Stephen Simon’s Favorite Life-Affirming Movies of 2017

January 3, 2018

In a world in which we are so challenged on multiple fronts, and so much media focuses on negativity, fear, and the darker sides of our humanity, I believe that we also need to remember how brave, beautiful, and inspirational we can be as human beings; therefore, there is a common theme in all of the films I chose this year: a life-affirming sense of the beauty of our humanity and the comforting essence of the supremacy of love.

Even though I am a voting member of the Academy, this is NOT a “best” movies list. I see film as an art form like music and art. Can anyone objectively claim that Van Gogh was a better painter than Gauguin or Mozart a better composer than Beethoven? I believe that all any of us can honestly say is which film, music, or art we personally prefer.

Some of these films will be opening in various theaters and cities this month but may be hard to find. I promise you that they are worth searching for:









WONDER is so exquisitely titled—an amazing, uplifting film about  the extraordinary courage of a young boy who is born looking different.. his family…and the dignity of the human soul.

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US is a compelling, intimate love story between two people (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, both of whom give bravura performances) who are stranded on a mountain after a plane crash.

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In THE LEISURE SEEKER, two beloved actors (Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland) play characters well into their senior years who decide to take one last road trip in their beloved RV, which they call The Leisure Seeker. Love and magic are also along for the ride.

FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL is the true story of actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) who finds love with both a charming younger man and also an adopted family in England as the sun of  her career is setting.







THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a rousing, uplifting, 1950s-style musical about master showman P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who electrified show business in the mid-19th century…and who had the courage and vision to dare to be different..and inspired others to do so as well.

In VICTORIA AND ABDUL, another screen legend (Judy Dench) plays the queen of England who finds friendship, inspiration, and platonic love with a young Indian man (Ali Fazal) who becomes her muse and closest ally.









In DARKEST HOUR, Gary Oldman gives the bravura performance of his career as Winston Churchill whose bold vision, courage, humor, humanity, and tenacity literally helped save the world from catastrophe.

In BRAD’S STATUS, Ben Stiller plays a middle-class businessman who becomes jealous of the financial successes of his college friends…until he discovers he has something they don’t seem to have: love and family.

What were your favorite films of 2017?

Here’s to a great 2018!!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah herschel January 3, 2018 at 10:18 am

I love your list but want to give a big big shout out to “Wonder”. I think the book and now movie is such an important message ALL children and adults should read and then watch. When given the choice between right or kind choose kind ! Having taught school for 49 years the messages this movie touches on throughout the entire movie are so important. I think every parent should read this book to their child even if they can read so they can discuss each chapter.
I also really loved “Call me by your Name ” beautiful film and such great parenting by the boys father. Every parent should see this movie when bringing up your child.
P.s. My middle son just had a baby ( through surrogacy) and named her Benay. Thought you would like to hear this. Modern times ! Happy new year.
Best, Debby


Stephen Simon January 3, 2018 at 11:06 am

Congratulations, granny!…so wonderful to hear they named the child Benay!!…..and I agree about WONDER…that’s why I listed it first….what a great, important movie for EVERYONE!…wishing you a great 2018 too!!


Annamarie canadeo January 5, 2018 at 5:06 am

Thanks Stephen , for the recommendations..a grateful long time Spiritual cinema subscriber,,, thank heaven fir you and the films!!!


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