I always hate it when I do these so late. Everyone is planning what they will see in the upcoming year and here I am twiddling my thumbs, trying to get this done in between work, life and doing fuck all. But there you go, not much I can do about it now, I’m sure you’re all very eager to find out what made the list and why. I’ve included honourable mentions for those who didn’t quite make it, frankly there were a lot of good films and a lot of terrible films in 2017. Let’s start with the worst.
Worst of 2017
10. Rules Don’t Apply
I listened to Warren Beatty speak passionately about this film. His interviews in the UK during the press tour were really excellent, he talked for hours and journalists loved it. It was such a joy to read and listen to. What a shame that the film is nothing but self-indulgent. It’s one of those movies you expect more from but that became such a huge disappointment. Beatty, playing Howard Hughes in this biopic, had returned to acting after more than a decade in hiatus. The film was oddly bad timing in fact. Whilst it came out quite a while before the Weinstein controversies, watching a much older man have private meetings with young girls really feels wrong.
9. Alien: Covenant
This is how you kill a once great franchise. Correct me if I’m wrong but the first three Alien films were superb, entwining horror with sci-fi was a mark of genius. This however was not. Flute fingering aside, the film was predictable, dull and just plain pathetic. Whilst it was arguably better than Prometheus it had an abundance of stupidity; touching things you shouldn’t go near, the person in charge putting his head over an alien egg (guess what happens with one of those face-huggers) and a confusing set of plot details which make no sense. This is coming close to utterly ruining the franchise.
One of the biggest let downs of the year. Directed by George Clooney, starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Issac should mean it’s a sure fire hit. You expect to be thoroughly entertained, maybe laugh, feel something or both and more. But no. Very much no. Unlike his previous efforts at directing, Clooney completely misses the mark on this one. A white family go on a killing spree but it’s the new black family who get all of the hassle from the racist neighbourhood. Whilst I understand what he was going for, he failed miserably. When a main character would start to talk, you’d sit and wait for them to shut up (besides the under used Issac who is the film’s only saving grace). In a Cohen brothers written script, this should never be the case. Perhaps the pair need to direct the films they write rather than palming them off.
7. Lost City of Z
Why Charlie Hunnam keeps getting roles is like asking how do they continually let Michael Bay behind a camera? The same can be said for Gerard Butler but we’ll get into that later. The plot revolved around an explorer and his team trying to find a lost city in the Amazons in the 1920s. It’s something that’s utterly forgettable but at the same time memorable for being pants. He was apparently good in the TV show Sons of Anarchy but besides that, I haven’t seen a decent performance from Hunnam at all. He made what was already a shite film even worse with his terrible acting and stupid face. Harsh? I don’t care! He sucks!
6. King Arthur
Oh for fuck sake! Here he is AGAIN! Bugger off Hunnam! You are on a list of terrible things about this pointless cockney remake. What the fuck was Guy Ritchie thinking?! I could almost hear someone say “up the apples and pears” every five bloody minutes, as if pandering to Americans because that’s what ALL Brits sound like, DON’T WE?! Character names, besides Arthur included Mischief John, Wet Stick and Back Lack. Why? Just. Why? At one point David Beckham shoves his into frame and says some god awful line which has something to do with pulling a sword out a stone. Apparently it’s so difficult they need instructions from an over the top sounding Londoner. Terrible.
5. Transformers: The Last Knight
Funnily enough this links up to the previous film. Not only does it feature the knights of the round table, it is also a fucking dreadful film. This is yet another incoherent movie in the Transformers franchise which continues to smash robots together. That’s pretty much it. That’ all that happens, it’s terrible. Screen Junkies describes these films as junkyard having sex which is a great way to look at it! One thing I will say is that it’s less leery than previous addition but still treats women like they’re idiots. Fuck you Bay.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
Frankly I don’t want to spend too much time on this however it is yet another Johnny Depp shitshow in which he uses his god given talent on a caricature. The very first film was excellent; entertaining, funny, genuinely. All of this was lacking in every other Pirates film including this one. Apparently this isn’t the end! Again, this film had a slight saving grace, Orlando Bloom was only in it for a very small amount of time. PHEW!
Shockingly this film was more sexist than Transformers. On every turn when it says “no offence” to a woman after some sort of sexist remark it’s trying to make it humorous. It fails to do so on a number of occasions. The trailers looked stupid, over the top but funny. I thought it would be ridiculous fun, but it was just ridiculous. I hate this film so much, I am slowly being put off Dwayne Johnson, which is not a good thing!
Oh Gerard Butler (or as a particular podcast calls him Shutup Buttwad) I can always rely on you to star in a terrible film in which the plot is batshit and everyone around it is just awful. Geostorm takes my number 2 spot in the worst films of the year. Yes believe it or not, there’s one other film worse than this. Last year it was London Has Fallen, the racist film with terrible action and awful VFX. Nothing has changed. Here, Butler is called on to punch the weather in the face after a computer which controls it is hacked. He literally needs to turn it off and on again in order to reboot it. It’s very telling of how bad a film is when the funny parts are boring and the serious parts are utterly hilarious. I watched this with a friend and we loudly mocked it via laughter. Highly recommended for those who want to lose several brain cells.
1. The Emoji Movie
When I left the cinema after seeing this “film”, I’ve never ever felt so awful about myself. I felt sick and hated who I was. Thankfully I had nothing to do with the making of this terrible affliction we’ve suffered through. Worse yet, this was the first movie to be shown in the cinema after the 35 year ban was lifted in Saudi Arabia. I assume they will put that back in force after this. This was a glorified advert for all apps we use on a regular basis with no sense of humour and James Corden. If the apocalypse doesn’t come soon, we’ll be lucky. Their own poster pretty much sums it up.
Okay I think that’s all of my hate pretty much gone. Oh wait! There’s still a bit left for Downsizing (a good concept which becomes dull very quickly with a large dollop of racism thanks to the over the top Vietnamese accent), Live by Night (you look at Affleck’s previous directorial work and it’s mostly very good! This? Generic, dull, disappointing and pointless. A huge let down), Viceroy’s House (if you want to tell a story about the segregation which lead to India becoming India and Pakistan, fine. Do it I say. As someone with Indian heritage it’s somewhat insulting to tell the story of the white people involved instead of the richer stories there will be of those having to shift their entire life across hundreds of miles. It was dreadful), Life (basically an Alien rip off with an all star cast. It’s got everything you’d expect from a film like this which is good looking stupid scientists try to defeat some goo. Seems pretty pointless to have made this although I think they want to do more. WHY?!) and Manifesto (I’m so angry at this film, partly because it was a waste of time, partly because others loved it. I didn’t. It was a patronizing and pretentious piece of propaganda in which we were consistently told by a number of Cate Blanchett iterations why art and other aspects of life are so great. This was an experiment gone wrong).
Best of 2017
10. God’s Own Country
The story is of a young farmer who starts a relationship with a Romanian who comes to work for them. The bond the two share feels genuine. There are moments of a proud father telling his son his true feelings as well as heartbreaking conversations had between the two young men, all of which hit you hard. Directed by Francis Lee, it’s a film which was at one point described as a British Brokeback Mountain but it is so much more than that. It’s not just focusing on two people, it brings others into this story by showing how complex a relationship in a small town like this can be. If you’ve never been sure if your father is proud of you or you feel lost in your current life, this is a truly tough watch.
9. The Levelling
This is yet another one set on a farm, however with a mystery surrounding it’s entire plot. Clover (Ellie Kendrick) returns home after the death of her brother and has to face her father, a man she hasn’t seen in years. Their relationship is tense to say the least. The family drama which is depicted throughout the narrative hits all the right notes as it pushes through to its gut wrenching end. A superb film, brilliantly written, with stunning shots throughout and I would just like to mention Kendrick whose performance of her overwrought character is one of the best I saw in 2017.
Whilst a lot of people were talking about the cannibalism, it says something a lot more powerful about family and the bonds you share with them. Raw pushes the family drama to new heights and dimensions where we see two sisters become closer over something forbidden. A vegetarian enters veterinary college with her sister and soon begins to have unwanted feelings towards meat, unleashing her carnivorous side. The film comes together right at the end which drops down like an emotional time bomb that’s always been there but no one ever knew. This is a film which caused controversy due to what some say is it’s core subject, however to me it’s about a family and all that you are willing to do for them.
7. Paddington 2
Possibly the nicest film of all time. Paddington 2 is surprisingly better than it’s predecessor. Our favourite CGI bear gets caught up in a burglary and ends up going to prison for a crime he obviously didn’t commit. Why would he? The plot then revolves around getting him freed whilst he meets Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles McGinty and we get to see how being nice even in prison can help make you a lot of friends. The cast is choc full of British talent including a now award nominated performance from Hugh Grant (Best Supporting Actor in BAFTA) who plays Phoenix Buchanan. He’s a deliciously evil villain and is having a superb time playing him. If you don’t cry at the end, you’re dead inside. Such a warm and wonderful film.
6. My Life as a Courgette
At around an hour and 10 minutes, it’s impressive to see My Life as a Courgette speak volumes throughout, developing its characters and has a fully rounded story too. A lot of films which are an unnecessary 2 hours+ could learn a thing or two. Courgette, as he is called, is taken to a foster home after his mother dies. It’s here where he meets a collective of children in similar situations. All of them feel as if they have been left behind and have no where else to go. What you get is a story in which all of the characters are shown in an honest light, it creates a bond between them and it comes up with some the most emotional wrenching scenes ever put on film. 70 minutes is all it needed to do that. Why can’t we have more which are as smart as this?
5. Shape of Water
One of the most beautiful films and it’s not at all surprising that it comes from Guillermo del Toro, the mind who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth. The love story which unfolds with the creature and Sally Hawkins’ Elisa is unexpected and warming. Two living things who in many ways are treated as if they do not belong in society come together and forge a narrative which feels heartfelt and original. Sally Hawkins is superb in it, being a mute throughout the film, she mainly acts through expressions on her face.
Without question, the solo Wolverine films have been sub-par at best. They’ve never been able to give him the claws he needs and he’s never truly expressed his rage as he’s meant to. Well, his time finally came in Logan. The fact that it was just called Logan, no X-Men, no Wolverine, showed a lot of direction already. It was going to be simplified and stripped back. Hugh Jackman and James Mangold both came up with a way that prove to be the perfect send off and apparently told the studio that is was their way or no way. It really paid off, it became a gritty, brutal, extremely violent comicbook movie in which the biggest thing that blows up is a van. Thanks to the performances from Jackman, Patrick Stewart and surprisingly Stephen Merchant, plus the direction from Mangold what we saw something we have never seen in this genre. It gave us an ending that not only felt satisfying but personal too.
3. Get Out
Jordan Peele’s debut film was a surprise hit, making $254.6m after being made for just $4.5. The financial side shows how well it did but not only did it make a stupid amount of money, the critics love it too. For everyone to enjoy a horror film this much is very rare, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen before. The reason it did so well is because of its originality, the sharp script, its comment on society in racism deep seeded in America (coming out during the Trump era Presidency) and there were some genuinely terrifying moments in it. Real jump scares, a sense of nervousness as soon as they reach the house and moments that will truly haunt you.
2. Call Me By Your Name
It’s rare for a film to stay with you the way Call Me By Your Name does but I found myself thinking about it and how deeply it affected me. We have all been the young adolescent who has their heart broken, however when a relationship comes out of nowhere and it hits you as this does then ends suddenly, it’s worse. Believe me, it hurts. This became a beautiful and tender romance between Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) that goes further than they thought possible. Their performances have received numerous praise from countless critics and rightly so.
Christopher Nolan’s latest has been called perfect and accurate from war veterans who were there, how can anyone say it’s a bad film? People have, friends of mine were not a fan of how there was no depth in character and therefore didn’t qualify as a good film. They are wrong. The film was an intense look at a time when no one thought they would survive, when they were trapped with no escape. Its use of sound and music gave it a scope like no other, telling its story in three different intertwining timelines, Nolan pushes his film making skills further buy using some of the real planes and boats who were part of Dunkirk. If you’ve not seen it yet, check it out in IMAX. It’s a great way to see it.
A few honourable mentions for The Lovers (a rarely good and very funny romantic comedy about an older couple, each of whom is having an affair), Spider-Man: Homecoming (who knew we could get an original Spider-Man film after we’ve already had 5! Well done Marvel) Baby Driver (minus the actor who has tainted all of his films and his TV show, this was a thrill ride from start to finish, dancing cars and cutting music in with it to match each frame. Just genius film making from Edgar Wright) Prevenge (yet another funny horror, this time from Alice Lowe. She’s possessed by a baby and goes on a killing spree. As batshit as you’d expect, very violent and very funny), War for the Planet of the Apes (the third in a trilogy is rarely as good as this. The technology to make these apes look real is unbelievable. It makes you care about their plight even more than before, an amazing story and so brilliantly told), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (yeah sod off fan boys who don’t like it because it’s not what Star Wars is. If it continued the way you want it to, the franchise would die! An original film which fixes its gender problem and pushes the saga in a direction we never seen it go before), Toni Erdmann (all I will say is that it’s a very funny German film, I promise you laugh a lot), The Big Sick (being a brown guy who is going out with a white girl, I just had to see this. It’s a sweet, funny and heartwarming film, with probably the best 9/11 joke ever) and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Jamie Belle has never been better and Annette Benning was superb as the ageing actress whose life isn’t going as well as it once was. A really wonderful film in which these two bond with such ease, it doesn’t ever make you doubt their relationship.)
Keep. It. Reel.