A note - There are films I’ve not enjoyed but, in an attempt to be a bit more positive, I’m just not going to mention those (there are also films I’ve enjoyed but am not going to mention in the interest of space). A further note - I’m mainly (but not exclusively) focussing on maybe some of the lesser watched films this year. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the blockbusters - Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Logan, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, Thor Ragnarok and LEGO Batman are all high on my list - but there are enough people writing about those ones.
So then, here are the things what I have watched this year and either thoroughly enjoyed or found intriguing enough to warrant a mention.
In A Nutshell:- Man with multiple personality disorder holds teenage girls captive.
Why It’s Good:- It’s an M Night Shyamalan film and, to be honest, I’ve not really enjoyed any of his films since Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. This was a real return to form with a strong performance from James McAvoy in the lead role(s). Definitely worth a watch.
The Belko Experiment
In A Nutshell:- Group of office workers are trapped in an office block and ordered to choose who to kill off otherwise they’ll all be killed.
Why It’s Good:- It’s written by James Gunn of Guardians Of The Galaxy fame but shares more in common with his earlier efforts like Slither and Super, particularly in terms of over the top violence. An enjoyable B-movie style low budget indie flick.
In A Nutshell:- Young woman discovers she’s linked to Godzilla-style monster trashing South Korea
Why It’s Good:- I’m a big fan of director Nacho Vigalondo’s previous films, Timecrimes and Extraterrestrial (check those out if you haven’t already) and this doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny but also surprisingly dark and goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting. Great performances from Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis as well.
In A Nutshell:- Hard to describe without giving too much away
Why It’s Good:- One of those films that it’s worth going into without knowing too much about, it’s an enjoyable and heart-warming indie flick with a nicely odd premise and Mark Hamill playing against type (and also getting to do a bit of voice over work).
In A Nutshell:- Clowns are bad.
Why It’s Good:- I loved Tim Curry as Pennywise in the 1990 TV movie version but, given TV budgets at the time, it’s a bit cheap and cheerful. This feels like the big budget treatment it always needed and Bill Skarsgard is suitably horrifying as Pennywise.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
In A Nutshell:- More of the same and none the worse for it
Why It’s Good:- I really enjoyed the first film’s mixture of Tarantino-style hyper violence with a James Bond/The Avengers* feel and this second film keeps up the levels of ludicrousness. It maybe suffers a little from familiarity this time around but any film that’s climactic battle sequence features an arse-kicking Elton John (actually him) is going to be worth a watch.
Blade Runner 2049
In A Nutshell:- The sequel you didn’t realise you needed
Why It’s Good:- Aside from looking and sounding great, it feels like a genuine follow up to the first which manages to continue the story from the first film without ruining any of the original’s ambiguity. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed a sequel that I really didn’t feel was necessary.
The Death Of Stalin
In A Nutshell:- The Thick Of It in 1950s Russia
Why It’s Good:- While it doesn’t shy away from the more horrific elements of Stalin’s regime, in much the same way as he did with The Thick Of It, Armando Iannucci highlights the absurdity and, at times, bumbling idiocy that is often at work at the highest levels of power. Plus Jason Isaac seems to be having the time of his life as the bluntly Northern head of the Red Army.
Dave Made A Maze
In A Nutshell:- A slasher film made out of cardboard and tissue.
Why It’s Good:- This is very much the sort of indie oddity that I like to see. A man makes a cardboard labyrinth in his apartment and gets lost in it, forcing his friends to come in after him. The only problem is the booby traps… While not necessarily 100% successful, there’s a level of inventiveness to the largely practical effects which carries it through.
So there you have it - a whistlestop tour through some of the highlights in film for me in 2017. If I hadn’t spent the Christmas break relaxing and largely watching films and TV in between eating and drinking, I might have written about some of the other stuff. Ah well, such is life, as the French say.
So what will 2018 bring? Let’s find out tomorrow, shall we?
* 1960s UK TV series The Avengers, that is - you know, Steed and Mrs Peel and all that. Not Captain America and Iron Man.