Friday, February 23, 2018

My 50 Favorite Films of 2017 - #50 through #41

It's about damn time I publish this list. I had been holding off waiting for the opportunity to see a few of the films I never got a chance to, including some Oscar favorites, but damn it it's time to move on. Luckily, it isn't as if I didn't watch enough films from 2017 for this list to be comprehensive, with 177 releases from the year logged and 50 worthy of being declared my favorites.

So let's get on with it, these are my 50 favorite films of 2017, 10 at a time:

50. Berlin Syndrome

My list will clearly demonstrate that I appreciate a wide range of different genres and tones when it comes to film, and Berlin Syndrome will not be the only disturbing, difficult watch of the bunch. The film tells the story of a young tourist from Australian finding herself caught up in a romance while in Berlin, only to discover that she entered the man's apartment but isn't allowed to leave. Teresa Palmer is fantastic. 

Berlin Syndrome is available on Netflix.

49. Stronger

Stronger is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman, a man who lost both of his legs while attending the Boston Marathon when it was bombed back in 2013, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany give strong performances in this heartfelt, painful and ultimately inspiring picture. 

48. Casting JonBenet

A documentary about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey and the way it impacted the people around the family and area they lived. What makes this documentary unique and fascinating is that it documents the casting of a fictional film about the JonBenet story, and through testing actors that live in the area they get different perspectives of what they think happened and how the tragedy hurt each of them in different ways.

Casting JonBenet is available on Netflix. 

47. Columbus

Columbus is such a beautiful film. I mean that in more ways than just on a narrative level. It has this quiet, calming, tone soaked in realism, utilizing camera angles to show us both the human characters and the architecture they observe all around Columbus, Indiana, with the buildings almost feeling like characters themselves. The story revolves around a man born in Korea, raised in the United States, stuck in this town while his father is there in a coma. He encounters a young woman who is choosing to stay there to help take care of her addict mother rather then follow her own dreams. 

Columbus is available on Hulu.

46. Wonder

Wonder sure did feel like a film that would be way too syrupy based on the story and the trailers and all that, and sure, it has its share of sap to it, but director Stephen Chbosky found a way to manage the material in a truly heartfelt, moving manner. 

45. Brawl in Cell Block 99

I had a feeling this one would be a pretty vicious picture. I was right. Directed by S. Craig Zahler, who previously unleashed the brutal western Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 has a disturbing concept and it delivers on it. It isn't loaded with violence or action, but when it hits, it hits really fucking hard. Vince Vaughn is outstanding here, which is not a thing I have said very often over the years.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is available on Amazon Prime.

44. After the Storm

Having seen and absolutely loved his previous film Like Father, Like Son, I knew what to expect stylistically from the new Hirokazu Kore-eda film After the Storm and I get everything I had hoped for. He presents such insightful observations about relationships and forgiveness through a careful, perfect balance of funny, honest, and real dialogue. 

43. Mudbound

A historical drama set during World War II, Mudbound is so well assembled and acted that nothing at all feels manipulative about the way racism is captured during this period of time. Telling the story of two families living side by side yet they feel worlds apart in the way they live and are treated by society, director Dee Rees manages to deliver something significant from material that on paper sounds as if it would be a familiar cinematic story. 

Mudbound is available on Netflix.

42. Pearl Jam: Let's Play Two

If you combine one of my favorite bands of all time and them playing at my single favorite venue in the world, Wrigley Field, and you make a really well done documentary about the experience, I am probably going to fall in love with it. That's what happened here, a combination of the music and the ballpark and the appreciation of the history of the Chicago Cubs all culminates in a joyous picture to watch. Also, just a week ago my wife surprised me by buying tickets to Pearl Jam's return to Wrigley this August, so a rewatch is definitely in order.

Pearl Jam: Let's Play Two is available on Amazon Prime.

41. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I had limited expectations for Spider-Man: Homecoming, if I am being honest. Just a whole lot of Spider-Man films over the years, with now three different actors depicting the character, so it was hard to get my juices flowing with excitement over another take, but my best case scenario turned out to come true in that I simply hoped for a really fun, well written and entertaining film, and that's what we got. 


  1. Yes! I've been waiting for this, nay, drooling over this lengthy, meaty, sweet sweet nectar list of yours, and it did not disappoint! The only one on this section that I have seen is Spider-man Homecoming. I thought it was okay. Not bad, not great, but a fun flick.

    Wait...I told a lie. I also watched Stronger. Emotional. Yet another good performance out of Jake. The more I watch his films the more I feel like he's such an under rated actor.

    Now I have so many more movies to watch (as if I didn't already have a massive list haha). Can't wait to check out After the Storm. This is great, and I really appreciated the little lines on where these films are streaming. Very helpful.

    1. Ah Cody, I always appreciate your kind words and support. Means a lot to me.

      Yeah Spider-Man is definitely a fun flick, and I agree not great, but I had more than enough fun with it to include it on the list.

      Let me know when you see After the Storm, just a terrific, real, honest drama.