The (Belated) Top 10 films of 2017

Now that the big awards bait films have hit local theatres, here’s 10c worth of a list

Montage! A film review montage!
Montage! A film review montage!

Hey, fun fact: the Oscar nominations seem to have shown that Hollywood’s been getting it right of late. Took a while, but they got there. Enjoy the following list of the best films of 2017… all of which are up for the big awards.

10. Phantom Thread
The final film in Daniel Day-Lewis’ celebrated career (so we’ve been told) is one of those strange films which seeks out a character type from one corner of the world and offers a unique examination of what makes the creative type tick. A cold, but at the same time lavish, beautifully made film about a significantly damaged individual, and his enablers. Paul Thomas Anderson never fails to aim high.

9. I, Tonya
This darkly comic drama-as-mockumentary hybrid showed a keen sense of cinema from Australian director Craig Gillespie, plus a phenomenal star turn from Margot Robbie. Also, not for nothing, perennial MVP Allison Janney gets to absolutely knock it out of the park with a bravado performance as the stage mother from hell.

8. Molly’s Game
A gloriously wordy, smart screenplay from writer-director Aaron Sorkin features a superb cast (Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner) melding a memoir, with poker-as-sports-movie, a courtroom drama, and a well-told tale of ambition, regret, family, and how most people who play professional poker are dyed-in-the-wool scumbags.

7. Lady Bird
A small, intimate character piece about a young woman’s coming of age in Sacramento, California rises above the rank-and-file of the genre thanks to the deft touch and unique voice of first-time writer-director Greta Gerwig. Aiding things to no small effect are the wonderful performances from Saorise Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.

6. The Post
Somehow, Steven Spielberg managed to take an office politics drama, set it in the early 1970s, and not only make it interesting, but make it look like doing so was easy. A great script and the remarkable magnetism of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep make this one shine, and will be remembered for years to come.

5. Get Out
As if from nowhere, one half of sketch comedy duo Key & Peele manages to take a stark, comic look at cultural appropriation and the illusion of a post-racial society in America, and render in it a mind blowing social satire, melded seamlessly with the finest conventions of horror. One of the finest film debuts in recent memory.

4. The Disaster Artist

James Franco’s all-in performance as gonzo actor-filmmaker Tommy Wiseau takes this fresh spin on the Ed Wood-type story and makes a truly great film about making what is by all accounts a truly terrible film. You’d not expect great art in depicting the creation of bad art, but there you go. This is the world we live in now.

3. The Shape of Water
A lavish, beautifully rendered fable, this monster movie-as-love story shows director Guillermo Del Toro at the peak of his game, as well as a superb Sally Hawkins giving one of the performances of the year.

2. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
With this third notch in the belt of writer-director Martin McDonaugh, middle America’s darker underside gets rubbed raw. Racism, vigilantism, natural justice, family, grief, and love all feature as prominent themes in this brutal examination of human nature.

1. Dunkirk
It’s hard to find fault in Christopher Nolan’s epic history lesson; he takes the evacuation of the British armed forces from northern France and stages it in three distinct ways: from air, land, and sea. It’s a brilliantly realised vision of a pivotal moment in 20th century history made by an absolute master of his craft in absolute peak form.

You know what else I liked in 2017? Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Battle of the Sexes, Baby Driver, The Big Sick, Colossal, Call Me by Your Name, Okja, T2 Trainspotting, Thor: Ragnarok, Brigsby Bear, Darkest Hour, Mudbound, A Ghost Story, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Logan, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island, Victoria & Abdul, Coco and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

You know what I didn’t like that much? John Wick: Chapter 2, Snatched, The House, The Mummy. They all promised a lot, had a world of talent on board and did not deliver very much at all.

But the worst film of the year? I’ll go right ahead and say Justice League. Not that it was technically bad. It’s in focus. You can see where the money went, it’s all there. But there is – at the core of this garbage fire – half of a big, fun epic. You can tell that this first half would have been a solid, Avengers-style ‘get the band together’ piece, followed by what may have been an epic action adventure against some DC Comics villain of sorts. What could have been two great films got slashed and burnt and sliced down to one pretty uninspiring one. Just a big shambles, a waste of time, talent and money.

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