When it comes to the year-end racket, you hear a lot about awards contenders and critical darlings, but too often the year’s most entertaining films are forgotten in the conversation. But I love a good piece of popcorn entertainment — and honestly, everybody does, that’s why they make so much damn money at the box office. With that in mind, welcome to my annual tradition breaking down the very best of the biggest, loudest, and sometimes dumbest films to hit theaters this year because there’s an art to having a good time, and the films that know how should get their due recognition as well.
This year was notoriously rough at the box office, with a series of big-budget tentpoles that bombed out with audiences: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, The Mummy, The Dark Tower and Transformers 5 all tumbled with critics and audiences alike, making for the worst summer box office in over a decade. But not to worry, even if the summer crop of action-packed filmmaking was a disappointment, the rest of the year was jam-packed with ass-kicking popcorn-powered entertainment.
I never thought I’d see the year that a Fast and Furious film didn’t make the list, but even if F. Gary Gray‘s supercharged sequel Fate of the Furious packs in plenty of entertaining set pieces, the film never recovers from the decision to make Deckard Shaw a hero, completely ignore that he murdered Han in cold blood, and fundamentally violate arguably the only concrete law of a Fast and Furious film — family. As for the other close calls, The LEGO Batman Movie, Mayhem, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard were this close to making the cut. And even though they’re great action movies, I decided to leave off Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and Logan because they’re both a bit too existential and emotionally taxing to consider them classic “popcorn movies”.
So without further ado, here are my picks for the best popcorn movies of 2017. Sound off with your favorites in the comments.