It's been a golden year for cinema. 'Moonlight' and 'La La Land' swept the big awards, 'Call Me By Your Name' ravished, 'Get Out' provoked, and Christopher Nolan's thunderous 'Dunkirk' made most of us cower behind our seats. Picking our favourite films was no easy task, but Time Out's cadre of film writers are a gritty bunch and they were up the task. Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards on March 4, we decided to look back at our pick of top 20 movies released in 2017.
RECOMMENDED: Oscars 2018: Six surprises from the nominations
Our 20 favourite films from 2017
This Diana Prince solo show bucked the trend of mediocre DC movies and offered renewed (though misplaced) hope that ‘Justice League’ might be a winner. Gal Gadot dazzled, while director Patty Jenkins offered a devastating rebuttal of the crazy notion that only men should direct blockbusters.
Adrenalising and grungy, Josh and Benny Safdie’s latest indie already feels like a New York crime classic, in spitting distance of ‘Dog Day Afternoon’. It’s anchored by a transformed Rob Pattinson, doing his best wiry Al Pacino as a two-bit hustler hoping to break his brother out of custody.
Hugh Jackman bid farewell to Wolverine with a thrilling, hugely violent final instalment. Newcomer Dafne Keen earned plaudits as a junior mutant with her own gnarly skillset, and Stephen Merchant was a surprising good fit for Caliban, but this was the Jackman show. So long, Logan. We’ll miss you.
Lovely, mysterious and cosmic, David Lowery’s eerie horror film – starring some dude under a sheet – cast a love-it-or-hate-it spell. (The correct people were in the ‘love it’ camp.) Interrupted by death, a couple’s love found a weird way forward, in a one-of-a-kind slice of supernatural risk-taking.
Genius director Kathryn Bigelow (‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’) returned with another movie about Americans at war, this time amid the title city’s violent, racially charged riots of 1967. No mere period piece, ‘Detroit’ summoned an expertly calibrated chaos that’s depressingly familiar.
It was your classic story: boy meets girl, girl falls into a coma, boy upsets girl’s parents with on-the-nose jokes about 9/11, boy and girl confront the strangeness of their situation. It was also an entirely true one. Thanks to that couple, screenwriter Emily V Gordon and screenwriter/star Kumail Nanjiani, it made for one of the funniest movies of the year.
A sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterful sci-fi after 35 years was bound to be terrible, right? Not so much. While definitely a risky venture, it paid off. Director Denis Villeneuve and DoP Roger Deakins created the kind of dazzling visual landscape that was basically Christmas for your eyeballs. It was a buzz to see Harrison Ford’s Deckard back, too, even more jaded but still with killer cool.
This year saw Armando Iannucci reinforce his position as Britain’s sharpest satirist. With the help of a cast of comedy greats, he managed to make Stalinist tyranny, brutal purges and communist doublespeak hilarious, without forgetting to also make them truly horrifying.
The Academy anointed it Best Film – well, once they’d got the right envelope – and who could argue? ‘Moonlight’ is a deeply humane, heartfelt drama about growing up, with immaculate performances throughout. The ocean baptism scene might just be the cinematic image of the year, too.