2017 was a hell of a year for cinema. Despite the nutsacks that trot out the same old “cinema is dead” articles the week a new superhero movie comes out, cinema was alive and vibrant and varied as hell. There was some true all-timers that came out and some serious misses. Thankfully not enough to weigh down the batting average of the year.
But as usual, there’s gonna be some flicks that get a bit more love than they genuinely deserve. Again, that usually just means giving a slightly above average movie the credit of an all-timer. However, there is one in here that has gotten way too much praise for something as amateurish as it is. The New Year is here, gang. Let’s get back to it.
10. The Big Sick
When this came out, everyone was treating it like the next coming of the rom-com. People loved that Kumail Nanjiani had taken the true story of his marriage and wrung some cinematic magic out of it. The movie is cute and heartfelt and pretty damn funny, but it’s not some transcendent piece of game-changing cinema. It’s a really good example of the rom-com that has, like many comedies today, some fat on it that could use some trimming.
In a weird way, it reminds one of “Funny People” in that it’s a comedy that is set in the world of stand up comedy, dealing with a love story. But this feels like the inverse of that movie, where this one’s weakness is the stand up. There’s gold in here, including the best 9/11 joke ever. But let’s not get too crazy here.
9. Lady Bird
This was a very solid coming-of-age movie about a white girl dealing with life as an outsider in high school. The only problem is is that there’s roughly 2,000 of these movies released every year, and there’s only a few things that separate it from the pack. Being a period piece set in the early 2000s gives it a different flavor than most. Greta Gerwig is clearly utilizing her own life to inform the movie, as it has a ring of authenticity that most tend to lack. Tracy Letts is another solid element that those other losers don’t have. But what it has is story beats that are just stock in trade of every one of these movies.
It isn’t as funny or insightful as a masterpiece would be. It’s really good. An element of this that it shares with “The Big Sick” is that there’s a strong sense of narcissism to the enterprise that one can’t shake. Like the filmmaker is so in love with themselves that everyone needs to see an almost unfiltered portrayal of it. The love has gotten out of control. Greta Gerwig doesn’t need anymore undue praise.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
The Thor franchise has been one of the few blights on the MCU thus far, so changing it up was a great idea for them. And it paid off! But the praise has maybe been a bit too effusive. As funny and entertaining as it is, there are some pretty big holes in it.
As a big part of the endgame with “Infinity War,” this movie’s dramatic elements land with a big ole thud. It doesn’t really manage to get the balance that it needs. In a year where “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “The Last Jedi” came out and perfectly nailed the balance, this movie’s weaknesses stand out even more. It also doesn’t overcome the typical MCU problem of having a villain played by a big actor to distract from the fact that they kind of do nothing in the movie. Much like the movie itself, the praise for this movie has not been perfectly balanced.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Another solid entry from the MCU that helps to breathe new life into a fractured character. It gets back to basics and brings the first true interpretation of Spidey to the screen. No half in/half out nonsense like Tobey or Andrew. This is Spidey. But for a blockbuster action movie, its action is pretty bad. The climax of the movie is pretty much incomprehensible.
The villain is fine, buoyed by a great performance by Michael Keaton. But there’s a bit of a gulf in believability, with this 70-year-old man giving a mutant a run for his money straining plausibility. Not to mention him just becoming a criminal mastermind that is an equal to the Cartel at his age is a bit much. For as well as it nails the street level heroics and the dynamics of Spidey’s personal life, it doesn’t really hit the superhero aspects too well. It’s a good starting point for this iteration of Spidey. On its own? Not as great as we’re being led to believe.
6. The Florida Project
This is a really good movie. Damn near great. But there’s a weird thing going on with those that love this movie. They’re claiming that it is some tear-jerking masterwork that destroys the viewer at the end. Why? It’s almost like they’re upset that this little girl is being torn away from the maniac mother of hers. Ignoring that this woman is super negligent. Ignoring that she’s prostituting with the little girl in the bathroom. Sure, the little girl is upset and there’s a twinge of sadness at seeing her despair. But the ending of the movie is the best case scenario for her.
The whole movie is about following Willem Dafoe come to terms with the fact that he can’t abide the living situation for this girl. It’s a great and humane look at this transient society, but it’s not making it seem like an ideal lifestyle. There can be humanity within it and people can make the best of it. But it’s not trying to make the case for it. This girl gets an escape. Don’t cry. Cheer. It’s this weird misreading of the movie that makes one feel like it’s not being received correctly.