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.
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.