Favourite Films of 2017
I’ve put together a list of my top 30 movies of 2017. I’ve only included movies with a UK 2017 release, so the likes of Coco, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri don’t apply.
I’ve also rather foolhardily missed a fair few notable releases this year, including the likes of Call Me By Your Name, God’s Own Country, Good Time, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Disaster Artist, all of which have been extremely well received elsewhere.
Anyway, with those disclaimers firmly in place, here are my 30 favourites from 2017:
30/ The Lost City of Z
29/ La La Land
27/ War for the Planet of the Apes
25/ Wind River
24/ Paddington 2
22/ Lego Batman Movie
21/ Captain Underpants
19/ A Ghost Story
18/ Hacksaw Ridge
17/ A Monster Calls
16/ Wonder Woman
14/ John Wick 2
13/ Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2
12/ Thor: Ragnarok
Barry Jenkins’ poignant coming of age movie chronicles one boy’s turbulent path to manhood through three distinct stages of his life. It’s fascinating to see how the various people he is surrounded by help to shape his burgeoning young character as he wrestles with a personal sexual awakening. The delicate subject matter is handled with great sensitivity and helps to create a powerful film that is tinged with a heartbreaking melancholy.
An altogether darker comic-book movie that’s far grittier than any X-Men movie we’ve seen before. There’s no superhero sheen or Hollywood polish, instead there’s broken down heroes, trying desperately to make a difference. It’s dark, mournful and surprisingly moving. A fitting swansong for both Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X.
8/ Star Wars: The Last Jedi
A thoroughly enjoyable Star Wars instalment that while not without its flaws, is still nevertheless filled with enough excitement, action and heartfelt moments to justify the immense hype. The fates of both Rey and Kylo-Ren were deftly handled by Rian Johnson, as were those of the franchise’s old guard, with Mark Hamill in particular giving the performance of his career. By the time the end credits roll, the Star Wars saga is seemingly set to take off in a bold new direction.
7/ The Florida Project
A vibrant coming of age movie from director Sean Baker which focuses on the impoverished projects right on Disney’s doorstep in Florida and is told uniquely from the point of view of a 6-year-old girl. Baker’s movie is filled with compassion for its subject matter and he creates a wonderfully effective contrast between the wide-eyed wonderment and spirit of adventure exuded by our young heroine and the harsh and unforgiving reality of the grown-up world that surrounds her.
6/ The Big Sick
A hilarious and heartfelt comedy from comedian and writer Kumail Nanjiani that draws extensively from his own real-life experiences. Aside from being extremely funny, The Big Sick stands out thanks to its genuinely touching moments and its deft handling of clashing cultures. As well as Nanjiani and love interest Zoe Kazan, its Ray Romano and Holly Hunter who stand out as the latter’s affable parents. It’s a film that offers a refreshingly unique take on the typical rom-com formula.
5/ Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s latest movie was a stylish and pulsating action blast, part crime-caper, part pure jukebox-cinema. The film’s soundtrack is a pivotal cog in the machine, driving the action forward and helping to deliver a wonderfully distinctive movie that revels in the simple joys of blending music and movies. As well as being unashamedly fun and boundlessly energetic, Baby Driver also impresses on a technical level with Wright’s signature brand of hectic choreography and editing really coming into its own.
4/ Manchester By The Sea
A bruising drama and a powerful character study from director Kenneth Lonergan that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Incredibly affecting and occasionally devastating, its a drama filled with rage and grief that is anchored by incredible central performances from Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck. Affleck in particular is a raw and mesmerising turn as the broken man struggling to leave his past behind.
3/ Get Out
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a glorious blend of horror, comedy and social satire that takes the delicate issue of racism and utilises it to riveting effect. Refreshingly different yet still incredibly effective, the racial paranoia that permeates throughout produces both shocks and laughs whilst also delivering some pertinent home-truths. The slow-burning tension is slowly ramped up as Peele creates a gloriously unsettling atmosphere.
2/ Blade Runner 2049
A captivating and visually stunning neo-noir which pulled of the unexpected and not only lived up to its illustrious predecessor but also inventively built on its narrative. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are both superb, with the latter putting in arguably his best work in decades. Director Denis Villeneuve delivers a sombre dystopian future that seems very bit as dark and dangerous as Ridley Scott’s original. It’s a thoughtful and daring sequel that allows its mysteries to unravel slowly. Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s stunning score are both vital components in an audacious cinematic experience.
A true cinematic spectacle, Christopher Nolan’s World War Two epic forces you to the edge of your seat from the first minute and doesn’t let up for the rest of its run time. Evocative, powerful and unrelentingly tense, it perfectly captures the sense of determination and desperation that surrounded the Dunkirk evacuations. Nolan utilises the three different perspectives to brilliant effect as we see a trio of personal stories and witness how they factored in to a much wider narrative.
The ensemble cast are all excellent, from Cillian Murphy’s deeply traumatised survivor to Tom Hardy’s daring pilot who conveys more emotion through just his eyes than many actors could their entire face. Once again, Hans Zimmer’s score plays a crucial role, escalating the tension as the action gradually reaches breaking point. Technically exceptional and completely immersive, Dunkirk packs an emotional punch that lingers long in the memory