So here we are, time to wrap up yet another year (where on earth does the time go?) and look forward to what we will all hope to be a prosperous and exciting 2018. One thing I do know is that 2017 has been a great year for cinema. If anyone should know, that would be me. To date, I have seen no less than 92 films at the cinema this year. A few duds in the pile however, for the best part, many more gems have passed my eyes in the depth of dark theaters. Without further or do, and, in no particular order, are my TOP 10 films of 2017.
Ever wonder how McDonalds came into existence? Look no further than John Lee Hancock’s depiction of how the world’s largest and perhaps most iconic brand name was born, raised to infancy before being stolen from under the feet of the original McDonalds brothers. Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a struggling salesman who sees an opportunity to go into business with two old fashioned brothers from America’s You know the rest because McDonalds is still here today in dwindling numbers. What you will see in this brilliant depiction of deceit, lies and corruption is how a great idea sometimes needs a lethal mind to bear fruit.
In 1897, a black slave, who goes by the name of Kananga is discovered by George Foottit and together, they embark on a remarkable journey through France with a memorable and pioneering circus act that eventually wows large crowds on the big stage in Paris. Along the way, both performers find their extraordinary show is not accepted as readily as they would like due to Kananga being black. White privilege comes to the fore in a film that strides from sheer beauty to complete disgust. Throughout the journey you will be left laughing, crying and feeling angry at the injustices served up to coloured people just trying to make their way in life.
A MAN CALLED OVE
Follow the adventures of a widower, Ove Lindahl as he discovers life on his own doesn’t have to be as bad as he first suspected after the passing of his wife.. It’s natural to feel like life is not living when you lose your wife of 50 year and with the help of a brilliant and clever ensemble cast, Ove finds new ways to smile which allow him to once more enjoy life again when all was thought lost. A Man Called Ove is of the most delightful Scandinavian flicks I have ventured to see in some time and was a stand out in 2017 for comedy’s packing some serious punch.
Jessica Chastain gives the performance of her career to date as she portrays Elizabeth Sloane, an antagonistic lobbyist who jumps into bed with the anti-gun lobby and take on the NRA headfirst to convince the American public that guns are bad. Now, anyone with half a brain knows how out of touch American’s are when it comes to gun control and you see this glaringly obvious stupidity from the world’s most powerful nation (allegedly) through their right to bear arms. There are many poignant moments throughout but keep your eyes peeled for the gripping and powerful television debate.
Mention the name Christopher Nolan and you are almost always guaranteed one hell of an adventure no matter which project he takes on board. Dunkirk stands out as one the stellar films of 2017 with an all-star cast including Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and a surprisingly crafty performance from pop star, Harry Styles. The battle of Dunkirk takes on three separate story lines throughout the film as France falls to the German’s in 1940 with over 400,000 soldiers stranded on the beaches under fire from heavy German sky fire. It’s an exhilarating journey which makes you feel grateful for those who sacrificed their lives to make ours a little more safe.
It’s 1989, the Berlin Wall is about to fall and the British & American governments are doing their best to smuggle spies and information out of East Germany and into the west. Lorraine Broughton (Charleze Theron) is sent into the East by MI6 to retrieve vital information and faces increasing odds to get the desired results in a city where she can trust nobody. Not even her closest allies. Atomic Blonde is a sharp and edgy film delivered with continual blinding wit that still doesn’t distract you from following a very intelligent storyline. It’s a solo directorial debut from David Leitch and he doesn’t hold back on pulling the punches. Theron also pulls off some incredible stunts which will have you riding the edge of your seat all the way through to the end.
I AM NOT YOURE NEGRO
James Baldwin left behind an unfinished manuscript from his time as a black rights activist during the period when Martin Luther King Jnr, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X were at their prime. With Samuel L Jackson taking on the narration of this sublime documentary, you are smacked in the face with a most brutal back hander packed full of a harsh reality of America’s seedy side that should never be forgotten with the passing of time. At times distressing, I Am Not Your Negro allows its viewers a chance to see a side of history that would otherwise be a distant memory. Director Raoul Peck has delivered what will go down as a contemporary cinematic masterpiece that should not be missed. Sadly, too many people will not see I Am Not Your Negro and that in itself, is a great tragedy.
During the late 1970’s, American pilot, Barry Seal is flying his regular low paying job with TWA when he is approached by the CIA to become a drug runner for the government. American Made lifts the lid on the corruption of the Regan era administration and we even learn that a young Governor from Arkansas, Bill Clinton offers Seal a get out of jail free card when all looks lost for Tom Cruise’s character. You walk away from American Made asking yourself why you bother trusting governments when they are in fact the most corrupt kids on the block.
As far as historical drama goes, The Promise delivers a long but enthralling story of the harsh realities of life. The film is set during the time of the Ottoman Empire and follows the story of American journalist, Chris Myers (Christian Bale) as he discovers the Armenian holocaust first hand which led to the deaths of over 1.5 million people. It’s a story that has rarely been touched on before amid the continual clambering to recite more and more stories of the Jewish holocaust that took place during World War 2.
Vincent Van Gough led a troubled life and this first fully painted animated feature film sets its focus on the suspicious events surrounding the artist’s death in 1890 at the tender age of 37. There are over 65,000 oil on canvas frames involved in a process using 125 painters, shortlisted from over 5,000 applicants. Loving Vincent is perhaps one the most original ideas of our times. As the film progresses, you soon learn of Van Gough’s quiet lifestyle that led him to many different living arrangements in a life where all he wanted to do was paint. And paint he did! The budget for Loving Vincent was a strict one at just on $5 million US and the film has so far gone on to amass over $21 million at the box office. It’s also helped invigorate a new found love of Van Gough’s works through an audience who would otherwise be completely unaware of his creative genius.