Niles-Maine District Library


Adult Services Staff Picks: Favorite Movies of 2017

Both 2016 Films that came out on DVD in 2017 and films made in 2017 qualify.

(CC) = Cecilia C., Adult Services Librarian

(GU) = Greta U., Adult Services Librarian

Abacus: Small Enough to Fail (2016) – Steve James, director – Documentary (CC) – My favorite doc of the year by acclaimed filmmaker James’ known most for making Hoop Dreams (1994).  Gives a difference perspective of the financial crisis.

Anthropoid (2016) – Sean Ellis, director – Drama (CC) – World War II drama that brings to life the attempted mission to kill SS General Reinhard Heydrich.  Hard to watch but very realistic in its brutality and savagery.

Battle of the Sexes (2017) – Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, directors – Comedy/Drama (CC) – Look at the 1973 tennis match that became a worldwide phenomenon because it happened smack-dam during the feminist movement.  Both Steve Carell and Emma Stone are great in this great docudrama.

The Big Sick (2017) – Michal Showalter, director – Comedy/Drama (GU) – I loved the relationship between the two main characters, an aspiring Pakistani standup comic and his American girlfriend.  Initially they are dating casually but when she becomes ill he realizes how important she has become to him.

Darkest Hour (2017) – Joe Wright, director – Drama (CC) – Acclaimed actor Gary Oldman seems to literally breathe life into Winston Churchill in what just might be the best performance of the year.  The movie is inspiring, but the main reason to watch this one is Oldman’s tour-de-force turn.

Dunkirk (2017) – Christopher Nolan, director – Drama (CC) – Another WWII movie makes the list; this one fiercely real with its portrayal of non-soldiers helping out the Allied forces.  Nolan focuses more of the look and feel of war, than on plot.

Get Out (2017) – Jordan Peele, director – Horror/Drama (CC) – This movie, more social commentary than anything else, make any viewer take a step back and examine their own racial bias, which, I’m assuming, is what Peele set out to accomplish.

Hidden Figures (2016) – Theodore Melfi, director – Drama (CC) – An entertaining film that also teaches the viewer something is rare these days.  This film does both of those things, with verve and gusto.  A great cast helps make this one even more special.

I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Ken Loach, director – Drama (CC) – A movie, by famed the British director Loach, that stirs many emotions at once: anger, guilt, sadness, despair.  A gem of a film that comes out of nowhere to knock your over with its tender, honest portrayals of hardship and poverty.

La La Land (2016) – Damien Chazelle, director – Musical (CC) – My absolute favorite movie of 2016. I walked out of the theater with my toes tapping and my spirits completely lifted. A fantastically vibrant and energized movie.

Lady Bird (2017) – Greta Gerwig, director – Drama (GU) – This coming of age story of a teenage girl and her mom was touching and meaningful to me because of the very strong acting and the chemistry between the daughter and her mom.  I loved Laurie Metcalf’s performance as a mom who is doing her best under very trying circumstances.

Lion (2016) – Garth Davis, director – Drama (GU) – One of my favorite films of the year, maybe in several years.  The young boy and his bravery were so inspiring.   And I loved the ending!

Loving (2016) – Jeff Nichols, director – Drama (CC) – Based on a true story, this film is slow and brooding.  More of thought-provoking look at the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and America’s racial divide.

Maudie (2016) – Aisling Walsh, director – Drama (CC) – Sally Hawkins gives the performance of 2016 as the real-life Canadian artist.  As I watched the movie, I forgot I was watching a feature film and not a documentary.  THAT’S how convincing Hawkins is in this role.

Obit. (2016) – Vanessa Gould, director – Documentary (CC) – Great doc about the New York Times’ still thriving obituary department.  Anyone with interest in writing or journalism would be fascinated by this.

Phantom Thread (2017) – Paul Thomas Anderson, director – Drama (CC) – Daniel Day-Lewis’ final screen performance lives up to the hype.  But, the movie itself, though dark and morose at times in its subject, is a beautifully shot masterpiece.

The Post (2017) – Steven Spielberg, director – Drama (GU) – This dramatic film concerning Katherine Graham’s decisions and leadership of the Washington Post during the Nixon era was quite an affecting story of a woman learning to lead on her own in a turbulent time.  I loved Meryl Steep’s performance as Katherine Graham.

The Shape of Water (2017) – Guillermo del Toro, director – Drama/Romance (CC) – My favorite movie of 2017, this love story is unconventional and, yes, odd, but filled with hope and joy and acceptance.  Sally Hawkins gives another splendid performance here, in what I think is the best female performance of the year.

Sully (2016) – Clint Eastwood, director – Drama (CC) – Tom Hanks once again gives a phenomenal performance, this time as the pilot who, while a public hero, is a possible criminal in the eyes of the FAA and NTSB.

Talk: Race in America (2017) – Sam Pollard, director – Documentary (CC) – Excellent documentary about the racial divide in this country…in the present day.  Touches a little on the past, but mostly focuses on race relations today and how we still have quite a ways to go.

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016) – Simon Aboud, director – Drama (CC) – This was the year’s biggest surprise for me. I was entranced by this gem of a film that seems to come from nowhere. Sweet, endearing and filled with heart, this one you can watch with the whole family.

A United Kingdom (2016) – Amma Asante, director – Drama (CC) – This sweet film, based on a true story, is filled with passion and heart.  Even through the dark moments, this movie is a true feel-good gem.

The Vietnam War (2017) – Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, directors – Documentary (CC) – Truly epic in scope, this doc covers the Southeast Asia conflict from well-before the US sent troops until the bitter, miserable end.  Interviews with soldiers and officials on both sides of the war.


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