For film fans, December can be spent in one of two ways: Catching up on all the awards bait you can until the sight of a screen provokes instant nausea, or reliving the year by making unexpected (perhaps far-fetched) connections between everything the cinema had to offer. To explore the latter option, The Globe and Mail presents its third-annual roundup of the most unexpected fads gleaned from a year spent in the dark.
Best use of Gal Gadot Together with director Patty Jenkins, the Wonder Woman star salvaged the reputation of Warner's beleaguered DC Comics franchise. Her Princess Diana of Themyscira was the big-screen superhero 2017 needed, and then some.
Worst use of Gal Gadot Shame, though, that Gadot was obligated to appear in the hot mess that is Zack Snyder's Justice League. The sorta-sequel to Wonder Woman almost – but not quite – squandered any goodwill she built up just a few months earlier, and swiftly brought expectations for Warner's DC slate back down to Earth.
Best track record The life of a character actor is a tricky one – often, you're just happy for the work, and show up to the set hoping for the best. Michael Stuhlbarg, though, had the good fortune to find himself co-starring in three of the most acclaimed films of the year (The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name and The Post), delivering stellar work in each.
Worst track record Somebody needs to wake up Mark Wahlberg's agent from his year-long slumber, or ensure the actor's eyesight isn't failing him when he reads scripts, because 2017 offered 12 months of awful Wahlbergian decisions: Transformers: The Last Knight, Daddy's Home 2 and All the Money in the World. Mark Wahlberg, was this a cry for help? Did you eat too many Wahlburgers? We're here for you, man.
Best mom There is too much to admire about Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird to fit into one mere end-of-year listicle, but if there's a performer who's not quite getting the admiration she deserves these waning days of 2017, it's Laurie Metcalf. As the titular Lady Bird's mother Marion, Metcalf oscillates between fierce protection and desperate resignation, all the while being the mom you'd want in your corner, always.
Bad mom This goes to the lead performers and everyone involved in A Bad Moms Christmas, the slapdash sequel that is only subversive in its dissection of the patriarchy by the fact that … it was written and directed by two dudes.
Worst mom There is much to discuss about I, Tonya, the Tonya Harding biopic that wants to have its black-comedy cake and eat it, too. But Craig Gillespie's film does offer the spectacle of a campy Allison Janney performance. As Tonya's chain-smoking, physically violent mother LaVona Golden, the actress delivers the most despicable on-screen matriarch in recent memory.
Worst mother! Darren Aronofsky's deeply unsettling and mostly whack-a-doo allegory of a film, Mother!, is both staggering in its conception and the perfect movie for 2017, the year the world lost its mind.
Best monkey (three-way tie) It was a good year to go ape, as The Square, War for the Planet of the Apes and Kong: Skull Island each offered their own interpretations on our knuckle-dragging ancestors. (Bonus points for the fascinating documentary Jane, which detailed the life of the world's most famous chimp-champion.)
Best disappearing act (tie) After Hollywood was rightly rocked by the Harvey Weinstein investigations, it was only a matter of time before other gross dominoes fell. So far, two of the highest-profile collapses are Louis C.K., whose awful comedy I Love You, Daddy sold at the Toronto International Film Festival for $5-million, only to be dropped by its distributor two months later, and Kevin Spacey, who was swiftly erased from All the Money in the World. It won't be long before C.K.'s film makes its way to audiences in some form – it's already leaked online – and Spacey's deleted footage shows up in a Blu-ray extra. But neither will be missed.
Best movie about the Nixon administration Steven Spielberg's The Post is not an entirely smooth production – for a film shot just this past May, it feels appropriately rushed – but it tackles the myriad issues of the Nixon era with enough skill and depth to warrant a second viewing. Plus, it has the best cast of the year, even putting aside the accidental Mr. Show reunion of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross.
Worst movie about the Nixon administration Peter Landesman's Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House should've been a crackling thriller. It had all the elements of success built in to its true-life tale – deception! righteousness! whistle-blowing! – plus a knock-'em-dead ensemble of authority figures who would be your dad if you asked nicely enough (Liam Neeson, Tony Goldwyn, The Post's Bruce Greenwood). Yet for a film designed as an explainer to the Watergate scandal, it doesn't explain much.
Best Chris In the battle of the Hollywood Chris's – or is that Chrises? Chrisi? Agh, get different names, you guys! Or hire more diverse actors, Hollywood! – it was Chris H. (for Hemsworth) who enjoyed the best 2017. As Thor: Ragnarok's God of Thunder, Hemsworth finally got to cut loose a bit and enjoy the inherently silly character. The actor also carries over points from 2016, thanks to his deadpan role in Ghostbusters.
Second-best Chris Chris Pine is the only Hollywood Chris who operates outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe – which means he was plucked to help build Warner's DC series. Thankfully not as a boring, superpowered do-gooder, but as the very human love interest of Wonder Woman's title character. He was charming, he was handsome and he was an excellent second fiddle.
The other Chrises Chris Evans and Chris Pratt, you boys did fine revisiting your Marvel alter egos (Evans's Captain America in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Pratt's galactic doofus in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), but no more than that. Just fine. Passing grades. Move along, now.
Honourable-mention Chris More a Christopher here than a Chris, but Mr. Plummer single-handedly saved Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World when he subbed in for Kevin Spacey. Not bad for an 88-year-old with a few weeks' notice. Don't even think of touching him, Marvel.