I’ve watched fewer movies and series in 2017 than the previous year, but I still watched plenty. Here’s a shortlist of my recommendations.
Early in 2017, I attended a theology day organised by The Warehouse, and we watched and discussed Son of Man, a South African adaptation of the Gospel. Set in a fictional nation, but with familiar sets and isiXhosa as its main language, the movie made Jesus’ story tangible in a way it hadn’t been before. The interpretation of the makers was a bit too one-dimensional at times, but scenes like Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt in an African war-torn country struck home.
Aziz Ansari’s Master of None was probably the best series I watched this year. Ansari is not afraid to touch on tough topics, and also doesn’t hesitate to show himself as the anti-hero at points.
Christopher Nolan keeps stacking up amazing movies that innovate. Last year’s Dunkirk did exactly that. Showing three different storylines at three different paces, all climaxing together, was just one of the things that made this movie great. Another one was the constant threatening soundtrack. Only at the end of the movie does the viewer finally get an auditory break.
I had heard that Keanu was funny. During one of my plane rides in 2017, I decided to watch it, having no idea whatsoever what to expect. Soon I found myself laughing out loud at several moments during the movie. Which – let’s not forget I was on a plane – got a bit awkward at times.
Andy Samberg’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping made me laugh a lot last year. Kind of as a pop-version of This is Spinal Tap, the mockumentary leaves no stone in pop drama unturned. Samberg is perfectly cast in the movie he wrote himself.
Kim and I both cried non-stop during the first half of the movie Lion. The story of Saroo in the search for his parents moved us deeply. The romantic drama in the second half was a bit unnecessary, but a great movie to watch nonetheless.
Also on the aeroplane, I watched Silence, Martin Scorsese’s telling of two Catholic missionaries’ attempt at finding their mentor. Having grown up in a context where evangelism was talked about regularly, this movie challenged my thinking and convictions in more than one way.
Hidden Figures is one of those stories we need right now. It tells the world of the significant contributions African-American women made to the early years of the NASA space programme. With amazing performances by Taraji P. Hensen and Olivia Spencer, this movie warmed my soul.
I watched few documentaries this year, but the one that stood out head and shoulders, was Life, Animated. The documentary follows Owen, a man with autism spectre disorder, who goes completely non-responsive at the age of 4. Only after several years, he starts communicating again through the dialogue and the worldviews of Disney movies. One of my best friends has a son with ASD and the dad has always been a huge fan of Disney, so there were so many points of connection.
Ex Machina was a low-budget film with a great storyline. Domhall Gleeson is a programmer who encounters the most advanced humanoid A.I. What follows is a mystery movie where you just don’t know who (or what) to trust.
The third instalment in the reboot of the Planet of the Apes series, War for the Planet of the Apes, is by far its best one. Going at a much slower pace and doing a great job at establishing character development, the movie becomes surprisingly philosophical at points. That and the amazing CGI and sceneries made it a superb flick.
Probably the movie with the biggest discrepancy between anticipation and viewing was La La Land. Don’t get me wrong, the production value was good. The plotline, however, I found very disappointing. Throughout the whole movie, I was irritated with the selfish ways of Hollywood. I suspect that the movie did so well at the Oscars because it served as a justification for the whole movie industry to put their careers first rather than actually trying to make a combination of career and romance work.
The first Kingsman movie was good. It had a great spin on the whole James Bond-style movie. Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the complete opposite. The jokes were lame, the storyline was not exciting; it was just a bad movie.
Jason Momoa plays Declan Harp in the series Frontier. Set before the American Revolution, the series focuses on the struggles for dominating the fur trade. The story has too many unnecessary plot-twists and quirks, but I still enjoyed it.
Sleepless is by no means a good movie. The plot is boring at times, I could predict all major plot-twists long ahead of time, and the acting was pretty average too. I still enjoyed watching it, though.
I’ve got a soft spot for heist movies, and Going in Style hit that spot just right. Three old men who are screwed by the corporations take revenge. Not a great movie at all, but the perfect one for a relaxed evening on the couch.
Interested in seeing my full list? You can have a look at IMDb. (Note that the order is “date added”, not necessarily “date viewed”, when I encounter movies that I’ve already viewed, I still add them to my list.)