As we come to the end of June we are now halfway through 2017, so it is time for me to pick what are currently my favourite 10 films of the year. This is purely based on my personal preference, and isn’t what I think are the BEST films, but my FAVOURITES. There have been plenty of other great films so far this year, so here are some honourable mentions; A Silent Voice, Colossal, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Lady Macbeth, The Lego Batman Movie, and T2 Trainspotting. Without further delay lets get into the list.
Number 10: Personal Shopper – Personal Shopper is the most unique ghost story I’ve ever seen. And whilst it did feel as though some of the tonal clashes within it were a little too much at times it still earns a spot on this list. This is Kristen Stewart’s film; she absolutely owns it with a wonderful leading performance that is enough to make even her harshest critics reassess her abilities. She manages to own every aspect of the film, from its fashion focused lighter parts, to the genuinely creepy ghost story elements. And they really are creepy. This is one of the few films this year that really got me on edge at times. You won’t have seen many films like Personal Shopper, and its certainly one to check out.
Number 9: Hidden Figures – The story of three black women working at NASA in the early 1960s, Hidden Figures may not have been wholly accurate with what happened (or particularly when it happened) but Hollywood artistic license for a better story means that it’s easy to forgive in Hidden Figures. Hidden Figures was an absolute gem from the awards season film, succeeding in being a brilliantly made, excellently acted film about race relations with absolutely mass appeal. Instead of focusing on those who obstructed the progress of people of colour or women, although they are in there, it focuses on these three brilliant women themselves, and what made them so special. The performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe all deserved to be recognised over award season. Hidden Figures is funny, uplifting, and inspiring. If you haven’t seen it yet then stop what you’re doing and watch it.
Number 8: The Red Turtle – I’m so happy that Studio Ghibli is not completely gone. Whilst The Red Turtle isn’t technically a Ghibli film, their touch is clear to see with it. Michaël Dudok de Wit’s silent animation about life, told through one man trapped on an island, is something so beautiful, delicate, and simple that it is hard not to love it. Despite the simplicity of the film there is so much that can be read into The Red Turtle, I’m sure a reading that I took from it would be very different to someone else’s. Set to a delightful score and beautifully animated The Red Turtle is easily the stand out animated film so far this year, and a must see for any Studio Ghibli fans out there.
Number 7: Moonlight – Moonlight is a beautiful and intimate portrayal of a young man’s life, and the internal struggles he faces as a young black gay man in his poor Miami community. The way it is told in three parts means we really get to the heart of the major points in Chiron’s life. His journey from the timid young child (Alex Hibbert) to the repressed drug dealer adult (Trevante Rhodes) could be hard to reconcile, but the performance from Ashton Sanders’ manages to tie these two together. All three of these actors bring out something new from Chiron and yet always make him feel the same at the core. Barry Jenkins’ film is an absolute masterpiece, one that will be held up for years to come, and absolutely deserved the Oscar Best Picture win.
Number 6: Raw – Wow, Raw was an experience whilst watching it. A French coming of age film revolving around a young vegetarian girl who, after eating meat during a hazing ritual at her vet college, begins to get a taste for it which leads her to eventually craving human flesh. The symmetry between her cannibalism and her burgeoning sexuality leave you in no doubt as to what the film is really about, but in the trappings of a cannibal movie it’s a truly shocking and powerful watch. Some of the scenes are hard to watch. There are far more gory films out there, but the level of realism that director Julia Ducournau managed to bring to Raw makes them extremely uncomfortable. I would recommend Raw to everybody, but if you’re willing to dive into it then it’s truly a rewarding film.
Number 5: Get Out – If you had told me that comedian Jordan Peele would create a genuinely scary film about race relations, and one of the best horror films of a decade with some pretty great horror films, then I would have thought you were mad. But with Get Out he delivered that. There are touches of humour in Peele’s film, but this is a true horror. Throughout the film there is just something extremely unsettling about it that has you on edge right up until the reveal. On top of that there are a couple of genuine scares that will certainly make you jump, although these are executed far better than your average jump scare. But it is the way that Peele used Get Out to tackle social issues that really makes it impressive. The film touches on topics such as interracial relationships, police reaction to crimes involving people of colour, and the way that sometime those who proclaim to be allies can end up actually causing harm. Although this last one is really taken to its extreme. Get Out conveys these messages strongly enough that you can miss them, but without beating you over the head with them.
Number 4: Wonder Woman – How has it taken until 2017 for the two major superhero Cinematic universes, Marvel and DC, to deliver a female led Superhero film? That’s quite frankly astounding to me. But finally we have had a female led superhero films, and many people are touting it as the saviour of the DCEU. Patty Jenkins has created one of the standout origin stories in superhero films, really delivering a powerful true introduction to the character of Diana Prince. There’s a reason that this is being so lorded, particularly amongst women, and that’s because this is a truly inspirational female figure on the big screen. Gal Gadot absolutely owns the character, and that no man’s land scene is sensational. But it’s a lot of the smaller moments that make Wonder Woman special, and treat these characters so well. If the Warner Bros can stop interfering with DCEU films, and allow directors to make their own vision, much like with Wonder Woman, this it’s franchise is heading in the right direction.
Number 3: John Wick: Chapter 2 – The first John Wick was a revelation. A genuinely brilliant action film, made by directors who actually understood how to film brilliant action sequences. It finally saw Keanu Reeves break away from the stereotype that has followed him for years and mark himself out as not just a cheesy action star, but a legitimate badass. What Chapter 2 managed to do was deliver similarly beautiful shot thrills, but expanded the world of the Continental and the assassins. This world is so fantastic, and brilliantly fleshed out that it is hard not to fall in love with it. The action from the film is still such a breath of fresh air amid the confusing and frenetic shakes cam and fast cuts of most modern day action films that John Wick still stands out as one of the defining action films of the last 10 years, and Chapter 2 is right alongside it.
Number 2: Logan – Logan stands up with The Dark Knight as Superhero films that transcend the genre, and deserve to be talked about as genuinely brilliant films. Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold delivered a suitably stunning film to finish Jackman’s run as Wolverine. Logan takes the X-Men franchise to new heights and shows exactly what can be achieved when directors are allowed to create their own unique vision. Extremely removed from the action driven spectacle you would expect from an X-Men film, Logan is instead a film driven by its characters, and the titular hero’s search for belonging and a family. The performances are simply incredible, particularly from Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and newcomer Dafne Keen. And when it does come the action should be more than enough to satisfy, deliver truly brutal and exhilarating sequences. There have been several great superhero films so far this year, but Logan stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Number 1: La La Land – I have spoken about my love for La La Land before, so I shouldn’t be any surprise that it tops my favourites of the year list at this point. There hasn’t been another film this year that has managed to connect with me on this level. La La Land is such joyous and yet bittersweet experience. I’m not going to claim that it’s the best film on this list, in fact as you’ve already seen I do believe that Moonlight deserved it’s Best Picture victory, but there hasn’t been a film that made me as happy as La La Land did whilst watching it. The chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is incredible, and is really the glue that holds the film together, although their individual performances, particularly Stone’s, are also great. They both sing and dance well enough, but I will happily trade a little bit less talent there than compromise on their acting abilities. I don’t think this is a film that will miraculously make people fall in love with musicals, but if you don’t mind them you may just find yourself falling in love with La La Land.
So thats my current Top 10 of the year so far. Let me know what you think of my choices, and feel free to leave your own lists in the comments.