Graham: Best and worst at the movies so far this year

We’re halfway through the year, so here are some of the highs and lows of 2017’s movies

Adam Graham, The Detroit News

We’re halfway through the year, which seems like a good time to take stock of what has happened so far this year at the movies.

There have been big blockbusters (“Beauty and the Beast eclipsed the $500 million mark), big flops (“The Mummy” crashed and burned and may have taken a cinematic universe down with it) and big surprises (few saw “Get Out” becoming a $175 million smash).

And that’s just the top of the popcorn bucket.

Here’s a look at the highs and lows of the first six months at the movies in 2017:

Best blockbuster: “War for the Planet of the Apes” — OK, I cheated a little bit, since this one doesn’t open until Friday. But it’s a knockout: A smart, visionary epic that is challenging and thought-provoking. We’ve been taught to turn off our brains in the summertime, but “War for the Planet of the Apes” is what happens when blockbusters decide to wise up.

Most refreshing blockbuster: “Wonder Woman” — A superhero movie that puts more stock in character development than special effects? How did that happen? “Wonder Woman” takes its time setting up its story and its lead character, and you can watch as Gal Gadot becomes a star before your very eyes. Credit director Patty Jenkins with bringing a human touch to the DC Comics Universe. It’s no wonder the movie has become a massive smash.

Detroit News Film Critic ranks "Get Out," starring Daniel Kaluuya, as the best audience-pleaser of 2017.

Best audience pleaser: “Get Out” — Some movies you watch alone. “Get Out” was a movie that was made to be seen with a live audience, reacting in real time to its twists and jump scares. Audience participation is a big part of what made Jordan Peele’s directorial debut such a big hit, and it helped launch the viral “Get Out” challenge. Netflix is great, but “Get Out” made the year’s best case for the value of a communal movie-going experience.

Best kids movie: “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” — It sounds like a potty joke come to life, but director David Soren’s sharp, funny animated tale is a story about friendship and imagination first (and toilets, underpants and all manner of bathroom jokes second).

Best performance: Charlie Hunnam, “The Lost City of Z” — Hunnam endured two flops in two weeks this spring when this and “King Arthur” both (unjustly) tanked, but hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the “Sons of Anarchy” actor. He turns in a maddeningly driven performance in James Gray’s mini-epic about an explorer gone bonkers in his quest to find a mythical city in the Amazon.

Keanu Reeves in a scene from, "John Wick: Chapter 2."

Best sequel: “John Wick: Chapter 2” — Keanu Reeves’ super killer is back, and this time the whole world is after him. Director Chad Stahelski again creates a universe that exists on its own plane — the “John Wick” movies are the best comic book movies that don’t actually come from comic books — and Reeves is perfect as the stoic assassin who just wants to be left alone so he can play with his dog. Speaking of dogs ...

Best movie for dog lovers: “Meagan Leavey” — Forget “A Dog’s Purpose,” which was manipulative pablum. “Megan Leavey” traces the true story of the title character (played by Kate Mara) who, following several tours in Iraq, makes it her mission to adopt her combat dog, Rex. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite infuses real heart into her tale, which deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Emma Roberts stars as Joan in “The Blackcoat’s Daughter.”

Best horror movie (that you probably didn’t see): “The Blackcoat’s Daughter” — This haunting little creepshow received a micro-release — it grossed just $20,000 — but fans of dark, atmospheric horror will appreciate this tightly woven thriller about a looming evil at a New York boarding school.

Most laughable scene: The helicopter crash in “Fifty Shades Darker” — Two-thirds of the way through the excruciating second film in the “Fifty Shades” franchise, kinky billionaire Christian Gray (Jamie Dornan) crashes his helicopter. About two minutes later, he emerges from the crash with barely a scratch on his face and the incident is never mentioned again. We know these movies are only about the sex scenes, but does everything in between have to be this ridiculous?

Most annoying new character: “The Boss Baby” — The film about an Alec Baldwin-voiced baby CEO made $173 million at the domestic box office; gee, you think they’ll make a sequel? It’s Boss Baby’s world, and we’re all fired.