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.