As we move forward in 2018, let’s remember the best of last year’s offerings.
2017 may have been a year of ups and downs for all of us, but in the world of cinema it has been nothing if not spectacular. Awards season is on the way, so with that in mind and the notion of looking back, here are the films I believe made 2017 not just bearable, but at times, a delight.
Those looking for La La Land or Moonlight, I have excluded them on the grounds they had releases in 2016, and were also considered as part of last year’s awards season. I have also been unable to view The Shape of Water due to its later release in the UK. Let’s get started then, shall we?
10. War for the Planet of the Apes
The last in this decade’s resurgence of Apes, War’s brutal, unforgiving tale of man’s mistreatment of animals is a bleak yet relentlessly entertaining blockbuster. Thoughtful and gentle when it wants to be and explosive when it needs it, it amplifies both its action and emotion through its central, mind-blowlingly powerful performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar. While it is unlikely that Serkis will be recognised in awards season, his unfathomable talents in motion capture require an acting pedigree that should place him amongst the greats.
9. Baby Driver
Rather tainted due to revelations with Kevin Spacey, I, however, am not in a hurry to forget the absolutely sensational thrill ride to be found in this astounding Edgar Wright outing. Pushing an oozingly charming Ansel Elgort further into the spotlight, this delightfully old-fashioned yet exhilaratingly fresh heist movie is hilarious, exciting and has a soundtrack that demands your Spotify’s attention for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt that Baby Driver was 2017’s coolest movie.
The Wolverine movie I’ve wanted since I was a wee boy, although it would definitely not be appropriate for children, Logan is a superhero masterpiece. Unlike previous family-friendly entries, Logan is an expletive, but most importantly, tremendously violent affair, boasting an unforgettable array of bloody scenes of fury. This all but complements the deep, emotional themes that run through the film, plus Hugh Jackman’s greatest turn as the titular hero. Disclaimer – I cried.
7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Yet to be fully released in the UK, Three Billboards should be firmly on people’s watch list in the next month. A Coen-esque, terrifically witty drama that finds levity beneath its truly dark themes, it’s an accomplished piece of work from McDonagh that I look forward to watching again, and again. Our lead Frances McDormand is firmly on her way to a second Oscar with a rough-mannered, cheeky but frightening maternal performance.
6. Call Me By Your Name
A relishing, bravura showcase of true love, Call Me By Your Name was a wistfully romantic showstopper of last year. It’s led by an enduringly charismatic and lovable Armie Hammer, in his greatest performance since 2011, and Timothée Chalamet in a remarkably nuanced performance that captures the naivety of adolescence and the pursuit of emotional maturity. Director Luca Guadagnino encapsulates all that’s great about love in a beautiful, vivid way that never veers into crude, but remains a constant visual poem. A love letter to companionship, the joy of a lazy summer, and being true to oneself, Call Me By Your Name is wonderful.
5. Blade Runner 2049
35 years is a monstrously long wait, but Denis Villeneuve steered the ship masterfully, creating a work of art I still can’t believe. Returning to the world first brought to life in the 80s, this stunning, perfectly developed neo-noir is impeccably realised. Ryan Gosling is a more-than-suitable, new-generation Deckard; a coldly emotional yet gently complex character. Plus Harrison Ford returning to his iconic role, but managing to outperform himself in a career-best showing. This is a moment in my movie-going life that will not be lost, as Hauer so famously noted, like “tears in rain”.
4. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s first solo filmmaking outing is one for the ages. The tale of a teenager’s ascent into adulthood is a packed genre, but this stands high above the rest. It’s a masterwork in poignant story telling, relevant in the purest sense, gleeful, touching and outstandingly crafted. Saoirse Rowan continues to prove herself as a one of the finest talents in the industry today, as well as her character’s mother played expertly by Laurie Metcalf. Lady Bird is more than a movie, it’s a personal observation on life as an innocent, stubborn, ignorant teen that I found myself wrapped up in like a warm memory.
3. The Florida Project
The Florida Project is an absolute gem of 2017; a gorgeous, sublimely orchestrated social insight into consequences of poverty & improper parenting, and the remarkable ability of a child to make any kingdom Magic. The lack of plot is not a negative, rather it is absolutely crucial – this is a slow moving painting of life on (and often under) the bread line in a place more often known for being a paradise. Willem Dafoe’s heartfelt performance as the steady, compassionate hotel manager is deserving of a gong come Oscars night.
2. Get Out
This is a dream pick for Best Picture. Upon reflection my love for Get Out has been slow but ever-moving. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is an outstanding, painfully relevant racial satire that bites hard, a staggering middle finger to racism that does more than raise a nervous eyebrow. There are laughs to be had, but at its core Get Out is a ruthlessly deep-rooted horror, engraining itself in your brain enough to create a nervous disposition. Perhaps the finest debut in recent memory, it’s a landmark display of incredible talent and an instant classic.
Christopher Nolan is long overdue some proper Oscar recognition, perhaps it is finally time with Dunkirk. Telling the story of the British Army’s efforts to get home from the French coast in WWII, a shambles which was famously dubbed a ‘military disaster’, Nolan drops us into the shuddering chaos of war without giving us a chance to take a breath. From beginning to end, it’s a claustrophobic, immersive and grand insight into the unpredictability of war and the mere seconds that separate life and death. The narrative is split ingeniously into three channels; Land, Air and Sea, all with different time frames, yet the way they remarkably flow together is inspired. Carried by a fantastic cast, including a pleasantly surprising Harry Styles, and a cerebral, goosebump-inducing score from Hans Zimmer, it is nothing short of perfection.
Dunkirk is a cinematic tour de force, a pure war film that exceeds many others, and a heart-stopping, thundering masterpiece that evokes a state of speechlessness only appropriate for when you see something truly extraordinary.
What were your favourite films of 2017? Any we’ve missed? Feel free to let us know in the comments.