Since we’re past halfway through the year, and I never found the time to do my top 5 of the first half of the year. I thought I’d do my top five of the year so far now. I have a couple honorable mentions before we get into the official top five.
Honorable Mention: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the biggest surprises in comic book movie history. They took one of the least popular comic books in Marvel’a history and made an amazing, hilarious, and visually astounding movie. The sequel had big shoes to fill, and it did a good job of doing so. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it certainly was a very fun movie. In my opinion, it was funnier than the first, and the visuals were taken up three more notches. This shows how Marvel continues to impress with their films time and time again.
Honorable Mention: Split
M. Night Shyamalan has a very fascinating career. At one point, he was being regarded as the next Spielberg, but when he was given more freedom and money he drove that into the ground with his movies that came after Signs. He already proved that he could still make a good movie with The Visit, and he solidified that with Split. Shyamalan showed perfectly how to film suspense. The movie was one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve seen recently. Also, James McAvoy’s performance can’t go unnoticed. He had the rigorous job of playing multiple characters in one movie and did that as well as humanly possible. The year’s not over, but right now he has a spot for a Best Actor nomination in my book. Finally, the twist at the end was one of the best I’ve seen in any film. If you haven’t seen Split, I highly recommend it.
#5: Spider-Man: Homecoming / Wonder Woman
This rarely happens to me, but I have a tie for the number five slot between two great comic book movies. Spider-Man: Homecoming was the result of a beautiful marriage between Sony and Marvel. The two studios had very different ideas of the direction to take the movie, and somehow they came to an agreement making this fun movie about a fifteen-year-old kid who gets spider powers. The movie encapsulates what the character should be, especially with Tom Holland in the lead role. He’s the first actor to play Spider-Man that got Peter Parker and Spider-Man completely right. I loved Tobey MacGuire, but Tom Holland brought a whole new level to the role.
Wonder Woman was the first comic book movie in recent years to have a female lead role, and Gal Gadot played it amazingly. The movie was beautifully shot with every scene and set piece looking vibrant. Along with that, the cast was incredible with names like Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, and Chris Pine. It was a standalone movie so anybody could sit down, knowing nothing about the DCU, and they could enjoy it. Even my mother went to see the movie and loved it. The film was also truly inspirational towards women, especially young girls, to show that even females can be strong. They didn’t hammer you over the head with this idea, it was shown to you on screen by Gal Gadot. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie by now based on the box office, but it will be released on Blu-Ray in September. I highly encourage you to buy it and share it with as many people as possible.
When you sit down to watch a Christopher Nolan movie, you expect quality. He has proved himself numerous times in the past 17 years without making a bad movie. This movie doesn’t break that streak. While Nolan has made better movies, this one is really something special. Most war movies take the conventional route and take time to get you acquainted with the characters while they get you immersed in the war itself. This movie doesn’t skip a beat with the battle of Dunkirk. The movie is in the action right when it starts and keeps on that train until the very last shot of the film. It is a purely experiential movie that should be seen on the biggest screen possible. Every moment has you on the edge of your seat. It’s really hard to believe that all of this happened, and when you put yourself into their situations, it enhances the experience to make it even greater. Like I said, it’s not a character based movie, but it does a fantastic job of putting you in the boots of the soldiers on the Dunkirk beach.
#3: War for the Planet of the Apes
The Planet of the Apes trilogy is one of the best trilogies of all time. Rise was a great revitalization of the franchise, Dawn was a superior sequel, and War was an emotional end to the franchise. The markets itself as a war film, but it is much more than that. It tells the story of Caesar, a war-torn and tough ape, at the height of the dysfunction between the humans and apes. Woody Harrelson plays the leader of a military faction trying to take out all of the apes, and Caesar has to lead his “people” to escape the wrath of the humans. The main driving force of the movie is Andy Serkis as Caesar, who I think is Oscar-worthy in the ape movies, especially in the last two. You can see the character arc throughout the trilogy in his performance if you watch all three movies. Matt Reeves returns to direct the movie and doing it just as well as he did last time. The opening scene in the movie I thought was one of the best in the entire trilogy. Like I said, it’s not a war movie, it is more focused on character and following the apes on this long journey.
#2: Baby Driver
Edgar Wright is one of the best directors working today. He makes fantastic original movies that are all unique in their own special way. Baby Driver is no exception. Every year, there is at least one movie that connect to on a special level. There are always great movies, but there are also movies that remind me why I love movies. In 2015, it was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, last year it was Sing Street, and this year it was Baby Driver and my #1 choice. Baby Driver is about a young man, Baby, who does get away drives for heists because of a debt he has to pay. On his last job, he runs into some complications and has to protect the love of his life, Deborah. Ansel Elgort does a fantastic job playing Baby. He doesn’t get all that many lines, however he really sold the character. The action scenes are some of the best I’ve seen all year. The opening scene is most likely one of the best car chases in film of all time. The action isn’t cut to shreds to here you can’t tell what’s happening. He uses long takes so you can track every aspect of the scene. The film is cluttered with A-list cast members, including Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, John Hamm, and Lily James. I’ve heard some people say that the romance between Lily James’s character and Baby doesn’t work, however I thought the complete opposite. For me, it was very cute and Elgort and James have amazing chemistry. Sure, it might have been a little unrealistic, but it fit in with the tone of the entire movie. The film recently hit $100 million domestically, so if you haven’t seen Baby Driver yet, you need to get on it before it leaves theaters.
Logan is the culmination of 17 years of seeing Hugh Jackman play Wolverine. In the movie, Wolverine is much older. He hides Professor X, who now has a degenerative brain disease. A young mutant girl named Laura comes along, and he has to fight his way through the organization trying to capture this girl. Fox already made a risky comic book movie with Deadpool. It is now the highest grossing R rated movie of all time. This being Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the character brings a lot of pressure to get it right, and James Mangold did just that. Logan was a very different take on a comic book movie. It was more of a drama or western than an action movie. They found a way to make the movie smaller and more contained, which ultimately made the stakes much higher in a way. I have to say, this is Hugh Jackman’s best performance as Logan out of every X-Men movie. He brought a sense of tiredness to the character showing that he just wants to be done playing the hero, and rather just being a guy who wants to get away from the world. Patrick Stewart also gives his best performance in the X-Men movies in this movie. It was disheartening to see where his character ended up after getting older. His brain disease makes him a weapon with him having seizures, which hurts everyone around him. The breakout star was Dafne Keen as Laura. She was just perfectly cast for X-23. It’s difficult to give a good performance when you don’t many lines, but she managed to pull it off. If you get a chance, you should watch her audition tape for the role. It’s very impressive. I don’t want to go on for too long, I’d like to eventually do an entire review for the movie. In short, Logan was a movie that in the long run has the potential to transcend the comic book genre. Now, it’s in my top 10 comic book movies of all time. James Mangold did a phenomenal job directing the film, using colors magnificently. One last thing, the film also looks great in black & white. You can watch it in that format on the blu-ray.
Those are my top 5 movies of the year so far. The year isn’t over yet, so the list will probably change between now and December. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for film.
What are your top 10 movies of the year so far? What films did I leave out? Maybe I’ll review them. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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