best films of 2017

Published on December 28th, 2017

Here’s Michael Dalton’s pick of the best films of 2017

  1. The Edge of Seventeen:Coming-of-age movies are a dime a dozen (wait until you see this year’s darling, Lady Bird!) but this one, starring Hailee Steinfeld, is one of the best. It’s only a little film but the snappy dialogue, authentic characters, and sensitive direction by Kelly Fremon Craig make it a cut above.
  2. Jackie:Pablo Larrain’s sharp study of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s experience in the days following the sinister assassination of her husband was one for the ages. Natalie Portman (for my money infinitely more fascinating here than in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan) is outstanding.
  3. Hidden Figures:This true story of three black women who wowed NASA with their smarts in the early 1960s was one of the most enjoyable romps of the year. The superb Taraji P. Henson, as mathematician Katherine Goble, leads the charge, with Janelle Monae as an aspiring engineer and Octavia Spencer as a supervisor in excellent support.
  4. Moonlight:Barry Jenkins’s story of a lifetime was one of the moving experiences of 2017 and one of the most deserving Best Picture winners Oscar has ever anointed. Sensitive, tender, and filled out with superb performances, watching this tough and finally heartbreaking story unfold was one of the year’s pleasures.
  5. Logan:While the Wolverine series has been hit and miss in terms of character and narrative development, Logan, the action-packed series finale directed by James Mangold, was the  biggest surprises of 2017. Aside from great work by Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and the ass-kicking Dafne Keen, Logan shines due to its intense preoccupation with the vulnerabilities faced by its heroes. The superhero film of the year.
  6. It:For those expecting a violent, horrifying experience, disappointment was theirs, but for those aware of the source material and that this is only part one of Stephen King’s famous epic, a childhood adventure about a demon who feeds on fear, the ride was memorable, beautifully cast, and just creepy enough to inspire a bad dream or two.
  7. Dunkirk:Only a ringmaster of Christopher Nolan’s calibre could mount a film as enthralling as this one and for my money this, his first historical film, is his masterpiece. The title says it all but what fascinates here is how little character development he allows and yet he still had us on the edge of our seats barracking for these stranded soldiers to make it home.
  8. God’s Own Country:With memories of Brokeback Mountain still lingering in our memories, some may have thought it too soon for another gay love story set in the wild. Well, they missed a treat. Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu, on the rocky road to true love, play the young men in question. With harsh landscapes and committed performances, this was a journey worth taking.
  9. Blade Runner 2049:Director Denis Villeneuve continued to astound us this year with his imagination and expertise as he picked up where Ridley Scott’s futuristic 1982 thriller left off,  expanded the apocalyptic vistas, and managed to blow the highly critical fanbase away. 2049 isn’t just one of this year’s best, it is hands down the best sci-fi film of the century.
  10. The Florida Project:Set in a rundown hotel over one summer, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project follows the adventures of a six year old girl called Moonee (Brooklynn Prince in one of the year’s most stunning performances) as she runs wild with her friends while in her downtime, learns unsavoury lessons from her mother on how to make ends meet. Willem Dafoe, a constant presence in the current award season (as is the film), is a wonder as the building manager.
  11. Paddington 2:What delicious fun! The cutest little bear in the world returned this year in yet another spectacular adventure, again directed by Paul King and with the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it original cast. Well, almost. Nicole Kidman’s villainess is surely still shoveling pooh somewhere so this time we get Hugh Grant in a delicious teeth-gnashing turn that deserves an award for the campest performance of the year. He is superb, and the final scene will have you dancing out of the cinema.