Taylor T. Carlson's Best and Worst Films of 2017!

Me writing film reviews is nothing new; I have been doing it periodically on this site since I began writing here in 2014. But this was the first year that I have truly taken it up a notch, and began more regularly attending films in theaters. And like any year, this year has had its share of highlights, and a few absolutely terrible ones.

In what I am hoping to turn into an annual tradition, I have compiled my top ten best and worst films of 2017. This list is strictly my own opinions, and for entertainment purposes only; there are bound to be plenty of people who disagree with me here. But if you have an opinion as to your own best/worst movies of the year, please feel free to post in the comment section below. It should also be noted that I did not have freer access to films in theaters until the latter few months of the year, with me getting a MoviePass subscription, so the list will understandably be heavy on movies from more recent months.

Click on the film titles for links to the pages with the complete reviews.

Let’s get on with it!

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The Top Ten Worst Films of 2017!

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10) The Foreigner

If you are making a movie that is a star vehicle for Jackie Chan, you cannot have long stretches of the movie without Jackie Chan in them. Especially when he is the main character of the movie! This is a film that was heavily promoted at its time of release, and actually garnered positive reviews from some critics. But this moviegoer found it to be bogged down in unnecessary characters and subplots, and derivative of other, far better movies and takes on the same subject. I was pleased to see Chan in a more serious and less comedic role, but he deserves better than this.

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9) Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Don’t get me wrong; Denzel Washington is fantastic playing the title role in this film. Unfortunately, that is about the only positive thing I have to say about the movie. Scenes that have no bearing whatsoever on the plot are haphazardly inserted into the movie. The tone is equally inconsistent running the gamut from outright comedic to gritty and dramatic. Washington did a superb job playing the title character in this film…. But why couldn’t he have gotten a better movie to play this character in?

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8) Geostorm

This is the kind of movie you would get if you took every single action, science fiction, and suspense cliché, and threw them into a blender. There are a few exciting and suspenseful sequences, but it is nothing we haven’t seen before. The end result is far less than the sum of its parts, and at times is laughably bad. The film was constantly retooled and heavily edited following unsuccessful test screenings going back several years, and the final release reeks of this.

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7) Wonder Wheel

Woody Allen has long been revered as a quality filmmaker, even if some of his more recent exploits have gotten weaker reviews. Wonder Wheel has some interesting ideas and actually does a good job capturing the look and feel of 1950s Coney Island. Hell, there are even some great actors and performances. But none of it comes together. Characters are unsympathetic and uninteresting, and to add insult to injury, the movie just ends abruptly without warning, with no resolution to the plot whatsoever; you will feel cheated at the end of the 100 minute run time.

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6) A Bad Moms Christmas

A common trend in modern comedies seems to be making sequels that bring in the older generation, and this is no exception to that rule. Despite talented actresses, this movie cannot find the balance between off-the-wall comedy and more emotional, dramatic scenes that threaten to derail the whole thing. And while we’re at it, will someone please tell the big wigs in Hollywood that little kids dropping the F-bomb simply is not that funny?

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5) The Star

Combine the Biblical story of the conception of Christ with a comedy about talking animals. What could possibly go wrong here? Well, just about everything. The tonal inconsistencies coupled with horrible, modern renditions of Christmas songs and an overabundance of slapstick humor make for one mess of an animated movie. There are better animated comedies for kids, and certainly better versions of the story of Christ.

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4) Father Figures

Another oft-delayed movie, likely due to disastrous test screenings. Ed Helms and Owen Wilson are great comic actors, but here they just play the same characters they play in every single other movie. There is a who’s who of stars here, from NFL legend Terry Bradshaw to actors like JK Simmons and Christopher Walken, but it is yet another in a long line of comedies that has next to nothing going for it. Moments hint at what could have been a better movie, but the end results fall flat.

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3) Daddy's Home 2

This movie is, essentially, the same movie as A Bad Mom’s Christmas, but swaps out the moms and grandmothers for dads and grandfathers, and has a more restrained PG-13 rating. The “main quartet” has some decent moments, but everyone else in the movie is one dimensional and tertiary, including the kids. Very few of the gags actually work; there simply is not enough here to justify the run time.

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2) Pitch Perfect 3

When film series get to their third installment, it is not always a good thing. The third Pitch Perfect film combines a paper-thin storyline, one-dimensional characters, terrible music, and very little that ever comes together into something coherent; the film feels like a collection of music videos slapped together with the most minimal semblance of a plot. Stick with the earlier installments of the series if you must watch it at all.

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1) Just Getting Started

Many of the films on this list are comedies, but even the worst of them at least got a few light laughs out of me. Just Getting Started, on the other hand, is a comedy that is not funny at all. Set primarily in a seniors resort complex, the movie felt like it was written for the kinds of people that inhabit such complexes. What is even more appalling is that this film unites Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman, both of whom are superb actors, but even they can’t save this film from being a complete disaster of an unfunny comedy. The film, which can’t decide what plots and storylines it wants to stick with, is easily the worst movie I saw in 2017.

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The Top Ten Best Films of 2017!

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10) Justice League

This one has been getting mixed reviews, but for me, this was the breath of fresh air the DC Extended Universe has long been in need of. The tone is far removed from the dark, brooding feel of many earlier films in this series, and the characters all have fine chemistry throughout. This is not a masterpiece by any means, and some parts do feel rushed. But, in all ways, this is a step up for films based on DC comics, and has me looking forward to future movies.

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9) Spider-Man Homecoming

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched, one of the biggest weaknesses was the lack of legal rights to many of Marvel’s star characters that had their movie rights sold off to other studios. Sadly, one of the biggest heroes in the Marvel Bullpen, Spider-Man, was a victim of this. Fortunately, Marvel Studios struck a deal to use the character, starting in Captain America: Civil War. Homecoming proves that Tom Holland’s take on Spidey was no one-reel wonder; this is a fresh new take on the character from an actor that actually looks and acts like a teenager, and not an emo 20 or 30-something.

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8) Hired Gun

You have probably heard of every movie on this list except for this one. Essentially, this is a documentary looking at the “side players” in the music industry, backing the stars on stage and in the studio. Sure, you know who Alice Cooper is, but can you name any of his backing musicians? What happens to these contributors to some of rock and pop’s biggest legacies, and do they get a piece of the pie, or any recognition at all? This film is the perfect place to start looking for the answers.

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7) War for the Planet of the Apes

Rebooted series and remakes often crash and burn, but a noteworthy exception to this has been the new Planet of the Apes series that was launched back in 2011. The conclusion to this trilogy (it is not clear if there will be future installments in this incarnation of the series) ends things on a high note with great motion capture from Andy Serkis as Caesar. With Woody Harrelson as a charismatic and intriguing villain, this may be the best of the new trilogy.

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6) Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Another film on this list that has been getting mixed reactions across the board, yet one that this longtime fan of the series absolutely loved. This time around, we get to spend time with new and old heroes alike, and we even get some unexpected surprises. The series’ signature sense of humor is still on display, but not at the expense of gripping drama, and more journeys to exotic worlds and elaborate, exciting battles.

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5) It

Stephen King adaptations have always been a hot item in Hollywood, and this is easily one of the best to date. While Pennywise the Clown is a haunting and outright scary villain, the movie works just as well as a coming of age story with its large cast of youth characters. Plotlines and characters are juggled well, and the film never feels like it is trying to do too much. This is the scariest film I have seen in years, and has definitely earned a spot on my list of favorite horror movies.

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4) Logan

The X-Men movies have been hit and miss. Despite Hugh Jackman’s superb portrayal of Wolverine, the solo movies revolving around the character have been some of the weaker installments in the franchise. But this time around, the third time is the charm. Logan, the first R-rated film in the X-Men franchise (unless one counts the more comedic antics of Deadpool), is absolutely brutal, and is intended to serve as a “send off” for Jackman’s portrayal of Logan/Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. One of the true standouts of the movie is young Dafne Keen, who will leave an impression on any viewer. This isn’t only the best Wolverine solo movie; it’s one of the best X-Men movies period.

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3) Lady Bird

One of the unexpected surprises of 2017 was this film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, and starring the always entertaining Saoirse Ronan. Teen comedies and coming-of-age stories are nothing new, but Gerwig’s film has a brilliant script that offers a genuine combination of drama and a witty, comedic script. It's the best of both worlds, with the movie’s ending being its only real weakness.

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2) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell all give the performances of their careers in this story, which ranges from gritty and disturbing, to laugh-out-loud hilarious. There are dramatic and gripping moments, and razor-sharp dialogue that is not afraid to be edgy and politically incorrect. A minor supporting part from Peter Dinklage adds in some unexpected additional laughs, as well. Many unexpected developments occur throughout the movie, so once you think you’ve gotten everything figured out, you are in for additional unexpected surprises. This one is a must see.

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1) The Disaster Artist

The best movies of 2017 have covered a wide array of subjects, and perhaps ironically, my favorite movie of the year is one that deals with the making of The Room, almost universally reviled as one of the worst films ever made. James Franco (who also directs) gives the performance of his career as Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric would-be filmmaker with a bottomless bank account and an accent no one can seem to place. The laughs are endless, yet the film has a heart and some genuine chemistry between its characters; “follow your dreams” stories are nothing new, but this is one of the best in years. The Disaster Artist does for filmmaking what This is Spinal Tap did for rock and roll, and exceptionally well. I have no reservations in declaring this the best film of 2017, and quite possibly the best comedy of the 21st century to date.

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Surely, 2018 will bring some great films…. And some more terrible ones as well. What will be the best and worst movies of next year? We will find out together…. January 2018 is just a week away!

What are your pics for the best and worst films of 2017? Feel free to post your opinions in the comments section below.

DISCLAIMER: All images in this review are the copyright of their respective owners. For promotional use only. All rights reserved.

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