Year in movies

Another year of movies is in the books and it’s time (for me at least) to look back and admit my love of film.

In fact, this year more than any in recent memory was an important one for trying to find solace at the movies, especially in light of the grim, ridiculous circus that is our modern day Washington.

Anyway, 2017 was a strange year for movies. I didn’t see as many as a year ago and most that I really enjoyed came late in the year.

Still, I did love a lot about the movies I saw in 2017 so here is my attempt to list them  in the order that they provided viewing pleasure.

Again, I don’t claim to be an expert, just a lover of movies and I’m writing this in advance of the Oscars (really I am) just to get my list on the record. These movies moved me, they entertained, made me laugh, made me think.

Is one better than another? Not really. They just reflect my tastes and my penchant for putting things in lists. So here, with apologies to “Phantom Thread,” which I did not see, is my Top 20 films of the year.

Wait, a quick note. Other films I did not see included the movies of the “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Fantastic Four” and “Batman vs. Anybody With Super Powers,” genre. I didn’t see any of them except “Wonder Woman” because, for the most part, they give me a headache and, following my doctor’s orders, I steered clear of them.

Oh yeah, and I didn’t see “It” either. Maybe next time. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the list and let me know what you think.

  1. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Zany, violent and disturbing, yet hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. Great performances by all in a somewhat ensemble cast, performances that left me wanting more, or certainly a resolution to the story.)
  2. “Dunkirk” (I don’t care if the film was historically inaccurate in places, it was just terrific entertainment. Fast-paced and breath-taking, I was thoroughly swept up in the vignettes surrounding the near horrific catastrophe that happened on the French coast in 1940. Sure, they could have done a better job of representing the flotilla of ships, boats, schooners and skiffs that made it across the English Channel to rescue the trapped soldiers, but that’s okay. I can live with that. I loved the movie.)
  3. “Call Me By Your Name” (Beautiful and steamy. Elegant and smart. I liked it more than I thought I would, especially the story, the backdrop and the great performances by Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. Poignant and powerful.)
  4. “Wind River” (A haunting film that was as powerful as it was sad. One that stayed with me for days. Terrific performances by Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen).
  5. “Thank You For Your Service” (Gritty and raw. And yes sad. Great performances. Nothing like the book by David Finkel (which is also terrific) but that doesn’t matter. What matters is a staggering look at what life is like for many who fight our wars and then return home to try to resume their lives. Hurrah for Miles Teller and Beulah Koale!)
  6. “Victoria and Abdul” (You can’t go wrong with Judi Dench, who is superb in this British biographical comedy-drama. Ali Fazal is also terrific. Entertaining, funny and, in the end, heart-breaking. Another side of the history of those crazy Brits)
  7. “The Darkest Hour” (Powerful and amazing performance by Gary Oldman, who portrays Winston Churchill. Slow in spots but an incredibly fascinating look at a British hero who arose in his country’s time of need.)
  8. “I, Tonya” (Oh so hilarious look at the whole Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan debacle as told through the eyes of Tonya, her goofy-scary boyfriend, Tonya’s loving mom and police and court records. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney steal the show.
  9. “Molly’s Game” (Yes, I loved this one and will go to my grave believing that Jessica Chastain was robbed by not getting an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Chastain steals the show (in her best Jessica Rabbit imitation) with her beauty, her narration and her insight.)
  10. “Lady Bird” (Could have been ranked higher but I felt like I’d seen this story before. Still, fabulous performances by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metalf. Great movie, great direction by Greta Gerwig.)
  11. “The Greatest Showman” (Big and bold, great music and great performances. Never dull. Thoroughly entertaining. I found myself smiling throughout.)
  12. “The Shape of Water” (I liked it but I didn’t love it. Magical and beautiful, a great story and terrific direction by Guillermo del Toro. Still, a bit far-fetched (for me). An entertaining and enchanting fish story.)
  13. “Get Out” (Great little bizarre horror story that left me wondering if it was comedy, horror or drama. Still a very good movie.)
  14.  “The Post” (I liked this one but, again, didn’t love it. “Spotlight” is a much better film. Still, you can’t go wrong with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Important story told well.)
  15. “All the Money in the World” (Surprisingly good film when considering the 11th-hour changes made to rid the movie of Kevin Spacey. Great performance by stand-in Christopher Plummer. Does not answer the question: When is enough enough?)
  16. “The Florida Project” (Gritty and unhappy tale of life in the “projects” in Florida following a scamming mom and her daughter, who doesn’t have a chance in the world. Sad and disturbing. Willem Dafoe is up for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He’s the only person I like in the film.)
  17. “The Big Sick” (Thoroughly entertaining, quirky and hilarious. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan are superb. Cultures clash in a major way.)
  18. “Logan Lucky” (Also could have been ranked higher. A surprisingly fun and entertaining romp that inhabits the NASCAR culture without being too condescending. Still, hilarious and wonderful performances.)
  19. “Columbus” (A quiet little film about architecture and conflicted emotions. Still, captivating and intriguing. Set in Columbus, Ind., a city known for its significant modernist buildings. I did not know that.)
  20. “The Man Who Invented Christmas” (A story about Charles Dickens and his struggles to find the voice and inspiration to create “A Christmas Carol.” Fascinating and fun.

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