Critical Distance: What Movies Have You Loved in 2017?

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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Critical Distance: What Movies Have You Loved in 2017?

What movies have you seen that you loved this year? Anything?

In wide release, I've quite enjoyed Logan, Get Out, The Belko Experiment, John Wick 2 and A Cure for Wellness.

Logan lived up to my high hopes, a reminder that James Mangold can be a very effective action director, especially when he has good scenarios to work with. Hugh Jackman gets the glory here, and that's fine, but my favorite was Patrick Stewart, who superbly reminded of his past leadership skills while recognizing his increasingly debilitating weaknesses.

Get Out is social horror of the finest kind. Jordan Peele demonstrated great promise as a writer and director, and made the most of his limited budget by putting the emphasis on the great racial divide that still exists in the U.S. The Belko Experiment represents a different kind of social horror, the kind that peels back the skin on social conventions and exposes the utter selfishness that rules most of our lives.

John Wick 2 was just a good time at the cinema, a gloriously over the top gun fu extravaganza. A Cure for Wellness ultimately disappointed, story-wise, but I didn't care, since it was so extravagantly mounted that I lost myself in the visual arts on display.

Honorable mentions include T2 Trainspotting and The Great Wall.

Among limited releases (in theaters or on VOD), Personal Shopper, The Devil's Candy, XX, I Don't Feel at Home Anymore and Prevenge all exceeded expectations.

Personal Shopper is completely absorbing, distinguishing itself as a very non-traditional ghost story, which I liked immensely. Taking a different route to my subconscious, The Devil's Candy left me on edge, an entirely intense trip that was ruthless in its approach.

XX was a top-notch anthology, one that I intended to revisit. The individual segments were surprising in their twists and devastating in their turns. I Don't Feel at Home Anymore was well plotted, going places I definitely did not expect. Prevenge showcased the multi-talented Alice Lowe, who deftly juggled laughs while penetrating a subject from a far different viewpoint than usual.

So far I've only attended one film festival this year, SXSW, which allowed me to see Edgar Wright's outstandingly entertaining Baby Driver early -- it's out at the end of June -- as well as Joe Lynch's Mayhem, which should be picked up by somebody for distribution, if it hasn't already, so that everyone reading this can enjoy a blast of genre goodness.

Those are my picks for the best of the year so far -- what about you? What have you seen in recent cinema that you've really loved?

Critical Distance is an occasional feature in which the writer looks back at recent releases with a touch more perspective.

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  • ilang ilang

    JOHN WICK everybody.

  • On the subject of 2017 films, it was reported today that Alex Garland's ANNIHILATION isn't coming out til next year. SAD FACE EMOJI!!

  • Peter Martin

    Aargh! I hope that means they want to get it exactly right before releasing.

  • My thoughts too. I can wait, just so long as Benson and Moorhead's new one DOES come out this year!

  • Peter Martin

    We live in hope (for Benson and Moorhead this year)!

  • Ryan

    So far I've really liked The Blackcoat's Daughter, that movie stays with you.

  • Peter Martin

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Kurt

    It was formerly called FEBRUARY, Osgood Perkins had time to make another movie and get it released in the meantime.

  • Peter Martin

    Ah, the connection clicks into place. Thanks, Kurt!

  • Ben Umstead

    Bottom left-hand side in the photo collage there, Petey boy... Personal Shopper. It's oh so many things: A great ghost story about grief, loss, the immaterial and material, the visible and invisible realms (not just supernatural but technological)... a look at the fear of the double, the other, and the self as other. A simple if sly comment on capitalism. In so many ways, it'd be a superb double feature with Double Life of Veronique. Yup. Stewart and Assayas are at their A-game. Truly, it'll be months before I see another 2017 film that knocks my metaphysical socks off the way PS did the two times I partook in the theater.

  • I've been to-ing and fro-ing on PERSONAL SHOPPER, but you've definitely piqued my interest again.

  • Peter Martin

    PERSONAL SHOPPER is probably my favorite so far. It's an elusively gripping affair.

  • I'm playing catch up, because I haven't seen any of the movies mentioned above (bloody Australian release dates), but I outright loved RAW, admired SILENCE, and very much enjoyed KONG and LIFE. GHOST IN THE SHELL this weekend!

  • Peter Martin

    Thanks for your picks! I got to see RAW at Fantastic Fest, but that's been 6 months so I may see it again. I've got my GHOST IN THE SHELL ticket for Friday.

  • I'll be picking up RAW as soon as it hits blu-ray for sure.

  • Ard Vijn

    FREE FIRE. Saw it at the Rotterdam Film Festival and loved every minute of it. And I had quite a good time with KONG: SKULL ISLAND.

  • Can't wait to see FREE FIRE. It had an Australian release date set, but it's since been pulled with no new date announced. Grrrrrr!

  • Peter Martin

    I'm looking forward to seeing FREE FIRE when it opens here next month. As to the monkey movie, I wanted to like it, but no go.

  • Wjr.

    Get Out is a my favorite so far, it is a very well thought out social comedy horror film.

  • GET OUT is high on my 2017 list.

  • My Damn Croissants

    I gotta say, Personal Shopper and Cure for Wellness are my favorites so far (it only just opened here, but Patterson counts for last year, right?). The latter is a total mess, but holy crap I can't think of any horror movie with visuals so stunning and discombobulating in equal measure. Maybe Suspiria, but that would be it.

    I accidentally got too high when I went to see John Wick 2, so that I can't remember a single thing about it, but I might try and catch it again while it's still in theaters.

  • Peter Martin

    PATERSON had a limited U.S. release late last year, which is when I saw it, though it didn't open wider until 2017. And yes, I agree with your comment on A CURE FOR WELLNESS.

    As to JOHN WICK 2, it definitely benefits from the theatrical experience, if for nothing else then to enjoy all the gun battles at full volume!

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