What We Learned This Week: September 23-29

LESSON #1: WE CAN THANK ETHAN HAWKE FOR BEING HONEST, BUT HE’S WRONG— In this column’s September absence until last week, First Reformed actor Ethan Hawke has twice pinched his nose at blockbuster filmmaking.  First, he comes off high-brow and still pretentious calling superhero films overrated and not worthy of higher class. Next, he revealed his personal story about turning down and throwing out Independence Day with an ardent and profane dismissal. Thanks for sharing, Ethan. Your opinion is welcome, but you’re still wrong though too.

LESSON #2: BRAD BIRD IS RIGHT TO LAMENT THE BUSINESS END OF MOVIES— I’m a little late to report this, but Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird sounded off mightily on Twitter at the end of August with a string of warnings directed at the sequel trend and the lack of backing for original works at the blockbuster level.  He praised Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk as a truly original tentpole and how size and ambition deserve support equal to big money sequels and franchise.  He added more to that in a second interview for Science Fiction. The hard part is the business is going to flock to where the money is being made.  That said, Bird sure ain’t wrong. Give a few original films a chance to become their own big business.

LESSON #3: FOLKS CAN TAKE OR LEAVE THE BIG SCREEN EXPERIENCE— If you haven’t been noticing, and I don’t know you haven’t, but the communal theater experience is trickling away with the greater availability of streaming options, their competitive price points, and the affordability of home theater equipment compared to generations past.  Dueling sensibilities came down on that slow shift recently. 12 Years a Slave and upcoming Widows director Steve McQueen stepped up in an interview with Uproxx to declare his love and intent to seek out and add to the big screen experience.  Citing the big emotions and thrills, he said there’s “no point looking at a movie on your laptop on your own at home.”  On the other side of the coin in an interview with Indiewire, Mandy actor Nicolas Cage has begun to see the VOD viewership numbers for his films and sees money and success to be had in that format.  I, for one, admit to being completely on the fence. For the right movie, nothing beats the big screen experience, but it gets expensive and I have to enjoy the buried treasure and convenience of the VOD and streaming markets.  This looks like a place to have that adorable “why not both” internet GIF.

LESSON #4: THE 1990S ARE BECOMING A TIME CAPSULE— This lesson is spurred from two places, Feelin’ Film host Aaron White’s recent rewatch of Varsity Blues and a recent Unilad piece citing Millennial reactions to watching American Pie.  When you look back at popular teen-centric films like those two titles and compare them to the likes of Eighth Grade or The Edge of Seventeen now, the sentiments and tones couldn’t feel more antiquated or out of place.  People are actually getting offended by the sexist and male horndog tones of those films.  I get it, but I also call that par for the course akin to watching Blazing Saddles and taking the pause to understand its place in time.  I can’t get mad at out-of-touch films from out-of-touch times because their context fits its background.  Are the 2000s next? How will this list of that decade’s best from the Washington Post age? 


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson and also on Medium.com where he is one of the 50 “Top Writers” in the Movies category.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a new member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over a year, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the special “Connecting with Classics” podcast program.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work.

Jeremy’s Top 10 Films of 2017

2017 was a great year for me as far as movies go. I was able to see more new movies than ever before, and thanks to Aaron and Patrick, I was also given the opportunity to write about them from time to time. I’m not a critic. I’m never going to talk about how the director’s use of color helped to invoke a sense of whimsy or anything like that, because I don’t know what that even means. I’m glad there are people out there who do know, because I like to listen to them talk about movies and hopefully get a little smarter while doing so. But I’m just a guy who likes movies and watches way too many of them. All in all, I was able to watch 107 movies that had release dates in the United States in 2017. The following are my ten favorite, not necessarily the ones that I thought were the best films. Enjoy!

10- Logan

This is the first of two films on this list that were released last winter but managed to hang out in my top ten all year. I’ve long been a fan of Hugh Jackman and his portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men films, but like many others, I had hated the individual Wolverine films up until Logan. So my expectations for this film were quite low. I was completely blown away when James Mangold managed to create the perfect send-off for not one, but two characters in the X-Men universe, all the while making an emotionally satisfying film about legacy and family.

9- The Greatest Showman

If you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I’d be getting super into musicals in my late 30’s, I never would have believed you. But here we are. I really like this movie, but I completely LOVE the soundtrack. I recently got a Google Home Mini for Christmas and thus far it’s basically been a Greatest Showman soundtrack playing machine. I could be nitpicky and talk about its faults, but I kind of just want to dance in my living room to This Is Me instead.

8- Dunkirk

I’m a pretty big Christopher Nolan fan (it’s one of the requirements to be a Feelin’ Film contributor) so I was pretty excited to see this one from the moment I heard about it. Its tension really puts you in the headspace of its characters and while some saw the timing differences in the three different story threads distracting, I thought it was brilliant and served to heighten the imminent danger in the film. It’s not my favorite Nolan, but it’s still really good.

7- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This one hit me in all of the right places. I thought the story and dialogue were both funny and heartbreaking with excellent performances by the all-star cast, with Sam Rockwell standing out. This film is a lot darker than what I am usually into. but I really enjoyed the realistic way in which it portrayed positive change in its characters, even characters as unlikable as the ones that McDonough gives us.

6- Wonder Woman

I don’t have a whole bunch of words to say about Wonder Woman, I just really loved this movie. The scene where Diana emerges from the trench at No Man’s Land is one of my two or three favorite scenes of the year. Gal Godot perfectly brings the Amazon goddess to the screen, giving her a perfect amount of naivety, beauty and compassion without sacrificing her fierceness as a warrior. It immediately became my favorite entry into the DCEU even though I’m a guy who really likes all of the films in that universe (besides Suicide Squad, but that goes without saying).

5- The Big Sick

I went to see this one afternoon this summer after hearing Feelin’ Film contributor Don Shanahan gush about it for a few days. He wasn’t using hyperbole. I loved this film. It’s funny and sweet and heartbreaking and thought-provoking, often achieving all of those things in the same moment. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano give my two favorite supporting performances of the year in this stand-out film.

4- Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

So my wife went and had a baby on the day I was to go to the 10:00 opening night show of SW, meaning we’d still be in the hospital when the second showing I had tickets to came around. The timing of the birth of my son (whom I love and with whom I hold no grudges about the time and date of his arrival) meant that I wouldn’t be able to see the film until almost a full week after its release. But I really think that this ended up being a good thing. I was somewhat careful to avoid spoilers, but I saw enough to know that the critics were loving it but that a lot of the fans were pretty upset. I think this helped my mindset going in as I started to expect the unexpected. Because of that, I came out of the theater completely in love. I think the story went places where it needed to go to move the universe beyond the family tree of the Skywalkers while also adding a satisfying chapter to Luke’s legend. The new characters continue to impress and the old ones have absolutely brought their A game to the new trilogy as well. This movie has already moved to number three in my Star Wars rankings and by this time next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at the top. I can’t wait to see what Rian Johnson has in store for his new SW trilogy.

3- Lady Bird

Lady Bird is another movie that I wouldn’t have seen (at this point, anyway) if it weren’t for the relationships I’ve been able to build at Feelin’ Film. After spending a couple of hours chatting with Aaron and Patrick about Edge of Seventeen (episode 86 of the podcast), Aaron suggested to me that I’d like Lady Bird. He wasn’t wrong. Beautifully acted and casted and directed and performed, Lady Bird is one of the best coming of age stories I’ve seen on screen. What’s the opposite of a back-handed compliment? Like when you’re playfully bashing on something that you actually love? Is there a word? If there isn’t we need to invent one to accurately capture Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s funny and heartfelt love letter to her home.

2- Get Out

This movie was the number one film on my list for more time than any other movie this year. I saw it because I’m a fan of Jordan Peele from Key and Peele and I thought that if he wrote a film, it would probably be pretty fun. As an experience, it was one of the most enjoyable times I had at the theater all year. As a film, I found its themes to be something that has challenged my thinking even more on repeat viewings. It’s one hell of a directorial debut and I’m looking forward to what he’s got up his sleeve next.

1- Brigsby Bear

Sometimes a movie comes along that just hits you in the right place at the right time. Brigsby Bear did that for me. It’s a quirky comedy (described by Filmspotting’s Adam Kempenaar as Be Kind, Rewind meets Room) that can be enjoyed on its surface, but that also has a lot to say about friendship, family, moving on from tragedy, the joy of creating art and what makes us love the things we love if you want to engage with it on a deeper level. I’ve seen it three times now and each time something new stands out for me to think on for a while. Kyle Mooney is perfect as our main character man-child James and Mark Hamill gives my favorite performance of his in 2017 in a supporting role. This will be a movie that I watch often and might just end up being one of my favorites of all-time.

The films that almost made this list but just didn’t quite make the cut are:

  1. War for the Planet of the Apes
  2. Baby Driver
  3. Justice League
  4. Spiderman: Homecoming
  5. Wonder

And if you want to see my ranking of all 107 movies that I’ve seen that were released this year, check out my Letterboxd list. Notable movies I haven’t had a chance to catch up with yet are Darkest Hour, I, Tonya, The Disaster Artist, Phantom Thread, and The Post. I look forward to many more movie conversations here in the new year. I appreciate you reading and hope that 2018 holds great things in store for you and yours.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Patch’s Top 10 Films of 2017

As I sat down to write this list, I asked myself why these particular films stood out to me. I realized that each one of them for one reason or another are compelling enough to merit an almost immediate re-watch. The experience was enough to make we want to repeat it, maybe because I missed something, maybe because I wanted to feel a certain emotion again. With that said, here are my top 10 movies for 2017.

 

10. Baby Driver

2017 introduced me to the cinematic world of Edgar Wright, with a first time viewing of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. With the excitement of that film still fresh in my brain, Baby Driver made its way to the big screen. While I wouldn’t say the movie as a whole wowed me, what drew me in was something that Wright does well, and that is using non-human components to bring his story to life. Scott Pilgrim personifies its protagonists life in the form of a video game world, complete with power ups and super powers (if you could call them that). Baby Driver uses music as it’s supporting cast in a way that few other films do. Where many soundtracks accent scenes and fill in gaps aurally, the music itself feels like a necessary part of the team we are introduced to, and without it, the team feels less impactful. That creativity alone makes Baby Driver worthy of being on my list.

 

09. Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin is writing a new screenplay? Yes please. Wait, he’s also directing the film? Count me in. It’s a biopic that involves gambling? Why are you still talking? Molly’s Game was a late arrival to the theater this year, but I was anxiously awaiting it’s release since I heard it announced back in September. Finally getting a chance to see it did not disappoint. And how could it? Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are fantastic bringing the energy of Sorkin’s screenplay to life. There are moments of real heartache, surprise, and tenderness that I didn’t expect. The story itself is compelling and entertaining, two solid character traits of a successful biopic. It’s one that I can’t wait to see again when it hits home video.

 

08. Brigsby Bear

One of the things that I absolutely love about the Feelin’ Film community is the diversity of those connected to it. I get to see what other people are interested in and watching, and it’s because of that that I find out about more corners of the film world. Brigsby Bear came highly recommended by show contributor Jeremy Calcara. The only information I had to go on was this:  a guy is obsessed with a kids show and something happens. That’s it. So over Thanksgiving weekend I queued it up wondering what the heck I was getting myself into, and I came way saying “wow, that was something.” I can’t say much about it because even talking about the first few minutes of the film will give away a lot. What I will say is this: It’s incredibly unique, it leaves you smiling, and it presents a message about forgiveness and purpose that is overwhelmingly refreshing.

 

07. The LEGO Batman Movie

If you know me, you know that I would much rather see the word Superman after Lego. Still, I can’t hide the fact that this was probably the funniest movie of the year for me. From beginning to end, everything about it was overwhelmingly entertaining. What I dig most about this kind of movie is that it didn’t feel like a bucket full of joke after joke. There was a story with substance (as much as one can have with characters based on plastic construction toys), and an overall message that, while used numerous times, felt refreshed here. I was also grateful to be able to share this one in the theater with my son, something I’ve wanted to do since he was old enough to go to (and care about) the movies. Here’s to hoping Lego Superman makes his way to the big screen. A boy can dream right?

 

06. Dunkirk

I’ll never forget my reaction coming out of Christopher Nolan’s latest feature. I asked myself, “What did I just watch? Did I love that or hate it?” Well, by making this list, I’m sure you can tell where I landed. Looking at this film, not as a war story, but as a survival movie, really allowed me to immerse myself in the world Nolan was trying to put us in. The abrupt visual changes, the non-linear storytelling, and the lack of any real understandable dialogue allowed me to feel like those trapped in this city, not knowing what to do next or where to go. I felt isolated, scared, confused, which is what I believe the director wanted. I’m glad this wasn’t a typical war story. It made more of an impact that way.

 

05. Blade Runner 2049

Earlier this year, I got introduced to the world of replicants, a man named Rick Deckard, and a gritty imaginative world created by Ridley Scott. This of course was the 1982 classic Blade Runner. I didn’t understand the hype surrounding this movie, particularly by my co-host. But we support one another and I knew BR2049 was his most anticipated film of the year. I imagine it would be difficult to continue a story like this, literally 35 years later, and maintain the tone, mythology and undertones that it’s previous entry contained. Denis Villeneuve perfectly executed this chapter of the Blade Runner universe, and he did it with his own style and substance, but at the same time, married up with the original incredibly well. In short, BR2049 was a logical extension of its predecessor and leaves room for more exploration into this gritty and beautiful universe.

 

04. War For The Planet of the Apes

I should NOT care about what happens to an ape. I should NOT care about apes more than humans. It’s not…..human. I actually hadn’t seen the second installment of this trilogy until this year, so I geared up for my movie experience by watching the first and second leading up to the third. What I found was a trilogy that got better and better with each installment, something very rare these days. But this trilogy was held together by the performance of one Andy Serkis, who I think needs at least a nomination for Best Actor at the upcoming Oscars. His portrayal of Caesar, specifically in this last installment, gripped me emotionally. But it wasn’t the strength of dialogue that did it. It was the way he emoted with his face, making me feel things without saying a word. When you can do that, you’ve accomplished something pretty amazing.

 

03. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Divisive. Spectacular. Different. Three words that I would attach to the 8th entry into Star Wars proper. Riann Johnson did something that I haven’t really seen from other Star Wars directors. He gave me reason to care about the characters. So many times, I found myself asking “is so-and-so going to die?” This wasn’t a thought in my mind in previous entries. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. The Last Jedi gave me stakes, and that’s what I want from movies like this. Give me reason to care about characters, enough to feel that emptiness when we lose them. The Last Jedi is a film that left me satisfied and curious, satisfied because I would have been okay if this saga concluded after this film, but curious because I know we have one more installment. I know JJ Abrams is currently sitting in the director’s chair for Episode IX, but it would not make me unhappy to see Riann Johnson’s name sitting under the words “written by.”

 

02. Your Name

I’m not a fan of anime. This should come as no surprise. And when I say I’m not a fan, it’s not a knock on the genre. I feel the same way about westerns and period pieces. So when a movie comes along and rocks me to my emotional core through stunning visuals, an incredibly unique premise, and a poppy soundtrack, I sit up and take notice. Your Name surprised me, in a way that made me appreciate this genre on another level. It also inspired my to check out more work from its director, Makoto Shinkai. I hope to get more exposure to it in 2018, but more so I hope to get more stories like this. Who knows, I may even be championing anime by the end of this next year.

 

01. The Greatest Showman

It shouldn’t have surprised me that this film showed up in my top 10. Heck as early as this past summer, I wanted to cover this because Hugh Jackman + Musical = yes please. What surprised me was how much this movie surpassed my expectations. Maybe it was because I wanted it to be good, but I think it had more to do with the unpredictable visceral reaction I had to the story, the characters, and the way the music intertwined both. It’s a film I wanted to go back and see immediately (I had to wait five whole days to do so haha). I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about it and that is a rare thing when a film does this to me. This film may not be perfect, but it’s place at the top of this list signifies why I enjoy film so much. A movie doesn’t have to be perfect to be the best for me. It just has to leave me with a wow factor and a desire to revisit it because I want to capture all of those emotions again.


Patrick “Patch” Hicks is an Arkansas-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. When he’s not podcasting, he’s working on various design projects as a freelance multimedia designer and is also dabbling in the art of writing and directing. You can find him floating around the web on Twitter, Facebook, and his home on the web, ThisIsPatch.com.

Minisode 035: 2017 Year in Review

In this special SPOILER FREE “minisode,” we wrap up the year by discussing some of our favorite things about 2017. Instead of just a top ten list of favorite films, we talk about the moments and performances that really resonated with us personally. This is a super-sized bonus episode with a ton of content and we really hope you enjoy.

Favorite First-Time Viewings (non-2017) – 0:01:10

Favorite Performances – 0:27:36

Films that Most Exceeded Expectations – 0:52:19

Films that Were Biggest Disappointments – 0:57:56 

Favorite Episodes of the Year – 1:04:31

Our Feelin’ Five Films – 1:15:03

Most Anticipated Films of 2018 – 1:48:13

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Aaron’s Top 10 Films of 2017

Christmas-time, a season of joy. A time when many take a much needed break to relax, enjoy family, and celebrate religious traditions. Oh, and there’s also that fun little part of gift giving. Well, Christmas is also the time when film critics are finalizing their year-end lists, a gift given to the world (but without that whole relaxation part). So, after much debate and internal stress, I’m ready to discuss my Top 10 favorite films of the year. There are many lists out there, but I expect you won’t find another one that matches up perfectly with mine.

2017 was a banner year for me as both a film critic and podcaster. Some of the biggest highlights:

  • Feelin’ Film’s inaugural listener-nominated and listener-voted 2017 Feeler’s Choice Awards
  • The addition of contributors Don Shanahan, Steve Clifton, and Jeremy Calcara to the Feelin’ Film staff team
  • Gaining press credentials to screen films early for review purposes and covering the Seattle International Film Festival
  • Becoming a member, and then Communications Director, for the newly re-formed Seattle Film Critics Society
  • Feelin Film’s two incredibly fun themed months: Christopher Nolan Month (January) & Book-to-Movie Month (September)
  • Voting in the 2017 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards
  • Witnessing the amazing growth of our Facebook Discussion Group that offers daily film conversations and relationship building among our listeners
  • 155 films seen that were released in 2017, by far a new “career high”

Now about those movies. 2017 was a fantastic year at the cinema. Offering numerous superb indie hits, documentaries, and some big, unique blockbusters as well, the wealth of exceptional and diverse content was both a blessing and a curse. Experiencing all of these wonderful films was great, but trying to rank them, not so much. So my disclaimer is that while 10 have been highlighted, with 10 more selected for recognition as just missing the cut, even these films don’t scratch the surface of what 2017 provided in terms of quality.


10. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – This spot on a Top 10 list is always a brutal decision. No less than five other films got serious consideration here, and I could make an equal case for any of them. Ultimately, I had to go with a film that blew me away my expectations and reinvigorated my childhood love of a franchise. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is not without faults, but it is a wonderful next step in this new trilogy and one of most epic cinematic space operas since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Its unexpected plot choices had me gasping in surprise, and several emotional moments brought me to tears. Its impossible not to respect director Rian Johnson’s talent, ambition, and passion, especially as the film’s momentum builds and races home to its incredible climax. I LOVE the direction this film takes the series and can’t wait to see where it goes next.

 

9. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – Hugh Jackman has said that “A bad musical stinks to high heaven, but when a musical works, there’s nothing like it. It’s everyone coming together and opening their heart.” THE GREATEST SHOWMAN worked for me and opened my heart, too. Its reverence for musicals of old shines through every frame and its impressive soundtrack has been played on repeat endlessly since my first viewing of the film. It may not be a perfectly accurate historical representation of P.T. Barnum, but as entertainment it is a fun and emotionally provocative family-friendly film complete with several inspirational messages. It’s the kind of film that deserves being seen with an audience, a real crowd pleaser.

 

8. DARKEST HOUR – Winston Churchill is a fascinating figure. Historian and politician, but also extraordinary leader. His actions within that first month as British Prime Minister changed the course of world history. Had he sued for peace, who knows if Hitler would have been stopped from overtaking Europe (and beyond). DARKEST HOUR is a high-energy thriller as much as a period piece drama, with Wright combining the two styles to form an incredible, visceral, inspiring film experience that is anchored by Gary Oldman’s award-worthy transformation and performance.

 

7. THE FLORIDA PROJECT – THE FLORIDA PROJECT wowed me in a way that few films did this year. I resonated deeply with its primary theme of empathy. As a parent myself, watching it was sometimes difficult but always worthwhile. My hope is that many will see this poignant film and begin to look a little more closely (and with more compassion) at those outside the margins as they go about their everyday lives, and perhaps even be called to action. Sean Baker continues to be one of our best young directors and he has created a film that is unforgettable down to the final shot.

 

6. SONG TO SONG – For those willing to meet director Terrence Malick halfway and open themselves to engaging with the film, SONG TO SONG offers a moving emotional experience. Its dialogue is lyrical poetry that works perfectly in concert with Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning cinematography, an expertly balanced soundtrack, and wonderful acting performances all around. This may be some of the least abstract and aimless work Malick has ever produced, but it is also among his best, and quite possibly my favorite. SONG TO SONG is a film that needs to be more than just seen, it demands to be felt.

 

5. DUNKIRK – Christopher Nolan’s vision of this important but little known battle is a hold your breath affair, set to an almost never ceasing Hans Zimmer score that is pounding with atmospheric dread. Fear, after all, is at the heart of this portrayal of the civilian rescue of nearly 330,00 allied troops pinned down by Germany on the beaches of Dunkirk. It is a wholly unique war film, gorgeously shot and focusing on the authenticity of its characters’ feeling, displayed much more in act than exposition. A truly remarkable achievement that left me shaking in amazement and raw emotion.

 

4. PHANTOM THREAD – In what has been proclaimed to be his final performance, Daniel Day-Lewis once again collaborates with director Paul Thomas Anderson for a story about an obsessive man, this time with an unconventional view of romance set around the industry of high fashion. Though PTA’s films have never spoken to me before, PHANTOM THREAD is captivating from the opening scene to the end credits and casts a spell unlike any other film experience in 2017. Thematically, it’s exploration of submissive/dominant relationships makes it feel like the arthouse version of MOTHER! combined with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Cinematically, it is one of the most well-crafted, stunningly beautiful, perfectly scored, impeccably acted dramas I’ve seen in years. PTA’s meticulous attention to detail marries so well with Daniel Day-Lewis’ devotion to character immersion, and on top of that newcomer Vicky Krieps is every bit DDL’s equal, flat out owning the screen in every scene. This film left me unable to shake it for a month and dying to talk to others about it. If this is really Day-Lewis’ last hoorah, he goes out with a bang, and PTA has a new fan.

 

3. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – Matt Reeves’ WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the rare third film to end a trilogy on the highest of notes. It is a spectacular marvel of technical achievements, acting, and thematic blockbuster storytelling that uses Biblical, historical, and cinematic references to craft a compelling epic. It has surprisingly limited action and the film lives in bleakness, but out of that comes a celebration of the human spirit – embodied by apes. Caesar’s journey is gripping from beginning to end, filled with emotional depth and moral complexity. His place among the greats is now secure, and the trilogy stands as one of the finest the 21st century has seen. APES. TOGETHER. STRONG.


The films above are all exceptional works of art which I expect to remember many years from now. These last two films, though, are special to me, and choosing between them was an impossible task. Both of these films are guaranteed inclusion in my next Top 100 Movies update, and as much as I just want to make them 1a and 1b, I made the hard choice. So for today, this is where they fall.

2. YOUR NAME (KIMI NO NA WA) – Like many Americans, my only exposure to anime films prior to this were the works of the great Hayao Miyazki. But when I heard that this film had broken box office records to become the highest worldwide grossing anime film in history, I took notice. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, YOUR NAME is the story of a star-crossed boy and girl, perhaps destined to forever yearn for a meeting that will never come, connected across space and time by an unexplained magic and framed against the backdrop of an impending supernatural disaster. It is a story of dreams (and desperately trying to not forget them), time travel, body swaps, natural disaster, coming of age, and romance that is emotionally riveting from beginning to end. Comedic at all the right times, soul-crushingly painful, and yet tender and hopeful. This is an animated masterpiece that goes far beyond its dazzling visuals and one of the very best films I’ve seen this decade.

 

1. BLADE RUNNER 2049 – It took more than one viewing to get there, but after seeing my most anticipated film of the year three times, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the 1982 classic BLADE RUNNER is more than worthy of its name. Staggeringly incredible cinematography by the masterful Roger Deakins is matched by a thought-provoking, multi-layered script. Not a single word of dialogue is wasted. So much emotion is conveyed through expression and silence. Performances are brilliant and memorable. The film strikes an ideal balance between cerebral and action-packed while remaining so mysterious that even more is revealed with every subsequent viewing. Despite being over two and a half hours long, it is so immersive that I would have gladly lived in this world for two and a half more. Inconceivably, an improvement in every way over than its hallowed source material. Cinematic perfection – the best film of 2017.


And now for the rest. In many cases, multiple viewings and rewatchability were major factors in determining how to order these.

11. LADY BIRD
12. THE LOST CITY OF Z
13. THE POST
14. A GHOST STORY
15. FACES PLACES
16. LA 92
17. GET OUT
18. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
19. COLUMBUS
20. MOTHER!

Keep in mind that just because a film isn’t listed doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredible. I could list another 20 “great” films from this year that deserve attention. 2017 was truly an excellent year. Here’s hoping that 2018 is even better, but if it’s not, we’ll always have these gems.


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on how his expectations influenced his experience. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted. 

What We Learned This Week: July 23-29

LESSON #1: ARE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FILMS EMOTIONLESS?— The prolific and cerebral director of Dunkirk recently answered critics who have called his films “emotionless.”  They must have missed the sharp revenge of Memento, the stirring heroic feels of his Batman trilogy, the seething jealousy of The Prestige, the suspenseful mental weight of Inception, and the familial anguish of Interstellar.  Emotionless, my ass.  I’m afraid Dunkirk will be the challenge.  I don’t think it has the necessary emotional anchors, but my Feelin’ Film peers will say otherwise.  See it for yourself (on the biggest and loudest screen possible) and let us know what you think.

LESSON #2: NETFLIX IS AN EVOLVING ENIGMA FOR THE MOVIE BUSINESS— Speaking of Christopher Nolan, he recently made negative comments on Netflix’s strategy of simultaneous streaming and release windows that take away from theatrical films.  GQ recently collected a roundtable of directors (included Ava DuVernay, Edgar Wright, Jeff Nichols, and James Gunn) who “blew up Hollywood.”  That led many, especially the Nolan disciplines, to raise those anti-Netflix pitchforks we’ve been back and forth on all year in this column.  A voice of contrast came out at much the same time from A Ghost Story director David Lowery calling the behemoth hub a “service to the industry,” especially for mid-range independent film who don’t have a chance in the theatrical marketplace (especially against the likes of Nolan’s films and their backing).  I side with Lowery, and what’s good enough for Martin Scorsese is good enough for me.  I see more help than harm, and it’s still too soon to see the growing effects, positive or negative.

LESSON #3: PRICE POINT IS THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE OF FILM VIEWERSHIP— Echoing the first two lessons this week and a great thread on the Feelin’ Film Facebook group, this whole audience problem comes down to money, plain and simple.  A family of four can get more content out of the recurring price of a Netflix subscription or more repeat viewing from the one-time-price DVD/Blu-ray disc purchase at Walmart than they would hauling everyone to the theater for tickets and concessions multiple times a year.  Add to that the substantially reduced prices for HD and Smart TVs compared to 10 or even 5 years ago.  While I fully endorse to the magic of the communal big screen experience, one would crazy not to see the price point logic and respect a smart household’s budgeting decisions.  It’s all about bang-for-your-buck and Netflix is winning that right now with content volume and ease of access.

LESSON #4: SOME FILMS DON’T BELONG IN SPACE— Bigger isn’t necessarily better, and how big is too big?  Space is too big.  I recently learned that answer when Fast and Furious series director F. Gary Gray said that a future sequel of the franchise that started with lowly car thieves in L.A. could be set in space.  WTF?!  Straining believability is fun and all, but that’s too much.  Has no one this century seen the Moonraker James Bond film?  Stop already.  Go back to Paul Walker’s sunset and be done.

LESSON #5: SOMEBODY TAKE JAMES CAMERON’S CRAZINESS AWAY— Apparently, James Cameron thinks he’s got another Terminator trilogy for the masses.  Come on, man.  While I respect the visual envelope-pushing and industry revolutionizing Cameron can perform, the man can be a quack as a writer.  That and, by the time he gets to this project for how slow he works, Arnold will be 100-years-old or we’ll all be dead.  Somebody shake this bad idea out of him and tell him to go finish Avatar 2 already.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.

 

 

Episode 068: Dunkirk

War film? Rescue film? Horror film? Or all three? We tackle Christopher Nolan’s latest movie and discuss whether the film’s unique narrative structure and immersive sound were positives or negatives. We also try to answer what we think a Christopher Nolan movie is, which is no easy task. Nolan may be our favorite director but Dunkirk was an experience we had to linger on. We hope you enjoy as we talk our way through how the movie made us feel.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:02:32

(Aaron –  Oats Studios)
(Patrick – 48-Hour Film Project Screenings)

Dunkirk Review – 0:19:14

The Connecting Point – 1:07:31

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Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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Minisode 19: Summer Movie Challenge (2017)

It’s that time again to make box office predictions for the Summer Movie Challenge. This yearly competition involves us choosing what we think will be the highest grossing films between May and Labor Day. This year we are joined by our Feelin’ Film contributors – Don and Steve. Who will emerge victorious? Listen to hear our picks and find out how you can play along!

2017 Summer Movie Challenge Rules

The rules for the game come from TimeTravelReview’s Summer Movie Pool:

The object is to pick the films that you think will be the top-ten grossing films of the summer, in order of box-office performance. As I’ve said, that means only films released from May 1st 2017 to the Labor Day weekend, counting only the money those films make domestically (US and Canada) in that period. In other words films from March or April might still be making money after May 1st, but they don’t count; films released from May on could start racking up foreign B.O., but that doesn’t count; films released from May on could still be making money into September, but that doesn’t count either. Box Office numbers are generally available late Monday or Tuesday after the weekend closes. For the last seven or so years, I have been using box office numbers from Yahoo Box Office which gets their numbers in turn from Box Office Mojo. So what you will be doing is figuring out what 10 films will make the most money, and putting them in order of what you think they will gross at the box office. BUT, in addition to your top 10, you get to pick 3 “Dark Horses”- films you think *might* make it, but that you are not confident enough about to put into the top 10 proper.

2017 Summer Movie Challenge Scoring:

To see how we are doing check out the official SMC Scoreboard:

  • Getting number 1 or number 10 dead-on gets you 13 points (each).

The rest of the scoring goes like this:

  • 10 points for numbers 2-9 dead-on
  • 7 points if your pick was only one spot away from where it ended up
  • 5 points if it was two spots away
  • 3 points if your pick is anywhere in the Top 10
  • 1 point for each dark horse that makes it into the Top 10

The scoring is tabulated so that you get the SINGLE HIGHEST point value for each pick- that is, if you get number ten right, you don’t get 13+3, you only get 13.

Aaron

1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
2. Despicable Me 3
3. Transformers: The Last Knight
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
6. Cars 3
7. Wonder Woman
8. War for the Planet of the Apes
9. Alien: Covenant
10. Baywatch
DH: The Mummy, Dunkirk, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Patrick
1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
3. Alien: Covenant
4. Despicable Me 3
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
6. War for the Planet of the Apes
7. Wonder Woman
8. Cars 3
9. The Mummy
10. Baywatch
DH: Dunkirk, Transformers: The Last Knight, Baby Driver
Don
1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
2. Despicable Me 3
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
4. Wonder Woman
5. Transformers: The Last Knight
6. Cars 3
7. War for the Planet of the Apes
8. Baywatch
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
10. Dunkirk

DH: Alien: Covenant, Captain Underpants, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Steve
1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
3. Despicable Me 3
4. War for the Planet of the Apes
5. Transformers: The Last Knight
6. Cars 3
7. Wonder Woman
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
9. The Mummy
10. Captain Underpants
DH: Alien: Covenant, The Dark Tower, Baywatch

Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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