Watson Ranks the Top 125 Movies of 2017

By William Watson

When events in the world shit the bed, it is nice to escape reality and go to the movies.  Even movies that explore difficult and painful subjects felt like a calming relief from reading the newspaper every day in 2017.  So let’s celebrate the year in film with my annual review of all the new releases I saw!
We had a really strong top ten in 2017.  Most of these would be in consideration for top film many years, so let’s jump right into the list!

Top Ten

10. DUNKIRK

A very tight and intense telling of a heroic moment in British history. Hans Zimmer’s score is the best member of an amazing cast. Yes…the music was so good, it should get a best supporting actor nomination.  The only knock is that this movie denied us a Nolanesque Nolan movie!

9. I, TONYA

Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) lands a triple axle with I, Tonya as both star and executive producer. The film works on so many levels and Robbie is clearly the driving force.  The whole production is carried on the strength of brilliant acting performances and an incredibly clever script. The story plays out with several unreliable narrators stopping the film’s action to give their version of the events. Often it is to hilarious effect, but other times poignant and touching.

8. THOR: RAGNAROK

Director Taika Waititi (Jenny to pronounce) committed to full-on comedy and that is what lifted Thor, the bottom MCU solo franchise, to an all-time contender. Every moment was enjoyable; with a special recognition to Kate Blanchett’s Hela.  She created a character that was sinister, powerful, and hilarious all in one.

7. THE BIG SICK

A total Watson film. A quirky, well-acted indie rom-com. Zoe Kazan is like the Katherine Hepburn of this genre. I also loved seeing a Muslim protagonist to show the peaceful and loving side of a culture that is all too often relegated to the villain role in films.  This may be a film that fades from the discussion over time, its even dropped in my list over time, but small films like this one deserve the praise it has received.

6. BABY DRIVER

Edgar Wright’s best film yet. So smart, funny, and compelling. Great cast; especially Jon Hamm. This movie makes me wish we had seen Wright’s take on Ant-Man.  I am glad I saw this movie before the Spacey news broke, because that would have probably impacted my enjoyment.  I read that they are considering an unnecessary sequel…unnecessary because this film had the perfect beginning, middle, and ending.

5. DISASTER ARTIST

This movie is like an Albert Einstein level genius being born from the morons from The Jersey Shore.  James Franco’s labor of love is obviously a much better film than Tommy Wiseau’s.  Disaster Artist captures the madness surrounding the production of The Room, worst film ever made. Franco deserves serious consideration for Best Actor and maybe even a Best Picture nom.  Added personal twist: when I left the theater, Greg Sestero (who wrote the book on which the movie is based and is the basis of Dave Franco’s character) was standing in the hallway at the Alamo Drafthouse.  I love Austin cinema!

4. THE SHAPE OF WATER

The Shape of Water is a treat in that has the mood of a Wes Anderson film, the acting of a David O. Russell film, and a narrative straight out of classic Spielberg. Shape is the story of a mute woman in the 1950’s, played to perfection by Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), who encounters an amazing creature brought to the top secret military facility where she works as a cleaning lady.  The basic plot structure doesn’t do the film justice.  Each little moment enhances the mood and ambiance to produce an excellent end to end experience.

3. GET OUT

There is no reason this movie should have worked but it was amazing. I thought Peele was going to play Scolari to Keenan Michael Key’s Hanks, but Peele’s skills as a writer/director could make him even more successful. The film was funny (not so funny to be in the Golden Globe’s Comedy category), scary, and smart.  When I first saw this trailer, I thought this would be an exploitative stinker.  Instead, it is one of the smartest films in years.  The biggest lesson of the film?  Never mess with the TSA.

2. WONDER WOMAN

I cannot believe how much I loved this movie. This is the north star for the DCEU because it was smart, sophisticated, and fun.  It was a superhero Indiana Jones movie with a brilliant female lead.   Gabbing Geek was skeptical of Gal Gadot…even after a nice performance in Bat Soup.  The thought was that while she looked the part, it would be different when she had to anchor a solo film for two hours.  Well she could…as well as anyone in any solo superhero movie…EVAH!

1. LOGAN

If Dark Knight is the Citizen Kane of superhero movies, this is the Godfather. This is not a movie but a film.  In what is absolutely the last film Hugh Jackman will ever play Wolverine, he goes out with a bang.  Logan is not the usual special effects superhero tentpole.  It is a slower, more reflective look at the end of the line…again…remember…never playing Logan again, Ryan!  Starting something great is easier than figuring out a way to end on top.  In sports, there are more players like Michael Jordan missing the playoffs while laboring for the Washington Wizards at the end of his career than Peyton Manning walking out on top with the Bronco and one last Super Bowl.  Logan went out a champion. No Mas!

FILMS 11-20

What an excellent Top Ten.  A strong group of films!  Honestly, the next ten in my list were fairly strong as well, so let’s go one click deeper and look at the rest of the top 20!

11.  LADY BIRD

As with movies like The Way, Way Back, The Descendants, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and this year’s The Big Sick, Lady Bird flows effortlessly from cracking you up, to forcing you to revisit the most painful emotions of your youth.

12.  JUSTICE LEAGUE

I don’t understand the critical panning of Justice League. It’s not a perfect film but it is damn fun and the characters really click. Gal Gadot is wonderful as the anchor of the film, but Ezra Miller’s Flash almost steals the show. The CGI did look like a 2009 video game cut screen at times but it was forgivable.

13.  DETROIT

You could almost call this a horror movie because it played like a “locked in a house and tortured by a group of deranged madmen”. Sadly, this really happened in 1960s era Detroit when a group of young people were locked in a house and tortured by a group of deranged madmen…who happened to be police officers.

14.  SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

What a year for superhero movies that there is more than one ahead of this amazing flick! And…this is the fifth best superhero film of the year.  The MCU effect was very apparent, and not only with the inclusion of Iron Man.  Kevin Feige knows how to craft quality entertainment.  Best Spidey film ever.

15.  IT

I am not sure what I enjoyed more: the creepy take on a classic character or the fact that I saw it with my pal Jenny and during a scary scene I reached over and grabbed her neck!  So…many…punches!

16.  WIND RIVER

A gut wrenching look into violence and loss. Despite all the Hawkeye jokes, I am a big Jeremy Renner fan, and this was one of his better roles.  The scene at the end when he discusses how he copes with his grief was gut wrenching.

17.  DARKEST HOUR

If you hadn’t told me that was Gary Oldman, I wouldn’t have had a clue.  He disappeared into the role and gave a three dimensional performance and not a caricature.  A little bit of a Dallas Buyer’s Club film, focused mostly on performance, but enough of a script to keep you engaged.

18.  LAST FLAG FLYING

Great chemistry between three amazing actors.  The latest from Richard Linklater is a story of a father who re-connects with his Vietnam buddies to go on a road trip to bring home the body of his son who died in Iraq.  Steve Carrell is the stand out in the film as the grief stricken father trying to keep it together.

19.  THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EDLING, MO

Let’s first agree, sight unseen, that this movie should have been named “Three Billboards” and not “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Where the Weather is Mild Today: Partially Sunny with Winds Out of the Northwest and Highs in the Low 60’s, Grab a Sweater!” That aside, Billboardswas a really smart and powerful movie with one specific quirk kept it from being truly great.  Woody Harrleson was amazing as the local sheriff, a role that is often a cliche but WH made it a complex and warm character.  Also.. apparently this is a violent movie.

20.  MOLLY’S GAME

Aaron Sorkin is well-renowned as an Emmy Award winning (West Wing) and Oscar winning (The Social Network) writer.  His walk and talk machine gun dialogue usually delivers excellence (we’ll forgive Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).  The question was could he translate his experience as a writer and producer into directorial success?

In his first film, Molly’s Game, he is well on his way.  Clearly it helps when you are filming a script written by Aaron Sorkin.  Of course if it had stunk, he’d have had to blame Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) but thankfully she was also amazing.

BOTTOM TEN

A lot of those films were tough to keep out of the top 10, but the competition is always tough to be among the best.  It is equally difficult for a film to be at the BOTTOM.  Many films flounder, but it takes a special level of crapitude to be at the bottom of a list that reviews 125 films in a year.

So let’s take a look at the stinky turds inhabit the Watson Bottom Ten!

116. STAR WARS: LAST JEDI

I did not like The Last Jedi at all; which is surprising since the critics loved it and I am usually on the same page. Look, I am ok with a more artistic Star Wars movie (unlike Ryan, I watched and enjoyed a slower film like The King’s Speech), but this film was really a disappointing turd. I don’t get WHY they thought the Last Jedi was sophisticated.  It was so bad that, at times, I thought I was watching a Prequel. I even have this film behind one of the Prequels (Revenge of the Sith) in my all-time Star Wars rankings.  The film is worthy of bottom ten rankings, but Mark Hamill keeps it out of the bottom.  That’s a serious charge in the geek community and I stand by it.  My full review of the film.

117. EMOJI MOVIE

Even Patrick Stewart as a talking British turd couldn’t save this piece of emjoi.

118. LOST CITY OF Z

One of my favorite books, but the movie?  Lost City of Zzzzzzz…

119. SANDY WEXLER

Adam Sandler vamped as his worst character (and that’s a high bar) for two hours.

120. GHOST STORY

One of the most dull, boring films ever made. Sure is pretty, but a whole lot of nothing…

121. THE GREAT WALL

Beautiful action and SFX for a film made specifically for Chinese audiences. Matt Damon, who had the worst English accent since Costner in Robin Hood, was a tack on for American audiences only.

122. THE MUMMY

In American Made, Tom Cruise shows why he is a star.  Wit, charisma, and charm.  None of that applies here. This movie was totally pointless and should effectively kill the Universal monster franchise.

123. POWER RANGERS

Couldn’t figure out if it was campy Batman or Nolan Batman. Neither could the director apparently.

124. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Why do I keep watching these movies??? Why??? I keep wanting to see a good giant robot fight movie. The Transformers series, Power Rangers, Pacific Rim? No one can nail it. Give me a great Voltron movie and I will be happy.

125. F8 OF THE FURIOUS

Funny that I liked XXX better. It was smart enough to know it was dumb. I don’t think the Furious series remembers that it is dumb, and tried to take itself too seriously.  This series is dreck and has no value to humanity.  May god have mercy on the souls of the people involved.

Final Thoughts

What a bunch of stinkers!  They are the Ryan Garcia of feature films.  Ironically, for my bottom film, he is probably proud of that comparison. Overall, this felt like a mixed year at the movies.  Some strong films at the top, but those in the middle of the pack come off as weaker than prior years.

To complete the picture, here is my full list of 2017 movies for those who want to see the complete year’s rankings.

Enjoy and see you in 2018!

Full List

1 LOGAN
2 WONDER WOMAN
3 GET OUT
4 THE DISASTER ARTIST
5 THE SHAPE OF WATER
6 BABY DRIVER
7 THE BIG SICK
8 THOR: RAGNAROK
9 I, TONYA
10 DUNKIRK
11 LADY BIRD
12 JUSTICE LEAGUE
13 DETROIT
14 SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
15 IT
16 WIND RIVER
17 MOLLY’S GAME
18 DARKEST HOUR
19 LAST FLAG FLYING
20 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EDLING, MO
21 INGRID GOES WEST
22 FLORIDA PROJECT
23 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2
24 THE FOUNDER
25 BLADE RUNNER 2049
26 AMERICAN MADE
27 BATTLE OF THE SEXES
28 CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
29 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
30 JOHN WICK 2
31 JUMANJI
32 KONG: SKULL ISLAND
33 ATOMIC BLONDE
34 THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES
35 THE FARTHEST : VOYAGER IN SPACE
36 NOBODY SPEAK
37 KINGSMAN: GOLDEN CIRCLE
38 MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
39 DOWNSIZING
40 SPLIT
41 LOGAN LUCKY
42 MUDBOUND
43 WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
44 GIFTED
45 FREE FIRE
46 GET ME ROGER STONE
47 NORMAN
48 TICKLING GIANTS
49 JIM AND ANDY
50 THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
51 JERRY BEFORE SEINFELD
52 LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
53 MEGAN LEAVEY
54 THEIR FINEST
55 LA 92
56 THE REAGAN SHOW
57 BRIGHT
58 EL CAMINO CHRISTMAS
59 THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD
60 HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER
61 SPEECH AND DEBATE
62 MISSION CONTROL
63 SLEIGHT
64 THE GLASS CASTLE
65 SCORE
66 AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: OKLAHOMA CITY
67 LEGION OF BROTHERS
68 CHiPs
69 CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS
70 WAR MACHINE
71 BELKO EXPERIMENT
72 CARS 3
73 ALIEN: COVENANT
74 A UNITED KINGDOM
75 TABLE 19
76 GOING IN STYLE
77 BATMAN: HARLEY QUINN
78 DYING LAUGHING
79 BETTING ON ZERO
80 MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE
81 THE MOST HATED WOMAN IN AMERICA
82 ROUGH NIGHT
83 I AM HEATH LEDGER
84 THE HOUSE
85 JEREMIAH TOWER- THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
86 LITTLE EVIL
87 SOUR GRAPES
88 FACEBOOK CRACKING THE CODE
89 BOSS BABY
90 DESPICABLE ME 3
91 KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD
92 CASTING JON BENET
93 OKJA
94 100 STREETS
95 XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE
96 COLOSSAL
97 THE CIRCLE
98 FIST FIGHT
99 IT COMES AT NIGHT
100 RISK
101 PIRATE OF THE CARRIBEAN 5
102 UNACKNOWLEDGED
103 SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE
104 LIFE
105 BAYWATCH
106 LEGO NINJAGO
107 SNATCHED
108 GHOST IN THE SHELL
109 VALERIAN: CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
110 GOON 2: LAST OF THE ENFORCER
111 AMERICAN ASSASSIN
112 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: LONG HAUL
113 THE LITTLE HOURS
114 BEFORE I FALL
115 RED PILL
116 STAR WARS : THE LAST JEDI
117 EMOJI MOVIE
118 LOST CITY OF Z
119 SANDY WEXLER
120 A GHOST STORY
121 THE GREAT WALL
122 THE MUMMY
123 POWER RANGERS
124 TRANSFORMERS : THE LAST KNIGHT
125 F8 OF THE FURIOUS

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