2017 has been a scary year, which is all the more reason to hide in a dark room watching films. And there have been very decent movies released this year. Yes, there was Star Wars, and the debate about The Last Jedi will continue long into 2018. But there were also some films that weren’t about space wizards and laser swords. There were superheroes, horror movies that tackled racism in modern America, getaway drivers with excellent music taste, and even a very good film about the worst film ever made.
Christmas is the perfect chance to grab a load of DVD/ fire up Netflix and catch up on what you missed, so here’s the JOE office’s pick of the year’s movies (based on UK release dates, before any of you get pedantic).
An inventive, edge-of-your-seat thriller that uses horror tropes to deliver a scathing satire of a liberal culture that sees itself allied with victims of racism who, in practicality, are more do-badders than do-gooders. Director Jordan Peele and lead Daniel Kaluuya deserve to win all the awards, and there’s a good chance of that happening. – Rich Cooper
If any one film from 2017 is a guaranteed future cult classic, it’s Atomic Blonde. Essentially Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy reimagined as a Duran Duran album cover, it has self-destructive superspy Charlize Theron skulking around Cold War Berlin, playing every side against each other and trying to escape alive, all to a soundtrack of 1980s pop hits. Come for the mindblowingly brutal single-take stairwell fight; stay for the interesting subversion of genre gender tropes. – Wil Jones
The Disaster Artist
If you love The Room – the Citizen Kane of bad movies – then you’ll adore James Franco’s touching and hilarious tale of how two lonely outsides came together to make movie history for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve never seen The Room, it doesn’t matter; you’ll still be enthralled by the mad world of Tommy Wiseau. – Rich Cooper
There is a short list of things you want from an action film: car chases, a love story, violence and good cinematography. Edgar Wright’s latest thriller ticks every one of those boxes. A superb cast (bar one actor, in hindsight) brings Baby’s story to life. Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx give the film some pedigree and portray their roles of deeply troubled members of the heist crew at the high standards we’ve come to expect from such seasoned pros. Baby’s relationship with music gives his character substance, for someone who doesn’t talk much. And very importantly, the soundtrack doesn’t disappoint. The film follows a classic narrative of a good person caught in a bad situation to elicit sympathy from the viewer, like a PG version of Jesse Pinkman. But it’s executed so well you forgive the film’s clichés. – Reuben Pinder
The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick is a peculiar film. From the outside its plot – an upcoming comedian/part-time Uber driver meets a woman and the two embark on a relationship before events and mistakes conspire against them – sounds fairly run-of-the-mill. But it is the incredible performances of Nanjiani (who you may know from Silicon Valley) and Zoe Kazan that really make this one of my films of the year. Delivered with a mixture of humour, subtlety and vulnerability not often seen, The Big Sick makes you genuinely care about the relationship between the characters, as well as provoking you to piss your pants laughing throughout. Above all, it has a certain charm that, though difficult to describe – and not ideal for review purposes – means it is one of the sweetest, funniest and most accurate representations of what it means to be in a relationship that I’ve ever seen. – Wayne Farry
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The biggest film of the year undoubtedly came with the most amount of pressure on it. It seems that half of the fans that saw Episode 7 were upset that it was a rehash (homage, goddamnit!) to previous films, others just felt like their 7 year old selves again. On Prozac. That reintroduction of Han Solo and Chewbaca! Amiright?!
Ok (deep breath)….The Last Jedi was always going to be under scrutiny from the moment that the name was announced. Who is the last Jedi? Is there more than one ‘Last Jedi’?! Is the plural for Jedi; Jedi? Jedi-ey? Jedi’s?! Well, if you’ve seen the film then by George (not Lucas), you sure as hell know the answer. All I’ll say is that I walked out of the screening of this not feeling like a 7 year old on Prozac, but feeling like I’d been picked up by a hurricane, thrown about a bit and then spat out, very unsure just what the fuck I watched. Believe me, if this is how you felt, this will change. Luke Skywalker says in the trailer “This is not going to end the way you think!”….Not just a soundbite from the trailer: a fact. What a film. – Richie Driss
La La Land
Like Marmite, you either love La La Land or you hate it. There’s no in-between. And those that hate it usually hate it for the wrong reasons. Either it’s because it’s a musical, because it’s too soppy, and sometimes it’s because of the music itself. What’s wrong with the music? In fact, what’s wrong with a musical? Nobody would dare say anything negative about Mary Poppins, West Side Story or the Sound of Music, would they? For an original musical to be released in 2017 that isn’t a remake, or even close to a remake, is remarkable. Shot beautifully, Damien Chazelle’s masterpiece exceeds all expectations telling the colourful story of two relatable dream chasers with aspirations in the world of arts. The cinematography is stunning. The music is perfect. And with the casting spot on, both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone prove on-screen chemistry can be effortless. – ill Will
Blade Runner 2049
For anyone worried that a return into the world of Blade Runner would sully the original, it’s good news: Blade Runner 2049 is staggeringly good. Wrestling with the core philosophical themes of the 1982 film, but moving them on in a logically sound and emotionally textured way. It looks phenomenal and it’ll leave your head swimming. – Rich Cooper
Christopher Nolan’s best film to date is a tightly-wound ticking clock, a war film that isn’t really about war, more a thriller about the lengths people are willing to go to survive. Dunkirk deliberately doesn’t bog itself down with the morality of war, instead presenting the audience with a simple but vital question: will they make it home? – Rich Cooper
A Ghost Story
A strange and tender portrayal of the unseen moments of grief that follow the death of a loved one and how that grief haunts us and the spaces we occupy. On the surface, this is Casey Affleck wearing a sheet and watching Rooney Mara eat a pie, and that’s entirely accurate, but there is more to this film than can ever be explained. – Rich Cooper
Korean master director Park Chan-Wook (the mad genius behind Oldboy) outdid himself with The Handmaiden. Even by his standards, it’s quite a hard sell: a two-and-a-half hour sexually-explicit period lesbian romantic thriller shot in both Korean and Japanese. Yet it’s labyrinth plot, constant stream of jaw dropping moments and sheer cinematic swagger grab you from the first second. Just don’t watch it with you parents.
What to say about mother! if you haven’t seen it yet? Absolutely nothing. mother! is one of those movies where it’s absolutely best to go in absolutely cold, and let the madness play out without any preconceptions. Essentially, Javier Bardem is a writer, Jennifer Lawrence is his younger wife, and they’ve recently moved to the country. Then a mysterious visitor arrives. And we’ve already said too much. No film this year has divided opinion like mother!, but you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. – Wil Jones
Hugh Jackman’s swansong, his last hurrah, the setting of the sun on his 17 year career portraying everyones favourite member of the X-Men. Admittedly some of his films are stronger than others, (The Wolverine, anyone?) So how would this stack up? In this writers opinion; as one of the greatest super-hero films of all time, Marvel or DC. The film portrayed a battered, grizzled Logan alongside an equally battered and grizzled Professor X (Patrick Stewart), and their attempt to defend a little girl who, to be honest, is possibly quite capable of defending herself. Like Deadpool before it, this defies genre conventions, giving the finger to massive threatening beams of CG light in the sky above a city, and grounds the film in reality and layers on the violence and grit to create a visceral and hardcore, but also thoughtful and touching comic book film that stands as the Marvel film of the year. – Richie Driss
John Wick: Chapter 2
What is there not to like about John Wick: Chapter 2? It’s fast-paced, clever, compassionate, funny (in parts), and most of all it’s extremely violent. With the first instalment achieving cult status in the same way Taken did back in 2008, Chapter 2 eclipsed Liam Neeson’s follow-up Taken movie in the every way possible. After returning to the hitman underworld to repay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finds there’s a bounty on his head. Written like he’s on the back foot throughout this stylish sequel, the reality of the situation is that John Wick is never on the back foot, especially when he has a gun in his hand. – ill Will
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man Holiday) with writers credits including Kenya Barris of Black-ish fame, Girls Trip is one of the funniest movies of 2017. One of those laugh-a-minute type of comedies, if it’s not Lisa’s (played by Jada Pinkett-Smith) diving back into the saddle of intimacy and all the hilarious moments that come with it that make you laugh out loud, it’ll be the introduction of Tiffany Haddish, who plays Dina. Acting like her coming out party, Girls Trip is one big showreel for the soon-to-be globally recognised comedian. A warm and authentic comedy that taps into the sometimes harsh realities of life – especially for women – makes it a definite one to watch. If not, then perhaps its historic box office numbers, that makes it the only movie to gross $100 million that was written, produced, directed and starred black people, will encourage you to see it. – ill Will