Taking a closer look, there’s an evident running theme of escape in my top ten films of 2017. Many of them centre around or involve physically trying to escape, emotionally trying to escape or attempting to flee from one’s self. As we face the daily reality of life filled with fake news, the threat of nuclear war, terrorism and post-Brexit referendum divisions – cinema has echoed these social feels of turmoil and turbulence. Self-acceptance is certainly a concept that some of the greatest films of the year have encouraged, from the social and superficial through to sexual and racial. The outer turmoil of our current world is often raging internally for central characters in the ten films I’ve favoured. Along with raging self-conflict there is also clear evidence of the economical playing into the lives of the characters and narratives of the films below. As well as themes of escape there is also sheer, blissful escapism here – for both the characters and the audiences. Denial and deception play their part through both horror, drama and comedy and through a range of characters. A disillusioned actor, a mischievous six year old, a bank robber and a ghost are just some of the protagonists that have demonstrated tragic ignorance and naivety, unable to accept the gravitas of the often much darker situations they find themselves within. Here are my favourite films of this last year:
What my choices really represent is just how outstanding both studio and independent filmmaking has been this year. I had long since dreaded a return to Blade Runner – a film I didn’t want to see become a tainted franchise rather than a one off wonder. Yet, Denise Villeneuve somehow captured the iconic world and plaguing questions at the heart of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, and Blade Runner: 2049 proved Blockbusters can still be crafted with authenticity and love. Patti Cake$ seemed to come out of nowhere, a stark and powerful take on the rags to riches endeavour of a young girl brimming with talent but far from accepted by society. Meanwhile the quiet sorrow and gruelling long takes of A Ghost Story packed just as much of a punch, a real work of majestic originality and bravery. Of course Barry Jenkins’ sensational Moonlight features – almost a year since I saw it, it continues to resonate and I find myself drawn to revisiting it in all its neon, courageous glory. A wonderful companion piece to Jenkins’ coming of age journey, Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country brings romance to the Yorkshire moors for a conflicted young farmer and a Romanian farm hand. Revelling in both chaos and a love for film as a craft, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist might just be the most fun I’ve had in the cinema all year, besides being an expertly handled character study. Both Get Out and Raw hit cinemas in the earlier months of 2017 but remain the year’s strongest and smartest horror outings. I was enthralled by The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, a fierce follow up to Heaven Knows What – one of my favourites from 2015. Sitting atop the pile is Sean Baker’s The Florida Project reigning supreme with its dazzling cinematography and startling breakout performances. Equal parts an observation of childhood and motherhood, The Florida Project is a once in a blue moon movie which sets one’s soul on fire and reminded me just why I fell in love with movies in the first place.
Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for all of your support this year!