A new year begins so what better time than to reflect on a few of the things that truly entertained us — and hopefully you — in 2017. This isn’t a comprehensive “best of” list that you’ll find in most mainstream publications, rather a list of the favorites of the writers at Hotchka. We sit through a lot of movies and TV shows every year, some good and some bad, so we thought it would be fun to share with you our favorite things of 2017.
Stranger Things Season 2
Nothing had me more stoked in 2017 than the return of Stranger Things on Netflix. It may be the streaming service’s golden goose, but it’s worthy of the hype. This season introduced several new characters and has me eagerly anticipating the third season and another nostalgic dose of the ‘80s. Dressing the kids up as Ghostbusters was just the icing on the cake.
This was the superhero movie we needed for 2017! While I looked forward to Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Justice League, both had noticeable flaws. Wonder Woman was damn near perfection, and it was refreshing to see a woman kicking so much ass on the big screen and at the box office!
While I’m not always on the reboot band wagon, I supported the reboot of Stephen King’s It mostly because it had previously been a made-for-TV-miniseries and I was curious what more could be done with it with today’s special effects. I liked that they followed the book more closely and the casting was superb. It single-handedly revived my love of the horror genre, and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter to see who they cast in the adult roles!
The LEGO Batman Movie/The Disaster Artist
I still haven’t seen the original LEGO Movie, but The LEGO Batman Movie was hands down the best animated movie of the year. I loved that they threw in all of the old Batman villains and references, even the more obscure ones! It made me laugh from start to finish in a way no other movie besides The Disaster Artist managed to do for me in 2017 – James Franco was ridiculously and mind-blowingly over the top in his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau, and I loved every moment of it!
Murder on the Orient Express
As a lifelong Agatha Christie admirer, I was excited to finally see one of her classics on the big screen and you really couldn’t ask for more from Murder on the Orient Express. The casting and gorgeous scenery were enough to justify this reboot for me mostly because I’m too young to have ever seen any of the other adaptations on the big screen. I’m also interested to see if they continue the franchise with Death on the Nile as promised, as I think that will be another fun one!
Movies I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2018:
- Solo: A Star Wars Story – Other than R2-D2, Han Solo has always been my favorite Star Wars character. I’m stoked to learn more about his backstory!
- Ready Player One – I just got a copy of the book and am eager to read it, as everyone has recommended this because they know about my obsession with the ‘80s and pop culture!
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – I loved Newt Scamander and I can’t wait to see some Parisian escapades!
- Mary Poppins Returns – Mary Poppins is one of my all-time favorite characters and I’m curious to see Emily Blunt fill those perfect shoes!
- Halloween – This is actually set to come out the day before my wedding – really looking forward to Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I love me some Chris Pratt and dinosaurs … and Jeff Goldblum is back!
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – YES, 100% more ABBA! OK, so Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan aren’t so bad either!
Best Movies of 2017
- 5) Blade Runner 2049 – This was the most beautiful movie of the year, and the rare sequel that doesn’t immediately pale in comparison to the original.
- 4) Logan – Perhaps the most mature comic book movie in a while, featuring some killer acting and one hard hitting ending.
- 3) mother! – Divisive assuredly, but Aronofsky swung for the fences with this audacious, insane, extended metaphor that is a mystery inside itself.
- 2) The Post – A “small” Spielberg film, but with the best ensemble of the year and a truly chilling timeliness.
- 1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – The rare movie that has gone up in quality, depth, emotional resonance, and complexity the more I watch it. At this point the movie brings me to tears simply by reading lines from the screenplay. This also had a perfect ending.
Best TV of 2017
- 6) The Leftovers – A bold, confident final season to this show that has only improved over time — yet it left everything where it needed to be to end it.
- 5) BoJack Horseman – Always a funny and emotional show, the finale had a shockingly uplifting and moving note of redemption.
- 4) You’re the Worst – I wasn’t always sure where I stood with this show, but I always come back to this perfect blend of comedy and sadness.
- 3) GLOW – A great showcase for the leads (Marc Maron, Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin), this is yet another show that is hilarious but honest at the same time, while never talking down to the wrestling fans that loved the original.
- 2) The Good Place – Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise from the seasoned greatness of showrunner Mike Schur, but this show had it all — real philosophical themes, a diverse cast without any weak pieces, a career high from Ted Danson, a roller coaster ride of hilarity, and a twist I can’t believe I didn’t see coming.
- 1) Rick and Morty – Ignore the angry fans and haters and realize that this season, of such a great show, is one of its best, covering all matter of sci-fi rigmarole while promoting discussions of family, memory, identity, and therapy. The best show on TV.
- 5. Legion: What if Stanley Kubrick had made an X-Men show in the seventies? And what if he was high as a kite when he made it? Then you get Legion, a surreal, psychedelic show featuring an amazing performance from Aubrey Plaza.
- 4. GLOW: Another Netflix show and one that was surprisingly grabbing. Eighties female wrestlers doesn’t sound that amazing on paper but damn if this wasn’t one of the most bingeable series of the year.
- 3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: A solid musical comedy for two seasons, the third season has taken a hard look at mental health in a surprisingly realistic way. With more than one scene that had me in tears.
- 2. Halt and Catch Fire: The best show no one ever watched. Like seriously ask around, most people have never heard of the thing. But it was a fantastic period piece with some of the most amazing cinematography and acting on television.
- 1. Mindhunter: Netflix plus David Fincher plus serial killers? Need I say more. Dark, disturbing, and a frightening picture of how clueless law enforcement and the public at large was until very recently.
- 5. Baby Driver: Edgar Wright? Check! Killer cast? Check! Amazing stunt driving, little to no CG and an amazing soundtrack to boot? All checks for this fun throwback to the big car chase flicks of yesteryear with Wright’s modern flair in the mix to spice things up!
- 4. Spider-Man: Homecoming/ Thor: Ragnarok: Cheating a little bit here. Neither film on its own is quite good enough for my top five but together these two managed to take my dwindling excitement into all things Marvel and stoke the fires again. Especially after the pretty but dull Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 I needed these breaths of fresh air.
- 3. Dunkirk: A film that took my breath away, but I will likely try to never see again. Dunkirk lives with Gravity and a few other films that were perfect experiences … on a great big screen. Nothing on a home theater will ever captivate me the way seeing this one in IMAX did. But damn if that one viewing wasn’t incredible.
- 2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Polarizing many audiences, I had mixed feelings during my initial viewing but the more and more I think about the choices made the more I love this film. It took chances and gave us some amazing cinematography and shocking turns that will be talked and argued over for a long time.
- 1. Logan: Now I slacked this year and many of what I will probably end up calling the year’s best (once I catch up on Blu-ray) just slipped by me. I’ve missed all the big dramas and art house pieces but as of now Logan is the best all around time I have had at the cinema this year. Action, drama, a superhero film with the pathos of The Dark Knight plus an emotional anchor that hits every stride. Stellar performances top to bottom and a fitting end for Jackman’s tenure as the titular hero.
- The Greatest Showman: No other movie in 2017 made me feel happier than The Greatest Showman. The cast involved provided pure movie magic with a soundtrack that has stuck with me since its first trailer.
- The Shape of Water: Guillermo Del Toro’s tale of love easily was the best love story of 2017. Through a unique storyline and astounding makeup, The Shape of Water intrigued me from beginning to end.
- Wind River: It was special to watch a movie where my family is from, the Wind River Reservation. Taylor Sheridan directs a chilling movie with performances that pack a punch.
- mother!: Throughout my viewing of mother! I constantly was thinking how this movie was going to end and what the overall story was going to be. The whole time I was on the edge of my seat watching each scene spiral more and more out of control.
- Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a profound coming of age story that is so well realized and honest. Saoirse Ronan gives a naïve but mature performance as the title character.
Summer Blockbusters: The summer was full of big special effects extravaganzas, and their box office success varied wildly. I enjoyed The Mummy as a jumping off point for Universal’s Dark Universe … but with the film’s financial failure we may never see what could have been a great reworking of Bride of Frankenstein by Gods and Monsters (and Beauty and the Beast) director Bill Condon. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was entertaining from start to finish and gave us a fitting end for Jack Sparrow and Barbosa, while leaving things open for another character to carry on the franchise. Kong: Skull Island was not another remake of King Kong, and the 1970s setting was a nice surprise. The film stands on its own as a great action piece, and has enough information to tie in to the monsters universe established by Godzilla.
Superheroes: Not all the superhero films this year hit the mark but some fared much better than others. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was just exhausting as it tried to top the amazing original with everything and the kitchen sink. The LEGO Batman Movie also suffered from the same approach, never being as clever or funny as the original LEGO Movie. Justice League showed some inkling of what the DCEU could be thanks to Joss Whedon stepping in for Zack Snyder at the last minute. While Whedon’s humor lightened things up a bit, it wasn’t enough to save the movie from a terrible villain. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a nice surprise now that Sony and Marvel have ironed out their differences as far as sharing the character, and Tom Holland was perfect as our “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.” Thor: Ragnarok borrowed heavily from the tone set by Guardians of the Galaxy and ended up being the best Thor movie yet, and Wonder Woman showed us how a DC Comics movie should be with a terrific story, a great cast and assured direction from Patty Jenkins. Best of all, it wasn’t forced to fit into the DCEU established by Batman v Superman.
Horror: The horror genre got a nice shot in the arm in 2017 after getting off to a bad start with the dreadful The Bye Bye Man. But only a few weeks later, audiences thrilled to Get Out with its clever blend of horror and social commentary, and the rest of the year turned out well for the genre with the clever Happy Death Day, the holiday thriller Better Watch Out, and the solid scares of Annabelle: Creation and, of course, It.
Best Movie of the Year: There were a handful of other movies in 2017 that I enjoyed — Beauty and the Beast, The Shape of Water, Their Finest, Battle of the Sexes, Murder on the Orient Express and How To Be a Latin Lover — but one film stood above them all as not just my favorite movie of the year, but THE BEST movie of the year — Pixar’s Coco. Not just an animated film for kids — in fact, it is decidedly not for children — Coco had the best screenplay of the year that was perfectly realized by the Pixar team. It was full of emotion that grabbed your heartstrings and refused to let go, and left audiences with the reminder that we need to remember those who have come before us. Of all the movies I’ve seen this year, Coco is the one that has stuck with me.
FEUD: Bette & Joan was a great jumping off point for the new anthology series from Ryan Murphy, gave us great performances from Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, and brilliantly recreated scenes from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Riverdale continues to be appointment television in its second season with its dark take on the Archie Comics characters. They may have fumbled a bit with the reveal of the Black Hood, but I’m not convinced that was the end of the story.
American Horror Story: Cult divided fans of the series more than any other season, but I found it to be the most disturbing season of all due to it being grounded in reality rather than the more supernatural storylines of past seasons. It addressed perfectly what’s going on in today’s political climate and perhaps that was just a bit much for the fans of the show.
The Exorcist continued to thrill in its second season with a more consistent story that was able to stand on its own while carrying over the Vatican conspiracy from season one. It didn’t have anything to match the season one twist, but it did give us a shocking ending that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Hopefully the show is successful enough in foreign markets for Fox to order a third season.
Gotham is the best “superhero” show on television that you’re not watching. Like Riverdale, this is appointment television week to week with a terrifically solid fourth season. It may have gotten off to an iffy start with the introduction — and quick dispatching — of Scarecrow, but it succeeded in bringing back characters left for dead at the end of season three (which seriously felt like a series finale), gave Penguin a lot more to do, gave us a complex new character in the form of Sofia Falcone (and a shocking twist), introduced one of the most frightening villains yet, Professor Pyg, and gave us the most over-the-top episode (and that’s saying a lot) with that infamous dinner scene. You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t you really need to start watching this show (and with season four practically being a reboot, there’s no time like the present to catch up as the second half of the season doesn’t return until … whenever Fox decides to bring it back in “the Spring”). Things promise to get even crazier this season with the return of fan favorite Jerome Valeska as he teams up with Penguin to turn Gotham City upside down. Gotham is “must see TV” and hopefully Fox will put it back on Monday where it belongs.