TC Candler

The Top 10 Films of xxxx

1. Mother!

Darren Aronofsky’s film starts off as a creepy and eerily quiet tale.  It gradually escalates through the gears, cranking up the unbearable tension until it explodes into one of the most bat-shit-crazy final acts of any film ever made.  Jennifer Lawrence gives the best performance of the year. The biblical symbolism rolls in thick and fast, adding a magnificent secondary layer to be contemplated.  Everything about “Mother!” is fascinating and original and a total mind-fuck. 

9.8 / 10

2. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Yorgos Lanthimos is fast becoming one of my favorite directors.  His style is so recognizable.  His dialogue is utterly unique.  The cynicism, the humor, the intentionally stiff performances… everything about a Lanthimos movie is simultaneously mesmerizing, hilarious and sinister.  “Sacred Deer” creeps up on you – slowly giving viewers goosebumps, followed swiftly by jaw-dropping tension.  There are terrific performances from Farrell, Kidman and Keoghan.

9.6 / 10

3. Get Out

Jordan Peele hits it out of the park in his directorial debut.  The sketch comedian delivers a darkly funny and subtly menacing movie about the awkward trevails of a black boyfriend going to visit his white girlfriend’s off-kilter family in a wealthy area of upstate New York.  Each scene captures the themes of white guilt, black paranoia, ulterior motives over-compensation, and two-faced behavior.  “Get Out” is so terrifically observant about race-relations in modern-day America.

9.6 / 10

4. Phantom Thread

I don’t believe Daniel Day-Lewis when he says this is his last film… but if it is, it is an amazing finale.  As with “There Will Be Blood”, Day-Lewis works his magic in front of Paul Thomas Anderson’s camera lens.  The partnership ranks alongside Scorsese and De Niro’s in terms of sheer brilliance.  All that being said, it is Vicky Krieps who steals the entire film, with a co-starring turn that is nothing short of masterful.  “Phantom Thread” is a surprising combo of the funny and the profound.

9.5 / 10

5. American Made

I am not sure that I had a more entertaining time at the movies in 2017 than I did with Tom Cruise’s “American Made”.  From the first minute until the final credits, the movie is relentlessly energetic, consistently funny, and nail-bitingly exciting.  The fact that the entire saga was based on a true story makes it even more amazing and enjoyable.  Tom Cruise is a consummate movie star and he makes this film soar. 

9.4 / 10

6. The Square

Any film featuring a tug of war with a full condom… or a man devolving into an ape before our very eyes, at a black-tie dinner… well, that film deserves to be seen.  It also won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.  “The Square” is a delightfully strange melange of stories, centering in and around an experimental art-museum, from director Ruben Östlund.  This dark-comedy exists to confound audiences with brilliance and absurdity in equal measure.

9.3 / 10

7. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

In the first half of the 20th century, Hedy Lamarr was generally accepted as the most beautiful woman on Earth.  She was easily one of the biggest names in Hollywood.  However, she resented being thought of only for her resplendent looks.  So, she went ahead and invented one of the most important pieces of technology in the world today.  She was the complete package of visual perfection and astonishing intelligence.  This Hedy Lamarr documentary is endlessly fascinating.

9.2 / 10

8. Downsizing

Your enjoyment of this film rest entirely on two things. Can you accept the drastic cinematic shift that occurs after the central character gets ‘downsized’?  Also, can you tolerate the bizarre new character introductions in the ‘downsized’ world.  I went with both of them and had a great time as a result.  Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz & Hong Chau all deliver.  The pace is energetic.  I laughed and I cried.  The premise may be a silly sci-fi conceit, but it worked on every level.

9.2 / 10

9. Brad’s Status

Every now and then, funny-man, Ben Stiller can deliver a great performance in a drama; “Your Friends & Neighbors”; “Greenberg”; “While We’re Young” etc.  He suits those roles as a middle-aged man struggling to find himself or to find meaning in life.  “Brad’s Status” is a genuinely thoughtful and observant film about just such a man.  A great supporting cast all add to the equation.  A real gem.

9.1 / 10

10. Good Time

It may be tough subject matter, but I think I had more of a “Good Time” with this film than with any other this year.  It is relentlessly fast-paced.  It is dangerous and funny and heartbreaking and intelligent.  Robert Pattinson give his best performance to date.  The direction, editing and cinematography are all locked-in.  This is one of the best “guy movies” of 2017.  Highly recommended!  

9.1 / 10

(Please Scroll Down the Page for More — Acting Awards / All Movie Ratings / The Worst 10 List… etc.)

10 Best Actors

1. Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
2. Daniel Day-Lewis – Phanton Thread
3. Tom Cruise – American Made
4. Ben Stiller – Brad’s Status
5. Daniel Radcliffe – Jungle
6. Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
7. Vince Vaughn – Brawl in Cell Block 99
8. Colin Farrell – The Killing of a Sacred Deer
9. Song Kang-ho – A Taxi Driver
10. John Cho – Columbus

10 Best Actresses

1. Jennifer Lawrence – Mother!
2. Vicky Krieps – Phantom Thread
3. Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project
4. Diane Kruger – In the Fade
5. Haley Lu Richardson – Columbus
6. Eili Harboe – Thelma
7. Kristen Stewart – Personal Shopper
8. Carla Gugino – Gerald’s Game
9. Hong Chau – Downsizing
10. Kim Ok-bin – The Villainess

The GOOD

(Other Good Films Released This Year)

Wonder Woman

9.0 / 10

One of the five best superhero movies of all-time… which, I grant, isn’t saying very much.  However, this one has Gal Gadot in the lead, instead of some brooding, morose dude with a ridiculous self-serious voice.  “Wonder Woman” is intelligent enough not to take itself too seriously.  It is fast paced fun!

Personal Shopper

9.0 / 10

Kristen Stewart plays a “Personal Shopper” with a penchant for talking to the dead in this strangely appealing film.

Nude

9.0 / 10

A superb documentary about renowned photographer, David Bellemere, and his quest to shoot a high-end nude calendar.  Oh, and of course — bonus nudity.

Call Me By Your Name

8.9 / 10

Superlative performances all around in this gorgeous love story.  The cinematography is breathtaking and the script is heartfelt and poignant.

The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo)

8.8 / 10

A riveting and intense murder mystery with Mario Casas.  This Spanish film almost achieves greatness, but I saw the twist coming.  Can you?

Molly’s Game

8.7 / 10

Jessica Chastain plays the architect of one of the biggest illegal ‘home’ poker games ever hosted.  It is a true story and a very interesting watch.

Columbus

8.6 / 10

This indie-gem has elements of “Beautiful Girls” & “Lost in Translation”.  It is a quiet story with two stand-out performances in the lead roles.

The Florida Project

8.4 / 10

The three central performances are great… with special recognition to Brooklyn Prince — a truly special find by the casting agent. 

Icarus

8.4 / 10

You wouldn’t think that a documentary about steroids would be one of the more intriguing and exciting films of the year.  I was riveted.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

8.2 / 10

Vince Vaughn gives perhaps his best dramatic performance as a career criminal who has to access his psychopathic side, once behind bars.

Thelma

8.1 / 10

A strange and moody film about a girl who accesses her psychokinetic powers to wreak havoc on her surroundings.

Catfight

7.8 / 10

This is a feature film version of Peter, from ‘Family Guy’, fighting the chicken… except “Catfight” stars Anne Heche and Sandra Oh.  Darkly hilarious!

A Taxi Driver

7.7 / 10

The great Song Kang-ho stars as “A Taxi Driver” in this South Korean film about the 1980 student uprising.  Starts as a comedy… Ends as a tragedy.

The Villainess

7.6 / 10

A classically South Korean action thriller filled with bloody revenge.  Kim Ok-bin is amazing.  The movie opens with a P.O.V. tracking shot that is sublime.

Gerald’s Game

7.4 / 10

Carla Gugino is a wife, handcuffed to the bed, whose husband dies as they start to have sex.  The key is gone and no one can her screams for help.

War for the Planet of the Apes

7.3 / 10

I haven’t been a huge fan of the series so far… but this entry worked far better than its predecessors.  Silly, but entertaining.

In The Fade

7.3 / 10

Diane Kruger is wonderful as a woman whose family is killed in a terrorist attack.  She mourns and seeks revenge.

Lady Bird

7.2 / 10

Saoirse Ronan is delightful in Greta Gerwig’s first film — a coming-of-age story of a bratty young teen trying to find her path.

The Swindlers

7.2 / 10

A South Korean version of “Ocean’s Eleven”, with a cast of thieves planning an elaborate heist.  Look for Nana, as the seductress, in her first major film role.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

7.1 / 10

An interesting documentary about one of the more fascinating celebrities of our time.  Jim Carrey lives and breathes Andy Kaufman’s spirit.

Jungle

7.1 / 10

Daniel Radcliffe is fast becoming a great actor.  The film itself is a decent one… but the performance is electric.  A true survival story in the jungle.

Newness

7.0 / 10

A young couple decides to openly court other lovers with no room for jealousy.  However, as expected, things don’t go to plan.

The Big Sick

7.0 / 10

The early hype for this comedy was absurd.  It is a cute film with some decent supporting performances.  The script is better than the execution.

The Girl with All the Gifts

6.9 / 10

Zombie movies wore out their welcome many moons ago… but this one finds a nice new angle and completely surprised me.

Blade Runner 2049

6.8 / 10

The original is a sci-fi classic.  “2049” is visually gorgeous, but takes an egregiously long time to tell a less compelling story than we were expecting.

Dunkirk

6.8 / 10

Here is a classic example of a technically brilliant film that lacks much soul.  I admired the craft of this film more than I enjoyed the story.

Wind River

6.8 / 10

A murder-mystery in a snowy wilderness sounds right up my alley.  “Wind River” sets up really well, but fails to deliver a knock-out punch.  Good, not great.

Faces Places

6.6 / 10

Director Agnes Varda and a photographer travel through France meeting interesting people and taking enormous portraits.  Sneakily good!

The Trip to Spain

6.6 / 10

Each of “The Trips” with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have been fun.  However, each time out, the schtick gets a little more tired.

The Beguiled

6.5 / 10

Sofia Coppola directs an all star cast in the remake of the 1970’s Eastwood flick.  It is well made, but a tad underwhelming and unnecessary. 

I, Tonya

6.5 / 10

Margot Robbie is superb as Tonya Harding, but the film doesn’t always navigate the shifting comedic / dramatic tones particularly well.

Alone in Berlin

6.4 / 10

A nice little film about quiet, peaceful resistance to the Nazis in WWII Berlin.  Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson are typically reliable.

The Mountain Between Us

6.3 / 10

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are both supreme talents, but the lack of romantic chemistry is obvious and scuppers the movie’s chances of anything more.

Nocturama

6.2 / 10

Terrorism told from the perspective of the terrorists.  It is an ambitious premise… but the film drags too often to be more than an oddity.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

6.1 / 10

I find it a little absurd that this film won so many prestigious awards.  It is a perfectly fine film with a nice cast… nothing more.

The Outlaws

6.0 / 10

This South Korean cop-mafia-gang thriller doesn’t quite live up to the country’s usual impeccable standards… but it is nevertheless worth a watch.

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Murder on the Orient Express

5.5 / 10

The all-star cast felt completely ‘stagey’.  It is like a procession of cameos.  Nothing felt natural… including Kenneth Branagh’s mustache.  Mildly fun.

Split

5.5 / 10

Aside from a terrific multi-character performance from James McAvoy, Shyamalan’s film is too bleak and miserable to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Before I Fall

5.4 / 10

Zoey Deutch stars in a combination of “Groundhog Day” & “Final Destination”.  She holds together the ludicrous premise just enough to make it watchable.

The Shape of Water

5.2 / 10

The visuals are lovely, but Del Toro has directed a self-serious Gothic remake of “Splash” without any of the charm of the 1980’s goofball rom-com.

Hostages

5.1 / 10

Based on a true-story, this movie tells the story of a hijacking gone wrong.  It lacks any memorability factor and simply exists as a decent effort.

Wonder Wheel

5.0 / 10

I love 90% of Woody Allen films.  He is a genius.  However, this particular effort is weak and never captures his intent.  The script feels forced.

A Cure for Wellness

4.5 / 10

The visuals are eerie.  The tone is creepy.  But the film goes off the deep-end in the final act.  The seed of a good film can be found… nothing more.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

4.5 / 10

Noah Baumbach is one of the great screenwriters of the past 25 years.  Unfortunately, a superb cast can’t scrape too much out of this screenplay.

The BAD

(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

I Love You, Daddy

3.8 / 10

Louis CK directs a Woody Allen wannabe screenplay.  The black & white cinematography seems unnecessary and the script needs a big re-write. 

The Circle

3.6 / 10

Tom Hanks is barely more than a cameo here.  Emma Watson feels stiff and uncomfortable reciting a weak script with an iffy American accent.

The Only Living Boy in New York

3.6 / 10

A massive all-star cast cannot save a script that desperately wants to be more profound than it is.  Kate Beckinsale is the only light in a dull film.

The Post

3.4 / 10

Spielberg directs Hanks and Streep — How could it fail?  Quite easily.  The talent involved is extraordinary… but the story is completely uninvolving.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

2.8 / 10

“The Force Awakens” slightly redeemed the tiresome franchise… But “The Last Jedi” recalled the impotence of the prequels.  Dead Horse = Beaten!

Berlin Syndrome

2.6 / 10

This eerie kidnap thriller starts off with some effective scenes.  Ultimately, however, it has no idea how to close the show and becomes pretty awful.

Baby Driver

2.5 / 10

It feels like one of those late 90’s Tarantino imitations.  “Baby Driver” is so desperate to be cool, that it entirely forgets to be any good.  Ugh.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2.4 / 10

Dwayne Johnson & Karen Gillan are typically charming.  Kevin Hart & Jack Black are typically trying too hard.  The story is intended for 7 year-old kids.

The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

Unlocked

1.8 / 10

A top-notch cast all spew out horrific performances in a very cheap looking thriller that is not fit to play on late-night cable TV.  Utterly lame.

9/11

1.5 / 10

Charlie Sheen, Gina Gershon, Whoopi Goldberg & Luis Guzman trapped in a World Trade Center elevator on 9/11.  Unintentional laughs… no drama.

Life

1.4 / 10

Ryan Reynolds & Jake Gyllenhaal in a pitiful sci-fi alien thriller that feels like a rip-off of a million other movies in the genre.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

1.3 / 10

Three friends and I went to see “Valerian” as big fans of Luc Besson’s filmography.  Our excitement turned to utter boredom and hate for this mess.

Raw

1.3 / 10

Based on the trailer and early reviews, I fully expected “Raw” to be a Top 10 contender.  Instead, I was unengaged from about the 5-minute mark.

Logan Lucky

1.1 / 10

Imagine an even more ludicrous heist than “Ocean’s Eleven”, executed by a team of dumb-ass southern hicks, with zero humor and zero stakes.

The Belko Experiment

0.8 / 10

This seemed like the perfect ‘airplane movie’ as I soared above the Atlantic.  The cool premise dwindled into a glorification of gory deaths. Awful.

Kidnap

0.1 / 10

A 300-second plot stretched into 90 excruciating minutes.  Halle Berry is atrocious.  “Kidnap” makes the universe dumber for having existed.

Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”
Because virtually all of Guy Ritchie’s movies have been rank trash.

“Justice League”
I can only tolerate one superhero movie a year… if that!

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”
The franchise died over a decade ago… and Johhny Depp has become an embarrassment.

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