Brig’s top five films of 2017

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I’ve seen 29 films in the cinema this year. Yes, I have. That’s far more than I would have guessed – more than one cinema-trip a fortnight, I can’t imagine how much I must have spent on Tango Ice Blasts.

In order to compile this list, I went through a list of all the movies that were released this year, and as I was going I ticked off the ones I had actually seen. Twenty-nine. My goodness. And cinema tickets aren’t cheap these days. I’m not going to work out the total amount of money, I refuse to.

The number of times I’ve gone out to see a film this year is a testament to the fact that 2017 has been an exceptionally strong year for cinema. Unusually, the many outstanding films that were released this year were scattered about, distributed evenly for maximum delight like the Maltesers in a tub of Celebrations. As soon as the high from Get Out started to wear off, along came Wonder Woman, and after that came Baby Driver.

The strength of the year has made whittling everything down to a list of five very difficult. I shed off a load of my favourites to begin with, knowing that I’d have to kill my darlings for the sake of the article. Out went La La Land, Moonlight and Hidden Figures – nobody can be arsed reading more about films that have already won their Oscars.

Out went Toni Erdmann, T2 Trainspotting, Free Fire, The Handmaiden, Detroit, Mindhorn and A Man Named Ove, all superb films but all discarded for some reason or another. Out went Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which I felt like including purely to wind up this newspaper’s editor.

And so I ended up with a list of films that were unarguably going to be in my top five. Unfortunately, there were eight of them.

So, out went Logan, a film that made a story about a man with huge sideburns and retractable claws beautiful and poignant, while also heavily ramping up the blood and guts. Out went Okja, a wonderfully eccentric and brutal film from Netflix about a sweet, hippo-like creature. Out went… agh… Wonder Woman, for the simple reason that I should really stop paining myself over a completely subjective list and make a decision. You know how good it is anyway, you don’t need me to tell you.

The five films that are left are Brig’s five favourite films of 2017. That’s official. It’s just me who chose them, without consultation, but that’s the power I hold. I speak for the newspaper. This article is a performative utterance, and an irreversible one. Here we go:

Baby Driver

Baby Driver
Credit: empireonline.com

I wrote about this film back in July, just after it was released. In the review, I say I didn’t particularly enjoy it the first time I saw it, but it grew on me enormously after round two. This is true. I’m not sure why I was such a moany grump the first time round, but I came to my senses.

Director Edgar Wright’s filmmaking trademark is his sense of rhythm – he successfully uses whip-pans more times than you legally should, and his cuts last for exactly as long as they should to uphold the film’s beat. This ability was employed to startling effect in Baby Driver, a film that not many directors around today would be able to pull off quite so well. By setting scenes to already-existing pieces of music, Wright set himself a hell of a challenge, and he smashed it.

The prevalence of the song Bellbottoms in adverts and TV shows this year is evidence of that. Still, Baby Driver remains not as good as Shaun of the Dead and unable to touch Hot Fuzz with the proverbial twenty-foot bargepole.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049
Credit: VanityFair.com

Sequels to 35-year-old classics really have no right to be as good as this. But with Denis Villeneuve at the helm (a man who, and this is true, is medically unable to make a bad film) it was never going to go any other way.

Villeneuve didn’t scrimp on scale for his film, taking us from the heavily polluted Los Angeles of the original to vast, barren fields, then to a Las Vegas thickly clotted with orange fog and littered with erratic monumental heads. And it was all captured by the magnificent cinematography of Roger Deakins, who better bloody win his bloody Oscar next year.

For me, it didn’t quite capture the original’s enjoyable ‘weirdness’, but everything else was in its proper place and that was all that fans could have wished for. It’s a true shame that it didn’t do any better at the box office.

The Big Sick

The Big Sick
Credit: theedgesusu.co.uk

Another film that Brig didn’t actually get around to reviewing this year. While I’m not that into romantic comedies, my friend Mike is, and so we found time in the summer to go and see Kumail Nunjiani and Emily V Gordon’s account of their own early relationship. I wasn’t expecting it to become one of my favourite films of the year.

It’s a bit of a cliché to call rom coms ‘honest’, but since this one tells what is actually quite a difficult true story, the description is apt. If I tell you that the film’s about an already shaky relationship shaken even further by an unexpected tragedy, you wouldn’t expect it to be the movie that made me laugh the most this year, would you? But there you are. It was. That’s The Big Sick.

It’s helped along by the performances, particularly Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents. No matter your circumstances, I’m 90% sure this film will be right up your street. Seek it out.


Credit: slashfilm.com

The movie I saw most this year. I went to see Dunkirk THREE TIMES, and each of those times was in IMAX. I hope Christopher Nolan names his new yacht after me.

Despite seeing it all those times, the extraordinary mechanics of Dunkirk ensured that each time was exactly as tense and unnerving as the last. There are several tricks that Nolan uses, including Hans Zimmer’s distinctive music and sound design so extreme they might as well have fired up a Messerschmitt engine four inches from my ear. Then there’s the Nolan magic, which stopped me from looking away or covering my ears even when I knew a bullet was about to loudly pierce past.

More than even Saving Private Ryan, Dunkirk places the viewer in the middle of the action to give them the sense of impending, inevitable doom that the soldiers on that beach in Northern France must have had. Patches of sand explode in succession as bombs are dropped closer and closer to the camera, and each catastrophe that is survived is met with a new one. It is a stunning piece of work and yes, it’s Christopher Nolan’s best film to date.

Get Out

Film Title: Get Out
Credit: Variety.com

I reckon, a few years in the future, Get Out will be the film we associate with the year 2017. Of course, there’s no way we could associate this year with anything other than a horrifying psychological horror film, but there’s more to it than that.

Consider the Alabama Special Election that took place earlier in the month. The world was watching, mainly due to the participation of a loathsome man named Roy Moore who, despite being accused of sexual abuse and paedophilia, gained the endorsement of the Republican Party and of President Donald Trump. In the end, he lost, thanks almost entirely to the efforts of black voters, who defied several racist provisions put in place to prevent them from having much influence in the election in order to vote for Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones.

Now, there have been a number of calls for Jones to demonstrate his commitment to helping black communities in Alabama by appointing a significant number of African Americans to his Senior Staff. But some commentators are saying this is looking unlikely to happen.

Appreciating black people when they’re convenient to your interests, but stopping short of giving them any real power. Hmm… People who have seen Get Out, does this sound familiar? And people who haven’t seen Get Out, go and watch it for god’s sake, it’s brilliant.

In a year of terrifying attacks on minorities, Get Out reminded us that equality isn’t defined by those with privilege and what keeps them comfortable. It will only be achieved when everyone has the same access to the same opportunities. And if that isn’t the number one sentiment to take into 2018, I’m not sure what is.

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