Well it is now July 6th, and we are now a little past the half way mark of 2017, so I will delve into what are the 10 Best Films of 2017 so far starting with number 10.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: What is it with Marvel and their villains and climaxes of their films? Sure there are exceptions like Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and Civil War, but in general Marvel has a real villain problem as well as finishing off their films in a fully satisfying way. That being said Guardians of the Galaxy is perhaps the most light hearted and funnest of the Marvel films thanks to director James Gunn, the score, and the chemistry/acting of the cast.
9. The Wall: The Wall is a short, but a pretty gritty and intense Iraq war film directed by Doug Liman.
8. Ghost in the Shell: I will always give credit to the likes of Akira and Ghost in the Shell for helping to make Anime popular in America making it easier to for Anime series and films to be release here, but I as never that impressed with Ghost In the Shell outside of its stunning animation.
I have never liked the original Ghost in the Shell as much as the other anime films that I was introduced to in the 80’s through the mid 90’s with the likes of Vampire Hunter D, Ninja Scroll, Patlabor The Movie and Robot Carnival among others, so I had no I high expectations with the remake except to get a good film that would hopefully do well box office wise, so studios will take more chances on live action anime films like in pre-production Robotech and the always talked about Cowboy Bebop film.
I think those reasons might have helped me enjoy Rupert Sanders Ghost in the Shell, and I really liked the film. I haven’t seen the original in probably over a decade, but from what I remember the film stays pretty close to the original with the biggest change coming to the Major’s backstory, which I loved.
I won’t get into what I believe are very overblown and unwarranted criticisms of whitewashing when it comes to Scarlett Johansson’s casting, and instead say Johansson was wonderful as The Major who effortlessly brings The Major to life.
The action and visuals/effects were really good. My criticism of the film is the lack of real character development outside The Major and maybe Batou. There were certain Section 9 characters I would have like to seen more of. Another criticism is that although I liked the story, themes and ideas in the film, the film doesn’t dive too deep, and instead spent more time on the visuals and action. I contribute both criticisms to the films short run time at only about an 1 hour and 45 minutes that includes both the opening and ending credits. I wish Sanders and the writers could have spend another ten minutes on the story and supporting characters, but that isn’t a huge criticism for me as it didn’t stop me from really enjoying Ghost in the Shell as much if not more than I did the original film.
I really hope Ghost in the Shell does well, and we get more films., because Johansson deserves her own franchise. Scarlett certainly has proven to me with her role Black Widow along with starring in Lucy and now with Ghost in the Shell that she can solo lead a action film/franchise. Unfortunately that most likely is not going to happen. Ghost in the Shell broke even and made some money, but I doubt Paramount is going to green light a sequel.
7. The Exception: A great World War II drama/thriller film about the exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II played magnificently by Christopher Plummer and co-starring Jai Courtney, and Lily James.
6. The Red Turtle: All your should need to know about The Red Turtle to see the film is to watch the above trailer and know that it was made by Studio Ghibli the same company that made Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The Red Turtle is my third favorite Studio Ghibli film behind Grave of the Fireflies and Princess Mononoke.
5. John Wick Chapter 2: John Wick is the best action franchise since the first three Bourne films (I try to forget about two mediocre and bad sequels), and Keanu Reeves has found the role he was perfect for and meant for.
4. Logan: Logan might be classified as in the superhero genre, but to be Logan is a modern western with a small dose of sci-fi/fantasy elements. Perhaps that is one of the reason Logan separates itsself from the rest of the X-Men films and the Marvel films along with its story, themes and tone help to make like Deadpool a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. Then there are Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Logan is Jackman’s last film playing Logan whom he’s played since 2000’s X-Men, and Logan is most likely Patrick Stewart’s last film playing Charles Xavior who he’s also played since the first X-Men film. Both actors give their best performances as Logan and Xavior as perhaps the last two X-Men alive in a world where mutants are all but extinct and being hunted down. Logan truly is one of the best superhero/comic book films to go along with the likes of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight, and Wonder Woman.
3. Wonder Woman: Personally I don’t understand all the criticism of Man of Steel and Batman Vs. Superman, but whether you agree with the criticism of the first two films of the DC Extended Universe and the really bad Suicide Squad the DC Extended Universe needed a win more critic wise than box office wise, and WB/DC got both with the excellent Wonder Woman.
2. Baby Driver: Baby Driver is a masterpiece of film making and a prime example as film as art. I have never been as much as a fan of Edgar Wright as critics and my friends have, but what Wright has film with Baby Driver is magnificent. Baby Driver is a high octane action, drama, musical that combines the cult classic Streets of Fire with the classic Heat. The level of detail Wright, cinematographer, and stunt coordinators went through to match every song to each scene perfectly is astonishing and wonderful experience in the theater. The acting by Jamie Fox, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and even the relative new comer Ansel Elgort whom I had never seen before did an excellent job in the film. Baby Driver is a film to be seen over and over again to fully appreciate the how great film Baby Driver is.
1.The Lost City of Z: It was hard for me to chose between Baby Driver and The Lost City of Z, but if there is one film that is better than Baby Driver than it is the Lost City of Z. I am a sucker for historical films and especially ones about topics I know nothing or very little about. Before seeing the trailer for The Lost City of Z I had never heard of Percy Fawcett (Played exceptionally well by Charlie Hunnam) the famous explorer and his disappearance in the Amazon. The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same name and by David Grann which goes into Fawcett’s life and his disappearance as well as investigating the so called Lost city of Z. The book is really good, and while Grann’s novel has garnered high praise, Grann has faced some criticism in his view of Fawcett and his exploits as an explorer.
Let us move onto the film itself directed by James Gray. Gray’s The Lost City of Z has an old school Hollywood of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s with the detailed story telling, themes, score, and cinematography. As I said above Charlie Hunnam was fantastic as Fawcett bringing to life Fawcett’s love for adventure and his blinding obsession in finding his city of Zed. Charlie Huunam is supported by Robert Patterson who in recent years has finally come into his own since leaving the bad Twilight franchise high praised performances in Cosmopolis and The Rover, and continues here in The Lost City of Z as Henry Costin, Fawcett’s right hand man and good friend. Like Baby Driver the Lost Citye of Z is a film that should not be missed and seen more than once.
Films I have not seen yet, but want to: Beauty and the Beast, The Lego Batman Movie, Get Out, Life, Colossal, Alien: Covenant, and Megan Leavey.
The 10 Most Anticipated Films for the Second Half of 2017
1. Blade Runner 2049
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
4. Wind River Movie
5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
6. The Snowman Film
7. Justice League Movie
8. Goodbye Christopher Robin
9. American Assassin
10. Greatest Showman