January 2017 in Films

Can you believe this will be my seventh year doing these monthly viewing recaps? In 2011, the first year I did monthly recaps, I was super obsessed with TCM. Now in 2017, the seventh year, I work at TCM! Dreams do come true, folks. As always, after the cut you will find everything I watched in January, plus I highlight a few favorites.


  1. American Gangster
  2. Déjà Vu
  3. The Book of Eli
  4. Fingers at the Window
  5. Il giustiziere sfida la città (Syndicate Sadists)
  6. He Got Game
  7. The Mirror Has Two Faces
  8. Underworld: Blood Wars
  9. Paterson
  10. Claire In Motion
  11. Elle
  12. You Got To Move
  13. Freedom on My Mind
  14. Rome Adventure
  15. Julieta
  16. Neruda

1880s: 0
1890s: 0
1900s: 0
1910s: 0
1920s: 0
1930s: 0
1940s: 1
1950s: 0
1960s: 1
1970s: 1
1980s: 1
1990s: 3
2000s: 2
2010s: 7

A few things you will note: I didn’t watch a film a day and there is a lot of Denzel Washington movies in that list. This is for two reasons: 1) I decided to do more re-watching this year. At the end of 2016, when I was recovering from surgery, I spent a lot of nights rewatching films I hadn’t seen in years and it brought me a lot of joy. So in January I rewatched several films, including The Razor’s Edge, Magnificent Obsession, and All That Heaven Allows at home and Sunset Blvd. and The Night of the Hunter in theaters. It felt really good. 2) Last January I said I was going to make an effort to finish off Denzel Washington’s filmography in 2016, and while I did see several of his films, I didn’t come anywhere near polishing it off. In fact, even after watching four of his films this month, I still have fifteen more to track down this year. I will do it! I will complete this task! Then I plan to tackle Colin Farrell.

Which brings us to the films I watched for the first time last month that I feel other should seek out. Not surprising, most of them were directed by women!

The Mirror Has Two Faces, 1996 (dir. Barbra Streisand)


I don’t know what I expected with this film, but I definitely loved it more than I thought I would. It’s a sharp look at mothers and daughters, the way we tend to think that physical beauty and intelligence are diametrically opposed, and how we experience love. Based on the two films I’ve seen from Streisand as a director, I think it’s truly unfortunate that we only got three films from her. She had a lot to say, and it seems the world at large wasn’t willing to listen.

Underworld: Blood Wars, 2017 (dir. Anna Foerster)


I’m not gonna say this is a great film, nor am I gonna say any of the films in this franchise are all that great (except maybe the first one, which I was obsessed with in high school), but I think Anna Foerster did a great job jumping into this world. She also added some distinct elements to it, akin to her work on Outlander, including a ball sequence with amazingly opulent hair and costumes. There was also a notable increase in the amount of women with speaking roles. And there was cunnilingus! Always good.

You Got To Move, 1985 (dir. Lucy Massie Phenix, Veronica Selver)


This was a great documentary about the various movements for social change in the South, with special attention paid to the efforts of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. Definitely a film that will inspire you to do more work for your community.

Freedom on My Mind, 1994 (dir. Connie Field, Marilyn Mulford)


Another great documentary about social change in the South, this film looks at the story of Freedom Summer in Mississippi. In 1964 many students and other agents of change banded together for voter registration in Mississippi. This film chronicles their efforts, including freedom rides, voter registration efforts, and the creation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Julieta, 2016 (dir. Pedro Almodóvar0r)


I was a little hesitant about this film because it’s based a work from Alice Munro and I’m not the biggest fan of her writing, but I will always go to bat for Almodóvar. Thankfully, Pedro’s style won out and for the most part I was really drawn into this story, and his lush melodramatic way of telling a story. Fans of Almodóvar will definitely enjoy this film.

So that was January. I’ve got some more noir to see on the big screen in February, as well as several documentaries I’m looking forward to. I would also encourage all of you to continue to seek out films directed by women, whether you watch them in theaters or rent them on VOD. Make your dollars count!


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on February 1, 2017, in 2017 in Films and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Making a Cinephile

    Great list!

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