I hate to admit it, but I often do form an impression of a film before I even see it because I am not a cold and unfeeling robot. Often the cast, director, and trailer communicate a lot about a film and what direction it may take and what it will look like when we see it. It’s also really fun to speculate about the results that we’ll get. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to forecast whether a movie will be good, but sometimes we get things wrong.
Some of these are movies where we were wrong about our predictions and others are ones where we felt that the popular opinion is so far out of balance with our own assessment of a movie that we know that a minority of people would find our review helpful.
This year I’d like to take the time to own up to the things I was wrong about in 2017:
Given the director as well as the actors working on Dunkirk it was always safe to say that it would be pretty good. Where we were wrong was about how good this film could be. After years of World War II movies that were far more interested in aspects such as the spectacle or the performances of a few actors, it felt like Dunkirk was likely to be a traditional wartime drama. Christopher Nolan blew away every expectation when he delivered an experience that dissolves the border between the film and the audience while keeping your heart pumping the entire time.
9. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
While it may be impossible to predict when lightning will strike twice, you can make some fairly safe predictions when the environmental conditions are right. The graphic novels and comics built around the adventures of Valerian were the inspiration for Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, an all-time favorite action/adventure sci-fi film. Luc Besson returned last year with the rights to directly translate the original Valerian property into its own film with a playful and creative visual direction. Unfortunately, the final product was poorly paced and built around a plot that undermined the core themes of the setting, all of which were delivered with sub-par performances from the lead actors.
8. The Darkest Hour
Sometimes disappoint may be subtle. It was hard not to be excited about seeing Gary Oldman vanish into the role of Winston Churchill, and while The Darkest Hour delivered on this promise, it failed to build a compelling narrative around it. Slowed down with exposition, and unable to construct a sense of suspense around the choices that Churchill was forced to make, The Darkest Hour simply left us feeling meh, even if it did solidify Gary Oldman as one of the greatest actors of our time.
7. The Dark Tower
With The Dark Tower it feels like we were wrong twice over. First off, it didn’t seem possible to make a coherent film out of such an unusual property. The Gunslinger is a strange and otherworldly journey that follows a sense of dream logic and builds a unique mythology from the entire fictional world of the works of Stephen King. This was a daunting task that didn’t feel possible, and somehow what we got was a coherent and reasonably fun action flick with a little bit of that otherworldly flavor. We also were wrong in liking this one, apparently. The Dark Tower was famously panned by critics with a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, making our outlet an outlier of the popular consensus for this one.
We didn’t publish our review on Downsizing, but we thought it was a quirky and thought-provoking science fiction. Ultimately, it looks like we’re the outliers on this one as Downsizing sits at a Rotten Tomatoes score of 51% with few defenders championing its virtue. We stand by how we feel about the movie, but it’s impossible to dismiss that audiences found the plot lacking and the romantic interest alienating and uncomfortable with little solace to be found in the downplayed effects of a miniaturized world.
5. Get Out
We didn’t watch this one till 2018. It slipped under the radar, and no one writing for this outlet watched it throughout all of 2017 and even though we suspected and expected it to be really good, and it is, we were just flat out wrong to have not watched it till almost a year after it came out.
4. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
This one looked fun. It really was about as boring as you can imagine, but without being specifically bad. Not much more to say about that.
After Pixar has knocked it out of the park on everything they’ve ever done, you get kind of numb to their releases. You get to the point where you’re expecting a movie that’s fine, really good even, but it blows you away when it turns out to hit all the emotional notes to pull your heartstrings. We weren’t specifically “wrong” about this one, but all the same, it was an incredibly beautiful surprise despite low expectations (for a Pixar movie).
After 2012’s 21 Jump Street, we were hyped for more 90’s TV dramas to receive a comedy makeover. Unfortunately Baywatch was convoluted and its raunch comedy feels dated for 2017, despite needing to be a self-aware mock remake.
1. Wonder Woman
Nothing feels better than finding out that a movie you were dreading the arrival of turned out to be one of the best movies in the genre. That’s why Wonder Woman is our number one pick for movies we were wrong about. This is the best way to be wrong, and the best kind of happy surprise.
With movies based on DC comic characters on a losing streak, Wonder Woman was following on the heels of Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad with every indication that it would suffer from the same massive structural and thematic problems of its predecessors. However, director Patty Jenkins managed to put together a film that eschewed all of the problems that had been plaguing the DC extended universe (DCEU) and telling a compelling story that was built about what makes Wonder Woman so special as a character.