Artwork by Chloe Leeson
According to Letterboxd, I have watched 303 films this year, all of them new to me, and 80 of those were 2017 releases in the UK. I don’t think its been the greatest year for films, and I felt nothing but disappointment from so many hyped movies (La La Land was actually soul crushing but not in a good way) but there has been a few standouts which I’ve scraped together to form this year’s Top 10.
10. The Big Sick (dir. Michael Showalter)
The most lovely and heart-warming and socially conscious romance film I seen this year. The film focuses on a young inter-racial couple in the form of Zoe Kazan (who is infinitely adorable, always)’s Emily and Kumail Nanjiani (playing himself) who meet at Kumail’s stand-up comedy show. It examines the strain put on a couple whose cultures are so different is a fresh take on the rom-com genre, with a welcoming and open spin on the overdone boy-meets-girl story. There’s obviously a spanner in the works though, Emily ends up with a lung infection and is placed into a coma, meaning Kumail has to try to keep her affections even whilst she’s unconscious. It’s funny and touching and devastating and all too real and the relationship is on and off like a lightswitch, tearing your heart apart at every turn.
9. Raw (dir. Julia Ducournau)
Horror films are important to me and women directed horror films are the most important. French Horror films are also usually very good and very extreme and everything I so longingly desire in my life. Julia Ducournau’s Raw takes place at veterinary school, where veggie Justine partakes in ‘hazing’ rituals that end up with her eating raw animal kidney’s that sparks a lust for flesh. The great thing about Raw is it combines a coming of age tale with the college party atmosphere we are so used to seeing in American movies with elements of New French Extremity and body horror that amalgamate in one huge fun riotous stance on desire, sex and women’s bodies. Its gory moments are so carefully selected they pack a massive punch with a dark comedic element whilst still remaining stomach churning and utterly unforgettable.
8. 20th Century Women (dir. Mike Mills)
There is nothing nicer to watch than boys being raised by powerful and interesting women; and 20th Century Women has a handful of them. With a cast of Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning at the helm it tells the story of 15 year old Jamie, who is raised by his mother (Annette Benning) in a boarding house in 1979, and how the women also living under that roof come to raise him and influence his life and learnings on women, sex, maturity, relationships and embracing himself. Its so incredibly rooted in the issues of its time and place, in the minor details of an era none of us here at SQ were even alive for, that makes this film so special. We learn from others, and we tell their stories and pass on their wisdom. It’s essentially a perfect mother-daughter or mother-son Sunday afternoon film, with some wickedly freeing dance scenes included, which is always a bonus right? However what it does lack is diversity, just because Greta Gerwig has red hair in it doesn’t mean you’ve covered all walks of life, the lack of WoC in this film is what doesn’t get it a higher ranking in this Top 10.
7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
What I would give to be inside Yorgos Lanthimos’ mind. His 3rd feature Dogtooth is one of my favourite films and The Lobster, his first English speaking film, was a darkly funny mindfuck. He kept Colin Farrell on board for this latest film about a surgeon who befriends the son of one of his deceased patients, who slowly unravels the bonds of his family. Apparently based on a Greek myth, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is one of the most unnerving and unsettling films I seen this year, and intricately upholds that atmosphere throughout its two hour run time. From its obnoxious and overly descriptive dialogue to its gristly images of children dragging their paralysed bodies along the floor to the clinical and oppressive nature of the high-tech hospital Farrell’s character works in, the film is a sterile and hostile experience in the absolute best way. In amongst a cast of stellar performances, Barry Keoghan’s turn as Martin is a complete breakthrough, so sinister yet so innocent that I didn’t even realise it was the same boy in Dunkirk until someone pointed it out to me.
6. The Disaster Artist (dir. James Franco)
For me, The Disaster Artist was everything that La La Land wasn’t. La La Land wasn’t a film for dreamers, it honestly depressed the life out of me, but The Disaster Artist gave me hope and laughs and a fighting spirit I’d thought I’d lost. James Franco’s latest director and leading man outing takes on the infamous ‘best worst movie ever’, ‘The Room’ and charts its creation and the journey of its director Tommy Wiseau from mysterious rich nobody to failed film director to a midnight movie icon. I’m down for basically anything that Seth Rogen and James & Dave Franco star in together, but for them to put together something with heart, a message and an ode to the worst of Hollywood but the people with the most guts in it, was incredibly special. It packs with gags, spot-on recreations of The Room’s most iconic scenes, and a seriously inspiring heart-felt tribute to Tommy in its final scenes that tied the film up nicely with a bow and made you believe that anything is possible.
5. Dunkirk (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Harry Styles in 1940’s period clothing? NICE. Tom Hardy with an unreal aviator jacket on basically just pouting the whole time? NICE. Shooting a war film without gratuitous violence or some weird religious message ingrained? EVEN NICER. I love me some gore, everyone knows that, I love that scene in Saving Private Ryan where that guy picks up his own leg and walks away from the beach with it. I personally love violent films, but when the horrors of war are all too familiar and recent for so many of Dunkirk’s viewers, its unnecessary. We don’t need to be reminded, we see violence every day. Christopher Nolan’s latest shows the heroism of war through simple human acts and straight-up bravery, not jazzed up patriotism and a salute to the flag. Its means are simple- rescue the men, but its fast paced move through sea, air and land press urgency like a ticking time bomb that the audience is constantly aware of. The desperation is real, the loss and sadness unfathomable, the cinematography a matte washed-out daze of blue and green and that sound design is the absolute MVP of 2017’s audio offerings.
4. Baby Driver (dir. Edgar Wright)
Coolest film of 2017 without a doubt. Slick, dynamic, funny and turns around some vintage bangers for a 21st century soundtrack smackdown. Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver whose constant use of music in his headphones helps him get criminals away from their heists in the fastest time possible. When he becomes involved with a beautiful waitress, he wants to leave the life behind and literally drive off into the sunset, but he risks both their lives every extra job he takes, accumulating in some kick ass car chases that are choreographed to perfection, every twist and handbrake turn beats to the sound of the music. It is almost impossible for me to comprehend how on earth Edgar Wright thought out all of these chases and how they would pace so perfectly. The script is witty and never stops for a break, ensuring that even Baby’s walks for coffee are meticulously sound-tracked to a long forgotten beat. Sure, its not got the English charm we love from the Cornetto trilogy but this is one heck of a blockbuster thrill ride, one that I could watch a thousand times over.
3. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)
I don’t care that everyone seen this last year, piracy is a crime and I waited my goddamn turn to see this in all its absolute beauty upon its UK release cause queer cinema needs our money and support!! Anyhow…. Barry Jenkins is a visionary, that is it pure and simple. Moonlight is the most delicate and simple tale of love I have probably ever seen. It’s quiet and forgiving and utterly beautiful but so powerful in its treatment and statement on black masculinity and queerness and its decades-spanning timeline flows like the waves of the sea the youngest incarnation, ‘Little’, stands in front of. Jenkins’ treatment of his characters is so gentle it feels like a comforting caress even in its harshest moments.
P.S Ashton Sanders is a fucking fashion iCON (get on his IG asap).
2. Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele)
Yes. This is what horror is all about. Jordan Peele’s debut offering Get Out takes us back to a time when horror was social commentary. This is They Live for the Trump era. With racism so prevalent in our society during the times of Trump and Brexit this story of a young black man who goes to visit his white girlfriend’s family for the first time is both deeply unsettling, darkly disturbing and all too familiar. After a day spent with girlfriend Rose’s parents and brother, Chris realises that all is not as it seems, and the black house and groundskeepers seem very uncomfortable and almost robotic. It’s a film that unravels fast and hard but the subtleties and clues are noted and appreciated more on a second viewing. Get Out discusses oppression, the selling of black bodies, whiteness and deep rooted racism all the while knocking out a tonne of scares (and not jump scares, hallelujah!!!!) and Caleb Landry Jones serving his usual white trash realness that I absolutely liVE FOR.
1. Mother! (dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Mother! is the one film of 2017 that I left the cinema mouth agape, trying to frantically process what I had just seen, all the while revelling in the orchestra of chaos that Darren Aronofsky had just conducted for me. Also one of the most controversial films of the year, yet I still stand by it, I stand by the violence and the hatred and the abuse and that baby scene because watching this was an unforgettable experience, and one that completely spurred me back into films after a few months of doing nothing and hating everything.
Aronofsky’s way of steadily building the mania to a crescendo, of JLaw’s annoyances about the sink not being braced, and the expanding amount of guests was like a spider slowly crawling up the back of your neck and there was nothing you could do about it. The camera moved in a hypnotic swirling manner surrounding by an electric buzz like static and there was action in every frame, loaded with allegory and metaphor in every second. Whilst the actual ‘meaning’ of the film has been explained, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to multiple theories and cases for and against the film in general, and I was never angered by anyone else’s opinion (rare for me). This is where mother! hooked me the most, it brought genuine discussion, (like Get Out) and a deep desire to find meaning, it wasn’t mindless fun or a blockbuster smash, but it brought me the sort of connection to other film fans that I needed this year.
by Chloe Leeson
Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screenqueens. She is 22 and from the north of England (the proper north). She believes Harmony Korine is the future and is pretty sure she coined the term ‘selfie central’. She doesn’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain but she does like Ezra Miller a whole lot. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, The Beach and Lords of Dogtown. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff.