With an end to the 2017 summer movie season, it’s time to round up my favorite films of this summer. While I was credentialed for both the Chicago Critics Film Festival, the Fantasia International Film Festival, and remotely covered a few films selected for the Flyover Film Festival, I am not including any of those films unless they’ve been released in theaters, video on demand, or Digital HD.
I’ll start with the documentaries. I’ve seen a few documentaries this summer. I’ve enjoyed summer releases such as An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry and California Typewriter but it was Score: A Film Music Documentary that blew me away by far this summer. I first saw it during the Chicago Critics Film Festival and was really talking up the film over the next month as it got closer to release. If I had to vote for my best documentary of the year, it’s easily going to come down to both Score and The Last Laugh.
My favorite comedies this summer included Band Aid, The Big Sick, The Little Hours, Girls Trip, The Incredible Jessica James, Brigsby Bear, Brave New Jersey, Ingrid Goes West, Logan Lucky, Dave Made A Maze, and Bear with Us. I enjoyed all of these comedies for so many reasons. It’s going to be very hard to select my favorite comedy of the year when all is said and done. I found myself laughing hysterically at The Little Hours when I saw it at the Music Box in July.
As far as action films go, my favorite films included Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk, and Atomic Blonde. Just like the comedies, it’s so hard to select my favorite action film from the summer.
On the drama side of things, The Hero, Megan Leavey, A Ghost Story, Columbus (this hasn’t opened in Chicago but it’s run started in August), Menashe, and Good Time. While there’s no doubt that Detroit and Wind River were well-made and essential for awareness reasons, I just can’t see myself sitting through them on a re-watch. The Beguiled was another well-made movie but not one that I can find myself sitting through on a rewatch either.
On the animation front, the only two films I’ve seen this summer were Despicable Me 3 and Leap!. I was left more impressed by the latter. I was never a fan of Pixar’s Cars and to be honest. I didn’t even bother seeing Cars 2 so it only made sense that I would decide to pass on Cars 3. I have to believe that the only reason they produced a third film in the franchise was for the merchandising reasons alone.
As far as foreign films go, both The Women’s Balcony and Footnotes stood out above the rest, including The Wedding Plan. You know how people kept saying Hidden Fences during Oscar season last year, I keep combining the titles of the two Israeli films whenever I talk about them: The Wedding Balcony. I’ll be seeing more foreign films throughout the fall but my summer selection was extremely limited. I have an easier time seeing a film on the big screen than I do watching a screener on my laptop. One foreign language film that I do look forward to seeing is A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) given the transgender content.
While Beauty Mark will no doubt get people talking, it’s still playing the festival circuit and awaiting distribution. Future ’38, a Slamdance selection, is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year but until it’s released, it’s not going to be included in my favorites. The same goes for the well-made Psycho shower scene documentary, 78/52. Lucky, starring Harry Dean Stanton, will be considered upon it’s release but for now, I can’t place it among the favorites.
And Then There Was Eve…can someone just credential me for a festival so I can just see it already? Even without my seeing it, it won this summer because it has a transgender woman playing a transgender woman rather than that other film where a cisgender male played a transgender woman. It’s not playing at the Reeling Film Festival in Chicago and that’s a shame.