Man, we were spoiled this year. 2017 was a great year for us. And by us, I mean… nerds. Does that word mean the same thing as it used to? It used to refer to the few individuals who loved comic books, science fiction films, fantasy novels, and all things that used to get us stuffed inside our highschool lockers. Now comic book movies are some of the highest grossing films annually. Can you really say that “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was only created for a niche audience when it made $220 Million opening weekend? No, these nerd franchises have become mainstream. We nerds have become mainstream. Don’t worry I’m not going to go all hipster-nerd and complain that Hollywood has destroyed our culture, primary because we are getting exactly what we wanted: great nerd movies.
Okay. I’ll stop saying nerd now.
Even the films that disappointed this year had moments of greatest. “Justice League” may feature a fake-chinned-Superman and turns into the “Lord of the Rings” at one point, but it still had some great fight scenes. Overall, 2017 was a win.
So, let’s get to the list.
9. Lego Batman
The fact that this was one of my son’s favorite movies might be influencing this ranking. I might have seen this one, let’s round down to, 100 times. That’s the thing about kids, they love to watch things repeatedly, and “Lego Batman” is one of those rare kid’s movies that you don’t mind watching. Hopefully, next year when he turns 32 he will grow out of his “Lego Batman” phase and move on those something new.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first “Guardians” is probably one of the best Marvel films to date. Guardians 2? Is fine. It’s sort of a retread of the first, but that’s not necessarily a criticism. Many have complained that the “Guardians” films have no stakes, that you never really worry about the guardians getting hurt. When the Milano crashes while dragging Drax behind like a ragdoll it does make you wonder: can these characters even die? James Gunn’s sequel is funny, although not every joke lands. The film has a touching conclusion, continuing the discourse on what it means to be a family.
7. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
You either loved it, or you hated it. Or you just thought it was fine. Or you thought parts of the film were great and other parts tarnished the film (the Casino chase scene). “The Last Jedi” has been divisive to say the least, but even the most die-hard Star Wars cannon historians can admit it’s a fine movie (even if it doesn’t feature THEIR Luke Skywalker). One thing you can not say about “Last Jedi” is it is predictable. The performances were great all around. Mark Hamil brought an interesting and conflicted Luke Skywalker. We have a villain, in Kylo Ren, who is intriguing, complex, and even a bit likeable. Rian Johnson may not have included many of the fan theories that everyone wanted to see, and he may have thrown out many of mysteries set up in “The Force Awakens,” but in my opinion, that’s a good thing. Many of the fan theories were just dumb.
6. Wonder Woman
It is easy to understate how important this movie was, not merely in terms of rescuing the DC cinematic universe from the brink of crumbling under negative reception of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “Suicide Squad,” but the representation of women in the superhero genre. Does this movie have flaws? Yes. The third act is incredibly generic, resorting to the superhero trope of another CGI badguy who wants to destroy the world. Patty Jenkin’s film is still a beacon of hope in a dreary DC universe (and real life). It seems fitting that this film came out during a time when almost every scumbag in Hollywood is being called out for their inappropriate behavior. “Wonder Woman” has become a rallying cry for the empowerment of women, something that 2017 needed.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Michael Keaton as the Vulture proved that you don’t have to have a prestigious comic book baddie to headline a superhero film. You don’t always need the Joker or the Green Goblin. A C-list villain can work if you cast an A-list actor. It’s great when a superhero film strays away from the CGI monster and instead just allows a talented actor to do his thing (threaten a teenager while driving him to prom). “Homecoming” is the most comicbook accurate adaptation of Spider-Man to date. Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield were fine, but there is an innocence to the character that they could not capture. What makes Spider-Man so appealing is that he is just a kid who wants to help people. Somethings he fails miserably, just like all of us.
As someone who has read the Stephen King novel, I can really appreciate the greatness of this adaptation. Here is the thing, it’s not completely accurate to the book, and that’s a good thing. Director Andy Muschietti kept all the truly terrifying moments from the novel, but thankfully excluded some of odd directions King took. The movie was funny, had some heart, and was frightening. There is a moment at the end of the film which is truly amazing, a moment that nearly made me break out in tears. Although, that’s not saying much, because ever since I became a dad I cry at everything now. Last week I cried during a Charmin commercial.
3. Thor: Ragnorak
Let’s face it, until this point, Thor has been one of the more boring Avengers. He seemed to have no real depth behind those blonde locks. In terms of films, both “Thor” and “Thor: The Darkworld” rank near the bottom in the MCU (“Darkworld” might very well be the worst). That is why “Thor Ragnorak” is such a standout. It’s always a shame when a movie wastes Chris Hemsworth’s comedy talents, and thank goodness Taika Waititi didn’t, because man is this movie funny. Some may criticize this film for being too silly, but when the lead character is a Norse god who flies around with a magic hammer, you really shouldn’t take that seriously. “Ragnorak” is proof that the only true way to protect the superhero bubble from bursting is for movie studios to hire great directors and trust their vision. DC take note, studio interference will only create cinematic disasters (i.e., Suicided Squad).
Many might have forgotten that Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine came out this year. With everything that happened in 2017 (the election and….the election), March feels like an eternity ago. “Logan” was the perfect way to end Jackman’s tenure, and now that Marvel owns the X-Men again, maybe this film should be the conclusion to the Fox X-Men Universe as well. We finally got to see a rate-R Wolverine, but it wasn’t all severed legs and impaled heads (although we did get some of that). Logan had some great performances from everyone involved. It’s a shame we won’t see Hugh Jackman in the MCU, because he sure does know that character.
- Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve has been on a roll lately, “Sicario,” “Arrival” and now “Blade Runner 2049.” As a huge fan of its 1982 predecessor, I was extremely worried when I heard they were making a “Blade Runner” sequel. To me, Harrison Ford’s sci fi noir was a perfect film, and any attempt to continue the story would simply tarnish it. It appears if you hire one of the best directors working today you can accomplish anything. “Blade Runner 2049” isn’t just visually stunning, it did what any create science fiction film does, it makes you questions the trajectory humanity is on. One of the most interesting elements of the film was K’s (Ryan Goslings) relationship with his holographic companion. Just as the original Blade Runner was studied and analyzed in every media studies course, Blade Runner 2049 finds itself in the contemporary discourse on humanity’s relationship with their screens. For more detail, you’ll just have to read my academic paper on that. Spoiler alert: I got an A+
Just like Blade Runner 2049.