We did it! We made it through 2017 without the world being destroyed. It’s been harrowing, but let’s leave politics out of it. Let’s talk about movies instead. What’s the point in reviewing stuff if you can’t use those subjective judgments to also subjectively rank them? Ranking things for absolutely no reason whatsoever is one of the pure joys of the internet.
I am not a professional movie reviewer (if you’re hiring, let me know!). No one sends me to see every single movie, so I can only rank the ones I’ve seen. I still managed to watch a healthy 18 movies, though, and I’ve ranked them all here in order from worst to best. Am I horribly wrong? Let me know in the comments below!
18. Blade Runner 2049
So, I had never watched the original Blade Runner. I had heard of it, of course, and it had managed to reach some sort of legendary status in my brain. I watched the original before I went to the theater to watch this and I hated it. That’s okay, I thought, it’s probably just because it’s slow and plodding and it was a product of its time. The new one will be more exciting, right? Wrong. The new one is also boring, over-long, and non-interesting. I get that a lot of our science fiction tropes can be linked back to Blade Runner and I salute it for those contributions, but that doesn’t make it a good movie. I feel about it much like I feel about the original Star Wars trilogy. The idea is so much better than the execution.
17. Kong: Skull Island
This movie is okay, but it’s a horrible waste of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and Sam Jackson. Yes. You just read the names of four of the best actors in Hollywood, and yet they still managed to deliver a dud of a movie. It could have been so much better, but it’s about on par with the most recent Godzilla movie. Perhaps the low bars of both will meld well together when they team up in the near future.
16. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
It’s beautiful. It’s an intriguing universe. I want to know more about how it all works, but what I don’t want more of is the two leads in this film. They’re abysmal, uncharismatic, and honestly, a bit on the unattractive side. That’s not everything in a movie, but it can go a long way (see #11). There’s just nothing cohesive here to latch on to. It’s just a bunch of pretty sequences that somehow form a plot. Maybe? That’s what they imply anyway.
I love disaster movies. There’s a strong part of me that wanted to rank this movie higher, but I know, deep down, that it would be a travesty to put this movie above others. Even as a disaster movie, it’s pretty lacking, and while I don’t mind the preposterous set-up for the movie, it’s execution is pretty gnarly at times. I wish this movie could get a do-over with better actors, and more of an Armageddon sensibility. Sadly, we’re left with this.
14. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Look. Pirates of the Caribbean has overstayed its welcome. It’s not that Johnny Depp isn’t still amazing as Jack Sparrow. It’s not that pirates aren’t cool. It’s just that when you see the same thing over and over, it ceases to have any emotional resonance. The MCU manages to do it by switching genres and characters fast enough to keep it interesting, but Pirates has kept the same cast doing the exact same thing for far too many movies. This entry isn’t bad — possibly even being the best since the first — but, not bad isn’t good enough when you’re this many movies in.
13. Beauty and the Beast
For those who don’t know, I am a huge Beauty and the Beast fan. I know all of the songs by heart, own the movie on Blu-Ray like 3 times over, and actually own TWO Gaston t-shirts. It absolutely pains me that this one is so low on my list, but this is what happens when you try to improve on perfection. Emma Watson is a beautiful, spiritual embodiment of Belle, but her character is half played by auto-tune. They chose inexplicably to add new songs when they had wonderful songs from the Broadway Musical to choose from. There’s some stuff to like here, don’t get me wrong, but you’re better off watching the original animated classic, or catching the Broadway show when it comes through town.
12. Justice League
Sometimes I wonder if DC is just trying to be controversial. I am so conflicted about this movie. If this had come out in the late 90s or early 2000s, it may be considered one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. I think it compares favorably with movies like the first X-Men and Spider-Man films, but the competition is much tighter than it used to be and both X-Men and Spider-Man benefit from rose-colored glasses. This film is decent if you can turn your brain off and just ride it out. It is well-cast and well-acted, which ultimately manages to save it from the clunky plot and awkward pacing. I don’t know if I really like this movie, but I am hopeful for the ones to come.
11. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
This movie surprised me. I’ve never really hated a movie with Dwayne Johnson in it, but not all of them are great. The fact that I still enjoyed the 11th ranked film in my list is more indicative of a particularly good year than anything. All four leads in the film are hilarious, with a special nod to Jack Black for managing to completely convince me that he was a teenage girl for the entire movie. This movie doesn’t need a sequel or anything, but it’s a good time for the whole family… well, as long as your family is at least 12 or so.
10. The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Movie was funny, and The Lego Batman movie follows suit. It lacks some of the charm of its parent, but still manages to make some pointed barbs at the Batman and superhero genres, while still simultaneously being a part of it. It’s a breezy, quick film that you can’t regret watching. Do I need more of this in my life, though? Not really.
Ah, Shymalan. The most inconsistent directorial genius on the planet. When he’s good, he’s really good, and Split falls into that category, proving that Shymalan has been a sleeping giant in the intervening years since hits like The Sixth Sense and Signs. It’s hard to talk about this movie too much without revealing spoilers, but suffice it to say that this isn’t likely to be the last we’ll see of McAvoy’s character, or the universe that he inhabits.
8. War for the Planet of the Apes
I am a huge fan of the new Apes movies. I’m the oddball who still thinks the one with James Franco is the best, though, and this movie didn’t change my mind. The newer franchise started out as intriguing science fiction before segueing into a pair of thought-provoking war movies. I prefer this one to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and love that Caesar becomes more of a flawed savior in this turn. I really liked Woody Harrelson in this one as well. This may be the end of the line for this particular franchise, and if it is, I think it went out on a really high note.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
Everybody’s favorite A-holes returned in Volume 2 of their adventures through space. Groot is a merchandising ploy now, but that’s pretty easy to overlook both because he’s adorable and because this movie has so much more to offer. Kurt Russell manages to provide us yet another great entry into the MCU villain pantheon (something very much lacking for the most part), and the interplay between characters is superb. Though the first one may be the more re-watchable of the two, I really appreciated the craft of this movie, with characters having mirroring arcs and the ability for the movie to legitimately pull on the heart strings from time to time. Volume 3 is going to usher in the next phase of the MCU, and I can think of no better torchbearer.
6. Wonder Woman
For some, this may be their favorite movie of the year. It is super exciting not only to see Wonder Woman finally starring in her own film, but also to see a woman-led superhero movie at all. Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins deftly deliver the best possible version of both with this period piece. Wonder Woman is a badass, and she’ll be making bank for years to come, possibly single-handedly saving the DCEU. In a year with a normal slate of movies, it might have ranked higher, but I just couldn’t overlook the formulaic weak ending when comparing it to other movies of the year.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man cannot be denied. They’ll just keep rebooting him until it works. Thankfully, it finally worked! Homecoming is a fun film, artfully tied into the larger MCU without being too heavy handed about it. Michael Keaton manages to bring one of the better MCU villains to the big screen, and Tom Holland finally brings Spider-Man back to his angsty teenaged roots. In a lot of ways, Marvel movies have become paint-by-number, which Homecoming is occasionally guilty of, but it doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable romp of a good time!
4. Thor: Ragnarok
I love Chris Hemsworth as Thor, but somehow the Thor movies have fallen short of what they deserved to be. In the Avengers films, Thor ends up being a punchline more than anything, which always makes me a little sad. Taika Waititi vaulted Thor to the top of the heap with Ragnarok, though, finally letting the character spread his jocular wings. It’s a comedy first, which seems about as far away from the original Shakespearian Thor movie as you can get. Somehow, it works, though, and I can’t wait to see what Thor has for us in the future.
3. The Big Sick
You may not have seen this little gem, but it’s a beautiful film based on the true story of Kamail Nanjiani’s path to meeting and ultimately marrying his mate. It is full of sadness, joy, and humor as the nuanced issues of tradition, family, and race are all examined with care. Ray Romano in particular does an amazing job here. Sure, it’s a small film. There are no battles or fights. I’m pretty sure no one got punched. But it’s real and honest and funny. Great movie.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The freshest movies always get an edge when creating rankings, but I think The Last Jedi deserves its place on the list. It’s the most complex, layered Star Wars movie that we’ve ever gotten, and it does an amazing job at subverting expectations every step of the way. Rather than mimic its predecessors like The Force Awakens, this one embraces the shiny newness of characters who have a lot to learn, but are ultimately on their way to being better than their mentors. The result is a narrative that leaves us guessing both during and after the movie. Also, the ante has been upped in terms of lightsaber battles, so JJ Abrams better up his game if he’s going to compete.
This movie is so awesome in so many ways. Never before has there been a superhero movie that deserved the accolades. If Patrick Stewart could get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, I would be so happy! Hugh Jackman is no slouch, either, and Dafne Keen is downright terrifying as X-23. It’s a deep, meaningful movie that really delves into what it means to be Wolverine — not on the kick-butt level, but on the psychological oh-crap-I-might-live-forever level. It’s a little tough to rewatch because of the seriousness of it all, but it’s a masterpiece nonetheless.