2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017!


I wish I had read more in 2017.  I really dropped the ball last year but I’m going to make up for it this year!

With all that in mind, here are my 12 favorite novels of 2017!

  1. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  2. Magpie Murders: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz
  3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  5. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
  6. Final Girls by Riley Sager
  7. Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
  8. Wait For It by Mariana Zapata
  9. The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre
  10. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  11. The Grip of it By Jac Jemc
  12. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My look back at 2017 will conclude next week.  On Monday, I’ll post my picks for the best non-fiction books of 2017.  On Wednesday, I’ll post my picks for the best of 2017 Lifetime.  And then, on Friday, my picks for the best 26 films of 2017!

(My apologies for dragging things out but I do need the extra time so I can catch up on a few films that I missed in 2017.)

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017

Shattered Politics #87: The Ghost Writer (dir by Roman Polanski)


GhostwriterlargeIn the 2010 film The Ghost Writer, Ewan McGregor plays a character known as the Ghost. We never actually learn the name of his character and that’s perhaps appropriate.  The Ghost has made his living by being anonymous.  He’s a ghost writer.  He’s the guy who is hired to help inarticulate and occasionally illiterate celebrities write best-selling biographies.

The Ghost has been given a new assignment.  He is to ghost write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan).  Despite the fact that Adam is one of the most famous men in the world, the Ghost is not initially enthusiastic about working with him.

First off, there’s the fact that Adam and his wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), are currently hiding out in America because America is one of the few countries that will not extradite him to be prosecuted for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.  It seems that Adam (much like Tony Blair) is a controversial figure because of some of the actions he may have authorized as a part of the war on terror.  Not only does the Ghost have political objections to working with Adam but he has to leave his London home and go to Massachusetts in order to do so.

Secondly, there’s the fact that, once the Ghost arrives in America, he discovers that — for such a controversial figure — Adam is actually rather boring and seems to have very little knowledge about anything that he did while he was prime minister.  Instead, he seems to be more interested in spending time with his mistress (Kim Cattrall, giving the film’s one bad performance).  Ruth seems to be the political (and smart) one in the marriage.

And finally, there’s the fact that the Ghost is actually the second writer to have worked with Adam.  The previous writer mysteriously drowned.  While that death was ruled to be an accident, the Ghost comes to suspect that it was murder and that the motive is hidden in the first writer’s manuscript…

The Ghost Writer is a favorite of mine, a smart and witty political thriller that features great performances from Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams, and Pierce Brosnan.  Brosnan especially seems to be having a lot of fun sending up his dashing, James Bond image.  Roman Polanski directs at a fast pace and maintains a perfect atmosphere of growing paranoia throughout the entire film. In the end, The Ghost Writer proudly continues the tradition of such superior paranoia films as The Conversation, Three Days of the Condor, and the Parallax View.

Incidentally, I have a theory that Adam Lang was also the unseen Prime Minister who was featured in Into the Loop.  Watching The Ghost Writer, it’s hard not to feel that Adam really feel apart without Malcolm around to help him out.

 

The L.A. Film Critics Have Spoken


A whole lot of critics’ groups announced their picks for the best films and performances of the year today and the New York Film Critics are voting as I type.  I’m on lunch from work right now so a full list will have to wait until later tonight.  For now, I’m just going to share the choices made by the Los Angeles Film Critics.  The L.A. Critics are one of the big three as far as critics groups are concerned. 

As I’ve said before, I think professional film critics are overrated but I just love awards.  And, of course, all of these December awards tend to serve as a precursor for who and what will receive Oscar nominations next year.  At their best, these groups can remind Academy voters of films and performances that they might otherwise overlook.  Certainly, if Jacki Weaver receives a deserved nomination for Animal Kingdom, it’ll be largely due to organizations like the National Board of Review and the L.A. Film Critics.

Anyway, since my time is limited, I’m going to simply post the winners and then add a few comments on my own.

PICTURE:

  • “The Social Network”
  • Runner-up: “Carlos”

DIRECTOR:

  • Olivier Assayas, “Carlos,” and David Fincher, “The Social Network” (tie)

ACTOR:

  • Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
  • Runner-up: Edgar Ramirez, “Carlos”

ACTRESS:

  • Kim Hye-ja, “Mother”
  • Runner-up:  Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”

SUPPORTING ACTOR:

  • Niels Arestrup, “A Prophet”
  • Runner-up: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

  • Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
  • Runner-up: Olivia Williams, “The Ghost Writer”

SCREENPLAY:

  • Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
  • Runner-up: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

  • “Carlos”
  • Runner-up: “Mother”

ANIMATION:

  • “Toy Story 3″
  • Runner-up: “The Illusionist”

DOCUMENTARY / NON-FICTION FILM:

  • “Last Train Home”
  • Runner-up: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

CINEMATOGRAPHY:

  • Matthew Libatique, “Black Swan”
  • Runner-up: Roger Deakins, “True Grit”

MUSIC/SCORE:

  • Alexandre Desplat, “The Ghost Writer,” and  Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “The Social Network” (tie)

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

  • Guy Hendrix Dyas, “Inception”
  • Runner-up: Eve Stewart, “The King’s Speech”

NEW GENERATION:

  • Lena Dunham, “Tiny Furniture”

DOUGLAS E. EDWARDS INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO:

  • “Film Socialism”

LEGACY OF CINEMA AWARDS:

  • Serge Bromberg, “Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno,” and the F.W. Murnau Foundation and Fernando Pena for the restoration of “Metropolis”

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT:

  • Paul Mazursky

The main news here, I guess, is just how well foreign language films did in the voting.  I haven’t seen Carlos and seeing as how I’m basically in fly-over country, I doubt I’ll get a chance to see it before the Oscar nominations are announced.  I do have Mother on DVD and I’m going to watch it sometime before the start of the new year.  It’s also nice to see some attention being given to A Prophet.

Obviously, I’m disappointed not to see more love for Black Swan but I guess it’s to be expected as Black Swan is one of those films that people either love madly or hate with a passion.  I think that’s why The Social Network will win big at the Oscars this year.  It’s well-made and offensive only if you’re 1) female or 2) Mark Zuckerberg.

The National Board Of Review: I Give Up!


The rather enigmatic National Board of Review announced their selections for the best films of 2010 today.  The NBR is traditionally considered to be the first precursor to how the actual Oscar race will shape up.  Typically, those honored by the NBR are, at the very least, nominated by the Academy.  Strangely, nobody seems to be sure just who exactly makes up the membership of the NBR.  As far as I can tell, it appears to be a collection of film professors and cable tv executives.  It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the NBR is actually some sort of Illuminati conspiracy or MK-Ultra experiment designed to keep American filmgoers from thinking for themselves.

Anyway, as I look over this year’s award winners, all I can say is that I give up.  If my reaction to Avatar indicated to me that I’m totally out-of-step with mainstream opinion, then the current Pavlovian acclaim of the Social Network proves it.  I will never be a part of the mainstream and it’s not by choice.  It’s just I am apparently thoroughly incapable of understanding how the mainstream brain works. 

So, that’s what the National Board of Review taught me today.  I am destined to always be alone, railing against the dying of the light.  Thank you for the insight, assholes.

Anyway, here’s this year’s award winners:

Best Picture: The Social Network (Don’t get me wrong, the Social Network is a good movie.  It’s just not that good.) 

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (I am so sick of hearing that this is Jesse’s “breakthrough” role.  Jesse’s breakthrough was in Adventureland, long before the mainstream ever decided to embrace him.)

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year (Haven’t seen it yet)

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (Another movie that I will see when it opens later this month.  Still, Bale should have been nominated for American Psycho back in the day.)

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (Yay!  This award gives me hope.)

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 (yay!)

Best Documentary: Waiting For Superman (Yes, my favorite movie of the year —Exit Through The Gift Shop — was totally ignored.)

Best Ensemble Cast: The Town (Bleh.  So I guess that would include Jon Hamm, who gave such an amazingly bad performance in this film?)

Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone (Another yay but you know all the mainstream is going to offer her is a role in a Twilight rip-off and maybe a Maxim cover shoot.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network (Fuck Aaron Sorkin and his elitist, sexist, technophobic script.)

Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling for Buried (which I didn’t see, mostly because I’m claustrophobic and the movie is called Buried.)

Ten Best Films Of The Year (in alphabetical order):

Another Year

The Fighter

Hereafter (which sucked!)

Inception (yay!)

The King’s Speech (I’m actually really looking forward to seeing this)

Shutter Island (kinda bleh but enjoyable)

The Town

Toy Story 3

True Grit (another one I can’t wait to see)

Winter’s Bone (yay!)

Yep, you read that right.  No awards for such presumed favorites as James Franco and 127 Hours, Black Swan, or The Kids Are All Right.  But you better believe they found room to honor a shallow, pandering film like Hereafter.

Finally, here are the Top Ten Independent Films of 2010, according to the toadsuckers at the National Board of Review:

Animal Kingdom (yay!)

Buried (Now I guess I have to see it)

Fish Tank (yay!)

The Ghost Writer (yay — kinda)

Greenberg (bleh)

Let Me In (another kinda yay)

Monsters (shrug)

Please Give (yay!)

Somewhere (going to see it when it opens down here, Sofia Coppola is my role model)

Youth in Revolt (shrug, it’s neither bleh nor yay)

You can read the full list of winners at The Wrap.

Anyway, in order to show just how exactly I feel when confronted with mainstream thought and opinion, here’s an old picture of me with a tampon stuck up my nose.