RBG

Ruth Baden Ginsberg is not the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. No, that was Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan. But RBG, as the hip kids are calling her, has been one of the most influencial voices on that court, speaking for women and minority rights for decades.

Ginsberg has always been a tiny little lady, growing up in pre World War II America. She went to college at a time when girls were not expected to go to college. They were supposed to get married, have babies, and stay at home.

She was one of the first women in the Harvard Law school classes, and supported wonderfully by her husband, Albert, who was also in Law School and a year ahead of her. She faced many challenges along the way. Professors and deans thinking that women didn’t belong, even if they could handle the coursework. She even had to leave to switch to Colombia because her husband finished his degree and got a job in NYC.

And it turns out that just getting through law school, on its own a big challenge, while facing sexual discrimination, taking care of a kid, and dealing with cancer issues, wasn’t even the hardest parts of her life.

RB

You see, getting a nice law degree doesn’t mean you get a nice law job. Firms didn’t want to hire her, because she was a woman, even with high recommendations from current workers and from her schools. They would say they just didn’t hire women and move on. Men’s only clubs.

She basically had to found her own organization, after getting various jobs through colleges and lectures, with other women, in order to get their voices out. Their goal was to get cases that dealt with sexual discrimination. Their goal was to help take over these cases from local areas and take them all the way to the Supreme Court.

You see, Ginsberg was a thinker. She knew first hand that women were second class citizens, and she needed a Supreme Court ruling or two in order to help ensure equal rights in the work place and other places for the women. And if that wasn’t good enough, she would go to them again, and again, and again.

And I guess if that wasn’t good enough, she’d just have to join the Supreme Court herself and do her best to make sure that someone was a voice of progressive reason and equal rights on that bench, damn it.

This documentary is full of footage, old and new, of Ginsberg kicking ass throughout her career. We even get to see a young Joe Biden leading her confirmation hearing in 1993 to the Supreme Court. We get to see new footage and interviews with the woman herself, her friends and coworkers growing up, and from her children and grand children. It is a wonderful view of the life and times of a great Supreme Court justice. It is full of stories and anecdotes that just give a complete look at her life (As of now) and feels so honest.

In fact, I want one of these type of documentaries for other Supreme Court justices. I am sure some of them are just as interesting as her. Maybe not, maybe some are just regular average people who did the right things and are a place holder. Hell if I know.

This is what the movie Marshall should have been like. Marshall was of course not a documentary, but really just told a story of one case that made a white guy equally important as Marshall, and didn’t go into his later life successes. We need a legit documentary on this scale of his triumphs and life, so people can get a better picture of him as well.

What we really need though, is tons of ladies to see this documentary and get inspired to wreck enough legal havoc to get this country truly free and equal on all levels.

4 out of 4.

Avengers: Infinity War

I really don’t have to spend a lot of information on this intro, do I?

Avengers: Infinity War (originally called Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, but people were nervous about half movies, and now the next one’s title is a secret because of spoilers or something.

I was an ecstatic little girl when the first Avengers film came out, waiting for it as soon as the first Iron Man film finished. Since then, things have been a bit more middling. My reviews have generally always been positive, none of them ever received under a 2 out of 4, and some of which are maybe too highly rated. Not everything I am extremely excited for, but most I definitely have a higher interest.

Last year, no superhero movies made my top of the year list (although one of them was about a super hero, sort of). This year, I already had Black Panther as a 4. And yet this film, this one right here, has me just as giddy as the first one for so many reasons.

So let’s just get into it.

Group 2
Oh yeah, look at these folks. Maybe this is just Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, we had a surprise for Thor and his crew. This film takes place right after that point. Bad news for the Asgardians, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is here. At this point he has one of the infinity stones, out of six total. His goal? To wipe out half of the life in the universe.

Now presumably this just means sentient life forms who walk around and have languages. I don’t think he has anything against puppies. Or plants. He isn’t doing it out of spite, he is calling it mercy. It is sort of his thing. He has been doing it manually with his own crew for a while, but he wants the stones to do it instantly, so that the survivors can flourish. You know, by having more resources, more space, less crime, whatever. He is a benevolent God.

It turns out some people have some issues with him wanting to do this though. And with two of the stones (that we know of) being on Earth, he is going to have to come crashing down, where a few people down there are decently strong and going to have to put up a little fight.

Starring every goddamn person ever. You know, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Idris Elba, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt, and Benicio Del Toro.

Also featuring some newbies, like Peter Dinklage and Carrie Coon! Two whole people! Wow! And some technically regular people like Gwyneth Paltrow and William Hurt. Damn, did I get them all?

Group
What is this a crossover episode?

What’s to say that isn’t already all over the internet?

Avengers: Infinity War is a fan pleasing romp across the universe, adding most of the cast we have come to love into a few surprising show downs, where the stakes have never been higher. It is certainly one of the darker and serious Marvel films at this point. People are going to get hurt, people are going to be sad, and people are going to cry. Well, maybe. I know I cried near the end, and almost another time before then.

Acting wise, a lot of the stars gave their A-game. Shout out to Cumberbatch who really felt like a leader of this group, despite being one of the most recent additions. Holland was brought in for his acting ability, and it really showed by the end. A lot of pain was on Evans’ face throughout the film. Hemsworth is so goddamn Thor-y, its fantastic, and I am glad we got so much of him in the last few movies. And finally, Saldana, who is normally a low point from the acting carried a lot.

Of course I also have to talk about Brolin as Thanos, a role we have been waiting for for years and it really paid off well. This is a goddamn villain right here. It is really great writing when you sympathize with someone who is trying to kill half of the universe.

I don´t entirely know where Marvel is going with its ending, but I do have a feeling I will be incredibly annoyed by it in the next film. I think they are going to take what they did great here and ruin it with the second part, but that is just a gut feeling.

Avengers: Infinity Wars has some of the best fight scenes and team ups yet, and is just pure fan service through and through while giving an incredible story as well. I wish this film was longer.

I don´t have to tell you to go see this one, I know you will, and I can´t see anyone who likes the series to be disappointed with this milestone achievement.

If there is anything to be disappointed in, it is Marvel´s poor decisions to not include their other people. I haven´t seen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in forever, but it seemed to react to the movies but never impact them, but someone from there might have been involved. And the Netflix shows? Come on, there was stuff happening in New York. If the Netflix shows ignore this event (which they didn´t ignore the first Avengers movie…) then they are just making poor decisions.

Group
You’d think with three group shots I’d have gotten all the heroes. But nope.

4 out of 4.

Hearts Beat Loud

John Carney is an amazing director. From Once, to Begin Again, to Sing Street. Great films, great songs, a lot of heart and love.

This movie, Hearts Beat Loud, is not made by John Carney, but it looks like it could have been.

Instead it is directed by Brett Haley, who did The Hero. It is a film I meant to watch and didn’t, that also probably didn’t have music in it so whatever. Basically, I know little of his work, but by golly, with a movie like this, I guess I should go back and check them out.

Family
With smiles and beards like this, you know this film is infectious. In multiple ways.

Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a man who has run a record store in New York City for 17 years. He loves music. He loves making music. He wanted to be a star. But he did not reach his fame.

Sam Fisher (Kiersey Clemons) is his daughter, in the summer before college, and she is taking pre-med classes to get ahead. She is going to UCLA, which is far away from NYC. She also enjoys music, but doesn’t have time for it anymore.

And her mother / his wife? Well, she is gone. She has been for some time. It has been hard. Hell, Frank was performing with her. Maybe they would have made it big together. Maybe. They just never got the time to make it fully work. And now they are about to be separated. Things are changing. This is sad. It feels sad. I’m sad.

But in a last hooray, in a jam session between the pair, they make a song finally just work. It is emotional, it is a good mix of pop and soul. And it is about to take off on the internet.

Also starring Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, and Blythe Danner.

Love
Also some stories of love, those are the ones that really get you.

I already mentioned how this feels like a movie by an acclaimed director. I am so surprised that this director tackled these heartfelt song and jam session scenes so wonderfully. They draw the viewer in, and as long as there are good speakers, you will feel like you are there and just want to jump for joy.

My audience actually had people cheering after they finally finished their first song, and this isn’t some midnight release crowd, so it was odd to see.

Hearts Beat Loud is emotion. It is hope, it is sadness. It is loneliness and anxiety. It is fear of change, and fear of trying something new. It is excitement, joy, and of course, love. Offerman and Clemons just feel so realistic in their roles that it is hard to not go on the roller coaster with them.

I loved the music in this movie. Surprisingly it only made me cry once. I am guessing because my own daughter is a decade and a half before moving out and being an adult, so those scenes didn’t take as much of a hold on me.

Hearts Beat Loud is a feel good movie overall, and just a movie that feels like it needs to exist right now.

4 out of 4.

Isle of Dogs

Fantastic Mr. Fox came out in 2009. It was not my first Wes Anderson movie, but it was the first Wes Anderson movie I really, really loved. Not saying I hated everything before it, no. In fact, at that time, I only had seen one of his movies which was The Royal Tenebaums. I maybe saw it too young and was not ready for its quirks, and still haven’t seen it for redemption, but I didn’t love it. The fox though? Yes. Every one of his movies since then? Yes.

But this is something different and special. This is 9 years later, and another goddamn animated stop motion movie. Can he recreate the magic of Fantastic Mr. Fox but with Isle of Dogs? More talking animals?!

At least with his last one, it was based on a previous book. But this is a new idea, based on dogs, a culture that isn’t his, and a sort of throwback to a cinema that he loves. I was certainly excited again, especially given how much shit 2017 gave us for the animated category.

Dogs
Can I have all of these doggos? Please tell me no doggos actually die.

Set in the fictional future of some world that is similar to our own, we have to go to Megasaki City to find our story. In this city, the new mayor, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), is from a family with a long hatred of dogs. They are cat people and want to get rid of dogs forever! Well, that is great, because these dogs are gaining some sort of dog virus and snout flu, which has the ability to transfer over to humans! He declares that all dogs in the city must be sent over to Trash Island, in order to quarantine them until a cure can be found. Speaking of cures, Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) thinks he is really close to getting a cure and hopes everyone will wait. But mobs be mobbin’, yo. And the dogs start getting sent that very night.

And now, a few months later, the island gets a non furry visitor. Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), a young boy who is ward of the mayor, has crashed a tiny plane in the island, in hopes of finding his old dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) location. Although dogs cannot speak any form of human language, we the viewer are happy to note that the film translates their language into English! Yay!

He finds a group of alpha dogs to help him on his quest. These dogs include Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldbloom).

Can these dogs find the missing dog for this little human boy? Can they also cure the dog flu, and put an end to this corrupt mayor? Well, maybe. I don’t know. Or if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

Also starring the voices of Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham.

Sling
The human has thumbs so he can do some interesting things with them.

I loved, loved, loved Isle of Dogs. A lot, very much so. Before I get into those details, lets talk about the controversy.

You see, there is a lot of talk of white savior complex, cultural appropriation, and more going on with this movie. It is set in a fictional future dystopian-esque Japan, or at least one city in Japan. And coming from a place of white privilege and all of that, I can honestly say I really don’t see it at all. The white savior thing just seems like it would be assumed by people who read a plot outline, not watched the film, because it is no where close to the normal problematic levels. The other issues I just also really can’t see well. I can’t say that they aren’t true, because I certainly don’t speak for Japanese people or their culture, but I can say that I didn’t really get that vibe at any point, and didn’t affect me negatively either for this movie.

Back to the film! Holy shit dogs!

What a totally immersive story. There were little quirks here and there that could remind you of it being a film, especially when it came to the various translation methods, but I just wanted to live there and run around and frolic despite all of the bad things that were going down. The dogs in particular all have their own personality and jokes that surround them, for good quick laughs.

I really enjoyed that I couldn’t understand the entire film. The Japanese characters spoke Japanese, and didn’t always have a reason to be translated or subtitled, and during those times, well, if you knew Japanese you could follow 100%. The audience was required to watch the facial expressions and to hear obvious key words to make sure we could follow. It was great to not get everything super dumbed down.

Isle of Dogs is an interesting adventure, a unique tale, and a story that just seems to have so many tiny perfect details that it would be fun to watch over and over again. Until though, I will just settle for a rewatch of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

4 out of 4.

Black Panther

In 2017, I was a bit disappointed with the superhero genre. It was the first time in awhile that a superhero film didn’t make it in my best of the year list. And that includes Logan, which I gave an average rating to.

As for Marvel, in 2017 they gave the average Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the decent Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the funny Thor: Ragnarok, but none of them really blew me away.

Black Panther I was really hoping would start the year off strong. I loved the character for years, he was amazeballs in Civil War, and for all intents and purposes, it looks like they took a lot of care to ensure this one would turn out right. To not be another Catwoman, if you know what I mean.

And somehow it exceeded most of my already high expectations.

Duel
Ah sweet! A duel between two panther orphans.

Days after the bombings that took out King T’Chaka (John Kani), and all that Civil War nonsense has ended, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has returned home to his country of Wakanda to ascend the throne and become their leader.

And you know what? Things are sure going swell for Wakanda. Minus the death of their ruler and some missionaries, they are still prosperous as fuck, living mostly peacefully in their walled off community. They are rich, they have crazy good technology, all thanks to luckily living where Vibranium deposits are, from a meteor a long, long time ago. Yep, it pays sometime to be lucky, I guess!

The Queen (Angela Bassett) is ready for her son to rule, and his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), is a tech genius, helping beef up his Black Panther outfit. And there is a former love interest, in Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a warrior champion of one of the many tribes who believes they need to be helping all of Africa, not just themselves.

Unfortunately, things are about to be not so peaceful in Wakanda. A combination of meddling white people (Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis), both good and bad, and the sins of their fathers, are about to change the way Wakanda is seen by the world and by the tribes who inhabit it. Because Wakanda is about to unknowingly welcome home a former son and member of the royal family back to their fold (Michael B. Jordan), and he has his eyes set on the throne.

Also starring Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Florence Kasumba, and Forest Whitaker.

Dual Pewpews
Ah sweet! A set of dual panther blasters.

Good news! Kilmonger is officially one of the best Marvel villains to date. You know why? Because he is a bad guy with realistic motivations, one who doesn’t speak in cliches, and arguably, he is right. He is right! Not necessarily in the methodology he ends up employing with his drastic measures, but he has justifications that just make sense. He is correct that Wakanda should branch out more and that it is totally fucked up what happened to him his past. He legitamately deserved some amount of revenge.

Okay, okay, I will not talk only about how great Jordan is and his character. The rest of the cast really shines too. I want way more Shuri and certainly more M’Baku. This movie celebrates its diversity in ways we haven’t seen in a blockbuster in almost forever, and that diversity shines brightly. There are vivid colors without relying on the Doctor Strange spectacles, and thrilling fight scenes without excessive explosions.

Hell, the best part about the climatic fight scene (besides the obvious repercussions as they are happening and the crowd pleasing moments) is that it for the most part took place in the open, during the day. It was well lit, we could see it all, and it wasn’t hiding behind quick camera changes and bad choreography.

There are some easy things to nitpick, sure. Like Vibranium becoming a catch all wonder cure. Like the excessive amount of violence involving stabbing items without a lot of consequences from those actions. Like this film following the general strategy of “Intro Marvel Film” means good guy fights evil version of himself.

But it does a lot of things right, from a cultural stand point, from visual stand points, from the plot, to the acting, to the action, and to the scale. It is a strong bar to set for Superhero films this year, and one that Marvel is hoping to actually surpass in just a few months.

4 out of 4.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon is an upcoming movie based on the book. That book was called Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda.

I don’t know anything about this film going into it, but I wish, wish, wish, it had the same title as the book. That is such an exciting title! And one that would probably turn off a lot of potential viewers. Heck, it makes me think of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Who doesn’t want to be associated with that masterpiece?

Oh well. Sometimes you have to make the money decision instead of the fun, original, cool decision.

Friends
Best friends until the very end, no secrets between them, none whatsoever.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is your typical high school teenage senior. He has regular parents (Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel), who might be a bit rich sure, and a younger sister (Talitha Eliana Bateman) who wants to be a chef. He has some BFFs for most of his life in Leah (Katherine Langford) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), including a new girl to their group Abby (Alexandra Shipp).

Oh, an he is gay too. Totally loves the dudes. Just hasn’t told anyone despite knowing it for years.

But then something changes. Their school/community have their own little Post Secret group that still is in use, where people can post rumors, or comments about their lives. And it turns out that someone else in their school is gay. Well, secretly gay.

So Simon decides to email him and set up a correspondence with this Blue fellow to share their feelings. In secret of course. This email turns into a bit of a fascination for Simon. He longs to hear back from his secret friend, and even finds himself falling in love with his words.

Unfortunately, the longer he obsesses over his email, the more likely he is to screw up with these emails and accidentally let his secret out.

Also starring Logan Miller, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, and Tony Hale.

Friends Friends
What a diverse group of totally normal friends!

If I had to describe Love, Simon in the least amount of words, I would just tell you “Never Been Kissed, but gay.” For those of you familiar with that movie it should be pretty obvious. A person in school has a secret, the secret is found out, and it ends with romance! A lot of movies have similar plots, but this one really drives home these aspects.

And after saying all of that, that is not a negative on Love, Simon. I loved Love, Simon. It was cute, it felt real, it was modern and topical. Robinson as a lead had a constant look on his face to show he was hurting on the inside, unsure of how to express his feelings that are giving him so much angst. The pressure builds on him throughout the movie, once his secret starts spreading without his knowledge and consent. And finally, by the end, the acceptance of his fate, his character has different body movements and an aura about him. It is a wonderful change to process.

I hated the people that were dicks, I loved his circle of friends, and the consequences of his lies and actions went completely believable ways. This is just a nice feel good romance teenage coming of age story. I cried several times, from both being upset and sad, to happiness. It was good amount of feels. An appropriate, non groping amount of feels.

And unsurprisingly, this feels like a film I could easily watch again and again for years to come.

4 out of 4.

I, Tonya

Tonya Harding is currently living in infamy, as the most famous figure skater ever. More people know her name than Nancy Kerrigan. More people know her name than the other figure skaters since then and before.

Tonya Harding was one of first people to be sensationalized around the world thanks to the emergence of the 24 hour news cycle. Yes, she was involved in a terrible scandal. A scandal we have never really seen before or after, or if we did, it was a lot more subtle and professionally done.

I, Tonya is a film more about the once incident that will forever define her life, unfortunately. It is about her youth, her skating career, her relationships, and sure, some time after as well.

Happy
And about her happiest moment, in which she was clearly, very goddamn happy.

Tonya Merigold Bethany Harding (Margot Robbie) (I made up those middle names) grew up poor and unloved, which is really how she was most of her life as well.

Her mother (Allison Janney) was the one who spent most of her time raising her, with a lot of failed marriages, men who could no longer stand her. She was beaten, but her mom still put most of her money into skating lessons, because Tonya showed skills at the young age of three. Tonya was crass, a red neck, vulgar, and everything that her mother taught her to be.

This led to some contention in the ice skating community, who demanded their skaters be princesses. She was often not treated right by the judges, even if she landed the hardest of tricks perfectly.

A hard life led Tonya to a hard man, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), a couple of people who married their first love when neither had a strong education. More beatings, more of a shit home life, and yet still, Tonya succeed on the ice.

All of this led up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, and I am sure you heard a lot about that one.

Also starring Anthony Reynolds, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Ricky Russert, and Mckenna Grace as little Tonya.

Family
The real torture is probably how long it took to do her hair.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into I, Tonya. Again, I really only understood the woman behind the incident through parodies and Weird Al. I knew it was classified as some sort of Dark Comedy, and usually Dark Comedies aren’t based on real events, even if they say they are. I also know that this whole thing is from Tonya and companies point of view, Nancy Kerrigan had nothing to do with this film, so there was a chance of bias.

And so I tried to look at it objectively, just as a film, telling a story, not worrying about how it matched up with real events. Like how I did for The Greatest Showman. And yet it was hard to do that as characters constantly broke the fourth wall to tell if these things really did or didn’t happen, and I don’t just mean the documentary feel of the film for some parts.

But at this point I am stalling. I, Tonya was masterful cinema in my eyes. It took a tragic and strange event and gave it human qualities. As far as I am concerned, Tanya Harding was a tragic figure growing up and very misunderstood. She had to struggle a lot through poverty, physical abuse and mental abuse from those who loved her, and yet she still became a success. And fuck it, I believe she wasn’t involved with the incident at this point. Movie has set my mind to a certain point, and I just feel so incredibly sad about it all.

I, Tonya made me laugh a ton, made me cry, but more importantly, it made me think. That sounds like a canned response, but it made me think about what it means to be a celebrity, what it means to have your lives completely under camera all the time, and how you aren’t allowed to ever be weak unless you want to be trampled.

Except when it comes to Trump. The mockery is justified.

4 out of 4.

Hostiles

When you think of Hostiles, you think of a group of angry people. Knowing that this movie is set as a western, with cowboys and American Indians, it sort of brings Pocahontas to mind. I know, it wasn’t cowboys, but close enough. And famously in that movie we had the song Savages. Throughout history, generally Savage was used when the “white” side ran into natives in another land. But in this song, they both saw each other as savages! Equality because both sides were different and didn’t trust different things.

Except you know, the part where in Pocahontas, the white people were actual terrible invaders and the bad people and that was it. So they tried well, but still failed in that regard.

Anyway, I think of that song when I hear Hostiles (and probably also for the movie Savages). Going into it, I assumed that every side and every new character was probably a “hostile” individual, and that no one should be trusted or given a gun.

Gun
When everyone is this aggressive, you just need to have the gun out at all times.

Set in 1892, we find ourselves in the Western United States. The Civil War is over, but the Spanish-American war had not yet happened. Soldiers at this point didn’t have a lot of responsibilties. Mostly keeping the peace, in forts across the country.

Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) has been in the army for about 25 or more years at this point. He has seen and done a lot of things. He was at Wounded Knee not to much longer before. And he hates the Native Americans. He h as seen what they have done to “honest, Americans” and is disgusted by that fact. Hell, most of his career has involved killing them or rounding them up, but he also has only done what he is told.

And now he is being told to do something unthinkable. He has to return Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, and more) to their homeland. He has been imprisoned for seven years and it has been long enough, especially since Yellow Hawk has the cancer. It has turned into a big deal for their government to send him home to die with his people and forgive past crimes, hell, even the president has signed off on it. The press are involved!

Blocker doesn’t wan this job. And it will be his last one before retirement. He has his crew (Jesse Plemons, Jonathan Majors, Rory Cochrane, Timothée Chalamet), he had his weapons and supplies, and he had a terrible mission.

And along the way he will also pick up Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) a very recent widow who lost her family and house to a group of Native American horse thieves, and (Ben Foster) a former soldier, turned prisoner for doing unthinkable crimes and trying to run, who needs delivery to a fort for a court marshal.

Also featuring others, like Stephen Lang, Peter Mullan, and Robyn Malcolm.

Gun
Shit, everyone gets a gun in this movie.

Hostiles is a film that is just a little bit over two hours, but one that feels much longer. The first scene grabs you and the film refuses to let go the entire time. It keeps your attention by gripping characters, extremely great acting, authentic everything, and slightly terrifying plot.

It doesn’t keep your interest like a modern cartoon, by flashing shit at you every few seconds. No, the scenes are long, detailed, and showcase real human emotion. Hard decisions don’t just come naturally, but they are often decided in between scenes. But in this film, we have to watch actors think through their moral issues and figure out what they need to do. And on its own, that might not seem too appealing, but it just shows the amount of attention to detail that went into this film.

Scott Cooper directed this film and I will be honest, I haven’t really enjoyed anything he has directed before. That is from Black Mass, Out of the Furnace, and Crazy Heart. All films that are known for one reason or another, some good, some not so good. But none of them really reached me.

Hostiles reached me something fierce. Bale has a good chance of getting nominated. Watching Pike play such an unhinged character gave me flashbacks to Gone Girl, she does such work here as well. All of the other side characters are clearly their own individuals. The film kept me guessing with just how scenes would play out. The characters are complex individuals, so their actions won’t always be obvious from earlier in the film.

Hostiles is just a great film on all fronts. The soundtrack, the acting, the story, the pacing, the cinematography, shit, even the costumes. Westerns are rare, but it seems like every western we get is basically gold at this point.

4 out of 4.

The Breadwinner

It took all year, but I finally found it. I found a great animated film that came out this year, that brought me something new to the genre while also being emotional with a fantastic plot.

This is the sort of things that I would normally save for the ending, but I know you can see the rating up there, I have nothing to hide.

The Breadwinner is a foreign film, about non-American problems, a non average hero, and an above average story. It is the type of film that more people should be hyping, but unfortunately, it is foreign and had a limited theatrical run and most people just want to talk about Coco.

But read on so that you can see what The Breadwinner is all about and get psyched about watching it in the future.

Girl
This relates in no way to some TV show Breadwinners.

Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is a strong independent girl around 12 years old. She knows how to read, she can write, and she wants to be able to do anything she puts her mind to. The only problem is that she lives in Afghanistan, currently under rule by the Taliban, who are getting more and more frequently dickish. They are recruiting younger men, who have a lot of grudges, who are making the area more into a police state. I am not saying early Taliban rule Afghanistan was great, just that it was better than it is now in the film.

Parvana knows all of these things because of her father, Nurullah (Ali Badshah), who lost one of his legs previously in a war. She has a mother, an older sister, and a baby brother, but because she isn’t yet fully “mature”, Parvana can join him at the market and help sell goods to help earn money for the family.

But at some point, a young soldier gets angry at Parvana for having such a free spirit and not being covered “Enough”. This leads to a Taliban raid of their house, where they find forbidden books, so they arrest Nurullah and take him to a prison far away. The family is left defenseless and hungry, given that the next male in line is less than 2 years old, and none of the others are allowed to buy goods, or even leave without a male escourt.

Their family may die poor and alone. But not Parvana. She is resourceful. She chops of her hair, dresses like a boy, and finally gets to feel that sense of freedom she has always longed for. It is up to her to provide food and money for her family, while also figuring out how they might help their father out of prison.

Also featuring the mouth sounds of Kanza Feris, Kawa Ada, Laara Sadiq, Noorin Gulamgaus, Shaista Latif, and Soma Chhaya.

Boy
To really commit, she should have grown her beard like how all 10 year old boys do.

In The Breadwinner we get a regular story about a girl going above and beyond the call of duty, to protect her family and try to make things right. This isn’t some goddamn princess in her ivory tower discovering how to be good, but a girl who has lived a hard life and still rising above it all. This is set in the real world that has real issues, even if the setting is no longer accurate. This is the type of story that can resonate with the youth of the world regardless of their age while also providing factual knowledge.

And even more importantly, it is not a cookie cutter story. We get violence that might seem a bit extreme for a PG film, even if it is “off camera”. We have a goddamn war zone with people running around with automatic rifles and a high assumed death count. Their entire family is put into realistic peril several times, because that is the world they are living in and it is downright frightening.

It also has a story within a story, giving us a different art style, to sort of break up the main story into sections and give us a parallel to compare things to. A common idea and one that works wonderfully in this film.

But most importantly, the ending really resonated with me. Everything didn’t magically fall into a place and it certainly isn’t a situation where they lived happily ever after. They didn’t somehow cause the Taliban to disappear and run off into the sunset. It gives a realistic enough ending for them, without giving us the picturesque fairy tale finale.

This is an animated film that took some risks and they paid off. And it took Canada, Ireland, and Luxembourg to work together apparently to give it to us (not: no middle eastern countries made this movie about Afghanistan). I didn’t know anything actually came out of Luxembourg! But I am excited for whatever they brought to the table because now I have the Luxembourgian tag on my website.

4 out of 4.

Best Films of 2017

I don’t need a long introduction anymore, I have done a few of these already! I don’t even have a significant list of missing films to talk about, even better!

So you know the drill, here are some honorable mentions. Honorable what?

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Like every year, I had quite a few 4 out of 4’s to choose from. Top 15 lists are more exciting and besides, 10 is an arbitrary number. But what films couldn’t make the list? Things like Beauty and the Beast, The Lost City of Z, The Post, Thelma, and The Chess Player and more.

This year I sucked at watching documentaries as well as foreign films. They will have a lot of missing components when the Oscar nominations happen. So I decided to not include any documentaries on the list, and the only foreign film was in English so you wouldn’t notice anyways.


15) Split

Split was the first 4 out of 4 I gave of the year, and the last film to make my list. Split was a surprise, as it was a big return to form for M. Night Shyamalan and more importantly it was a sign of how this year would be. Which is of course, a strong as fuck year on horror. I am excited about the sequel to this film and James McAvoy should be celebrated for the acting he pulled off in this movie.

Split


14) It Comes At Night

Speaking of Horror, It Comes At Night was a film that disappointed a lot of individuals due to its advertising campaign. I didn’t watch any trailers, so I didn’t come into the film with any expectations. What I got was a very simple film, dealing with dreadful themes and making me feel uneasy for quite a few days afterwards. It was well acted, beautifully shot, and a film that really makes you think.

It Comes At Night


13) The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is the movie that I thought would be my favorite of 2017, from sometime early in 2016. Its a musical, it has actors I love, and it is about a fascinating subject. If you just realize that this is full of lies and in no way accurate of P.T. Barnum, it is a fun experience with catchy songs.

This is my favorite musical of 2017, although there is at least one other song higher that is musical in the other definition.

The Greatest Showman


12) Hostiles

Hostiles is the first film on this list that I haven’t had a review published for yet, because the studio wants it to be released closer to the January release date. But Hostiles was a slow, long, and powerful journey and experience. A lot happens on that journey, including great acting, good scenery, and a lot of redemption.

Hostiles


11) A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story is not a horror film, just a straight up Drama movie, although it does deal with some potentially frightening scenes. It is a very slow burn and it will turn a lot of people off due to strange it is. A powerful concept, with two talented leads, although one of the leads might no actually be under the sheet for most of the film, who the fuck knows.

This is a movie that will never make you look at pie the same way.

A Ghost Story


10) The Breadwinner

It took me until December to find an animated film I could really get behind and love when I finally saw The Breadwinner. This a year of disappointing animated films, and quite a few will make my worst of the year list. But The Breadwinner sails above them all, giving a powerful new story, from an underrepresented area in film and a little girl star. It is the type of film families should want to show their kids to encourage them to overcome their future struggles.

This is the best animated film of 2017, by a long shot.

The Breadwinner


9) Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

You know whats better than superheroes? Sometimes the story behind the superheroes! In this case Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is about three fascinating, real individuals, who did more than create a comic. They had academic lives, they made discoveries, inventions, experienced a lot sexually, and then made a comic. The more you know!

And no, the Wonder Woman film about the actual hero didn’t make the list, because it went “Full DC” in the conclusion. The end was so bad and hard to watch it put a dark stain on that film.

Prof Marston and the wonder women


8) Wind River

At this point in the list, it was so hard to rank these movies, and there are still 8 to go! Why is Wind River up here and not further? Fuck if I know. This could very well be my favorite movie of the year, and right now I just don’t remember a lot of it because it came out in the summer. Other films I was able to watch multiple times despite early releases.

That doesn’t change the fact that Wind River is incredible. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are acting powerhouses, and this is a film that has the potential to change you.

Wind River


7) Get Out

Speaking of number ones, a lot of people will have Get Out on top and that makes sense. Have you not seen Get Out yet? Then fucking go do it. It came out really soon after Split, and these two movies were both genre bending, not full on horrors. Get Out has a better message, a better story, and really resonated with most of the viewers.

Get Out is an important film, and thus, the best “horror” film of 2017.

Get Out


6) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,
Missouri

Another very topical film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also a very topical film. Sweet sentence, I know. This film features very strong acting across multiple directions, and it is hard to know who is right or wrong. But we get violence, language, gross as fuck scenes, this is a movie about modern middle America for adults.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


5) The Shape of Water

Human. Fucking. Amphibian Man. Consensually.

This is the kind of film people might not have wanted when they said they wanted original films, but The Shape of Water is what they are getting. Brought to us by the mastermind of visuals and monsters, Guillermo del Toro. A love story that feels like it is traveling uncharted waters and with eccentric characters to boot.

The Shape of Water


4) I, Tonya

The last film I saw this year that had the potential to be on this list was I, Tonya, and it certainly blew me away. It started off a bit slow, and I was a bit weirded out with its quirkiness. But this tells a really powerful story (one that might not be true, but I am not judging truthiness) that turned a national punchline joke into an emotional story about overcoming abuse. Both physical and emotional. A film that builds and gets crazier and more unbelievable with each passing moment.

This would be the best Dark Comedy of 2017 for me. Or the best Dark Comedy. Mostly uncertain because I don’t know how to classify half of the films on this list, let alone the first one.

I, Tonya


3) Brawl in Cell Block 99

Probably the biggest surprise you will see on this list is Brawl in Cell Block 99. Some of you may just be asking what the hell is this film even? And that is fair. It is by the director who brought us Bone Tomahawk last year which had a lot of acclaim. This one is just more modern, more Vince Vaughn, and an incredible (frightening) ending that had me going for more than two hours. An incredible experience with probably Vaughn’s best performance. I could watch it again, but I am too afraid.

This is probably considered the best Action film of 2017. Depending on how you view the next film in this list.

Brawl in Cell Block 99


2) Baby Driver

In my middle of the year top 10 list, Baby Driver was number one. And usually my number one halfway through the year doesn’t crack the top five at the end, so this is already impressive that it only went down one spot. My second viewing wasn’t as powerful as the first, but this is still a fantastic film, with great acting, a great soundtrack, fun plot and characters. It also has Kevin Spacey, which is going to be one of the last things I talk about with him in it I guess.

Is this an action movie? A heist film? A comedy? A musical (because it is musical, at least…). Who knows! Let’s just say the best adventure film of 2017 and move on from that.

Baby Driver


1) Colossal

Surprise motherfuckers!

Seriously, none of you saw this coming. Hell, I barely saw it coming. I have never had a harder time determining a number one for a year ever. Usually I know well in advanced, or get swept up in some December hype. But a lot of the December releases just really didn’t sell themselves well to me, and the ones I over hyped I know are still not the best.

With Colossal, I feel like it is a natural progression from Split and Get Out earlier in the year. It is like, five genres rolled into one, building off of each other and creating an incredible experience overall. Even knowing how it ends and the twists, I still was captivated in my second viewing.

I think Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis give such great and at times subtle performances in this film. Hell, I am surprised it wasn’t praised more when it came out. I can understand no awards love, because yet, it is a very awkward film and uncomfortable by the end. Although not perfect, with some very strange plot points that don’t make a lot of sense, this is a film that I would recommend over and over again to such a variety of people. It is my number one film of the year, and right now, I am sticking to that.

Colossal

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Overall, only one animated film, 1 musical, and no super hero films. Shockingly the big news here is how many of these films were thriller or horror, which has the best year ever.

And for those haters who need to compare this list to others, yes I did see Molly’s Game, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Last Flag Flying, All The Money in the World, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird and The Big Sick. Big films that people would expect to see on these lists. But hey, they didn’t make it. I didn’t put this warning at the top because it would have been spoilers, hah.

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

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