It is hard to believe another year has passed. If you know me you know I am obsessive about organising what I have seen, read and listened to and having a clear idea of how I feel about things. In 2017 the things striving for attention increased dramatically. My wife an I introduced our daughter to the world. I started a new job. Big changes. I had books, music, the NBA (I am a die-hard 76ers fan, somewhat foolishly) all dominating my life for stretches of time, to the point of overshadowing film watching. From a vastly smaller (and I believe significantly weaker) pool of films than recent years I have selected my favourite 25 from 2017. Check them out after the jump.
Films I haven’t been able to see are in abundance this year. From the notable awards contenders you will not find Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Ladybird, The Post or The Disaster Artist on this list. There was no opportunity to see Sweet Country and I was sad to miss Thor Ragnarok. Foreign language hits A Fantastic Woman, Loveless, BPM and On Body and Soul as well as acclaimed docos Faces Places, City of Ghosts and Dawson City: Frozen in Time eluded me. They’ll all have to wait until 2018. It has been a strange year. Not a great year for blockbusters, animated films (though I will defend The Boss Baby forever) or horror.
Viewing methods are changing, and fast. While the expansion of my family meant that the time and cost spent to visit a cinema became a rare luxury, I turned to digital/SVOD viewing as the primary source of consumption. I saw a dozen films at the Sydney Film Festival – not a bad effort – but that was the only festival activity in 2017. Films were viewed on my laptop, TV and iPhone. Most were watched months after their theatrical release – saddled with the loud reactions and polarising critical discussion that had accumulated over that time. The viewing circumstances were very different. While many films don’t lose any impact on the TV – documentaries like Tower and Casting JonBenet as well as new films from Bong Joon Ho (Okja) and Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories) went straight to Netflix and were enjoyable to view through that service – some needed the magic of the big screen to fully shine. I can’t imagine my reactions to Dunkirk (70mm), Blade Runner 2049, A Ghost Story or Good Time being as profound if I didn’t see them in the cinema environment.
With the significant lifestyle change and often crippling tiredness I took increasing pleasure in watching mindless comedy/action films this year. Films I have enjoyed far more than the consensus include XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Fist Fight, Baywatch and Power Rangers. Alternatively, the widely-beloved Baby Driver, Wonder Woman, Logan and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were disappointing on many levels.
Before I dig into the cream of the crop in 2017 here are some honourable mentions:
The Big Sick, The Wound, Princess Cyd, 20th Century Women, Hidden Figures, Sao Jorge [Saint George], The Florida Project, Kor [Ember], The Love Witch, Manchester by the Sea.
25. Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts)
24. The Meyerowitz Stories (Noah Baumbach)
23. Get Out (Jordan Peele)
22. Tramps (Adam Leon)
21. Mudbound (Dee Rees)
20. Tower (Keith Maitland)
19. Life (Daniel Espinosa)
18. Free Fire (Ben Wheatley)
17. It (Andy Muschietti)
16. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
15. War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves)
14. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh)
13. The Square (Ruben Ostlund)
12. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
11. My Life as a Zucchini (Claude Barras)
10. The Lost City of Z (James Gray)
9. Good Time (Josh and Benny Safdie)
8. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)
7. God’s Own Country (Francis Lee)
6. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
5. The Work (Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous)
4. Paddington 2 (Paul King)
3. A Ghost Story (David Lowery)
2. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)
1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)