From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm reviving the year-end summary.
BEST MOVIES OF 2017 (Seen in theaters)
1. LADY BIRD. Maybe because it was just different than I usually see or that it was seriously well written but it was funny and touching in a way that I just don't take time to go see enough.
2. GET OUT. I went in with very few preconceptions. Symbolic and surprising. I was transfixed.
3. IT. I've been waiting for an adaptation like this for years. Different than the mini-series in just enough ways to stand on its own. Looking forward to the sequel most of all.
4. WONDER WOMAN. The Year of the Woman really found a voice with this fresh take on the character. It is easily DC's best movie since the Nolan Batman films.
5. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Not the best and not the worst. I like my Star Wars franchise but just not the level of obsession I had in my youth.
6. THOR: RAGNORAK. I actually was surprised that I liked this more humorous take on the Thor character. Well played.
7. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. I wish this had come out before the last Captain America but I get the timing. A fun but meaningless addition to the Marvel Universe - perfect July release.
8. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2. See THOR, humorous but not as consequential as I might have wanted.
9. LEGO: BATMAN.
10. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. This film was beautiful to look at. It also proves that we need more mysteries.
When you see fewer than 25 new releases in a year at the theaters and even fewer at home, the list of movies you didn't see is usually more impressive than the ones you did. This list becomes my new to-do list for the next year although I'm lucky to knock two to three off the list.
BEST MOVIES I DIDN'T SEE IN 2017
1. DUNKIRK. Two simple reasons here. One it's Christopher Nolan. Two is that war films rarely translate well to the small screen. Hoping it gets nominated for awards so it plays again.
2. BABY DRIVER. How did I not go see this Edgar Wright film? I'm a loser.
3. BLADE RUNNER 2049. Another shameful development that most people who know me can't believe I missed this one. I was the biggest advocate of the original for decades.
4. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Maybe not the best movie I missed this year but I have seen the past 50 years of them so this seemed like a natural.
5. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Been an advocate of this movie since the trailer dropped at the beginning of the year.
6. ALIEN: COVENANT. In a year of sequels, what happened that I missed this.
7. ATOMIC BLONDE.
8. OKJA. I know I can watch it on Netflix now but this looks like a big-screen view.
9. LADY MACBETH
10. WORMWOOD. Errol Morris is always going to challenge me as a viewer - this looks like he's on top of that game.
I ask your forgiveness for being temporarily fooled that I wanted to see THE MUMMY, KONG: SKULL ISLAND and THE DARK TOWER. But I'm a sucker for trailers. (See below)
I spent the year on an Alfred Hitchcock project of watching all his films - almost all for at least the second time. I was interested in how my perception of them might have changed over the years. In a year of viewing all of them, here they are in order of how much I enjoyed them.
BEST HITCHCOCK FILMS OF THE 2017 PROJECT
1. THE BIRDS (1963) For at least the 10th time, I started seeing shots and symbols I had not noticed before.
2. FRENZY (1972) I think I had dismissed this after one viewing years ago but it is a classic worthy of his best.
3. FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) Much more here than I originally gave it credit for. Realize it's in the very middle of World War II.
4. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) It really only gets better.
5. PSYCHO (1960)
6. THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (1935) plays very well in the theater.
7. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951)
8. MR & MRS SMITH (1941) I don't think I knew this was Hitchcock the first time I saw it.
9. NOTORIOUS (1946) This film might actually be the one that has moved up the most in my mind since before this project started. This should be where you start if you know very little about his films.
10. VERTIGO (1958) It's here only because I've seen and analyzed it so many times.
I read reviews (on this site for example) but the ultimate selling point of a movie for me is the trailer. The art of the trailer is generally dead. There are still a few that play out like mini-movies. Here are a few of the best this year.
BEST TRAILERS OF 2017
1. DEADPOOL 2. This is how you make me want to see your movie and not feel like I've seen the best scenes from your film. Original content in a trailer rules. Brilliant.
2. BABY DRIVER. I'm pretty sure this ruins the movie but it plays like a shorter version of the film. I kinda like revisiting these trailers after seeing the movie as a reminder of the highlights.
3. ATOMIC BLONDE. Once again, probably gives away some important scenes from the film but bonus points for a great soundtrack. Tunes are a key function in a trailer.
4. BLADE RUNNER 2049. Trailers for sequels are tricky. This one does a great job of selling this as its own separate film that doesn't require the viewer to remember important details from the '80s.
5. BLACK PANTHER. Even more than the AVENGERS trailer, this trailer raises my expectations beyond what this movie can possibly meet. Marvel has perfected the art of the superhero trailer but over the years that's all they are doing is following a formula. This is guilty of some of the same beats as every other trailer but unlike the THOR trailer it doesn't feel like it gives away the best comedic moments.
This is my most uninformed list of the year. I don't read many magazines or watch TV shows about upcoming films anymore. I tend to find out through osmosis and YouTube telling me I might like a trailer. I lean on the comfort of favorite directors, favorite actors, franchises and sequels. Here's what is on my radar for next year.
BEST MOVIES OF 2018
1. READY PLAYER ONE (March). I have a few pages left to finish the book. On the surface, this book is a natural for a miniseries instead of a film adaptation. But leaving it to Spielberg makes sense and the trailer fits the words I read.
2. THE NEW MUTANTS (April) After exploring every other genre from within the superhero genre, I've been waiting for a journey into horror. From what I've seen, this plays much more from the horror genre than superhero genre and that's fine with me.
3. JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM (June) I was surprised by the previous film. This has the warnings of just repeating the previous film but I'm still down.
4. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (May) The one thing that makes me happy here is the move to May. STAR WARS have always felt misplaced in December. They belong right here before Memorial Day.
5. ISLE OF DOGS (March) A Wes Anderson trailer is always unique too. I thought of including this above but I'm not sure it explains much. I just see lots of dogs.
6. FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (Nov) Some franchises have me for life.
7. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (JULY) I loved the manga but never really had much hope for an adaptation. For years we heard it would be Cameron but Rodriguez is a decent fit to direct. I still don't hold out much hope because I heard they ruined GHOST IN THE SHELL.
8. THE PREDATOR (AUG) Shane Black helms what could be very fun but as you saw, I missed an ALIEN film this past year.
9. VENOM (Oct) Other than a few pictures, I have no idea what they are doing with this character. If they stay close to the original comics there could be something here.
10. RAMPAGE (April) Monster movie, yo.
11-13. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, BLACK PANTHER, DEADPOOL 2. One of these may break the MU success streak. Not likely but they are way past due for a real stinker.
More lists to follow...