's Top 10 Films of 2017's Top 10 Films of 2017

Call 2017 a year of theatrical WONDER, just when we needed it most. Let's see, both Wonder and Wonder Woman broke into our Top 10, Wonderstruck managed an Honorable Mention, and even Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel wasn't bad! And just in time, as Crosswalk's long run as a place for movie reviews from a Christian perspective is coming to an end effective January 31, 2018 (but more on that later).

Even though our Movies content going forward will look different, it's not because it wasn't a banner year for the movies at Crosswalk... even if you'd be right in "wonder"ing why none of our reviewers gave out a 5-star review in 2017. Whether you loved or hated The Shack (we were pretty 'meh' on it ourselves), it became our most-read review of all time. And overall, there was still so much quality, depth of theme, and strange connections this year. Take for instance two films about the same World War II timeframe making our list, where most of us would recommend watching them as a double-feature!

But here's the bottom line: every film on our list resonated in some way with what the seven of us, as Christians, notice when we encounter a work of art that has something to say, and we deliberate long over our selections. We invite you, however, before seeing any film we recommend, to visit our full review (just click on the links provided) for a list of cautions and objectionable content. And so, without further ado, our editorial staff and film critics proudly present - for the final time (?) -'s TOP 10 FILMS (plus seven Honorable Mentions) of 2017...



    Here because: This was our favorite faith-based film of the past year. Even my 14-year-old son loved the message: try to disprove the Resurrection of Jesus like Lee Strobel once tried to do and you’ll end up frustrated at worst, becoming a believer in the good news of the Gospel at best. Click here if you want to know what we thought comprised the best of Christian movies from 2017! ~Shawn McEvoy

    From Our Review of The Case for Christ: "The latest entry from Pure Flix Entertainment breaks the mold of Christian films, delivering a rich and compelling narrative along with the steadfast message of Christ's love. 3.5 out of 5." ~Ryan Duncan

    See Also: 4 Reasons You Should Watch The Case for Christ Movie

    Image Courtesy: ©PureFlix



    Here Because: How many people do you know who, upon seeing this surprise hit starring Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, proclaimed that it shot straight into their Top Christmas Movies of All Time list? Me personally? That would be four, five if I include myself. The Man Who Invented Christmas should be required viewing in conjuction with whatever version of A Christmas Carol you're watching next December; it may be about Christmas but Easter Eggs abound! ~Shawn McEvoy

    From Our Review of The Man Who Invented Christmas: "A merry treat for the holiday season. Well-acted and brimming with a message of love, hope and charity, this film is sure to inspire warm feelings of Christmas cheer in audiences everywhere. 4 out of 5." ~Ryan Duncan

    See Also: Bringing Dickens to Life in The Man Who Invented Christmas

    Image Courtesy: ©BleeckerStreet



    Here because: The continuing saga of Rey, Finn and Poe as they battle against the sinister First Order delivered shocking twists, touching reunions and one epic lightsaber duel! Admittedly fan reaction to this new installment has been mixed (our Shawn McEvoy named it his “Most Disappointing” movie of the year). For many of the rest of us here at Crosswalk, though, it was certainly a wild success, and we can’t wait to see where the Star Wars universe takes us next. ~Ryan Duncan

    From our review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: "A triumph of originality, and yet a worthy chapter of the familiar Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi is a satisfying crowd pleaser that combines sobering themes with an outrageously fun adventure. 4 out of 5." ~Stephen McGarvey

    See Also: Star Wars and the Journey to Recover Lost Faith

    Image Courtesy: ©WaltDisneyPictures

  • 7 COCO

    7 COCO

    Here because: Well, it's only the eighth time in 13 years a Pixar film landed in our Top 10. Several editors reported having sat in the darkened theater going, "It's not gonna get me... Nice film but... Is this all ya got, Pixar?... Wait, what is this salty discharge on my cheeks?!" Coco got a lot of us in the end with its messages about family, hope and misunderstandings. Apparently it wasn't for everyone (including our Christian Hamaker, who reviewed it negatively) with a plot involving Dia de los Muertos, but several of us found this film's colorful, cultural stew a very Pixarian way to process our own family histories. ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of Coco: "Though not a sequel to one of the studio's earlier hits, Pixar's Coco feels like a retread. Colorful and musically buoyant at times, the film nevertheless has a too-familiar story arc—not to mention a rather creepy premise. 2 out of 5." ~Christian Hamaker

    See also: Pixar’s Coco Presents a Beautiful Story of Family Love

    Image Courtesy: ©Disney-Pixar



    Here because: As I said in the title of my review of this film back in June, "If you and your daughter see one superhero movie this decade, see Wonder Woman." This film had so much going against it, only to pay off in so many rewarding ways. Sure, there's a strange Greek-inspired creation myth and some muddy CGI at the climax, but director Patty Jenkins should be applauded for this balanced and inspiring work in the year of Girl Power. Gal Gadot is a bona fide star. ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of Wonder Woman: "It's a movie both the DC franchise and fans of superhero action desperately needed: an un-boring origin story where nearly everything works and a woman saves the world. The 'WW' on the posters stands less for Wonder Woman, however, and more for 'World War,' as this war genre pic has loads to say about humanity's violent, disagreeable ways, including how we haven't gone beyond the reach of redemption. 4.5 out of 5." ~Shawn McEvoy

    See also: Wonder Woman and the Call to Christian Love

    Image Courtesy: ©WarnerBros.

  • 5 THE POST

    5 THE POST

    Here because: How far would you go to protect the truth? The Post asks us to consider this very question, all while reliving the events surrounding the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks captivate audiences with their performances as Washington Post reporters facing down a corrupt administration, and the film’s slow burn of legal intrigue only adds to the mounting suspense. Themes of justice, freedom and integrity permeate the entire film. The Post encourages viewers to stand up and be heard, even when the world is against you. (Though once again, we weren't all in complete agreement: Jeffrey Huston named The Post his "Biggest Disappointment" of 2017). ~Ryan Duncan

    From our review of The Post: "Though there is nothing glitzy or jaw-dropping about Steven Spielberg's Oscar-season offering, the story resonates. Two stellar leads, a strong supporting cast, and eerily relevant subject matter warrant The Post a strong 3.5 out of 5." ~Debbie Holloway

    Image Courtesy: ©20thCenturyFox

  • 4 WONDER

    4 WONDER

    Here because: Relationships and people are all about perspective sometimes. How valuable - wonder-ful! - to walk in someone else's shoes and know the fears, hopes and challenges that give them their public faces. Our Susan Ellingburg's personal #1 movie of 2017, Wonder purports to be about a middle school boy with facial deformities, and while Auggie's story is certainly inspiring and life-changing, especially as portrayed by Room's Jacob Tremblay, what surprised me about this film was the invaluable takeaway summed up in the old quote that, "Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about, so be kind." Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts have rarely been so easily enjoyable as Auggie's patient and loving parents. ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of Wonder: "The feel-good movie of the Fall! Wonder is a gentle, uplifting story for anyone who’s ever had to find their way in a not-always-welcoming world. Young Auggie can't help the way he looks but he may change the way you see. Grab a tissue (or three) and head to your theater now. 4.5 out of 5." ~Susan Ellingburg

    Image Courtesy: ©Lionsgate



    Here because: This one was my personal #1 for 2017, because when you throw in the complete disappearance of Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill's bluster, the fact you never once feel like you aren't in 1940 London, the excellent camera work and use of shadow, darkness and confined spaces by director Joe Wright, and the so-strange way that Darkest Hour and Dunkirk each inform an understanding of the other, well, there are few better ways to study history and take the lessons into the future. Rarely has a deliberately-paced movie left my jaw open hanging on what's coming next. It's hard to watch Darkest Hour and not ponder Mordecai saying to Esther, "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of Darkest Hour: "Gary Oldman is a likely Oscar contender with his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Plagued by public failures and private doubts, Churchill faces an uphill battle—not his last, but one of the fiercest. Political intrigue abounds in this true story of how WWII almost had a very different ending. 3.5 out of 5." ~Susan Ellingburg

    Image Courtesy: ©FocusFeatures



    Here because: It fits - La La Land sat in this exact spot on our 2016 list, and songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek repeat their placement with this (some might say) revisionist, toe-tapping tale of P.T. Barnum's legacy. The Greatest Showman works best - like many things in life - when you trust it. Rather than look back and wonder at historical (in)accuracy, go with the movie to a present and future where people are proud of their differences, workaholics remember their families before it's too late, and love won't be stopped by pointless prejudices. ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of The Greatest Showman: "A musical spectacle the founder of 'The Greatest Show on Earth' would appreciate, especially since it whitewashes much of his life story. P.T. Barnum and his rags-to-riches story set to music will charm most in this family-friendly extravaganza. 4 out of 5." ~Susan Ellingburg

    See Also: Reasons to Share The Greatest Showman with Your Kids

    Image Courtesy: ©20thCenturyFox

  • And our #1 Movie of 2017 is... DUNKIRK

    And our #1 Movie of 2017 is... DUNKIRK

    Here because: The only movie on our list to be named on six of seven ballots (the only exception being Susan's, who wrote our review, quoted below), Dunkirk is the seventh Christopher Nolan film to make Crosswalk's list. Basically, everything the man has directed since we've been doing this has made it (Batman Begins, 2005; The Prestige, 2006; The Dark Knight, 2008; Inception, 2010; The Dark Knight Rises, 2012; Interstellar, 2014), with both Inception and now Dunkirk claiming our top spot for their years. 

    Dunkirk tells (let's call it half) the story of the honest-to-God miracle that turned the tide of World War II for Great Britain (Darkest Hour tells the other half, and should be watched as a double feature). It's loud, yet makes excellent use of silence and somber faces. Oddly, there aren't any what you'd call standout performances, despite the presence of Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, ooh, and Harry Styles! But Mark Rylance, who charmed us in Bridge of Spies and The BFG, exudes a quiet and determined grace that communicates everything positive about the English spirit that pulled in one direction in the early 1940s.

    Dunkirk is honorable, sacrificial, brave and miraculous at once, earning it the top spot on both Jeff and Ryan's personal lists, and vaulting it to the top spot among Crosswalk's Best Films of 2017. ~Shawn McEvoy

    From our review of Dunkirk: "An homage to the quiet bravery of ordinary people, this view of a remarkable real-life event is more survival adventure than war movie. Dunkirk assaults the senses but only occasionally tugs at the heartstrings. It's appealing without being epic, admirable but not quite amazing. 3.5 out of 5." ~Susan Ellingburg

    See also: 5 Facts about the Dunkirk Evacuation

    But wait - there's more!


    Image Courtesy: ©WarnerBros.

  • Compare This Year to the Previous 12

    Compare This Year to the Previous 12

    2016: 1 - Silence; 2 - La La Land; 3 - Hidden Figures
    2015: 1 - Inside Out; 2 - Spotlight; 3 - Room
    2014: 1 - Selma; 2 - Calvary; 3 - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    2013: 1 - 12 Years a Slave; 2 - Gravity; 3 - Frozen
    2012: 1 - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; 2 - Lincoln; 3 - Les Misérables
    2011: 1 - Hugo; 2 - The Help; 3 - Moneyball
    2010: 1 - Inception; 2 - True Grit; 3 - The King's Speech
    2009: 1 - Fantastic Mr. Fox; 2 - Up; 3 - Star Trek
    2008: 1 - Wall-E; 2 - The Dark Knight; 3 - Slumdog Millionaire
    2007: 1 - Ratatouille; 2 - Amazing Grace; 3 - The Bourne Ultimatum
    2006: 1 - The Pursuit of Happyness; 2 - The Nativity Story; 3 - United 93 / World Trade Center
    2005: 1 - Cinderella Man; 2 - Because of Winn-Dixie; 3 - Batman Begins


  • Ryan's Picks

    Ryan's Picks

    We also asked each of our seven panelists to name his or her selections for the various categories below.

    RYAN DUNCAN, Entertainment Editor

    Honorable Mention: LADY BIRD - Sometimes a movie surprises you with its humor and simplicity. Lady Bird may look like just another humble coming-of-age tale, but this love letter to small towns and teenaged wonder [that word again!] has something for everyone. Saoirse Ronan lights up the screen as the overambitious and strong-willed Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, while Laurie Metcalf is simply phenomenal playing Christine’s uncompromising mother. Beneath all the laughter, tears, and outstanding performances, Lady Bird offers viewers a truly heartfelt message: "Wherever life takes you, never forget the place you call home or the people you call family."
    Best Animated FilmCoco
    Best Family Film: Lego Batman
    Best Date Movie: Baby Driver
    Best Action Flick: Wonder Woman
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: Mully
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): Tie: The Case for Christ & All Saints
    Favorite Male Performance: Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
    Favorite Female Performance: Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
    Most Disappointing: Just Getting Started
    Most Pleasant Surprise: The Man Who Invented Christmas
    I Laughed: Lego Batman
    I Cried: Tie: Coco & Wonder

    Image Courtesy: ©A24
  • Susan's Picks

    Susan's Picks


    Honorable Mention: THOR: RAGNAROK - It would be easy to dismiss Thor: Ragnarok as “just another Marvel movie” or “a bit of mindless fluff.” Yes, it’s the most flat-out funny Marvel offering to date, giving Chris Hemsworth the chance to show off his comedy chops along with his washboard abs. But it’s the underlying message that "your identity does not come from what you have but from who you are" (and in particular "whose child you are") that upgrades this movie from basic entertainment to life lesson. A really, really fun life lesson.
    Best Animated Film: n/a
    Best Family Film: Wonder
    Best Date Movie: The Hitman’s Bodyguard
    Best Action Flick: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: I’ll Push You
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'):  Same Kind of Different As Me
    Favorite Male Performance: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
    Favorite Female Performance: McKenna Grace, Gifted
    Most Disappointing: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
    Most Pleasant Surprise: Gold
    I Laughed: Thor: Ragnarok
    I Cried: Wonder

    Image Courtesy: ©Disney-Marvel
  • Christian's Picks

    Christian's Picks


    Honorable Mention: BABY DRIVER - The first sign - in late June - that 2017 was turning into a great year for movies, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was a music-fueled blast. Bravura editing keyed to a great soundtrack gave this story of a man trying to extricate himself from a life of crime its nonstop energy, but the film’s large heart comes from the sweet romance at its center.
    Best Animated Film: Ferdinand
    Best Family Film: A Question of Faith
    Best Date Movie: The Good Catholic
    Best Action Flick: Baby Driver
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: The Good Catholic
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): The Good Catholic
    Favorite Male Performance: Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
    Favorite Female Performance: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
    Most Disappointing: Downsizing
    Most Pleasant Surprise: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    I Laughed: Ferdinand
    I Cried: Only the Brave

    Image Courtesy: ©TriStar/Sony
  • Debbie's Picks

    Debbie's Picks

    DEBBIE HOLLOWAY, Film Critic

    Honorable Mention: I, TONYA - I, Tonya's energy and sass soared above the herd in 2017 and hit a difficult sweet spot for films to achieve. On the one hand, it honored and let us cheer for a real-life heroine whose potential was cut short, and whose skill and flair were overshadowed by a series of bizarre events. On the other, the filmmakers didn't sacrifice creativity in an effort to somehow simulate a perfectly accurate depiction of a real life. Every film is something of a fiction, and I, Tonya knows it. But it's one of the most fun, darkly comedic, and thoughtful fictions of the year.
    Best Animated Film: Loving Vincent (not reviewed by Crosswalk)
    Best Family Film: Wonderstruck
    Best Date Movie: Lady Bird
    Best Action Flick: Wonder Woman
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: The Zookeeper's Wife
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): n/a
    Favorite Male Performance: Hugh Jackman, Logan
    Favorite Female Performance: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
    Most Disappointing: All the Money in the World
    Most Pleasant Surprise: The Shape of Water
    I Laughed: I, Tonya
    I Cried: Detroit

    Image Courtesy: ©Neon
  • Jeff's Picks

    Jeff's Picks

    JEFFREY HUSTON, Film Critic

    Honorable Mention: WONDERSTRUCK - Ben lives in 1977. Rose in 1927. He’s in Minnesota, she’s in New Jersey. Both are twelve. Separated by fifty years, their stories unfold in parallel. The one exact thing they share: the same disability. And eventually, they embark on a journey to the same place. Based on the YA book by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck goes back and forth between each time period, and director Todd Haynes transitions on moments that mirror each other. It’s an absorbing structure, done with subtle grace, and with an emotional payoff I wasn’t expecting but which couldn’t have been more perfect. Beautifully made, it’s like an art house family film.
    Best Animated Film: Coco
    Best Family Film: Wonderstruck
    Best Date Movie: "none - the genre is at a low point"
    Best Action Flick: Spider-Man: Homecoming
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: The Star
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): The Star
    Favorite Male Performance: Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
    Favorite Female Performance: Saiorse Ronan, Lady Bird
    Most Disappointing: The Post
    Most Pleasant Surprise: Smurfs: The Lost Village
    I Laughed: The Star
    I Cried: Wonder

    Image Courtesy: ©Amazon-Roadside
  • Shawn's Picks

    Shawn's Picks

    SHAWN McEVOY, Director of Editorial

    Honorable Mention: GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN - It’s not the Winnie-the-Pooh nostalgia trip you’re expecting. In many ways it’s more like a real bear than a stuffed one - cuddly to look at, but get closer and find teeth and claws. So why the high score? Quality performances, unexpected conflicts, storybook scenery and life lessons abound. But also because this film truly knows what it means to have been both child and parent.
    Best Animated Film: Coco
    Best Family Film: Wonder
    Best Date Movie: Murder on the Orient Express
    Best Action Flick: Wonder Woman
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: The Man Who Invented Christmas
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): The Case for Christ
    Favorite Male Performance: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
    Favorite Female Performance: Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman / Justice League
    Most Disappointing: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (though The House was a much, much worse movie)
    Most Pleasant Surprise
    : A Monster Calls
    I Laughed: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
    I Cried: Goodbye Christopher Robin

    Image Courtesy: ©FoxSearchlight
  • Steve's Picks

    Steve's Picks

    STEPHEN McGARVEY, Vice President of Digital Content

    Honorable Mention: LOGAN - "Hugh Jackman's self-admitted final foray into the character of Wolverine strikes a different note entirely from earlier installments in the X-Men franchise. Gritty and bloody, it’s meant only for mature viewers, but both casual and dedicated fans will be moved by its Western-esque themes of family and faith." ~Debbie Holloway
    Best Animated Film: Coco
    Best Family Film: The Greatest Showman
    Best Date Movie: The Big Sick (not reviewed by Crosswalk)
    Best Action Flick: Dunkirk
    Best Film with a Faith Theme: The Man Who Invented Christmas
    Best Faith-Based Film (i.e. 'Christian Movie'): n/a
    Favorite Male Performance: Anthony Gonzalez, Coco
    Favorite Female Performance: Keala Settle, The Greatest Showman
    Most Disappointing: The Dark Tower
    Most Pleasant Surprise: Logan
    I Laughed: Thor: Ragnarok
    I Cried: Coco

    Image Courtesy: ©20thCenturyFox

    NEXT - OUR MOST-POPULAR REVIEWS OF THE YEAR (in other words, YOUR favorites!) >>>

  • Last but Not Least... OUR MOST POPULAR REVIEWS OF 2017

    Last but Not Least... OUR MOST POPULAR REVIEWS OF 2017

    These are the films you, our audience, wanted to know about - and clicked on - the most!

    1. The Shack, by Carrie Dedrick (our most-read review of all-time!)
    2. My Cousin Rachel, by Debbie Holloway (we're honestly not sure how to explain this one!)
    3. Wonder Woman, by Shawn McEvoy
    4. Beauty and the Beast, by Susan Ellingburg
    5. The Case for Christ, by Ryan Duncan
    6. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, by Shawn McEvoy
    7. All Saints, by Ryan Duncan
    8. The Star, by Ryan Duncan
    9. Is Genesis History?, by Shawn McEvoy
    10. Coco, by Christian Hamaker
    11. Dunkirk, by Susan Ellingburg
    12. Let There be Light, by Ryan Duncan

    Thank you for your readership!

    NEXT: No more reviews in 2018?! What will Movie content look like at Crosswalk going forward? >>>

    Image Courtesy: ©Lionsgate

    Publication date: January 26, 2018

  • No More Reviews?! What's Next for Movie Content at Crosswalk?

    No More Reviews?! What's Next for Movie Content at Crosswalk?

    Finally, as alluded to at the beginning of this article, we at Crosswalk are both sad and excited to announce that as January 2018 ends, this marks our final movie reviews of the traditional variety.

    After providing Christian-written movie reviews and Cautions lists for most theater-released films for much of this twenty-first century, will be taking a new approach to entertainment coverage.

    All that's going away is a standard review format from an experienced critic, and a commitment to cover nearly every movie Hollywood produces.

    What will remain is a clearer focus on informing our audience about:

    We can't thank you enough for your readership over the last thirteen years that most of us have been involved writing and editing these reviews. But we've learned the audience whom requires standard reviews of theatrical releases is well served by several other fine sites in the Christian web space.

    We look forward to serving your entertainment needs in a method more suited to our strengths for years to come!

    P.S. As regards our subscribership to several movie-related newsletters, we'll be making the following changes and offering the following alternatives: 

    We'll be showcasing all of the above bullepoints weekly in our Faith & Pop Culture newsletter, which we'd like to offer you as an alternative to our Films & Faith newsletter, which was mostly about reviews of theatrical releases, and will be discontinuing.

    Our "New on DVD / What to Watch at Home" newsletter will now feature information weekly on a faith-based film you may have missed that you can now catch at home.

    Please let us hear from you about other ways we can meet your requests for pop culture content!


    The Editors

    Image Courtesy: ©Thinkstock/yodiyim