Here is my list of the most enjoyable films I saw during 2017. The films are rated solely on how much I enjoyed them, not rated as I would rate an Oscar-winner. But don’t look for any of these in nominated films because I rate them on how well they are made and how entertaining they are without respect for how The Academy judges them, which is more often than not influenced more by political correctness these days. This was the worst year in my memory for movies.
- Loving Vincent: How good is this? I avoid animated films like the plague. So for me to name this, purporting to reveal the real story of the demise of Vincent van Gogh animated by oil painters in the style of van Gogh, as the best of the year, it’s gotta be something special!
- Maudie: Sally Hawkins is getting all the Oscar raves for “The Value of Water” but you’ll never see a better performance than what she gives in this, a film so good it blew me away.
- Rebel in the Rye: A compelling portrait of the elusive J.D. Salinger that had me mesmerized.
- I, Tonya: Gives a completely different take on Tonya Harding but worth seeing also for the supporting performance of Paul Walter Hauser who plays a villain dumber than a rock.
- The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee: If you pay attention to this fascinating documentary you will realize that, hidden by his charm, he was not an admirable man or an honest, unbiased newspaperman.
- Paris Can Wait: Like a fine wine, this ages well. The more I think about it, the better I like it.
- Wind River: The only movie I paid to see, and it was worth every penny.
- 13 Minutes: The unknown true story of an heroic attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1939.
- The Promise: Finally, Hollywood shines a spotlight on the shameful Turkish genocide of over 1 million Armenians during WWI, something that is a fact of history but which the deceitful Turks deny, just as the Japanese deny their equally despicable “comfort women” program that enslaved hundreds of thousands of Asian women to sexual slavery in the ‘30s and ‘40s. And it’s a good, suspenseful movie to boot.
- The Journey: This fictional dialogue between Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), the closed-minded leader of the Protestants, and Martin McGuiness (Colm Meany), the leader of the IRA, who had never met but hated each other, does what movies should do; it educates and entertains at the same time.
- Only the Brave: Any eye-popping movie about what it’s really like to fight a fire.
- The Greatest Showman: Good music and dancing, and I came out of it feeling good, even though I knew the story was Hollywood Hokum.
- Marshall: A charming young Thurgood Marshall before joining SCOTUS and as you’ve never seen him.
- Downsizing: I went into this thinking it was really a dumb idea and not expecting much but turns out it is believable enough to tell an interesting story.
- The Dinner: A psychological thriller about two couples with a lot of problems. For a fairly long film full of talk, the pace is outstanding.
- American Made: Based on a True Lie: The lie is that this is a true story, but, regardless, this is an entertaining, well-made film, with good pace and action.
- Beauty and the Beast: Despite lots of flaws, an enjoyable trip.
- The Zookeeper’s Wife: Notwithstanding being a calculatedly sexist movie (made entirely by women) that purposefully minimized the heroism of the husband, it’s still a fine movie and a good entertainment.
Also worth seeing: Thank You For Your Service, Beatriz at Dinner, Live by Night, The Lost City of Z, A Woman’s Life, Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver, The Comedian, Lady Macbeth, Midnight Return, Kong: Skull Island, Victoria and Abdul and War for the Planet of the Apes.