The first half of 2017 is history. Out of all of the new releases I saw during the first six months of the year (unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to “The Big Sick” yet), here are the 10 Best:
1. “THE HERO”
Sam Elliott is outstanding and deserves Best Actor nomination attention for his performance as Lee Hayden, a Western actor looking to make a comeback. Writer/director Brett Haley’s approach is low-key and the results are powerful.
2. “GET OUT”
Jordan Peele gets The Breakthrough Writer/Director Award for crafting a thought-provoking, multi-layered psychological thriller.
3. “LOST IN LONDON”
Woody Harrelson pulled-off something no one has ever attempted before: he directed, wrote and starred in a 90-minute movie that was filmed LIVE – in one continuous shot. And technique aside, the film itself is very good.
4. “WONDER WOMAN”
DC finally poses a challenge to Marvel. Star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins contribute to The Year of the Powerhouse Woman in Hollywood.
5. “THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE”
This spinoff to 2014’s “The LEGO Movie” packs-in just as many sharp one-liners, and it even delves into Batman’s psyche in ways we’ve never seen before.
6. “THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE”
Jessica Chastain continues her winning streak with another excellent performance in this subtle, effective WWII drama.
7. “THE WIZARD OF LIES”
HBO’s Bernie Madoff movie starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer (who both deserve Emmy nominations) is a highly engaging and fascinating riches to rags drama.
The year’s best documentary feature so far is a fascinating look at the impact of stray cats in Istanbul. The stories are moving, the footage is terrific, the vibrant music is memorable – and yeah: the cats are cute.
9. “CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE”
Thanks to clever dialogue aimed as a form of payback on the education system and great voice casting (Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms and Peele), this DreamWorks Animation adaptation of the popular books is highly entertaining.
With terrific work from the ensemble (including Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds) and one of the year’s best twists so far, this film breathes new “Life” into a worn-out sci-fi genre.
HONORABLE MENTION: “LOGAN”
Patrick Stewart deserves Best Supporting Actor nomination consideration as the aging Professor X and Hugh Jackman goes out with a bang as Wolverine in their dramatic, intense “X-Men” finale.
Lights Camera Jackson (a.k.a. Jackson Murphy) began his career as a film critic/entertainment reporter in 2006 at the age of 7. Jackson has written nearly 1,000 reviews of new releases. All together he has seen more than 1,500 films. In 2010, Jackson became the youngest person to win a NY Emmy Award, for his on-air movie reviews on Time Warner TV station, Capital News 9.
Jackson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. The BFCA’s annual Critics Choice Awards is one of the industry’s most respected awards shows. Jackson is also a member of SAG-AFTRA. He votes annually for the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
LCJ appears every Friday morning on WGNA-FM . His movie reviews are also posted on his website, his YouTube channel and the popular website Cultjer.com. He is also a contributing writer for Jerry Beck’s AnimationScoop.com. Jackson hosts the weekly internet pop culture news show “LCJ LIVE” (every Sunday at Noon ET). And “The LCJ Q&A Podcast” features interviews with celebrities and filmmakers.