The List Critics Top 10 Films of 2017 and the Year in Review
- Emma Simmonds
- 19 December 2017
The Disaster Artist
Film Editor Emma Simmonds looks back at the year in film as we reveal our critics' top 10
Whatever your political persuasion, 2017 gave us precious little in the way of good news and so it fell to film to cut a path through the gloom, whether as a means for escape, or to make sense of the murky issues that were around every corner.
Luckily at both ends of the budgetary spectrum cinema has thrived, with long-suppressed voices finding recognition, even if representation remains an issue.
This was the year that black filmmakers finally made their mark on the awards scene; Best Picture victor Moonlight shone brightest, with Fences and box-office smash Hidden Figures (made by white filmmakers but with a trio of black women at the fore) also nominated for the Oscars' top gong. Meanwhile, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th and eventual winner OJ: Made in America fought it out for Best Documentary. And looking forward to next year's show, the searing Netflix drama Mudbound and brilliant satirical horror Get Out are amongst the 2017 releases that look set to feature.
On the subject of the Academy Awards, the producers of much-lauded musical La La Land were initially handed the Best Picture statuettes in an astonishing mix-up by presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, before the shell-shocked cast and crew of actual winner Moonlight were called onto the stage.
It's been a superb year for LGBT cinema too, in films that remind us that sometimes love is all you need: Moonlight (again), Call Me by Your Name, The Handmaiden and God's Own Country were amongst the very best of the year.
British film proved it was in rude health by issuing a series of striking debuts, with Lady Macbeth, I Am Not a Witch and The Levelling amongst them. And Brexit might not have featured explicitly but it was there in the pro-immigration, Remainer-friendly message of God's Own Country, while the technically astounding Dunkirk echoed the patriotic fervour that fuelled some in the Leave camp. Moreover, political chaos on both sides of the pond found its reflection in The Death of Stalin's black as pitch farce.
There were the usual spate of high-profile flops (including, sadly, the critically adored Blade Runner 2049) but big-budget cinema delivered in an unprecedented and imaginative way. Highlights included the stripped-back brutality of Logan, the furious focus of War for the Planet of the Apes and the idiosyncratic humour of Thor: Ragnarok.
The spectacular downfall of uber-producer Harvey Weinstein, in a flurry of sexual abuse allegations, prompted scores of equivalently disturbing accusations relating to other Hollywood figures – the wretchedness of those accused finding its antithesis in the courage of those who spoke out. The onslaught of revelations left many conflicted about what we do with the art produced by such figures; one man at the centre of the storm, Casey Affleck, starred in two of the most acclaimed releases of the year – Manchester by the Sea and A Ghost Story – the former bagging him an Oscar.
On a less troubling note, German comedy Toni Erdmann put forth not one but two entries for scene of the year, with its formerly uptight heroine's initially reluctant rendition of 'Greatest Love of All' rivalling her greeting birthday party guests wearing only her birthday suit. The Florida Project was a gloriously non-judgemental kids'-eye-view of a rule-free existence and My Life as a Courgette adopted a similarly positive and humane approach to depicting difficult childhoods, complemented by adorable stop-motion figures.
From the raft of award contenders at the outset to laugh-fest The Disaster Artist, the 5-star lovability of Paddington 2 and the thrills of Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the close, on screen at least, it's been a year to savour.
The List Critic Top 10 of 2017
2. La La Land
4. The Florida Project
5. Blade Runner 2049
6. Get Out
7. Manchester By the Sea
8. Call Me By Your Name
9. Toni Erdmann
10. Lady Macbeth / God's Own Country (tie)
The List's top 10 poll was based on films released in the UK during the 2017 calendar year. Critics contributing include: Emma Simmonds (Film Editor), Nikki Baughan, Allan Hunter, Demetrios Matheou, Katherine McLaughlin, Karen Krizanovich, James Mottram, Eddie Harrison, Matt Glasby, Kevin Harley, Matthew Turner.