December is upon us, meaning it’s ample time to begin contemplating the finest 7 films that 2017 has bestowed upon us (see what we did there!). As we head into awards season, 2017 has been an industrious year for both blockbuster and arthouse films, with its fair share of scandal and misogyny thrown into the mix. From superhero sagas to low budget horror thrillers, to dystopian sci-fis and politically driven foreign imports, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the bounty of offerings that 2017 has offered. But how many have you watched?
Silence – Dir. Martin Scorsese.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson.
Martin Scorsese, a man who spent a year in a seminary before starting to craft his way into filmmakers legendary status, has never shied away from his connection to spirituality and human nature. Whilst it is not Scorsese’s best film (a hard feat to beat at this stage), it is definitely his most audacious. It’s unnecessarily long, but is seldom boring and visually and symbolically stunning. However, those not exulted by the inner cyclical workings of devotion and faith will find this a hard slog. The point is, there is no point, kind of thing.
Wonder Woman – Dir. Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Chris Pine
Okay, so I had to include one superhero film in this list. Patty Jenkins broke box office records for a female director as the opening weekend of Wonder Woman reeled in an impressive $223 million at the box office. Wonder Woman breathes new life into the increasingly dilapidated superhero blockbuster genre. The CGI is fantastic, the plot and storyline delve into Greek mythology with a feminine vigor and Gal Gadot is mesmerising as our female heroine. The much anticipated sequel is already underway.
Blade Runner – Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford
I usually hate sequels, but this adaptation of Ridley Scott’s dystopian classic is one of those rare times when a sequel to a classic absolutely nails it. In this era of technology and CGI, it’s not hard to top its 35 year old counterpart’s visual aesthetic. Blade Runner 2049 re-envisions the themes of the 1982 classic story in the year 2049, as the world’s climate is spinning out of control. The desperation and sense that total disaster is just lurking around the corner has never been so poignantly relevant. Even Harrison Ford puts in a stellar performance alongside the endlessly brooding Ryan Gosling, suggesting an evolution of masculinity within blockbuster films from the days of solemn stoicism as masculine representation in films. Did I say it’s visually stunning? Well, it really is.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Colin Farrell teams up again with director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) for another absolutely bonkers social critique on the absurdities of human interaction. It’s an uncomfortable watch, like nails on a chalkboard, the tension becomes almost unbearable. But stick with it, the human interactions and dark-comedic provocations are hugely entertaining and vividly absurd. Barry Keoghan’s standout performance scratches another notch on the post of his flourishing career.
The Meyerowitz Stories – Dir. Noah Baumbach
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller
Yes, there is a new Adam Sandler film, specifically for Netflix and it’s surprisingly terrific! Boasting a cast of heavyweights such as Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, but incredibly, it’s Sandler who steals the show. He is hilariously charming in his portrayal of a recent divorcee with a limp, whose inability to hold down a steady job seems to be directly related to some deeper, complex, daddy issues. The Meyerowitz Stories is a compassionate and self-indulgent analysis of broken families with enough comedy thrown in to avoid a spiral into a grim narrative arc. It unveils all the imperfections of family affection, yet leaves you thankful you are not directly related to any of the characters in the story.
Dunkirk – Dir. Christopher Nolan
Starring: Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy
Coming in at number 2 is the epic World War 2 biopic Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan has become one of the most heralded and gifted storytellers in a generation. His technical superiority is on full display in this film, with the auxiliary effect of a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, creating a pulsing, almost deafening enactment of a World War Two story. It grabs you by the eardrum and refuses to let go until the credits roll. Told as three separate stories (Land, Sea and Air), within three different time narratives, the non-linear plot can be somewhat distracting and disorienting. However, it is so much easier to admire this film for its technical abilities than its flawed character complexities.
Call Me By Your Name – Dir. Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Armie Hammer.
My standout film for 2017 has to be Luca Guagagnino’s coming out and coming of age story. A film that fills you with life, interrogates the infidelities of sexuality and gets you right in the feels with its gut-wrenching portrait of two lovers attempting to find themselves before summer is over. Timothée Chalamet, as a relative newcomer, is enthralling in his portrayal of a teenager attempting to understand the insecurities and anguish that come with first love. However, it is one of the final scenes that will remain with the audience and I expect various judging panels come awards season. Michael Stuhlbarg, playing the role of the compassionate father, delivers a speech of tender openness and maternal compassion that transforms this complex love story to one of empathetic indifference, carrying the weight of the emotional layers of this utterly beautiful film.
These seven films are notable for their ability to demonstrate diversity in an industry that has become somewhat lacking in imagination. Perhaps more than ever, there is a need for new voices with alternative approaches that can breath fresh life into a stagnant industry. As we look towards the 2018 awards season, these seven films offer a fresh, diverse perspective that are all worthy of honourable mentions.