Last year I made sure I saw a hell of a lot of theatre, and while I dropped the ball a tad on that front in 2017, I did make up for it in movies. My goal is to be that smug bastard in Oscars season who has ALL THE OPINIONS because he’s seen, like, half of the films.
These are all the 2017 releases I saw in one way or another – in the cinema, on streaming, on a plane, etc – the only rule being that they had to have been released theatrically no earlier than January 1. Regardless of when they were brought out in the US or overseas, their UK release had to have been in 2017.
39. The Circle
Fuuuuuuuck this is boring. Emma Watson went from box office queen with Beauty and the Beast to unfortunate flop in a matter of weeks in this bone dry drama. Truth be told I have yet to finish it. I’ll let you know if it gets better. Watch trailer
38. The House
Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell are two of the funniest actors we have, but this? Barely a giggle. Nay a TITTER. What a mess. Watch trailer
Diane Keaton is Peak Diane Keaton in this; playing a woman in a posh area of London who strikes up a bond with Brendan Gleeson, who lives on Hampstead Heath. Not without its charms, but ultimately as fulfilling as a tepid glass of water, and I’m especially salty because I accidentally paid too much for a ticket when I had a few hours to kill. Watch trailer
36. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
People looooved this one, didn’t they, but it just Isn’t For Me. Bits that make me laugh probably aren’t supposed to make me laugh, and though I appreciate it, I wouldn’t watch it again. Watch trailer
35. A Christmas Prince
BUT THIS ONE, THIS ONE I WOULD WATCH AGAIN. EVERY DAY. UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Goodbad Christmas movies are always a treat, and this is among the bestworst of all time. Instantly iconic. Tourism in Aldovia will boom, mark my words. Watch trailer
34. 20th Century Women
Now HERE’S THE THING. I started watching this within hours of getting home from LA, and I dozed off. Each time I started rewatching it, I dozed off again. The acting is great, and it… seems like it’s probably a good movie? But what can I tell ya, it sent me to sleep. Repeatedly. Watch trailer
33. Table 19
This is a deeply flawed movie, but I don’t know… I kinda really like it? I always root for Anna Kendrick to do good things, same with Lisa Kudrow – and while this is definitely a Film Of Two Halves, and neither half was perfect, I still found it charming. Watch trailer
32. A Bad Moms Christmas
Christine Baranski is the sole provider of the laughs in this sequel, which doesn’t bite anywhere near as much as its predecessor – despite the best efforts of a generally good cast. Watch trailer
The first chapter of this is some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen all year. But as Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn’s mother-and-daughter duo fly to Ecuador on a chaotic holiday, things soon get a touch too ludicrous. Watch trailer
30. Free Fire
It’s essentially one long shootout scene, but it’s better than I expected. I liked the little touches: when people get shot in the leg, they spend the rest of the movie painstakingly crawling around, they don’t just limp off as they would in many other movies. And though the plot is… well, there isn’t much of one at all, to be honest, but there is genuine humour and tension; and it’s also just a pleasure to watch Brie Larson. Watch trailer
29. Goodbye Christopher Robin
It’s very moving by the end, and there’s a certain cutesy charm to it, but Goodbye Christopher Robin is ultimately a bit… slow? For me? But the little kid is adorable and Domhnall Gleeson is on good form. Watch trailer
28. Murder on the Orient Express
I was WELL EXCITED to see this but I found it all very odd. It just all felt a little flat in places. But the cast is good, the scenery is wonderful and, fuck, it’s just exciting to see Daisy Ridley do something else. Watch trailer
27. The Sense of an Ending
Jim Broadbent pitches this Very Serious British Drama very well; and it’s always great to see Harriet Walter. The Sense of an Ending lags in places but I’d recommend it for a stream-rather-than-buy watch on a rainy afternoon. For example. Watch trailer
26. The Founder
I thought this’d be a long ad for McDonald’s, but it… absolutely is not. Michael Keaton is great as the slippery businessman who made the fast food chain a global success, without the full support of the brothers who founded the very first branch. It’s not exactly thrill-a-minute but it’s very interesting. And it CONTAINS LAURA DERN. Watch trailer
25. Pitch Perfect 3
You wouldn’t go into Pitch Perfect 3 expecting clever intellectual wit, but what you do get is a functional comedy with some great laugh-out-loud moments and an unashamedly ludicrous plot. Like the second film in the trilogy, this is a far cry from the original – but for a quick laugh in dark times, you can do much worse. Watch trailer
Natalie Portman is excellent in this, and deserved her Oscar nomination. She’s better than the film she’s in, if you ask me, but it’s still a very interesting and engrossing biopic. Watch trailer
23. Beauty and the Beast
This is ultimately really good, right, and it looks gorgeous, but the question still remains… why does it need to exist? Watch trailer
Oh the acting! THE ACTING! Watch trailer
21. Baby Driver
Once you get acclimatized to the use of music, this is really great: it’s the best I’ve seen Ansel Elgort, and also the first time I’ve properly ~got the hype around Lily James. Exciting, surprising, buttock-clenching. Just a shame that Kevin Spacey’s in it. Watch trailer
Anne Hathaway discovers she’s in control of a terrifying Godzilla-like monster in this (I hate to the word) quirky dramedy. It got darker than I expected towards the end but I really liked it: after reading mixed reviews I was prepared for disappointment, but it’s one of 2017’s most under-appreciated movies, and a great return to form for Hathaway. Watch trailer
19. Spider-Man Homecoming
Tom Holland is great casting in this 4585th reincarnation of Spider-Man: energetic, fun, vibrant and exciting from titles to credits. There was a lot of pressure for Marvel to get this right, and I really think they did. Watch trailer
18. Their Finest
Like Colossal, this is another massively undervalued movie from this year: in Blitz-torn London, Gemma Arterton is summoned to help write scripts for short information films, and what follows is a charming and engrossing drama about love, loss, war, camaraderie and – most interestingly – gender at the turn of the 1940s. Watch trailer
17. Hidden Figures
An easy watch and a fabulous one: Hidden Figures has a knockout cast, and shines a light on the women of colour who were integral to the breakthrough successes of NASA in the early 1960s. I really, really liked this. Watch trailer
16. La La Land
People seem to either think La La Land is the best movie of all time or the most over-rated dumpster inferno in Hollywood history. As for me, I don’t quite think it was a masterpiece – but I did really enjoy it. It took a little while for me to get used to its nonchalant, almost Helena Bonham Carter style of musical delivery; but its wistful, toe-tappable nature made for an enjoyable watch with some fantastic central performances. Watch trailer
Wonder is a film that knows it can make you cry, and it does so without mercy. I mean genuinely I have never cried so much at a film in all my life. And it’s not even that sad, it’s just persistently, fucking aggressively moving, yaknow? Okay, so you could convincingly argue that it overplays its hand in places, but I loved it. Watch the trailer and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Watch trailer
14. Battle Of The Sexes
La La Land won the accolades but this was my Emma Stone movie of 2017. Light and entertaining but with a highly emotive undercurrent, Battle Of The Sexes has both Stone and Steve Carell on great form, and while the gender politics element is brilliantly executed, it’s the telling of Billie Jean King’s suppressed sexuality that hits hardest. Watch trailer
13. Thor: Ragnarok
Taika Waititi’s theory that the arguably over-earnest Thor movies could be saved by a big dollop of humour really pays off in Ragnarok – not just one of the best superhero movies of the year, but also one of the best comedies. The humour might not be to every MCU fan’s taste but as someone who doesn’t really ~do comic book films, I really enjoyed it. In fact the only negative surprise is that Cate Blanchett’s role as villain-in-chief doesn’t really land. Watch trailer
12. God’s Own Country
Patience is a virtue with this: its plot is so slow-burning I was surprised the running time was under two hours; but that doesn’t mean it’s not gorgeous. The story of a Yorkshire farmer – all binge drinking and occasionally violent and occasionally racist – falling in love with a Romanian migrant worker is shot beautifully and anchored by two pitch-perfect performances from relative newcomers Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu. Watch trailer
11. My Life As A Courgette
I saw this literally 12 hours ago, so it’s a LAST MINUTE FIND. At only an hour and five minutes long, it certainly won’t take up too much of your time, but it’s so worth it. A French Oscar nominee re-recorded with an English-language cast, it deftly tackles weighty subject matter (cute little kid moves into an orphanage) with more skill and heart than films twice its length. Good for the soul, this. Watch trailer
10. Girls Trip
The opening act of Girls Trip is so formulaic it almost hurts: we’re introduced to the central group of friends and every tick-box is met – the partying one! The sensible one! The two who used to be besties but now barely talk! But this movie’s secret weapon is that it is fu. cking. hilarious. Tiffany Haddish deserves all her awards buzz but actually everybody’s great here: when an ensemble cast has this much electric chemistry, everything just flies. And the grapefruit scene was certainly an interesting one to watch on a plane.
09. The Big Sick
Initially a romcom, then a dramcom, then a romdramedy, The Big Sick is a funny but emotionally surprising delight about culture, ill-health and family ties. Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani about their real-life romance (the latter also stars), it boasts great support from Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, and is deserving of all the word-of-mouth it’s been getting.
Quite the jolly this, wasn’t it? Crikey. Dunkirk is as blistering and tough as you think it is, but it’s so well made. Christopher Nolan’s three interwoven timelines – a week, a day, an hour – miraculously blend together perfectly, the score is arresting and the likes of Fionn Whitehead are brilliant considering how low on dialogue their script actually is. Harry Styles is really good, too – you could argue that his big celebrity status is a distraction, but to be honest I was more distracted by Kenneth Branagh serving Classic Kenneth Branagh looking out to sea in a massive fuckoff coat.
07. Get Out
Now I really don’t do anything vaguely scary – like, I barely made it to the end of the original The Mummy – but Get Out is still a masterstroke. “Horror” is a slightly inaccurate tag to put on it (I’d class it more as a psychological thriller with funny bits), but it’s still deeply unsettling; not only in terms of the freaky shit that happens but also how – in almost Black Mirror style – some of its elements aren’t that far removed from what could happen in modern society. Daniel Kaluuya and director Jordan Peele should absolutely be getting Oscar nominations.
06. Call Me By Your Name
Like God’s Own Country, this isn’t exactly a thrill-a-minute movie (it seems we’ll have to wait until Love, Simon in 2018 for a kinda-mainstream gay story without an arthouse flavour) BUT! It’s beautiful. Armie Hammer as a 24-year-old is… a bit of a stretch, but all the same, this is the best I’ve ever seen him. It’s Timothée Chalamet’s film, though, and he runs away with it: every conflicted glance, every faux-casual encounter… every dalliance with a peach… he’s just great; and Call Me By Your Name really deserves all of its hype.
05. Paddington 2
Every bit as lovable and enchanting as the first film, Paddington 2 adopts an “if it ain’t broke…” attitude to sequel-making and once again hits the bullseye. The London it presents isn’t quite realistic, obviously, but when your lead character is a polite talking bear you kinda have to accept that naturalism isn’t the top priority. Laugh-out-loud funny with a gooey marmalade heart, it also boasts Hugh Grant giving his best performance in years as the campy villain.
04. Wonder Woman
This was SO exciting – in part because a female superhero is finally at the forefront, and in part because… well, it’s just a fucking great caper. I wasn’t sure about Gal Gadot from the trailers but she is EVERYTHING in this; she’s funny, she’s human, she’s tough as anything… As I said earlier, I’m not really an expert with superhero movies but fuck, this was SUCH a thrill and I can’t wait for the sequel.
03. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Wow, people were REALLY divided over this film, huh? I for one loved it. Bla bla bla, usual caveat of “was it perfect? no, but…”, bla bla bla etc etc… But this was a goddamn RIDE, and I genuinely think the last hour in particular was the most relentlessly exhilarating bit of cinema I’ve seen in years.
When [REDACTED] had the scene with [REDACTED], I had TEARS STREAMING. That Rian Johnson turned [REDACTED] from generic 2D villain to borderline panto buffoon was… bold, but mostly successful. That LAURA FRIKKIN’ DERN got some great moments was something the gays will truly treasure. And the Porgs? Neither too cute nor too annoying.
It’s a bit all over the place in parts, but *turns megaphone on* THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE FOR STAR WARS. I loved The Force Awakens for the reminder it gave me that I love Star Wars, and I love this for reminding me that Star Wars can – and should – also surprise you. And it definitely boasts the most exciting trailer of 2017:
You probably read just about every thoughtful, gushing take on this film earlier in the year so I won’t give my own badly-articulated two cents now but jeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzz it’s just so beautiful. Absolute perfection. Breaks you down, then – much like the guy Atomic Kitten were singing about, probably – makes you whole again. Moonlight is truly special and thank fuck it won the Best Picture Oscar.
01. The Florida Project
Watch the trailer below for a pretty accurate idea of what The Florida Project is like: full of heart and charm and humour and innocence and swearing and, I swear to God, it’s just perfect.
DisneyWorld in Florida is the magical, extravagant theme park of dreams but the area around it is not: we join people struggling day-to-day just to exist, and follow an audacious group of kids – led by Brooklynn Prince’s Moonee – as they make their own theme park out of what they have. But this isn’t so-called “poverty porn”; it’s a beautifully understated film full of fizzing energy and glorious performances.
The Florida Project isn’t heavy on plot but it does all build to an emotionally shattering but inevitable finale that, despite its subtlety, will stay with you for days. This. Film. Is. Ace. And I’m already mad at how little attention it’s going to get at the big awards shows.