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Kaboom! Magazine.com 17 Most Explosive Films of 2017

Kaboom! Magazine.com 17 Most Explosive Films of 2017

Over the last 12 months, the world seemed to be changing faster than ever, and not for the better. At a time when every day felt like a week, and every week felt like a year, watching a movie felt like a dangerous proposition; you had no idea what the world was going to look like when you walked out of the theater two hours later. Even the most immersive films couldn’t always keep that anxiety at bay, these dark thoughts seeping into even darker rooms and transforming these sacred spaces into elaborate Rorschach tests that tricked us into seeing whatever was scaring us most at that particular moment, or whatever might be needed to give us hope. It was a heightened stretch unlike any in recent memory, but the best films ultimately did what the best films always do: They brought the world into focus, showed it from a fresh sonspective, and reminded us that we’re not alone. Continuing a new tradition that seems well-suited for a time when everything feels slightly out of focus and it’s hard to get a grasp on the big picture, we distilled each of the 17 favorite films of the year into a single memorable moment.

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17. John Wick: Chapter 2:
A run-on sentence of gun-fu prose, the first John Wick became an instant action classic when it dropped two years ago. Stahelski and Reeves meet impossibly high expectations with more brutal fights, windier shootouts, and a finger-lickin’ helping of assassin guild mythology. You could remove every instance of Reeves’s Wick planting a bullet in a foe’s neck or taking a razor blade to the knee out of John Wick: Chapter 2 and you’d still have a badass movie, a testament to the intricate and loony world created by writer Derek Kolstad. At a time when most action movies settle for one trailer-worthy setpiece, this sequel gives and gives and gives until you scream bloody murder. Bloody bad guy murder.

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16. Baby Driver:
Ansel Elgort is the beautifully stringy, poker-faced youth who wears earbuds and drives the getaway car for an increasingly psychotic gang of bank robbers (among them Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm) at the behest of the icy “Doc” (Kevin Spacey). The 43-year-old U.K.-born Edgar Wright is just about the perfect 21st-century genre director. He has a fanboy’s scintillating palette without a fanboy’s lack of peripheral vision. And he choreographs car chases dazzlingly — and without CGI. It’s a joyride.

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15. Logan:
Before the “MCU,” Christopher Nolan’s Bat-movies, and all three Spider-Man screen incarnations, there was the growing, gallant Wolverine from 2000’s X-Men. Seventeen years of unwavering ferocity later, Jackman ends his warrior’s story on a bedrock of history: in 2029, Wolverine is now a tall tale hero lionized in paperback; Logan is a whiskey-guzzling drunk numbing the past and courting death. Stewart’s Professor X, a decaying psychic warhead, and Laura, a genetic prototype with claws like Logan, force him to become protector once more. While Mangold grants the gruesome, R-rated dreams of X-fans, Logan stands as one of the best comic book movies of all time by slicing through fatalistic philosophy and the true definition of healing. Wolverine’s body can mend five-minute-old bullet wounds in a flash, but a lifetime of loss? Not in his mutant DNA.

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14. Mudbound:
The South’s post-slavery existence is, for Hollywood, mostly uncharted territory. Rees rectifies the overlooked stretch of history with this novelistic drama about two Mississippi families working a rain-drenched farm in 1941. The white McAllans settle on a muddy patch of land to realize their dreams. The Jacksons, a family of black sharecroppers working the land, have their own hopes, which their neighbors manage to nurture and curtail. To capture a multitude of perspectives, Mudbound weaves together specific scenes of daily life, vivid and memory-like, with family member reflections, recorded in whispered voice-over. The epic patchwork stretches from the Jackson family dinner table, where the youngest daughter dreams of becoming a stenographer, to the vistas of Mississippi, where incoming storms threaten an essential batch of crops, to the battlefields of World War II Germany, a harrowing scene that will affect both families. Confronting race, class, war, and the possibility of unity, Mudbound spellbinding drama reckons with the past to understand the present.

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13. Thor: Ragnarok:
Thor is so fun! Marvel just keeps delivering on a franchise that could have so easily become tired and boring, and it’s all thanks to great performances (god bless Tom Hiddleston) and the understanding that a good movie needs well-written parts for women. While Wonder Woman still holds the spot of “Best Superhero Film of the Year/of All Time,” we’re 100 percent here for Thor.

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12. War for the Planet of the Apes:
War for the Planet of the Apes employs breathtaking special effects to realize Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his embattled ape followers, but it’s still molded from Hollywood’s golden age of popcorn entertainment. Kicked off like a war drama, ignited by social satire — Harrelson, as subtly as possible, plays an anarchical white nationalist obsessed with walling off his weapons compound from both primate and his fellow man — and concluded like a Biblical epic, Reeves’s sizes up our humanity through the eyes of a inhuman-yet-compassionate leader tasked with saving a civilization without sacrificing his moral code: “ape not kill ape.” Every second of the movie looks and sounds amazing (Star Trek composer Michael Giacchino outdoes himself while aping Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone), but it’s Serkis under digital, weary eyes that proves Apes is the most underrated franchise of the decade.

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11. Alien: Covenant:
Ridley Scott, who unknowingly kicked off a franchise with his original 1979 space horror, is not on this planet to service fans. He has issues to work out with men, machines, and the tangible universe, and Alien: Covenant (a direct sequel to 2012’s Prometheus), will disappoint anyone looking for wall-to-wall Xenomorph carnage. With big ideas on his mind, Scott recasts Fassbender as his idea engine, the actor’s diligent, lifeless android Walter pit against David, the defiant robot from Prometheus. His baroque bravado sets the tone for the entire movie, while his humanoid costars exist so Scott can rip them apart in excessively giddy and gruesome displays of violence. Alien: Covenant echoes Jurassic Park, The Evil Dead, and a movie Scott didn’t make, James Cameron’s Aliens, but the science fiction fueling its engines, and the science fate that steers the ending, amounts to a sadistic “fuck you” to humanity that’s basically unheard of in modern blockbusters.

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10. Dunkirk:
Christopher Nolan dispenses with the exposition in favor of immersive aesthetics with Dunkirk, a dramatic account of the WWII evacuation of Dunkirk, France’s beaches in 1941. Fractured between three interwoven time frames and perspectives (land, sea and air), and shot almost entirely in 70mm IMAX—which stands as the ideal format in which to see this overwhelmingly experiential work—Nolan’s wartime tale cares little for character detail or contextual background. Instead, it thrusts viewers into the chaos engulfing a variety of infantrymen (including Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles), commanders (primarily, Kenneth Branagh), fighter pilots (led by Tom Hardy), and civilian boatman (notably, Mark Rylance), all of whose sacrifice, selfishness, cowardice, and heroism is thrown into sharp relief by Nolan’s grand set pieces. Through its towering scale, superb staging, and inventive structure, Dunkirk melds the micro and the macro with a formal daring that’s breathtaking, along the way underscoring the unrivaled power of experiencing a truly epic film on a big screen.

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9. It:
It isn’t just a fun, scary movie. It’s a really well-written film about friendship that made us burst with nostalgia, just as much as it made us scream in terror. And as someone who can barely make it through I Know What You Did Last Summer without flailing, I am here to tell you that It is a movie worth seeing whether or not horror is your favorite genre. Come for the murderous child-eating clown vibes, stay for the sweet Stand by Me vibes.

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8. Blade Runner 2049:
The notion of a Blade Runner sequel was met with a hefty amount of justified trepidation. The notion of Denis Villeneuve helming said sequel? Considerably less. The Arrival and Sicario director brought the tension of the latter and aesthetic beauty of the former to Ridley Scott’s well-loved dystopia, resulting in a sequel that was as visually stunning (hello, Roger Deakins) as it was familiar and haunting. Newcomer Ryan Gosling entered seamlessly as Officer K, the blade runner tasked with hunting down Harrison Ford’s long-lost Deckard. Best seen big and loud, this uncompromising sequel is an undeniable gift to Blade Runner fans and devotees. 8D20D50B-CC39-4AD9-B9EB-55DA966897A1

7. Lady Bird:
In actress-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a Catholic high school senior who longs to escape her stultifying lower-middle-class Sacramento environs for East Coast college life. Set in 2002, her story is one of romantic ups-and-downs—with both Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet playing romantic suitors—and familial tension, the latter felt in her strained relationship with her prickly mother (a phenomenal Laurie Metcalf). Narratively speaking, there’s nothing Earth-shattering here, but Gerwig’s script has a razor-sharp sense of time, place and the roiling emotional turmoil of its protagonist, whose attempts to carve out a mature identity are authentically messy. A sterling supporting cast (also featuring Tracy Letts and Lois Smith) further bolster this distinctly drawn tale, although it rests on the able shoulders of Ronan, whose fierce and funny embodiment of Lady Bird is downright irresistible.

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6. Ingrid Goes West:
A career-best performance from Aubrey Plaza anchors a razor sharp black comedy that offers up a spin on Single White Female for the social media age. Movies about stalking typically hinge on a familiar set of escalating gestures that tend to include long waits in a lurking car, flicking through stolen mail and a lot of on-the-ground shadowing. Stalkers had it tough: they got rained on, barked at and risked criminal charges at every turn. But in 2017, following someone means something far different. We follow strangers on a daily basis on various digital platforms, an insight into their likes, dislikes and physical whereabouts readily available for anyone to see. In Ingrid Goes West, director Matt Spicer’s frightening and funny debut feature, we follow the embodiment of social media obsession: the tragic titular character whose happiness remains reliant on how many strangers follow her back. Given the hideous vanity that Instagram encourages, Spicer’s setup offers copious entry points for vicious satire and his sharp Sundance award-winning script takes much pleasure in puncturing a vapid set of targets. But this isn’t a simple takedown of social media-obsessed Californians – that would be too easy. Instead, Spicer looks past the emojis and pulls out the depression, inauthenticity and loneliness that’s behind the need for constant online affirmation. As well as avoiding an overly shallow causticity toward his subjects, Spicer also manages to broach Ingrid’s deteriorating mental health with refreshing delicacy. We’re aware of Plaza’s pitch-perfect comic timing but her skills as a dramatic actor have been largely kept under wraps and she’s on career-best form here, selling every note right through to the emotionally impactful finale. There’s savage humor here but also piercing sadness. It’s as much a film about the frequent stupidity of social media as it is about the difficulty of making friends, knowing how to fit in by showing just the right amount of your real self to just the right people, without having to rely on a filter.

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5. Logan Lucky:
Steve Soderbergh, the mastermind behind the Ocean’s franchise, possess Danny Ocean’s keen sense of operation and attention to detail (no one shoots mundane insert shots quite like him). With Logan Lucky, the filmmaker gifts those of us without bespoke tuxedo collections the heist movie we deserve: a bluesy, Southern-fried, NASCAR-set bank job where pick-ups do the heavy-lifting, gummy bears and cleaning solution make the vaults go boom, and blue collars are worn with pride. No one believes Jimmy and Clyde Logan (Tatum and Driver), known around West Virginia for their bad luck “curse,” could rob the Coca-Cola 600 race. How they stick it to the naysayers is one of the most pure-fun times I’ve had at the movies this year.

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4. The Big Sick:
Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon adapted their real-life meet cute, and an encounter with illness that landed Emily in the hospital just months afterward, into this moving, melancholy rom-com — like a Terms of Endearment for the Trainwreck era. Fans of the comedian’s stand-up or work as Silicon Valley’s Dinesh will go nuts for The Big Sick’s steady stream of laughs; one taboo-busting 9/11 joke-for-the-ages had my theater howling. But when the couple’s life takes a turn for the worse, and Kumail’s Pakistani heritage pressurizes the situation with demands of arranged marriage, Nanjiani’s fans will cling to the jokes like a life preserver. Anchored by his sensitive performance, and bolstered by Romano and Hunter as Emily’s fretting, foulmouthed parents, The Big Sick is a reminder that fate is fickle, self-determination is fickler, and we all deserve a good laugh-cry once in awhile.

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3. Girls Trip:
Riding the most basic premise (four friends take a wild vacation in New Orleans!) to the most obvious conclusion (they have a blast, then they get upset, but in the end, they’re best friends!) Lee Daniels and his four female cohorts bring the R-rated comedy back to where it belongs: a perverse wonderland where dick jokes slay and spray-peeing on a crowds of unsuspecting bystanders is a religious experience. Girls Trip is as pure as Old School or Bridesmaids, and like both, boasts a breakout star. Tiffany Haddish steals every scene, and a bit where she viciously fellates a banana while lubricating with a grapefruit, pulp flying in every direction, is the defining image of 2017.

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2. Wonder Woman:
Wonder Woman breathes bracing new life into the increasingly moribund superhero blockbuster—although in the case of Patty Jenkins’s film, it does so less by reimagining its main character than by conceiving a grand, unique origin story for its heretofore-cinematically-neglected DC Comics icon. Building upon her scene-stealing cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot embodies her Amazonian princess with innocence, resolve, and nobility throughout this solo outing, in which her Princess Diana departs her female-warrior homeland to join Chris Pine’s American spy in the fight against the Germans during WWI. Conflating history and fantasy with aplomb, Jenkins delivers the smash-’em-up CGI goods while reconfiguring standard-issue genre tropes in decidedly feminist fashion. At once courageous, determined, and guided by a heartening belief in the inherent goodness of mankind, this Wonder Woman is brains, beauty, and brawn, cast in a classical mold and yet tailor-made for the modern age.

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1. Get Out
Jordan Peele’s breakthrough is a satire of liberal racism in which black men go to the suburbs with their white girlfriends, meet their hearty families who say they voted for Obama, and turn strangely docile, like Stepford Blacks. It’s a ludicrous paranoid fantasy — and a just-about-perfect horror film. Peele uses the wide screen like John Carpenter in Halloween, to throw you off center. You jump, laugh at your jumpiness, and jump again.

Who was your favorite film of 2017? Allow your opinion be heard by leaving a comment below.