Sunday, 31 December 2017

Best Films of 2017

Okay, before we get to this year's winners, let me give honourable mention to a few films that were better than they had any right to be...

Happy Death Day was Groundhog Day recast as a slasher pic. It has a final revelation which satisfyingly ties up loose ends, and one of the finest title sequences I’ve seen. 

Meanwhile Assassin’s Creed should have been a disposable piece of game-based junk but was surprisingly good. It benefited from a strong cast including Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

And then we have Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Two unwieldy, colonic titles, two remarkably good popcorn movies. Both co-written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.

Now for a film that I felt should have been better than it was. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. It had great colour photography and was amazingly suspenseful. But it left me cold... cold being the operative word for Nolan's chilly brilliance.

Next, a couple of oddball contenders...  Stephen Soderbergh's Logan Lucky, a Southern-fried heist movie. I loved that one of Daniel Craig's  dim-witted brothers has a botched tattoo which reads 'Dangerus'. 

And The Limehouse Golem, which interwove the fascinating world of the Victorian theatre with a serial killer whodunit — and managed to pull the wool over my eyes.

The Death of Stalin was both hilarious and horrifying; I must get the graphic novel it was based on. 

And Paddington 2 pulled off the difficult trick of being a family comedy without being cloying. Hugh Grant as the thespian villain rises to the occasion magnificently.

Miss Sloane told a suspenseful tale of nefarious shenanigans in the world of Washington lobbying. It has a superlative twist at the end. 

American Made, a story of industrial-scale drug smuggling had an interesting, sardonic and powerful script, great direction by Doug Liman and a very appealing and cheeky performance by Tom Cruise. Terrific, harrowing fun.

And I enjoyed sf cryo-sleep drama Passengers immensely. Chris Pratt fails to resist the temptation to thaw out Jennifer Lawrence...

But enough of near misses. Here is my purely personal Top Ten for 2017:

Unlocked, a superb spy thriller written by Peter O’Brien, directed by Michael Apted and starring Noomi Rapace. In a departure from his usual roles, Orland Bloom is a revelation.

War for the Planet of the Apes. A great movie, and one which really got to me. I cared so deeply about the characters, I felt sick with fear at times. Heart rending, heart breaking, lyrical. 

Thor Ragnarok. Wonderfully funny. Tessa Thompson is unforgettable fun as a drunken Valkyrie.

Star Wars The Last Jedi. After Rogue One I’d feared the worst, but this was magnificent. I'll be posting about it in detail soon.

Jackie. A biopic of Jackie Kennedy and a masterpiece. Staggeringly good, and so true to the period it’s as if they stuck a camera through a wormhole back to 1963.

Get Out. A horror movie and a black comedy. It looks at issues of race in America through the lens of a commercial horror film. Often hilariously funny and very suspenseful, it makes amazing use of small, telling moments to generate enormous drama and fear. 

Wonder Woman. This had to be up near the top... although Chris Pine looks uncannily like Goodman Beaver. Gal Gadot has the great line, “I’m the man who can." 

Blade Runner 2049. I loved this and what was particularly remarkable was the way it recaptured the look and feel — the essence — of the original.

Their Finest. You've probably never heard of this, but it is utterly wonderful and was very nearly my film of the year. A home-front WW2 romantic comedy about film-makers working on a story about Dunkirk, for me this utterly eclipsed Nolan's movie. It has enormous heart and warmth, with great characters and humour. Deeply moving and beautifully crafted.
 
But my top pick of 2017 is Wind River. For the third year running, the best movie of the year was written by Taylor Sheridan. This time he directed it, too. It's the story of a murder on an Indian reservation, investigated by a local tracker and an out-of-her-depth big city Fed: "This isn’t the land of backup, Jane. This is the land of you’re on your own.”

(Sheridan's previous masterpieces were Sicario and Hell or High Water.)

(Image credits: Thanks to the ever reliable Imp Awards for all the posters.)

4 comments:

  1. Their Finest ranks as one of my favourites of 2017. I love how it managed to recreate the look, tropes and above all the stirring patriotism of such classic British films of the 40s beautifully, in a way that made the film-within-a-film feel uncannily real and familiar. I genuinely feel like I've seen 'The Nancy Starling', a flagwaving propaganda tool that manages to rise above such a basis to tug at your heartstrings. Hell, I want to watch 'The Nancy Starling' right now.

    I really liked the young Morrissey biopic England Is Mine too, even though not many did.

    Happy new year to you

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    1. I haven't seen the Morrisey biopic but I will look out for it. I am *so* pleased you saw Their Finest, and liked it. I really want to spread the word about that movie. Thank you so much for reading, and commenting. Happy New Year!

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  2. great selection Andrew...many highlights this year

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    1. Thank you for the feedback. Very much appreciated!

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