Top Eleven Films of 2017

Paddington 2

Unbelievably, this turned out to be even better than 2014’s first instalment. Warmth and comforting charm drips like hot marmalade from every lovingly crafted detail. Hugh Grant gives an hilariously self deprecating performance and Brendan puts the “Glee” into Gleeson. A touching, but not twee, and very much needed tale of kindness, compassion and sandwiches.

Moonlight

Almost one year on from its release and subsequent Academy Award best picture win, Barry Jenkins’ outstanding masterpiece still shines brightly on a cinematic year that was significant for LGBT and racial politics. An unforgettably touching gem.

La La Land

Damn the haters, the hole-pickers and the back-lashers. This is a perfect musical that both pays homage to and puts new energy into one of my favourite film genres. Here’s to The Fools Who Dream.

Get Out

This extremely funny satirical horror from director Jordan Peele is a cutting take down of the hypocrisy of the white liberal middle-classes. With an intelligent, riveting screenplay and an excellent lead in Daniel Kaluuya, this serves to be a heart-stoppingly entertaining yet sharply political commentary on the underlying racism of modern America.

God’s Own Country

A deeply affecting love story by first time director Frances Lee, set on the windy landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Silent, emotionally repressed young farmer, Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and newcomer, Romanian helper Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) fall in love as they work together during the lambing season. The cinematography captures the beauty of the country and uses documentary style realism to convey the quiet yet visceral nature of pastoral life. With two brilliantly honest performances from the leads, this is an ode to the wild beauty of Yorkshire and a tender, uplifting romance.

A Ghost Story

One of the most uniquely inventive films of the year. Daringly, sometimes uncomfortably, intimate in its cinematography and with an unexpected narrative shift halfway through, this is a profoundly thought provoking and haunting piece of film making.

Call Me By Your Name

A sumptuous, sensual, coming of age romance set in the glorious Italian countryside of Lombardi. The film tells the story of teenage Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his love affair with his father’s archeology research assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer), staying with them for the summer. With their bourgeois family life, summering in their enormous house and enjoying enticing al fresco dinners and delightful breakfasts, lounging by pools and cycling around the sleepy town, it’s all extremely enticing, not to mention spectacularly shot, but what could be seen as tiresome or annoying characters are actually wonderfully well rounded and believable; with the two leads giving subtle melancholy to their character’s passion and the always brilliant Michael Stulbarg as Elio’s father, brings superb honesty to the films quiet climax. A sublime, cinematic wonder.

Death of Stalin

The actual King of Comedy, Armando Iannucci, brings the darkest of satires, the finest of casts and a shit load of swearing, to the best comedy of the year and the greatest show from Jason Isaacs since Skeletons.

I Am Not Your Negro

An extremley impressive documentary directed by Raoul Peck based on an unfinished manuscript from novelist James Baldwin as he reflects on the black civil rights movement, his friends Malcom X and Martin Luther King and the appalling history of racism in the United States. Baldwin’s expressive language and dynamic intellectualism bring a great literary power to the sometimes familiar but always horrifying stories of the violence and injustice that still disgustingly exists in modern America. (A great film to double-bill with Ava DuVernay’s remarkable 13th.)

The Florida Project

Sean Baker’s fantastic follow up to 2015’s Tangerine, is a sweet, funny and sincere drama set in the motels on the margins of the Disney World theme park in Florida. Highlighting the human issues of the marginalised communities surviving from week to week, yet avoiding schmaltz or pontification as it explores this world through the eyes of cheeky six year old Moonee and her friends. They spend their long hot summer days running around causing mischief and licking off the drips from their sticky melting ice creams. A bright, bold, often joyful and sometimes heartbreaking watch with great support from Willem Dafoe.

Toni Erdman

At times unbearable, persistently excruciating and extremely funny, the three hour running time whips by in a flurry of laughter, nudity and family pain. With absolutely note perfect performances from Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek and a climax that is both expertly orchestrated farce and powerful emotional drama, it’s easy (but a shame) to see why it’s already being remade in the English language.

Honourable mentions…

Manchester By The Sea

The Big Sick

Goodbye Christopher Robin

The Disaster Artist

Hidden Figures

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Still to see…

In Between

Wonder Woman

The Handmaiden

Mother!

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