In a time when everything seems so wrong, a few movies stood out that felt so right. They had their corny moments, a couple of teeth-gnashing ones, and sometimes you got the feeling that the filmmakers were really overdoing it in the sympathy sweepstakes.

The label “best” may be loosely interpreted here, but – even though a quantum shift in my scope of work meant that I missed a great number of films this year – these are the ones that made the biggest impression on me.

The five best (in no particular order): Hacksaw Ridge, Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Logan, Brawl In Cell Block 99.

The next five (ditto): Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For The Planet Of The Apes.

Special mention: Split, It, Hidden Figures, Get Out

No summary of the above, because I need the space for these special mentions.

The staring contest is going nowhere fast.

Most Dazzling Visuals: Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. OK, the story may have left more than a few people scratching their heads, but those gorgeous visuals and the sheer imagination behind the design and concepts – like, wow.

‘You can place the mirror right here.’

Most Single-Minded Character: That would be Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn), the antihero of Brawl In Cell Block 99, who had one thing on his mind – protect his wife and unborn child – and descended into hell to get it done. A 1970s-type grindhouse exploitation flick, sure, but as Variety put it, “exploitation made with vicious sincerity”.

Transformers: The Last Knight

After starring in all of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, Optimus Prime is losing his uhh… optimism.

Worst Continuity: Transformers: The Last Knight – Ooh! Optimus Prime rockets into orbit to fight the giant space broccoli (to borrow my colleague Michael Cheang’s term for … whatever that thing was)! A huge battle breaks out between Decepticons and humans around Stonehenge! Look! Here’s a little girl who says she just ran into Optimus (duh, in mid-air?), who is running after her like some giant lapdog-truck (laptruck?). And she’s running towards Stonehenge, which shows almost no signs of the pitched battle that broke out about … two minutes ago? But Bay, it’s hey.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

What a futile exercise this is. Hopefully, he got to burn some calories all the same.

What In The Blue Hell Did I Just Watch?: King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword – When did ancient Britain become Middle-earth, with Olyphants … wait, that’s not right. Sorry, Timothy. Anyway, so Guy Ritchie figured it was all right to throw Oliphaunts, Lovecraftian creatures and a Big Bad torn straight out of a Frank Frazetta painting (Death Dealer, if you want specifics) into a movie about King Arthur. And give us next to nothing about the legend of the sword Excalibur. And turn Arthur-King and his K-niggets into a motley crew of malcontents, cutpurses and pimps. And somehow make it almost as much fun as Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Yes, I did enjoy this more than a movie reviewer has a right to. Maybe ‘cos it was my day off.


Alien: Covenant

The good thing is, in space, no one can see how dumb Christopher Oram is.

Stupidest. Movie. Character. Ever.: That would be Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), who found himself having to be captain of the Covenant after James Franco realised he was only going to be in Alien: Covenant for two minutes. To think our pal Oram used to be a “nucular” scientist in another incarnation. The following (paraphrased) exchange kind of sums up Oram’s idiocy.

Oram: Hands up, you synthetic person of questionable intentions, who just communed psychically with an alien beast that ripped one of my crew members in half, and which I just shot to pieces.

Evil Synthetic Person: Hey, before you shoot me, wanna see something cool?

Oram (following ESP down a creepy staircase into a dark basement): Show me the money!

ESP (gesturing at alien egg): Take a gander at that, why doncha?

Oram (looking at egg, which opens up to reveal a pulsating Facehugger coiled within): What, this? It doesn’t look that cool.

ESP: Look closer.

Oram (leans closer obligingly) (twice): … Ack!

Not that he didn’t have competition – there was that other guy in the same movie who (continuing the inherent, genetic stupidity of characters in this Prometheus story arc) stooped to sniff at a weird space mangosteen without at least putting on a face mask. But since Oram doomed not only himself but his entire crew and all those poor sleeping colonists with his dodgy decisions, he gets the glory.

Editor’s pick

Happy Death Day

Here’s looking at you kid… now turn around.

Happy Death Day was made for US$4.8mil (RM19.6mil). That’s a paltry sum in Hollywood by comparison. But the small-time horror flick not only opened at No. 1 in the US but made US$114mil! Talk about making a killing. A fan of horror – but too chicken to watch them these days – I made it a point to go for this based on the hilarious trailer.

Good call. It is like Groundhog Day … with more blood. Though it is not like your typical slasher flick – basically, the killer is only interested to kill one person – and the day gets relived over and over again, the movie chugs on smoothly as the protagonist finds a way to get “unkilled” and get redemption along the way. – Gordon Kho