Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
OK, let’s continue with the awards with movies.
Best Movie Blade Runner 2049. Not a perfect movie, but it was almost worth waiting 35 years for. It articulates beautifully the big tropes and motifs of Philip K. Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, what is real? What makes a human being a human? Are the cops there to help or harm us? As well as the overwhelming felling of awe wrapped inside a twist of paranoia. This movie keep my interest for the whole 2 hours and 42 minutes. The movie doesn’t go the way I would have taken it, if I was allowed to write it, but that is OK, I knew in advance that no one would take the story the way I did in my mind. I found this world closer to my version than the sequel novel by K.W. Jeter’s The Edge of Human. Like the original it lost money but I think like the first movie it will be more appreciated with time.
I love how they set it in a different dimension where New Coke didn’t exist and the U.S.S.R is still a thing. With the original movies 2019 only a few years away I am glad they didn’t just take the easy way out and just move the time lime back. Also I get why people are upset about the way women are treated in the movie, but I loved all the female characters. That is the point of a BR movie, the world treats everyone like something to be consumed, men and women alike.
Best Actor: Hugh Jackman, in Logan. It is hard to remember that back in 2000 before the first X-Men movie, no one knew who Hugh Jackman was. Since then he has won a Tony for his role in the play The Boy from Oz, stared in movies like Swordfish and The Prestige, and has played Wolvie nine times if you count the cameo in XM:TFC. In 2017 he said good bye to the role that made him a household name. I know there is talk of bringing him in to the MCU, but I say we should let him go out on a high point.
Logan was the best of all possible worlds, a good script with superb acting all around. Based on the Old Man Logan comic run, it wisely didn’t include the incestuous mutant hulk hillbilly babies, but instead showed us a world that might be real, a world without heroes. I am not necessarily a big fan of R rated comic book movies, not so much that I have a problem with R ratings as I think that too many under aged kids will want to see it. That given it was a good move to make this an R rated not just for the violence and swearing but for the deeply powerful emotions this story brings. Jackmen took those feeling in the story and turned them into a tour de force performance
Best Actress: Sally Hawkins in, The Shape of Water. Hawkins shines in Del Toro’s modern day take on a gillman story. Like his movie Hellboy this movie asks what does it mean to be human? With her portrayal of mute Elisa Esposito shows us what it means to be the best of humanity. Brave, fierce, determined, loyal and compassionate. Del Toro wrote the role specifically with Sally Hawkins in mind. She is pretty but not in a conventional way, I completely bought that she could be a cleaning woman, yet saw her a a beautiful person both inside and outside. .
Elisa is mute in the movie, one of the key tools of an actor is their voice. Without speaking the role was much more difficult to perform on a technical level. Hawkins rose to the level using her body language to compensate for the lack of spoken words. She did such a good job laying someone who could not speak, when she did sing in a fantasy sequence I was actually shocked.
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Strong as Merlin in Kingsmen: The Golden Circle. Strong is mainly known for his bad guy roles, so much so he spoofs the English accented villain in a Jaguar commercial, however his stoic Merlin is all hero. He is a badass Q-like science and tech wizard, who is more than once is forced to enter the field. On the surface this special agent is all British stiff upper lip, yet this time we get to see a few cracks in his unflappable exterior. We learn that his favorite singer is John Denver but he is so secretive even his best friend doesn’t know it. We see that he has a debt that he has been waiting to pay for over twenty years. I will never think of the song Take Me Home Country Roads in the same way again..
Best supporting actress: Dafne Keen, as Laura/X-23 in Logan. Imagine you had to hold your own with Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart, speaking two languages and it is only your second project. Oh and did I mention you are only 11 years old. Then imagine you knocked the role out of the frigging park. Well if you are Dafne Keen you don’t have to imagine it, she did it with her role as Wolverines ‘female clone” in the movie Logan. Not once when I was watching it did I think, gee look at that young girl acting up there on the screen, she completely disappeared into the role.
X-23 is a unique role for a superhero movie, it didn’t originate in the pages of comic book, but on the TV screen in the cartoon X-Men Evolution. Eventually the character would become as key to the X-Men comics franchise as her father. She has all her papa’s rage and powers but lacks his experiences and his cynicism. Dafne show us this by coping Jackman, but also bring her own youthful female take on the role.
Best Fight Scene: Atomic Blonde Apartment fight. This is a one take fight scene. Let this sink in, this is one shot for seven minutes of people beating the crap out of each other. That means that if six minutes in someone misses up a line or sneezes they have to start all over. That is even more impressive when you think the average movie jumps to a new camera angle every 15 seconds or so in this post M-TV world of ours. Unlike the one cut fight scenes in the Kingsmen movies which are beautifully choreographed, almost a ballet of action, this scene portrays violence in a brutal and realistic way. No one punch knock outs, no pretty little head wounds. It shows a believable version of what the human body can and cannot take, it is unflinchingly raw and brutal and is fascinating because of it.
Best Villain: Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes AKA The Vulture, in Spiderman: Home Coming. OK part of the fun, of watching this flight suit powered villain, is to see the original Tim Burton Batman and Birdman play a comic book baddie, but this is not just mere stunt casting. Keaton nails the part as a blue collar guy who feels he is forced to take to crime after the government shafts him. The chemistry with Tom Hollands Spider Man is perfect, I was genuinely surprised when he opened “that” door, and the not so veiled threats in his conversation with Peter Parker in the car are masterful.
The Vulture is really kind of lame in the comic books. He is this senior citizen that makes a suit so he can fly and rob jewelry stores. Keaton character is a truly worthy adversary to the Web Slinger. He is a family man but is more than willing to kill to keep his secrets. He has a respect for this 15 year old who is the greatest threat to his plans, he allows Peter to live when he discovers because he saved his daughter, but you have the feeling if it wasn’t for that he’d kill him in a heartbeat, then in the end surprises the audience when he keeps the Wall Crawler’s secret. This version of Adrian Toomes is a complicated character preformed masterfully.
Best third movie in a trilogy for 2017: Thor: Ragnarok. It is not easy to make a third successful installment of even the best franchises look at X-Men and Aliens. And well I like the first two Thor movies especially Dark World, but I was skeptical about this movie because mainly it was lacking the best thing about the Thor movies Kat Denning as intern Darcy. But this movie worked for me. It way worked for me.
Some people complained it was too comical, that it tried to hard to be too funny, and that Thor was more stoic in the first two movies. Well he was on Earth (Especially the quasi-cannon time he was on Earth with Darrel), and in space for several months, and well come on with lines like “…He’s adopted….” He was never that serious. Maybe I am just a funny guy, so I have a high funny tolerance. I also loved the outer space portion of MCU we see in T:R and The Guardians of the Galaxy. Watching the space scenes reminds me of how I first felt when I saw the cantina scene in the original Star Wars. The whole supporting cast was spot on, I was afraid that Hulk’s presence would take form the story, it didn’t, it added to it. I really liked this movie, only one thing could make it better, more Darcy.
Best opening Credits: Valarian: The City of a Thousand Planets. For what it was V:TCoaTP didn’t suck. It was a hyper glossy, super effects laden popcorn movie. Nothing wrong with that. The movie would never rise to my love of the original source material. However the open credits are maybe the best thing that Luc Besson has ever done. Rutger Hauer gets opening credit mention for just 1 minute and ten seconds worth of work, but it is by far the best thing in the movie.
Memorial: Carrie Fisher. I get that a lot of Star Wars fans are not happy with The Last Jedi. To me it was a good movie and a good chapter in the Star Wars saga. But whether you liked it or not it is the last page of the Star Wars story for Carrie Fisher. I have to say I normally have this aversion to watching a movie where the star died before it was released, like the Crow and The Dark Knight. I overcame my weird neurosis and took my family to see TLJ after Christmas. I think that her performance was perfect and the editing after her passing perfect. Goodbye General, may the Force be with you.