As 2017 ends we here at Releases would like to look back at humanity’s achievements over the last twelve months. So here’s to fidget spinners and…er…no that’s all we’ve got.
How about we look back at some of the best movies of the last 12 months instead? Here then and in no particular order are the top ten movies of the year…so far (because hello Star Wars: The Last Jedi, am I right?).
Jordan Peele’s social-commentary horror hit not only served as an expertly judged piece of satire – focusing its razor-sharp observations on the insidious way liberal’s pro-black attitudes function as a type of restrictive intolerance – but it’s also masterfully shot, with some malignant pacing and terrifying imagery.
Get Out sees Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American teenager spend the weekend at his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) Obama-loving family and friends during a weekend getaway at their rural estate.
However, Chris soon finds himself feeling increasingly uncomfortable, especially after a series encounters with fellow African-Americans (the household’s staff, the boyfriend of a much older woman) suggest there’s something very amiss with this family.
Peele’s debut feature is a masterclass in first rate horror and unexpectedly timely satire.
Taking the movies-based-on-music-videos hit ratio to…one (if only people had embraced the Tenacious D movie)
Baby Driver squeals into life from the first scene and rarely shifts down in this blistering romance/crime thriller/musical hybrid from the visual genius that is Edgar Wright.
The movie follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver with ‘a thrum in the drum’ caused by an accident that took the life of his blessed mother. To drown out the constant ringing in his ear, he curates his own iPod of mood music to live his life by which means a constant soundtrack of eclectic songs that are perfectly edited to the action on screen.
However, Baby’s bubble is soon burst by a collection of amoral thieves played by Jamie Fox and John Hamm, who soon threaten his life and the burgeoning romance blossoming between him and a lonely waitress called Deborah, played by Lily James.
Wright once again delivers a sugar-rush of action, music, and comedy in one of this year’s most exhilarating films.
While we’re still no wiser on the tights/rights situation with this new Wonder Woman, what we are now sure of is the increasingly dour world of the DCEU can deliver a fun, enjoyable movie.
Wonder Woman doesn’t reinvent the wheel but instead builds a winning origin story out of one of its hitherto so far neglect icons – building everything around Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) innocence, resolve, and nobility as she departs her home world and enters the realm of men.
Combining a historical tale with action fantasy, this nimble movie puts a feminist spin on traditional action tropes, that, much like it’s lead character is courageous, determined, and guided by a heartening belief in the inherent goodness of mankind – this movie really is a wonder.
John Wick: Chapter 2
Rarely has any film need a sequel less than John Wick but are we grateful they managed to make lightning strike twice in this barrage of frenzied gunplay, zen-like bad-assess, and noir-like cool in what really feels like the superhero movie of the year minus the capes and self-importance.
Once again, Keanu Reeves is effortlessly cool, exuding both a charismatic charm and a powder-keg rage in one of the best performances of his career.
While the mechanics of just how John Wick gets back to work aren’t nearly as compelling as the vengeance-for-his-dead-dog plot of the first movie, it really doesn’t matter when the action is this intense.
Christopher Nolan dispenses with exposition and drops us right into the heart of the conflict with Dunkirk – his time-bending, effecting account of the WWII evacuation of Dunkirk, France's beaches in 1941.
The fractured timeline, which is divided into land, sea, and air, cares little for character or background information. Instead, we’re thrown headlong into the chaos through the eyes of interchangeable infantrymen (including Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles), commanders (primarily, Kenneth Branagh), fighter pilots (led by Tom Hardy), and civilian boatman (notably, Mark Rylance), all of whose sacrifice, selfishness, cowardice, and heroism is writ large on Nolan’s 70mm IMAX canvas – the ideal way to see the film.
If there was ever an argument for the cinematic experience of watching a movie on the big screen, Dunkirk would be exhibit A.
The cavalier way director James Mangold dispenses with superhero lore to tell his bleak and super violent tale of what it effectively the end of the X-Men is just one of the reasons why Logan felt so fresh to audiences jaded by the superhero bloat.
The real selling point however is Hugh Jackman. Rarely has an actor given a character his all and even with that whisper of grey in his hair, he’s still an absolute force of nature. Jackman encapsulates everything about old man Logan; it’s as if every breath might be his last – from furious rage to quiet despair, Wolverine has never been more alive.
The Big Sick
The Big Sick snuck up on audiences and won them over with its leisurely paced, constantly funny tale of an unusual romance told by real life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star as himself and Emily respectively, a Pakistani comedian and a grad student who meet, fall in love, break up, and then go through a life-threatening emergency together.
It’s a message movie with a surprisingly light touch with a supporting cast of Ray Romano and Holly Hunter who are at the height of their game as Emily’s frazzled parents.
A Ghost Story
AKA the movie where Casey Affleck wears a sheet over his head.
Returning to the land of the living, Afflecks be-sheeted ghost haunts every frame in this pretentious, beguiling drama about a widow (Rooney Mara) leaves their former home together and a new family move in – and then quickly move out.
Director David Lowery plays with time in a lyrical way and the image of Affleck seemingly haunting his own movie as the cast ruminate on the temporary nature of man’s influence on the world around him, will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.
This psychodrama comes not from the pages of William Shakespeare but from Nikolai Leskov's 1865 novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District; telling as it does this cutthroat feminist drama featuring a breakout performance from Florence Pugh, who plays Katherine, a young woman sold into marriage to an older landowner (Paul Hilton), whose nastiness is only surpassed by that of his domineering father (Christopher Fairbank).
A period piece that feels like the bleakest film noir you’ve ever seen, William Oldroyd's phenomenal feature directing debut, worms its way into your mind with its vision of evil as a contagion which poisons victims and in turn, makes them the oppressors.
Super Dark Times
If you have to see one boys-riding-bikes-through-the-street coming of age movie this year, make it Super Dark Times – a mixture of homages (Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, Donnie Darko) and adolescent male dynamics that eschews easy nostalgia for a unearthing the absolute chaos that bubbles beneath the surface of a teenage boys life.
Kevin Philips debut feature concerns a tragedy that befalls four friends (Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Max Talisman, and Sawyer Barth), and the subsequent cover-up that strains not only their friendship but the former duo’s romantic bond with a classmate (Elizabeth Cappucino).
Super Dark Times tale of pent-up rage and impotence echoes in ways now that feel a little too timely for comfort, in this excellent debut feature.