Sachin Hingoo is a freelance writer when he is not working at an office job that is purpose-built for paying the bills while he works as a freelance writer. His writing has appeared on Popshifter, Mcsweeneys.net, the CBC Street Level Blog, Ohmpage.ca, The Little Red Umbrella, and The Midnight Madness Blog for the Toronto International Film Festival. He has also been featured at Toronto lecture series Trampoline Hal and his mutant power is “feigning interest.”
In a year that was defined for many as full of dismay, disappointment, and outrage, picking faves was actually easier for me than I thought it would be. They were moments, big and small, across several mediums, that allowed me forget about the smoldering tire fire outside my window and on the other side of my screen, or maybe even gave me some hope that someone might, perhaps, throw a little water on that tire fire. Anyways, that’s 2017 for you.
A lot of mostly-digital ink has been spilled about the consistent underperformance of this year’s slate of summer blockbusters—Wonder Woman aside—but for me, the two strongest big-budget films of 2017 that did not include any space wizards were both built on the backbone of our closest genetic neighbours, the ape.
Okay, so this wasn’t technically a summer movie because it came out in March, but I think a bombastic film like Kong: Skull Island is very much a summer movie in spirit. Kong erased previous half-steps in the big-ass gorilla genre (sorry, Mighty Joe Young) with a story and setting that seemed directly influenced by both Jurassic Park and LOST, while distinguishing itself as something completely different. Not shying away from what the audience (namely, me) came to see, Kong is all over this thing in full hairy glory, as well as a bunch of other monsters for him to face off with, and all are appropriately staggering in scale and frightening as heck. There’s not only a ton to love here with great casting of non-ape stars like Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and John Goodman, but the ending of Skull Island is rife with possibilities for future films.
And then it was onto July for War of the Planet of the Apes. I am an unabashed ape-olgist when it comes to the original quintilogy of Apes flicks, but the “Caesar” trilogy of the last few years needs none of my unflinching boosterism, as they’re more than capable of standing on their own. Despite being completely CG, Andy Serkis imbues the Caesar character with more humanity than many for-reals actors manage to muster, and produces some of the most tender and affecting scenes onscreen this year. I know I said at the top of this piece that the picks on this list made me feel good about things, but I’m not ashamed to say that I wept like a fucking child at the end of War, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Wrestling Gets Weird
Pro wrestling doesn’t always do that well in terms of innovation, and too often can be found returning to bad stereotypes and formulaic stories as a backdrop to the in-ring action. The burgeoning scene outside of the monolith of WWE, though, has created an environment where both WWE and its smaller competitors have to work harder to innovate in order to capture or retain fans.
Case in point, my favourite wrestler of the : New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Hiromu Takahashi. Known as the “Time Bomb,” this gleeful agent of chaos joined up with the international Los Ingobernables stable and after a great feud with Back To The Future cosplayer and Tim Hortons fan, KUSHIDA, went on to spark up a bizarre program with Will Ospreay over whether or not Ospreay is a cat. Continuing the feline theme, Takahashi introduced us to his mascot Daryl, a stuffed cat from whom Takahashi was inseparable. To top it all off, Darryl was destroyed by the Underboss of the Bullet Club, a rival stable to Los Ingobernables, and was not only resurrected, but was married and had a child in the most unexpectedly enticing stories of the year.
Within the confines of WWE, there was a delicious weirdness at play with the introduction of The Fashion Files, which riffed hilariously on The X Files, Twin Peaks, Reservoir Dogs, Stranger Things, and Saw. It was, and still remains, unclear about where it was going with all this, but with both subtle and unsubtle references, callbacks, and whip-smart humour that is atypical for pro wrestling, I didn’t care at all. Tyler Breeze and Fandango’s straight-faced parodies were extremely my jam.
Like a demented Martha Stewart, At Home With Amy Sedaris’s straight-faced, completely off-the-rails take on homemaking lurched from one absurd situation to the next in a way that only the unique mind of Amy Sedaris could allow. Sedaris herself plays the series’ most memorable characters, like Southern battle-axe Patty Hogg, her indescribably weird daughter Nutmeg, and an off-kilter wine aficionado named Ronnie Vino while an eclectic mix of guest stars like Jim Carrey, Michael Stipe, Justin Theroux, and Paul Giamatti chew scenery in the background. Shows within the show like The Lady Who Lives In The Woods (a cable access-inspired “back to nature” crafting show with its own subplot about host Ruth and her passive-aggressive relationship with her partner Esther), and Crafting Corner give the show a sketch-comedy feel, but At Home feels, at every moment, like something unique.
It seems like every article like this has to have some obligatory hot take about The Last Jedi, so here’s mine: It was really, really fucking good, and was maybe the first Star Wars film that didn’t feel masturbatory over legacies and the Skywalker clan. Rian Johnson (one of my favourite directors since 2005’s Brick) isn’t afraid to break all of J.J. Abrams carefully built toys, in a lovely fuck-you to the wheezing “but myyy childhood!!!” shut-ins that you’ll find in the comment section of Last Jedi reviews. This film is also packed with unbelievably strong, focused, and heroic women that I can’t wait to introduce my kids to, in a few years. Leia, Holdo, Rey, and Rose are wonderful. Fuck you if you disagree, die mad, and happy holidays!