Hooray, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – when I look back at 2017’s film/TV offerings and put ’em all together in a big ol’ end of year list, mercifully split into three parts and presented to you over three consecutive days, here at the very end of the year.
Last year (as well as a few years before – solely on Facebook) I put all the 27 films that I saw on a single ranked list, giving the most attention to the top ten, but this year, seeing as how I managed to see an astonishing 67 new films in the cinema, as well as several other 2017 releases which I didn’t get to see in the cinema, I’m going to do something a little different and just do both a top and bottom ten, also including five (dis)honourable mentions each. And since this blog focuses on both film AND television, I’m also going to highlight the five best TV series that I saw this year.
All of the following will be based on UK release dates and, of course, it’s all just my opinion.
Here we go then, I really hope you enjoy!
* * *
I have to admit that I’ve been a bit slack in my TV watching this year and when writing down all that I’ve seen, I actually only counted around 14 shows. So there are almost definitely greater shows out there (Twin Peaks etc.) so this is just a little section going over my five favourite TV series of the year.
Just Missing Out:
And a special mention for:
Star Trek Discovery. Which would surely have made this list but annoyingly, it’s currently incomplete, to be concluded in 2018.
5. Master of None: Series Two
It’s a little bumpy in places, especially in the Dev/Francesca romance storyline, but it’s still one of the most consistently excellent shows out there and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch. Series two gave us some perfect episodes in Italy, a Short Cuts style episode looking at an assortment of other characters, a (rightfully) Golden Globe nominated episode focusing on Denise coming out to her family, and a wonderful powerhouse supporting performance from the amazing Bobby Canavale.
And Dev’s hilarious father returns, maaaan!
4. Fargo: Series Three
It doesn’t live up to the immense high standards set by its predecessors but Noah Hawley’s continuing adaptation of the Coen Brother classic is still as imaginative, thrilling and exciting as ever and boasts so many colourful characters brought to life by high-energy performances. This series treated us to the wonderfully repulsive VM Varga and the incredibly sharp (and awesomely named) Nikki Swango – David Thewlis and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are just the best.
3. The Punisher
Quite possibly the Winter Soldier of the Defenderverse, Netflix/Marvel’s latest is the most mature, grounded and down-to-earth of their series so far (taking a break from the fantasy and the mystical) and, although with the customary uncertain opening episode, it has a solid, intelligent, slow-burn storyline and is outrageously brutal, bloody and adult when it needs to be. And of course, Jon Bernthal is absolute perfection as Frank Castle – tough, merciless and unflinching while also managing to be incredibly likeable, showing a softer side when needed.
2. Locked Up: Series Two
I’ve definitely been slack in my Walter Presents watching, only seeing a couple this year, but Spain’s Locked Up continues to be a consistently dark, thrilling, exciting, enticing and all round magnificent series with so many colourful, three-dimensional characters and an imaginative, multi layered storyline. This series saw Maca, as well as the rest of her family on the outside, truly “break bad”, a few new great characters were introduced and the finale pulled out all the stops, finishing the saga perfectly (though I heard that there’s going to be a new series – that’s actually a shame because series two ended absolutely perfectly)
1. The Handmaid’s Tale: Series One
Honestly, if it were competing against all the films of the year, it would certainly bag a top spot, perhaps even taking the crown, as this critically acclaimed, Golden Globe winning adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel is of a consistently high quality and it is remarkably dark, tense, thought-provoking and hauntingly prophetic – the “flashback” episode in particular, where civil rights are gradually taken away, is quite possibly a good look at what we’re in for during coming times. The series is unique, the production design is striking, and the cast, which includes Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley and Madeline Brewer is a truly fine ensemble. And the award winning performances of Elisabeth Moss and Ann Dowd are exceptional – Moss is a complex, confident and commanding lead and Ann Dowd manages to be both sadistic and brutal as well as caring and protective as the memorable Aunt Lydia.
A noteworthy series indeed. Under His Eye.
* * *
So that’s it for the best of the small screen. Tune in tomorrow for the worst of the big screen!