2017: The Best, Worst and “In Betweens”

With the final week of 2017 upon us it’s time once again to take a look back at the year in review. This is always one of my favorite recurring columns to do. As always I will miss a few things that appear in many other “Best/Worst lists”. I have not seen Blade Runner, Dunkirk or Lady Bird, nor have I binged Handmaiden’s tale or The Good Place. I was smart enough to avoid going to the theater to catch movies like Justice League, The Mummy nor did I bother watching Inhumans. I am a generation behind on gaming so I didn’t get to spend time with Cappy on Mario Oddessy nor did I run away from Jason Vorhees and I played only a moment of Cuphead with my Nephew on Christmas.  In my car I largely listened to the news rather than some of the year’s top hits so no music made my list either.  Everything I rank is based on things I watched, read or played and unlike most Best/Worst end of year lists, I like to do a “In-Between Section” (returning this year) of things I didn’t love but didn’t hate but felt like they were worth a mention.

2017 was a highly politically charged year, a year of investigations, a year that talking emojis became a thing and for me personally it was a year of winning homebrew medals, taking my wife to see Metallica live for the first time (an “agreement” we made when we started dating 10ish years ago) and our last year to be kid-free (2018 is going to be a game-changer!). So I can’t wait to review this year

So without further hesitation let’s take a look at my year in review

The Best

Heres’ some of the movies, TV shows, books and events that wowed me in 2017….

Spider-Man Homecoming

Last year, we got Spider-Man to debut in the Marvel movies after an agreement. This year, he got to do his first Marvel Studios intertwined adventure. For a 6th solo outing on the big screen and for a 3rd recasting of Peter Parker/Spider-Man this adventure definitely took off as the best Spider-Man movie to date! It also gave us the best Marvel villain as well with Michael Keaton’s Vulture. I liked it enough to write a review here!


Wonder Woman

Not only did DC & Warner Brothers bring in some much needed Girl Power in the never ending superhero movie trend, but they also made DC’s only good movie post-Dark Night Trilogy! Everything from the awesome guitar theme song to that trek through No Man’s Land to Ares, this was a really great movie. Gal Godot really brings Wonder Woman to life with the perfect mix of badassery, independence, beauty and heroism.


Get Out

This was a social commentary thriller with an Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist. While there were not much jump scares this movie was really good! The movie practically came out of nowhere while we were distracted with Key and Peele sketches or their Keanu movie. This is 1000% the sleeper hit of 2017! I think the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot is in very good and capable hands with Jordan Peele.


Thor Ragnarok

To prepare for the 3rd visit to Asgard, I brushed up on Thor Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s films. Having really blown me away with What We Do in the Shadows, I enjoyed watching Boy, Eagle vs Shark and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople. With his humor thrown into the Marvel Universe, we got the best of Thor’s solo films with Thor Rangarok. Hela was a great villain to contend with, The Hulk had some show stealing scenes, Valkarie made a great splash, and Korg (and Meek) immediately became fan favorites.


The Big Sick

This is a romantic comedy based on the real relationship of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily. While it didn’t get the glossy fanfare most romantic comedies typically get this was definitely one of the best I’ve seen in a while. With a mix of laughs and gutwrenching moments this was a very well done under the radar movie.

 

 


Baby Driver

In some ways this felt kinda like a toned down Edgar Wright movie at times and in other ways it felt like an amplified Edgar Wright movie. We may not have gotten his vision with Ant Man but a cool jazzy fast paced driving action movie is a helluva constellation prize!

 

 


The Disaster Artist

It’s pretty crazy that a movie about making one of the worst movies ever may get an Oscar nomination just simply by James Franco impersonating Tommy Wiseau. Based on the tell-all book of the same name, The Disaster Artist is a dramatic comedy biopic about the making of The Room. Aspects like Tommy Wiseau’s mysterious and unexplained funding, origin and age are tackled as are the daily fights and insane stories from the movie set. You won’t have to really be all too familiar with The Room to enjoy it but a viewing or at least a YouTube highlight reel may help you catch a few of the jokes.


Logan

This was a great movie. Some humor, some sadness, and lots of violence. We finally saw Wolverine’s claws penetrate into a person’s head!!! Some parts Old Man Logan, some parts Western this was a fantastic Wolverine movie. I think Wolverine is far too big a character to retire permanently but this was a great final act of Hugh Jackman’s 20 year run as Wolverine.


Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The movie itself was a bit of a step back from the fun of the first movie. Sure we had some great Drax moments and Yondu owned every scene he was in but it was still a pretty fun movie with a soundtrack that could rival the first.


Stranger Things 2

Last year’s most exciting show returned! The action was bigger, the stakes higher and we got Demo-dogs! Unlike a lot I didn’t fully mind the Chicago episode. It felt very much like an introduction of X-Force in a way (the group of X-men that take to more lethal means).  The season brought a lot of fun with Dancing Hopper, The new best TV Dad ever (Steve), Max adding girl power to the group,  More uselessness from Mr. Wheeler, the awesome final showdown and the aww-inducing Sno-ball dance! Stranger Things 2 delivered! Too bad season 3 isn’t likely until sometime in 2019 🙁

GLOW

I was watching the antics of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ultimate Warrior during the time of the late 80s Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling league days but none-the-less this was a very entertaining series to watch! Marc Maron steals the show and the hilarious non-Politically Correct gimmicks like the Welfare Queen shows the funny yet disturbing realities of 80s wrestling gimmicks that will not fly today.

 


We Got a Undead Dragon!

Since they hatched WAY back in Season 1, I don’t think many of us expected Danary’s dragon children to all survive Game of Thrones. Viserion fell victim to the Night King’s sick javelin skills and was ultimately reanimated to be an undead ice dragon!!! His first act of course was to destroy the wall which is also something many of us felt like would come tumbling down before the show ends its course. In addition, we got to witness the dragons and Dothraki make their Westros debut after spending the entire series away from all the battles which leads to several Lannisters (and almost Jamie) getting burned to a crisp, Littlefinger finally running out of luck, Stark reunions, Bran being creepy, and oddly an incest relationship that people got excited for (they don’t know yet and it sounds VERY weird unless you watch the show)


That Bojack Horseman Episode About Dementia

Bojack Horseman is a show that tackles serious topics like depression but weaves it between things like a cat cop named Officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface.  The episode Time’s Arrow traded animal sight gags for unsettling all too real portrayals of Dementia, strained relationships,betrayals and failure. It was extremely uncomfortable and dreadful but masterfully executed.  As usual when a hard hitting episode of the show hits I’ll still eagerly watch next season and laugh at all the animal gags and get stomach punched again.


Crashing

I was quite sad when TBS cancelled The Pete Holmes Show in 2015 after one season. This show doesn’t have the zany X-men cold opens but instead we have a semi-autobiographical show about Pete Holmes’ early comedy days of leaving the ministry to become a comedian and handling a divorce while crashing on comedian friend’s couches.


Nathan For You Makes Probably the best Documentary Movie of the Year

Nathan for You returned from a near 2 year hiatus this summer with a 4th and potentially final season. While some of the season had fun like Asexual Computer Repair services being offered the real greatness came in a 2 hour long special called “Finding Francis” in which Nathan roadtrips with Bill, a “Bill Gates impersonator” from an earlier season to find his old lost love. The episode has some Nathan For You-esque moments like faking a movie production to grab a copy of a old yearbook and a ton of awkward encounters. The real hook comes when we don’t know how well Bills intentions are with his creepy approach plans but in the end it turned out to be a pretty great ending to the special if not the entire series


Norm Macdonald “Based on a True Story: A Memoir”

One day I will try to regularly read a round of new release books. Maybe that can be a resolution for me. However I did want to give Norm Macdonald’s “Based on a True Story: A Memoir” a MAJOR shout out. This may have been the funniest book I’ve ever read. Norm blurs the lines between reality and fiction leaving the truth likely somewhere in between in his “tell-all” which is really a novel that he wanted to write but claimed that the publisher wouldn’t let him do anything but a biography. Half of the time I’m laughing the rest of the time I’m asking myself while reading questions like “Is he implying that the farmhand Old Jack raped him?….Isn’t Old Jack a roommate name he used in both Dirty Work and his comedy album?”  and Googling for answers.


Good News Everyone!

Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

2017 had some good news. The solar eclipse fascinated much of the USA (and inspired me to make an award winning homebrew!), that slimey pharma-bro Martin Shkreli went to jail, Fiona the Hippo was born and became the best zoo celebrity since Knut the Polar Bear (RIP), The Great Barrier Reef may have a way to repopulate, filthy smoking is on the decline and Snow Leopards are no longer endangered!


“In Betweens”

Sometimes I feel like there’s a few things I don’t love but also don’t hate but want to give a proper shout out to on these End of Year lists.  Here’s some of the things I thought we’re some of the okay-est things for 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I will say that I liked but didn’t love the newest Star Wars chapter. We got some of the coolest moments of the Star Wars story (Rey and Kylo, the Luke showdown, that awesome Laura Dern scene) and some of the weirdest moments (Leia doing her impersonation of Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, the milking scene).  The casino town subplot also could have been scrubbed especially since that would have been a perfect moment for Lando to appear but they didn’t do that. It did give us Benecio Del Toro’s hacker character who I hope to see next time. I definitely think I’ll like it more next time I watch it.


American Gods

I liked the book quite a bit but I pretty much pumped the breaks on this show when a sex scene had a man shrinking and disappearing into a lady’s vagina. I may go back to it eventually but more shows grabbed my attention better.

 

 

 


Lego Batman

This was actually pretty fun, there was fun cameos by nearly every Batman villain and some he’s never faced like Sauron but it wasn’t quite the exciting fun as the first Lego movie so I had the bar just a smidge high on this. There were several callbacks to Batman’s long TV & Movie history. The movie was still enjoyable but could have been a lot more playful and fun in my opinion.


Kong Skull Island

Kong was fun….at times.  I had a hard time getting into the action when all the decisions made by the humans were really, really incredibly dumb. On the other hand John C. Riley and the after credits were pretty great!


Colossal

A fine example of how a movie trailer sets you up for a different experience than expected. The trailer plays out like a really silly comedy about a hard-partying woman being linked to a giant kaiju wreaking havoc on South Korea. The actual movie was darker, more dramatic with hardly any laughs in sight.


Wet Hot American Summer 10 Years Later

This was still very much a fun return to Camp Firewood. The Ben nose job joke to explain the recasting of the character was great, the suspicious babysitter was really good, Professor Henry Newman’s cameo obviously being a skype call with David Hyde Peirce was hilarious and I loved ruthless Ronald Regan making George Bush take a shit on the floor. I do think it might have been better with a movie or an extended length 3 episode run as some of the humor wanes a bit stretched over 8 episodes as does the notable availability of certain cast members. Most frustrating is that while Gene the cook was the best part of the original movie, something about him in both this series and last year’s “prequel” didn’t quite carry the same magic of the character. Otherwise it was a great return to camp.


Disney Buys Fox!!

There are some exciting things about this merger. Star Wars can be released in original cuts! Namely for me, this means the X-men and Deadpool can be in the same movies as The Avengers, Spider-man, Doctor Strange and others!! Captain America could have a WWII flashback with Wolverine! Thanos could be a Teddy Bear compared to Doctor Doom or Glactus! Deadpool can annoy Spider-Man! The Fantastic 4 can…..maybe be a Netflix show?

The downside is that this is yet another add-on to Disney’s property owning Juggernaut (they own rights to him too). They also want to create their own streaming service and they’ll have a mega-rich library but that means yet ANOTHER subscription service to pay for if they pull their content from Hulu and Netflix AND we come a lot closer to Cable Bill 2.0!


THE WORST

They all can’t be winners. Here’s some of the things I actually watched or read that disappointed in 2017…

Baywatch

I don’t recall a whole lot of Baywatch outside of an episode where beach purse snatchers take advantage of a sexy shower distraction to rob beachgoers or the montages of Jet skis, 4-wheelers,  David Hasselhoff and amazingly attractive women running in slow-mo. In fact, I recall A LOT more of FX spoof show Son of the Beach with characters with innuendo names such as Notch Johnson and BJ Cummings.

The reboot could have been a great TV show remade into a movie much like 21/22 Jump Street.  Instead of really fun self-aware smart jabs at the TV show, we instead got some really dumb dick jokes, a Bro-off between The Rock and Zach Elfron and just a lot of attempted jokes that don’t land.  Even the expected cameos were barely an eyebrow raiser.


Power Rangers

After seeing Pacific Rim a few years ago I’m willing to bet 2 in 3 watchers said “They should do this with Power Rangers”.  Naturally when this movie started coming out I was excited. Then came the pre-release action figures which usually act as a harbinger of a bad movie (right Deadpool in X-men Origins: Wolverine?).  Then when watching the movie, we spend nearly an hour ½ of angsty teen drama before the fun begins and by that point we’re just done with it. Not even a cameo of Original Green and Pink Rangers could lift our moods nor a mid-credit tease of Tommy Oliver (yeah…we’ll see if a second one happens). I really have to call myself out on this too because I tried to watch a second time to see if I was being too harsh….I wasn’t.


TJ Miller Leaves Silicon Valley

Having missed the fun of Silicon Valley until this year, Elrich Bachman became one of my favorite characters . So I was among the Silicon Valley fans that were sad when it was reported that TJ Miller would be leaving the show. Even if the Emoji movie didn’t stick, I still think TJ Miller has a great movie career ahead with his supporting role in Deadpool, but Silicon Valley is going to have a large gap without Elrich Bachman. Hopefully Gilfoyl becomes the new target for Jian-Yang’s epic prank calls.


Iron Fist

At first I thought the reviews were too harsh and maybe because Marvel knocked it out of the park nearly every time that people were judging it a bit unfairly. I still think that might be the case but after a few episodes it really became a chore to finish the show to move on to Defenders. I’m still watching it, I just keep deflecting to see something else instead, but I’m very tempted to just read how it ends on Wikipedia and skip to Defenders and Punisher.


New Star Trek!!!!….BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY CBS FIRST!!!

With respect to Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise fans, a new Star Trek is something some of us waited since the days of The Next Generation to come out. I’m not ranking this based on the show, some accounts say it’s actually pretty great….I haven’t seen it yet to form an opinion. I just really dislike the idea of seeing the first episode free on a free channel but having to pay a monthly subscription to watch the rest of it. Had this been any channel other than CBS which I can get free with an antenna I wouldn’t complain. I guess in a way it’s like complaining if Chinese take out gets too expensive but I’m pretty set in my ways of not wanting to pay for something I know should be free. Plus this feeds into my fears that Cable Bill 2.0 is coming sooner than later.


Scheczuan Sauce Shows The Worst Element of Fandom

A Rick and Morty joke paid off when McDonalds did a limited release of Scheczuan sauce. In the season premier of Rick and Morty, mad scientist Rick Sanchez goes on a rant about the short-lived McDonald’s dipping sauce used to promote the movie Mulan in 1997. Mr. Ronald McDonald decided to do a limited time release but far underestimated the demand of Rick and Morty fans which led to reports of near riots, insanely marked up sales on eBay, and of course the ire of the internet. The 3rd season of Rick and Morty was fantastic though….


Celebrities and Artists We’ve Lost

Death doesn’t take any days off and while this year seems to be less bloodthirsty as last year we did lose some great actors and musicians:

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linken Park), Malcom Young (AC/DC), Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers), Troy Gentry (Montgomery Gentry), Fats Domino, Jerry Lewis, Harry Dean Stanton (Alien), John Dunsworth (Mr. Lahey, Trailer Park Boys),  John Heard (Home Alone), David Cassidy (Partridge Family), Robert Guillaume (Soap, Lion King), Dick Gregory (activist/comedian), George Romero (Zombie movie legend), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Adam West (Batman/Mayor), Hugh Hefner (Playboy), Roger Moore (007), Erin Moran (Happy Days/Joanie Loves Chachi), Don Rickles (insult comic), Chuck Barry (Marvin’s cousin/Rock Legend), Joni Sledge (We are Family singer), Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (Wrestling Commentator/Hulk Hogan hater) , George The Animal Steele (Wrestler, Ed Wood), John Hurt (Elephant Man, Alien) and Bill Paxton (Tornado Chaser/Space Marine/ 80s punk/ Titanic researcher)


Your Favorite Actor or Movie May be Tainted by Sexual Assault Predators

Don’t get me wrong, the #metoo movement is MUCH OVERDUE and that alone is a “best” but it’s just the decades of sleazeball behavior and open secrets only NOW coming to light that’s a problem.  Following a flood of accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, more and more celebrities such as Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, Ben Affleck, Russell Simmons and more all had accusers come forward. It’s going to undoubtfully continue and along the way some much-loved artists may go down but what is buried in the snow will come in the thaw. Burn it all down and hit reset. It’s long overdue.


2017 Proves That Things Are Still Pretty Bad

In the course of a year we’ve seen renewed threats of nuclear war, the USA being the ONLY country not to sign the Paris Climate Agreement to combat global warming, movements to discredit freedom of speech and the press, attacks on the science community, Twitter tantrum rants, The Mooch, Russian interference investigations, a new grim record breaking mass shooting in Vegas was followed by a tragic church shooting in Texas, devastating hurricanes and wildfires wreaked havoc, and the earth having YET another record hot year. Throw into the mix of things still to come such as Net Neutrality all but being guaranteed to be killed ASAP, things aren’t exactly looking super peachy on the road ahead.


2017 may have some terrible traits and may come off as a highly polarizing year where everything turned into a political argument but there are some things to certainly look forward to next year that we could agree is going to be cool:

Black Panther is coming out in February and it looks AWESOME, A few months later Thanos finally butts heads with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy after 18 movies of build-up, the female-led Oceans 8, Deadpool 2, Wreck it Ralph 2, Incredibles 2, Fantastic Beasts 2: Crimes of Grindlewald will all be showing in theaters. While we sadly won’t be getting any Stranger Things or Game of Thrones until 2019,  but we will see Westworld have a new season!! Finally we can see headlines from a lunar eclipse hitting us on January 31st, the Winter Olympics, A Royal Wedding, World Cup, and of course all the chaos that occurs during Oscar season.

Have a great New Year and as always feel free to debate the picks in the comments below or on the Facebook page!

 

 

 

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