Well, it’s that time of the year again, namely the end; a time for rundowns and summations, a time for best ofs and worst ofs, when the generally indifferent just slips away.
2017 has, on the whole, been an exceptional year for film or at least the type of films I tend to enjoy; which is to say, ones about with sensitive characters experiencing lots of little feelings.
So, without further ado:
Best of 2017
15. A Monster Calls
“The Orphanage’s J.A. Bayona began his career as an acolyte of Guillermo Del Toro and in A Monster Calls he finds his own Pan’s Labyrinth… [with a] keen emotional register, which Bayona expertly keeps from ever tipping over into gloominess or sentimentality… If you’re planning on seeing one coming-of-age story involving a Swamp Thing-like creature… A Monster Calls gets to the root of it.” Read my full review here
14. Blade Runner 2049
13. La La Land
“Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone soar in Damien Chazelle’s radiant love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals and those who dare to follow their dreams in the City of Angels.” Read my full review here
12. After The Storm
“Are any of us precisely who we dreamed of being? When we are young and naive, it can all seem like plain sailing ahead. That is until life buffets in, driving us slowly, inexorably, off course… Detailed and subtle… After The Storm is a paean to coming to terms with life’s disappointments and with it your own limitations.” Read my full review here
11. 20th Century Women
“a lightly observed yet deeply humanist look at how Jamie’s character is shaped by these three woman; by how they’re there for him and he for them. Omniscient monologues occasionally peek ahead years, even decades down the line; just as montages of personal photos old movies (mostly Bogart), music (vitally Bowie), reveal the formative influences on the older generations.” Read my full review here.
10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9. Personal Shopper
“Olivier Assayas follows 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria with Personal Shopper, which continues Kristen Stewart’s progress towards quietly impressive character actor… Obliquely, exploring notions of access and absence, Personal Shopper also has something to say about spirituality and sexual.” Read my full review here.
8. God’s Own Country
“Described by some as a British Brokeback, or perhaps a Maltby Moonlight, Francis Lee’s directorial debut has a character all its own: a rough, tender, distinctly Yorkshire love story… a moving, windswept depiction about loving, being loved, and staking a claim on what you want.” Read my full review here.
7. A Ghost Story
“It seems silly, doesn’t it? The image of a man in an oversized version of the most rudimentary children’s costume: a plain white bed-sheet with eye-holes cut in it. It’s also one that, in the context of A Ghost Story, becomes strangely haunting… A meditation on themes as personal as loss and as grand as time itself… entirely its own apparition: an odd, elliptical indie mood piece about what it means to live and what we leave behind.It may take you a while to get on the same melancholy wavelength, but, if you do, suffice to say, you may never see Halloween in the same way again.” Read my full review here.
“Silence brings Scorsese’s obsession with theology and suffering near miraculously to the surface… a monolithic work of cinema, a densely thematic treatise that truly grapples with profound themes… The film may not be to everyone’s tastes — or beliefs — but if you’re willing to give it time, to take it on its own terms and its own pace, Silence gets fairly close to a state of holy communion.” Read my full review here.
5. A Quiet Passion
“Cynthia Nixon stars as 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson in this impeccable and heartbreaking chamber piece-cum-character study from Terrence Davies… Lyrical and poignant… Nixon dazzles as the free-spirited Dickinson, never losing sight of her innate spark, even as it is smothered by longing, insecurity, and unkindness; both herself and others’… [The film’s] two-hour run-time may seem like an eternity for those unaccustomed to Davies’ discipline and reserve, but to those with the patience it’s a minor masterpiece.” Read my full review here.
“[explores] the limits of cinema to recreate human experience… a flawlessly orchestrated exploration of what took place on those exposed sands, upon the changeable waters of The Channel, and in the (surprisingly empty) skies above… it was may prove the most confident and striking of Nolan’s whole canon.” Read my full review here.
3. The Handmaiden
“Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden delves deep into human duplicity and ugliness as much as beauty and self-expression… Provocative and elegant, languid and urgent, and yes, sexually explicit, in The Handmaiden is ultimately all about the women… [and] it’s all in service of an astonishing work of cinema.” Read my full review here.
“a powerfully intimate triptych about growing up poor, black, and gay in contemporary America; specifically Miami, Florida. Rather than dwelling on the poverty and degradation, the film is instead a heartbreaking, multifaceted character study that reflect themes of shifting identity and developing sexuality.” Read my full review here.
1. Manchester By The Sea
*A bit of a cheat, I know, but I wasn’t able to select it last year.
“In Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea, Casey Affleck gives a career-best performance as Lee Chandler, a native of the North Shore left emotionally desolate by guilt and grief.” Read my full review here.
Worst of 2017
Again, it’s been, on the whole, a great year for film, so I’ll keep this short and bitter.
5. The Snowman
“This utterly clueless adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s bestseller fails on every conceivable level. What seems like a reliable basis for an atmospheric Nordic Noir becomes instead a trudge through rote scenarios and underdone psychology.” Read my full review here.
4. A Cure For Wellness
“… a film I wish was better… A Cure For Wellness may shock upon occasion, but it ever surprises… The creatives are having such fun with his shock and his schlock, his superficial, studio-mandated perverseness… that they fail to notice the whole enterprise going down the plug-hole.” Read my full review here.
3. The Mummy (2017)
“The Mummy shows a cinematic universe unravelling before it’s even begun… even if this weren’t already an act of cinematic grave-robbing, it would be time to consign this franchise to the celluloid cemetery.” Read my full review here.
2. Assassin’s Creed
“It’s clear that Justin Kurtzel, director of Assassin’s Creed, didn’t want to make just any old video-game movie. In fact, it seems clear that he didn’t really want to make a video-game adaptation at all… To call it pedestrian is to undermine the excitement of darting across the road while not at a crossing. Exert your own autonomy — your free will, if you will — and give this one a miss.” Read my full review here.
1. The Emoji Movie
“Rather than simply being utterly misjudged… The Emoji Movie gives no impression that anyone ever sincerely expected it to be good. You can scarcely imagine they thought anyone would enjoy it… No one’s reasonably asking for another Inside Out… but does children’s entertainment have to be this hideously capitalistic?” Read my full review here.