Best Films of 2017: More Lists!

It’s hard to pick clear favorites from the latest roundup of the last year’s best films according to my circle of Christian friends and peers.

(photo: Register Files)

Each year, after cataloguing my own annual top films list but before the Oscars, I take stock of the year’s top films according to a small circle of friends and peers in the world of Christian cinephiles and film writers.

In recent years, our picks have converged around a few outstanding films. In 2016, Silence dominated our lists, followed by Cameraperson and Paterson (my top three films that year). Nothing else came close. The year before, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight, and Inside Out were head and shoulders above everything else.

This year, our picks are more diffuse. Perhaps it was the movies. There are always good movies, but for me, in contrast to recent years, no one of my top three or four films absolutely demanded to be my top pick (see my top films of 2017). Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Some observations:

  • Two films, Dunkirk and Lady Bird, were picked as the top film of 2017 on two lists below. No other film made the no. 1 slot more than once.
  • No film was named more often than The Florida Project, which appears on seven lists. Right on its heels, though, are five films that were picked six times. In ranked order, they are: Graduation (my no. 1 film), Personal Shopper, Dunkirk (my no. 3), Get Out (for me a runner-up), and A Quiet Passion.
  • One film, Mother!, appears on five lists, followed by six films named four times. In ranked order: Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Salesman (a runner-up for me), The Unknown Girl (another runner-up), The Lost City of Z, and Columbus (honorable mention).
  • Finally, two films appear on three lists: Mudbound (my no. 2 film) and The Breadwinner (a runner-up).

Each of these lists reflects the choices of a film writer who writes from a perspective of Catholic or Protestant faith and who has some kind of connection to religious media and/or the Arts & Faith community. (Each year names come and go.)

That doesn’t mean I endorse or agree with all the choices below; I have significant moral reservations or objections regarding a few of them. But I appreciate the thought and passion behind all these lists, and in some cases I’ve been challenged to take a second look at a film that didn’t grab me on my first viewing.

Here are the lists, with my own rankings where applicable in parentheses. As always, I recommend visiting the links for commentary on the films and the movie year in perspective. (Caveat: If you came here via Facebook app on a phone or tablet, a couple of lists below might look weird. On a real browser or via Twitter you should be fine.)

First, a new addition to the roundup: For the past several years, I’ve voted in the Image Journal Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury Awards. I don’t know why I’ve never included this jury’s annual top 10 in these roundups, but it’s time to correct that oversight. Check out the write-ups at Image (part 1, part 2).

  1. The Unknown Girl (runner-up)
  2. The Salesman (runner-up)
  3. The Florida Project
  4. (Tie) The Lost City of Z
  5. (Tie) Personal Shopper
  6. Graduation (no. 1)
  7. A Quiet Passion
  8. Mudbound (no. 2)
  9. Columbus (honorable mention)
  10. Mother!

Alissa Wilkinson (Vox) has a top 21:

  1. Lady Bird
  2. Ex Libris
  3. The Work (honorable mention)
  4. Get Out (runner-up)
  5. Princess Cyd
  6. Personal Shopper
  7. Call Me By Your Name
  8. The Florida Project
  9. Columbus (honorable mention)
  10. A Quiet Passion

Sister Rose Pacatte (St. Anthony Messenger) has a top 12:

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. Get Out (runner-up)
  3. Coco
  4. Lady Bird
  5. The Florida Project
  6. Paris Can Wait
  7. The Wedding Plan
  8. Downsizing
  9. The Greatest Showman
  10. The Man Who Invented Christmas

Jeffrey Overstreet (Looking Closer) has a top 30, with two ties in his top 10:

  1. The Florida Project
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. Mudbound (no. 2)
  4. The Breadwinner (runner-up)
  5. The Big Sick
  6. Columbus (honorable mention)
  7. (Tie) The Lost City of Z
  8. (Tie) A Quiet Passion
  9. (Tie) Get Out (runner-up)
  10. (Tie) Mother!
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Nick Olson (Image Journal) has a top 10:

  1. Phantom Thread
  2. Lady Bird
  3. Personal Shopper
  4. A Quiet Passion
  5. Song to Song
  6. The Unknown Girl (runner-up)
  7. Get Out (runner-up)
  8. The Lost City of Z
  9. The Salesman (runner-up)
  10. The Florida Project

Victor Morton (Rightwing Film Geek) has a top 10:

  1. The Salesman (runner-up)
  2. Graduation (no. 1)
  3. Behemoth (no. 5)
  4. Phantom Thread
  5. Dina
  6. The Unknown Girl (runner-up)
  7. A Quiet Passion
  8. Dunkirk (no. 3)
  9. Nocturama
  10. Mother!

Kenneth R. Morefield (1More Film Blog) has a top 10:

  1. First Reformed
  2. Molly’s Game
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. The Post (runner-up)
  5. The Darkest Hour
  6. The Greatest Showman
  7. The Breadwinner (runner-up)
  8. Goodbye Christopher Robin
  9. The Work (honorable mention)
  10. The Boss Baby

Joel Mayward (Cinemayward) has a top 20:

  1. Dunkirk (no. 3)
  2. The Unknown Girl (runner-up)
  3. The Salesman (honorable mention)
  4. Personal Shopper
  5. Columbus (honorable mention)
  6. Wonder Woman
  7. Son of Joseph
  8. Graduation (no. 1)
  9. Get Out (runner-up)
  10. Princess Cyd

Josh Larsen (Larsen On Film, Filmspotting) has a top 10:

  1. Dunkirk (no. 3)
  2. Get Out (runner-up)
  3. The Florida Project
  4. Raw
  5. The Beguiled
  6. The Shape of Water
  7. The Breadwinner (runner-up)
  8. Blade Runner 2049
  9. Your Name
  10. A Ghost Story (runner-up)

Gareth Higgins (The Porch; Movies and Meaning) has a top 20:

  1. Endless Poetry
  2. Patti Cake$
  3. Mother!
  4. Downsizing
  5. Wonderstruck
  6. Call Me by Your Name
  7. Maudie
  8. The Lost City of Z
  9. Dunkirk
  10. Faces Places

Christian Hamaker (Schaeffer’s Ghost; Crosswalk) has a top 20:

  1. Personal Shopper
  2. Graduation (no. 1)
  3. Sieranevada
  4. Baby Driver
  5. The Florida Project
  6. Loveless
  7. Blade Runner 2049
  8. The Shape of Water
  9. Dunkirk (no. 3)
  10. The Post (runner-up)

Evan Cogswell (Catholic Cinephile) has a top 35:

  1. Lady Bird
  2. Phantom Thread
  3. A Quiet Passion
  4. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  5. The Salesman (runner-up)
  6. Graduation (no. 1)
  7. Mother!
  8. The Beguiled
  9. Personal Shopper
  10. My Happy Family (no. 4)
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