A Year at the Movies

December, 2017, Commentary

If filmlovers had any lingering doubts, 2017 will be the year that confirms it; movies are in decline, burdened by Hollywood’s overreliance on mediocre sequels, a migration of creative talent to various television platforms and the propensity of young adult members of the movie-going public to support an endless supply of technically sophisticated but vacuous fantasy films spawned by Star Wars, its numbingly repetitive sequels and a slew of characters lifted intact from the pages of Marvel Comic Books.

 The result?  2017 ticket sales are at their lowest levels in 22-years.

 Yahoo recently posted its selection of “The 50 Best Movies of the Year” which is attached below. I’ve seen only 10 of them and plan to watch only 5 more (Molly’s Game, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Downsizing & The Post) when I have the opportunity to see  them. Yahoo’s list contains a mixture of science fiction, horror, documentary, comedy and drama along with a pair of animated films. The list contains a number of remake/sequels, (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, War of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor Ragnarok, Spiderman: Homecoming, Blade Runner 2049) along with the commercially successful Wonder Woman all of which did very well at the box office. But their economic success hides the facts that the average movie released this year went rather quickly to one or more of the host of premium television networks to which many movie-going Americans have access.  (Mudbound, Yahoo’s 6th choice as best film, is already available on Netflix.)

Even the hardiest moviegoer rarely sees a movie a week – yet Yahoo not only insists there are 50 worth to be seen, it follows the annoying tradition of ranking them as if they were somehow comparable in subject matter, technical skill and artistic ambition.

What’s most upsetting? This select group of films, purportedly the best of an entire year’s production, contain only 15 movies a die-hard addict like me would be interested in seeing.

I’ll await the opportunity of viewing the five movies listed in the opening lines of the 3rd paragraph above before commenting further on 2017’s output, but this much is clear; as Hollywood spends more and more on technical advances and clever advertising campaigns, it may well continue to maximize its profit margins - - but it does so at the expense of those of us who warm the seats of the country’s theaters.

As proof, I’d suggest you see both this year’s Star Wars offering as well as The Shape of Water. They’re both si-fi fantasies made by widely recognized directors. But the real comparisons end there. I defy anyone to argue that the former is anything more than a piece of cookie-cutter commercialism. Only the second  contains the rich combination of artistic originality and intellectual heft to qualify as one of this (or any year’s) best.

Yahoo’s 50 Best Movies of 2017

Lady Bird

Get Out

The Post

The Florida Project

The Disaster Artist


Call me by your name


The Big Sick

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Phantom Thread

Good Time

War of the Planet of the Apes

The Lost City of Z


Blade Runner 2049

Baby Driver



3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

The Shape of Water

Prof. Marston & the Wonder Woman

The Darkest Hour

Jim and Andy-The Great Beyond

Wonder Woman

Logan Lucky

Call me by your Name”

I, Tonya


Girl’s Trip

The Beguiled

The Breadwinners

I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore


Dawson City



The Meyerowitz Stories

Gerald’s Game


Battle of the Sexes

Lady Macbeth


Personal Shopper

Molly’s Game

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

It Comes at Night

The Incredible Jessica James

The Killing of a Sacred Deer



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