If it weren't for the presence and narration of Jessica Chastain, you might spend the first five minutes of Molly's Game – the frequently winning, sometimes frustrating true-life tale of high-stakes poker entrepreneur Molly Bloom – thinking you wandered into the wrong movie by mistake.

In recent years, I held off on composing my annual Movies of the Year roundup until one or two January weekends had passed, hoping to catch at least a couple of those acclaimed, Oscar-friendly titles that generally get to our area just prior to the announcement of Academy Award nominees. (This year's lineup will be unveiled on January 23.) But I'm just as relieved to be bidding farewell to 2017 as you likely are – and, after a year of disappointing grosses and endless scandals, as Hollywood no doubt is – so what say we get right to it?

The River Cities' Reader is looking to add two or three area-theatre reviewers to our team, so if you've ever read one of our stage critiques and thought, “Gee, I could do that … “, here's your chance!

It's time to commend Scott's achievement not merely for what it is, but for what it is in light of its circumstances: a freakin' miracle.

Among the movies of 2017, there have certainly been more objectively fun ones than Darkest Hour, director Joe Wright's Winston Churchill bio-pic that follows the British icon through his first weeks as prime minister, ending with his order for the historic World War II evacuation memorialized in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. But I'm not sure that any film this year has found anyone having as much fun as Gary Oldman clearly is in his role as Churchill – and blessedly, it's a performance joy equal to the considerable joy we feel while watching him.

Few film stars ever look as happy as Hugh Jackman does when crooning and hoofing on award shows, or as he did playing Curley in that recorded-for-posterity production of Oklahoma! And when he's allowed to be that same sort of explosive musical-theatre charm bomb in The Greatest Showman, Jackman's enthusiasm is so infectious, and his talent so overwhelming, that for those few minutes, you can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, though, Jenny Bicks' and Bill Condon' script remains all-too-often earthbound.

Over the decades, the Star Wars films have boasted so many unforgettable sounds – light sabers swooshing, R2-D2 beeping, Darth Vader breathing – that it's both unexpected and rather amazing to find the signature sound in Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be silence.

Friends have asked me whether you need to have seen The Room in order to enjoy The Disaster Artist. I'd say no, though it'd most certainly help. It'd help further if you haven't also read the book. But movies and books, as we all know, are vastly different things. And as a movie – with this opinion coming from an unbridled champion of The Room – The Disaster Artist is a more-than-frequent hoot.

Despite its a cappella rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and repeated employment of the clever, catchy Unknown Hinson song “I Cleaned Out a Room (in My Trailer for You)” during scene changes, no one could mistake the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's season-ending presentation for a musical. But in director John VanDeWoestyne's Doublewide, Texas, the character attire designed and gathered by costumer Suzanne DeReu is so eye-catching, and so abundant, that it's almost as though this lightweight Southern comedy were instead a lavish Broadway spectacle boasting a cast of 90 and special appearance by the Rockettes. And the Rockettes wouldn't have been funny.

Martin McDonagh's latest genre hybrid, the comedy/tragedy/mystery/procedural Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a mess. As messes go, though, it's one of 2017's most confident and entertaining, and might easily reward repeat viewings more than many other far-better movies.

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