Friday, December 29, 2017

The 10 Best Films of 2017

Having already looked at the worst of 2017, it’s time to be a bit more positive. The year produced a number of great films, which only made making this list more difficult, but these are the films that stood above the rest. From the visual marvels to the subtle dramas, from the blockbusters to the indies, these are the best films of 2017.

Call Me By Your Name - Review

In an apparent transition time for the Academy Awards, it’s incredibly satisfying to see smaller and less traditional films like Call Me By Your Name get as much buzz as its getting. And the buzz is warranted in what is without question one of the most beautiful films of the year. Packing a pair of tremendous performances as well certainly doesn’t hurt in a film that looks to make its mark when the time comes.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Darkest Hour - Review

Awards season is like a broken record, leaving one like they constantly repeat themselves. And while the term “Oscar Bait” is a dying term, one can’t help but notice the numerous films based around a real individual with hopes of praise and glory. Throw in a little bit of World War II historical context and boom, you’ve got an easy entry into the conversation. Luckily, Darkest Hour approaches its historical figure, Winston Churchill, with grace and excellence without losing the electric nature of the man himself.

The 10 Worst Films of 2017

While 2017 was undoubtedly a strong year for film, particularly near the end, no year is without horrendous and misguided attempts to entertain. From the laughably bad to the atrocities of mankind itself, 2017 was not short on films that could’ve made this list of the worst of the year. With a handful of franchise entries, the poor scare attempts of January, and the flat out dull comedies, these are the worst films of 2017.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Molly's Game - Review

Another day, another biopic. Fortunately, Molly’s Game features the fascinating woman known as Molly Bloom and her time running a lucrative poker game. And who better to play this powerful woman than Jessica Chastain, a scene stealer in her own right that gets to sink her teeth into some fantastic dialogue. What else would you expect with acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin behind the screenplay and for the first time, in the director’s chair. There is plenty to be excited about with Molly’s Game and for the most part, it delivers.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Downsizing - Review

Alexander Payne has presented himself as a good filmmaker in the past with his other films, so it is only logical that a new work from him would shoot to the top of anticipation lists. Where Downsizing really grabs you, however, is with the intriguing concept that it presents combined with the comedic sensibilities of Payne, Unfortunately the final product is far from the film it could’ve been and winds up falling short of every expectation.

The Greatest Showman - Review

Who doesn’t love a good musical? The exuberant nature of song and dance on the big screen never ceases to please even the biggest cynics in some capacity. Last year is evidence of this, as La La Land released to rapturous praise and thus the lyricists behind that in Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are inevitably back for more. In a musical with perhaps a little more interesting basis, the story of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman can’t quite deliver on its promising parts.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - Review

When thinking about nineties films prime for a modern reimagining, Jumanji certainly is not the first to come to mind. Yet the Hollywood machine has decided to update the board game adventure into a retro video game action film with plenty of comedy to go around. Throw in a couple of likeable (and bankable) stars and the franchise may just become something viable and surprising.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Post - Review

In a time where it seems the press is under more scrutiny than ever; The Post arrives to show everyone just how powerful journalists can be amidst the tumultuous landscape of politics. Not only does the film feel incredibly timely, but the talent behind it is incredible. With one of the greatest directors of all time behind the camera and two of the best actors in history as well, The Post has all the elements needed for a classic to follow.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Shape of Water - Review

Once the conversation of great directors comes up, their visual language and touch may come up and no other director may be as distinct in that field than Guillermo del Toro. His films contain a level of creativity on the production level that few can match. So naturally when del Toro lines up to make a new creature feature, period piece, romance film, it is only natural that the hype is a bit high.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Review

(NO SPOILERS, because I’m not an awful human being)

Look, no one needs extra reasons to by hyped up about a new Star Wars film, but The Last Jedi certainly provides them anyway. Not only is it a follow up for interesting new characters but it features the return of everyone’s favorite Jedi hero, Luke Skywalker. With a new director in the chair in Rian Johnson, with a new vision and path for the saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi looks to be unlike any Star Wars film that came before.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I, Tonya - Review

The story of Tonya Harding as the first female figure skater to land a triple axel is inspiring, but it always gets lost or forgotten in the more chaotic and tumultuous tale of the infamous incident involving a rival skater’s kneecap. Of course, both sides of the coin are undoubtedly interesting, though when balanced together with a few of unreliable narrators, some fourth-wall breaking, and an equal dose of tragicomedy, I, Tonya becomes something that’s hard to look away from.

The Disaster Artist - Review

Films about other films are always strangely fascinating, but it is very possible, likely even, that few can garner the interest that The Disaster Artist has. It’s not really a secret anymore that The Room is one of the “best” worst movies ever made, but the mysterious and crazy production is not without a few surprises. The process of which, luckily for audiences everywhere, James Franco and friends look to cover in perhaps the most ironic Oscar contender in recent memory.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Novitiate - Review

Most of the time, when a film takes a look at religion it can be hit or miss on an extreme scale. It runs the risk of being too preachy or flat out church in film form (i.e. God’s Not Dead) or it could be an in depth look at the nature of faith in a chaotic world (i.e. Silence). Novitiate, thankfully, falls much closer to the hits.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Review

An equal mixture of dark comedy and tremendous sorrow, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is about as close to violently profane yet surprisingly tender that one could find in film. Anchored by a dynamite performance from its lead and a stellar screenplay from its writer-director, Three Billboards finds a way to keep everything unbalanced while strangely focused at the same time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coco - Review

After twenty-two years it really shouldn’t be shocking anymore when Pixar releases another excellent animated film. And yet here we are, with another fantastic, heart-warming, and emotional film under their belt and audiences reap the rewards. Pixar is always at its best when they get creative, and Coco is pretty inventive and smart in its execution. The film’s success only reiterates just how spectacular Pixar can be.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lady Bird - Review

Interestingly enough, a film that brings to mind the classic coming-of-age films of the past manages to be charming, smart, and pleasantly unique in its own way. The setting nor plot scream originality and yet the film feels out of the ordinary, even special if you will. Lady Bird is the combination of all these elements, or tropes, but manages to spin it in a sharper, yet equally as affable, manner.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Justice League - Review

Have you ever been so innately excited for a film while equally as nervous? Well in this case Justice League fits the bill. With a troubled production, Justice League was wounded before it really left the gate and yet it’s hard to not be eager to see the DC heroes fighting together on screen. And while the course correction that the film takes is in the vicinity of the right direction, being slightly better the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a success.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Florida Project - Review

As the end of the cinematic year draws closer, the awards season contenders are all starting to emerge like clockwork. Perhaps one of the more promising films with plenty of festival buzz is The Florida Project. The newest film from director Sean Baker finds a very sympathetic approach to telling a moving story, and every second of it is exceptional.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Daddy's Home 2 - Review

Even when an actor has really been off of their game lately, it’s easy to give them the benefit of the doubt when they’ve been great in the past. Will Ferrell is one of those actors, and despite not having a hit in quite a while, it’s easy to forget. It’s not like the first Daddy’s Home was horrendous by any means (there are some truly horrifying comedies lately), but it wasn’t good either. Unfortunately, the sequel isn’t any better.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express - Review

The remake, a Hollywood staple that’s so frequent at this point it might as well be its own genre. Some are worth it, presenting a good idea in a new way that the original messed up, but most of the time it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Murder on the Orient Express is an odd case. It’s a story that’s been told many times and yet the idea of adapting it in a new way never seems like a terrible thought process. And with a stellar ensemble cast and a talented director, this remake may just be a good thing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer - Review

In a year where the weird has frequented cinemas, perhaps the newest master has stepped up to the plate. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to outdo himself after last year’s The Lobster with a film that’s equal parts mysteriously tense and beautifully haunting in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. A film that’s overflowing with dread and absurdity in a way that very few films can match.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok - Review

Taika Waititi has directed a Marvel film. That’s really all you should need to know to pull you into Thor: Ragnarok. Though the talent he has shown with his other films is stupendous, now he has the Marvel money machine behind him and a franchise begging for a rebranding. A rebrand that sees the God of Thunder in an epic (and hilarious) adventure the likes of which the MCU has yet to see.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Thank You for Your Service - Review

Just a few years removed from the surprising hit that was American Sniper, writer Jason Hall looks to take on another real-life story. Stepping into the director’s shoes for the first time, Hall looks to remove the war from the war film, focusing in on the soldiers and the perils that follow them to the homefront with Thank You for Your Service.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Snowman - Review

In the rare instance an adaptation is truly good, one can usually credit the talent behind and in front of the camera. The Snowman has plenty of that combined with all the elements of a classic murder mystery; a visually enthralling killer, a seemingly impossible case, and a troubled officer attempting to solve it all. But an apparently troubled production leaves much to be desired in this mess of a film.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happy Death Day - Review

Time has always been a tool for Hollywood to play with, in shots, scores, and narrative. Repeating the same day is not a stranger to film either, frequently featured in various manners of success and failure. In fact, 2017 has already seen one film use the repeated time technique to moderate success in Before I Fall earlier in the year. But to spin this tool into a horror film, a slasher film no less, could provide for some interesting possibilities.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Blade Runner 2049 - Review

Reviving sequels decades after the last film has been a recent trend in Hollywood, to various degrees of success of course. In this instance, the original film is a classic work of sci-fi believed by many to be a masterpiece so whoever were to take over the reins had a tall task. But if anyone were to take Blade Runner 2049 to new heights, it’s the rising director Denis Villeneuve. And what he puts together is nothing short of spectacular.

Friday, September 29, 2017

American Made - Review

Can we collectively agree to retire ‘American’ being used in titles of films? There seems to be at least one every year, or even two this month. While the first (American Assassin) may not have been the best quality, the second looks to deliver on its promising pieces. Uniting Doug Liman and the ever-charming Tom Cruise in a story featuring the CIA, drugs, and Pablo Escobar seems like a winning formula, a proverbial slam dunk if you will. But will the results be favorable in the final product?

Woodshock - Review

Certain directors earn certain expectations for each new film. Even actors get to that point, to a lesser extent. But very rarely does an entire company garner the level of expectations that A24 has garnered over the last several years. Of course, nobody is perfect and even the prestigious can get a little too weird, but will Woodshock fall into the line of successes or become a misstep?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Battle of the Sexes - Review

Ahhh the sports film. The Hollywood tradition of inspiring stories and underdog tales that are bound to excite just about anyone, regardless of your attachment to the sport itself. If Hollywood can not only show a bit of sports history along with a relevant social justice issue, then you know a director, or directors in this case, will come flocking. Lock up some award caliber leads and you may just have a quality film on your hands.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - Review

It is without question that the first film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, can be called one of the biggest surprises of the last few years. So, it’s also no surprise that the sequel was met with immense expectations. By bringing back the visionary director, the fun cast, and exhilarating action, Kingsman: The Golden Circle looks to be a worthy continuation of the world the original set up, but does it succeed?

Friday, September 15, 2017

mother! - Review

From the start, mother! Was always going to be a strange film. Give Darren Aronofsky, one of the better auteur directors working today, free reign and you’ll get this weird, psychological and mysterious film that is wholly unique and impossible to describe. So this is a review. I don’t know honestly how to even approach writing any sort of combination of words that can articulate what this film even is, but here goes nothing.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

IT - Review

Another month, another Stephen King adaptation. While the last film (The Dark Tower) looked dead on arrival, IT looked a film headed in the right direction. Gathering a talented group of young actors together was just the start but then throw in a more than capable actor as the titular monster and you’re already setting the wheels in motion for one of the biggest hits the horror genre has had in awhile.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ingrid Goes West - Review

The digital, social media age is a strange time ripe with material for comedic moments. The satirical comedy that Ingrid Goes West provides is equal parts dark, disturbing, and terribly, hilariously accurate. While the main premise of the film is going for laughs, the clear undertones and deeper meanings represent a subtle horror film masquerading as the newest comedy.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Good Time - Review

With the uptick in Young-Adult novel adaptations during the 21st century, actors and actresses have become bound to those roles in a sense. And while Robert Pattinson’s Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart has made her way out of the YA genre with ease, Good Time feels like Pattinson’s big move. What better way to move back into the limelight than with a grimy, crime thriller from the home run hitting company known as A24?

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard - Review

The action-comedy isn't really rare nowadays but that doesn't make the good ones easy to find. Pairing two hilarious and likeable leads together is a start though and The Hitman's Bodyguard managed to snatch Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.

However, the film leans too heavily on these two and the results are an uneven and unbalanced film. Some of the comedy hits but a majority of it is lost in a sea of action cliches.

The Hitman's Bodyguard is another disappointment in the line of disappointments of the Summer of 2017. It's forgettable, overlong, and not worth anyone's time.

For more of my thoughts on The Hitman's Bodyguard visit 614NOW. If not remember to subscribe, share, comment below, and as always  return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight

Logan Lucky - Review

Retirement is a flimsy term in Hollywood. It gets thrown around and then reversed too many times to count. Nevertheless, Steven Soderbergh is technically coming out of retirement for his newest film Logan Lucky, and with any luck he won’t try to go away again anytime soon. Because say what you will about his films as a whole, the man knows how to entertain.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Glass Castle - Review

There are certain directors that make such an impression that you watch out for any of their upcoming films. Director Destin Daniel Cretton, with Brie Larson no less, was able to craft the criminally underrated Short Term 12, so that immediately made The Glass Castle something to look out for. Unfortunately the same of level of quality isn’t there this time around.

The performances across the board range from solid to great depending on the amount of material given to the actors themselves. But that’s really the only thing that holds this film up at all. The drama isn’t terribly interesting or deep and the family dynamic is pushed a bit hard rather than actually showing the true hard times that they’ve gone through.

For more of my thoughts on The Glass Castle check out my full review on 614NOW and be sure to check back here for weekly reviews and insight. Share, subscribe, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam Reviews.