Peter’s Top 5 Films of 2017

Ever since I started writing these lists, I’ve enjoyed using a ‘Top 6’ format. It’s become a sort of personal trademark.

When I sat down to write the list for 2017, I was shocked to discover that I literally can’t make a top 6 movies list for the year. Not because it wasn’t a good year for film – just because of what I happened to see.

Over the entire year, I saw exactly five films from 2017. I caught up on a bunch of them the following year (having a baby and access to Netflix does that) but this list is less “my favourite 5” and more just…me ranking the only 5 films I actually managed to see.

1) Pitch Perfect 3

Well this doesn’t bode well.

Pitch Perfect 3 is a lot of fun. It’s more acapella nonsense from the Bellas who we’ve grown to love, it has a ridiculous and fun subplot featuring John Lithgow as an Australian, it’s funny and stupid in roughly equal measures, and I’d happily watch it again.

In no other year I’ve been making these lists would it have taken the top spot. Hell, in many years it wouldn’t have even made the top 6.

So that’s where we are this year. Sorry, everyone. I’ll try to see more films in future years.

2) Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I absolutely loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Top-notch film-making, great reboot, loved the characters, the cast, the plot.

And yet, that film only barely made it onto that year’s top 6 list.

The Last Jedi was a huge step backwards. I saw someone describe it as “One of the worst Star Wars films inside one of the best Star Wars films”, which I thought was perfect. Like much of the internet, I adored Rey/Ben’s storyline, while being frustrated and bored by Poe/Finn’s storyline.

It definitely has its strong points, but the prequel – which I liked much more – only barely scraped onto 2015’s list.

Here’s the rub: this was the last film on the list that I actually liked.

3) Baby Driver

On paper, this is exactly my kind of film. Edgar Wright is a director I’m always excited to hear from: Hot Fuzz is in my all-time top 10, Scott Pilgrim was my (tied) number 1 for 2010. What’s more, I basically loved everything about this film…in theory.

In practice? I thought the plot was weak (and weird), the characters were unlikeable and inconsistent, the first five minutes made a promise that the rest of the film failed to deliver on, and the end result was a bunch of quirky interesting moments that didn’t weave together to make something I enjoyed.

Let’s talk more about the first five minutes. This is the second film where the first five minutes has left me on the edge of my seat, vibrating with excitement about the visual rollercoaster I’m about to be taken on…and, as every subsequent minute passes, I get more and more disappointed.

(The first was Lucy. Seriously, those first five minutes are a standalone masterpiece. As are the first five minutes of Baby Driver.)

And I think that’s the worst part – how much I wanted to enjoy this movie. It does so, so much right…and yet completely left me cold. I was genuinely excited for a hearing-impaired central character, dat Edgar Wright directing, a quirky romance, the promise of endless interesting car-chases…

(When a car chase is done well, it’s a thing of beauty. The Matrix Reloaded is obviously garbage, but that 20-minute car chase almost justifies the rest of the film.)

Baby Driver was a swing and a miss. In any other year, it wouldn’t have made my top 6. It wouldn’t have made my runners-up. It would have been the top of my “Noteably Absent” list, not number 3 for the year.

4) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

There’s a YouTube video called “Pirates of the Caribbean: Accidentally Genius”. I’ve been on a real filmic video essay kick for the last few years (my top 6 channels: Every Frame a Painting, Lindsay Ellis, Lessons from the Screenplay, Patrick (H) Willems, Folded Ideas, The Nerdwriter) and this is one of the best.

After showing it to Roxy, I was trying to remember if I’d seen the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, concluded that I hadn’t, and so we sort-of watched it.

I mean, I assume we sort-of watched it. See, when it came time to compile this list, I was going through the year’s releases…and again, couldn’t remember if I’d seen this movie.

I have. I remember sitting down and putting it on. But I could barely tell you a single thing that happened in this movie. It’s not, like, offensively bad…there’s just nothing there.

Or if there is, it’s trite and instantly forgettable. But I’m pretty sure I saw it, and I don’t think I liked it.

5) Kingsman: The Golden Circle

This? This film, I definitely remember seeing. This film, I actively hate.

Kingsman: The Secret Service was my film of the year in 2015 (the greatest year of film I’ve been alive for). In fact, until I saw this movie, Kingsman 1 was my favourite film of all time.

And don’t get me wrong – I still love it. I would happily watch Kingsman over almost any other film. It’s a delightful romp, expertly executed. Every frame is a memorable, quoteable joy – I really adore that movie.

Kingsman 2?

The only reason Kingsman 2 isn’t the worst sequel I’ve ever seen is because I’ve seen Kick-Ass 2. (Matthew Vaughn sequels: what’s the deal?)

It might seem weird, a new film in a series affecting the rating of the previous entry. But a part of what I loooooved about Kingsman: The Secret Service was how beautifully it set up the franchise. It opened the doors to a fun, exciting world…and then Golden Circle petulantly slammed that door closed.

For obvious reasons, I’m not doing Notably Absent or Runners-Up this year, so I’m going to use that space to rant about this film.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The teaser poster for this film was incredible:

Killing off Harry Hart was one of the most powerful parts of the first film, yet I – and everyone I spoke to about it – was totally fine with them retconning it, and bringing him back to life via any means possible. If it meant we got more of his dashing bad-ass gentleman spy: do it!

So I was pretty surprised when they brought him back to life…without him being dashing, a gentleman, bad-ass, or even a spy.

Just as Baby Driver disappointed me by promising kick-ass car chases and awesome musical numbers (and barely delivering on either), Kingsman 2 failed to deliver on any of the implied promises. After the characters spent the last film rebuilding their spy agency from the ashes, it gets destroyed again at the start of this film. After establishing that a woman can be a Kingsman, they immediately – and unceremoniously – kill her off.

And after bringing Colin Firth back, he spends the majority of the film with no memory of being a spy, purposelessly ambling around a room and talking about butterflies.

But that’s not all. The rest of the film is just as bad. In one sequence, they double down one of the worst parts of the original (the tactless sex scene) and then, after spending countless screen minutes on bringing Colin Firth back, kill off Merlin – my second-favourite character. Should I look forward to Kingsman 3 spending the majority of its runtime showing Eggsy painstakingly stitching Mark Strong back together?

It adds a bunch of forgettable American characters, a weird sort of anti-drug message?, an infuriating jealousy subplot, an vastly inferior villain, and an Elton John cameo that’s fun but pointless, and which does nothing to save the movie.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of my all-time favourite films, and did an amazing job of setting up a world rife for awesome sequels. Kingsman: The Golden Circle took that potential and utterly squandered it. I dislike it so much, it’s lit a fire under me – I am determined to never, ever again allow such a terrible film to be my #5 of the year.

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