particular Order)

Narrowing my list down to a top ten was excruciating.  Yet somehow it was also difficult to whittle down the rest of the films I deemed as “great” to a manageable Honorable Mentions list.  So here are ten films in no particular order that could have easily wound up on my top ten list.

A Ghost Story (2017)

Such a beautiful, contemplative film about love, loss and the afterlife.  I absolutely loved this film and was completely transfixed during all of it, but especially in the film’s third act.  It also will make you think twice about strange random sounds in your apartment.

A Ghost Story

Baby Driver (2017)

It’s fun, it’s action-packed and has lots of Jon Hamm.  What’s not to love?  But seriously, some of the driving sequences were jaw-dropping and the film boasts a sweet (if not kind of improbable) little love story.  And Jon Hamm.

Carol (2015)

Todd Haynes has yet to direct a film I haven’t loved, and Carol stands out as one of his best.  His vision of 1950’s New York is gorgeous, especially for those of us obsessed with mid-century style, and the love story between Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara) is achingly beautiful.

Force Majeure (2014)

Ruben Ostlund’s tale of a family vacation gone terribly wrong was so enjoyable to watch, even as I cringed at some really awkward situations.  Ostlund’s method of telling a story that seems straight forward until he sends you pinballing in other directions is so great, and I look forward to seeing his latest, The Square the first opportunity I can.

Get Out

Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut about a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s affluent family for the weekend never gives the audience an opportunity to breathe.  Even the most benign scenes carry an air of suspicion, which leads to a really fun viewing experience.  Sure it goes over the top sometimes, but those moments are a welcome catharsis during this cinematic roller coaster.  Definitely one of the most fun and crazy film experiences I had this year.

La La Land (2016)

Damien Chazelle’s sophomore effort exploded with a lot of fanfare and became an audience and critical favorite.  When I finally got around to watching it, I was initially really turned off by the beginning of the film.  I watched the rest of it with more interest but without a lot of enthusiasm; the colors and sets were beautiful, and I really dug that the underlying theme, like Chazelle’s amazing first film Whiplash, was that it was a love letter to jazz – but it was still kind of flat somehow.  Then came the last ten minutes of the film, which sucker punched me in the gut and between the events on the screen and tangible chemistry between stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone… La La Land finally grabbed me and it became a great film.

Paterson (2016)

Jim Jarmusch’s twelfth feature film (by my count) is a Jarmusch film through and through – eccentric characters, working class settings, lots of dialogue.  But it also has a bit more narrative than some of his previous work, and while Paterson seems like an affable bus driver/part time poet, Adam Driver brings a subtle complexity to the role that hints at so much more.  I really loved this film, particularly a scene near the end featuring a random meeting between Paterson and a Japanese tourist.

Paterson

Sami Blood (2016)

Another film you’ve undoubtedly never heard of, but I had the pleasure of seeing thanks to the Milwaukee Film Festival this year.  Sami Blood features non-actresses in the lead roles to an astounding effect.  It’s a beautifully shot film set in Sweden that unravels into an multi-layered and eventually empowering story.  I don’t see it available on Netflix or Amazon yet but when it becomes available I could not recommend it more.

The Beguiled (2017)

Sofia Coppola’s remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 original is a beautiful, quiet and oppressive masterpiece.  Seemingly shot using only natural light, the 1860’s southern plantation just drips with heavy air, humidity and tension once Colin Farrell’s wounded soldier happens upon it and its proprietress (Nicole Kidman) and a handful of her students.  Don’t be fooled by any trailers you’ve seen of this film – it’s completely different from what I expected and it really cements Coppola as a gifted and accomplished director.

Three Billboards, etc.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri (2017)

There’s so much to admire about this film, and I think at the forefront is its actors.  All of the principle roles are complex characters suffering from a tragedy or challenges, yet writer-director Martin McDonagh guides his actors into performances that transcend typical histrionics.  Frances McDormand’s grieving mother is such a tightly-wound ball of anger that she practically vibrates with energy.  And Sam Rockwell’s racist cop is probably one of the most hateful and complex characters I’ve seen in film in recent memory, yet you don’t completely write him off as a bad guy.  Three Billboards has such a non-traditional story that it could have been easy to get it wrong, yet everyone involved totally hit it out of the park.  An amazing and heartfelt film.


The Rest (No particular order.)

Before I move on to the worst, because this was such a strong year for films I have to give you five more films in the “I would also highly recommend these” category.  Honestly, I could have added another 15 films to this, but I had to stop somewhere and I also didn’t want to diminish the awesomeness of the previously mentioned films.

Here are a handful of films you really need to see:

Captain Fantastic (2016)
Viggo Mortensen is the patriarch of a family whose children have lived off the grid their entire lives.  When their mother dies, their father takes them back into society to attend her funeral.  It’s a movie with a ton of heart and an implausible ending but I still liked it a lot.

Frances Ha

Frances Ha (2012)
Directed by Noah Baumbach (one of my favorites) and starring Greta Gerwig (becoming one of my favorites) Frances Ha feels very real in its portrayal of the life of a free-spirited, yet occupationally stunted young woman.  Filmed in crisp, yet sometimes gritty black and white and featuring a number of great actors in small roles, I loved everything about this film.

Hello, My Name is Doris (2015)
I’m such a sucker for a great ending, and Doris ends brilliantly.  Michael Showalter directs Sally Field as a quirky older woman in love with a sweet (much) younger guy.  It’s not Harold and Maude, but it’s a really entertaining film and Field is incredible.

Jackie (2016)
Man, was I torn about this one.  First I felt it should have made the top ten, and then I wanted to put it on the honorable mentions list but competition was fierce.  This is what I’m talking about in regard to this being a tough year:  Director Pablo Larrain’s film is exquisite and aesthetically perfect, with beautiful settings as delicate as its main subject.  Any other year this probably would have been at least in my top five, and it’s why this last list of films exists.

Like Crazy

Like Crazy (2016)
A rare Milwaukee Film Festival gem that you can readily see on Netflix Instant!  Like Crazy is an Italian road trip film with a twist – its two female protagonists are escaped from a mental institution, yet are mostly able to function in “normal” society..  It’s hilarious and heartfelt, and I feel like I could watch it repeatedly.  While you’re at it, check out another of director Paolo Virzi’s recent films, Human Capital – SO GOOD!

 

 


Worst Films of 2017 (In no particular order.  Trust me, they all suck.)

And then there’s the worst.  Thankfully out of the 100 films I watched this year I could only give a few films that honor, though I did ignore any crappy films I saw at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year because that’s just too easy.  So these are the main stream, sometimes big budget films that were pretty freakin’ terrible.

Stop fighting bitches!

Batman v. Superman (2016)

The rare boring action film, Batman v. Superman stars two of the least charismatic leading men who need Wonder Woman surfing in on a bizarre generic guitar lick from a 90’s video game to save their bacon.  Thank god their epic, city destroying battle could be resolved due to the fact both of their moms are named Martha and they could hug it out brah.  God, this is a crappy movie.


Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

Salma Hayek finally gets accolades for her acting and it’s pretty much because she forgot to wear makeup and cut her bangs like my mom cut mine in second grade.  Oooo how daring!  Sport those things in the Thunderdome (AKA The Tetherball Court) at age 8 and survive and you deserve facial tattoos, not some crappy Oscar.  Anyway, back to Beatriz.  This is the film that Republicans can use as ammo to point out how out of touch, pushy and socially inept Democrats are.  And you know what?  In this case they’d be right!  I’m so far left I’m basically a Socialist, and even I wanted to give her a wedgie and stick gum in her hair.  (There’s that Thunderdome training again.)  This is just such a heavy handed, boring movie that is super short and feels like Lawrence of Arabia times two.

Cafe Society (2016)

To say that Kristen Stewart is the least repugnant thing about a film is pretty damning to that film (hey, I loved her in Personal Shopper but I’m not remotely a convert yet) but here we are.  Woody Allen’s snoozefest about a boring protagonist/Woody Allen impersonator (this time played by Jesse Eisenberg) with no chemistry with his leading lady who runs a nightclub with his mobbed up brother has all of the effervescence of a communion host.  Another case where an hour and a half feels like an eternity, Cafe Society is just another example of why I’m ready to give up the ghost and stop defending Woody Allen’s post-2000 work because I’m sick of saying, “Yeah, they all suck except Match Point and Midnight in Paris.”  Skip it.

Now where’s that poisoned cannoli from Godfather 3…

The Holiday (2006)

Oh Nancy Meyers, I hate your work.  You’re insipid and fluffy and people eat your movies right up, especially Midwestern middle-aged matriarchs.  And yes, I’m Midwestern and (hopefully) middle-aged… just dig that alliteration cats.  Cameron Diaz cements herself as a terrible actress, Kate Winslet wanders around looking like she has no idea how she got there and especially how she ended up with Jack Black as a romantic lead, someone thought it would be a good idea to wheel The Ugly (Eli Wallach for you non-spaghetti western fans) out of post-post-post retirement for five minutes of screen time and Jude Law… well, Jude Law is pretty freakin’ hot.   Never mind that.  I hate this movie and everything about it.

Lemon (2017)

Okay, I lied.  I said that these awful, horrifically bad films were not in any particular order.  THIS ONE, this piece of absolute shit is the worst film of the year, if not the decade.  Oh my god, where do I start?  I didn’t just dislike Lemon and find it unfunny, but I ACTIVELY disliked it and found it offensively unfunny and unnaturally weird.  It was like director Janicza Bravo was just being hipster strange just for the sake of being strange and it just simply doesn’t work.  I had been warned by a couple of people whose opinions I respect that it was not a good film, but noooooo I had to go and find out for myself. It just goes to prove that a well-edited trailer can do wonders because I had watched the trailer a couple of times over the past several months and laughed so hard during it that Lemon became a must-see for me, even after seeing some pretty vicious reviews.  I hate this film and can’t recommend it to anyone; I hope the only people who see it in the future are torture victims or anyone in the Trump administration.  (Or both, hopefully.)


So that’s pretty much it, folks.  I had another subcategory in the hate field planned called “Also Shitty” but it was pretty much made up of the Fifty Shades films, which is just low hanging fruit.  (Yet still better than the previous five films somehow.. hmm.)  But frankly, I’m tired of reminiscing about 2017 and am ready to put it behind me in favor of a successful 2018.

Again, if you want to talk film, look me up on Facebook or e-mail me at ssampon@hotmail.com anytime.  Happy Viewing! 

One thought on “The Best (and Worst) of 2017

  1. I am enjoying your movie reviews. They make me want to see some of them.
    Thanks for sharing your insights. Always appreciated.
    Michael Sampon

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