We’re now over halfway through the year’s movie calendar, so it’s time to look back over what has been an uncharacteristically strong first half, full of possible Oscar contenders, groundbreaking new blockbusters, and the usual fare we’ve become accustomed to. It’s my top 10 best films of 2017 (so far)…
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming
I’d never seen another Spider-Man film before Homecoming, so I went in with barely any preconceptions, apart from expecting the usual comedy action fare that we’ve had from Marvel over the past decade.
And not only did I get yet another massively entertaining MCU blockbuster, but a film with an amazing sense of humour that works brilliantly with its refreshing lead character, a young, high-school aged Peter Parker that makes for a totally different atmosphere than the most generic Marvel movies. Couple that with a story that has a couple of amazing twists, and the endlessly hilarious humour, and you have what is arguably the funniest MCU film of all, and easily one of the most enjoyable films of the year so far.
8.1/10 – Full review here.
9. When Will You Return
It’s more than likely you’ve not seen When Will You Return, or possibly not even heard of it, but if you get the chance, it’s a truly wonderful film that you mustn’t miss out on.
Following a young married Japanese couple in the years after World War Two, the film recounts their struggle to rebuild their lives in an economically devastated Japan, constantly moving about the country in an attempt to find some certainty, but almost always coming up short.
Not only is it a fascinating look into the lives of ordinary people in the post-war years, but it’s also a genuinely heartfelt and captivating family drama. Led by a beautiful performance from Machiko Ono, and featuring countless tearjerking moments throughout, you’ll be hard pressed not to feel fully engrossed by this simultaneously beautiful and emotionally affecting film.
8.2/10 – Full review here.
8. The Lego Batman Movie
Taking one of the brightest spots (or as he would prefer, darkest) of The Lego Movie, and giving him his own adventure, The Lego Batman Movie is full of zany performances from the likes of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis and more, all mixed in with wonderfully light-hearted and innocent slapstick as well as some fantastic satire and parodies of the modern superhero-dominated movie world.
Take all that, and the amazing stop-motion style animation, and you have a film that all the family can laugh their socks off at from start to finish, proving to be easily the best kids’ film of the year so far.
8.4/10 – Full review here.
7. Confession Of Murder
The Japanese have really been on top form this year so far, and here’s another big surprise that makes it into this list: Confession Of Murder.
Although a remake of an already acclaimed Korean film, Confession Of Murder is a brilliant exercise in taking a dark and gritty story and turning it into a riotously entertaining mystery thriller. While it is at times unexpectedly violent and graphic, it’s a rapid-paced, slick and fun-loving movie that doesn’t mind overstepping the mark a little when it comes to realism.
But with a story that keeps you guessing through all of the insane twists, and a pulsating beat that keeps the film moving at every second, this film will easily have you laughing out loud and biting your nails right the way through, making for a massively entertaining and memorable watch.
8.4/10 – Full review here.
If there has been a film this year that really lived up to the hype, it’s Logan. A fiercely original and truly fascinating superhero movie that’s in actually a deep, intimate drama in all but name.
Sending off the ever-beloved Hugh Jackman in style, Logan is a superhero movie like no other, showcasing a completely different side to the genre, one in which the real world’s problems really hit home, and even the invincible aren’t immune to everything.
Jackman transforms the character in one movie from swashbuckling hero to an exhausted and beaten man, but with such a mind-blowing performance at every moment, he makes one of the most unorthodox superhero movies work absolutely perfectly, not to mention his wonderfully heartfelt on-screen relationship with the young Dafne Keen, hopefully a big star of the future.
8.5/10 – Full review here.
5. Get Out
This really is a year of Hollywood coming out with a whole range of brilliantly original blockbusters, and Get Out is absolutely no exception.
Although poorly marketed as nothing more than a horror-thriller (don’t watch the spoilerific trailer), Get Out is so much more, with fantastic humour, genuine drama, and stunning twists and turns throughout that will chill you to the bone. Crafted lovingly by director Jordan Peele, its horror undertones stand strong throughout, featuring a good few jumpscares and some seriously unnerving sequences, but what’s most memorable about Get Out is just how riveting it is as a normal film.
Its story that follows a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family house for the weekend opens up the door for a brilliant look at modern race relations, a topic that’s almost always dealt with excellent humour and still genuine intelligence. In short, this isn’t your typical horror film, but it’s a thrilling blockbuster that you really can’t miss out on.
8.5/10 – Full review here.
4. War For The Planet Of The Apes
But of all those incredibly original blockbusters, there’s one that stands out like no other. A film that trundles along as a quiet, slow and intimate drama about apes being hunted by frightening human adversaries: War For The Planet Of The Apes.
The first two films in the franchise were deservedly highly-acclaimed, but for all their originality, they still felt like Hollywood action movies. War For The Planet Of The Apes, on the other hand, completely reinvents the franchise, offering up a truly riveting and emotionally affecting story that, despite its quiet and slow nature, is far more entertaining ang engrossing than any action film could be.
Taking the franchise’s story about a war between apes and humans to frightening new depths, the plot deals with parallels to some of the worst atrocities in real-world history, and manages to retain the same level of emotional power despite the fact that the entire film focuses on CGI apes. The humans are the bad guys here, but with the exceptional writing, visual effects and performances, you’ll be on the apes’ side in seconds, and utterly transfixed by the poignant and moving nature of the film.
8.5/10 – Full review here.
3. The Big Sick
One thing: try as best as you can to go into this film knowing absolutely nothing. As brilliant as The Big Sick is, it’s even more special when you see it from the freshest perspective possible.
Romantic comedies very rarely make top 10s of any year, let alone those that try to inject some drama into the mix as well, but that couldn’t be further from what The Big Sick is. A beautifully heartfelt and truly captivating drama that deals with young love, interfamily relations and the clash of cultural backgrounds, it’s an exceptional film that will immediately reverse all of your preconceptions about what a romantic comedy can and can’t do.
Featuring four beautiful performances from Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, it’s an incredibly intimate and emotional story from start to finish, but it’s one with such well-written dialogue, such genuine humour, and such real heart that you cannot escape from being pulled in by its truly engrossing story.
8.6/10 – Full review here.
2. Baby Driver
It’s pretty clear by now, but Edgar Wright is an absolute genius. His Three Flavous Cornetto Trilogy is the cornerstone of action-comedy in Britain, while Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a quirky but brilliantly beloved comedy extravaganza.
And then we get to Baby Driver. On the one hand, it’s nothing like Wright’s previous film in the fact that it’s not an out-and-out comedy, but on the other, it’s exactly his territory, proving to be one of the most entertaining blockbusters you’ll probably ever see.
Expertly directed at every moment, it’s an absolute feast for the eyes and ears, with the thrilling car chases and action sequences playing out to a stunning soundtrack. With great humour along the way as well, and a collection of brilliant performances from the entire cast, it’s a film that will have you smiling on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and absolute triumph when it comes to blockbuster entertainment.
8.7/10 – Full review here.
Obviously. While all the films on this list are absolutely brilliant, there’s only one that’s probably going to go down in all-time history as not just one of the best war films of all time, but one of the best films.
Now, Dunkirk doesn’t have well-developed characters. It doesn’t have an orthodox story. And it definitely doesn’t hold back when it comes to action. But what it does do is show that you don’t need all of that to make an incredibly intense and genuinely affecting war drama, instead completely reinventing what a film can actually be with its stripped-down, knuckles-to-the-wall attitude.
Starting off with a bang that lasts all the way until the incredibly moving final scene, Dunkirk proves Christopher Nolan’s genius behind the camera. Yes, it’s a thrilling action film with incredible aerial dogfights and the unrelenting threat of the Nazis that are cornering the Allied forces on the beaches of northern France, but above all, it’s a film that shows the true horrors of war through no other means than recreating it in the most realistic way possible.
Saving Private Ryan’s opening sequence is absolute cinematic legend, but in comparison to the entirety of Dunkirk, it’s nowhere near as evocative of the war. This film is the first time I’ve ever felt genuinely scared when watching the events of the Second World War unfold on screen, and although I couldn’t tell you a single one of the characters’ names, it proves that it’s the whole package, a truly powerful war drama, that hits home hardest, and that’s why Dunkirk is undoubtedly the best film of 2017 so far.
8.9/10 – Full review here.