My Ten Best Films Of 2017

In no particular order:

Bladerunner 2049

Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival) has aced this, near enough, from top to bottom and believe me, I thought they were gonna screw it up on a few occasions. The main positive is that it is a visually stunning feast for the eyes, much in the same manner as the original but the top casting and acting, along with the amazing foresight on technology makes for next level viewing. The attention to detail is astoundingly layered throughout, combining with the actors in ways that will mesmerise, creating a smorgasbord of technological marvels that are brought to life by superb sound effects and awesome set pieces. The storyline has some serious smarts that deal with the original’s philosophical quagmires, while also throwing some lovely curveballs that kept me guessing until near the end. 
Denis Villeneuve is still the most consistent director about — no one does action quite like him — and is clearly a massive fan of the original but writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green did a real justice to the source material. Great work.

Song Of Granite

What writer/director Pat Collins has achieved with Song Of Granite is, first and foremost, an absolutely remarkable and awe-inspiringly detailed portrayal of turn-of-the-20th-century, rural Ireland, along with a stunning representation of sean nós (old style) singing and its roots, all set to the backdrop of the mass immigration from Ireland during the 40s and onwards. Part biopic, part documentary and layered with poetic writing throughout, Song Of Granite is one of the finest, most beautifully shot films of the year, while also doing a stellar job of representing Joe Heaney, warts and all, in a manner that does justice to his great legacy. Awesome, beautiful and absolutely essential film-making! Full review here.

Good Time

There aren’t too many films that leave you mentally, almost physically exhausted by the time they end, but writer/directors Benny and Josh Safdie (Heaven Knows What), have proceeded to do just that with their razor-sharp and fiercely intense crime thriller, Good Time. Fuelled by a storming performance from lead Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis) on the form of his career — Twilight is well and truly left behind — my advice is to strap yourself in as this one doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Full review here.

The Handmaiden

Sexually charged, twisting and laden with humour of the blackly surreal kind, The Handmaiden is a stunningly shot tale of forbidden love and ingenious double-crosses, that is set in 1930s Korea when it was occupied by Japan. Inspired by the British novel Fingersmith, the film is separated into 4 parts that each show different angles to how the story pans out and I can honestly say that it blew me away. I don’t think I’ve seen story construction quite so intricately and enthrallingly woven, while the look and acting are what can only be described as sublime. The Handmaiden has it all, and of course, it has some of the filmmaker’s trademark, jaw-droppingly shocking moments. Park Chan Wook shows us why he is one of the finest living filmmakers today.

The Work

Films like this don’t come about very often. The Work is an absolutely stunning documentary by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous, that will linger with you long after viewing. Easily in my top 5 of the year, the film consists of lifer inmates and three voluntary members of the public in a room within the infamous Folsom prison, baring their souls in an attempt to exorcise demons that lurk within each man. In the process of doing this, the men expose their vulnerabilities in the rawest and most unflinching manner possible. So much so that you feel that you are intruding on something that you have no business witnessing. Astonishing stuff that is unlike anything that I’ve watched before. Beyond profound.

I Am Not A Witch

This is a fantastic movie that tells a shocking but darkly humorous story, of how women accused of witchcraft are treated in Zambia and Ghana, in this day and age. Writer/director Rungano Nyoni is a fierce and intelligently gifted talent that has captured the Zambian landscape in a spellbinding, almost ethereal manner and her use of absurd humour alongside the deeply unsettling and gobsmacking story is second to none. As unsettling and outrageous as it is absurd and the perfect representation of the saying ‘if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry’, I Am Not A Witch is an essential film of 2017. One thing that is for certain, Nyoni is one to watch in the filmmaking scene!


Writer/director James Mangold (Walk The Line) has made up for the damp squib that was 2013’s The Wolverine, with a fantastic final outing for Hugh Jackman that transcends the usual superhero formula and delves into a much darker, violent and more vulnerable, nearly dystopian world.

Logan is the superhero movie that you’ve been waiting for, especially if you are an X-Men fan. But even if you hate this undoubtedly over-saturated genre, Mangold has to be commended for pulling together an exceptional cast and transcending the adolescent barriers that make many people run a mile from anything superhero-related. With Logan, the writer/director has created the awesomely gritty send off that Jackman and this era of The Wolverine deserve. Full review here.

My Life As A Courgette

Children’s films and animations don’t come much finer than My Life As A Courgette, simply because of how in tune and empathetic debut director Claude Barras and writer Celine Sciamma (*Girlhood*) are charting the trials and tribulations of being a kid growing up, especially when broken homes and traumatic childhoods are involved. There is a level of intelligence, sensitivity and realism throughout that sets it on a level all of its own, but most of all, it lets the children’s (quite often hilarious) perspective do the talking at all times, making it a true breath of fresh air. It will run you through a host of emotions, with its heartbreaking stories of the various kids, not least with Courgette’s, along with its rapier wit and the sublimely detailed animation. But the frankness of the dialogue is the outright winner in this possibly infallible film. Full review here.

Dawson City:Frozen Time

Bill Morrison is the director behind this epic, historically dense homage to film, that can only be described as manna from heaven for any of you cinephiles out there. As the opening scene describes how movie film was born in an explosion — cellulose nitrate is a highly flammable substance — and the long-lost silent footage starts to roll, the viewer will soon realise the importance of this documentary.

Charting the rise and decline of Dawson City in Canada during the gold rush era, the film tells the stories of influential people who lived there, like Donald Trump’s grandfather, Charlie Chaplin and the Rockefellers, alongside stories of corruption in baseball and a detailed depiction of how the town functioned on a day-to-day basis. All in, Dawson City is an amazingly compiled and pieced together epic that uses a wonderful classical score to guide us through the ages of cinema and the towns fascinating history, all the while creating a poignant premise and analogy, its finale centered around the cycle of destruction and creation.

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story is one of those films that lingered with me long after I left the cinema. The clear-cut intelligence and audacity that it took to make this occasionally absurd, yet ethereally poignant and moving tale of love, loss and loneliness, points to serious mettle on writer/director David Lowery’s (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) behalf; so much so that you can’t help but sit up and take notice of him as a filmmaking powerhouse. The intimacy and authenticity in the relationship between Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is exceptionally acted by the two of them, though Mara has the bigger part and pulls off the finest performance of her career. But my favourite side of A Ghost Story is in how the director represents the timeline of the ghost’s life. Nonlinear is not a strong enough term and yet Lowery even dips into time travel without completely befuddling the viewer. Throw in some deviously subtle humour, a great soundtrack/score, awesome cinematography with intricately long and wide shots and some great detail in the production and you have one of the finest studies of grief that you’ll see in the cinema.

Some more notable mentions for your attention that I reviewed this year:


I Am Not Your Negro




Whitney: Can I Be Me


It Comes At Night

Land Of Mine

David Lynch: The Art Life

The Farthest



The Death Of Stalin

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

The Disaster Artist

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool

The best of the rest:

The Florida Project

Call Me By Your Name

Manchester By The Sea


The Red Turtle

Toni Erdmann


Happy End

No Stone Unturned


Wind River


Rocky Ros Muc

Paddington 2


The Giant

The Untamed

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2

Motleys Law


The Big Sick

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins

Spiderman: Homecoming

The Student

Top Knot Detective

Get Out

Letters From Baghdad


Wonder Woman

Lady Macbeth

Citizen Jane

Logan Lucky

After The Storm


The Founder

The Fits

Notes To Eternity

Heal The Living

Some other films that are worth a look:

The Berlin Syndrome

A Patch Of Fog

Blade Of The Immortal

Thor Ragnarok

Gods Own Country

Hounds Of Love

Atomic Blonde


The Ritual

Cardboard Gangsters

Miss Sloane

Personal Shopper

Hidden Figures



The Lost City Of Z

The Age Of Consequences

Free Fire

Lego Batman

Mindhorn, Experimental, On The Road (Wolf Alice), Illinois Parables, Contemporary Colour, Inside The Belly Of The Dragon, Before The Flood, Further Beyond, The Last Bolshevik, The Void, Cointrozione, Bad Day For The Cut, Final Portrait, City Of Ghosts, A Man Called Ove, Baby Driver, The Beguiled, Emily Walks, Mother, Murder On The Orient Express, Ingrid Goes West, Battle Of The Sexes, Loving Vincent, The Reagan Show, The Other Side Of Hope, Colossal, Fate Of The Furious, Life, T2 Trainspotting, Detroit