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Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Year-End Recap: Favorite Movie Moments & Random Film Shout Outs


I will be publishing my Top Ten Films of 2017 list over at Why So Blu? on December 29th. It will be posted here at a later date as well, but leading up to the Top Ten, I will be posting a few lists reflecting my thoughts on the many films from this year. This list features a collection of my favorite movie moments of the year, along with a variety of films I wanted to give a shout out to. Whether they are documentaries I caught up with, big blockbusters I was entertained by, or the smaller or foreign-language films I really enjoyed but couldn't fit into my top ten, let alone my top forty, I wanted to provide a list that gave them all some more notice. As far as the moments, there were some genuinely sublime moments of cinema that I wanted to single out for a new idea for a list I had. So here are the listings of favorite movie moments (mild spoilers) and some random shout outs for the films of 2017 (with links to the reviews for each when available).


17 Favorite Movie Moments From the Films of 2017:

17. The Catacombs - John Wick: Chapter 2


16. The Big Premiere - Brigsby Bear

The Brigsby Bear Movie has it's big premiere and audiences love it. There are many funny bits and emotional beats, but it all comes together in a finale that combines the oddball sensibilities of this film with the emotional throughline found in Kyle Mooney's character throughout. Not hurting is how we are seeing another Mark Hamill film that speaks to why its okay to move on from the past while holding onto what's familiar.

15. Rogue's Gallery - The LEGO Batman Movie


14. Texting - Personal Shopper

In a year where certain horror films and thriller try to get you with noise and over-elaborate setpieces, a thrilling moment belongs to the silent exchange of texts during a train ride. This whole sequence watched Kristen Stewart send messages to someone that could possibly be her dead brother. The way Assayas uses the text language and those three dots that indicate typing is pretty fantastic and a way to keep the viewer wholly engaged.

13. Phone Call - Darkest Hour

It would be easy to highlight a couple of the big speeches, but my favorite moment of Darkest Hour is a pleasing scene between Churchill and FDR over the phone. The two have a historically famous rapport that is given a bit of time for the sake of an awkward conversation that finds Churchill asking for help. It speaks well to how great Oldman is in the little moments as well as the strength of the writing overall.

12. A Visual Explanation - Wonderstruck

A mystery is slowly unfolding throughout Wonderstruck, and the film's final portion is devoted to revealing a great deal of information. Rather than relay this through a character sitting down and spilling the beans, Haynes and his team put together a magical sequence utilizing lots of old-school techniques to essentially bring a storybook to life.

11. Dealing With Science - Logan Lucky

Comedic tension can be wonderful, and that's precisely what you get during the elaborate heist sequence in Logan Lucky. The best bit comes from Daniel Craig's Joe Bang, who is forced to explain just how technical making a bomb from a plastic bag and some random items can be.

10. Predator - The Florida Project

Willem Dafoe deserves plenty of credit for his grounded performance as a sympathetic hotel manager. He has lots of wonderfully human moments, but I really love when he takes charge after spotting an old man taking a bit too much interest in the kids playing in the area. Dafoe's reaction and actions to handle the situation is the kind of hero moment that's great to see in a film, let alone life.

9. Performance Art - The Square

Intense and painfully awkward. Kong himself, Terry Notary, arrives towards the end of The Square and makes a massive display of aggression. The commitment his performance artist character has to the role of an ape walking among humans is agonizing in some ways, humorous in others, but utterly memorable.

8. No Man's Land - Wonder Woman

As cynicism and despair slowly creep into our superhero films, along comes Wonder Woman to bring back the sense of hope and duty that we should want in our heroes. The No Man's Land sequence is a brilliant representation of what we should want to see in any superhero. Someone that stands up to evil and doesn't give in to what's considered a lost cost when lives are on the line. It's a great bit of filmmaking and an easy highlight for DC's best in their current cinematic universe.

7. Kumail Bombs - The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani has capitalized greatly off his dry wit that blends well with his status as an immigrant-turned-successful stand-up. The Big Sick shows just how deep he can dig dramatically, given a chance. Combining that with his comedic side proved to be a terrific moment in a pivotal scene where he has the opportunity to forward his career, but blows it very publicly on stage because of his intense emotions at the time.

6. The Holdo Maneuver - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

There are a lot of great moments of spectacle in The Last Jedi, but this one is brilliant. It's the sort of innovative moment that makes you realize you always wanted to see something like this, given what we know about Star Wars technology. It's also a bold moment for Laura Dern's character, and Rian Johnson and his team do tremendous work as filmmakers to make this moment land in such an awesome way. 

5. Bellbottoms - Baby Driver




3. A Musical Number - The Shape of Water

As The Shape of Water moves forward, following the big heist sequence that would be the climax of other films, new scenes emerge to show what happens next. The most beautiful scene arrives after the one pictured above, as it finds a way to depict what's going on in Eliza's head. A black and white song and dance number with the creature works as an odd musical tribute working to capture what it is for two silent characters to be together.

2. The Sunken Place - Get Out

This hypnosis scene is excellent thanks to the strength of the performances (Catherine Keener and Daniel Kaluuya) on both sides and the building of tension. Jordan Peele deserves all sorts of credit for how well he's crafted this entire sequence, as it plays off specific fears and finds a unique way to show just how terrifying things can get for Chris.

1. Out of Gas - Dunkirk

My absolute favorite movie moment is one that's emotional to watch and brilliant to see captured on IMAX film. After turning around, knowing that he won't be making it back home, Tom Hardy's Farrier finally runs out of gas and simply glides across the beaches of Dunkirk. Soldier look above not quite understanding what they are seeing, and all the sound stops to acknowledge the pure beauty of this image. The final shot above is also a great way to wrap the film up, but it's those scenes of the Spitfire gliding across the sky that stood out above everything else.


17 Random 2017 Film Shout Outs (Alphabetical)

Chasing Coral

A heartbreaking, yet beautifully shot documentary showing how human activity is destroying the lives of these incredibly colorful coral reefs.


Not everything works, but Fox deserves plenty of credit for letting Gore Verbinski make a big budget, gonzo psychological thriller full of fantastic visuals and creepiness. 

First They Killed My Father

Angelina Jolie's best film yet as a director also features some fantastic cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle. It's a tough watch, but if Jolie is going to keep making movies like this, it's easier to support than simple vanity projects.


It's a shame this reasonably large release from A24 wasn't given more attention from audiences. It's a comedic pleasure with tons of action thanks to the dragged-out shootout that dominates the film.


I've gone out and said this was not the film for me, but I completely respect those who love it. I look forward to revisiting the movie at some point because David Lowery does a great job of channeling a pretentious high concept into a film with many great moments.

The Incredible Jessica James

Here's an indie comedy about friendship and relationships between genuinely nice people. Imagine that? Sweet and funny performances with some clever subversions make this Netflix release a great watch.


It's easy to champion director James Mangold for his stripped-down approach to this superhero western. That said, lurking beneath some of the overdone R-ratedness are two fantastic acting performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart that are well worth giving praise to.

Marjorie Prime

Currently on Amazon Prime, I was happy to catch up with this stage play-turned-cinematic feature. As opposed to other very elaborate sci-fi flicks, here's one with a specific concept utilized for the sake of an excellent character study depicting the lives of four family members.


This little film is a solid docu-style drama about a Hasidic Jew who can't get a break. It makes the most of its limited scope and is another tiny indie worth seeking out.

Nocturama

Challenging and disturbing at times, thrilling and darkly humorous at others, Nocturama is on Netflix and will lead to a variety of reactions, given the premise involving hipster terrorists.

Okja

Bong Joon-Ho's satirical adventure film does very well in balancing his sensibilities with the off-the-wall nature of where things go when you have a genetically modified creature on the run with his lifelong companion.


I expect to see the name Bene Coopersmith in future films because he has a standout supporting performance in this witty indie comedy that looks at the day in the life for several people in New York.

Raw

Part cannibalistic horror film and part coming-of-age drama, Raw is unique, to say the least, but also very well made and quite memorable.


The other Dunkirk tribute film to come out this year, along with Dunkirk and Darkest Hour. It's a good comedy-drama about making movies, with some fun performances, including the great Bill Nighy.


While War didn't quite hit me as hard as Dawn, credit indeed goes to the fantastic effort that went into this production. The effects are incredible, and Andy Serkis, along with the other performers all deserve plenty of credit for helping to bring these ape characters to life.

Win It All

Jake Johnson should be a movie star. Joe Swanberg's film about a guy with some issues involving gambling is a terrific showcase for why the New Girl star is bound for bigger things, given the opportunity.


One of the biggest box office successes in the world came right out of China, and it's a blast. You don't need to see Wolf Warrior to appreciate the action bonanza that is Wolf Warrior 2. This movie is packed with crazy, over-the-top action scenes and it all comes together in a fun and very colorful way, no different than how the most absurd American action films manage to accomplish this.

***
Stay tuned my favorite films of the year.

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