Normally when we decide whether a movie is “good” we use arbitrary qualifications like “does it say anything meaningful” or “does it make sense.” But I’m not into that. I’m into whether a movie makes me feel things in my gut. I’m into experiences. I’m into having a great time. I’m into guilty pleasures and trash. And these are the best of 2017.
20. “The Mummy” — This is the strange case of a movie that feels as though it was shot as a comedy but then during editing it was reworked as a straight dramatic flick. “The Mummy” gives off its own unique version of a so-bad-it’s-good vibe as a result. Cockney Russell Crowe is a thing of beauty in any context, also.
19. “The Great Wall” — Got a bad rap early on for the perception that it’s another “white savior in Asia” movie, but the truth is much better: “The Great Wall” is Chinese communist propaganda about how awful societies led by white people are. Which is true. All the crazy colors and awesome monster fights are just a bonus.
18. “The Bye Bye Man” — My personal favorite kind of psychological horror is ones where the spirit or whatever it is tricks the leads into harming themselves or each other. Since it’s basically impossible to be smart in that kind of situation it doesn’t matter if your characters are dumb — the tricks just have to be good. And having the main dude wack his best friend in the head with a bat because a ghost made him hallucinate the guy having sex with his girlfriend is a pretty good trick.
17. “Monster Trucks” — It’s like “E.T.,” but with giant tentacle monsters that drive pickup trucks. What’s not to like?
16. “Free Fire” — Ben Wheatley manages to appeal to my base emotions whether he’s going absolutely nuts (“High-Rise”) or just doing this little comedy about a gun deal gone bad that’s mostly just people sitting in a warehouse yelling and shooting at each other. It’s pulpy nonsense, and I mean that as a compliment.
I’m a huge fan of this sort of movie where everybody looks and acts like they haven’t slept in month and wish they were dead and none of the characters are really likable in the normal sense.
14. “Happy Death Day” — A slasher movie version of “Groundhog Day” is a great idea and the finished product is a great time even with an third act that resolves a bit too quickly.
13. “Transformers: The Last Knight” — Possibly the most Michael Bay movie of all time, because even though the plot makes so little sense I could not even track the sequence of events from beginning to end it’s still a thoroughly thrilling visual masterpiece.
12. “Fifty Shades Darker” — I’m not sure who the intended audience is for this movie where Dakota Johnson puts large metal balls in her vagina during a party and then has sex with the main dude in his childhood bedroom in front of a “Chronicles of Riddick” poster, but I’m glad it exists.
11. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” — Fun in basically the same way as the first one, with villainous Julianne Moore as an added delight. Not to mention Bruce Greenwood’s incredible turn as what feels like a vision of President Jeff Sessions.
10. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” — Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are great together, but the secret weapon here is Salma Hayek, who steals every scene she’s in right out from under Jackson. With “Bad Boys 3” seemingly never happening, here’s a suggestion: a female-led reboot with Salma Hayek as one of the leads.
9. “Atomic Blonde” — This is a movie you can feel, with Charlize Theron winning every fight but needing a nice long nap afterward — that’s relatable content! Slimy James McAvoy is always welcome as well.
8. “Wolf Warrior 2” — It’s kind of hilarious that China put forward a nonsensical mid-budget, B-level action movie as its Foreign Language Oscar submission. But while “Wolf Warrior 2” doesn’t exactly reflect the sensibilities of the Academy, it does pretty much exactly reflect mine. This thing is like if “Blood Diamond” were made like an 80s Schwarzenegger movie. It’s incredibly exploitative, with more than a tinge of propagandistic overtones. I love it. I love it.
7. “Ghost in the Shell” — This one feels like it was tailored to my specific preferences — outlandish cyberpunk aesthetic, everybody talking in a deadpan tone and suppressing their emotions, corporations being overtly evil, Beat Takeshi. It’s pure genre trash, and also just great.
6. “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” — Somehow this movie manages to convincingly establish a “Fast and Furious”-style #family. It also has Vin Diesel skiing down a rock mountain and surfing on a dirt bike. It’s legitimately great, and easily the best Donnie Yen movie of the winter.
5. “Geostorm” — It’s basically a season of “24” with a weather machine in space, complete with a US government conspiracy and everything! Add in an incredibly good amount of weather carnage and you’ve got almost a perfect movie.
4. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” — The decision to kill off most of the cast between movies is a bit frustrating, but otherwise it’s a total delight. It’s tough to not respect a movie that has this flagrant a disregard for franchise continuity, especially when it’s in service of brutal social commentary about how terrible capitalists are.
3. “The Fate of the Furious” — The greatest development in Hollywood in my lifetime has been the elevation of my favorite trash movie franchise. “F8” is hardly the best of the series, but it nonetheless is a total blast that still hits you right in the feels at every opportunity.
2. “Underworld: Blood Wars” — You’ve got Charles Dance doing sword fights, Tobias Menzies as the werewolf villain and Kate Beckinsale dying, going to vampire heaven and returning with superpowers and a new hairstyle. In other words, this is a trash classic.
1. “John Wick Chapter 2” — Has more meat than the first one thanks in no small part to the addition of Common and Ruby Rose as boss fights, meaning this two hours of sustained Sad Keanu Murder manages to engage your brain as well as your heart.