Sunday, March 4, 2018

Looking Back at 2017

My Oscar Night tradition continues, albiet a little later than usual. When was the last time Oscars with in March? We're already deep into the "new" year, with one certifiable cinematic phenomenon under our belts (Black Panther, for the record). And, of course, I already gave many of my thoughts in this year's 2017 review episode of Dark Discussions (which you can listen to here:

I didn't watch nearly as many films this year as the last couple, with just 47 horror (or horror-ish) films, most for the Dark Discussions podcast, and 24 in "other genre." A lot of that time went to watching and re-watching tv series, such as Westworld, Game of Thrones, American Gods, Silicon Valley, The Expanse and Better Call Saul (the first three of which have spinoff podcasts for Dark Discussions).

While it was a disappointing year personally, with a lot of health issues in the family, genre-wise it was pretty great. For the first time in forever, it seemed many of the very best horror films ended up in theaters, and, just as importantly, catching on with mass audiences. It was a pop-culture phenomenon, and Get Out became just the sixth horror film to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture (depending on how you classify horror films; as you know, award winning horror films are often reclassified as "thrillers"). Split, Annabelle: Creation and Happy Death Day deservedly had good showings, and the "Blumhouse model" seems to be a winning formula for the genre.

On the other hand, attempts to jumpstarts Marvel-like "cinematic universes" tanked hard, with supposed franchise builders like King Arthur, The Mummy, The Dark Tower and Justice League sputtering out of the gate. I love me some blockbusters, but these all felt like "marketing first, merit second" ventures.

Lastly, I should say the Dark Discussions podcast remains strong, with now 4 spinoffs (You Know Nothing John Snow, Searching for American Gods, Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews, and Bullets, Brothels and Bots). We passed 300 episodes, and should pass 350 by the year's end. We attempted to have our second ever host meet-up, this time in Mystic, CT, where I did finally get to meet Abe Spinney in the flesh. Sadly health kept Kristi from joining us, and sidelined her from a number of episodes late in the year, but we will hopefully get another shot this August. Dark Discussions was also invited back to Scare-A-Con New England, where Phil and I were able to represent, and hopefully will become a fixture on the podcaster track at Scares That Care Weekend, where I participated in a couple of panels (despite some food poisoning).

So without further ado, here's my own awards for 2017:

Favorite Film of 2017
A lot of hard choices to make here, but I have to go with Edgar Wright's Baby Driver.

Favorite Horror Film
Get Out. Tried hard to be contrarian, but there was no single film that stood out, and this was definitely the best time I had in theaters in 2017. The audience was hooked from the start, and that always creates a better experience.
Runner up: The Evil Within.  Just an all-out creepy experience, with a backstory almost as fascinating  as the film itself.

Favorite SF Film
This was a weak category for me, but I have to give it to Netflix's Okja. Almost, but not quite, good enough to make me forget how good bacon is.
Runner Up: Star Wars: The Last Jedi - had issues, especially everything Canto Bight, but the final act was redempting, and I loved that it went left when everyone was expecting it to go right.

Favorite Comic Book Film:
Tough call, because they were all pretty close in quality, but Logan was the most daring and different of the group.
Runner Up: Tough call between Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming

Favorite Action Film:
John Wick: Chapter 2. A rare sequel that lives up to the original.
Runner Up: Jumanji: Back to the Jungle

Favorite Fantasy Film:
A Monster Calls.
Runner Up: The Shape of Water
Favorite Zombie Film:
The Girl With All the Gifts. It Stains the Sands Red would be my runner up. Alas no vampire or werewolf films this year.

Favorite Found-Footage
Creep 2
Favorite Horror-Comedy: 
The Babysitter

Best Sequel:

Separated-At-Birth Award:
Babystitter and Better Watch Out
Runner Up: The Belko Experiment and Mayhem

Hero of the Year
Elton John, Kingsman: The Golden Circle (what can I say; I'm a big fan)

Villain of the Year
Rose, Get Out

Kill of the Year:
Cole-grenade, Kong: Skull Island

Best Creatures
The Void

Worst Film, Low Budget
Death House

Worst Film, Big Budget
Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (to be fair, I avoided most of the big-budget disasters of 2017).

Most Distrubing
The not-quite Chuck-E-Cheese party in The Evil Within

That Looks Like It Hurt Award
Getting out of the handcuffs, Gerald's Game
Biggest Disappointment
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 fell into the overindulgence trap that kills so many sequels.

Surprise Moment
Spider-Man Homecoming: Meeting the parents. Maybe this should go to Split but I kind of expected to see that final cameo.

Cameo of the Year
Bruce Willis, Split
Runner up: Liam Hemsworth, Matt Damon, Sam Neil - Thor Ragnarok  

Career Boost
Samara Weaving (The Babysitter, Three Billboards, Mayhem) 

Career Crash (non-Weinstein/Spacey edition):
Rather than pick Zach Snyder two years in a row, let me go with Tom Cruise. Both The Mummy and American Made flopped hard.

Self-Serving Self Promotion Award: The Best Dark Discussions Episodes of 2017:
Chopping Mall 
Monkey Shines 
The Lure 
The Ninth Gate
Salem's Lot