I left the theater after watching “Thank You for Your Service” both drained and elated.
The film’s depiction of soldiers adjusting to civilian life proved brutal. We all need to see a movie like “Service” to understand the pressures they face once the shooting stops.
What a movie.
And yet “Thank You For Your Service” tanked at the box office. The drama topped out at a paltry $9 million in U.S. sales. Surely film critics would rally to the film’s side, as would the inevitable Oscar buzz.
No, and no. This critic didn’t even receive an awards screener of the film.
“Service” is still an outstanding achievement, one that leads the Best Movies of 2017 list.
- “Thank You for Your Service” -- Miles Teller’s track record, to date, is more than impressive. It speaks to his ability to sniff out great scripts and dive head first into the material. He does just that with this post-war drama that shares a powerful story about both sacrifice and hope.
- “Get Out” -- The year’s best horror movie is also its nicest surprise. Who expected a very funny comedian, Jordan Peele, to uncork such a shrewd, sophisticated shocker right out of the gate? “Get Out” is terrific from the opening sequence on. Let’s hope Peele returns to the horror genre early and often.
- “The Glass Castle“ -- A quick survey. Did anyone predict Woody Harrelson would emerge as the biggest movie star from the “Cheers” cast? It happened all the same, and in “The Glass Castle” he delivers one of his finest performances. The film follows a deeply dysfunctional family led by Harrelson, a man with huge passions and some glaring parental flaws. It’s gripping all the way through the end, which sadly sugar coats the real person behind the emotional drama.
- “Baby Driver“ -- After “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” and “The World’s End” it appeared that director Edgar Wright’s mojo tank stood on empty. “Baby Driver” shattered those fears with a sly combination of action, humor and romance. Cult status, here we come.
- “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” -- When was the last time a film truly surprised you? This Netflix original does so every 15 minutes, delivering a tale that should self-destruct but never does.
- “I, Tonya” -- Retelling the Harding/Kerrigan skating nightmare seems like the stuff of an ’80s made-for-TV flick … at best. Instead, this smart, soulful dramedy captures a moment in pop culture that deserves to be revisited. Margot Robbie is excellent, as usual, but the supporting players steal the show (Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser).
- “The Big Sick” -- Finally, a warm, witty rom-com. It took a real-life romance and an indie sensibility to bring this sweet story to the big screen. Credit goes to not just star/co-writer Kumail Nanjiani but producer Judd Apatow. The comedy giant’s fingerprints are all over the film, in only the best of ways.
- “Lady Bird” -- A near flawless directorial debut from Greta Gerwig doubles as a timeless coming of age yarn. Saoirse Ronan, who is so good she’s still underrated, stars as a young woman finding her way in life. Nothing remarkable there, but it’s how the film captures her evolution that will delight you.
- “Wonder Woman“ -- So much hype. So many rewards. We can start with the freakishly perfect casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman -- she’s gorgeous, funny and layered. From there, director Patty Jenkins reminds us why the best superhero movies matter. They teem with heroism, real humor and heart. The third act isn’t as strong as necessary, but it can’t chase away the film’s copious pleasures.
- “The Greatest Showman” -- Hugh Jackman pays the rent playing Logan, but you can tell he’d rather be putting on a show exactly like this. The movie brushes past P.T. Barnum’s serious flaws while reminding us why move musicals soar above the rest. The instantly catchy songs are a start, courtesy of the “La La Land” musical duo. This “Showman” might be the most beautiful film of the year.