And so we reach the end of my trek through 2017 with my top ten films of the year. Again, there were undoubtedly those beloved classics that I missed out on (A Ghost Story, Paddington 2, Call Me By Your Name etc. (Although I’ve heard the latter may not actually be as amazing as some would make it out to be)) and there were plenty of other wonderful films that I saw this year, but I guess that these here entries just floated my boat more than others – some are technically proficient, ground-breaking and apparently universally beloved while some, whilst not technically being the very best, made a huge emotional impact on me and left me thinking about them for days afterwards. So out of the 81 films from 2017 that I managed to see this year, these particular entries are especially worthy in my opinion.
It’s also quickly worth mentioning that, after much deliberation, I ultimately decided not to limit myself to films that I only saw in the cinema, like previous years, but rather include all those that had a 2017 UK release date. Because surely it’s fairer and allows for a wider array of options.
And it makes the top ten that bit more interesting. Particularly given the film at my #1 spot . . .
Just Missing Out:
And a special mention for:
Manchester by the Sea. Which is top ten worthy but I included it on last year’s list when I used the “if I’ve seen them in the cinema, they’re eligible” rule. Live by the sword . . .
The infamous Paul Verhoeven truly gets his mojo back with the bold, uncompromising Elle – a dark, tense and deeply compelling tale about a brutal assault and one woman’s decision to take matters into her own hands, rather than inform the authorities. The mysterious, menacing atmosphere hardly ever lets up, it’s beautifully designed, and Isabelle Huppert, even though I’ve never seen her in anything else before, is magnificent.
9. Blade Runner 2049
Continuing to prove himself as a consistent director of strong, high-quality films, Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated sci-fi epic is a shining example of a sequel done right, paying homage to the original while also forging its own path and introducing plenty of new ideas. The effects are absolutely flawless, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is undeniably Oscar-worthy, the score is excellent, the characters are great and the story is unhurried and thoughtful.
From one consistently masterful director to another, Christopher Nolan yet again proves that he’s a directorial force to be reckoned with as he tells the story of the Dunkirk evacuation with gusto and a signature, non-linear style. It’s all told in a unique, but never gimicky, manner, both the cinematography and the aerial dogfights are exemplary, it has an enviable ensemble cast and Hans Zimmer gives us one of the best film scores of the year. Tick, Tick, Tick.
7. The Disaster Artist
One of the funniest, most feelgood films of the year, James Franco’s origin story of The Room manages to poke fun at Tommy Wiseau’s disasterpiece in a truly affectionate way, delivering a highly immersive experience that lovingly references its source material and is overall an absolute joy to go through. The acting is wonderful, the script is spot-on and the whole thing is just so joyous and hilarious.
6. Ingrid Goes West
This cautionary tale about social media addiction boasts a truly magnificent performance from Aubrey Plaza, who plays a fragile, vulnerable and slightly unhinged young woman who ingratiates herself into the life of an Instagram star. The film looks gorgeous, the story is fascinating and dark, and the acting is wonderful; Plaza’s Ingrid is possibly my favourite character of the year.
As I said back then, I could easily have watched another two hours of it. And that’s amazing.
5. Baby Driver
With razor sharp editing, a whole bunch of colourful characters, a simple story, plenty of lively performances and the best film soundtrack of the year, Edgar Wright’s latest is the coolest, brightest, most entertaining film of the year. ‘Nuff said.
Even if Kevin Spacey’s in it. #awkward
4. Wonder Woman
Huzzah! The DCEU gets it right! After a couple of missteps, director Patty Jenkins gave them a much needed win with this solid, standalone origin story that’s perfectly funny when it needs to be as well as thoroughly exciting and engaging – that No Man’s Land sequence being an absolute favourite of many a film reviewer. It has some hard hitting themes as well as an amazing cast – including the perfectly cast Gal Gadot.
3. Get Out
Topping soooo many “best of” film lists this year, Jordan Peele’s incredibly popular directorial debut is a perfect blend of dark comedy, unsettling horror and relevant social commentary. The cast, especially Daniel Kaluuya in the leading role, is excellent, the story is imaginative and overall, this film really is something else.
2. Hacksaw Ridge
Telling an incredible true story of a defiant, unwavering hero, Mel Gibson’s World War Two film is masterfully directed and boasts some of the boldest and most visceral battle scenes ever to grace a war film (though he may have gone overboard with the maaaany shots of soldiers on fire). It has a clear structure, it’s amazing to look at and experience, and the cast is excellent, especially with Andrew Garfield delivering a mightily impressive turn as the incredible Desmond Doss.
1. Lady MacBeth
Swooping in to steal my top spot relatively late in the game, this 90 minute gem is really something else – appearing on the surface to be something out of Brontë, William Oldroyd’s film is wickedly dark, menacing, exciting, enticing, fascinating and successfully keeps things interesting throughout – growing to be something much greater than the simple “princess and the stableboy” tale which rests at its heart.
The small cast is great but the sensational Florence Pugh shines so brightly at the centre – starting off as a victim of the bullying patriarchy but then taking all control and evolving into something far more cold, calculating, commanding and dangerous. A memorable character and a deep, well rounded performance.
A film that hit all the right buttons for me, Lady MacBeth managed to leave me relatively speechless and, since I watched it on my own, I clapped at the end – a shining example of the wonders that filmmakers can do in under an hour and a half.
* * *
So that marks the end of an awesome year in film, one where I, with the help of my newfound Limitless card, got to go to the cinema so much more and took in a whole variety of unique films. There may very well be other exemplary 2017 films yet to be discovered but for now, the film year of 2018 beckons (and I’ve already seen one of them (Three Billboards)) and it just remains for me to say: happy film watching and Happy New Year!
Plain, Simple Tom
P.S. A top ten list with no Marvel or Star Wars (see last year’s list) but with a DCEU film and an M. Night Shyamalan film just missing out. Strange times indeed.
Oh, and my entire 2017 list can be found on Letterboxd right HERE