Every year, around this time, we are bombarded with best of the year lists on a variety of diﬀerent subjects. So with that very spirit in mind here is a roundup of the best ﬁlms released in Ireland in 2017.
10. The Big Sick
A surprisingly heartwarming ﬁlm that manages to avoid succumbing to the overly sentimental tone of the generic ailment romance sub-genre thanks to a great script, quick wit and strong performances. Written by and starring Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), The Big Sick is the semiautobiographical story of how, after a brief romance with his girlfriend Emily (Zoe Kazan), the couple decided to part ways. Things get complicated however when Emily becomes ill and is placed into an induced coma. Nanjiani stays by her side in the hospital and is forced to develop a relationship with her parents, the brilliant Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. The ﬁlm provides a humorous insight into family, relationships and being Muslim in modern-day America.
I had never read Stephen King's acclaimed novel, nor had I seen the 1990s mini-series of the same name. Before I went to see the 2017 adaption I naively presumed the story merely concerned the maniacal clown Pennywise terrorising a bunch of children. While this turned out to be true, there is also so much more to the ﬁlm. This is not a cliched horror ﬁlm, but one with the adventurous spirit of an early Spielberg ﬂick. The children each deliver terriﬁc performances as they try to resolve a number of disappearances in a quiet American town, where no one would ever believe that anything could go wrong.
Hugh Jackman’s reported ﬁnal appearance as Wolverine is about as far removed from his previous outings in the X-men universe as possible. Logan sees an ageing version of the titular character attempt to aid a young mutant, the ﬁrstborn in over 25 years across the border accompanied by a 90-year-old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a world bereft of hope. Devoid of any generic superhero tropes, this is a dark and brutal tale. The Wolverine's most powerful outing to date.
7. Get Out
If ever there was a ﬁlm that an audience should embrace, with as little prior knowledge as possible, it would be Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Both thrilling and terrifying in equal measure while constantly challenging its audience with deeper questions, Get Out proved to be one of the year’s best surprises. Anchored by a compelling lead performance by Daniel Kaluuya and imbued with an important social commentary, this is a must see.
Barry Jenkins Oscar-winning ﬁlm is tragic, simple yet also heart wrenching. The ﬁlm follows Chiron during three stages of his life as a child, a teenager and an adult as he grows up in Miami with a drug addict mother (the brilliant Naomi Harris). Chiron also known as 'little' befriends Juan a Cuban drug dealer (the equally great Mahershilla Ali) who becomes a form of surrogate father to him during his troubled youth. Chiron endures intense bullying while at school and is also forced to confront issues relating to his own masculinity and sexuality as he ages.
5. La La land
Who would have thought that the dreams of a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress could make such a charming ﬁlm? Director Damien Chazzelle eﬀortlessly revives the tone of classic Hollywood musicals from the past while still instilling the ﬁlm with a modern ﬂare. With a stellar performance from Emma Stone as a young woman who aspires to be an actress. La La Land is the perfect form of escapism, with a brilliantly toe-tapping and moving soundtrack courtesy of Justin Hurwitz, compelling performances and a bittersweet plot that will tug at heartstrings.
Director Christopher Nolan fully utilises every tool in his cinematic arsenal in order to bring this stunning portrayal of the terror of war to life. The plot is cleverly spread out over three separate stories centred around the evacuation of Dunkirk by the British during WW2. Nolan plunges the audience into the middle of the action unconcerned with backstory or sentiment, granting the ﬁlm an element of reality and urgency. With Dunkirk Nolan has cemented his status as a cinematic auteur as he fully immerses you in this intense visceral experience. Gorgeously shot with each frame eschewing an artistic beauty accompanied by an eclectically compelling score by Hans Zimmer.
3. Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
Epic in both its ambition and execution the new Star Wars saga comes of age in this thrilling, emotional and funny entry to one of the most popular ﬁlm franchises of all time. Director Rian Johnson has succeeded in expanding on JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens by carrying on the stories of Ray, Finn and Kylo Ren in a spectacular yet darker spectacle that constantly subverts the expectations of the audience. The Last Jedi is indicative of what makes cinema such an enduring medium with breathtaking actions scenes, real character development, sensational highs and emotional lows.
2. Blade Runner 2049
The original Blade Runner released in 1982 was a science ﬁction masterpiece, combining a classic noir aesthetic with a futuristic LA landscape. It utilised the format of a detective ﬁlm to ask fundamental philosophical questions about what it means to be human. Denis Villeneuve has managed to follow the original in spectacular fashion. Rodger Deakins cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful and succeeds in building on the dystopian future created in the ﬁrst ﬁlm. The story follows Ryan Gosling's kay, a Blade Runner (detective that tracks down artiﬁcial humans known as replicants) who uncovers a decades-old mystery that causes him to question everything. Villeneuve expands on the mythology of the original while also layering it with new mysteries. One of the most sophisticated sequels ever made.
1. Call Me By Your Name
In a list that has included stories of war and dystopian futures, it appears appropriate that the top spot is reserved for a ﬁlm about love.
Timothée Chalamet gives one of the performances of the year in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. Chalamet plays Elio, a young American in 1983, who spends the summer with his parents at their house in Northern Italy. Elio is highly intelligent, sensitive and yet very unsure of himself. Elio’s world changes forever when he meets grad student Oliver (an excellent Armie Hammer) who spends the summer working with his father and living in his old room. Hammer pitches the performance perfectly, imbuing the character with a conﬁdent exterior to conceal an innate shyness. There is also a great supporting performance from Michael Stulberg as Elio’s father, Stulberg exudes a nuanced kindness and delivers a speech at the end of the ﬁlm that is sure to go down as one of the all-time great ﬁlm monologues. Guadagnino’s ﬁlm is about embracing life, ﬁrst love and discovering who you are. Gorgeously shot with a captivating soundtrack that includes some truly mesmerising tracks by Sufjan Stevens. Stevens work underpins the whimsical haze of never-ending summer days as our main characters grow more aware of their true aﬀections for one and other.
This was another bumper year for Irish ﬁlm. Tom Ryan’s poignant look at abortion Twice Shy had a beautiful and tender relationship at its core. Andrew Scott wonderfully exclaimed “reveal to me who you are” in John Butlers superb Handsome Devil in the hope of getting his students to become more comfortable with themselves. Lion demonstrated that a ﬁlm about a man using Google Earth could be the inspirational, emotional true life story that 2017 needed. Gal Gadot was terriﬁc as the titular character in Wonder Woman bringing real depth and resonance to her performance. 2017 really was a superior year for the superhero ﬁlm, with Marvel’s Spiderman Homecoming no exception to this. Tom Holland proved an excellent Spiderman and the ﬁlm was witty, fun and action-packed at the same time. Finally one of the years most charming eﬀorts came in the form of a Peruvian bear named Paddington. The sequel Paddington 2 was delightful, with a career-best performance from Hugh Grant.
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