The time has come to go through the list of movies I feel most surprised me this year, so far, whether that’s because they surpass my expectations, they “come out of nowhere” and happen to be a good movie, or if they over-perform in the box office.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The third biggest surprise of the year is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. While each previous Pirates movie have gotten successively worse, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides being a near outright terrible movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales actually swings back in the proper direction and is an overall enjoyable movie. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is still a CGI-fest (meaning it relies heavily on very noticeable CGI), especially near the end, but it does give me what I feel are better written characters when compared with what was written in the previous two Pirates movies. The story is even more compelling than the last two, far surpassing my expectations for it.
2. Wind River
My 2nd biggest surprise of the year is the movie Wind River. This is a movie I literally hadn’t heard of until exactly one day before I went to see when a friend asked me if I knew anything about the movie. I said I hadn’t seen it, but would have to go watch it sometime. The next day, I had free time, so I went to see it.
Wind River’s subject matter, cinematography, story, and characters were all hard hitting and surprisingly great. There are also scenes that are challenging to watch at times because of a piece of subject matter, but in a good way. Wind River is a great movie that, while it didn’t get a lot of publicity, it deserves to be nominated for at least a couple of Academy Awards come next Oscar season.’
1. Wonder Woman
The biggest surprise of 2017 so far is the movie, Wonder Woman. Going into the movie, I didn’t expect Wonder Woman to be a good or even perform well in the box office after the failures of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, both of which got me very excited and then let me down big time.
Where both of those movies fail, Wonder Woman succeeds. It has a great story and good characters, making for an enjoyable film. It is even the highest grossing movie, domestically, of the summer. Wonder Woman is also the highest grossing female-led movie of all time. So, while I went in apprehensive of the film, I came out smiling, even though it kind of starts to fall apart in the last act.
The first honorable mention is a movie that I knew about but didn’t care so much as to if I did see it or not and has proven to be a movie that will definitely be on my top 10 movies of 2017 somewhere near the top. That movie is Baby Driver. Baby Driver is full of compelling characters, a good storyline, a great soundtrack, and great cinematography and pacing. I expected it to be a somewhat run of the mill movie, but it turned out to be great on all fronts.
The second honorable mention is the movie, Split, which is from director M. Night Shyamalan. It is a fabulous movie that takes different twists and turns and plays with your brain, causing you to think about what you just saw and try to process it to figure out what will happen next, which you inevitably won’t guess fully. Split is M. Night Shyamalan’s official return to being thought of as a great director after 2015’s The Visit, which was thought of as Shyamalan showing us he’s returned to his roots of filmmaking, with glimpses of brilliance not seen since early in his career with the movies The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.
Review by Austin Clemen & Caelan Markstrom