- OnScreen Chief Film Critic
June has given way to July, which means that the year is halfway over, which makes this time of year a perfect point to take a look at the year in movies to this point. Halfway through 2017, there have been a few genuine standout hits at the box office and a few movies that have really resonated with audiences. It also seems that there have been more duds than normal compared to the last few years. Compared to last year, this feels like a down year overall, so far.
Last year, nine of the ten titles that made my mid-year list ended up in my Top 20 at the end of the year. In 2015, only 7 ended up making the year-end list. I suspect that this year could be similar to 2015, or slightly lower depending on the quality of the awards season fare. To date, I’ve seen 33 films movies this year released before July 1st. Here are the ones I consider to be the Top 10 (so far).
10. Personal Shopper
After years of being the face of a YA franchise and having her name in the tabloids, Stewart has emerged as a talented young actress. This haunting and elegiac film from Olivier Assayas is a showcase role for her. It’s a film with an ending that is open to interpretation, but it’s also got emotional heft, as Stewart’s character is a personal shopper for a celebrity but is also a medium waiting to hear from her recently deceased twin brother. It’s a unique little ghost story.
Like The Lego Movie, the Lego Batman Movie has a lot of stuff going on, almost like it’s made for hyperactive kids in a hyperactive world. But there’s also a lot of fun and entertainment in too. It has lots of nods and winks to the various iterations of Batman in the past. The Lego franchise of movies may very soon veer off into “worn out” territory, but for now it’s still enjoyable. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden hankering for lobster thermidor.
Of all of the movies I’ve seen this year, Captain Underpants cracking the Top 10 (So Far) is perhaps the most unexpected. But I laughed so hard at this movie. It perfectly captures that 3rd & 4th grade level of humor that it goes for. And it makes the stakes seem like life and death, even though they are trivial, because of course what most kids consider to be the end of the world events are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things. It’s just naturally funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
Okja is a Netflix original film from Korean director Bong Joon-ho. It’s phenomenal. Okja is a fully realized CGI creation and the friendship between her and Mija, the little girl trying to save her from the Mirando Corporation, is really sweet. It’s another interesting Bong concoction, which comes with his typical social commentary woven into the story. But it does detract from the overall picture.
Colossal was a really surprising film. I thought it was one thing going into it and it turned out to be something almost entirely different. Clearly, making the Top 10 (So Far), that’s not a bad thing. Hathaway is great, playing a different role than she typical is seen. And the same can be said of Jason Sudekis, who really gets a chance to go in a different direction. In fact, the movie plays very much against mainstream Hollywood expectations, and I give it props for going where it goes.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is exactly what an action sequel is supposed to be, something bigger that expands the world we glimpsed in John Wick. It also further cemented that this was the kind of movie that Keanu should have been making for the last decade or so. I think it’s safe to say that Keanu has taken the action championship belt from Liam Neeson.
Logan is the swan song for Hugh Jackman in the role of Wolverine. It’s been a pretty good run. And Jackman ends it on a high note here. Logan is the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for; full of the brutal violence that fits the character. Newcomer Dafne Keene is also great as Laura, aka, X-23.
3. Wonder Woman
Warner Brothers and DC Films finally hit one out of the park with their expanded universe. Wonder Woman succeeds where Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad failed. It’s got great action, quality characters, and a welcome earnestness and heart that has been sorely lacking since everyone started trying to ape Nolan. Here’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
2. Get Out
Get Out is the runaway winner for sleeper hit of the year, regardless of what happens the rest of the year. On a budget of less than $5 million it became one of the biggest movies of the year. It resonated with critics and audiences alike. It’s fun, unnerving, and keeps you off balance. It’s also a throwback to psychological thrillers and horrors, drawing inspiration from Night of the Living Dead and The Stepford Wives as being able to weave social commentary into the story.
1. Baby Driver
Hands down the most fun I have had in a movie theater this year. Baby Driver raced to the top of my list after I saw it last week. A crime action movie fueled by a propulsive soundtrack, the movie is a perfect example of every element of a film working in harmony together to create an enhanced whole and a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable movie experience.