Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Best Films of 2017

2017 might be best remembered as the year when certain people in Hollywood and their unpleasant behaviour was finally made public. With luck, it will hopefully shine a strong spotlight on this sort of behaviour to ensure it is stamped out for good. But anyway, aside from all that unpleasantness, this year also brought us a plethora of exciting films. A female led superhero film, a return to the world of replicants, a couple of incredible true stories about war, the end of one man’s remarkable portrayal of a character that he has played for nearly two decades, and of course the continuation of the new trilogy of adventures taking place in a galaxy far far away. Lots of great films, and so it is now time for me to cast my eye back on the last 12 months of so of film and select what for me ranks as the best of the best of the ones that I have seen.

A few things to note. There are certain releases on this list that you might be thinking were released in 2016. well certain films didn’t reach UK shores until 2017 and so that makes them eligible for this year’s list. But as is the case every year there are a select few films that get their main release in early January and if I get a chance to catch these in the first few weeks of the month, they will qualify for this year’s list. Also I unfortunately didn’t see every film that was released this year so apologies if your favourite film didn’t make my list as I may not have seen it. Lastly, anything that is released from this point onwards (e.g. Phantom Thread, Lady Bird) will be considered for the best films of 2018. These studios and their bizarre release dates…

Second, grades here have little impact on the ranking of these films. One film may get a higher grade or the perfect grade, it will not necessarily mean that film will be the best film of the year, this is my list of my favourite movies that I had the most fun with or enjoyed the most.  Before I get into the body of my list I do have some honourable mentions, films that were awesome and that didn’t quite make the list with there being 10 spaces, but were still a lot of fun. First up…

mother! (review) if ever there was one film that divided audiences right down the middle, this would be one particular example. Darren Aronofsky’s tale about a woman whose home is invaded was riddled with metaphors aplenty that explored a collection of really interesting and thought-provoking themes. Yet there were some scenes that were just downright messed up (if you have seen the film, you’ll likely know what I’m referring to.) Despite that, it was refreshing to see such a completely original concept be brought to the big screen, and this is a film that will be analysed for years to come.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (review) Yes I know I can hear the shockwaves around the galaxy already as to why this hasn’t made the actual list. It was a great addition to the saga as it took the characters that were introduced to us in The Force Awakens and took them in interesting new directions. For many fans, the big problem with Force Awakens was the fact that it felt too similar to A New Hope. As such director Rian Johnson was clearly trying to take the franchise in new directions, and while not everything was perfect, it was an enjoyable ride and sets up nicely for Episode IX.

Wind River (review) Taylor Sheridan made his directorial debut good and proper telling the story of the investigation surrounding the death of a young woman in the brutal Wyoming winter. Jeremy Renner perhaps gives his best performance as a hunter who discovers the young woman’s body and Elizabeth Olsen as the FBI agent leading the investigation. It’s a tense film that keeps you on the edge, particularly when we reach that third act and the action is turned up to the maximum.

Molly’s Game (review) Telling the true story of Molly Bloom, the woman who ran elite high stakes poker games, until she ran into a bit of bother with the law. In a superb leading performance, Jessica Chastain carries the film on her shoulders as we watch her go the crushing lows that wrecked early career aspirations to the ensuing trouble that surrounds her poker career. Under the stewardship of master screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who also makes his directorial debut, in triumphant style.

The Big Sick (review). When there’s a lot  of films in one particular genre that are very similar, it runs the risk of all just becoming a bit stale. Thankfully every once in a while, one comes along that is a breath of fresh air. Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani who despite his parents attempts to arrange a marriage for him, falls for a woman, except when she falls ill, it really tests their relationship. With sincere heartfelt performances at its core, alongside tremendous comedic turns from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. A very refreshing new take on the rom-com genre.

Honourable mentions done, time to crack on with the main list and we begin with…

10. Wonder Woman

Full Wonder Woman review

Just what the doctor ordered for the DCEU. Fans might have had little hope of seeing a great DCEU film after experincing a rough start. This is until Diana of Themyscira came along. Telling the origins story of Wonder Woman and how she came to be the all powerful hero we know and love. It was so thrilling to see a female led superhero film, the first one that we have really had since the genre has been thriving since the mid to late 2000s, be such an exciting blast.

Gal Gadot picked up where she left off from BVS and delivered a truly exceptional performance. Chris Pine was also in excellent form as Steve Trevor, Diana’s love interest. The action, particularly that superb No Man’s Land sequence was enthralling. While the last act did drag the film down a bit, it was still a wonderful breath of fresh air for the superhero genre, and one would hope that more female driven superhero films will follow.

9. Darkest Hour

Full Darkest Hour review

The film that is surely going to end Gary Oldman’s long wait for that first elusive Oscar. With the country, indeed the entire continent of Europe at war, the United Kingdom needed a leader, and that man was Winston Churchill. The rest, as they say, is history. Oldman gives such a convincing and authentic performance and he carries the film tremendously well as he battles with those who are desperate to undermine him and his position.

Oldman is strongly  supported by the likes of Kristen Scott Thomas and Lily James. With excellent production design and cinematography that captures 1940s London superbly, with a stirring screenplay from Anthony McCarten. This is another fascinating insight into one of the most intense periods of British history.

8. Baby Driver

Full Baby Driver review

One of the main contenders for the coolest characters of 2017 is Ansel Elgort as the lead character in Edgar Wright’s latest film, which was perhaps the most stylish film that has been released all year, as well as being a rare piece of completely original story-telling. Elgort was electric in the lead role as the getaway driver who works for a mob boss in order to pay off a debt. The action scenes were so well cut together and with an absolutely stellar soundtrack to boot, it made for some superb edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

With an equally stellar supporting cast including great turns from Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and he-who-shall-not-be-named. It was a heist film with a lot of heart and one of Wright’s finest films.

 

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Full, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review

When someone you love passes away, the grief and sadness can be extremely difficult to recover from. So what do you do when that someone is murdered but there have been no arrests? Well one woman’s answer is to rent the use of three billboards outside her town to force the authorities into action. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this is an extremely dark comedy focusing on one woman’s relentless mission to get justice. With a stunning performance from Frances McDormand and tremendous turns from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, it is a film that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end.

6. Thor: Ragnarok

Full Thor: Ragnarok review

Third time was certainly the charm for the God of Thunder. His first two films while enjoyable were not exactly the cream of the MCU crop. However in comes New Zealand director Taika Waititi to give us by far and away the best Thor film, and also the funniest and maybe even the funniest MCU film we have had yet. As the villainous Hela comes back to claim the throne of Asgard, Thor finds himself in a mission with everyone’s favourite green rage monster in a mission to reclaim the throne.

Waititi fuses his delightful brand of humour, in a film that is buddy cop comedy meets superhero. Hemsworth is once again brilliant as Thor, likewise for Tom Hiddleston as Loki. In addition, we got introduced to Jeff Goldblum basically playing himself in a fancy costune, and Tessa Thompson as the badass Valkyrie. It’s vibrant, colourful and oh yeah, it has one of the best MCU side characters ever in Korg who steals every minute of screen time he has. Korg solo film anyone?

5. Dunkirk

Full Dunkirk review

Christopher Nolan is without a doubt one of the finest directors working today. His films are always so immaculately well made and he has almost never disappointed. Here with his latest, he continues that trend and gives us a truly superb war film that tells the story of the Dunkirk evacuation. Telling this story in three separate strands and weaving them together so expertly is a ballsy move, but Nolan made it work. The use of practical effects in as many scenes as possible added so much authenticity to the film.

A gripe that many seemed to have was the lack of character development on any of the characters, and it would be fair to say that while this was in short supply, the acting was superb from just about everyone and it made it such a hard-hitting, emotional watch to the extent that the impact of the film is vast and along with another war film that is yet to appear on this list, it will go down as one of the most breath-taking war films ever made. With yet another nearly flawless film added to his filmography, it makes you wonder is there any genre that Nolan cannot conquer?

4. War for the Planet of the Apes

Full War for the Planet of the Apes review

APES. TOGETHER. STRONG. After two stunning films in this rebooted franchise, the stage was set for the perfect film to close out this superb trilogy and boy did director Matt Reeves do just that, and in incredible style too. Andy Serkis’s work in bringing Caesar to life is just simply extraordinary and it’s about damn time his work was recognised with an Oscar nod. Despite the film’s title, there isn’t much of a war to be found in terms of all out guns blazing warfare. Given how we have watched Caesar grow from a young chimp to be this battle hardened leader of the Apes, to see him at the end of his tether here made for some insanely riveting viewing.

Nevertheless the film still managed to be a gripping story this is still a superb film about family, conflict and your place in a very chaotic world. Caesar once again stole the show, but Woody Harrelson deserves praise for his work as the vicious Colonel. Though more films are bound to follow, this closed the book on what is an absolutely fantastic trilogy.

3. Logan

Full Logan review

Every once in a while, a superhero film comes along that becomes so much more than just your regular superhero flick. A film that becomes something more, a deeply personal story that transcends the comic book genre, and that is precisely what Logan is. Right from the off, you just know that is going to be a very different type of Wolverine film than what we had previously seen. The violence is turned up to the maximum, which made absolutely perfect sense given the nature of the character.

Hugh Jackman has made this role his own, and given that it was his last time playing the role after 9 films and 17 years, he couldn’t have gone out on a better note, it might just be his best ever turn in the role. Likewise for Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. It was a tough watch to see these two guys at pretty much their lowest ebb as they work to protect a young mutant named Laura played superbly by Dafne Keen. The prospect of a solo film with her is certainly a very intriguing one.

2. Blade Runner 2049

Full Blade Runner 2049 review

After directing the exceptional Sicario and Arrival, up next for Denis Villeneuve was the sequel to one of the most influential films of the sci-fi genre maybe ever. It was an enormous challenge and fans might have wondered if it was ever going to live up to the original. Thankfully, this is one of the finest sequels ever made and a perfect companion piece to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece. It honoured what came before it, but also created a truly riveting and compelling story to tell, with some of the most beautiful cinematography that has graced the big screen this whole year. Each frame of this film was just dripping with breath-taking visuals that were dazzling to the eyes. Seriously give Roger Deakins a damn Oscar already!

Ryan Gosling was superb as K, and Harrison Ford once again excelled in the role of Deckard. It was everything fans of the original could have hoped for and delivered an exceptional film that might just be even better than the original, and that is a remarkable accomplishment. Villeneuve emphatically proved that as a director he is at the very top of his craft and it will be fascinating to see what project he takes on next.

And so my #1 film of 2017 is

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1. Hacksaw Ridge

Full Hacksaw Ridge review

I won’t beat around the bush here. No film that I saw in 2017 had a bigger impact on me than Hacksaw Ridge, and no film left me just completely speechless walking out of it as this film did. As a history student, the Second World War was always one of my favourite periods to study, and the fact that I hadn’t come across this story just astounded me as it is one of the most inspirational stories of the war. Telling the story of Desmond Doss, a man who wanted to serve his country but due to his religious beliefs, refused to carry a gun. It seems ludicrous to even do such a thing but the film does an exceptional job of making you understand why Doss believes the way he does.

It’s once we get to Hacksaw Ridge itself is where the film completely changes its focus and becomes an absolutely brutal war film, with some of the most pulsating action sequences in perhaps any war film since Saving Private Ryan. The violence here isn’t glorified, it just feels so frighteningly realistic and it makes you realise that war is brutal. Andrew Garfield as Doss gave a career best performance that for my money should have won him an Oscar. I won’t reveal the true extent of this man’s heroics in case you don’t know, but the fact he did what he did, all while refusing to carry a gun is just absolutely incredible. It is one of the best war films ever made and is my number 1 film of 2017. After I saw it, I wondered if anything would top it all year long, but nothing managed to displace it.

That is a wrap on my list of the best films of 2017. What are your top 10 best films of 2017?  Be sure to follow my Twitter and don’t forget to like Through the Silver Screen on Facebook to ensure you never miss another review of mine! Let us hope that we are treated to more cinematic gold on the big screen in 2018.

Posted in Film Feature, Ranking

Ranking 2017 Superhero Films

Another year passes, and another collection of superhero ensembles and solo flicks have graced the big screen once again. It certainly was an interesting year with Marvel continuing to dominate the market. Meanwhile, DC trying to get their Extended Universe back on track, as well as one beloved character bowing out after a staggering amount of time in the role. It was quite the year but what stood out among the best of the best?

Anyway, with that said and done, it’s now time to grab the Lasso of Truth (well kind of) and rank 2017’s superhero flicks from worst to best, starting with…

7. Justice League

Click here for my Justice League review

It’s fair to say that five films in, the DC Extended Universe hasn’t exactly been a roaring success that it would have hoped to be. Though Wonder Woman certainly helped get things on track, the familiar feel of production problems certainly effected DC’s answer to the Avengers. With director Zack Snyder stepping down from the post production process due to a family tragedy, Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film and oversee some reshoots. Though the film has polarised both fans and critics alike (not for the first time for DC) there is much to like about this. For one it does combine Snyder’s flair for visuals with Whedon’s ability to create funny dialogue. And seeing the team unite for the first time was undeniably a pleasure to watch, with memorable turns from Wonder Woman and a very exciting debut for Ezra Miller as Barry Gordon AKA The Flash. It’s not on the same level as The Avengers, but it does represent a step in the right direction for DC.

6. Spider Man Homecoming

Click here for my Spider-Man Homecoming review

Having made his glorious MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, a solo Spidey film with him very much a part of the MCU was almost inevitable. As such, with a little bit of reorganisation, Spider-Man got his big screen MCU bow in the middle of the third phase of its cinematic universe. Tom Holland once again gave a superb performance as everyone’s friendly neighbourhood web-crawler, giving the character that real high school authenticity that had been somewhat lacking from the likes of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. While the story doesn’t exactly break any new ground in terms of what we have seen on the big screen for Spider-Man,  Spidey battles Adrian Toombes AKA the Vulture. Given the MCU’s well documented trouble with villains, he was certainly one of the better ones we have seen, as you understood his motivations and he had a connection to Peter that made it all the more interesting to watch. It doesn’t top the first two Raimi Spidey flicks, but it’s certainly a vast upgrade on everything that came after those two films.

5. Lego Batman Movie

Click here for my Lego Batman review

In the wake of the extremely entertaining Lego Movie, comes a spin off movie of equally hilarious Batman shaped proportions. With plenty of visual references to Batman and all of his previous incarnations, this film is paradise for all who are fans of Batman, which let’s be honest who isn’t, if someone says they’re not, don’t believe them cos they’re only kidding themselves. Will Arnett returns to voice this animated version of the Caped Crusader and Zach Galfianakis as the latest incarnation of the Joker, and considerably more well received than poor Jared Leto’s take on the character. The animation is great and the plot is extremely entertaining, albeit  it does get a little bit on the silly side at times, but when it’s this much fun to watch, no one is really going to mind.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2

Click here for my Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 review

When 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy came along, it was such a wonderful breath of fresh air for the MCU, giving us a look at new characters the overwhelming majority of us had likely never even heard of. It was fun, hilarious and overall just really enjoyable. So it’s little surprise that for the sequel, James Gunn chose to replicate the formula that worked to such great effect the first time around. However, while that still makes for an entertaining flick, it doesn’t have quite the same impact as the first Guardians movie. That being said, all of the team remain very fun to watch, it continues the humour from the first film, and yes Baby Groot is freaking adorable. The story is entertaining but certain elements do bog it down, and furthermore it doesn’t retain that freshness and originality that the first movie brought.

3. Wonder Woman

Click here for my Wonder Woman review

DC’s cinematic universe wasn’t exactly going well prior to the release of this film, Suicide Squad and BVS had endured rough reactions from fans and critics, and well it wasn’t looking good for the future of the DCEU. Enter Patty Jenkins to tell the story of Wonder Woman, and give us by far and away the best film that the DCEU has brought us and one that will hopefully open the floodgates for more female led superhero movies. Gal Gadot proved to be the perfect choice to play our titular heroine, she had the necessary charisma to carry the film on her shoulders, brilliantly combining such ferocity with compassion and a strong willed desire to do the right thing. With Chris Pine in equally superb form, watching Wonder Woman enter the battlefield in the heart of the First World War, and be an absolute badass particularly in the No Man’s Land sequence made for one of the standout moments of cinema in 2017 for sure.

2. Thor: Ragnarok

Click here for my Thor: Ragnarok review

Thor Ragnarok marked the staggering 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it without doubt takes its place as one of the best. Marking Thor’s 3rd solo film, it defied the notion that the third film is always the worst in the trilogy as this is by far better than the previous two films. Setting up events that are very much likely to play a part in next year’s Infinity War. Directed by the delightful Taika Waititi, this film was humorous right from the word go and it never lets up. This was the MCU’s version of a buddy cop film but instead starring Thor and Bruce Banner, and one of the FUNNIEST characters that the MCU has ever given us in Korg, the loveable bunch of rocks ably voiced by Waititi himself, battling against the villainous Hela played tremendously well by Cate Blanchett. It was exciting, funny, extremely colourful and exhilarating to watch.

1. Logan

Click here for my Logan review

What a way to bow out of a role and a franchise that for 17 years you have made your own. Logan marked the last time that Hugh Jackman will play the iconic character of Wolverine, and he couldn’t have gone out on a better note. Immediately director James Mangold lets you know what kind of film you’re about to watch. Right from the off, this was a much darker, and considerably more violent portrayal of the character than we have ever seen previously with quite a bit more blood and vulgarity, and all the better for it. As Logan must look after the ailing Professor X and young Laura who has some mysterious people after her. It’s a mash up between Wolverine and The Last of Us, and it’s by far and away the only superhero film that could have a legitimate shot and picking up some acting nods at this year’s Oscars. That could be wishful thinking but with an ending that will almost certainly leave you a blubbering mess, the work that Jackman has done with this character has been so extraordinary over all this years. As such, it will be an almighty task for anyone to take on this role in the future.

Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know what your ranking would be by commenting below or tweeting me at @thrsilverscreen.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Logan (2017)

logan
Image is property of Marvel Entertainment, Kinberg Genre, Hutch Parker Entertainment, The Donners’ Company and 20th Century Fox

Logan – Film Review

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant

Director: James Mangold

Synopsis: Set in 2029, Logan, whose powers are on the wane,  is spending his days out of the spotlight  until he gets dragged back to the conflict when he is charged with the protection of a young girl, whose powers are remarkably similar to his own.

Review: When any actor plays a character for a remarkable length of time, sooner or later, they will eventually have to say farewell to that character. Therefore when an actor does make that decision to say adieu to a character, especially if it is a one that he has become perhaps most well known for, there is an understandable desire to ensure that the character goes out on the highest note possible. Ever since he first took on the role of the clawed mutant, all the way back in 2000, Hugh Jackman has become synonymous with this character and so he’ll have undoubtedly wanted one last hurrah before he hangs up the claws for good. With this being the third solo Wolverine movie, after one awful miss and one solid hit, it is safe to say that this is most definitely third time lucky.

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For a while now, superhero movies didn’t elect to go down the hard R, extremely violent, action route. This is of course until a certain Mr Deadpool came along last year and changed the game. Thus for this outing, the decision was made to follow in the footsteps of the Merc with a Mouth and go for violence, lots of bloody violence, and for a character like Wolverine, it was the perfect route to go down. As well as the gritty violence, there’s no shortage of profanity too from Logan but also from an actor who let’s just say you never thought you would hear drop quite a few F bombs, but seeing it happen, is rather glorious. Jackman has shone every time he steps into Logan’s shoes, but here might just be his best ever work in the role. He’s a very jaded soul, and his powers are dwindling, but he’s still the ultimate badass, and likewise for Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Having watched these characters before, be at such breaking points, is by no means easy to watch, but both REALLY excel.

Writer and director James Mangold ensures that the screenplay packs plenty of emotion into it, this is no small part due to the fact that Logan is charged with the protection of a mutant named Laura, who is being hunted by some dastardly people for reasons that shall not be disclosed here. Though the plot moves forward at a steady pace, there are moments where it does falter a little bit, but they are momentary lapses. Though 2013’s Wolverine had a few shaky cam issues, there’s none of that here, as the action is shot beautifully. Dafne Keen, for one so young, never seems lets the pressure of being in a big budget Hollywood movie faze her, as she excels in what is a remarkable breakthrough performance. There are scenes between the three main protagonists that are truly touching and by the end you may find yourself fighting back some tears.

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It truly is the end of an era, as Jackman is looking very unlikely to pick up the claws again. Having played the role nine times across an incredible seventeen years, with for the most part, phenomenal success, it certainly is the role that has defined Jackman’s illustrious career, and one he has made his own. What’s more, this movie gives him the perfect swansong that he and the character absolutely deserve. Should they ever decide to recast the role in a future movie (which seems an absolute certainty) the new actor will certainly have some very big claws to fill.

This is the Wolverine movie that the fans have been begging for, and have finally received. Dark, gritty, very violent and a superb final turn as the claw wielding mutant for Jackman. 

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