2nd Annual REELmoviesmatter.com Achievement in Film Awards

It’s already that time of the year again!  It seems just like yesterday we were congratulating La La Land…I mean Moonlight (okay, that was the final 2017 Oscar joke) for winning Best Picture – a well-deserved accomplishment.  In all seriousness, both of those films set the bar high for the year to come.  Unfortunately, in this critic’s humble opinion, I don’t think any movies met that bar this past year.  Like anything else, Hollywood has cycles of greatness and periods of mediocrity.  To me, 2017 fell more into the “mediocre” category.  There were some flashes, but overall, I think this past year brought us some overrated films that may not age well, and a lot of disappointments.  With that said, it wasn’t all blah.  Let’s celebrate some of the best this year had to offer, with our 2nd Annual REELmoviesmatter.com Achievement in Film Awards.


  1. Mudbound
  2. Logan
  3. The Big Sick
  4. Good Time
  5. It Comes At Night

For the record, Molly’s Game came close to making my list, but three of these five movies were the best their respective genres have had to offer in quite a while.  Logan somehow masterfully blended an iconic comic character’s story into an action-packed, yet drama injected tearjerker.  It was arguably the best, most complete “superhero” film since The Dark Knight.

As a comedy, the fact that The Big Sick has been mentioned by many, including myself, as one of the best films of the year speaks volumes.  Comedies are normally set aside to enjoy and get our mind off reality, but The Big Sick successfully achieved that while throwing a sad, harsh reality of a heartbreak in life in our face – teaching the audience a very real and valuable life lesson about true love and overcoming the impossible.

It Comes At Night was truly chilling and succeeded in the execution of striking fear into your heart without you even knowing what it is that you’re actually afraid of.

Good Time is simply one of the best films that nobody saw this year, unfortunately.

But the most underrated, and perhaps the best, film of the year in general was Mudbound.  This Netflix original may have cost itself achieving higher Oscar praise as a result of being on a streaming site for the most part, instead of being a full theater release, but it is incredible and certainly built for the big screen.  As a result, I am giving it big praise.


  1. Get Out
  2. Dunkirk
  3. Call Me By Your Name
  4. The Beguiled
  5. All Eyez on Me     

All Eyez on Me was probably the most disappointing movie of the year for me.  It was featured pretty high on my list of films to look for in 2017, but my fear at the time was having Benny Boom, a music video director, take on such a big film.  My fear came to fruition.  The movie failed to be better, or even as good, as Straight Outta Compton, which admittedly may have been a bar set too high for this film.

Call Me By Your Name is basically Brokeback Mountain by the beach in a lot of ways, and not as good.

The Beguiled should be sold with a supplemental bottle of NyQuil, since it’s such a snooze fest.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky and controversial.

Dunkirk is a good film…it’s a really good film.  However, for being hyped up for a year prior to its release, and being a product of a genius in Christopher Nolan, it didn’t meet my expectations.  Nolan by far is my favorite director right now in the game.  With that said, Dunkirk may not even crack his own personal top three best works (I’d rank The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and maybe even Memento higher).  It definitely doesn’t crack the top three films of the year.  I know my logic may be complex, but in a weird way, Dunkirk was one of the better films of this year, but mainly because of the lull in competition.  So we have a rare case of a movie being one of the best of the year, but also one of the most overrated in the bigger scheme overall.  In fact, even rarer, I’d say we had two of those films this past year with Get Out being the other.

Get Out was a brilliant piece of writing by Jordan Peele.  So much so, that when I first saw it, despite being in the “horror” genre, I thought it should get acclamation for best original screenplay.  As a black man myself, I thought the subliminal message of racial classification and injustice blended into a scary tale was so original and so deep.  But all of a sudden, we are putting it in the best picture category?  Daniel Kaluuya is a best actor candidate?  Really?  It was good, but not THAT good.  The fact that Get Out, a film just intended to be a horror film with a social message and some sporadic comedy mixed in, is nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, shows you how weak this past year really was at the movies.


  1. Mudbound
  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  3. The Big Sick
  4. The Shape of Water
  5. The Post

Mary J. Blige scored an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mudbound, but she didn’t even have the best performance of the film.  The depth of the acting made the success of this movie that much more powerful and profound.


  1. Detroit
  2. Mudbound
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I don’t know if any film ever made me angrier than Detroit.  The blatant injustice in this true story will make you sick to your stomach and ready to punch a hole through a wall.  The fact that the story takes place 51 years ago, yet we still are having the same issues in America today, also make it one of the scariest films of the year.


  1. Get Out
  2. Raw
  3. The Shape of Water

Like I said, Get Out, though overrated, is still a very good film.  There is no denying the genius of its originality.  All of these three films are metaphors for bigger social issues.  Get Out intensely uses its plot and subsequent twists to uniquely bring to light an abstract divide in America through the eyes of many minorities – specifically African-Americans in this instance, who deal with stereotypes and covert racism on a regular basis.

Raw is a story of a young girl trying to branch out and find herself and what she thirsts for in life – told metaphorically through the eyes of a converted cannibal who thirsts for blood and yearns for flesh.

The Shape of Water, as director Guillermo del Toro best explained at the Golden Globes, is really a story about outcasts who are just trying to fit in and find their place in the world.  Despite del Toro’s movie finding its place on the list, Get Out still prevails in this category.



I heard early on that Logan was getting high acclamation from critics upon seeing it during early releases and festivals.  I, nor many others, envisioned it would be this good.  Logan is easily one of the best films ever ripped from the comic strips and put on the big screen.



A cute tale of a young musician finding out more about his ancestry through music, despite being in a music-deprived family provided a fun, wholesome message for both youngsters and their parents alike.


Transformers: The Last Knight

Although Colossal described its level of failure in its own title, I couldn’t get over how disappointing and awful Transformers: The Last Knight was.  As a fan of the series, if that’s the best they can do at this point, then I think it’s time to fold up the tent and head back to Cybertron.  The Decepticons may not have been successful at destroying Earth, but they definitely destroyed two and a half hours of the audience’s brain cells.  Two. And. A. Half. Hours.


  1. “This is Me” – The Greatest Showman

Not a strong year for this category at all, so it’s only right that a live-action musical’s feature song should win this award.


  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Good Time
  3. Dunkirk
  4. Wonder Woman
  5. Darkest Hour

The legendary Hans Zimmer’s theme for Wonder Woman is perfect and definitely will get you hyped up to take on the world.  Likewise, his dark score for Dunkirk heightens your senses and magnifies the dark uncertainty of the characters on screen.

I love the electronic sounds provided throughout Good Time, which adds to the fun you have while watching it, but Alexandre Desplat’s score for The Shape of Water is beautiful.  It perfectly echoes throughout the film and sticks to your ears, just as the monster sticks to your eyes.


  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Kong: Skull Island
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Both the original Blade Runner, as well as its sequel 25 years later, are extremely appealing to the eye.  It’s a work of art, perfectly blending special effects with remarkable cinematography.  It is truly stunning.


  1. Dunkirk
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

You definitely have to watch Dunkirk with your speakers and/or surround sound all the way up, so you can feel like you’re right there alongside the soldiers in battle.  The depth of sound in the movie is a true accomplishment.


  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Dunkirk
  3. Mudbound
  4. Darkest Hour
  5. The Shape of Water

This the only category I have that matches exactly with the Oscars (not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing).  As beautifully shot as Dunkirk is, Blade Runner slightly gets the edge here in the closest race of all the categories.


  1. Mudbound
  2. Molly’s Game
  3. Logan

Molly’s Game is a mind-blowing story that would sound so far-fetched if it wasn’t true.  I felt like I was watching the Goodfellas of poker movies.  However, Mudbound’s powerful script and seamless transition to the screen from the book is special and captivating.


  1. Get Out
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. The Big Sick
  5. Roman J. Israel, Esq.

As a comedy, it’s a win in itself for The Big Sick to be nominated in this category.  Also a win in itself is the fact that a movie about a mute woman falling in love with a sea creature discovered and hidden by the government would be nominated for anything, let alone a screenplay award.  Kudos to Guillermo del Toro for that.  The main reason for the success of The Shape of Water is its luminous script.  But the same can be said about Get Out, too.  In fact, I’d argue even more so.


  1. Allison Janney – I, Tonya
  2. Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
  3. Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
  4. Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
  5. Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Obviously, all of these women did an amazing job.  I’ve been a fan of Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf for a long time, so I am happy they are getting much deserved recognition for their talents this year.  I am giving the edge to Janney here.  She seems to be the favorite throughout this awards season as well.


  1. Jason Mitchell – Mudbound
  2. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  3. Michael Shannon – The Shape of Water
  4. Garrett Hedlund – Mudbound
  5. Ray Romano – The Big Sick

Romano’s perfect blend of wit, humor and sincerity was outstanding and pure in his role in The Big Sick.

I think a lot of outlets nominated the wrong person in this category for The Shape of Water.  Shannon should’ve been nominated over Richard Jenkins for this film.  As always, all he does is steal scenes and ultimately steals the show in every film he is in.

But the bottom line is that Jason Mitchell is superb in Mudbound.  He is superb in “The Chi” on Showtime, and he was superb as Easy E in Straight Outta Compton.  He has the “it.”  I think he should be in the Best Actor category, but since most publications list him as a supporting actor, I won’t rock the boat.  I know Sam Rockwell has been cleaning up this category at several award shows this season, and understandably so, but Mitchell was totally slept on in the category by those same outlets.  Hedlund, his partner in Mudbound, is phenomenal as well.


  1. Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Nicole Kidman – The Beguiled
  3. Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
  4. Meryl Streep – The Post
  5. Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game

McDormand has rightfully been the favorite in this category throughout the awards season, and takes the top spot here as well.  Despite a breakout performance by Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, and Nicole Kidman being the long bright spot in an otherwise dull film (and Streep and Chastain both just doing what they always do), McDormand wins this award in the biggest runaway of the year.


  1. Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
  2. James McAvoy – Split
  3. Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
  4. Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq.
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger

Anyone who says “Denzel plays the same character all the time” either doesn’t watch a lot of his movies or is clueless.  Every one of his roles has a different depth to the character.  As Roman J. Israel, he plays a struggling lawyer who is borderline autistic – pretty sure that’s original for him…and he was excellent.

If anyone should be getting an Oscar nomination from a “horror” film that came out early in the year, it should be James McAvoy instead of Daniel Kaluuya.  Again, not to say Kaluuya wasn’t good, but McAvoy was spellbinding in Split as a deranged man with not one, not two, but 23 different personalities!  He acts differently as each throughout the movie, too!  I can’t imagine how difficult that is for an actor, but it definitely didn’t go unnoticed here.

Unfortunately though for McAvoy, Gary Oldman literally transitioned into Winston Churchill.  At times, you forget you are watching acting, let alone Gary Oldman.  Brilliantly done!


  1. Dee Rees – Mudbound
  2. Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
  3. Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
  4. Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  5. Kathryn Bigelow – Detroit

What Dee Rees did with Mudbound was incredible.  The script, cinematography, acting and direction were exceptional.  Shame on those who missed the boat here and had her come up just short on landing a nomination in this category for various circuits.  Nolan is my guy, and don’t get me wrong, del Toro made a very unique, special film as well, and will probably win the Oscar – but I have to follow my heart and go with Rees.


  1. Mudbound
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Logan
  5. The Big Sick
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Darkest Hour
  8. It Comes at Night
  9. Good Time
  10. Detroit

My nominees here are drastically different from those the Oscars selected this year.  In fact, they are drastically different as a whole from several circuits this awards season.  As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t think this was a strong year overall for films.  Consequently, opinions can be very widespread.  Detroit will tug at your heart and conscience, and features a story that needed to be told.  Good Time is a fun, but deep story that is refreshing, yet sad at the same time.  Please check it out.  It Comes at Night is a scary film unlike anything before it.  Darkest Hour is a great biopic that featured the total physical transformation of its star to play its focal character.  Dunkirk is very good, but, I’m sorry, it’s still not Nolan’s best.  The Big Sick did something incredibly tough to do, which is make a comedy with true, human substance and deliver a powerful message at the same time.  It may have been the best pure “human piece/relationship” film of the year.  Logan is, for my money, the second-best comic hero film of all-time behind The Dark KnightThree Billboards is a deep story with an incredible cast of actors that all deliver perhaps the performances of their respective careers.  The Shape of Water is a triumph and hell of a metaphorical tale that, fortunately for del Toro, most people gravitated to and understood.

But the cream of the crop this year in my eyes was Mudbound.  A movie that you don’t even need to get dressed, leave your house and spend money to go see!  It gives you a vivid picture of life post-WWII in the South for both whites and blacks, and finds a way to show us how the same thing that brings us together and the same cause our soldiers fight for, can be the same thing that rifts our nation apart.  It shows us how the same freedoms we have weren’t, and aren’t, free for all of us.  Here’s to hoping that a great film like Mudbound can bring people from both sides together and unite us all.