17 Things I Learned at the Movies in 2017

A year's worth of cine-educational lessons.
Rewind Learned

A year’s worth of cine-educational lessons.

Here are some things we learned at the movies in 2017.

1. Mustaches do not solve all problems.

I mustache you a question: how many movies with memorable facial hair have you seen this year? If your answer is zero, I have a follow up question: did you just not see any movies this year? Because there were mustaches everywhere.

Unfortunately, it often seemed to be there in an attempt to cover up more fundamental flaws. Like how Free Fire could have been an excellent short film and is instead a really thinly spread full-length one. Or how Murder on the Orient Express could have been decent if half as much attention was given to pacing as it was to styling Kenneth Branagh’s ‘stache. Or how Tom Holland looks approximately sixteen no matter what you do to his face.

But, that said, at least the mustaches were glorious (some of them, that is).

2. Not everything can be fixed in post.

Alternatively: while mustaches do not solve all problems, they can certainly cause them. If you have ever done any post-production work on any level, you have probably encountered the situation where someone on the production side of things has been confronted about doing their job wrong only to respond with a blasé, “we’ll fix it in post.”

It is worth noting that the person who says this is almost always not the person in question who will be doing this fixing in post. Now, many times this aggravating argument passes because the unsung heroes of post-production are damn good at their jobs and can pull off some serious wizardry.

But then there’s what happened with Henry Cavill’s mustache in the Justice League reshoots.

Dear lord.

3. People have a lot of feelings about John Denver.

 Question: What do Alien: Covenant, Logan Lucky, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle have in common?

 Answer: “Country roooaads, take me hooome… to the plaaace… I belooooooong!”

 (Denver’s music was also featured in Free Fire and Okja.)

4. Don’t eat the mushrooms.

DON’T DO IT! I know they seem like fun guys but they will fuck you up.

(Look, if you’re going to get on someone’s bad side, you should probably approach their cooking with more caution.)

5. If it has red hair it’s probably a Gleeson brother.

These two were everywhere in 2017. Individually, Domhnall showed up in American Made, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Crash Pad, and The Last Jedi, while Brian featured in Logan Lucky and Phantom Thread, and together they shared an explosive mother! cameo.

Considering Domhnall Gleeson was also in a whopping five major releases in 2015, you’ve got to wonder if this is just going to be a regular periodic thing now.

6. The Chris Wars continue.

So many thirty-something superhero-affiliated white Chrises, so little time. And while the battle still might be close enough that your dad has given up on trying to tell them apart, Chris Evans might have the overall edge in 2017. But he didn’t even have a big new movie this year, you might be thinking. To which I would say: exactly, and yet he still made a comparable cultural impact in 2017, which as far as I’m concerned makes it a win on his part. He’s spent 2017 more or less being actual Captain America (truth, justice, apple pie goodness, etc.) on social media and his appearance in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer—specifically, his majestically rugged beard—broke Twitter a little. And kinda sorta maybe made me rethink my attitude towards the fuller bearded look as a whole, but I digress.

Anyway, with his fantastic turn as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, Chris Pine confirmed himself as best supporting Chris. Chris Hemsworth also deserves an honorable mention for having a great year.

Chris Pratt is another Chris who exists.

7. George Clooney needs to stop (directing).

I want to like George Clooney. His first few directorial attempts showed promise, but unfortunately then came the others. At this point, it really seems like less of a blip and more of a decided downward trend. If he doesn’t want to go back to acting, that’s fine. He can just be Amal Clooney’s stay-at-home dad trophy husband.

I mean come on, that’s not a bad deal.

8. Caleb Landry Jones can actually clean up pretty well when he’s not playing the literal worst sort of person.

Jones has mastered the art of playing human garbage (see: Get OutAmerican Made). In fact, I had gotten quite so used to seeing him rocking the slimy, serial offender aesthetic that I forgot he was also capable of pulling off a sort of awkward charm. Go, versatility.

9. There are a lot of scary good child actors out there.

From Logan to IT to The Florida Project, 2017 was full of breakout performances from pint-sized stars.

10. Mother-daughter drama plays my heartstrings like a violin.

When it comes to movies, I generally have a stone cold lizard heart. I made it through my entire childhood without crying at a Disney movie. I laughed through The Notebook.  Manchester By The Sea left me singularly unmoved. But 2017 brought its mother-daughter drama a-game, and my heart of “steel” was not prepared. No less than three films about mothers and daughters—Lady BirdPatti Cake$, and The Florida Project—left me sniffling this year. I mean we’re not talking full-scale sobbing here, but three lone tears of sadness in a single movie year is still a personal record for me.

11. Nobody really cares about Charlie Hunnam.

Lost City of Z, got generally decent reviews, and the other King Arthur: Legend of the Sword received pretty bad ones. Neither one managed to make back its budget at the box office.

But should we really be surprised though? His surname is practically “hmm,” as in, “hmm, I suppose that was okay.”

12. Or Dane Dehaan, for that matter.

DehaANG, I really thought he showed more potential than this in Chronicle.

He did some all right indie work following his 2012 breakout role, but then came 2017—A Cure For Wellness, Tulip Fever, and Valerian and the City of… zzzzzzz. Just wake me up when it’s over.

13. If you watch The Killing of a Sacred Deer before Dunkirk Barry Keoghan’s plot line does not work.

How you are supposed to feel: Oh no, not George! Not the sweet, innocent schoolboy who just wants to do the right thing!
Instead: YES! Cillian Murphy took out the demon spawn!

14. Cats = monster food

The only fictional narrative I saw on a screen this year featuring a cat in which the cat survives is IT. I’m not even kidding. IT features not one, but two severely traumatized felines, and yet it’s still one of 2017’s most cat-friendly narratives.

15. My fellow women: some male auteurs would like you to know that they really understand they are extremely difficult to live with.

Between mother! and Phantom Thread (and arguably A Ghost Story), 2017 was the year when big male artistes made films about the trials and tribulations of having to live with a big male artiste.

Thanks for the warning, I guess.

16. Matt Damon should not do social commentary.

Between Suburbicon, Downsizing, and real life, 2017 has made it perfectly clear that social commentary is not Damon’s forte. Might I suggest we make a thematic return to the 2014-2015 “lost in space” era?

Thor cameos are also acceptable.

17. When it comes to film scoring, make it electronic.

Step aside, gigantic orchestra. Though there is still room for Hans Zimmer and his strings and ticking clocks, the synthesizer was the star of 2017 film scoring scene, from Good Time to Thor: Ragnarok to Blade Runner 2049.


Ciara Wardlow: Ciara Wardlow is a human being who writes about movies and other things. Sometimes she tries to be funny on Twitter.