Movie Midterm - My Favorite Movies of the First Half of 2017

Well, here we are entering July with half of 2017 over and done with. It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and amid the madness there have been some great movies released this year. We still have six months left for even better things to come out, but let’s pause to recap my favorite movies of the first half of the year.

Honorable Mention - War Machine

This movie kind of came out of nowhere for me, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It is a satire and deals with the talking and political side of war. There is very little shooting or heavy action scenes. Brad Pitt looks like he is having a blast here, and the character interactions are sometimes more fun to experience than the story itself. I like that Netflix (and Amazon for that matter) is putting money into making original films. The medium is changing, and if this is the result, we are in for a bright future.

You can read my full review of War Machine HERE.

Honorable Mention - The Founder

This was the first theatrical movie I watched this year, and it was pretty darn good. Michael Keaton stars as Ray Croc in a movie about how the McDonald’s empire came to be. It fell under the standard biopic formula for sure, but the acting of the incredible cast elevated it to another level. The camera movements and visual representations made by John Lee Hancock made you think you were watching something special. If Keaton gets another Oscar nomination for this, I wouldn’t be surprised. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a rent at the very least. Grab a Big Mac and a chocolate shake and dive in.

Honorable Mention - Power Rangers

This film was better than it ever had any right to be – and that is coming from someone who is a fan of the original TV series. It was definitely The Breakfast Club with a fantasy twist, but I say that as a compliment. In fact, it doesn’t feel like Power Rangers until about the last twenty minutes. The buildup works, and if you can forgive the egregious product placement, the movie is pretty enjoyable from the very first scene. I’ll be honest – this probably won’t make the end of the year Top Ten List because of how back loaded the year is, but there have been some truly terrible movies out this year (Baywatch anyone?) and this deserves recognition above those.

10. Split

I would have never thought that I’d put a new M. Night Shyamalan movie on a “Best of” list. Yet here we are. I avoided Split in theaters because horror/thriller movies aren’t really for me and Shyamalan’s more recent stuff isn’t either. But someone who I trust in this field very much said that I must watch it. So he loaned me the movie and I watched it as a favor - at first. Then I was so glad that I did. It is meticulous in almost every detail and the story is very good, which lacks from some horror/thriller films some times. A lot of times, they go for the cheap tricks. James McAvoy does masterful work, playing someone with 23 personalities and is convincing in all of them. There is an awesome twist at the end that pays tribute to the past and sets up the future. So set up your future by obtaining a copy of this and watching it.

9.  Free Fire

I felt like I was the only one who knew this movie existed. Of course I wasn’t, but in my area, small films don’t get the same recognition as the big blockbusters that have a commercial on TV every 30 seconds. This certainly deserved that recognition. In the age of sequels, reboots, and remakes seeing an original film was a breath of fresh air. The entire movie is one big gun fight. It is entirely in one location for the most part. The magic of it is that they managed to get massive amounts of character development in while shooting each other, so you actually cared who lived and who died. It felt small and intimate, like you were in the warehouse with them. The director, Ben Wheatley, seemed to have fun shooting it because it comes off that way on screen. I hate the term “popcorn flick” because to me it lessens a film and gives it an excuse to be shallow. This is a great movie and would make for a fun night in. You can eat popcorn if you want to, but it’s not mandatory.

If you want to know more, you can read my full review HERE.

8. Beauty and The Beast

The animated version of this movie is one of the best Disney movies ever. To remake it could have been a complete disaster. It is hard to do. If you make it exactly the same, what is the point? Yet if it is too different everyone will automatically hate it because the animated one is so near and dear to them. This had the perfect balance. It stayed true to what it was based off of, yet added more depth and layers to make it a fuller, richer film. The CGI is impressive and it is visually fun to look at. Disney has discovered yet another winning formula to print money so get used to this. Let’s just hope all the ones coming down the pipeline are as great as this one is.

7. John Wick: Chapter 2

Speaking of shoot ‘em up movies, there was another one that came out this year, and it is a sequel to a wonderful 2014 action movie.  John Wick: Chapter 2 is the antithesis of Free Fire. It spans several countries instead of a single warehouse and focuses on one shooter as the main character instead of many. But it still works. The world-building in this is incredible. It is ripe for sequels, and spinoffs. The writers built a universe on accident. They were just trying to make a good, rich back story for everyone. That kind of work is appreciated and this wonderful sequel and all the other Wick related things coming down the pipeline are the pay off. It is a fun, ridiculous action movie that leaves you wanting more and you’ll find yourself asking that question we’ve asked since the 90’s: Does Keanu Reeves ever age?

6. Okja

This is another Netflix Original Movie that was from one of the most talented filmmakers working today - Bong Joon-ho. The movies Netflix makes that don't star Adam Sandler have been pretty good so far. This one was better than War Machine. The commentary of the food (meat) industry intertwined with corporate greed and animal activists while portraying a realistic view of what our pets mean to us made for a wonderful story to be told. It is heartfelt, heartbreaking and makes you think. It certainly isn't a "light" or "fun" movie, but it is still a good movie that deserves to be seen.

The movie can be watched any time on Netflix and my review can be read any time right HERE.

5. The Lego Batman Movie 

The Lego Movie in 2014 was a surprise. It is one of the most brilliant and lovely pieces of art produced in the last century. So naturally, everyone wants more. We got a different corner of it in The Lego Batman Movie. This movie took the best supporting character from the The Lego Movie and built its own world around him. That isn’t hard to do when that character is Batman! But it was funny, heartfelt, warm and coherent at the same time as paying respect to every era of Batman that had ever existed while doing right by its parent movie too. I call it Deadpool for kids – it was hilarious and self-aware (meta, as the kids say) and taught a wonderful lesson about friendship and family. It is a movie you can enjoy by yourself, with your family or anybody else. It is made for nearly everyone and it is absolutely delightful.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

The first movie was an unexpected delight. It is also one of the most rewatchable movies ever; as in you can watch it, then watch it again immediately after it ends the first time and still be insanely entertained. So the bar was set pretty high for the second installment, and for the most part it didn’t disappoint. You could definitely see the Marvel Formula bleeding through the galactic fa├žade, but that’s okay, because the formula works. To be honest, if the movie was just two hours of Baby Groot finding things to give to Yondu it still would be number 4 on the my list. But the depth of character in this is wonderful and Yondu has one of the best arcs in the entire MCU. It was delight and a nice start to a somewhat stale summer movie lineup. It would have been even better if they didn’t have to spend so much time setting up other stories for the future. I do want to revisit this one again, for entertainment and to see where it will fall on my end of the year list.

To read my full, more in depth review, click HERE.

3. Baby Driver

This is one of the only original movies on the list and got in right under the deadline - it came out June 28th, but instantly skyrocketed to number three on my list. Edgar Wright is a bonafide genius. His work speaks for itself. This is another notch in his belt on his way to being a cinematic legend. It is a love story to music with fantastic action sequences and car chases. It has a fun cast and it is a wonderful spectacle to behold. Original cinema deserves to be supported and this is a prime example of why.

My more in depth review can be found right HERE.

2. Logan

Logan is on a whole different level from any other superhero film released in recent memory and could very much be interchangeable with number 1. This was Hugh Jackman’s 9th time playing Wolverine. It was also his last. I won’t spoil it (seriously why haven’t you seen it yet?!) but this movie did what The Dark Knight Rises was too scared to do. It was very effective and just like the original X-Men film launched the modern day super hero craze, Logan took it and evolved it again showing that an intimate personal story can be just as – if not more – impactful than a total “end of the world” chaos story. It is slow and steady, but it wins the race. It is a merciless, stunning western that should get some Oscar love (at least, Jackman and Patrick Stewart should) but won’t. At the very least, it deserves your love.

1. Wonder Woman

This movie looked good. But then again so did Suicide Squad through the previews. I so wanted this movie to be good. DC needed to get this one right. Well thankfully after I walked out of the theater, my worries were for naught. Wonder Woman was a spectacular film. It gives you everything you could ever want in a super hero film. It portrays the text book definitions of “heart” “humor” and “spectacle” perfectly. It has one of the most stunning sequences in any movie of this genre (The No Man's Land scene is worth the price of admission alone). It is a fantastic movie all around without even mentioning the cultural impact. When you add the layer of it being a female director and a female super hero single-handedly rescuing a cinematic universe, it is truly amazing that this film exists and everyone should bow down thank whatever higher power they believe in that they were alive to witness it.

If you want to see more of my thoughts, my full review can be found HERE.

There are a ton of movies coming out in the second half of the year that might bump a few of these off. War For The Planet of the Apes, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Dunkirk and Spider-Man: Homecoming just to name a few. 

What are your favorite films of the year so far and what are you looking forward to? Comment below or tweet me!


Popular posts from this blog

2021 Arrowverse Roundup - Week 30

War For The Planet of the Apes - Review