by jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)
Hey, Jake Cordiner here. 2017 was fucking shite eh? I appreciate that this sentiment has been beaten to death but it really was. The only shining lights were found in yer music, games, TV, wrestling (shouts to Kenny Omega) and, perhaps the most important, film. So many fucking unreal films came out in 2017, I struggled like fuck to narrow down this list.
PLEASE NOTE: I haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming, I’m fucking sorry, ok? There are loads of films I haven’t got around to seeing yet but I guaran-damn-tee that I’ll get the most hate for having not seen Homecoming. Right, honourable mentions:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Ramped up everything that made the first film so refreshing, but sadly felt a bit by the numbers in the process. Still worth a watch.
- The Ghoul – A good wee British horror that I reviewed earlier on in 2017, mind-bending af, in the same vein as the likes of Coherence and Timecrimes.
- T2 Trainspotting – To be brutally honest, this film had absolutely no right to be as good as it was. Danny Boyle used all the directing tricks he’s learned in the 20+ years that had passed since the original Trainspotting to create a film that manages to stand on its own merits.
- Mayhem / The Belko Experiment – Both have very, very similar plots (shit goes down in an office building) so I’ve lumped these two together. Go for Mayhem if you want over the top schlock, go for The Belko Experiment if you want something a bit smarter, but more subdued.
Right, here goes. The 20 DEFINITIVE best films of 2017!!
20. Brigsby Bear
An absolutely dynamite film, this. It stars Kyle Mooney and Mark Hamill and that’s literally all I want to say. I implore you, don’t watch any trailers or clips. Go in as blind as possible and let this wonderful piece of cinema sweep you away.
I.T is a film that, I think, defied all expectations. It shouldn’t have been this good, but boy oh boy am I glad it is. It oozes humour and genuine dread from its every pore, in no small part thanks to some stonking performances from the central children, and of course Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. Not every joke/scare hits, but when they do, fuck me do they deliver.
18. Baby Driver
I wasn’t as head over heels in love with this yin as a lot of other people seemed to be, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great film. An utter masterclass in song choice and editing, Baby Driver is nothing but straight up fun. Add another worldie to Edgar Wright’s repertoire.
17. Thor Ragnarok
Without a doubt the most fun I had in the cinema in 2017, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok managed to capture the humour and wistfulness of his previous works (Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows, both fantastic films), AND on top of that he made a damn fine action film. I now want Taika to direct every film that will ever come out. I’m not sure of the logistics but I think it’s probably possible.
I’m still not entirely sure what the fuck I watched, basically. One of the most batshit insane films I’ve ever seen, Mother! Is Darren Aronofsky making a film that is kind of about everything and kind of about nothing all at once? It is fucking mad, and it’s brilliant.
15. The Love Witch
The Love Witch is an incredibly strange film. A surreal horror/romance/60s throwback with deliberately(?) wooden acting and strange transitions between scenes. I’m genuinely not even sure if I liked it that much, but I’ve watched it willingly three times so that must count for something. A bizarre, but must-watch film.
What Dunkirk lacks in the story department, it more than makes up for visually. Some of the shots in this flick are utterly staggering. A palpable sense of dread and tension hangs over each and every scene. Whilst sitting in the cinema, I genuinely felt anxious at points, so this definitely isn’t one for the faint of heart. One of Christopher Nolan’s weakest pictures, but then again, a weak Christopher Nolan joint is still better than most directors best efforts.
13. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE LAST JEDI: I fucking loved this film. It has more heart and soul in it than any Star Wars film before it. Some of the scenes are stupid, some of the motivations for the characters are stupid, but it is an utter joy. The new characters introduced all had their place, and the way Rian Johnson decided to treat the force as a religious allegory like the original trilogy did was a wonderful touch. Do not listen to the hate, this is a wonderful, wonderful piece of cinema.
One of only two good things to come out of 2017 with the name Logan attached (here’s looking at you, Logan Lucky) Logan is one of the best comic book films of all time because it didn’t feel like a comic book film (for the most part). It’s gritty, moody, violent as all hell, sad as fuck and, maybe above all else, it’s human. Who’d have thought all it would take to make a great stand-alone Wolverine film would be to make him weaker? A blinder.
11. Brawl In Cell Block 99
Just missing out on my top 10 is the devilishly pulpy Brawl In Cellblock 99. S. Craig Zahler is one of the most exciting directors working today, and he only has 2 films under his belt (the other being 2015’s gory western horror Bone Tomahawk, also a great movie). The premise is simple: Big scary man (played by Vince Vaughn, in a career-best performance) goes to jail, has to do something in jail to save his pregnant wife. What follows is a journey documenting how far people will go for the people they love (hint: REALLY fucking far). If gore is your bag, look no further. Brawl… will knock your socks clean off.
Here we go MY DUDES, tenth spot goes to the utterly gorgeous Moonlight. Barry Jenkins’ touching portrait of a young black man’s entire life as he grapples with topics ranging from sexuality to what it means to be black in modern America.
There’s almost nothing you can fault with this film, Jenkins’ writing and directing is masterful, as are the performances throughout, in particular, a star-making turn from Mahershala Ali as Juan. This film can go from melancholic to harrowing in the space of a scene, but it never feels jarring or poorly paced.
To put it simply, this is a masterpiece of cinema, and it’s a testament to how good a year 2017 was for film that it’s only ranking at number 10 on my list.
What an absolute gem of a film this is. Starring Anne Hathaway (in probably the best performance she’s ever given), Colossal tells the tale of Gloria, an out of work alcoholic who leaves her apartment in the big city and her, to be frank, total wank of a boyfriend Tim (played with aplomb by Dan Stevens, who is fucking great) to move back to her hometown and try to “find herself” (so far so bloody cliche).
After Something decimates Seoul overnight, she slowly but surely begins to realise that she might have something to do with the destruction of one of the world’s largest cities. That’s as much as I can go into without spoiling anything, so I’m instead going to gush about how fucking incredible Jason Sudeikis is in this film. Like, he SERIOUSLY knocks it entirely out of the park. He knocks whatever “it” is into the stratosphere, in fact, “it” probably landed on the surface of Mars. Where the fuck did this performance come from? He’s always been a serviceable enough comedic actor, but my man has LAYERS. He’s warm, cuddly and intimidating all at once.
I can honestly say this is one of the most surprising films of the year, for me. I stumbled upon the trailer by accident whilst traveling downwards through a youtube rabbit hole and it instantly got my attention, but it just seemed like an artsy wee weird, low budget / high production value romcom. How wrong I was, this blew me away and I can almost guarantee it’ll blow you away too.
8. The Big Sick
God this film made me cry. It made me cry more than I think any film in recent memory has. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s story is one that needed to be heard (or in this case, saw). Kumail stars as himself, doing shitey wee stand up gigs in a toilet venue in Chicago, a toilet venue that Emily (played with an effortless charm and venom by Zoe Kazan) happens to attend one night. What follows is a journey that is heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, as a mystery illness leaves Emily’s life hanging in the balance. Kumail casting himself as himself is nothing short of genius, and it allows him to give one of the most believable performances of 2017.
You feel every moment of elation and despair Kumail, Emily and Emily’s parents, played by Holly Hunter (Mrs. Bloody fucking Incredible!) and RAY ROMANO (who is genuinely all sorts of fantastic in this film) go through.
The Big Sick is one of the funniest films of the year, it is dripping with Kumail’s signature deadpan humour. Nanijani and Gordon have written one of the most stunningly human films of recent times, and for my money, the best romantic comedy ever.
7. The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)
Jesus H Christ this film’s a journey. Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories follows three siblings who are trying and failing to escape the shadow of their father. The siblings are played beautifully by Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Jean Marvel. All 3 are nothing short of fucking incredible in this film, Sandler especially, who proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when he tries, he can be a stunningly good actor. Dustin Hoffman plays their father, Harold, a neurotic retired artist who was, for all intents and purposes, kind of a really shitty dad/husband/person in general. He’s onto his third wife, Maureen (hammed up to perfection by the ever impressive Emma Thompson). As his children try (and fail) desperately to strike up some form of connection with Harold, he takes ill. And THATS AS MUCH OF A SYNOPSIS AS YIS ARE GETTING!
Noah Baumbach is the king of writing films like this, emotional gut-punches wrapped in wittily written monologues and dialogues, and his run of form continues here. This is an oftentimes bleak peak into dysfunctional family life, and it is a vital watch.
6. Get Out
Jordan Peele, take a fucking bow, son.
This racially driven horror/thriller/comedy(according to the golden globes) is nothing less than a slice of fried gold. Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris Washington, who is about to go to his girlfriend’s family’s house upstate for the weekend. He hasn’t met them yet. Bad shit is going to go down. Everything starts off innocently enough, niceties are shared between all family members (with a bit of seemingly unintentional casual racism thrown in the mix), but soon things take a turn for the incredibly sinister.
What follows is one of the most uncomfortable films I have ever watched. I squirmed, almost non-stop throughout this films entire run time. The performances from Rose (played by Allison Williams) and her family are staggeringly good, with a real tenseness and a sense of underlying evil intentions soaking almost every line of dialogue they have. Catherine Keener as Missy especially oozes an aura of uncomfortableness throughout. But this is very much Kaluuya’s film, with a perfectly weighted performance that has seen him gain a BAFTA nomination, and rightly so.
It’s staggering that this was Jordan Peele’s first foray into feature-length film, and as I’m sure anyone who’s seen Get Out will agree, he’s placed himself firmly among the ranks of the most exciting young directors working today.
5. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos is a mad fucking genius and I adore him. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a very hard film to categorise. On the one hand, it could be construed as a pitch black comedy, on the other it’s an eerie and skin-crawling horror. But that’s the true beauty of Lanthimos’s work, it simply refuses categorisation. The film’s advertising campaign was a masterstroke, revealing almost nothing about the film’s plot apart from the bare essentials. Colin Farrell is a surgeon. Nicole Kidman is his wife. Barry Keoghan is a weird as fuck teenager and Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic are Farrell and Kidman’s children.
The rest is left purposefully vague, and it’s all the better for it. It may seem like a cop-out to say this but the less you know about The Killing of a Sacred Deer going into It the better, but it’s genuinely true. This is a film that requires your full attention, many wee details may slip through the cracks on your first view so multiple viewings would also help. A lot of people don’t care for Lanthimos’s style after his last two films (Dogtooth and The Lobster), but those who do know exactly how talented this man is. Belting stuff.
The best way to describe this film is Mean Girls meets The Silence of the Lambs. What starts off as a simple coming of age fare turns dark very, VERY quickly. Julia Ducournau French language directorial debut is a masterclass in slow burning dread. Justine arrives at college to become a vet like the rest of her family, and upon arriving is subjected to a hazing ritual along with the rest of the new starts. This ritual includes the consumption of RAW (HE SAID IT) meat. There’s one wee problem, though: Julia’s been a vegetarian since birth. This hazing ritual is the catalyst for awakening a previously unknown love of meat. RAW ( there he goes again!) meat specifically.
There were horror tales surrounding this films showing at the Toronto film festival, with the usual (more often than not bullshit) stories about “PEOPLE VOMITING IN THE AISLES” and “AMBULANCES RUSHING TO THE THEATRE TO ATTEND TO CASES OF MASS FAINTING!” But I’ll give this film the benefit of the doubt, some of the scenes throughout are genuinely fucking vile. But at the same time, a lot of this film is gorgeous, with a lot of striking camera work throughout.
It’s that balance that makes Raw so great in my eyes. Garance Mallier (this is also her first feature-length film) plays Julia with just the right amount of nervous energy and (eventually) sassiness that it’s hard not to be sucked into this film. A bloody slobber knocker, and another film that showcases the trend of genuinely smart horror that we’ve been blessed with over the last few years.
3. La La Land
The film I’ve seen more than any other on this list, La La Land is, in a word, dazzling. At its heart, La La Land is a film about sacrifice. Be it sacrificing relationships, morals or dreams, sacrifice is the running theme throughout Damien Chazelle’s sun-drenched musical masterpiece.
Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a struggling pianist and jazz connoisseur (we’ve all met one of them, bloody annoying dicks) who dreams of owning his own jazz club. Emma Stone’s Mia works at a coffee shop, but she dreams of being an actress. They fall in love, he teaches her about jazz, she tries to teach him about film, but a copious amount of roadblocks stand in the way of the relationship. From their own egos to job opportunities, to timing. It’s never really clear if the relationship will work out. And that is absolutely fine because not everything works out. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be, and La La Land excels in conveying this message. Maybe the person you think is your soulmate never really was.
The music throughout La La Land is genuinely on another level. From the jaunty and energetic opener Another Day of Sun to the slow and brooding City of Stars, not a note is wasted throughout. Performance wise, Gosling and Stone are electric together, their chemistry is through the roof and I can’t imagine this film being as good with anyone else in the starring roles. The choreography deserves a mention as well, each and every extra in the big dance numbers pops out of the screen. This is partly thanks to the costumes and partly thanks to the choreography itself, which is stellar throughout. This film simply drips class, beauty, and sadness, and it is absolutely fucking astonishingly good.
2. A Ghost Story
I haven’t stopped thinking about this film since I seen it. It is, seriously, one of the most stunningly beautiful films I have ever seen. It explores such heady topics with such a deft hand that it is almost difficult for me to talk about without tearing up, this is not hyperbole. David Lowrey deserves a Nobel peace prize for this film.
Starring Rooney Mara and White Male Shitbird, A Ghost Story tells the tale of C (man) and M (woman). C & M live happily in a lovely little home in an equally lovely little town. C is a music producer, who is happy with the house. M is not happy, she wants to leave as soon as possible. Something about the house troubles her, she feels like something will soon go horribly wrong. Hesitant of change, C laughs off these claims but soon, something does go very wrong. C is killed in a car accident. It wasn’t his fault, it never usually is the fault of the person who loses their life. M goes to identify the body, it’s him. She’s completely and utterly lost, she can bare to see the lifeless body of the man she loved, still loves. She runs away. C rises out of his body as a ghost, wearing a sheet, with wee holes cut out for eyes.
In any other film, this depiction of a ghost would be seen as pretentious and asinine, not here. C goes back to his house. He watches M live her life without him. Struggling to find meaning, she binge eats and vomits it back out. She is a husk. She leaves, C can’t. He’s stuck in this house. The next family moves in. And the next. And the next. You see where this is going.
A Ghost Story tackles time, love, loss, grief, the meaning of fucking life and treats each question with the weight they deserve. There’s barely any dialogue for over half the film. There doesn’t need to be. The imagery conveys the messages this film takes on effortlessly, arguably far better than words ever could. I’m aware I’m gushing, and I’m genuinely sorry but this film seems to have flown under a lot of people’s radars and that’s quite simply a fucking crime.
You may think a write up like that should be number one? Well, not necessarily…
1. Blade Runner 2049
This film should not exist. Not only should it not exist, it has the AUDACITY to be one of the best films ever made. Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins have gifted us with one of the most visually spectacular films of all time. EVERY. SINGLE. SHOT is desktop background worthy (high praise, I’m a man who respects his desktop and its background, anyone who knows me will tell you that).
The world building in this film is stellar, helped in no small part by the three shorts released prior to 2049’s release. The acting is second to none, Gosling is on the form of his life as K, Robin Wright shines as K’s commander in chief, a criminally under-utilized Dave Bautista steals the short scene he’s in without breaking a sweat (figuratively, not literally). But the star of the show here is Harrison Ford. I don’t know what Denis and the rest of the crew fed him, but he was a different gravy entirely in this flick. Potentially the best performance he’s ever given.
I’ve sucked enough actor dick for one lifetime, so let’s get to the story. K is a newer replicant who is hired by the police to track down and decommission older replicants (for the uninitiated, replicants are basically androids). An almost botched job leads him on a journey to discover who he is, and if he even is a replicant at all. That’s the basic premise, it goes a lot deeper than that I promise you, but you’ll have to discover the film’s intricacies for yourself.
Villeneuve has taken the concept of big bad Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and ran with it. He’s Forrest Gump’d the fucker. I think he’s still running as we speak. Though limitations due to the time it was made have to be taken into account, Villeneuve and his crew’s design of near-future Los Angeles is fucking awe-inspiring. It’s all blinding neon advertisements, towering skyscrapers and Neo-futuristic slums. And that’s just the exteriors, each and ever interior location was meticulously designed with so much love that the care that went into the sets is almost palpable.
This is a special, special film. It takes Scott’s original and punts it into orbit, answering questions that the original was either too scared or too up its own arse to answer. It’s beautiful, it’s harrowing, it’s deeply sad and it’s the best film of 2017.
Now, I should make something clear here while I’ve still got you. I might have bigged up some films more than other’s, yet placed them lower on the list. This is because I can appreciate that art is special, and still not enjoy them as much as other pieces of art. That’s a wanky way of saying please don’t hate me. As always, a massive, massive, humongous, to be honest too big thank you to Liam and the rest of the Blinkclyro team for letting me write shite. It’s truly one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my life. And an equally as big thank you to you, for reading the shite I’ve written. It means more than you could ever know.
2017 was a shite year in a lot of aspects but it was still decent for me. I found my footing in the journalism game and I managed to write a few pieces I’m genuinely proud of.
Let me know your favourite films of 2017, let me know how you are, let me know if you’re doing ok. Follow me on twitter @jjjjaketh, have a wonderful morning/ afternoon/evening/night, and I’ll see you again soon.