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Created Jan 22, 2017 08:46PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST

The Great, Really Great & Perfect new movies I’ve seen in `17: new movies I graded 4.0, 4.5 or 5 beams out of 5. Includes movies officially designated 2016, but not out wide till 2017.

Average

  • Really Great
  •  
  • 75 Points
Title Released Trust Weighted Summary Viewable
1st Patriots Day
2016 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Patriots Day gets up close and personal with the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath. By turns moving, enraging, loving and occasionally funny, it’s an unflinching look at lone wolf terrorism and how one American city fought back against Islamism in their midst. Two previously unseen aspects jump out.

First, the Tsarnaev brothers are shown prepping their act of terrorism, coming across as craving recognition, while being pathologically deluded. These domestic scenes are bracing in their banality: a wife and baby mill about as the brothers watch online Islamist videos and pack bal…

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Added Jan 22, 2017 08:46PM PST • Updated Jan 22, 2017 08:46PM PST
2nd The Founder
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

The Founder is about the creation of McDonalds, if not necessarily about the founders of McDonalds. Those would be the McDonald brothers, not Ray Kroc, the salesman who turned their creation into a world-changing commercial juggernaut. Michael Keaton dominates this movie, just as Kroc did the McDonalds.

Keaton’s characteristically intense performance as Kroc propels this terrific biopic. It’s a well rounded tale of entrepreneurship, being both a fascinating b-school case study and a penetrating character study,

First the McDonald brothers str…

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Added Feb 05, 2017 12:24AM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
3rd The LEGO Batman ...
2017 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Super smart, super funny, super current, super classic and super cutting, The LEGO Batman Movie is a super sequel to The Lego Movie, that perfect piece of pop pizazz. Lego II is also the funniest Batman movie ever. Hell, it may be the best Bat movie ever, given its carte blanche to satire the comic’s full history, with special attention paid to the Adam West TV series I was weaned on as a young Boomer. Boom! Pow!!

The Lego Movies are now bona fide cultural phenomena. They alchemized an iconic toy franchise with iconic cultural figures, catalyzing the admixture with rapid-fire iro…

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Added Feb 20, 2017 01:04AM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
4th Hidden Figures
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Behind every successful man is a strong woman, three in the case of John Glenn and the Mercury Seven astronauts. Strong black women in fact, smart too, very smart. Hidden Figures smartly tells their tale, a can’t miss concoction of civil rights, space race and romantic drama. Lots of star power gives it smart charm, not least from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as some very likable brainiacs.

They play Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

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Added Mar 04, 2017 01:46PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
5th Kedi
2016 Great 83 Points
_100

Kedi is a movie for cat lovers, perhaps the first movie for cat lovers. This documentary about stray cats is often shot from a cat’s eye view. But more than that, Kedi is deeply in tune with feline characteristics.

Cat lovers know the signs: the gracefulness, the hauteur, the affection, the napping. Kedi includes several humans who love the cats it profiles, but the humans are quite secondary to the felines, appropriate for the most self-possessed of creatures. They live in Istanbul, making Kedi something of a cat’s eye travelogue of that ancient city, albeit it is much more abou…

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Added Mar 11, 2017 10:04PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
6th Logan
2017 Perfect 83 Points
_100

I prefer a comedy after a bad day. Logan ain’t no comedy, but it was sure as hell balm for a bad day. More Johnny Cash than Johnny Storm, it’s the first Country comik movie, yet returns to true X-Men in the end.

Marvel, wow. Keep on keeping on with one riveting, arousing blockbuster after another. Grounded in human foibles as is their special wont, Logan bids adieu to the Wolverine, a titan of the Marvel canon, alone and as a seminal X-Man. It’s a hell of a swan song, with Hugh Jackman playing it for all it’s worth, joined by Patrick Stewart as the even more illing Charles Xavier, Pr…

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Added Mar 18, 2017 12:21AM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
7th Get Out
2017 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Get Out melds edgy African-American humor with classic horror movie tropes, the admixture delivered with near Hitchcockian mastery. That’s how Jordan Peele’s brilliant movie brings the Black Lives Matter sensibility to horrific life. The conceit is not that whites don’t care if blacks live or die, it’s that whites hunt down blacks, for sport or some crazy shit. IOW, the whole paranoid racial schtick runs rampant in Get Out.

It’s a spectacularly effective premise for a movie, which Peele & Co. deliver spectacularly well. No wonder Get Out is breaking box office records. Now it deser…

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Added Apr 11, 2017 11:07PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
8th Guardians of the...
2017 Great 83 Points
_100

Vol. 2 is a great time at the mall multiplex, if not the nearly perfect blockbuster experience that was Vol. 1. Faint praise perhaps, but then this first sequel has nearly impossible shoes to fill, as the origin movie was so effortless in its joyous affectations. Still, a great blockbuster like this ain’t chopped liver, especially when it’s studded with LOLs and features an iconic Kurt Russell performance. Now to several other positives:

  • Kurt Russell opens the movie looking like he’s 29 again, a particular treat for those of us who remember him from back then. “De-aging” they call it in …
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Added May 12, 2017 10:47PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
9th God of War
2017 Great 66 Points
_100

The Chinese vs. the Japanese in the 16th century makes for a great martial-arts war movie, full of Shaolin vs. samurai, kung fu vs. karate. This Chinese production tells the tale from the Chinese POV, with Japanese pirates raiding peaceful Han Chinese villages and engaging in war crimes as part of their pillaging. For an Occidental viewer like me, it’s a reminder that China and Japan have been in conflict for centuries.

God of War is mostly a hagiographic portrait of General Qi Jiguang, the Ming Dynasty hero who led the successful defense agai…

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Added Jun 11, 2017 01:31PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
10th Their Finest
2016 Great 66 Points
_100

Their Finest is an exceptionally fine movie, a post-modern take on the decidedly earnest Greatest Generation, British variety. Unfortunately, it takes exceptional effort to find a theater where it’s playing.

Speaking of exceptional, Gemma Arterton, Sam Clafin and Bill Nighy are exceptionally fine moviestars. Arterton has exceptionally well-formed lips, from which subtly smart dialogue naturally emerges. Clafin’s refined yet rakish good looks mark him as a post-modern Cary Grant, while Nighy remains perhaps the most exceptionally charismatic actor working today, especially when he gets …

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Added Jun 11, 2017 01:31PM PST • Updated Jun 11, 2017 02:55PM PST
11th Wonder Woman
2017 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Miss Israel kicks ass as Wonder Woman. But that’s not all, not by a long shot. Wonder Woman is a perfect superhero movie, deeply of the genre, yet soaring above it. That puts it in the small pantheon of DC movies, deadly earnest in the DC tradition, a la The Dark Knight, yet shot through with profoundly charming LOLs. Wow, Wonder Woman saves the summer! That’s a superhero accomplishment if ever there was one.

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine make an exceptionally attractive pair of leads, physically and charismatically. The onetime M…

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Added Jun 17, 2017 01:02AM PST • Updated Jun 17, 2017 01:02AM PST
12th The Hero
2017 Great 66 Points
_100

Sam Elliott deserves a Western-icon lifetime achievement award. Hey, that’d make a great little movie, if it included the behind-the-scenes angst of an elderly man facing his mortality, even as he’s feted by fans and groupies alike. The Hero is all that, albeit Elliott plays a less successful doppelgänger of himself.

The Hero is every bit the Hollywood love-letter that La La Land was, Western division. After all, the pull and lore of the movie industry is purest in Westerns, e.g., Elliott in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid…

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Added Jul 03, 2017 11:48PM PST • Updated Jul 03, 2017 11:48PM PST
13th Baby Driver
2017 Great 83 Points
_100

Choreography comes to car chases in Baby Driver. British director Edgar Wright’s benchmark blockbuster presents like Tarantino set to music. Nowhere to Run, Radar Love and Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up lead the 60s & 70s chestnuts that impart old-school cool into this new-school movie. Star power finishes the job.

A juke-box musical as much as a romance, drama or satire, Baby Driver is a consummate exercise in style. Nihilistic in the extreme, its inverse-ethics could have been drawn straight from Suicide Squad, sadly.

h6…

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Added Jul 07, 2017 11:20PM PST • Updated Jul 07, 2017 11:20PM PST
14th Spider-Man: Home...
2017 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Spider-Man hasn’t lacked great reboots, but this third is the greatest yet. It’s the most High School by far, if not the first set in that adolescent crucible. Mostly, Spider-Man: Homecoming benefits by being the first Spider-Man movie to be produced by Marvel, odd though that may seem.

Marvel means a lot, a whole lot when it comes to superior superhero movies, not least having Robert Downey Jr. drop into the picture. Megawattage superstar power comes with him, and that’s without the miraculous Iron Man suit, which is now voiced by the Oscar-winning Jennifer Connelly. Megawattage.

A…

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Added Jul 15, 2017 12:51AM PST • Updated Jul 15, 2017 12:51AM PST
15th War for the Plan...
2017 Very Good 83 Points
_100

War is Hell — an equation that the concluding episode of Planet of the Apes hammers home relentlessly. Both sides of the war for Earth, aka the Planet of the Apes, have understandable reasons to kill The Other.

Their war is most assuredly hell, a legitimate, even perfectly justifiable hell, and is perfectly brought to life.

Still, this concluding chapter of the tremendously assured Planet of the Apes trilogy is far from a perfect movie. Disappointing, as perfection was expected following the really great "Dawn of …

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Added Jul 21, 2017 11:30PM PST • Updated Jul 21, 2017 11:30PM PST
16th Dunkirk
2017 Really Great 83 Points
_100

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk sets a new standard in faux cinéma vérité, so extreme is its IMAX-sized verisimilitude. As to its subject, it’s not as if the Miracle of Dunkirk has been ignored in World War II movies, most recently forming the backdrop of Their Finest. But it’s never been recreated at THIS SCALE.

Nolan deftly folds his super-sized film in on itself, as its three focus-areas flash forward and back. You end up seeing key events from multiple points of view, e.g., a Spitfire shoots down a Luftwaffe bomber at the last…

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Added Jul 29, 2017 02:20PM PST • Updated Jul 29, 2017 02:20PM PST
17th Wind River
2017 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Wind River, the best American crime movie in recent memory, is as American as it could possibly be. Native-American at its core, cowboy on its face, Wind River transcends its stunningly assured procedural tropes to create a haunting tale of Western life in 2017, on the res and off, for Indians and Anglos alike.

The acting is shockingly good, especially from Jeremy Renner, but also from the large cast of reds and whites. Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham and Kelsey Chow are three Native-Americans who jump offscreen, while the always great Jon Bernthal delivers one perfect scene as a hell…

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Added Aug 25, 2017 11:04PM PST • Updated Aug 25, 2017 11:04PM PST
18th Good Time
2017 Great 66 Points
_100

Good Time is a helluva good time movie, if your taste in movie entertainment includes sickly funny slices of life from the underbelly of society. Mine does, for better or worse, so this demented masterpiece struck me and most of my entire theater as OMG and increasingly LOL pretty much all the way through. Wow.

There weren’t a lot of us in the theater mind you, but everyone seemed to know what they were getting into. Happily, I wasn’t the only one laughing as one spectacularly bad decision after another led to a series of harmful outcomes. Being predictable, these pratfalls were theref…

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Added Sep 02, 2017 01:14AM PST • Updated Sep 02, 2017 01:14AM PST
19th Kingsman: The Go...
2017 Really Great 83 Points

In Theaters Now

_100

Kingsman II is a fully-realized exercise in high style, low blows, expensive tricks and lots of big laughs. You could call it a brilliant blockbuster, in the British sense of brilliant: bright, bold, brisk, buttoned down.

  • Brilliant casting: The ensemble includes big stars old and new, with Elton John as we’ve always wanted. Halle Berry is one brilliant casting choice among many. Taron Egerton solidifies his major moviestar status. Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth & Julianne Moore radiate charisma.
  • Brilliant storyline: The admirably complex and bodaciously bawdy screenpla…
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Added Oct 08, 2017 09:44PM PST • Updated Oct 08, 2017 09:44PM PST
20th Battle of the Sexes
2017 Really Great 66 Points
_100

Battle of the Sexes is a terrific movie about a sociological sensation that was as fun as it was important, and it was very, very important. Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King was that big. The movie illuminates not just the sexual politics at play, but also early seventies mass media and a much more elegant era of tennis.

Bobby Riggs was an American original, a 55 year-old tennis hustler who spent several years as world #1 in men’s tennis. Hustler? Rosie Casals quips in the movie that he put the show into chauvinist. Ironically, Riggs was a loyal husband who only played a lout on TV – l…

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Added Oct 17, 2017 12:08AM PST • Updated Oct 17, 2017 12:08AM PST
21st Marshall
2017 Great 66 Points

In Theaters Now

_100

The American hero who almost single-handedly defeated institutional racism personified his unique first name. Lots of Marshalls, just one Thurgood, which is why Marshall is a poor title for this stirring biopic. OTOH, Thurgood sounds like a thoroughly good historical drama about Thurgood Marshall’s early days, when black America, indeed all America, needed someone of his profound gifts and indomitable courage.

Marshall gives us young Thurgood, thereby resetting the fixed image of an elderly Supreme Court justice. It’s not just Thurgood, but The Young Thurgood, a la "The Young …

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Added Oct 30, 2017 07:41PM PST • Updated Oct 30, 2017 07:41PM PST
22nd Only the Brave
2017 Really Great 66 Points
_100

See this movie. It’s our duty as citizens, but also deeply cathartic. Tears ran down my face, twice, yet my heart was warmed. Real men behaving chivalrously does that to me, inspires a man-cry. Strong women too!

Unwieldy title aside, Only the Brave artfully recounts the story of the 19 Arizona hotshots killed in 2013. What was unfathomable is now understandable, after the movie, yet in a gentle way. We don’t see them die. The movie is about how they lived, loved and trained, followed by the brave grief of friends and families.

Basically, Only the Brave is the firefighters’ "Lone S…

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Added Nov 03, 2017 09:42PM PST • Updated Nov 03, 2017 09:42PM PST
23rd Blade Runner 2049
2017 Great 66 Points

In Theaters Now

_100

One needn’t be familiar with Blade Runner minutiae to find Blade Runner 2049 gripping from the start, thought provoking by the middle and shattering at the end. Yep, this terrific sci-fi sequel works for newbies.

Thus, it’s not just an aficionado’s treat. It’s meat for the masses. Somehow the reverse has become the conventional wisdom. Blade Runner 2 has been derided as a bust. Not only isn’t it a bust, having grossed a quarter-billion dollars, but it works on its own artistic merits, legendary origin story notwithstanding.

The …

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Added Nov 07, 2017 12:56AM PST • Updated Nov 07, 2017 12:56AM PST
24th Thor: Ragnarok
2017 Perfect 66 Points
  • In Theaters Now

_100

Marvel puts it all together for one of their very best movies yet in Thor: Ragnarok, an absolutely terrific blockbuster, and a damn funny one at that. Crayon colored, heavenly inspired, charismatically performed, deeply rooted yet easily accessible, it would be great even it weren’t a sophisticated LOL-fest. But it is.

Notwithstanding typical Marvel plot, backstory and character density, Thor 3 is easier to follow than many Marvel movies, especially the often convoluted Avengers episodes. It’s amazing how smoothly it flows.

Add in well crafted moviestar performances from Chris Hem…

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Added Nov 11, 2017 02:56PM PST • Updated Nov 11, 2017 02:56PM PST

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