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Top 10 Films of 2017

DI reviewers pick their favourite films of the last year. Disagree? Send us your list!

January 4, 2018
Top Films of 2017


A killer supporting turn from Naomi Harris and strong performances from its three leads - Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert all play main character Chiron at various stages of his life - are the hallmarks of this beautifully shot film. An emotionally wide-ranging story told economically, and a fitting example of African American present-day cinema.

9. Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnino’s third film is his showiest to date. While not as gripping as I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, it’s still an emotionally honest and beautifully made film. Set in an Eden-like northern Italy in the summer of 1983, among its chief pleasures are the excellent period detail. And there’s a brilliant supporting turn from character actor Michael Stuhlbarg as the lead’s father.

8. Alien: Covenant

Ridley Scott’s latest instalment in the newly revived Alien saga is surprisingly decent. Solid, exciting blockbuster storytelling with a beginning, middle and end, it’s not Alien or Alien3, but it’s about as much fun as a contemporary re-imagining can be.

7. Denial

Rachel Weisz gives a confident, likeable performance opposite an impeccably evil and hammy Timothy Spall in this efficient, engaging drama. Directed by the ever diverse Mick Jackson – Threads, LA Story, The Bodyguard – it’s an entertaining account of the 'Holocaust denier who sued the historian' case of the late 90s.

6. Whitney: Can I Be Me

Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s latest gripping effort breaks away from his usual format, in that the director himself barely appears on screen. Instead, archive footage, new interviews, and specially shot recent material are seamlessly blended together to build up a fine, detailed piece about the life and death of Whitney Houston.

5. God’s Own Country

The beauty of this film lies in its starkness. An unforgiving, relentless snapshot of contemporary Yorkshire, which somehow looks unchanged since the days of the Bronte sisters. It’s a rough love story, a summation of modern Britain, and a tribute to one of our hardest landscapes.

4. Sully

Clint Eastwood’s brings his traditional and solid directorial style to this biopic of Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane on New York’s Hudson River after its engines were disabled by a bird strike. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable film, dealing with the hearing at which Sully was accused of pilot error, and – in riveting, flawlessly executed sequences – the stress and turmoil of the crash landing itself.

3. T2: Trainspotting 2

From review: "Together, the two Trainspotting films prove that something pretty special happened when three young filmmakers decided to pull a story out of the heart of the Edinburgh slums. The original occasionally felt like a slightly overrated flash in the pan; with the sequel to accompany it, it has become complete and the films have jointly secured their place in the ranks of great British cinema."

2. Lion

Dev Patel gives arguably his best performance in this moving and fascinating drama. With reliably solid support from Nicole Kidman, this is the improbable yet true story of a young boy separated from his family and presumed forever lost, who was able to trace his origins using the power of Google Earth.

1. Elle

At 79, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven proves he’s far from past it with this brutal, hilarious, cheeky, ironic satire on sexual violence, family life, gender politics and the modern world. Combining the best of Verhoeven’s early European films – Spettters, The Fourth Man – with the spirit of the furiously entertaining early 90s thrillers which made his name – Total Recall, Basic InstinctElle is a biting thriller about the novel approach a woman takes to dealing with being assaulted in her own home by an unknown invader. Isabelle Huppert’s lead performance is among the best she’s ever given, and Verhoeven doesn’t let the air out of the film for a single second.

December 19, 2017
Top 10 Films of 2017

10. La La Land/Blade Runner 2049

I start my list with a cheat, because I really couldn't decide which Ryan Gosling film was better. La La Land is a lushly dreamy musical with some very good songs, that now feels a bit antiquated with recent Hollywood scandals. Blade Runner 2049 has incredible cinematography (thanks Roger Deakins) and score (thanks Hans Zimmer), and a breathtaking cinematic scope, but leaves me as cold as the original. So we start with a draw.

9. The Lego Batman Movie

My appreciation for Batman is, at times, excessive. The Lego Batman Movie feels made specifically for a fan like me. It is funny, silly, a great love letter to Batman, and a wonderful takedown of the character, but not quite as good as The Lego Movie.

8. Thelma

Of the 17 (!) films I saw at the London Film Festival the one which has grown in my estimation is this chilly Norwegian thriller. It has lingered in my mind longer then other films, not least because of a fantastic lead performance from Eili Harboe.

7. The Florida Project

Sometimes a film doesn’t need a complicated plot or a sense that it is building to a climax. Sometimes simply presenting the world of its characters is enough for the film to envelope the audience. The Florida Project is a beautiful film: a powerful exploration of poverty and youth with an Oscar-worthy performance from Willem Dafoe.

6. Wonder Woman

Of the numerous superhero movies of the year, the one that I suspect will stand the test of time is Wonder Woman. An origin movie that is lighter then most and more meaningful then many, it is a film centrally about the power of good in the world. With a star-making turn from Gal Gadot and some of the best action sequences of the year, this is the best superhero movie of the year.

5. Get Out

The best horror films are often reflections of wider social issues, and Get Out taps into this more then most, gaining an urgency in the prospect. The fact that it is also a really good horror film, with a deliciously warped sense of humour, makes the film even better. Proof if it was ever needed that sometimes the most progressive films are in the most unlikely of places.

4. Lady Macbeth

Few films in 2017 were as haunting as Lady Macbeth. Pairing confident direction from William Oldroyd (his debut), paired-down script from Alice Birch, and incredible sound design from Ben Baird and Dan Jones, for an intimate film with an extraordinary impact. All this and a fantastic Florence Pugh as the titular character makes this a film that far exceeds its modest beginnings.

3. The Handmaiden

My second cheat of the list is this film, which I first saw in 2016. But it didn't reach cinemas until this year, and what a treat it is. Hilarious and packed with twists, it keeps its audience on their toes in a way few films have before. Plus the central pair of Min-hee Kim and Tae-ri Kim are just wonderful here.

2. Call Me By Your Name

I had a dilemma for which film to put as my favourite and Call Me By Your Name almost won out. A heartbreaking, deeply emotive movie and one of the most compelling LGBT films in recent years. There is so much to recommend here, from the music choices, through to the cinematography, to the trio of performance at the film's centre. In short, a masterpiece.

1. Dunkirk

It had to be Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan's films have often been accused of being cold and emotionally distant. Not so with Dunkirk. An overwhelming, visceral experience, propelled by Hans Zimmer's best score yet, this is a film that is terrifying, with a devastating impact.

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