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The best of 2017



Lists are the worst. They're super handy for anyone like me who basically starts each day with a blank page and can barely remember what happened last week let alone what stuff I need from the grocery store, or a weekend's worth of chores (and forget about anyone's name if I met them after 1999).

But still, lists are the worst because more often than not they contain a number of things you should do/watch/fix/whatever... but you know you likely never will. And even if do you check all the boxes on your list, it will just get longer, so you may as well give up before you start.

Lists are basically the evil half of our personality screwing around with the lawful, productive side. "Here, do this and this and this, worry about all these things, stress about all the stuff you haven't done yet ... Keep your anxiety organized so it's easier to track your failures..."

And so on. But it's the end of the year and everyone seems to be making lists (hint: it's because the North American mass media wants to take extra time off for the holidays so everyone files their list-y "content" a couple weeks in advance.)

So here's a list, but fear not. I'll make it a shitty one, just two things. Worst list ever.

Best Glimpse of the Future: Okja

Remember when Netflix started back in the day and you would get DVDs in the mail, three at a time? They still do that (and have over 4 million subscribers), but in 2017 everyone's favourite (and most frustrating) streaming service elevated its original-feature game substantially. Netflix has been awesome at documentaries and TV series for a while, but when Brad Pitt's new movie War Machine premiered on Netflix this year, it marked a noticeable shift. When one of Hollywood's biggest stars is dropping his newest shit on a streaming service, you know the times are changing. (Then Angelina released her directorial debut on Netflix a few months later. Cue the nervous looks in Hollywood.)

But Netflix's true hit this year was Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho's Okja, the story of a young girl and her giant, genetically engineered super-pig creature. Starring a mixed cast of Korean and American actors (with Tilda Swinton as the deranged, monopolistic corporate villain!), Okja is a funny, heartwarming adventure that's one of the best films of the year. It premiered on Netflix and when Okja was in competition for the top prize at Cannes, some Hollywood pot-stirrers booed it.

Hollywood's least favourite vision of the future is the one where top-quality movies premiere on online streaming platforms. This cuts out a whole lot of middle men (distributors, theatre chains, etc.) and siphons a shitload of money out of a 100-year-old financial model. Don't even get me started on how people are feeling in the popcorn machine industry right now...

Best/Worst News: Disney buys Fox

Disney owns everything — Marvel, Pixar, all the Star Wars flicks, 10 per cent of Viceland (?!), Goofy, Pluto, and much more — so when they purchased almost all of Fox's assets for upwards of $50 billion this year, the Mouse just got a much bigger house.

Before this merger, there were six major studios in Hollywood, six OGs who have all been around for 50 to 100 years. Two of them just merged. A look at the last $100 million of box office revenue reveals Disney and Fox combined for almost half of it. Then there's all the Disney-Fox cable TV channels to consider, and controlling interest in online portal Hulu. Two companies that used to have huge power over what kind of entertainment gets made and distributed have now merged into one even huger company.

Disney is for kids. Fox made a lot of crap, but they also put out some decent, very non-Disney movies, Logan or Deadpool spring to mind. Deadpool will be OK because it makes a ton of cash and the sequel is already shot, but how confident are you Disney will continue making smaller, grittier, R-rated flicks like Logan or the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro epic, The Shape of Water? Disney also recently banned LA Times journalists from a premiere because they didn't like something written about them. Is giving that big of a bully even more power ever a good thing?

The good news is, Disney now owns 60 per cent of Hulu and just added all of Fox's titles to its already massive library of good films. This means the online streaming universe is likely about to get a lot more competitive, which is usually good for the consumer. Time will tell.

And we're out of space. Happy New Year, movie freaks, I appreciate that you spend your time here in the "Back Row." (I'll probably do another list next week though.)


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