We asked our reviewers to offer the top five titles they enjoyed most in 2017 in a number of categories. Some felt five was too limiting; others had trouble sticking to 2017. All in all, our gracious reviewers offer up some wonderful lists of great books, movies, music, and more for your consideration, and you can follow links to either the Banner review where available or more information on the title. Here are the lists:
From Josh Larsen, Chicago-based editor of the newly re-designed Think Christian digital magazine from ReFrame Media and author of the recent book Movies Are Prayers.
- Dunkirk (Warner Bros). As a story of rescue first and foremost—of salvation amidst military failure—Dunkirk is a war picture that recognizes our very personal need to be saved.
- Get Out (Universal). You say this blistering horror satire—in which an African American man has his worst fears about his white girlfriend's parents confirmed—makes you uncomfortable? Exactly.
- The Florida Project (A24). By refusing to condemn a single mother for her decisions while trying to carve out a life in a budget motel, this miracle movie is a model of grace in action.
- Raw (Petit Film). Sometimes it takes a French teenage cannibal flick to remind us of how ravenous our fallen human appetites can be.
- The Beguiled (Focus). Sofia Coppola fashions another beautiful object from the fabric of feminine desire.
From Kristy Quist of Grand Rapids, Mich., Mixed Media Editor for The Banner:
- Dunkirk (Warner Bros). Breathtaking, inspiring, and somehow reassuring take on a crucial moment in history.
- Wonder (Lionsgate). An excellent adaptation of an excellent book for middle school readers, offering compassion to an array of characters in pain.
- Lady Bird (A24). Director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age story with a strong mother-daughter theme hit home for this college-age daughter’s mother.
- Wonder Woman (Warner Bros). Strong women, strong ethics, and a strong cast made for a fun outing to the theater.
- Tie: The Florida Project(A24) and A Ghost Story (A24). Two very different films follow very different routes to my heart. The Florida Project takes a gritty, realistic look at what life is like for children (and their mothers) living on the margins of society near Disney World. A Ghost Story is a melancholy and wholly original way of depicting how time passes and life moves on in spite of grief.
From Otto Selles, who teaches French at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and attends Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.
- Get Out (Universal). Brilliant blend of suspenseful entertainment and thoughtful commentary on racism in America.
- Dunkirk (Warner Bros). Visually stunning with profiles of courage by way of land, sea, and air.
- Coco (Disney/Pixar). A children’s movie that treats with great sensitivity death, family, memory, and traditional Mexican culture.
- Wonder Woman (Warner Bros) and Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel). A tie for films showing how comic-based blockbusters, when actor driven, can be both entertaining and smart.
- Baby Driver (Sony). The opening sequence has the best combination of soundtrack and action.
From Reginald Smith, director of race relations and social justice for the Christian Reformed Church and member of Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.:
- Mudbound (Netflix). The movie sat with me for hours.
- Wonder Woman (Warner Bros). When we need a real hero.
- Get Out (Universal). It made me think twice about racism’s power in America.
- War for the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox). Humanity could learn a thing a two from our simian friends.
- The Big Sick (Lionsgate). An immigrant’s story told through humor and great acting.
From Greg Veltman, the Interfaith Centre coordinator at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta:
- Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros).
- Wind River (Lionsgate).
- I am Not Your Negro (Magnolia).
- Lady Bird (A24).
- Novitiate (Sony).