1. What does it take for a film to be just okay?

As we approach the Academy Awards, outlets are rounding out their top best and top worst films of the year–but where is the love for the films that are just okay? Whether there is an equal amount of good and bad moments to even things out, or a few strong redeeming elements, sometimes an opinion can’t sway beyond the middle. 2017 has so much okay, decent, marginal, cinema that shouldn’t be ignored.

You’ll disagree with some films on this list, and others will shock you. Either way, click next, and lets discuss.

2. Atomic Blonde

Films, Movies, Review
Focus Features

The problems lie in the story and its execution. This is a movie about a woman, written by and for men and sometimes male driven storytelling takes precedence over character development and plot flow.

However, Atomic Blonde did break new ground because it is the James Bond gender swap we’ve all been waiting for. The hair is laid, the clothing is sleek, Theron is phenomenal as the action heroine, and the film contains spectacular fighting sequences that can any modern action flick.

This could be the start of something truly great if the sequel is used to correct the mistakes of the first.

Full review here

3. The Beguiled

Films, Movies, Review
A24

I didn’t hate The Beguiled as much as I thought I would. One of the highly redeemable qualities though are the performances by its cast and the surpringly comedic moments.  I’ve missed having the old Nicole “ice queen” Kidman on screen. If anything, the film is worth it just to see her regain her groove.

I was irked by director Sofia Coppola’s narrative choices. Ma’am, how do you leave out key pieces of history? Saying you don’t know is not an excuse to be exclusionary. The movie is too wrapped up in the director naïveté and hubris to be anything more than just ok.

Full review here

4. The Glass Castle

Films, Movies, Review
Lionsgate

Since the publishing of her book, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls has talked with several studios and producers to get her story to the big screen. This manifested with Brie Larson as Jeannette Walls and Destin Daniel as director for the 2017 cinematic adaptation. Initial reviews were not kind to the film. With some critics agreeing that the idea that Walls would forgive her parents after years of neglect and abuse, rings false within Cretton’s script. I gave it a glowing review upon theatrical release, but having watched it a second time, there are problems with the story and pacing. Most of all, the family forgiveness shitck left me in WTF mode.

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BUT! I have to acknowledge the incredibly relatable moments. While The Glass Castle script isn’t always coherent, it is well directed with somebody superb performances.  I recommend a watch just to see how wacky Jeannette Walls life was like growing up.

Full review here

5. Lady Bird

Films, Movies, Review
A24

Being the critical and box office darling that it is, Lady Bird is the talk of award season. Upon viewing I tried twice to write a review, but I couldn’t form an opinion over 200 words. I like that this is a love letter to Sacramento, CA–a city I lived in for two boring, yet glorious years–Lady Bird certainly encapsulates the lackadaisical atmosphere of the city. I laughed a few times as the film is paired with a great sense of nostalgia as it chronicles the 2000’s. Beyond that there’s nothing revolutionary here. It’s the same “young quirky white teenager experiences existential crisis” narrative I’ve seen a thousand times.

Greta Gerwig is a fine director, and Lady Bird is a fine movie but that’s all it is–fine.

6. Molly’s Game

Films, Movies, Review
STX films

Jessica Chastain can take any script and turn it into a work of art because she’s just that good. The issue is Aaron Sorkin’s love affair with over explaining. The film is weighed down by too much exposition, and overly long, dull monologues which prevent the movie from being truly great. If you can get passed the boring bits, Molly’s Game is a pretty decent biopic.

7. Life

Films, Movies, Review
Columbia Pictures

Life is Alien (1979) on a diet. It’s frustrating because rather than create something semi-original, the film has no shame in taking nearly every single plot point from the Alien franchise and recycling it with a new cast of characters. Sadly, I stilled enjoyed the movie. It has entertaining scenes, but I don’t know if its because I was laughing with or at the characters. Sometimes a good laugh (intentional or not), and a few decent jump scares can turn a bad movie 180 degrees to something tolerable.

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Full review here

8. Wonderstruck

Films, Movies, Review
Amazon studios

The film starts in a really good place, and if it weren’t for the first half, WonderStruck would be a complete disaster. However, despite its flaws, its worth the watch just to see how director Todd Hayes moves time and space. I am a huge fan of the WonderStruck book (by Brian Selznick), and again, the movie has a great first and second act that’s worth the watch.

Full review here

9. mother!

Films, Movies, Review
Paramount Pictures

As one of the more divisive movies this year, mother! is a film that viewers either love or hate, but I’m one of those people who stands in the middle. I knew not to be fooled by the secrecy and bizzare marketing campaign, but what do you expect from Darren Arronofsky.

The performances by the supporting cast are outstanding, and I appreciate Arronofsky’s  vision and use of metaphor to tell this story. But, once you breakdown the story, it isn’t as charming or shocking as the marketing material made it seem. Seeing a woman get abused the way the main character is, is not ok, but ignored you can get passed that you might find something you like here.

Full review here

10. Okja

Netflix
Netflix

It took me a while to figure out just how OKAY Okja is for me. From enthralling, and engaging, to erratic, and incoherent, the film finds a happy medium of succeeding in some areas and failing in others. I understand having a new take on an old theme but the characters make so many foolish mistakes that it sometimes makes the film intolerable.

Okja can also be disturbing at times and that is what I admire about the movie most of all. Through its ups and downs, it pushes the envelope and forces you to think about how humans can hinder the natural flow of things. Approach this with an open mind and maybe you’ll find a few things you like about it.

Full review here