Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My Yearend Roundup: The TOP 30 BEST MOVIES of 2017 That I Have Seen

January 1, 2017

According to my record, I had written 147 movie reviews this year (up from 131 last year). 54 of these are Filipino films, the rest are foreign films. I had been able to catch a lot of award-winning Filipino films on their commercial runs this year after winning in various festivals last year, hence a couple of them are included it here.

My movie reviews are still being picked up and posted on As of this writing, a total of 533 (up 122 from last year's total of 411) of my reviews have made it on the pages of one of the most popular news website and FB site, both locally and internationally.

For this list, I had not included my reviews for the Oscar nominated films released in the US in December 2016, but only hit local theaters for commercial runs in 2017. Because of travel, I was also able to see and write about entries to MMFF 2016 in January already, so these are also not included in my ranking. 

Potential Oscar-winning films of the year 2017 which will only be shown locally 2018 are also not included here. There had been filmfest screenings for films like "Call Me By Your Name" and "3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri" but I was not able to see them.


30 Blade Runner 2049 (MY REVIEW)
29 Kita Kita (MY REVIEW)
28 American Made (MY REVIEW)
27 Fast and Furious 8 (MY REVIEW)
26 Spider-Man: Homecoming (MY REVIEW)

25 Wonder (MY REVIEW)
24 Seven Sundays (MY REVIEW)
23 Victoria and Abdul (MY REVIEW)
21 Coco (MY REVIEW)  

20 Thor Ragnarok (MY REVIEW)
19 Bad Genius (MY REVIEW)
18 Justice League (MY REVIEW)
17 Wonder Woman (MY REVIEW)
16 Life (MY REVIEW)

15 Star na si Van Damme Stallone (MY REVIEW)
14 Loving Vincent (MY REVIEW)
13 Patay na si Hesus  (MY REVIEW)
12 Changing Partners (MY REVIEW)
11. The Chanters (MY REVIEW)

Counting down the 10 best films I have seen this year:


Under the direction of Raya Martin (his first "mainstream" film after a series of acclaimed art films), the film version of this pageturner by FH Batacan was similarly riveting from beginning to end. The script (by Ria Limjap and Moira Lang) used Filipino for more realism but wisely retained the sharply-worded English lines where they mattered most. The gritty cinematography (by J.A. Tadena) and the moody musical score (by Lutgardo Labad and Odoni Pestelos) set the atmosphere of gloom and tragedy perfectly. The carefully detailed production design (by Ericson Navarro) brought us back twenty years ago to 1997. The nuanced acting performances of Nonie Buencamino and Sid Lucero as partners Fr. Gus and Fr. Jerome really brought the novel's fascinating characters to life.

9. DUNKIRK (My Full Review)

The story was told from three vantage points and from three different time frames. First, there was a scene showing a half-mile-long jetty on the beach serving as an evacuation dock for long lines of British soldiers, all 400,000 of them, called "The Mole." The second part of the story called "The Sea" told of civilian boats conscripted to sail to Dunkirk to aide in the evacuation efforts.The third part of the story called "The Air" told a small squad of Spitfire jets sent to deter the German air attacks. This part started just one hour ago. Nolan told these three parts one at a time, weaving them all together into one exciting cohesive narrative until all three parts converged into each other at the end. 

(My Full Review)

Like the original film, we get the same underlying message about cooperation and team work. The same vibrantly colorful visuals pervade this spin-off. There was a lot of cheesy 80s music to liven up the mood. But what really makes this new one special were all the very funny pop-culture references thrown into the script to spoof the very serious mythology of the Bat. It was quite an exhilarating rush to see all those super villains and monsters, all presumably from the Warner Bros. and DC canon, together in one screen. The filmmakers behind this project clearly love the Batman. They dug up a lot of details from his entire canon of comics, TV and film and respectfully sent the Bat up in a most entertaining way. 

7. RESPETO (My Full Review)

Hendrix is a young man from the tough slums of Pandacan. One day, he went to join a rap battle league match, choked and lost money big time. In order to pay back the money he lost, Hendrix decided to break into and rob a bookshop owned by an old man they called Doc. The technical aspects of this indie film were outstanding as led by director Treb Monteras II from a script by Njel de Mesa and Monteras himself.  Its intensity was driven by its powerful musical soundtrack (by Jay Oliver Durias) of pulsating beats and hardcore, graphic, curse-ridden rapping by lead stars Abra and Loonie. Veteran theater actor Dido de la Paz provides perfect contrast as Doc, an old man with poems of his own to write, and nightmares of his own to battle. 

6. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (My Full Review)

Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa were really the heart and soul of this Episode VIII. The new generation characters Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren are now fully invested in their stories. In this new film, all four of them got to have their own distinct individual threads to weave into the reinvigorated Star Wars fabric.Like how it was in the last film, there is a possibility that a major character or two may lose their lives, who may or may not be the ones you are expecting. These scenes were executed in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time -- so good! The action scenes were plentiful and amazing as expected, just the way fans love their airborne fighter battles and light saber duels. That final showdown on a field of white salt that turned scarlet when disturbed was such a spectacle of visual drama on that big screen. The humor was also there, usually care of the creatures and the robots as before.

(My Full Review)

From the get go, we immediately follow an amazing car chase sequence to the tune of "Bellbottoms" (by John Spencer Blues Explosion) that set the adrenaline-pumped pace for the whole film. All the car sounds and action melded perfectly with the rock beat of the song. Just as impressive was continuous tracking shot of Baby buying coffee to the tune of "Harlem Shuffle" (by Bob and Earl) that played over the opening credits. Music is a key element throughout the whole film, and the soundtrack from Baby's iPod collection was loud and dope, featuring acts as diverse as Beach Boys, T. Rex, Beck, Martha and the Vandellas, Barry White and Queen. Driving music was given a whole new dimension and because of the infectious beats led to carefully choreographed driving stunts and even gunfire and foot chases all in time with the rhythm. We are all taken in on its seemingly wild yet actually calculated ride. 

(My Full Review)

This is the musical Filipino film version of the classic Nick Joaquin play "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino" as translated by Rolando Tinio, and put into music by Ryan Cayabyab. As directed by Loy Arcenas, it was exciting to see Joanna Ampil and Rachel Alejandro attack the roles of Candida and Paula. These two are proven talents on the stage both as singers and actresses, and their screen performances were no less magnetic and soaring. Cayabyab's high diva notes were no problem for them to deliver, while keeping fully in character. Ampil was stern and pragmatic as Candida. Alejandro was the younger, more vulnerable Paula. The technical aspects of this film -- lush cinematography (with those tight closeups) by Boy Yniguez and meticulous period production design by Gino Gonzales -- definitely stand out and deserve award recognition.

(My Full Review)

Even with multiple stories going on, writer-director James Gunn made sure everybody gets their fair share of the action. In fact, for a while in the middle of the film, there was not much of Peter Quill himself even if the central story thread revolved around him, his father and the purpose expected of him. In the end, every thread of the story neatly got their satisfactory resolution and closure. Despite being more known as a comedy, those dramatic moments can also hit hard with emotion. This sequel brought back everything that made us love the first film -- the oddball personalities, the explosive action, the energetic group dynamics, the naughty and snappy humor, the summery soundtrack of throwback hits.There isn't really an element of novelty in Vol 2 anymore of course, but this second film matches the first in its verve, humor and heart, certainly not failing any of my expectations. 

(My Full Review)

While the main plot points and several scenes are very similar, this live action film is not exactly a scene-for-scene remake of the animated version. Old favorites like"Belle," "Be Our Guest," "Something There," and the title song are all still there for us to reminisce fondly about as they came alive. There are also new songs written by Alan Menken with lyrics by Tim Rice, best of which was a grand moving solo song for the Beast ("Evermore") to fully express his sincere love for Belle. This is not exactly a rated G film, as the sense of violence, danger and dread is magnified when using real actors and realistic computer-generated effects than animated drawings. Gaston's acts of violence are already known from the previous film, but these felt scarier in this live-action version. 

AND MY #1 MOVIE OF 2017 IS....

1. LOGAN (My Full Review)

Hugh Jackman gave what could be a rare Best Actor award-deserving performance of a superhero. We completely feel Logan's suffering and misery here, and Jackman, in all his gnarled, leathery and angsty best. He is not healing well anymore, so we see him broken, vulnerable and mortal. Patrick Stewart merits a Best Supporting Actor award here in a Shakespearean portrayal of Prof. X, reminiscent of King Lear and his decrepit senescent madness, a piteous wretched shell of his former self. 12-year old child actress Dafne Keen gives a disturbingly intense performance as Laura, with feral bloody fight scenes other kids her age cannot even watch.

Probably because this is already the last Wolverine film with Hugh Jackman, the director James Mangold really went all out in the action and fight scenes. We are finally shown in graphic detail the full extent of the damage what those adamantium claws can inflict on a hapless human body. From the very opening sequence with the car-jackers to the final encounter with the Reavers, heads and limbs were being chopped off, with blood and guts splattering around. This is the true uninhibited R-rated Wolverine as he was written in the comics, not the Rated PG we've seen in the considerably more child-friendly X-Men films. 


My Yearend Roundup 2016 is posted HERE
My Yearend Roundup 2015 is posted HERE.
My Yearend Roundup 2014 is posted HERE.
My Yearend Roundup 2013 is posted HERE
My Yearend Roundup 2012 is posted HERE

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