Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #30 through #21

My list continues, now into the top 30 films of 2017. The more I look at my list, both what I have already posted and what is to come, it occurs to me just how strong 2017 was in film despite the fact that it was the year I awarded the least amount of perfect scores in recent memory. Maybe I am just getting tougher on things or maybe I just found minor flaws in a lot of different work, but the key word there is minor. So many great movies here, some that fly very far under the radar and deserve to be seen.

30. City of Ghosts

The first of three documentaries among this group of ten films, and none of them are particularly easy to watch, but you kinda expect that from a lot of documentary filmmaking that goes behind the scenes to show parts of our world we don't see and luckily for many of us cannot fully understand. City of Ghosts, directed by Matthew Heineman whom previously made the doc Cartel Land, tells the extremely behind the scenes story of a group of journalists/activists known as "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", men living under ISIS rule that are willing to tell the world what is really happening with the terrorist group, hoping to become a louder voice than the ISIS propaganda they distribute to recruit. A great doc filled with vital stakes and honest danger, as if any of these men are caught they will certainly be killed.

City of Ghosts is available on Amazon Prime now.

29. John Wick: Chapter 2

I fucking love John Wick, both the original film and the character, so I will follow him through the trilogy with great interest. The second chapter doesn't disappoint, the same high quality, brutally violent action, great supporting characters and terrific sets and locations, and an ending that sets up a very interesting final film coming next year.

28. The Meyerowitz Stories

Outside of a few blips on the radar throughout his now very long career, the idea of putting a film starring Adam Sandler on a best of the year list seems improbable. Now what if I tell you that he is the best actor in a film that comes in my top 30 of the year? Yep, Sandler is terrific in The Meyerowitz Stories, a Noah Baumbach comedy/drama that you should watch, especially if you are like me and have very little interest in Sandler so you can marvel over his talent when he actually gives real work a go.

The Meyerowitz Stories is available on Netflix now.

27. Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis

Early last year HBO debuted their original documentary about the horrific shooting that took place at a concert in Paris on November 13th, 2015 titled Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis, and I turned it on because I am drawn to documentary filmmaking that covers challenging subjects. What I didn't realize in that moment is that I would be watching one of the better overall films of 2017 and one of the 3 best docs of the year. Directed by Colin Hanks, this is a tremendously heartbreaking, gut wrenching, but in the end inspiring and uplifting story.

26. It Comes At Night

I know a common theme is emerging among horror films that come from A24, and that is the reaction of audiences after they see the film and feel they were mislead by the trailers and marketing in general. It happened with The Witch (which is a stone cold masterpiece) and it happened again here with It Comes At Night. My response to this? Whatever. I hold they keep putting out great work whether it meets the demands of the masses or not. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults sophomore effort after his really promising debut Krisha is another winner.

It Comes At Night is available on Amazon Prime now.

25. Landline

Speaking of really impressive sophomore films, writer/director Gillian Robespierre really created something special here with Landline, a step forward after her already very good debut Obvious Child. Clearly she likes working with Jenny Slate and who can blame her? They suit each other beautifully, and this story of relationships, family, and the damage that infidelity can do to everyone around you is touching, funny and always feels real.

Landline is available on Amazon Prime now.

24. Strong Island

Yet another documentary, this one being the second best that I saw from 2017. Strong Island comes from director Yance Ford, and as if the topic of investigating the 1992 murder of an unarmed 24 year old black man wasn't enough to engage an audience, factor in that the victim was Ford's brother. A powerful, deeply personal journey through information and pain and coping with loss.

Strong Island is available on Netflix now.

23. Molly's Game

The directorial debut from the brilliant acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin, starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba? I was never going to miss this film. I'm glad I didn't. Molly's Game is, as expected, tightly written and beautifully performed, telling the true story of Molly Bloom, a woman who ran an exclusive high stakes poker game for years until she was arrested by the FBI.

22. The Beguiled

I am going to be upfront about this because I know this will be deemed sacrilegious by many film fans, but I have always been lukewarm at best regarding the work of Sofia Coppola. I often find the pacing of her films to be languid, leaving me unable to connect to what she is trying to achieve. The Beguiled, however, is a different story, a film that does move at a methodical pace but it feels right for this story, and at only 90 minutes the tension and unsettling vibes inside the all-female boarding school during the Civil War ramp up before you know it. This is a film that stuck with me for days after seeing it.

21. Princess Cyd

This is one that came out of nowhere for me, as I wasn't even aware it existed a month ago AFTER 2017 was already over. I saw a post on Twitter about one of the best films of the year being available to stream so I looked more into it, and sure enough Princess Cyd was an outstanding recommendation to get. The story of a 16 year old girl named Cyd who spends the summer with her Aunt in Chicago, she explores her sexuality with a girl she meets there named Katie and it results in a very natural, honest piece of cinema. 

Princess Cyd is available on Netflix now.


  1. Reading this made me realize how little documentaries I've seen lately. Back in 2015 or '16 I was on a documentary high, but somewhere along the way I dropped out. I think the only documentary I saw last year was An Inconvenient Sequel.

    1. Have always been a big fan of documentaries and still am, so it is pretty safe to say there will always be a few in my top 50 lists. An Inconvenient Sequel was solid (and horrifying, of course) but didn't do enough to really rank among the best films of the year.

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