[Images: Fox Searchlight/Warner Bros/Sony Pictures Classic/Netflix/20th Century Fox]1/21
[Images: Fox Searchlight/Warner Bros/Sony Pictures Classic/Netflix/20th Century Fox]
20. ”The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)”
Noah Baumbach’s most bittersweet, dynamic, and satisfying film yet, “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” really pops because of its incredible performances, the stand-out of which is Adam Sandler as the innately hilarious, aggressive, but eternally vulnerable Danny. You can read my full review for “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” here.
19. ”Goodbye Christopher Robin”
Mostly overlooked upon its release, “Goodbye Christopher Robin” might have perpetuated the idyllic view of England that is only ever seen on screen, but its probing of the upper classes in the 1920s and 1930s and the increasingly dark way that it showed the weight and damage of fame made it rare and affecting. You can read my full review for “Goodbye Christopher Robin” here.
[Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures]
18. ”Paddington 2”
OK, this one is a little bit of a cheat, as “Paddington 2” isn’t released into US cinemas until January 12. But it is already in UK cinemas, and it is an all round delight, as co-writer and director Paul King creates a follow-up that’s different to the original, but is still effortlessly breezy, full of subtext, genuinely hilarious, and a heart so big and warm you can’t help but feel that this cruel world doesn’t actually deserve the adorable bear.
[Image: Warner Bros]
17. ”Justice League”
While the rest of the world took umbrage with “Justice League,” I found it a blast. Sure, it has a bare-thread plot that relies on an inconsequential macguffin I still couldn’t describe to you, but it was packed to the brim with spectacle; including several enthralling and surprising action sequences, played to the strengths of its iconic characters and Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, reflected the modern world, and had a zip fast energy. You can read my full review of “Justice League” here.
[Image: Warner Bros]
16. ”The Florida Project”
One moment a reminder of the freedom of youth, the other a stark exposure of the failure of the American dream, “The Florida Project” is always absorbing, shines with color and light, and is an intense ride through a seldom seen part of the USA. It also features some of the year’s best performances, from Brooklynn Prince as the spirited six-year-old Moonnee, to Bria Vinaite as the unrelenting Halley, and not forgetting Will Dafoe as the kind-hearted manager Bobby. It’s a film that festers with you. You can read my full review of “The Florida Project” here.
What’s most impressive about “Okja” is how it manages to go from comedy to drama, still keeps its message and subtext brewing throughout, all without dropping a beat. It kind of helps that it is so outlandish, but even then the titular super-pig is never cartoonish. As a result, “Okja” isn’t just tremendously entertaining, but surprisingly hard-hitting, too. You can read my full review of “Okja” here.
14. “Logan Lucky”
Steven Soderbergh rocketed back from his supposed retirement earlier this summer with the delightfully smooth and hugely enjoyable “Logan Lucky,” which tapped into the storytelling adroitness of the likes of “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Out Of Sight,” but this time with a working class edge that made it funnier and much more surprising than it ought to have been. Especially its final act, which slowed things down but was still utterly compelling. You can read my full review of “Logan Lucky” here.
[Image: Bleecker Street]
13. “The Shape Of Water”
Guillermo del Toro’s nautical romance has been a critical darling ever since it was released, and it is now well and truly in the awards season hunt. For good reason, too, as “The Shape Of Water” is such a gorgeous, heart-racing delight that you will immediately want to drown in its splendour. While Del Toro’s ability to create a story so unique deserves credit, Sally Hawkins is the true standout, as she produces a performance of such skill and heart that she deserves to be the Best Actress front-runner. You can read my full review of “The Shape Of Water” here.
[Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures]
“Una” took a while to get to US cinemas, doing so a full year after it premiered at Telluride. Once it did it proved to be divisive, too. For me, though, “Una” challenged, provoked, and pushed me to places that were uncomfortable and invigorating, while teasing enough answers and leaving more questions that meant I was still thinking about it for a long while after. It should also be noted that Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn make for a gripping leading twosome, too. You can read my full review of “Una” here.
[Image: Thunderbird Releasing]
11. ”The Big Sick”
A genuinely intelligent rom-com that is able to take risks and strike a chord all without sacrificing laughs, “The Big Sick” basically delivers on every level. Director Michael Showalter, writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who based the story on their real life romance, and actors Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano combine perfectly to provide a much needed modern day take on the stale genre, which is just endlessly watchable. You can read my full review of “The Big Sick” here.
10. “Blade Runner 2049”
“Blade Runner 2049” combines blockbuster sci-fi with genuine artistry to such a dazzling and sumptuous extent that it still boggles the mind that it actually exists. Director Denis Villeneuve expands the world with a patience and beauty that makes it strikingly unique, especially when combined with Roger Deakins’ visuals, while the script hypnotically twists and turns, and the cast are pitch perfect. Sure it bungles its final act, but this is a $180 million film unlike any other, and as such needs to be celebrated. You can read my full review of “Blade Runner 2049” here.
[Image: Warner Bros]
9. ”God’s Own Country”
A romance that manages to be both primal and understated, Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu)’s relationship develops in the unspoken, the silences and their looks rather than with explicit over explanatory dialogue. As a result you become increasingly invested. Writer and director Francis Lee trusts the audience, and as such remains steadfast in his approach, which makes it all the more powerful. The result is a tender and poetic take on love that is much more than the Yorkshire “Brokeback Mountain.” You can read my review of “God’s Own Country” here.
[Image: Samuel Goldwyn Films]
8. “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton”
Infinitely fascinating, director Chris Smith could have gone overboard with "Jim & Andy." But by focusing on the parallels between Jim Carrey shooting "Man On The Moon" and Andy Kaufman’s career he creates a compelling examination of comedy, fame, and the profession of acting that feels particularly probing considering how much media and visuals we now all consume. It’s also a reminder of the power of personality, as well as a warning to Hollywood that great art always comes from even greater risk.
7. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has such an unerring fury, bite, and humor that it sears into your brain. Especially since it is led by the all round brilliance of Frances McDormand, who is utterly commanding as Mildred. McDonagh manages to weave its various sub-plots while still building to a thought-provoking and testing finale that is the perfect mixture of satisfying and frustrating. You can read my full review of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” here.
[Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures]
6. “Lady Bird”
It’s true that “Lady Bird” crackles with a wit, drama, and insight that you can’t help but fall in love with. But it also works as a period piece, teenage drama, rom-com, a coming of age tale, a love letter to a home-town, while it always mixes its small and big ideas in a subtle yet resonant fashion. Writer and director Greta Gerwig has an eye and cinematic voice that chimes so perfectly with Saoirse Ronan’s performance that we can only hope the duo will work together for many more years to come, too. You can read my full review of “Lady Bird” here.
5. "Get Out"
It speaks volumes of Jordan Peele’s impeccable directorial debut that even though it was released all the way back in February it is still featuring so prominently in Best Film round-ups. How could it not, though? A zeitgeist horror comedy thriller that already feels timeless, “Get Out” is always entertaining, constantly thought provoking, and cajoles its audience out of their slumber with its scares and intent. “Get Out” is a cinematic rollercoaster unlike any other.
[Image: Blumhouse Productions]
A film that finds Christopher Nolan at the peak of his powers, “Dunkirk” is a chaotic, claustrophobic, intense recreation of one of the most integral few days in modern history. It might very well be his best film, too, as the mastercraftsman merges together three narratives, finds the perfect angles and imagery that plonks viewers in the mayhem, and keeps building and heightening the film all the way up to its rousing crescendo. A remarkable accomplishment.
[Image: Warner Brothers]
“Logan” showcases the true potential of the superhero film. I understand that the likes of Marvel and the DCEU have mainstream ambitions that they have to abide by, but with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart saying farewell, writer and director James Mangold was given free reign to make the Wolverine film we’d all been dying to see. And boy did he succeed, as “Logan” was gritty, aggressive, violent, but still poignant, and unlike many of its peers worked on a number of levels. To put it simply, it is one of the greatest superhero films of all time.
[Image: 20th Century Fox]
2. ”Call Me By Your Name”
My love for “Call Me By Your Name” is so rich and deep that even now, over two months after I originally watched it, every time I look back on the film it feels as though I’m thinking about a lost love. The trifecta of Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and director Luca Guadagnino create something that has glorious highs and terrible lows, but all of which connects in an uncynical and passionate fashion. It truly is a film for the ages. You can read my full review of “Call Me By Your Name” here.
[Image: Sony Pictures Classics]
1. “The Post”
Never write off Steven Spielberg. Especially when he finds a story that works as both a hugely entertaining film in its own right, but also has deep, vital parallels to the modern world. “The Post” is just that. Spielberg’s true genius is how he allows both of these threads to never impede the other. Instead, they perfectly merge, compliment, and ultimately augment the film. It also helps that the most successful director in history has the assistance of one of the greatest ensemble casts in living memories, too. Not that you can tell, because everyone involved is so aware of the importance of the film that they leave their egos in check, which gives “The Post” an edge and bite that makes its impact all the more powerful. You can read my full review for “The Post” here.
[Image: 20th Century Fox]
Behind the scenes it has been a topsy turvy year for movies.
Not only have box office numbers dwindled alarmingly, but audiences have increasingly turned to the likes of Netflix and Amazon for home entertainment instead of heading out to the cinema, especially as their output has become more and more impressive.
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And that’s before we even get to the most recent purchase of 20th Century Fox, which suggests that we’re growing closer and closer to the entire country being renamed The United States Of Disney sooner rather than later.
But while the above is certainly cause for concern, we can at least take solace in the fact that studios have continued to churn out stellar movie after stellar movie after stellar movie over the course of the last 12 months.
While there were the usual blockbusters disasters, failed franchise launches, and disappointing sequels, we have also been privy to new films from the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, Edgar Wright, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh, and Rian Johnson, while the latest installments to the DCEU and Star Wars franchises provoked a healthy debate, too.
At the same time the political and social upheaval, not just across the United States Of America, but the rest of the world, too, clearly made an impact on the way audiences watched and processed films.
Films on the freedom of the press (“The Post”), homosexual romances (“Call Me By Your Name”), police brutality (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), and the physical abuse of women (“I, Tonya”) have been embraced by audiences and critics alike, proving that cinema can connect people in a profound and impactful manner. Especially in comparison to the rage riddled ramblings of the world wide web.
But which have been the cream of the crop, and the films that will stick longest in the memory for decades to come? Without further ado, here are the 20 best films of 2017. According to me, anyway. Obviously.