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The best films of 2017

The 20 best films of 2017

Discover the finest movies of this year, as voted for by Time Out film writers

By Phil de Semlyen
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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. Here's our pick of top 20 movies released in the UK in 2017.

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Our 20 favourite films from 2017

20. Wonder Woman

Film Action and adventure

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.

19. Good Time

Film Thrillers

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.

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18. Logan

Film Action and adventure

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.

17. A Ghost Story

Film Fantasy

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.

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16. Lady Macbeth

Film Drama

Florence Pugh caught the eye in Carol Morley’s ‘The Falling’ in 2014, but this brilliant, brooding character study was a true star-making turn. Guided skilfully by first-time director William Oldroyd, her 17th-century firebrand was hero and villain at the same time.

15. Detroit

Film Drama

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.

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14. The Big Sick

Film Comedy

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.

13. Blade Runner 2049

Film Science fiction

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.

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12. God's Own Country

Film Drama

A depiction of sexual discovery and inner pain that was as rugged as the windswept Yorkshire landscape it’s set against, Francis Lee’s drama was one of the best British films of recent years. The ‘Brokeback Mountain’ comparisons, though a bit glib, had definite merit.

11. Paddington 2

Film Family and kids

Britain’s favourite Peruvian returned for a sequel that somehow managed to be even funnier, more charming and loveable than the original. We loved it because it was the best London movie of the year, but we’d have loved it if it had been set on the moon.

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10. Manchester by the Sea

Film Drama

As devastating as movies get, this grief drama was both intimately familiar – a coastal New England community of distracted parents and bitterly cold winters – and revelatory for not sparing us the hard truth of loss.

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Dale Robinette

9. La La Land

Film Comedy

A dazzlingly original, heartbreaking musical pulsing with the spirit of the immortal Jacques Demy, Damien Chazelle’s swirling masterpiece gave us a career-best performance from Emma Stone – and the soundtrack of early 2017.

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8. The Florida Project

Film Drama

Following ‘Tangerine’, indie wunderkind Sean Baker continued his celebration of life on the margins. This time his gaze fell on the unsupervised children who live in a ratty motel on the outskirts of Disney World. Willem Dafoe stole the show.

The Death of Stalin
NICOLA DOVE

7. The Death of Stalin

Film Comedy

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.

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6. The Handmaiden

Film Drama

Sarah Waters’s Dickensian yarn got the full Park Chan-wook treatment. Devilish, intricate and featuring a surprising array of sex toys, the director’s stunningly crafted mystery would be worth the ride, even without its absolute zinger of a payoff.

5. Toni Erdmann

Film Comedy

Great comedies are supposed to be short, right? Not this one. Writer-director Maren Ade’s slowburning gem is two-and-a-half hours of big laughs, gulpworthy awkwardness and dysfunctional dad-daughter dynamics. Part love letter, part whoopee cushion, and all heart.

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4. Call Me By Your Name

Film Romance

Luca Guadagnino’s voluptuous coming-of-age gay romance transports you not only to northern Italy, but to a lazy summer and an exchange of books, fruit, glances and power. With this one, the filmmaker has leapt into the company of the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci.

3. Get Out

Film Horror

Director Jordan Peele took everyone by surprise with this razor-edged satire of racism that masqueraded as a Wes Craven-like suburban horror. Londoner Daniel Kaluuya is exceptional as a young photographer invited into a Stepford-ish world where black lives really don’t matter.

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Dunkirk
©DR

2. Dunkirk

Film Drama

If Christopher Nolan had directed the actual WWII, everyone would have run out of money by about 1941. Giant-canvas filmmaking of the kind no one else even tries to rival these days, his beachside epic – ‘Saving Private Styles’? – was worth twice whatever it cost.

1. Moonlight

Film Drama

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.

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