2017 was a huge year for cinema, with countless brilliant films hitting UK cinemas across the last twelve months. There were thrills and spills, tears and fears, scares and hair-raising moments, and in year of uncertainty, scandal and global instability, the escapism of a trip to the local cinemas has perhaps never been more important. Obviously this is a massively subjective list, based on the films I have seen, and the films I liked, but here are my favourite ten films from 2017.
Thor is easily one of my favourite comic book characters, but it's fair to say the first two movies featuring the God of Thunder were not quite as universally loved as Marvel and Disney might have hoped. Thankfully, under Taika Waititi's stewardship Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best in the series, and possibly the best Marvel movie since Avengers Assemble. Waititi throws away the comic book movie rule book, and turns everything on its head. More of a buddy-cop-type-road-movie, Ragnarok allows Chris Hemsworth to shine in a more varied role, without some of the shackles that have bound the character previously. Hulk is given far more dialogue and character development, while Mark Ruffalo is great as Bruce Banner, Tom Hiddlestone shines once again as Loki, and Jeff Goldblum is delightful as The Grandmaster. However, for me the true star of the show is Cate Blanchett as Hela, who is possibly the most complete and bad-ass villain Marvel have ever created. A fantastic film, perfectly blending comedy and action in a brilliantly bright affair.
The Disaster Artist
I had my concerns when it was announced that James Franco would be adapting Greg Sistero's book, The Disaster Artist. The Room is a film I hold very dearly, and much of the charm of Tommy Wiseau's classic terrible film is that it is presented without any sense of irony, and with a completely straight face, while Franco is known as primarily a comedic performer. Thankfully these concerns were assuaged, as Franco quickly morphs into Wiseau himself with relative ease. The film achieves something that The Room could not, and makes the characters involved sympathetic and human. Both James and Dave Franco put in fantastic turns as Tommy and Greg respectively, with memorable supporting turns from Alison Brie, Seth Rogan, Ari Graynor and Paul Scheer (as well as his How Did This Get Made? cohorts June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas, which given they covered The Room on the show provides some nice synergy). It's a very effective biopic of a cult figure in a popular cinema, and a film that ends up being genuinely moving, which itself is something of a miracle. If nothing else, this film is worth seeing for the side-by-side mini remake of the original film at the end, which just goes to show the level of commitment from the cast and crew to authentically recreating one of the best worst films in movie history.
Blade Runner 2049
Stunningly beautiful, dark, moody, futuristic and utterly brilliant. Blade Runner 2049 was a joy to behold, and provided one of the more cerebral blockbusters of the year. As a huge fan of the original (well, the director’s cut of the original sans voiceover at least) I enjoyed the deeper subtext of what it is to be human being explored, something all good science fiction should do. Ryan Gosling shines in the starring role, and while some will (wrongly) look at La La Land as his big hit of the year, Blade Runner 2049 is the real crowning achievement for Gosling this year. Jared Leto's screen time is fleeting, but he is mesmerising in the time he has. Denis Villeneuve is one of the most exciting directors working today (watch Arrival, Prisoners or Sicario if you doubt his abilities), and Blade Runner 2049 might be his best work to date. A genuinely impressive piece of work and a worthy follow up to an absolute classic.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It almost goes without saying that The Last Jedi would make it on to my list for 2017. Very few films garnered the level of anticipation that TLJ did for me, and it did not disappoint. While reactions may have been mixed, I loved that it took all expectations and burnt them to the ground. It took the old and made it new, reinvented everything that was Star Wars and set up a whole new set of adventures moving forward. A fitting tribute to the late Carrie Fisher.
Despite being marketed as something closer to a romantic comedy, Colossal ended up as one of the most quirky, interesting and downright unusual films of 2017. Anne Hathaway is fantastic as always, with Jason Sudeikis veering away from his more traditional comedic roles in favour of something wholly darker. The action sequences with the monsters in Seoul provides a great contrast to the small town aesthetic that the main story takes place in. Colossal does plenty to surprise and astound, while providing a gripping story that is effective on both an emotional level as well as a dramatic one.
Despite Kevin Spacey being involved, Baby Driver still makes the cut for 2017. The car chase scenes are utterly sublime, with one of the best soundtracks in recent memory and a story that works brilliantly to boot. Edgar Wright has created something truly special with Baby Driver, with John Hamm and Ansel Egort putting in the hard yards, and a lovely cameo from John Bernthal. It's a thrill ride of a film, with some lovely comedic moments and fantastic story. Spacey or no, this deserves a spot on the top ten list for 2017.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Although perhaps eclipsed by bigger Marvel efforts this year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was still easily one of the most enjoyable films of 2017. While it may not have had the instant love that the original film got, GOTG Vol 2 is arguably a better film than its predecessor. The addition of Kurt Russell (arguably one of the greatest actors of his generation) is inspire and facilitates a greater degree of character development for the whole team, while helping to bring the Marvel cinematic universe more towards the cosmic realism that so many of its printed counterparts inhabit, and still managed to create an engaging, action-packed and at times hilariously riotous adventure that captivated me from start to finish.
While Thor: Ragnorak may have brought the fun back to comic book movies in 2017, Logan took a far darker, more sombre route. Wolverine's last stand was far from an easy watch, but it made for a fitting way for Hugh Jackman to bid farewell to a character that arguably will be the defining role of his career. A beautiful, and very violet story of redemption and acceptance, Logan is a rarely poignant entry into the Marvel canon.
With Spiderman: Homecoming forming the third reboot of Spiderman in the past fifteen years, I had my doubts as to whether it was necessary, how well it would work or whether it would even be better than the Andrew Garfield iteration of the character. Luckily, Marvel have played a blinder by eschewing the played out origin story in favour of a more John Hughes-esque coming of age adventure, allowing Spiderman and Peter Parker to exist on a more local level and tell a far more personal story. Holland has great comedic delivery, wisecracking in the traditional Spiderman way, but still able to provide the emotional weight when needed. Michael Keaton is superb as the villain, transcending the one-dimensional nature of most Spidey villains. A great start to a new chapter for Spiderman, and perhaps the first great outing for everyone's favourite web slinger since Spiderman 2 in 2004.
2014's Paddington was an excellent example of a studio taking a beloved property, and doing things the right way to make something brilliant, but respectful of the source material. Paddington 2, however, takes that approach and moves it on a step further in creating perhaps the best film of the year. The central plot is very strong, Paddington is both adorable and engaging with Ben Whipsaw again excelling himself as the voice of everyone's favourite bear, while Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Gleeson, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters and many others put in superb supporting turns. Paddington 2 is a lovely, clever, and ridiculously entertaining film with something for everyone. It's whimsical, funny, intelligent and heart-warming, plus it has the best prison break scene I've ever witnessed. My favourite film of 2017 by some way.
Kong: Skull Island, The Lego Batman Movie, Wonder Woman, Beauty & the Beast, Mindhorn.
Dishonorable Mentions (these won't be popular):
La La Land (overhyped pile of hot garbage with two thoroughly unlikeable main characters), The Big Sick (disappointingly unfunny, not a bad film necessarily, but certainly not deserving of the hype it received), Baywatch (went for the cheap "gross out" route instead of writing a decent story. The Rock worked admirably with the material provided though, as usual), The Circle (a decent idea for a film that loses it's wa and descends into a total mess in the final act).