Director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro puts a lot of winning elements from successful films into a blender and delivers “The Shape of Water” (2017), now in theatrical wide release. Mixing familiar substance with loads of style, this Oscar-y yet accessible movie carves off bits of “E.T.,” “Splash,” “Splice,” “The Help,” “Big Fish” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and throws in Michael Shannon’s skill at playing a villain and Octavia Spencer’s specialty as the chatty best friend to create a foundation for a sweet love story.
One of my bosses encouraged us to attend “The Post” (2017) – which recently got a wide theatrical release – to rekindle our passion for newspapering. The film encourages some of that spirit, no doubt, but overall it left me sad. It’s a great movie about the Washington Post’s decision to publish highlights of the Top Secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, very much a welcome addition to the pantheon of journalism movies, but Steven Spielberg’s entry feels curiously out of time more so than, say, 2015’s “Spotlight.”
There were a lot of great films in 2017. So many, in fact, that this year I have decided to do a top 20 list instead of my usual top 10. It means more writing, but trust me, this is a problem any movie buff loves to have.
2017 was a good year for superheros and small indie films, for action and drama and comedy alike, sometimes all within the same movie.
So, what was the best? Let’s get to it!
Last night’s Golden Globe Awards were a welcome surprise for me.
I have gotten used to, in my time as a film and television enthusiast, the entertainment I support being consigned to the “also ran” bin. My favorite TV shows get cancelled. Many of my favorite movies have been ignored by critics and audiences alike. If they are nominated, they are the window dressing for the film or show that gets the glory.
“Get Out” (now available on pay-per-view streaming) is the latest example of how a horror movie can be an effective vehicle for making a social statement. When I read the Amazon description that notes the race of the characters – a Caucasian girl brings her African-American boyfriend to meet her parents at their lake house – I hoped that was merely the starting point, because I wanted a few good scares more than a message. Race does end up being central to the story, but in such a sneaky way that I ultimately rate “Get Out” a near-masterpiece of “Twilight Zone”-esque storytelling.
There are safe tear-jerkers, like TV’s “This Is Us” (where we kind of chuckle at the fact that it makes us cry), and then there are brutal ones, like “Manchester by the Sea” (2016, now streaming on Amazon Prime), the first film from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan since 2011’s bizarrely underrated “Margaret.”