It’s here! The One Room With A View Top 20 films of 2017 has arrived. If you thought 2017 was a poor year for movies, you didn’t watch enough movies. At the very least, you didn’t watch the right moves. Thankfully, the great folk here at One Room With A View have.
Starting from today, we’ll run down our 20 to 11 positioned films here, and that’s when the fun begins. Over the coming days, we’ll be announcing our top 10 films, day by day, with an essay from our writers vouching for each film’s excellence.
Thank you all for your support for another year. Now let’s crack on this list!
David Brake, Founder/Editor of One Room With A View.
N.B. As our site is UK based, we work off the selection of films released in cinemas in the UK in 2017
Lady Macbeth nails the atmosphere, pacing and brooding intensity befitting a story influenced by Shakespearian tragedy, Russian literature, and the Brontёs. It’s as beautifully frank about the hardships – physical and psychological – of rural nineteenth-century British life as its sets are sparse. The cold of this world is so tangible it draws a real shiver from the audience.
Much more than a story of a young woman’s sexual awakening, Lady Macbeth is a terrifyingly convincing meditation on possible consequences of misogyny, class oppression, and ambition. If only more period dramas had this much realism, tension, strength of characterisation and powerhouse performance.
Natalie Portman excels in this claustrophobic drama about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy – a wife and mother left to uphold the presidential legacy of her assassinated husband. Directed by fast-rising Chilean Pablo Larraín (The Club, Neruda), Jackie depicts the 72 hours immediately after JFK’s death. Shock, grief and anger are all stunningly realised in clever, beautiful imagery that increasingly constricts around Portman’s face. Mica Levi’s haunting score adds to the tension, but it’s Portman who carries the film. Her disturbingly intimate portrayal of history’s most famous widow is faultless, topping any of her previous work by far.
A superhero movie like no other, Logan is an intelligent mix of sci-fi, western and violent actioner – while also being an intimate family drama.
Though there are villains at play here, the real enemy is time: a future running out for a once-invincible Logan and an ageing Professor X, and a painful past that cannot be undone. Dafne Keen makes an unforgettable debut as Laura/X-23 and James Mangold directs with aplomb – but Logan is defined by astonishing performances from a grizzled Hugh Jackman, in an emotional final bow as Wolverine, and a vulnerable yet fierce Patrick Stewart. Both deserve Oscar recognition.
How does one summarise a 464-minute movie? It’s a masterpiece that never flinches at its subject matter, moving beyond a humble analysis of a fallen man, to examine race, class, and justice. A compelling, enveloping masterwork that cracks open America’s 1990s skull with a transcendent power and accuracy. Each of the five chapters feels like a new masterpiece is folded in. Every voice has a purpose. Every anecdote has meaning. Ezra Edelman has delivered a stunning piece of ambitious, addictive and virtuoso filmmaking. Nothing even comes close to its greatness. You’ve never seen eight hours of your life fly by so quick.
Paddington 2 is just bloody lovely. Expanding on its predecessor’s promise, it champions the values of sticking together, seeing the best in everyone, and giving UKIP the boot. We see this worldview reflected in a cast packed with endearing characters – chief among them Brendan Gleeson’s hard case “Knuckles” McGinty – while Hugh Grant hams up a career-best performance as a villainous luvvie. The movie looks great too, with its action/farce sequences resembling the technicolour lovechild of Buster Keaton and Rube Goldberg. At its heart is Paddington, inimitably voiced by Ben Whishaw and so well-rendered you’ll forget he’s a cartoon at least twice.
Probably the oddest film on this list, A Ghost Story is an incredible feat of pure visual storytelling. Wordless for much of its time-hopping duration, director David Lowery retains a masterful hold on his philosophies as we are shown – with just camera, music and a bedsheet – a bold, poignant cinematic representation of indescribable grief. It’s an amazing thing that so much emotion can be evoked with so little, as the dual aches of love and loss bleed out of every frame. We see that in death, despite the pain, those that have touched us are never truly left behind.
In a genre not known for its diversity, whether through its formulaic storylines or the predominantly whitewashed make-up of its casts, The Big Sick was a shot in the arm to the ailing romantic comedy in 2017. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon’s autobiographical account of falling in love is class incarnate, bypassing schmaltz as well as gross-out laughs – both staples of the form – to instead deliver musings on cultural expectations, religious disillusionment and chronic illness. Replete with delicate performances born from a wonderful script, The Big Sick is an ode to love and the absurd journeys we take to find it
Film has a tendency to condition us into believing that everything will be alright in the end. If only it were so. Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan’s sublime meditation on the complex legacies of guilt, is a kaleidoscope of careening emotions that exquisitely leads its viewer on a heart-wrenching and occasionally hilarious journey towards its shattering conclusion. Anchored by the combined forces of one of the great scripts and great lead performances of the 21st century, Lonergan’s instant classic culminates with a powerful, sobering message that things might not be completely alright, but they can be better.
There were fears that Blade Runner 2049 would neither live up to the hype for the new generation, nor appeal to the nostalgic tendencies of diehard fans. Luckily, in retrospect, those fears were unwarranted. From the opening credits, director Denis Villeneuve has us hooked in a visually stunning display that not only pays homage to its predecessor, but also adds value to the franchise in its own right. Boasting a beautifully vulnerable performance from Ryan Gosling and a welcome return from Harrison Ford, 2049’s dystopian future is just as utterly immersive as the original, and a worthy continuation of a cult classic.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth finally had a chance to reveal both his comic prowess and a great new haircut. This rip-roaring romp never takes itself too seriously, with the heavily CG adventure chock-full of silly, witty and farcical escapades. A brilliant supporting cast carries this silliness, with Jeff Goldblum being his wonderful self, and Loki and Thor’s relationship finally hitting its brotherly banterific stride. Director Taika Waititi has infused the franchise with a fresh energy and a good dose of that self-deprecating Kiwi humour. He gave the world something it so desperately needed in 2017: a good laugh.
So to recap, here’s our Top 20 to 11…
20th – LADY MACBETH
19th – JACKIE
18th – LOGAN
17th – O.J. MADE IN AMERICA
16th – PADDINGTON 2
15th – A GHOST STORY
14th – THE BIG SICK
13th – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
12th – BLADE RUNNER 2049
11th – THOR: RAGNAROK
Stay tuned each and every day for the remainder of 2017 to as count down our Top 10 films of 2017!
Thanks to Stephen O’Nion for the great images within our rundown!