We were flung into 2017 with the backlog of Oscar Nominated films finally reaching the UK from America – not a bad start. As February ended, however, we were left with an epidemic of passable (or ‘meh’) films. Dishonourable mentions such as Beauty and the Beast, Fast and Furious 8, and Baywatch led the charge of sequels, remakes, reboots, and rehashes of drivel that, no one was particularly disappointed in, but are shining examples of very lazy filmmaking. However, independent cinema has been vastly strong during this period (and the entirety of the year in honesty). Critics and myself have been impressed with A24 who are leading the force in terms of low budget filmmaking and Netflix who are securing A-List actors to star in their Originals.
Summer delivered an initial spike in quality with Dunkirk reminded audiences the importance of the big screen whilst appealing to the older and younger generations – Nolan certainly reached his career peak. But where the heavy-hitters lie (and my favorites) is towards the end of the year. Much like last year, films like Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread are all spearheading a 2018 UK release, so my list is compiled only by films that opened in UK cinemas as of 2017.
The following films are ones that particularly moved me, ones that elevated their respected genres, and ones that are downright enjoyable.
Baby Driver is a passion project from cult director Edgar Wright. One of the best UK exports takes America by storm with this part Heat part The French Connection heist film. As per Edgar Wright, the jokes are aplenty, and the editing is cutthroat – cuts and actions in time with the onscreen action (a true delight). Baby Driver (much like Wright’s previous films) is ripe for rewatching as it is created for genuine entertainment. It also solidifies Wright as one of the most creative and fun directors of our time.
When it was announced that one of the greatest and influential science-fiction films of all time was receiving a sequel, it was expected that fans where nervous. I was for sure. However, news of Harrison Ford returning, Ryan Gosling being cast, Roger Deakins as director of photography, and Denis Villeneuve taking the helm as director, I was feeling more at ease – not that nerves still were present. Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 is a cinematic masterpiece. A near-flawless movie with gorgeous cinematography, eerily majestic soundtrack (a certain musical cue at the end is tear-inducing), and performances considerably Oscar-worthy doesn’t just serve Blade Runner justice but also elevates the science-fiction genre once more.
Call Me By Your Name is a tale of passion and adolescence set in a stunning 1980s Italy. Luca Guadagino completely took me by surprise when I watched this as I was greeted by a joyful and vibrant love story that felt incredibly genuine. The careful writing and direction is very tight allowing Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet to glow in their respected roles – Chalamet is a fantastic breakthrough. Call Me By Your Name is an intense addition to the romance genre but ultimately an enjoyable and elegant experience.
I was lucky to catch The Florida Project at its only showing during an independent film festival near me – thankfully I did as it positions itself amongst my favorite films this year. At its core, The Florida Project is a colorful story of childhood during the summertime. But digging deeper uncovers a compelling socio-political view of consumerism and homelessness in modern America. Top performances from the children (above) and a riveting supporting role from Willem Dafoe highlights The Florida Project as a symphony of filmmaking and another success for Sean Baker. Hilarious, enjoyable, and emotionally devastating – compellingly contradictive.
I’m mainly including Logan Lucky on my list because of how much it surprised me. By far this was the quickest two hours I’ve experienced this year as it is full of comedy and action. What shocked me the most was Adam Driver’s impeccable comedic timing because the most gags were coming from him. Alongside Daniel Craig’s strangest role yet, the performances are strong as is the entire plot – a defining heist film and probably the most pleasurable film this year.