Well it’s January, which means it’s time for the best and worst that Hollywood has to offer. “Best” meaning the Oscar contenders that are finally going into wide release in the rest of the country, and “worst” meaning garbage like “Dirty Grandpa” and “Underworld: Blood Wars” that the studios dump off and which will have been forgotten by March. So in that spirit, the Tough Guy Squad is starting the year by looking back at our favorite and least favorite movies from 2017, as well as looking forward to the films we’ll be anticipating (as well as dreading) in 2018:
Best of 2017
I know people who said they would have liked “Dunkirk” better without the jumbled timeline, or they wanted to see a three-hour “The Longest Day”-style history lesson about the event. Fine, maybe someone can make that in the future, but the version that Christopher Nolan gave us is – as usual for him – a master-class in filmmaking and suspense, including the stress-inducing ticking stopwatch soundtrack that should put to rest the idea that Hans Zimmer only does the “Bwaaawh” “Inception”-type blockbuster scores.
“Ingrid Goes West”
I always enjoy a good stalker comedy-drama, and not only is “Ingrid Goes West” one of the better examples of that genre in the last few years, but it is also the most definitive takedown of narcissistic social media culture as we have seen thus far.
“Brawl in Cell Block 99”
Unfortunately TGD wasn’t around to give “Bone Tomahawk” the praise it deserved at the time, but we can spread the word that between his cannibal Western debut and follow-up “Brawl in Cell Block 99”, S. Craig Zahler is now officially up there with Tarantino among filmmakers who you should be excited about with every upcoming film. “Brawl …” is also a slow-burn ’70s-style character drama that includes the phrase “commence the abortionist,” features heads getting brutally smashed in, and which had me and CJ covering our mouths in both horror and awesomeness while watching on the big screen.
“Blade Runner: 2049”
I wasn’t exactly on pins and needles waiting to get a “Blade Runner” sequel for the last 25 years, and yet I still keep thinking about this update and can’t wait to revisit it again. If nothing else it was a dense, adult, R-rated, $200 million sci-fi film that didn’t feel the need to pander to the lowest common denominator or set up a bunch of sequels, so we should appreciate that unicorns like this are unlikely to come around again soon.
I know people will say I am putting this here because CJ and I have “ironically” been excited about this cheesy looking Gerard Butler disaster flick all year. Well fuck that, we were excited, but right before the lights dimmed at our 11:15 am showing at the Alamo Drafthouse, CJ looked at me and said, “God I hope this doesn’t suck.” Well not only didn’t it suck, but it was the most fun I had at the movies all year, and when CJ “jokingly” suggested afterward that we get tickets for the next show, I would have gladly done it if we didn’t have stupid adult responsibilities. Trust me when I say that “Geostorm” is going to be a movie you may see years later and regret not seeing on the big screen with an audience.
Worst Movie: “Kidnap”
It’s hard to think of anything more to say about the awfulness of “Kidnap” that I didn’t already cover in my review, but if nothing else this movie should be cherished for allowing Halle Berry to give us numerous facial expressions such as these:
Most Anticipated of 2018
I remember watching the first “Sicario” and thinking, “I’d like this even more if Emily Blunt’s wet blanket character would go away and let Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro kill drug lords in badass extra-judicial ways.” Well apparently the filmmakers read my mind, because that appears to be exactly what they did.
Any movie from Shane Black is gonna be on my list, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we are also getting another “Predator” film that’s directed by the screenwriter who acted in but didn’t write the original. Hey, maybe Shane can cameo as Hawkins too. Also, am I the only one who can never remember how Hawkins dies; I’m pretty sure it was just from a laser blast, right?
Netflix gave Martin Scorsese $100 million to make a gangster movie he should have made 15 years ago, with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci all being digitally de-aged. I can’t wait to try and find it sandwhiched between “Bucky Larson” and season 4 of “That ‘70s Show” on Netflix’s New Releases algorithm.
Mel Gibson. Vince Vaughn. The director of “Bone Tomahawk” and “Brawl in Cell Block 99.” That title. Sold.
At this point is “Mission: Impossible” the only reliably quality franchise left? I have no idea what this one is about, I just know it will have a few great set pieces, some cool locations, and Tom will do something that will put his life at risk and make us again question his sanity. And I can’t wait.
The “Ocean’s” franchise consists of only one good movie, and even that is debatable. But as with the “Ghostbusters” remake, we are going to have to pretend that every piece of marketing for this movie is awesome and hilarious, until it comes out and sucks and we all pretend it didn’t exist. Also, I’m guessing that every one of the actresses will somehow manage to describe their individual characters as either “fierce” or “badass” during the press tours.
No one needed to see what Han Solo was like in his early years, but with the guys behind “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie,” there was at least a chance that they could do something different and fun with the “Star Wars” formula. And apparently they did, which is why they got replaced by Ron Howard, who I’m assuming will mold this into the same serious “Star Wars” blockbuster we have grown accustomed to every year now. What are the chances we also see Han making the Kessel Run, meeting Jabba, crossing paths with Greedo, getting his blaster and vest, and having his heart broken for the first time?
A young hot chick in the future who also turns out to be some genetically programmed warrior. Can this be from the mind of anyone but James Cameron? Jesus I feel like we could already write our review for this film now and know exactly how it will play out, and since he handed the directorial reins to Robert Rodriguez, we also know it will really suck.
I’m also going to go out on a limb and assume that the newest X-Men movie will have a scene in which Magneto again turns evil and kills millions of people but Xavier says “There’s still good in him!,” while whoever the fuck the villain is will be defeated by someone screaming and turning into a giant ball of light or some shit. Have no idea what “New Mutants” is about, but the title sounds like it should be a pilot for a show on Fox.
I know a lot of people really enjoyed the original, but I’m already exhausted anticipating how much Ryan Reynolds is practically going to reach out of the screen, slap me across the face, and yell “C’mon, you’re having fun right!?”
Most AND Least Anticipated
“The 15:17 to Paris” – Apparently after “Sully,” Clint decided to see if he could stretch out an even shorter event into a feature-length movie. The decision to cast the actual heroes could prove cinematically awkward since I’m guessing Clint gave them about five minutes of acting lessons before hitting the golf course.
“Death Wish” – I know we have discussed our trepidations about this movie, but at least we are finally getting Bruce back on the big screen. Unless another controversial shooting happens, in which case I guess this is going on my 2019 list.
“Creed 2” – “Creed” was my favorite film of 2015, and a perfect example of using nostalgia to make a great story even more poignant. But as much as I love Sly and Dolph, the idea of bringing back Ivan Drago makes me very worried this sequel is going too much into fan service.
“Billionaire Boys Club” – Don’t know anything about this other than it features Kevin Spacey, so I can’t wait for the million jokes about replacing him with Christopher Plummer.
“Gotti” – Remember when this at one time was going to star John Travolta, Pacino, and Joe Pesci and be directed by Barry Levinson? And now it just stars Travolta, is directed by Eric from “Entourage,” and was dumped by the studio a week before it was to premiere on VOD. And yet somehow I want to see this even more now.
Movie I’d Be Embarrassed to Buy a Ticket for Just Based on the Title: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
Movie I Will See Despite It’s Unnecessarily Cumbersome Title: “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers”
Best of 2017
“Transformers: The Last Knight”
I saw this three times in the theater and have watched the Blu-ray another two times. As usual, all the Transformers look amazing, Michael Bay doesn’t pussy out about not killing people (in fact he kills a lot, like possibly over a billion people – LOL!), and frankly, I appreciate that he tries to do something different with each film. In this case, somehow Stonehenge is the key to Cybertron’s revival and the Transformers have been around for centuries, despite the fact that they have only been around since 2007 based on the cannon that Bay clearly established in the opening narration of the very first movie. Seriously, this is what Optimus says about 17 seconds into the first movie:
“Message of a new discovery drew us to an unknown planet called Earth.”
He says “unknown.” He did not say, “Unknown, except for all the other times we have been here, like with Merlin and shit. Also we fought in WWII. Other than that, oh hey, what’s this Earth thing? Looks neat!”
And you know what? I don’t care. I am insanely biased, but each time I see any of these movies I walk away pleased, as Michael Bay doesn’t sit there trying to placate every single TF fan in the world. In fact, I honestly don’t think he knows the names of any of the Transformers. I think he spends most of his time writing downs lists of hilarious jokes that hold up a mirror to society and it’s dark racist past. Haha, no I’m kidding, it’s just a post-it note that says, “Don’t forget to work in WHAT’S UP BOYEEEEEEEEE???!!! at some point.”
I’d like to think that Gerard Butler’s method for picking movies is this:
Stumbles out of bed after latest sexscapade
Looks for pants
Reaches out blindly, grabs script by mistake, see that it’s called “Flowers in a Field” or “Death by Knifing”
Looks over at woman in his bed whose name he does not know
Assumes he has probably impregnated her
Looks back at script, shrugs
Says yes to script to refill child support coffers
So, to the son/daughter that is reading this in 2033 (I’m gonna assume your name is … Scotchy?), CJ & Kevin owe you a beer to show our gratitude for “Geostorm.” #TimetoGeostorm
This does a great job of maintaining what we liked about the first one (well-choreographed action sequences, no Bourne-style hyper-editing), while continuing to build out the world they originally established. One low point was casting Common, who fights like he’s mouthing out his fight choreography as he’s doing it.
It’s surprising when a movie gets a shitload of hype and then you see it and it doesn’t disappoint. While “Get Out” doesn’t blow anything out of the water, or reinvent the genre, I found it to be intense, sprinkled with good bits of comedy, and ends with a satisfying conclusion. Also, I like that the main character isn’t an idiot who spends every five minutes going “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA?????”
This was a toss-up with “Justice League,” which I think is much better than people/critics think. I’m giving Thor the edge because it kind of went away from the typical cookie-cutter Marvel style and presented us with a hero that didn’t take himself so seriously, and was also cocky enough to, when discussing his past love Jane, do the “No, she didn’t break up with me, I broke up with her” thing that you say when she definitely broke up with you.
Speaking of Jane, the best thing they ever did was get rid of her. I really enjoyed Tessa Thompson stepping into this franchise, as she was game for whatever they threw at her, AND clearly she seemed to want to actually be in this movie. A nice step up from Natalie Portman, who I am pretty sure refused to ever do more than one take and uses endless Purell when any Thor fans have the audacity to say they like those movies.
Worst of 2017
This movie thought it was clever. The reason I know this is because every time a character said a line, each actor basically turned to the camera and gave a look that said “See? That was clever.” The jokes were not only bad, but they tried to disguise them as being smart, so that if you didn’t laugh it’s not because it wasn’t funny, but it was because you weren’t smart enough to understand the levels at which Steven Soderbergh operates. Well, I’m here to tell you that you DID understand the jokes, they were just horseshit.
Also, Soderbergh is my dark horse for next guy to be accused of sexual misconduct.
I have nothing more to add. (Note: That’s also what the screenwriter said, ba-dum-bum!)
You like aliens? Yup! Like movies where you realize the good guys’ actions prove them to be wrong and the bad guy’s motives correct? Nope! Like movies where a character hides his identity by quickly brushing his hair in another direction? Nope!
Oh no. That is NOT how I thought this survey would go.
This movie sucks. The soundtrack sucks. Edgar Wright sucks.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”
I’ve realized Johnny Depp’s entire acting repertoire is just a slower version of shifty eyes.
Best Post-Credits Scene: Bruce Willis appearing at the end of “Split”
This delighted the crowd because we realized it meant this movie takes place in the same universe as “Unbreakable,” but also sets us up to see Bruce return to an awesome role as the only superhero who can defeat Thanos.
Best Movie That I Assumed Would Be a Pile of Shit but Was In Fact Not a Pile of Shit: “Kong: Skull Island”
For reals! This movie was actually pretty enjoyable. Kong was cool and all kinds of fighty, the CGI looked pretty good, and when the hero tries to give a hero speech, Sam Jackson tells them to shut the fuck up.
Most Anticipated of 2018
Bumblebee makes it a second-straight Best Picture win for Paramount, grossing three billion dollars! I also think it would be awesome if G.I. Joe can make a cameo.
World: “CJ, what are the two greatest movies ever?”
CJ: “’Transformers’ and ‘Jurassic Park’!”
World: “What if they fought?”
(CJ passes out)
Five years later…
World: “What if they fought AGAIN?”
(CJ screams like girl, then passes out)
World: “So, still single then?”
The trailer has me worried. “Jurassic World” came up with the idea of using dinosaurs in modern warfare, which sounded AWESOME. However, the trailer makes it sound like we are just going to watch Chris Pratt try and rescue dinosaurs from a volcano or something. I hope we are being misled, and the real movie is something awesome like the dinosaurs killing all the humans and then fighting each other “Mortal Kombat”-style. Or just a full-length movie version of “Dinosaurs”:
After 10 years we are finally here, and there is a lot of speculation as to who gets killed off. I hope it’s Ant-Man.
It’s “Pacific Rim” AND THE ROCK!
The first “Equalizer” is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and one of the only times I debated walking out of a theater. I am so sure this will be a worse pile of shit that I will wait for VOD – and STILL walk out of it!
Since I called for Ant-Man’s death in “Infinity War,” it should be no surprise I am not excited for this movie. That being said, I will be there opening weekend because (sigh) I, for one, welcome our new Marvel overlords.
“The 15:17 to Paris”
I know this is a great story, and kudos for the real-life guys snagging some Hollywood roles/cash for this. I’m also not keen on shitting on these guys for cashing out like I would have. So … “Equalizer 2” is definitely gonna suck.
“Jungle Book: Origins”
What the fuck is this shit?
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Every time I see a picture of Alden Ehrenreich, all I can think is “Fuck this guy.”
Best of 2017
“Blade Runner: 2049”
Amazing score, cinematography and acting by Ryan Gosling. Harrison Ford was actually decent as well, which was a surprise. The movie went long, but it was still a great cinematic experience all around and way more compelling than the original. I’ve been a fan of director Denis Villeneuve ever since “Sicario” and he didn’t disappoint again.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Truth be told, I didn’t actually see this movie, but everyone I know whose opinions on movies I trust has told me it was one of their favorite films of the year. So I’m kind of a dick for putting it on my list without actually having seen it, but I don’t care!
“John Wick Chapter 2”
Great movie? Hell no. Great story and acting? NOPE. Awesome soundtrack? Guess again pal. So why is it on the list? Because it’s John Wick that’s why, and if we don’t put him on the list all that will happen is he’ll track us down and kill us.
I don’t know how this movie isn’t more well known, but I’m going to chalk it up to the amount of “keistering” that goes on during it. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime and I’d recommend it. It’s pretty violent and honestly lacks any real moral high ground, which I appreciate.
“I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore”
This movie was a big time sleeper; I actually don’t know anyone who has seen it, and I doubt you at home have even heard about it, but it’s a quality flick. A black comedy with a shocking amount of graphic violence towards the latter half, plus it stars a woman, or actually two women if you count Elijah Wood, who do a great job of carrying the film.
Worst of 2017
“Kong: Skull Island”
Kevin, I know you liked this movie (Kevin: I did?), but as much as I wanted to I just couldn’t get into it. I talk a lot about my pet peeves, but my biggest pet peeve, going all the way back to childhood when I’d watch “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon, is when a hero or group of heroes, or a gigantic gorilla in this case, are just killing hundreds of enemies who are all the same. This seems to be a motif we can’t escape from, especially since Neo battled 20,000 Mr. Smiths more than 15 years ago. With TMNT it was the never-ending hoards of robot ninjas, while in “Kong: Skull Island” it’s the skullcrawlers. If you’ve been to the movies you’ve seen this more times than you can count, and I hate it.
“The Fate of the Furious”
This was a horrible pile of garbage even by “Fast and Furious” standards.
Confusing and disjointed movie originally designed to rival the Marvel Universe, but instead failed on every level.
Most Anticipated of 2018
“Sicario 2: Soldado”
There’s a different director this time around, so there is no doubt that this will not be as good as the original “Sicario,” which I still maintain was the best movie of 2015 despite being completely snubbed by the Academy. “Sicario 2” looks like it’ll still scratch that itch though. Plus I love Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Donovan, and as a bonus it’s got some actress in it named Isabela Moner, who is giving me an Isabela Boner. That’s how you write comedy folks (yes I know she’s only 16).
I don’t know much about this film other than Martin Scorsese is directing it, which is enough for me to add it to any list. For a while I thought it was another movie about Whitey Bulger, but as it turns out it’s about a totally different piece of shit named Jimmy Hoffa. Here’s my prediction: the movie will be three hours long and feature lots of Rolling Stones songs, and at the very end there will be a big montage with voiceover narration while Hoffa’s corpse is placed into the trunk of a Cadillac; then that Cadillac is crushed into a cube, that cube is loaded on to a ship full of scrap metal, and that scrap metal is dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.
This movie looks terrible in every way, but it looks like MY kind of terrible. Terrible in the same way “Triple 9,” “The Town,” and anything staring DMX in the early 2000s were both terrible and awesome at the same time. It has the feeling of someone who saw “Heat” and thought, “This movie would be way better if it starred more rappers.” I’m not running to the theater opening day or anything, but I’d definitely pop in and check it out if it coincided with me having to use the Regal Cinemas toilet to prevent an accident.
Sorry, but I’m counting both of these as one film. Nick Park’s claymation has been entertaining since “The Wrong Trousers.” I love his wide-mouthed, bad-teethed, limey lovable buffoons and all their misadventures. He, like Wes Anderson, has a way of making a movie that all audiences can enjoy and get something different out of. It’s also pretty rare that I actually want to see a movie that doesn’t feature non-stop graphic sex and violence … rarer still that two movies like that come out in the same year.
I’m a sucker for Westerns that scream “I’m the hero, I’m emotionally damaged, and there’s no way I’m going to be alive by the end of this!” When Christian Bale isn’t doing his weird Batman voice he’s actually a fairly decent actor. Kudos for dusting off Wes Studi, who hasn’t had the opportunity to play a temperamental Native American deprived of his homeland in almost two entire years!
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
This goes for ANYTHING “Star Wars” related. Toys, video games, animated cartoons, food, Roombas shaped like Darth Vader’s head, and people named “George.” I want this to all come to an end already! Anyone who truly believes these movies are still enjoyable are dimwits. Remember when the first “new” trilogy of “Star Wars” movies came out and everyone thought they were horrible. By comparison, those were masterpieces when stacked up next to what we’re getting now. “She made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!” Holy fucking shit, we finally might get to discover what the Kessel Run is! Spoiler alert: It’s the Millennium Falcon flying through a mountain range while Chewbacca loudly gargles piping hot lobster bisque in the passenger seat!
“Death Wish” and “Acts of Violence”
Can someone explain to me how Mike Epps is starring in two different movies with Bruce Willis, and neither of them are comedies? When the producers were thinking about which actor could break the news to Bruce Willis that his wife has been murdered and his daughter raped within an inch of her life, did they think, “You know who would be perfect for this? That guy who has played a wisecracking pimp 18 times.” I actually think that “Acts of Violence” is just a disjointed movie they cobbled together from “Death Wish” outtakes. And am I the only one who is wondering if Bruce Willis will ever play a part where he has hair again?
Every single day at least five articles are shoved down my throat with ridiculous titles like “10 Reasons Why You Can’t Handle an All-Female ‘Ocean’s’ Movie!” This turd-on-ice has already gone down the same road as the “Ghostbusters” remake, where every piece of press dares you not to love it for fear of being labeled a sexist hate-mongering honky for life. Well, I am a sexist hate-mongering honky, and I’ll continue to be one even if this movie is awesome! Which it won’t be. Rhianna is playing a computer hacker … let me just write that again and please read it slowly and out loud: Rhianna is playing a computer hacker.
“Avengers: Infinity War”
Let’s do the math: a 2-hour movie with 30 stars, and no doubt a 90-minute-long action sequence which will consist of the unkillable heroes and unkillable villains tossing each other through walls and drop-kicking themselves into outer space. Sounds great. I wonder if Black Widow will survive? She’s only a 32-year-old mortal with zero super powers going up against an ancient God from another planet, so yep it’s going to be a real chess match!
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
So Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are going back to Kong Island to rescue the dinosaurs from a volcano. What’s their plan again? From the trailer it looks like the plan is “Don’t ask questions, let’s just get there first and wing it! And by ‘wing it’ we mean hopping on the ass of a pterodactyl and flying away from the plume of lava, ash, and smoke, and in the process ultimately saving nothing but our own pathetic lives. Sound good?! Great, now let’s make a movie about it!”
Movies I Am On the Fence About:
“Annihilation” – “Ex Machina” was great, but as a natural born hater of all women, a movie about a group comprised of nothing but women going off into the unknown to save the world seems stupid.
“The Predator” – I know nothing other than Shane Black is directing it.
“The Commuter” – AKA “Taken Part 6.”
“Rampage” – Great arcade game with one simple premise, not sure how they’re going to make this into a story.
“Alita: Battle Angel” – Effects look cool. James Cameron being involved is giving me pause though.
“Super Troopers 2” – I feel like “Super Troopers 1” covered all the bases.
Honestly I thought this was a pretty weak year for movies, to the point where I couldn’t really come up with enough movies I felt strongly about one way or the other. Hopefully 2018 will be a lot better, so on that note: