My top 10 (…12) of 2017

As it’s New Year and everyone is all about making the resolutions I figured I should set myself a few realistic ones for 2018. First of all I really need to work harder at this blog, I really love writing about films and talking about films, I’m always that person at events that seems to somehow turn the conversation on to “what did you think of Star Wars?” so I really should embrace my blog more. Not to mention I use it to get press passes and then fail to actually publish any of the stuff I write about the events. So that ends NOW. I am going to set myself the challenge of at least 2 posts a month, talking about either films I see in the cinema, film events I attend or just old favourites I watch at home. Please bare in mind, Santa did very well this year by bringing me the new blu-ray box sets of the MCU phases 1 and 2. So there will be a lot of Marvel heavy content in the posts.
My other resolutions (besides attempting to get a tattoo) are going to be to find a job I love and stick at it, find a new house and most of all GRADUATE! I am so close to the end of 5 years of film studies (with a lengthy gap after the first two) that I cannot wait to say goodbye to education and get on with working on a proper career.

So, the finish of 2017 on my blog I am going to do a brief breakdown of my top 10 films of the year, now this is likely to either change or be extended when I look back over my film journal. But this is just a spontaneous blog post as my parents are having a New Years Eve party that I’ve managed to escape by saying I have “uni work” to do….

So my top 5 films of the first half of the year (Jan 1st – June 2nd) year:

1 – La La Land – It doesn’t feel possible that La La Land was released this year, it feels like a lifetime ago. How could I possible have a post about the best films of 2017 without a mention to this film. Musicals are a huge part of my life so for a film like this to be brought to the big screen and get the recognition is deserved meant that the world still has time for musicals. I don’t necessarily agree with everyone that says its as good as the musicals of the golden age, but it sure is a modern homage to them. It’s a shame it didn’t win the Oscar, I don’t know if it deserved to win it but I definitely would have given it to La La Land over Moonlight.

2 – Manchester by the Sea – Anyone who knows me, knows how much I adore Casey Affleck and this is not the only film starring him that is going to make it on to my top 10 (see “second half of the year”). I have a real issue with connection to my emotions, not just when watching films but also in every day life, I have a slight reputation of being the girl that can’t cry. There is one scene in Manchester by the Sea where Lee Chandler has to deal with the realisation of a heartbreaking situation whilst taking full responsibility for it and Afflecks performance is utterly compelling. He made me feel like I’ve never felt before whilst watching a film – a well deserved Oscar. Kenny Lonergans script and directing effort is both beautiful and effortless. If I could have chosen the winner for best film at this years Academy Awards it would have been this film. I just love it.

 

3 – Hidden Figures – Another worthy Oscar contender, it’s unsuprising that my top 5 films of the first half of the year consist mostly of Oscar nominees because the competition was unbelievably strong. A shout out aswell to Haksaw Ridge which so nearly made the cut, another stunning film.
Hidden Figures for me was everything I wanted to see from an Oscar nominated film, it has an exciting story which centres around some incredible characters and touches on some very important topics. It carries the entire film with controversial issues without making it heavy-going and depressing to watch. It’s an uplifting possitive effort to educate people about real events that took place. The leading performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae are a match made in heaven – three performances that deserve to be celebrated.

4  – Logan – I wasn’t going to compile this list without at least one Marvel film featured and this year it just had to be Logan. I firmly believe Hugh Jackman deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance and finally the super-hero genre would get the recognition it deserves. Jackman had to say goodbye to his beloved Logan/Wolverine in this epic finale to his 9 film run within the X-Men series. Although being a part of that huge franchise Logan really does stand on it’s own two feet as a powerful film with its brilliant story line and powerhouse performances. A long with its amazing lead performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, the supporting cast also deserve some praise; Stephen Merchant, an unlikely choice for a superhero film, was absolutely fantastic and Dafne Keens debut was perfect as the role of Laura, Logans unknown daughter. A fantastic cast overall.
I was also lucky enough to see it as Logan Noir – an entire black and white edit of the film at the famous Prince Charles Cinema in London over the summer, it was the perfect film to see stripped back to black and white.

5 – Their Finest – Although to some people this might have been a forgettable film, it was one of the few films I gave 5 stars to this year. The film tells the story of a female film maker who has been appointed to make propaganda films during World War II. Filled with laughter and heartbreak this film really meant something to me, the story of Catrin Cole (played wonderfully by Gemma Arterton) is one of bravery and creativity and is incredibly moving. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already seen it, I really did love it. Who wouldn’t love a film starring Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Ok, this isn’t going to make it on to the top 5 of the start of the year, because it’s not by any means the best of the series BUT it does deserve a mention. After the fall of ‘On Stranger Tides’ Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg pulled the franchise back perfectly with ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ (or ‘Salazars Revenge’ here in the UK) with the use of classic Pirates humour and a fantastic new cast, with the return of a few favourites. The Pirates series of films will always hold a special place in my life and I firmly believe “the more Pirates films, the better”.

And my top 5 (which has turned into my top 7) films of the last 6 months (June 3rd – Dec 31st) of the year:

6 – A Ghost Story – The second of Casey Afflecks films to make my list. The story of C, an introvert composer who has a sentimental attachment to the house that him and his wife live in. Killed tragically in a car accident at the start of the film, C returns to the house as a ghost to watch over his wife. One his wife has moved on and decides to leave the house behind C is left behind with the house and stays there whilst other families come and go.
It’s an absolutely stunning film that leaves you racking your brains to understand the movement of time. Two incredible leading performances from Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

7 – My Life as a Courgette – It’s surprising that there’s an animated film on my list that isn’t a Disney or Disney/Pixar film but really I couldn’t not feature this one. My Life as a Courgette is a story set in rural France about a young boy called Courgette whos parents both pass away and he moves to an orphanage. Its a beautiful story told through the use of stop motion animation which I am a huge fan of. The colours and production design is stunning. I watched it with the British dub but I hope to see it in the original language soon.
I look forward to seeing it, hopefully, get a best animated feature nomination at the Oscars which is definitely deserves.

8 – War for the Planet of the Apes – I wasn’t sure if this would make the cut but the more I think about it the more I remember parts of it which I absolutely loved. One of my favourite things to see on screen is Woody Harrelson playing a villain and one of my favourite performances from him is in Out of the Furnace (2013) where he played one of the best on screen villains I’ve ever seen. His performance in the final installment of the Apes trilogy is brutal, he comes across as a true villain with self righteous intentions.
The new Planet of the Apes trilogy has showcased some of the greatest special effects ever seen on screen and that is mostly down to the outstanding performance from Andy Serkis in the lead role of Ceaser the ape. Throughout the trilogy we’re told the heartbreaking story of Ceaser and his tribe and this film just adds to that heartbreak but told in a beautiful way that, although the story is far-fetched, it somehow seems relevant.

9 – Dunkirk – Obviously Christopher Nolans’ World War II epic was going to make the list, in fact this is my number 1 film of the year. I find it hard to describe things like this that I love so much without just saying “it’s amazing, it’s brilliant, it’s perfect” but really this film is all of those things. From the intensely thrilling sound design with the use of a ticking clock to build the tension throughout the film to the painfully silent dialogue. One of my favourite things about it is the use of time, almost as it’s very own character, you’re thrown around all different time sequences as the film goes on, each character has it’s own timeline which crosses over with the other characters. It’s fascinating and genius, Christopher Nolan is a visionary and I for one am so excited to see what he comes up with next.
One of the things, that I always comment on, is the casting. I (along with a lot of people) was very unsure of the use of Harry Styles, former boyband member, in a film such as Dunkirk, but actually he surprised me and his character was so interesting. I think he actually did a great job. Mark Rylance was the screen stealer for me though, his calm exterior and typically British character made him relatable and interesting to watch. The rest of the cast were also fantastic, newcomer Fionn Whitehead and Tom Glynn-Carney were both brilliant as were the greats Kenneth Brannagh, James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.
I can’t say enough good things about this masterpiece.

10 – Three Billboards (outside Ebbing, Missouri) – The summer of 2017 brought some really exciting new films into my life, mostly because I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the BFI London Film Festival which meant endless new films from all sorts of fascinating filmmakers, Malcolm McDonagh is one of them. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri was one I wasn’t sure about before going to see it, it was the closing film of the festival for press pass holders and for that reason I didn’t want to miss it. I was utterly blown away.
A heartbreaking story about a mother (Francis McDormand) who’s daughter was raped and killed, but the local police department lead by the respected Chief of Police (Woody Harrelson) did nothing to find the culprit. She takes extreme measures by leaving controversial messages for the police department to draw attention to there mistakes.
The script is compelling, a darkly comedic film full of whit and charm a long with an incredibly powerful monologue from McDormands character, Mildred.
I can’t recommend this film enough to everyone I talk to about it, it’s stunning and is likely to receive multiple well deserved Oscar nominations.

11 – Call Me By Your Name – Another film I wasn’t sure about before going to see it however, I absolutely loved it. A stunning love story between two unexpected companions who fall in love over a summer spent in the beautiful backdrop of the Italian Riviera. Two stand out performances from the leads Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet both tell their own personal stories with truth and honesty. I don’t want to say too much as it’s a fairy new film and I know a lot of people may not have seen it yet, but it really is stunning and worthy of a watch. Fingers crossed for some best actor nominations.

12 – The Greatest Showman – Start the year with a musical and end the year with a musical. That’s how I roll. The Greatest Showman tells the illustrious story of the founder of the great travelling circus, P. T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman appears to have made my list twice, a long with Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson.
The Greatest Showman is a musical theatre spectacular, if you don’t enjoy films where the characters are half way through a conversation and dramatically burst into song then this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy spectacular dance routines, unbelievable costumes, love stories, music, animals and just all round great entertainment then this is your film. It’s fabulous, really, truly, fabulous and what a great way to go out of the year. With a bang.

So that’s it! My top 10 (…12) of 2017. I have loved going to the cinema as much as I have (82 times to be precise) and attending multiple premieres, festivals, conventions and special screenings. Lets see if we can make the round 100 in 2018. Bring it on.

 

Films I am looking forward to on 2018:
– The Posts
– Ready Player One
– Maze Runner: The Death Cure
– Black Panther
– Avengers: Infinity War
– Early Man
– Sherlock Gnomes
– The Incredibles 2
– Coco
– The Crimes of Grindlewald
– Solo: A Star Wars Story
– Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
– A Wrinkle in Time
– Mary Poppins Returns
– Wreck it Ralph 2
– Isle of Dogs
– Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

And I’m sure there will be many, many more!

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My top 10 (…12) of 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The final film of the London Film Festival and I have had such a great time. Today has been one of the longest days of my life! The film started at 8:45 this morning and I stayed in Leicester Square for the premiere this evening so, 14 hours since I left the house this morning, I am home.
Although the film was that long ago, I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a dark comedy that tells the story of Mildred Hayes (Francis McDormand) as she puts up some controversial signs on three billboards on a road out from Ebbing. 7 months prior to the story being told, Mildred’s daughter Abbie, was raped and killed and the police department had done nothing to find out who the killer was. Mildred puts up the billboards to draw attention to chief of police, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) to persuade him to work harder on the case but it ends up leading to a surprising friendship between the two of them. Putting up these signs leads to all sorts of problems and Mildred ends up with having to deal with the police in more ways that she intends. Dragging each and every character into her problems she ends up making a final decision that leaves the audience on a bit of a cliff hanger.
The film unravels in many twists and turns and endless surprises in the beautifully written screenplay from directer Martin McDonagh, his ability to captivate the audience in the dialogue is stunning. Mildred Hayes has an incredible monologue towards the start of the film that made everyone in the screening applaud.

The casting was perfect, I always say how great I think Woody Harrelson is as an actor and hugely underrated. Francis McDormand, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges and many more really shone in this film but for me the star of the show was Sam Rockwell, he plays the useless cop, Jason Dixon, who becomes a redeeming factor in the end and I think he gave an impeccable performance.

I’d give this film a very strong 4 stars, the only reason I found it 1 star away from perfect is because there were times whilst I was watching it I felt conflicted between how I was supposed to be feeling. The audience around me were laughing and I felt like the scene wanted us to cry, I understand that is the definition of a ‘dark comedy’ but maybe that’s the issue I had. It touches on some incredibly sensitive subjects; rape, murder, racism, homophobia, cancer, suicide, depression and yet people around me were howling with laughter, maybe that’s what the director wanted and if it is, he did it perfectly.

I highly recommend it to everyone, it’s something so different to anything I’ve ever seen before and it really was an exciting film to watch, and a great way to close my first film festival.

Thank you BFI, same time next year?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri