Finding ourselves, as we do, in the midst of awards season, much cultural bandwidth is currently being taken up with endless squabbling as to which movies are being cruelly overlooked/dramatically overpraised/insufficiently woke.
Personally, I prefer to think that these things are ultimately fairly meaningless, and that the amount of energy expended on hammering away at what are, after all, mere industry backslaps, could better be spent on more worthwhile pursuits, such as – well, watching/talking about more movies. They’re only movies, after all, and they’re meant to be fun.
With that in mind, I’d like to ask: what are the five best new (by which I mean “new”, rather than “new to you”) movies you’ve seen in the last 12 months? Apart from Gary, whose steadfast refusal to agree with me on matters celluloid is both wearying and distasteful.
Please feel free to symbolically link arms with an activist from the field of your choice while posting.
1. Call Me By Your Name
A truly beautiful movie that has stayed with me over the months.
My initial prejudice was that this was mere homage to the sort of high class, mildly erotic European cinema that you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting on the late night schedule of Channel 4 during the 80s and 90s. But – lovely as it is – it’s so much more than that.
Amidst the sumptuous visuals and the tremendous sense of time and place, there’s a lot of heart and soul to this movie, a lot of wisdom about life and love. Timothee Chalamet delivered what has to be the year’s best performance, completely belying his age, and the whole thing was packed with nuance.
In a year where cinema seemed to be dominated by a certain sort of hysterical hyper-realism, this was the truest and most honest thing I saw onscreen, and it resonated accordingly. Also had the Sufjan factor, which makes it a guaranteed AW crowd-pleaser (or not).
2. Paddington 2
Surely, this was the best time most of us had in a cinema last year? It may not be classic awards fodder, but it’s a vastly superior film to almost anything that will collect a gong this month.
Perhaps the last twenty minutes dipped a tad, but otherwise this was breathless stuff. From the sheer likeability of its central cast, to the immense fun Hugh Grant was clearly having in his role, to the gentle and affectionate Wes Anderson pastiche, this was cinema as it was meant to be. I saw it in the presence of three generations of Clan Little in a packed house – every single person had a great time, a proper delight. One of those rare movies where you’d have stayed another couple of hours to watch more of it if only there were more of it to watch.
A movie with all sorts of things wrong with it (in particular, Jennifer Lawrence is badly miscast), but enough right to end up deep, deep in credit.
Early on, you clock the allegory. And it’s clever and all that, but about halfway through, you start to wonder if it’s really enough to sustain the whole thing. But then the last section of the movie leans in so damn hard, and is so utterly out of hand, that it justifies just about anything.
Visually spectacular, refreshingly loony and utterly ill advised on almost every level, I loved this movie. The fact that it tanked badly only adds to the charm.
4. Thor: Ragnarok
Probably the only movie that challenged Paddington for sheer smile factor in 2017.
Anyone who’d seen Hunt For The Wilderpeople knew this was gonna be good, but if anything it outperformed expectations. For the first time, a superhero flick that was as wild and boundless as some of the best that comics themselves had to offer, and that at least attempted access to the spirit of Jack Kirby (why has this taken so long?).
Two of the very best hours I spent in the cinema this year just gone.
The other four films on this list were all movies I sort of knew I’d love even as I bought the ticket – their reps preceded them. This was the year’s great surprise.
It’s a slow burn, and I wasn’t full enamored with it, even at the halfway stage. But the last 15 minutes… yeesh. I have to admit that I was fighting back the tears, hardcore. Possibly even tops the notorious Up for sheer, wanton plucking of the heartstrings.
Well worth seeing if you have the necessary kids to justify it. Just be sure to take a hanky and a photo of your grandma.
Bubbling under: Dunkirk, A Ghost Story, Logan, Valerian (hey, I liked it), Okja, Get Out, Detroit, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Girls Trip, Good Time, The Beguiled, Aus Dem Nichts, Ayla, Death of Stalin, Geostorm (kidding).
Over to you (apart from Gary)…