2017: Watchlist and Guilty Pleasures

Man, what an odd and fascinating year for film. Our blockbusters got political, our indie films got minimal and our animated flicks got forgettable!

Before I move on with my guilty pleasures, here is a ranking of every Irish 2017 release I saw. In total, I saw 274 films, though you’re free to dispute their legitimacy if you can…even read through this list.

1. La La Land
2. The Bye-Bye Man
3. Live By Night
4. Jackie
5. Sing
6. Split
7. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
8. Lion
9. T2 Trainspotting
10. Hacksaw Ridge
11. Gold
12. Loving
13. Endless Poetry
14. Denial
15. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
16. Hidden Figures
17. The LEGO Batman Movie
18. Christine
19. The Space Between Us
20. Zacma
21. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
22. John Wick: Chapter 2
23. Moonlight
24. The Great Wall
25. The Founder
26. Fences
27. A Cure for Wellness
28. Patriots Day
29. Best: George Best All by Himself
30. Wolyn
31. Bitter Harvest
32. Logan
33. Meetings with Ivor
34. Toni Erdmann
35. My Life as a Courgette
36. Moka
37. Eternity
38. From the Land to the Moon
39. Viceroy’s House
40. Kong: Skull Island
41. In Loco Parentis
42. Get Out
43. Beauty and the Beast
44. 20th Century Women
45. The Lost City of Z
46. Fist Fight
47. Power Rangers
48. Life
49. The Secret Scripture
50. Sweet Dreams
51. Personal Shopper
52. Tsukiji Wonderland
53. Boss Baby
54. Ghost in the Shell
55. A Silent Voice
56. Her Love Boils Bathwater
57. Free Fire
58. The Long Excuse
59. Going in Style
60. Smurfs: The Lost Village
61. The Salesman
62. Table 19
63. Chips
64. Unforgettable
65. Handsome Devil
66. Their Finest
67. Rules Don’t Apply
68. Bunch of Kunst
69. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
70. The Promise
71. A Quiet Passion
72. The Sense of an Ending
73. The Belko Experiment
74. Lady Macbeth
75. A Dog’s Purpose
76. The Journey
77. Emilia
78. Sleepless
79. The Kitchen: Chef World Battle
80. I am Not Your Negro
81. Neruda
82. Mindhorn
83. Snatched
84. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
85. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
86. The Transfiguration
87. Baywatch
88. Miss Sloane
89. Wonder Woman
90. Heal the Living
91. Frantz
92. The Mummy
93. My Cousin Rachel
94. The Other Side of Hope
95. Nails
96. Alien: Covenant
97. The Red Turtle
98. I Am Not Madame Bovary
99. Gifted
100. The Shack
101. The Book of Henry
102. Tubelight
103. Churchill
104. Transformers: The Last Knight
105. Hampstead
106. Baby Driver
107. Berlin Syndrome
108. Spider-Man: Homecoming
109. It Comes at Night
110. Colossal
111. The Last Word
112. The Beguiled
113. War for the Planet of the Apes
114. The House
115. Cars 3
116. Halal Daddy
117. Dunkirk
118. Souvenir
119. A Man called Ove
120. 47 Metres Down
121. Girls Trip
122. Okja
123. Song to Song
124. The Midwife
125. The Big Sick
126. All Eyez On Me
127. The Emoji Movie
128. Rings
129. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
130. Kedi
131. Wish Upon
132. Atomic Blonde
133. Maudie
134. Hounds of Love
135. Nelly
136. Weirdos
137. Pilgrimage
138. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
139. Everything Everything
140. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
141. The Odyssey
142. American Made
143. Rough Night
144. Logan Lucky
145. The Farthest
146. Detroit
147. Casting JonBenet
148. War Machine
149. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore
150. Take the 10
151. David Lynch: The Art Life
152. Patticakes
153. Stratton
154. The Limehouse Golem
155. Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie
156. The Black Prince
157. Una
158. It
159. A Ghost Story
160. The Drummer and the Keeper
161. Wind River
162. Mother!
163. Mimosas
164. Little Evil
165. Victoria and Abdul
166. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
167. American Assassin
168. Maze
169. Starfish
170. Flatliners
171. Daphne
172. Death Note
173. Home Again
174. The Centre of my World
175. Goodbye Christopher Robin
176. The Mountain Between Us
177. Loving Vincent
178. Tawai-A Voice from the Forest
179. Insyriated
180. I’m Talking to You
181. These Shocking Shaking Days
182. It’s Not the Time of my Life
183. Strangers in Paradise
184. LEGO Ninjango Movie
185. Blade Runner 2049
186. Circles of the Sun
187. The Legend of Harry and Ambrose
188. The Ritual
189. The Snowman
190. Summer 1993
191. Malgre la Nuit
192. The Glass Castle
193. Borg vs McEnroe
194. Thor: Ragnarok
195. In Between
196. Happy Death Day
197. Marshall
198. The Death of Stalin
199. Geostorm
200. Call Me by your Name
201. Breathe
202. Batman and Harley Quinn
203. A Bad Moms Christmas
204. An Open Secret
205. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
206. Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!
207. God’s Own Country
208. Thelma
209. Conor McGregor: Notorious
210. Only the Brave
211. Professor Morsten and the Wonder Women
212. The Man Who Invented Christmas
213. Good Time
214. Paddington 2
215. Rat Film
216. Fashionista
217. Condemned to Remember
218. Happy End
219. 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide
220. Dina
221. Manifesto
222. Tarzan’s Testicies
223. Michael Inside
224. The Young Karl Marx
225. Loveless
226. Pin Cushion
227. Ask the Sexpert
228. Just Charlie
229. The Square
230. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
231. Downsizing
232. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
233. The Florida Project
234. Ingrid Goes West
235. Justice League
236. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond-Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
237. The Most Hated Woman in America
238. Suburbicon
239. Battle of the Sexes
240. Wonder
241. The Incredible Jessica James
242. The Party
243. Girlfriend’s Day
244. Ferdinand
245. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
246. Brigsby Bear
247. Songs of Granite
248. Better Watch Out
249. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
250. Yoga Hosers
251. The Disaster Artist
252. Bright
253. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
254. Stronger
255. The Fate of the Furious
256. Satan Said Dance
257. Kizumonogatari 3: Reiketsu
258. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
259. The Zookeeper’s Wife
260. Saving Capitalism
261. The Greatest Showman
262. The Foreigner
263. Get me Roger Stone
264. The Circle
265. Wolves at the Door
266. In This Corner of the World
267. The Evil Within
268. The Babysitter
269. #realityhigh
270. The Void
271. The Fits
272. Eyes of my Mother
273. I’m Not Ashamed
274. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

Now onwards to the guilty pleasures! Unlike my best/worst lists, this will be ranked alphabetically because they’re all special failures in their own way. Starting us off with:

1. The Belko Experiment  

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So you take a script penned from current geek hot topic maestro James Gunn, even cast one or two of his acting buddies for good measure (hi, Sean!), splurge out on the effects budget, push the satirical element of corporate structuring and the false need for competition. You got a winner, right? Well, when you put all this in the hands of Greg McLean, director of previous guilty pleasure disaster The Darkness, and it stops being about, like, anything interesting and starts being dementedly stupid and inept! It’s so silly, so incoherent and so far away from the promise the premise has, but it’s so incompetently hilarious that you can be along for the ride if you’re in the right mood. Not all of Gunn’s scripts are winners, but at least there’s something in this worth watching.

2. Boss Baby

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I, to this day, will never understand how the words ‘What if we made a baby a corporate manager type?’ even got passed the pitch room, and yet…Boss Baby. This film is a bland attempt to appeal to kids and will not be remembered at all. Alas, it’s also so emblematic of where animated movies are at nowadays that it’s honestly quite fascinating. Non-sequitur pop culture references, annoying as hell side characters attempting to make the Minions magic happen again, a complete mishmash of tones with a mawkish and ineffective attempt at heartstrings tugs, cynical attempts at being cutesy, strange out of place jokes in a desperate plea to keep parents interested, it has it all! This film I liken almost to a time capsule for what this era of animation holds. Adding to that overly rubbery animation and the most irritating protagonist of 2017 and you have yourself Boss Baby. He’s a baby who’s a boss. I hope that joke really tickles ya.

3. A Dog’s Purpose

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Yes, this movie is a saccharine, cheesy load of crap. And yes, it has a really straightforward and easy to figure out story even if the trailer didn’t give it entirely away. And yes, most of the acting is stale and Josh Gad’s voiceover is phoned in. But it has dogs! There are lots of dogs in this movie! It has dogs, and dogs make me happy! I’m sorry, there are dogs here. Dogs!

Dogs.

I give this film a dogs/10.

4. Happy Death Day

happy-death-day-movie

This movie is obnoxious and silly, the only thing I can give it of merit is that it does stick to the premise really well. I mean, the idea is so on the nose that they even lampshade it in a painful way, but the lead is great and really charming, way better performance than this film deserves. I don’t think it’s breezy feel can get around the multitude of issues in the story and production, but I enjoyed it for what it was and I never felt jilted that this wasn’t better.

5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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I know I did a pretty long blog post about the flaws in this, and they are still apparent. But I got a kick out of the silliness it didn’t want you to be enjoying. This is filled with such bizarre creative decisions and absolutely ass-backwards execution that you have to wonder if Matthew Vaughn had any quality control whilst on set. The first Kickass was such a flash-in-the-pan success that trying to make lightning strike twice in this self-congratulatory horseshit was never gonna work out. But boy, oh boy, is it funny to see them try!

6. Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-hen

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You don’t so much watch the Kizumonogatari movies as you experience them. The series of vampire anime flicks thrives on having no sense of coherent or straightforward narrative, and indulges in what little sense everything makes. Characters’ actions are nonsensical, the tone jumps from moment to moment, there’s no sense of tension or stakes in the action sequences as characters are nearly immortal, the lead character is a whiny moron who constantly gets led into obviously bad situations, it has a lot of gross sexualisation of the love interest, and yet it’s so brazenly anarchic and endlessly creative that you can ignore the fact that practically nothing about them work. They’re a product of passion, even if you’re not quite sure where the passion is leading from. Oh, and the violence is hilariously OTT. That’s always great.

(NOTE: as this is a continuous storyline without much in the way of catching new viewers up, watch the first 2 Kizumonogatari movies before this one if you’re going to venture into this madness. I found them more fun, personally, but they didn’t count for the list so)

7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Again, quite rightfully tore this film to ribbons in my review of it. It is bad, but unlike the last three, how little all the returning cast care at this stage is almost infectious in your sympathies to them (‘cept Depp. Fuck Depp). I am there in solidarity with people who continue to get paid for these fucking Pirate movies because we’re all just sitting here going ‘Wait-there’s a fifth one?!’. That and some impressive performances from new cast members, and absolutely stunning and creative visuals does make this feel a little more palatable than any of the other films passed the first. There’s something almost there in Salazar’s Revenge if the problems and formula that has plagued the PotC series since they decided to make sequels are all over the place. At least we’re all in agreement that enough is enoOH FUCK YOU FOR THAT POST CREDIT STINGER!!!!

8. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

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Here is a series that has managed to last longer than PotC, despite never making even a fraction of its profits, has no good movies in its repertoire compared to Pirates 1, and yet I was way more enthusiastic about this one’s ‘final chapter’ than I was about theirs. Why, you don’t ask? Paul W.S. Anderson and Mila Jovovich love this series deeply and have made it their own. This may be on a sliding scale of ‘shit’ to ‘shit but really fucking entertaining’, but this final film has bursts of genius stupidity and just moments where you have to stop and say ‘…..wait what?!’ (the, uh, ‘reveal’ of what Umbrella’s plan was is pretty…it’s special). I just wish Jovovich, who is very talented and has a lot of screen presence, didn’t become so attached to this legitimate dreck, but the RE movies have provided me with such entertainment that one more outing hit just exactly what I needed. Here’s to the Queen of Guilty Pleasures.

9. Sleepless

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Oh lord, Jamie Foxx, you really wanted this to be a thing, man! Such a thing! You’re trying way too too hard on this trash. An incoherent drag through the one goddamn setting for 4/5ths of this movie only to deal with stiff acting, terrible editing, baffling plot moments and a tone that is taking this so achingly seriously I’m amazed the movie didn’t become sentient and start lecturing us about the environment. It’s bad, but it’s so over the top and silly that it becomes super entertaining! The seriousness of it really helps with these matters because they really do not get how audiences will react to some of this shit. Nathan and I savaged this movie, and while he didn’t like it as much, I can definitely feel this can be a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood.

10. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Luc Besson made…well, a Luc Besson movie. An adaptation of one of The Fifth Element’s greatest influences, you think this would allow Valerian to be less, well, crap. Alas, here we are, with annoying as fuck terribly acted leads, an obvious mystery plot, stagnation where they just kind of run in place, and some really sluggish pacing for a film that markets itself as a high octane space adventure. Damnit, however, if this world isn’t engaging in its creativity and there is a lot of fun to be had here, especially in the opening chase. This had the potential to outclass the equally shaky Fifth Element, and time will tell if it finds its audience, but for now I can settle on it just being the latest kitschy thing from that great slice of French cheese.

11. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage

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I think there were about 3 people dying for a new XXX movie, one of them being Vin Diesel. While the titling is almost fortuitous cause I can’t imagine people have gotten far looking for it online, it was absolutely a product of its time and 12 years is a way too long time for a follow up. Yet, a famous dude wanted something, and it…is really funny! It’s plagued with clear compromises and Diesel’s staggering ego, some really terrible set pieces and a large, new and exciting cast the film will proceed to do nothing with, but there’s almost a self-awareness to how silly it all is, and you can almost go along for the ride as a callback to those athletic action flicks of yore. It may not trigger your nostalgia for how much you adored Diesel’s one note bore from the first flick, but this seriously is falling two or three cars short of being a more fun Fast and Furious film than the Fast and Furious film we got this year. And that…is an achievement, I guess?

Click here to see the Worst of 2017 24-11, here to see the Best of 2017 23-11, here for the Worst of 2017 10-1, and here for the Best of 2017, 10-1.

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