Movies in 2017: The Best of

2017 has been a treat for us cinephiles! We’ve had new movies from Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Edgar Wright, Matthew Vaughn and Christopher Nolan to name but a few. There have been some beauties to feast our eyes on, however, there have also been some absolute stinkers (I’m looking at you Transformers (again)… and xXx… and Geostorm… and, dare I say, Justice League). But I’m not here to moan about the bad ‘uns, but to celebrate the good ‘uns.

So here are my top 10 movies of 2017.

10. John Wick Chapter 2 (2)

Keanu Reeves returns as the expert super-assassin just trying to live out a quiet life. Here, Wick is forced out of retirement (again) after a member of the ruthless High Table (kind of board of directors for killers) blows up his house when he refuses to accept a mission. Cue crazy gun-fu, some spectacular fight-scenes and an almost terrifying YouTube video of Reeves training on the firing range. My highlight of the film is the outrageous fight scene involving Keanu and Common through the streets of Rome, ending with them crashing through the window of the neutral-ground of the Continental hotel. It won’t surprise you to know that the writer and director of this film is a stunt co-ordinator by day.

9. Wonder Woman (15)

The DC Universe has been a mixed bag so far… that’s not true… they’ve all been terrible… except for this one. Patty Jenkins directs Gal Gadot as the Amazonian Princess in a story set 100 years before the events of Batman vs Superman, in the final months of World War I. Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) teams up with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy working for the British, to track down and kill a German General bent on mass-murder via chemical weapon. There are some wonderful set pieces in this film, the highlight being when Wonder Woman strolls out into ‘no man’s land’ (pun very much intended in this case I think) to take on the German trenches.

8. Thor Ragnarok

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When we last saw Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he flies into the sky to learn more about the Infinity Stones that keep popping up. A lot has happened in the MCU since then: Ant Man and Doctor Strange have emerged as new additions, Cap and Iron Man have gone head-to-head in Civil War, the Guardians of the Galaxy have been doing their thing and Spider-Man has has his homecoming to Marvel. This movie is a departure from the previous Thor movies and is a straight up comedy. Director Taika Waititi has added his own style to this film and the results are hilarious. Highlight of this movie has to be Thor being reunited with his ‘friend from work’, The Hulk, and the look on Loki’s face when he appears. That’s a joke 5 years in the making as Loki hasn’t seen Hulk since the events of 2012’s Avengers Assemble.

7. Okja

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In the remote mountains of South Korea, young Mija (An Seo Hyun) has raised and bonded with Okja, one of a batch of “super-piglets” created by the agrichemical corporation Mirando as a potential solution to global hunger. Plaudits to visual effects supervisor Erik-Jan de Boer, who won an Oscar for his work on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and here brings creature-designer Hee Chul Jang’s beast to life in a manner that combines massive physical heft with cute and cuddly charm. My highlight of this film are the effects, which are impressive. At no point do I ever think the creature isn’t real. Genius at work.

6. Blade Runner 2049

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The original Blade Runner (1982) has become a cult classic over the years and it’s more than overdue a sequel. Enter Ryan Gosling and Director Denis Villeneuve who have created something really special. It keeps to the spirit of the original while expanding both the universe and the story of the first film. It’s really quite something. It’s smart, thrilling and absolutely gorgeously shot. I suspect this movie will get a number of Oscar nominations. Whether it wins many is another story. My highlight of Blade Runner 2049 is a massive spoiler, so I can’t mention it here. Ask me nicely in the comments and I may divulge it.

5. Logan

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It’s almost hard to think that this film was released this year it was so long ago. Back in February, we were treated to a very different Wolverine movie. It’s dark, gritty and all too realistic, especially for a superhero movie. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is old and fed up. The rest of the X-Men are ‘gone’ after an incident seemingly caused by Professor X (Patrick Stewart). Logan reluctantly accepts a task protecting young mutant X23 (Dafne Keen) from a ruthless organisation wanting to track her down and harvest her mutant genes, whilst also caring for an unwell Professor X who is suffering with diminishing mental health which, for him, means trouble for everyone. I have too many highlights for this movie. The scene in the hotel room, the scene at the family house, the scene in the woods at the end, the very end… the whole film is a highlight. The question is, will Jackman reprise his role now Disney have bought the rights to the X-Men and they can be used by Marvel?

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (16)

“This isn’t going to go the way you think” exclaims a beardy Luke Skywalker in the trailer of this film, but is he talking to another character or to us as the audience? Because he is not wrong! This is Star Wars, but not as we know it. Rian Johnson’s directs this follow up to 2015’s The Force Awakens and it’s one of the most eagerly-anticipated films of the year. Without spoiling anything, this is a very divisive film. I liked it a lot but many of my more die-hard Star Wars fan friends are not so impressed. My highlight of this movie is every time you think you know what’s going to happen, the film takes a different path. I think this is what has irked some fans. But it’s a funny, thoughtful, clever and stunning space epic.

3. Baby Driver (18)

This is such a fun film. Edgar Wright, best known for his work with Simon Pegg on Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End, directs this fun ride into the criminal underworld. Baby is a driver. A very good driver. After a childhood accident, Baby is left with hearing problems which he self-medicates by constantly listening and making music, which allows for one of the best movie soundtracks since the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Baby’s criminal boss gives Baby that dangerous ‘one last job’ before he can go straight, which of course, goes awry and Baby has to try and protect those he cares for from a motley but dangerous crew of criminal characters. My highlight of this movie is the first time we see Baby stick on his tunes and engage his driving skills to evade the cops.

2. Get Out (17)

OK, so, this kind of thing isn’t normally my ‘bag’ but I really enjoyed this. I can’t say I’ll be rushing to watch it again though, not because it’s not good, it is VERY good, but because it’s quite uncomfortable to watch, by design. It’s part thriller, part commentary on the state of race relations in the US at the moment from debut director Jordan Peele. Chris (Brit actor Daniel Kaluuya) is nervous about meeting the family of his girlfriend of four-months Rose (Allison Williams), mainly because he is black and she is white. He’s nervous about how the family, who live in a large house in rural America, will welcome him. When they first arrive, all seems well. Hugs are had and pleasantries are exchanged. But as the first night wears on, things turn out to not be as they seem. What follows is a gripping psychological tale that messes with your expectations and preconceptions. It’ll also put you in the position of wondering whether hearing a police siren is the saviour you would expect when put in a perilous situation. This is close to being my number one film of the year… but it just missed out.

Honourable mentions: Before I reveal what came top of my rankings this year, a few honourable mentions for the movies that just missed the cut for the top 10.

  • F8 of the Furious: barmy, ridiculous but thoroughly enjoyable. This franchise has embraced it’s bonkersness. Highlight: submarine chase.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2: a fun sequel to 2014’s brilliant debut. It’s more of the same gags but with added heart. Great movie. Highlight: Mr Blue Sky Groot.
  • Spiderman: Homecoming: the friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler is back and better than ever. Highlight: Washington Monument.
  • Trainspotting 2: another sequel as we pick up with Renton, Spud and the gang 20 years on from the original and it’s great. Highlight: Spud!
  • Atomic Blonde: a brilliant cold-war spy-action movie with Charlize Theron and James McAvoy. A must-see and narrowly missed the Top-10. Highlight: 80s chic!

It’s been a good year for film and while there are plenty of great movies to choose from… one stood head and shoulders above the rest. My Best Picture of 2017 is…

1. Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan can make a movie. I could list his successes but I haven’t got time. This movie tells the true-story of the British (and French) forces who were stranded and surrounded on a tiny beach in France during WWII. The movie has three storylines and, as it’s a Nolan film, aren’t on a straightforward timeline. The first story is about a young British soldier stranded on the beach, desperately trying to get home. The second story follows Tom Hardy and his wingman in two spitfires as they speed to provide air support. The third strand tells the story of a civilian sailor (Mark Rylance), who’s small boat is requisitioned by the Royal Navy, sailing across to France to help ferry soldiers from the beach as the big naval vessels can’t get in close enough. Nolan expertly plays with time so you see some events out of order but in the end, it all somehow makes sense. I should also mention star turns from Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy and a certain Harry Styles. I expect this movie to do very well at the Oscars and I can’t wait to get the Blu-Ray so I can experience it all over again. My highlight of Dunkirk is a mixture of Hans Zimmer’s score and how Christopher Nolan uses it to create a heightened tension that finally breaks when the merchant ships begin to arrive to save the day.

What do you think about this ranking and the films that have made the list? Have I made a glaring omission? Should Justice League be getting more credit? Should Kingsman 2 be feeling some Top 10 love, or perhaps you think I should have waited for Jumanji or Pitch Perfect 3 before making such a list? Let me know in the comments below or via the university’s social media.