2017 Summer Movie Wrap-Up

Photo Credit:http://screencrush.com/gal-gadot-wonder-woman-poster-comic-con/

There’s no doubt, from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to Logan Lucky, summer 2017 was one worth remembering at the cinemas. With of course a few exceptions (looking at you Transformers: The Last Knight and The Dark Tower), it felt like just about every other week had a wide release garnering high praise from critics. Now that the season is coming to a close, we’re celebrating the best and worst of a summer for the ages. Here are some highlights from the summer that was.

 

Best Hero: Wonder Woman

Photo Credit:http://www.superflixmovies.com/home/3v3-wonder-woman

 

There’s only one possible answer here. Embodying a rallying cry to all women, as well as to those morally averse to violent conflict, one of fiction’s most popular superheroes finally came to life in summer 2017, and promptly proved that we didn’t deserve her in the first place. Special effects in films exist to make you believe in something fantastical or impossible, but in the face of such reckless hate, unabashed hope is what seems so fantastical and impossible today. But then Diana raised her shield, walked across No Man’s Land, and became Wonder Woman.

 

Best Villain: David from Alien: Covenant

Photo Credit:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/alien-covenant-david-kills-engineers-walter-flute-scene-explained-1005974

Ridley Scott took the opportunity to make an Alien prequel to explore themes of life and legacy, mostly through the only true returning character from Prometheus, David. Much like Ian Holm in the 1979 original, Michael Fassbender plays an android attempting to subvert human plans for his own. Fassbender roots the performance in a cold, calculated demeanor, but never sacrifices the audience’s affection for David. Kurt Russell’s Ego the Living Planet may give given him a run for his money in Guardians 2, but it’s still David who sent the most chills down our spines this summer.

 

Best Performance: Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled

Photo Credit:https://www.thereelword.net/tag/the-beguiled/

I’d me remiss if I didn’t at least mention Robert Pattinson’s incredible work in Good Time here, but it’s ultimately Kidman, who’s having one hell of a year between The Beguiled and Big Little Lies, who gave us the most for our attention. It’s a performance full of moments both big and small, and the rare case of a star and an auteur (Sofia Coppola in this case) so in sync that they elevate each other, and the film, to great heights.

 

Worst Performance: Mandy Moore in 47 Meters Down

Photo Credit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6XmGgXGa6M

I’d also be remiss here if I didn’t mention Dane DeHaan in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but again, it’s ultimately Moore who did her best to destroy a fairly competent, pulpy shark horror flick. But with all the Sharknado-worthy reactions to the terror around her, and the bipolar switches to exaggerated strength that manifested out of nowhere, we’re reminded that 47 Meters Down is trying to be a real movie packed to the brim with tension. All the This is Us star manages to do is undercut it.

 

Biggest Breakout: Tiffany Haddish from Girls Trip

Photo Credit:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/girls-trip-breakout-tiffany-haddish-dishes-her-big-week-1024912

Acting as a force of comedic nature as a relative unknown in a cast of Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish owns so many of Girls Trip‘s best moments. From a zip line stunt to a trick with a grapefruit, she outdoes here more famous costars in every way possible, acting as the film’s secret weapon to side-splitting success. She was great in all the late-night interviews surrounding the release as well, leaving us eagerly anticipating her next career move.

 

Best Action Sequence: The Stairwell Fight from Atomic Blonde

The clip above is only just over a minute of a fight that lasts at least ten, seemingly without the camera cutting. The back half of Atomic Blonde is loaded with great action, Charlize Theron proving Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t a one-time deal, but nothing compares to this brutal, raw, yet startlingly choreographed brawl that has no business ending in a timely manner, leaving us breathless in the process.

 

Funniest Moment: Drunk Zip Lining in Girls Trip

Girls Trip isn’t exactly a mature comedy, but if you don’t burst out laughing at a few of its choice scenes, you’re probably no fun to have around anyway. In fact, it was hard to pick just one (the grapefruit explanation being the runner up). And yet, Jada Pinkett Smith getting stuck on her zipline in New Orleans while having to pee, and unloading on the Bourbon Street dwellers below her, somehow wins. Not shown in the clip above, however, is the best bit, when Tiffany Haddish joins in and chooses to keep the golden shower coming with her own.

 

Best Overall Moment: Diana Crosses No Man’s Land in Wonder Woman

If you went to the movies opening weekend to see Wonder Woman, you might’ve heard your likely sold-out audience dissolve into sobs as Diana Prince, new to the idea of war, stood up for what she believed in, what was right and good, not just to be brave, but to genuinely help. In this moment, in a world consumed by the bloodiest war it has ever seen, she stands tall as a beacon of hope to prove that good can and still does exist. In a summer where the news in our world just seemed to get worse and worse, this moment’s importance has only grown in the short months since the film’s release.

 

Most Underrated Blockbuster: Alien Covenant

Photo Credit:https://hypebeast.com/2017/2/alien-covenant-xenomorph-trailer-two-video

In the months leading up to May, cinephiles were eagerly anticipating the return of the Xenomorph to the big screen, from original Alien director Ridley Scott no less. Then the film premiered to tepid but overall positive reviews and was promptly forgotten just as Prometheus was five years prior. But Alien: Covenant is leagues ahead of its predecessor, a tight, thrilling space saga oozing with philosophical ramifications and meditations about our species. It isn’t perfect (the climax is far too easily resolved), but behind the first two films of the series, it’s an easy third place and deserving of its own celebrated legacy.

 

Most Overrated Blockbuster: Baby Driver

Photo Credit:http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/baby-driver/265957/baby-driver-review

Edgar Wright’s vision to fuse music with car chases works conceptually, and is very fun at times, but it’s also an action flick a little low on action with a two-hour runtime that feels stretched too thin. The film’s characters, particularly the female ones, feel too underwritten and routine to excuse. Baby Driver is far from a bad film, but what people seem to have fallen in love with feels like little more than a toned down Fast and the Furious flick with a more lovingly curated Spotify playlist.

 

Best Sequel: War for the Planet of the Apes

Photo Credit:https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/07/war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-is-a-genuinely-satisfying-morality-tale/

The new trilogy of Planet of the Apes films emerged from the wreckage of the franchise’s misdeeds to deliver one of the decade’s most delightful surprises. War, the trilogy closer, not only breaks the rule that the third is always the worst, it’s also the best of the trilogy, making it the best Apes film since the 1968 original. The film’s rich, deep sci-fi never overcomes the genuine emotion Caesar carries as the trilogy’s lead, while the message to our species is clear and profound.

 

Kill This Franchise, Please: Pirates of the Caribbean

Photo Credit:https://geektyrant.com/news/new-trailer-for-pirates-of-the-caribbean-dead-men-tell-no-tales-are-all-pirates-this-stupid

Critics and audiences alike have been hailing summer 2017 as one of the best movie seasons in years. Well, you wouldn’t know it if you only saw the fifth Pirates adventure, Dead Men Tell No Tales (also taking the “Clunkiest Title” award). Johnny Depp has clearly given up on making Jack Sparrow anything but a caricature of the character we were introduced to almost 15 years ago. But the screenwriters are hardly giving him anything to work with.

 

Best Indie: Good Time

Photo Credit:http://www.indiewire.com/2017/05/good-time-review-robert-pattinson-cannes-1201818268/

Summer isn’t just a great time for studio tentpoles, but festival gems as well, and usually the types that won’t go on to win awards for being too edgy for mainstream audiences/voters. In 2017, Good Time is the best example of such a case. Boasting a truly great performance from Robert Pattinson, the story follows the downtrodden, mentally ill, and drug-addicted of New York City for an emotional, arresting look at the people most indie film watchers avoid eye contact with on public transit.

 

Most Likely to Win an Oscar: Dunkirk

Photo Credit:http://www.nme.com/news/film/christopher-nolan-compares-harry-styles-in-dunkirk-to-heath-ledger-in-the-dark-knight-2107419

A couple big studio films peppered throughout 2017 have gotten some awards buzz (namely Get Out and Wonder Woman), but none caters to what the Oscars have become about more than Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan previously garnered attention with Inception, which wasn’t even the Academy’s typical fare. But Dunkirk is a historical war film with immense technical prowess and genuinely interesting, if emotionally detached, filmmaking. Expect the film to garner double digit nominations in January, taking home two or more.

 

Best Film: Wonder Woman

Photo Credit:http://fandom.wikia.com/topics/wonder-woman

Let me be clear, Wonder Woman is not a perfect film. The third act is messy and DC seems to have adopted Marvel’s issue of having forgettable villains in their films. But what makes Patty Jenkins’ film rise above any recent effort from either studio is the sheer emotion on display, and how effortless that emotionality seems. When was the last time a blockbuster made hordes of fans cry tears of joy? When was the last time a blockbuster genuinely made the world feel like a better place? Through Diana’s unending goodness, through Jenkins’ assured direction, through the film’s powerful dual message (being both feminist and antiwar), Wonder Woman is one of the only crowd-pleasing instant classics of the decade.

 

Agree with our picks? What were your favorite summer movie moments of 2017? Let us know in the comments below!

 

By Matt Dougherty

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