In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Originally posted on Cinema76.
2017 has been a year. And while it would be a satisfying article in and of itself to list all of the ways that this year has been difficult for so many people, especially in the realm of film, I’d much rather look back and champion a few of the really awesome things from 2017 which give me hope. It’s the holiday season! Let’s show some positivity! Let’s look at the good things that shine some light into the darkness!
1. IT proves that people show up for horror.
This year has seen multiple very successful Stephen King adaptations, but the biggest success story of them all goes to IT. The second cinematic adaptation of Stephen Kong’s gigantic novel (the first being the made for TV miniseries starring professional chucklehead, Harry Anderson), broke just about every horror box office record imaginable. Granted, horror always does relatively well at the box office, as genre fans are generally pretty supportive of theatrical outings, but the rampant success of ITshowed that mainstream audiences will hit the multiplex as well, given the right mix of material, nostalgia, and murderous clowns. This is awesome because it means that – if the studios take the right lessons from this – large scale horror fare will get more funding.
2. Get Out proves that horror can be smart.
Get Out, love it or hate it, will likely emerge as THE movie of 2017, and for good reason. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut delivers chills that resonate long after the film ends. On its surface, the film works as a terrifying thriller, but just below we get an experientially informed parable about race relations and tensions in modern day America. Few people left this film feeling anything less than gobsmacked, and as a result, Get Out has a real chance at winning some acclaim during awards season. Not since The Silence of the Lambs has a horror picture been regarded with such legitimacy. And much like Lambs, Get Out has a very real chance of taking home the Best Picture Oscar. In conjunction with the success of IT, such events could inspire a reassessment of where horror film stands amongst other genres. Hell, Blumhouse Productions might become an Oscar-winning studio.
3. The Disaster Artist eschews cynicism and embraces strangeness.
The buzz leading up to the release of The Disaster Artist was unprecedented. As the resident “movie guy” in my social circles, I found it surprising how many people expressed supreme interest in what should have been a niche picture. Logic dictates that at most, The Disaster Artist could have expected to find its audience on home video, grabbing cultural footing much in the same way that The Room did over the past 15 years. But instead, the buzz for James Franco’s oddball new-classic hinted at an audience ready to embrace a weird, weirdly hopeful story. At a time where few movies can be released without some sort of cynical pushback, The Disaster Artist has met almost universal praise, with even the most negative reviews paying lip service to the the film’s sunny outlook.
4. Wonder Woman dominates EVERYTHING.
I, for one, am sick and tired of superhero cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I will be there for opening night of every last Marvel/DC release. But my point is, if I, a dude who will watch anything, is starting to feel franchise fatigue, then less-rabid consumers MUST be totally over it, right?
Wonder Woman, the first female led superhero flick of the modern era, was a bit of a gamble. The studios were worried that having a woman front and center might hurt ticket sales, so they limited the budget and hoped for the best. Not only were they wrong about their financial predictions (Wonder Woman shattered box office expectations), but also about critical reception. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive, making this the only DCEU film not to receive a splat on the dreaded Tomatometer. Multiple lessons were learned from this, but the most important is the way it proved that female-led and female-helmed blockbusters are as viable financially and creatively as any tentpole made by a man. Granted, having a female lead for a blockbuster isn’t necessarily new, but the massive success of Wonder Woman all but ensures that it will become more common. Hopefully to the point where we no longer have to highlight it as a special thing.
In that spirit, give Michelle MacLaren a Star War.
5. Movie Pass makes it fun to see garbage like Geostorm.
I love my Movie Pass. Why? Because I got to see Geostorm, The Snowman, and Jigsawwithout feeling guilty since it cost me next to nothing. You surely ask me why I feel so lucky to have seen these garbage movies on the big screen. Well, if you have to ask that, we’ve obviously never met.