Wednesday 27 December 2017

My Ten Most Liked films of 2017

This year the vagaries of release dates has rather stolen the thunder from my list, especially its upper reaches - the top two of which had already been well garlanded (or at least forecast to being so) by the time I saw them. In fact my favourite three choices of the year seemed practically pre-ordained. But can't help that. Honesty is of the essence.

What? you exclaim!  No 'Dunkirk' (likely to scoop up several of the upcoming Oscars), no 'Call Me By Your Name' (nominated as 'Film of the Year' by at least one of our national newspapers), no 'Manchester-by-the-Sea' nor 'Mother!', 'Maudie', 'Ghost Story' - and no 'God's Own Country'? (This last I didn't see on purpose) And what the blazes is 'Paddington 2' doing on the list, inferring that this kiddie-pleaser was superior to many more worthy and weightier films. Well, if that's what you're asking, tough titty!  

This year's final tally of films seen (in cinema only) was 88, one more than 2016 (I've gone and mistakenly posted this before tomorrow's intended visit, assuming that one won't make the list) and my highest score since 2011, though still well below a quarter of all the films released in the U.K. over the period.
If selecting a short list of 18 was painful, extracting just 10 of them made me almost pour with sweat. However, having achieved it (and, unusually, all of them this year are English-language films) I employed my usual method of juggling around an order until I came up with something that felt about right - and here's the list, ascending:-

10)  The Party
A mere 70 mins in length, and director Sally Potter creates a miniature incendiary bomb - helped in large part by featuring the ever-so watchable Kristen Scott Thomas.

9) Baby Driver
Should the inclusion of one K.Spacey in a major role now disqualify this from being appreciated? - or, in fact, any film in which he's made an appearance? Well, that's too bad! 
This one is that true cinema rarity, an original! Synchronising sound and vision as never seen before, A crime film with real energy and pezzaz!  

8) Paddington
A tonic of a film, in my opinion outdoing the original of last year by far. It's a very long time since I left a cinema with such a beaming smile. Glorious, completely undemanding, sheer fun -  with Hugh Grant tickling the funny bone as never before.

7) Passengers
The very first film I saw this year, a most accomplished sci-fi (not my favourite of genres) and, despite one being able to see the ending coming well beforehand, ("Please, don't let it be that!), its replay in my mind is still chilling as hell. 

6) Lady Macbeth
A quite unexpected, sometimes grisly, gem leaving me with unanswered questions to ponder on. Very satisfying.

5) The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Farrell and Kidman delivering the goods, just as they never fail to do, in this bleak, disturbing story with considerable 'edge' which lingers on and on in the mind.

4) The Battle of the Sexes

I never saw this one coming. and when it did it was a joy. Emma Stone and Steve Carrell playing out the 1973 challenge one Bobby Riggs doles out to any woman on Earth- that he can beat her at tennis because "Men are stronger!" - and which Billie Jean King takes up with a steely determination to prove him wrong. Very strong screenplay with exceptional performances, from the two leads especially.

3) Get Out

A film that dares to make you ask "What the hell is going on?" - and though I did suss out the general direction it might be going in, my underlying unease at what I suspected got me fidgetting nervously as the alarming scenario revealed itself. This is what good cinema should be about - challenging, rivetting, intelligent, and not in the least bit lazy. A remarkable film. 

2) La La Land

A toy-box of delights. Does anything else need be said? A film particularly for those who say "They don't make them like they used to any more." Well, here's one which shows that they can and, just occasionally, do!

1) Moonlight

I can't add to what so many have already said about this extraordinary film. If my ultimate choice is predictable, I make no apology for it, suffice to say that I cannot imagine any other film beating it. A landmark and a triumph - ALL HAIL!


And, as per convention, my nomination for 'waste of time, money and everything else' of 2017 goes  to.............The Shack

- despite its morally neutral and slightly intriguing start, it becomes so heavily steeped in a message of 'Have Faith and Jesus Will Save You' it'll be mother's milk to the Xtian right. I saw it in error, thinking it would be something other than this proselytising claptrap. I'll readily concede that my verdict is based less on whether or not it's a 'good' film as on the pushing of its content. If it had been more generally spiritual rather than definably mainstream Christian, then I might have felt kinder. As it was, afterwards I felt soiled all over, necessitating my returning home and jumping straight under the shower, crying "AAAAAAAAARGH!!!" 


So what will 2018 hold, as I approach ever closer to my 5,000th film, after which I still intend to think seriously about ceasing these film posts - though at current rate that won't happen until 2019 at the earliest. 
Looks like some goodies are coming up early in the new year - but one never knows for sure until one experiences them.

Anyway, for now, thank you each and every one for even bothering to read my posts this year, and I do most sincerely wish all of you the very best for the New Year - especially, if like me, you turned out wishing that some major elements of the last twelve months had never happened. 

See you in MMXVIII.


  1. Surprise list for your top 10. Some I haven't seen either because they came out before I retired or because I chose not to see them at all. No Julieta, no Happy End, and no Call me By Your Name surprise me. The worst film I saw in my short time of flim going this year was The Beguiled.

    1. I could have expanded further on a list of also-rans, Rachel, but there comes a point.......However, I can tell you that 'Happy End' was also a near miss (though 'The Beguiled' wasn't that far behind also!). Although I didn't feel exactly negative about 'Call Me.....' you may remember my less than enthusiastic opinion of it. (I'm guessing that it might be your own #1?)
      I would love to have seen your own Top 10, or even favourite 5. Would that be possible?

    2. I will do one before the end of the year Ray. Thank you.

  2. I've seen a few of your Top Ten and as usual, I think you're spot on. My go-to spot for film reviews!
    Happy New Year, Raybeard!

    1. If I can point you to some sources of likely cinematic pleasures for you which you might otherwise have missed, Bob, I'm happy.
      Have a wonderful New Year yourself and also the same to all yours.

  3. Ray,
    Thank you so much for your always welcome movie reviews! My only regret is that here in the states we don't have some of the movies you review available for viewing. Also, I would love to see your reviews on series like "Game of Thrones" and "Better Call Saul." And thanks for posting your top ten for the year. I'm going to update my Netflix queue right now! Except that is for any movie with Kevin Spacey, he always did creep me out now I know why. Have a great new year Ray!

    1. I think you'd need to have a nearby 'art-house' cinema to catch some of them, Ron, so I'm probably luckier in that respect than some.
      Still never seen 'Thrones' and unlikely that I ever will.
      Never heard of 'Saul' which I now see was an internet-only release in 2015. Going to miss that too, though it has got a very high rating on IMDb.

      Best NY wishes to you, the hubby as well as to Pat for 2018. Thanks.

  4. Thanks! I've only seen La La Land so far, so I at least have a list to work on. Looking forward to many of them.

    1. Hope you like what you're going to try to catch, TGA. If I turn out to have wasted your time don't be afraid to let me know. Best wishes for 2018.

  5. Yes like Rachel, I am surprised by your list

    1. I'm delighted tat you are, J.G. It'd be boring if it was predictable, even though a few of them probably are. You don't say what you're surprised at, which makes your comment especially interesting - but we'll lave it like that if you prefer.

  6. The posting of your annual list is a clear indication that a year has flown by and is now almost gone.

    I usually make note of your favorites and try to see them. This time I went to your waste of time and money winner - "The Shack" Watched it on TV and it didn't cost me any money, except time.
    After sitting through an excessively long film, all I want to do is just add my "AAAAAAAAAARGH" to yours.

    I also compared your list to Rachel's. I was happy to see that she included Ozon's "Franz" to her favorites. That was one of mine too. Have to admit that, although I didn't expect it, I was disappointed you didn't include "Call Me By Your Name."

    Anyway, on to a new year and with that I wish you a very Happy and Healthy one.

  7. Hi Paul. The least said about 'The Shack' the better, so let's do just that.

    I've just commented under Rachel's post about my not being aware of 'Frantz' coming to this region, which I'm now rather angry at (unlikely to have missed it if it had come). But there it is. Too late now.

    I and her have also talked at some length about 'Call Me' which just didn't press my 'super' buttons, though it clearly has for a lot of people. Even now I can't think why, and I'm not rushing to want to give it another try. But I might yet 'have' to.

    Hope that some on my list you'll be able to give a go at. Can't guarantee, of course, that you'll be enamoured of all of them to the same extent, but the past has shown that we are more generally of the same mind than when we are not, so you ought to find at least some measure of entertainments among them.

    Now I've got to post my review of yesterday's viewing, an unintended latecomer which ought to have preceded the publishing of my Top 10, but I went and pressed the wrong key, unable to delete the post without ditching all my effort as well, and now it's thrown up an incongruity. Oh well. Such is life - full of 'em!

    Wishing especially you, Paul, the happiest and healthiest of years in 2018.

  8. Replies
    1. If they were predictable choices, F.B., they were in no way less deserved. They helped to make a difficult year for me more bearable - two of the rare 'high points'.

  9. I enjoy your thoughts on the movies, even when I don't go see them.
    May 2018 be something marvelous for you !!

    1. If this year film-wise is anything approaching the general standard of 2017's I'll be well contented. Thank you.