This week at Reel World Theology we are featuring the top ten lists of contributors to the site. You can find all our contributor lists here, as well as links to reviews and podcasts for each movie below.
10. I, Tonya
Man, what a kick in the teeth this one is. When villains are created, who is really at fault? Is it really personal choice? Is there something to be said about being caught up in a whirlwind of circumstances? Or, is it possible that humans just NEED villains so we create them? Whatever the answer, the only thing I could walk away from I, Tonya thinking was, “Maybe it’s everyone’s fault?”
…and also, “Despite an awesome performance, I am not buying Margot Robbie as a teenager.”
9. The Big Sick
I feel it’d be hard to heap much more praise on this film that has already garnered the love of both critics and audiences. Romantic comedies almost never found in “Best of…” lists because they often are drab and by-the-numbers lacking originality and heart. The Big Sick lacks neither. Though it would bill itself as an accidental romance, The Big Sick has so much more to offer and could have you honestly laughing and crying in a few short scenes.
This movie is weird as hell. Hey, you can choose which metaphor you want to believe Darren Aronofsky is really trying to tackle in this one, and even though it doesn’t completely come together, I think it does enough to keep me thinking and reflecting to give it a spot on this list. Again, I know it’s not for everyone, but if it catches you, you will think of few other movies this year when you reflect on 2017.
7. War for the Planet of the Apes
It almost seems silly at this point that I’ve had to battle so hard to get people to give the new Planet of the Apes franchise a chance. Refusing to rest on the laurels of the previous films, Apes continues to push the envelope and be one of the most profoundly, and deeply, human movies I’ve seen this year.
To hear the RWT podcast on War, click HERE
6. Brigsby Bear
Gosh! It’s hard to imagine mentioning this without mentioning Jeremy Calcara and his never-ending quest to get everyone to see this film. Fortunately, he’s been very successful.
Brigsby Bear stirred feelings inside me that I still can’t quite verbalize. I am not sure whether this made me love storytelling or love that I have been affected by storytelling more. I think, like listening to a great album or concert and immediately going home and picking up your guitar, this movie makes me want to be a storyteller and do it in whatever way I can. It also makes me realize that some of the most painful things that happen to us in life aren’t the things that have to defeat us.
5. Personal Shopper
Yeah, so, how do I put this? I don’t think hardly anyone saw this movie. I am not even really sure why I liked it. But it was one of the few movies I saw this year that I immediately knew I really liked. Kristen Stewart is mesmerizing in this film and I almost hate that she is becoming someone who I will check out in any film she’s in (with her recent track record).
Personal Shopper was just enough supernatural to keep things tense and to keep me guessing. It reminded me a lot of Nocturnal Animals last year, which left me almost confused when it ended, but my heart was racing and I was so into the journey that I couldn’t believe that something had sucked me in.
It’s different. I think “good” different. Maybe that’s something I didn’t see quite enough of this year.
By setting a movie about racial oppression post-WWII it almost shines a light on racism in one of the most prosperous and unified times in our nation’s history. Even so, we see the hatred and consequences of such evils. At first I wasn’t sold on the film as it took it’s time to unfold and move our characters along, but it ended up being so much more than I had bargained for. I think the most damning thing is that the person who, arguably, does the most damage isn’t the most obvious of racist, but the subtle one. Kudos to NETFLIX for giving this project life.
3. Get Out
Speaking of subverting racial stereotypes and expectations… Jordan Peele is, and should be, getting all the credit in the world for making a “horror” film that, at it’s core, is fundamentally the daily life of a black man. A lot of my love for this film came from my theatrical experience where I was in the vast racial minority of the attendees. Talk about eye-opening!
It has further held up as a scathing— and entertaining— film, unpacking the injustice found in everyday racism. It is incredibly hard to make a film that resonates this thoroughly while not feeling preachy. It also was one of my favorite podcast episodes of 2017 and has been an incredibly fun film to discuss with groups.
2. Spider-Man Homecoming
Ok, so here it is. How can Fizz put a comic book movie (especially a non-Wonder Woman comic book movie) ahead of so many other fine films. Well, this is what I like about what I like in movies— pure pleasure. I love seeing someone expertly craft a deep, emotional drama, or subvert an entire genre, but at the same time, I can also appreciate when someone finally made an excellent Spider-Man film.
It doesn’t hurt that Spider-Man has historically been my favorite comic book hero (though he’s taken a backseat to Captain America and Batman the past few years). But, what Marvel managed to do with Spider-Man seemed a miracle. So many movies have gotten elements of the web-slinger right, but I’ve never felt like they’ve put it all together. It’s even more odd considering this Tom Holland version almost seems like a completely fresh take. Whatever it was, I did not enjoy sitting in a theater and watching a movie more than I did when I watched this movie. I laughed often, I cared about all the characters, and I was both empathetic and deeply afraid of Michael Keaton. Glorious.
1. Blade Runner 2049
The closest thing to perfect I saw in 2017. Honestly, I wasn’t even that excited for the film. I had to go back and rewatch Blade Runner to even remember what happened because I have always thought of it as a “good-not-great” film that definitely set the stage for some of my more-proffered sci-fi films. So, I wasn’t bringing any prior fandom to this one.
But, add a great cast and a director who seems to be able to do no wrong when it comes to sci-fi, Denis Villeneuva, and you have what I want to hesitantly call, “perfect.” Despite it bombing at the box office and its lengthy runtime, I was captivated by the film visually and narratively. I thought it wouldn’t hold up to a second viewing, but I think I may have enjoyed it even more. It’s a pity this film isn’t getting the love it so richly deserves. When I think of 2017’s most intense visual and immersive experience in the theater, I think of Blade Runner 2049, not Dunkirk.