A few days ago Esquire‘s Nick Schager posted his Top 25 Films of 2017. There is no correct or incorrect way to feel about any film, but what is Schager trying to get across when he calls Bong Joon-ho‘s Okja the year’s third best so far and James Gray‘s The Lost City of Z the fifth best? He also has Ridley Scott‘s Alien: Covenant in eighth place, Chad Stahelski‘s John Wick: Chapter 2 in 13th place and Benny and Josh Safdie‘s Good Time in 15th place.
Sorry, brah, but these picks strike me as ridiculous. You can describe these films as guilty pleasures or quirky outliers, but you can’t say they’re among the top 15. Okay, you can but it seems awfully damn weird.
If you want a Best of 2017 you can take to the bank, consider HE’s tally as of 10.12.17 (and in this order): (1) Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me My Your Name, (2) Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk, (3) Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird, (4) Ruben Ostlund‘s The Square, (5) Matt Reeves‘ War For The Planet of the Apes, (6) Darren Aronofsky‘s mother!, (7) Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick, (8) Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, (9) Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver, (10) Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project, (11) John Curran‘s Chappaquiddick, (12) Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Loveless, (13) Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water, (14) David Lowery‘s A Ghost Story, (15) David Gordon Green‘s Stronger, (16) David Michod and Brad Pitt‘s War Machine, (18) Joseph Kosinski‘s Only The Brave, (19) Jordan Peele‘s Get Out and (20) Denis Villneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049.
Excerpted HE reactions to Schager favorites:
Bong Joon-ho‘s Okja — “[a} dreadful, cliche-ridden, Spielbergian thing…splashy, showoffy kid-mulch.”
James Gray‘s The Lost City of Z — “I’ve never watched a film about exploring exotic realms that has had less energy, less excitement, less of a pulse. I was just watching the damn thing and hoping against hope that Charlie Hunnam would be killed by a native spear or a wild animal or by falling off a cliff into raging rapids. I knew he wouldn’t die until the end of the film, but I wanted blood all the same. I started imagining ways to kill him. Anything to take my mind off the film.”
Ridley Scott‘s Alien Covenant — “I didn’t dislike Alien: Covenant — I hated it. And I’m not saying that out of some lazy-wrath instinct or pissy posturing or what-have-you. I’m talking about serious stomach-acid sensations here. Then again I mostly despised Prometheus so it didn’t take a great deal of effort to come to this. If Prometheus rang your hate bell, you’re going to despise this one also. For Alien: Covenant, which runs 121 minutes but feels like 150, is truly a spawn of that awful 2012 film. Is it ‘better’ than Prometheus? All right, yeah, I suppose it is. Is it therefore worth seeing? Maybe, but only if you like watching films that make you resent everything on the face of the planet including yourself.”
Chad Stahelski‘s John Wick: Chapter 2: “What a drag it was last night to catch this last night at the Fiesta plex. Me and roughly 25 or 30 wage-earning lowlifes. Baggy pants, hoodies, etc. ‘What a way to live and think!’, I muttered as I sank into my seat. With all the wonder and excitement of life outside, we few have chosen to watch a shitty Keanu Reeves action flick in a crummy megaplex on a rainy Friday night…welcome to the dungeon!
“I was half-okay with the original John Wick but this thing…God. There’s a cool, efficient way to assemble programmers of this sort, but the evidence suggests that Stahelski, a former stunt man, and screenwriter Derek Kolstad just don’t have the skill or the smarts to improve upon the 2014 start-up. There’s a vapor cloud of stupidity hanging over the film at every turn. The fairly applied adjectives include ‘dull, poorly written, lazily acted, predictably plotted,’ etc.
Benny and Josh Safdie‘s Good Time: “Yesterday nearly every Cannes critic went apeshit over [this] visceral, high-crank crime drama about a couple of low-life, bank-robbing brothers, Robert Pattinson‘s Connie and Benny Safdie‘s Nick, running around Queens. Nick is basically Lenny from Of Mice and Men, and right away I was going ‘oh, Jesus, I have to hang out with some stammering…I’m sorry, challenged guy for the next 100 minutes? This guy can’t put two sentences together without sweating from the mental strain.’”