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The 10 Best Films of 2017

Well, folks. The end is near, the time has come, the day has arrived. As 2017 draws to a close, there is — as always — one significant bit of business to attend to before battening down for Christmas. I am, of course, referring to the crown jewel of my Review of the Year content: my Top 10 Films of 2017.

2017 has been a relatively strong year for film — the best since 2014 I’d argue — and I’m satisfied with the features that sit atop this ranking. As ever, I’ve been unable to see a few significant releases before Christmas, so I’ll be posting an updated list in mid-January that will include The Post, Molly’s Game, Last Flag Flying and a few other films for which I have high hopes.

Alright, let’s begin…

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dir: Rian Johnson | US | 2h 33m

Disney’s control of the Star Wars brand starts to gain visibility, with the inclusion of Marvel-style ‘witty banter’ in this deeply-flawed mythology expansion. Mark Hamill’s return as Luke Skywalker boasts some gleefully iconic moments, but Rian Johnson’s overlong script lacks cohesion and clarity, and there’s an overall repetitiveness which suggests universal Wars fatigue may be on the horizon.

9. Get Out

Dir: Jordan Peele | US | 1h 44m

Get Out is probably what American film in 2017 will be most remembered for. Despite being wrapped before last year’s election, it manages to capture the social panic of the current America like little other cinema to date: Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a racial spin on Hitchcockian suspense with sensational, terrifying performances by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Kenner. The comedy subplot involving Lil Rel Howery’s character is a crucial error, but the significance — and wit — of everything else makes Get Outworthy of ‘must-see’ status.

8. Atomic Blonde

Dir: David Leitch | US | 1h 55m

I wish every summer action movie was more like Atomic Blonde. Flashy, fetishistic and uniquely feminine, this is an estrogen-fueled thrill ride through neon-soaked 80s Berlin. Charlize Theron is Debbie Harry with a pistol. James McAvoy, John Goodman and Eddie Marsan lend some watchable support. The soundtrack is as killer as the costumes and the action is endlessly imaginative in its staging: from a fight set to a Tarkovsky projection backdrop to a 10-minute single take and an escape through a sea of raised umbrellas. Fabulous fun.

7. Dunkirk

Dir: Christopher Nolan| US/UK/France/Netherlands | 1h 46m

Christopher Nolan’s most frenetically-paced film is also one of his most unremarkable. Dunkirk distracts with tireless threat and ticking but by all consideration is a film with absolutely nothing to say, merely an awful lot to show. Nolan’s filmmaking techniques remain at the peak of sophistication, but they are applied to little effect in a war thriller that — while never less than gripping — couldn’t be any more risk-averse if it tried.

6. Blade Runner 2049

Dir: Denis Villeneuve | US | 2h 43m

Denis Villeneuve is a far more creative director than Ridley Scott, so of course his Blade Runner sequel would be a more eloquent, nuanced and — most importantly — entertaining sci-fi thriller. Ryan Gosling is as charismatic a star as they come, and he leads the audience through Villeneuve’s futurescape with an energy that remains engaging throughout the trying 3-hour running time. Even an overacting Jared Leto can’t spoil this tightly-scripted existential adventure. Haunting poetry in blockbuster packaging.

5. Columbus

Dir: Kogonada | US| 1h 44m

Columbus is a tiny treat. Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho are elevated from “Oh That Guy” status to terrific leading roles in an intelligent romantic drama about the spaces in between and how to fill them, exploring the shockingly impressive selection of modernist architecture in the titular city while confronting their own internal lacks. The best tourism ad for Columbus, Indiana you will ever see.

4. The Boss Baby

Dir: Tom McGrath| US | 1h 37m

The Boss Baby took the funniest title of the year, and turned it into the funniest film of the year. The DreamWorks comedy is at once an all-ages Trump takedown, a biting satire on cynical corporatism and a genuinely charming story about brotherly comradery. Alec Baldwin voicing a baby in a suit is, objectively, the most amusing idea ever conceived, and the film built around it does not disappoint. There’s an underlying theme of dogs being a questionable replacement for children which I approve of. Hans Zimmer delivers his best score of the year, incorporating the melody of “Blackbird” beautifully. And The Boss Baby is just a thoroughly funny comedy; one that doesn’t patronise children or adults.

3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Dir: Martin McDonagh| US/UK | 1h 55m

Is there anything more cathartic than watching Frances McDormand set things on fire? Three Billboards is a fabulous postmodern revenge western, with stellar performances by McDormand and Sam Rockwell, a kicking Carter Burwell score and a script that’s deeply sad but incredibly rousing. An important film that doesn’t try too hard, but just hard enough.

2. The Florida Project

Dir: Sean Baker| US | 1h 49m

Films about childhood have the potential to be incredibly powerful, and Sean Baker’s The Florida Project cashes in its tokens with flying colours. It’s a film about the struggles of the most impoverished in America, but one that remains charmingly apolitical and focused on its young protagonist’s adventures in and around the premises of an Orlando motel, just beyond the hyperconsumerist reach of Walt Disney World. Not since Richard Linkater’s Boyhood has a state of childhood been captured so sincerely in an American drama, Call this an alt-Disney film, if you will.

1. Call Me By Your Name

Dir: Luca Guadagnino | US/Italy/Brazil/France | 2h 12m

Call Me By Your Name takes a vividly romantic approach to an underrepresented kind of romance. Luca Guadagnino’s film is a spellbinding, heartbreaking depiction of love and the pain it causes, led by the radiant Timothée Chalamet and the biblically beautiful Armie Hammer. It’s set in 1980s rural Italy, but the story of Call Me By Your Name totally transcends its setting; this is as universal as cinema gets, and if the closing shot — set to one of three haunting Sufjan Stevens songs — doesn’t leave you a weeping wreck, you may need to check if your heart is still there.


There you have it, my Best Films of 2017. Keep an eye out for the updated list come January — where I suspect Molly’s Game and The Post will likely enter the Top 10. Have a great Christmas!

This entry was posted in: Movies

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Lucien writes on film, television and politics at LuwdMedia.com and co-hosts the podcasts Above All Else and The 99%.

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