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Bryan has written 31 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2017.

  • The League of Gentlemen

    The League of Gentlemen

    ★★★★★

    If The Kingsmen were bank robbers you'd get The League of Gentlemen, a smart and very funny heist film with a cast full of terrific British b-actors led by Jack Hawkins. Nothing beats a clever script, and the movie feels like it's right on the cusp of the Mod 60s with its style and cynicism.

  • The Fall

    The Fall

    ★★★★★

    It's not just that The Fall is full of awe-inspiring visuals that would be the calling card of any filmmaker. The movie is front-loaded with eye candy and stunning locations from all over the world that make you wonder why you haven't seen these things before, but that's not what makes it great. What makes The Fall an incredible film is the palpable chemistry between star Lee Pace and what could be one of the cutest, most affecting child actors…

  • The Dresser

    The Dresser

    ★★★★★

    This is a wonderful actor's showcase, and Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay chew the scenery with the greatest of them. Despite taking place almost entirely in the backstage of a theatre, the film never feels too stagey or claustrophobic, and the story is truly touching.

  • Casino Royale

    Casino Royale

    ★★★★★

    This movie has everything you want from a Bond movie, and it's all done about as well as can be done; with stylish elegance, a convincing romance, a brutal edge, a believable villain, and one of the best action sequences in any Bond film. My only complaint is the title song is terrible.

  • Silence

    Silence

    ★★★★★

    A deeply passionate tale of faith and blind obedience where Scorsese masterfully emulates a classical Japanese filmmaking style (no doubt inspired by the 1971 original, which I haven't seen). There are some sticking points. It's hard to reconcile the Portuguese speaking perfect English, and you wish it was in its native language just to make it more authentic. Andrew Garfield is also a little hard to swallow. I like him as a quirky actor but he doesn't quite pull off…

  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    ★★★★★

    This movie feels so contemporary, and it's mostly due to the squalid authenticity that paves the way for the bleak "Wages of Fear" a few years later. Bogie surprisingly arcs from hero to villain (he's one of the few leading men at the time that could play villains) in one of his best roles, and even then he gets upstaged by Walter Huston. The only sore point is Max Steiner's bombastic score - which anchors the movie squarely in the…

  • The Man Who Would Be King

    The Man Who Would Be King

    ★★★★★

    Decades ago when I was exploring classic Hollywood epics, I was put off by "The Man Who Would Be King's" comedic approach (and most likely a lousy pan and scan VHS transfer) and never gave it much thought. Viewing it again, pristine and restored and widescreen, I was wrong to ignore it. It's certainly a comedy (or more accurately light-hearted adventure like "Gunga Din") but it's also a grand, epic tale about two highly motivated con artists. A terrific movie.…

  • World's Greatest Dad

    World's Greatest Dad

    ★★★★★

    The world's greatest dad, and the world's worst son, and the best high school movie I've seen since Election. Spy Kids' Daryl Sabara is 100% committed as an honestly nasty teenager. Robin Williams gives one of his best performances ever, and director Bobcat Goldthwait's script is daring and constantly emotionally awkward. The whole thing is pretty hilarious and sad at the same time. I'm figuring out that the best movies of the last decade are pretty much going unseen and unappreciated. What I don't understand is why there's no audience anymore for challenging films, and why marketing has so much power over a movie's fate.

  • A Trip to the Moon

    A Trip to the Moon

    ★★★★★

    Melies' early sci-fi fantasy has been restored with its original hand-tinted frames, which float around the image giving a psychedelic feel. The movie is pretty brilliant in its creativity and Jules Verne storybook imagery come to life, and seeing it after watching Hugo just made it all the more interesting. What's more stunning is Melies' total mastery of filmmaking, effects, and knack for entertainment. This is probably the oldest movie that the general populace will ever see aside from A Train Entering the Station.

  • King Kong

    King Kong

    ★★★★★

    It's just a masterpiece of action filmmaking, and the perfect pacing can't be matched even by today's more calculated films. There's never a dull moment, yet it never feels too rushed. It revels in the action and balances it with dread, wonder, and humor. Are the characters thin? Yes, but Kong is still one of the most delightfully fun movie monsters ever imagined, and there's a stunning amount of special effects shots. Some work better than others, but considering the technical challenges of making this film, none of it should be as nearly good as it is.

  • Titanic

    Titanic

    ★★★★★

    Everyone seems to hate Titanic for one reason or another. Usually it's because of the hokey romance, but sometimes for other minor details, like Celine Dion, which doesn't even register with me. I have my own quibbles about Leonardo's underdeveloped third class buddies and the hypocritical focus on upper class characters, but it doesn't really detract from what a grand piece of filmmaking this is.

    Cameron has figured out a way to counter all complainers (I've seen him do it…

  • Phantom of the Paradise

    Phantom of the Paradise

    ★★★★★

    DePalma revels in glam rock and grand guignol, making a potent if cartoony update of Phantom of the Opera that works, with good music too. And just when it starts to drag, Gerrit Graham steps in for some serious comic relief. A fun movie, although in some ways it's all downhill after the great opening number.