As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on what has been a stellar year for film. Here are my favourite movies that have been released in the UK in the past year:
La La Land
Despite being at the centre of the Oscars controversy back in February, La La Land is a captivating and charming musical with some standout performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. At the age of just 31, director Damien Chazelle produces a vintage masterpiece.
Manchester By The Sea
Casey Affleck won the Oscar for best actor after his powerful performance in Manchester By The Sea. He plays a janitor in Boston, leading a mundane and exiled life following a dark tragedy in his life. After learning that his older brother, has died, he finds himself back in his hometown of Manchester, where he discovers that he will have to look after his 16 year-old nephew.
Another strong performance comes from Andrew Garfield in this gritty true-story war thriller directed by Mel Gibson. The story follows a combat medic and conscientious objector who signs up for the army without the intention to carry a weapon causing much controversy. Hacksaw Ridge is a strong mixture of both war brutality and the compassion of courage and human spirit.
By no means the best animated feature of recent years, but Sing is still an enjoyable watch for people of all ages and boasts a strong voice cast of the likes of Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The story follows Buster Moon who puts on a singing contest in order to save his grand theatre. Sing will certainly leave you wanting to have a sing song.
Two strong leading performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis make Fences an incredibly engaging watch. Adapted from the Broadway production which also featured both actors, Fences follows the relationship between a wife and husband after the latter struggles to come to terms with events in his life. Powerful drama which is also directed by Washington.
The LEGO Batman Movie
When The Lego Movie was released back in 2014, it surprised many and turned out to be one of the best animated movies in recent years. The LEGO Batman movie follows a similar trend as the title character comically tackles the villains of Gotham whilst also coming to terms with his orphaned son.
It has been a big year for women in film for many reasons. With Hidden Figures, we were offered an insight into the unsung role of not only women, but black women, in the early days of the NASA space program. Three strong female lead performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer & Janelle Monáe contribute to this feel good historical drama.
John Wick: Chapter 2
The first John Wick was a pleasant surprise and some form of redemption for Keanu Reeves after a rocky period in his career. It was even more of a pleasant shock when the sequel proved just as enjoyable as John Wick gets back to kicking ass in the most stylish way possible.
Director Peter Berg perfectly tells the story and aftermath of the 2013 Boston bombings, whilst also capturing the incredible compassion and human spirit that exhumed as a result of the tragic events. Captivating and incredibly moving, Patriots Day is the perfect tribute to the heroes and victims of the Boston Bombings, also featuring a strong cast.
Without a doubt the best X-Men film, Logan takes character development to the next level as a weary Wolverine must care for a deteriorating Professor X whilst also having to deal with a young mutant who jeopardises his low-key status. Director James Mangold adds a darker, grittier edge to the Wolverine story and the result is a thrilling yet emotionally draining watch.
Kong: Skull Island
A strong cast assembles for this good old fashioned monster romp as a team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific where they come across the mighty Kong. Facing up against a number of other beasts, they must fight their way out in order to survive. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson all feature.
One of the best and most important films of 2017 is Jordan Peele’s Get Out. In what the director described as a “documentary”, the movie faces a number of racial issues as an African-American man meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Warm and welcoming initially, the setting soon takes a turn for the worse for main character Chris, brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya.
The Lost City of Z
The incredibly gripping story of The Lost City of Z follows true-life drama on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s. James Gray’s intriguing drama boasts a strong British cast of Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson.
A shootout set entirely in a warehouse may have been a risk taken by director Ben Wheatley, but it certainly pays off as he does a brilliant job of mixing action and comedy. Set in Boston in 1978, a powerful cast of Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer also contribute to this thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Going In Style
Zach Braff looked like he enjoyed directing movie royalty of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin in this feel-good crime caper. The movie sees three elderly life-long friends comically attempt to rob the very bank that has left them in financial difficulties.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge surprise upon its release in 2014 so there was much for James Gunn’s sequel to live up to. Perhaps failing to outdo its predecessor, the second instalment is a worthy sequel after much anticipation from Marvel fans. The squad will join the Avengers in next year’s Infinity War, after featuring in the recently released trailer.
Amongst the millions of movies that Dwayne Johnson seems to be appearing in nowadays, one of the more enjoyable ones was the outrageous, yet surprisingly enjoyable Baywatch reboot. Zac Efron also stars in a movie where morals need to be dropped in order to enjoy, but is worthy of a number of laughs and some cheap stunts.
Another one of the more ground-breaking movies of the year was Wonder Woman. In a time where the DC movie universe is in disarray, Wonder Woman has been the shining light for a number of reasons. Not only was the movie a thoroughly enjoyable watch, the first female directed superhero movie, based on a strong female lead character was just a couple of reasons why Wonder Woman is one of this year’s important films.
On of this year’s biggest hits was Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, where he fully portrays his brilliantly unique movie making techniques. A brilliant soundtrack backs up the story of a young getaway driver who is coerced into working for a crime boss along with a number of other disorderly criminals, whilst he also tries balancing new found love.
We caught a glimpse of Tom Holland as the web slinger in Captain America: Civil War last year, and his first full outing following those events is just as enjoyable. Tackling Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the perfect coming of age story for Peter Parker as he tries to juggle everyday teenage life with the fact that he is essentially now an Avenger.
Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece sees him tackle the incredible true events of Dunkirk. In typical Nolan fashion, the movie will have you gripped to your seat throughout and gives a perfect insight into the gritty and harsh conditions that British troops had to face and under so much pressure. A brilliant British cast also help make this masterpiece that much better.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
This animated feature is about as crazy as it sounds but is very much worth a few laughs thanks to some crude and clever jokes. The voices of Ed Helms and Kevin Hart also contribute to the comedic chaos based on the children’s books..
Charlize Theron stars in this brutal Cold War spy-thriller which sees her play a MI6 agent sent to Berlin to investigate the murder of a fellow agent as well as in order to retrieve a list of double agents. James McAvoy and John Goodman also star in this explosive and stylish thriller, directed by David Leitch.
Tom Cruise’s career has stumbled slightly in recent years, and he rapidly made amends for the monstrosity of The Mummy earlier this year with American Made. The movie follows the quite incredible true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s – a role which would lead him to bigger things. The movie is a light-hearted, but quite shocking take on his tale.
Kathryn Bigelow is a master at the docu-drama genre, and she does it again with the quite shocking Detroit. Fact based on the 1967 riots, the movie follows the actions of a group of rogue police officers and the victims of their out of line actions. British stars John Boyega and Will Poulter produce career best performances to bring home this powerful watch.
No one could have expected the huge success both financially and critically that It received. The latest reboot of the Stephen King novel is terrifying yet strangely heart-warming at the same time as we follow the coming of age story of a group of kids in the 1980s who must come together in order to fight off the mysterious forces that haunt their town, including a scary ass clown brilliantly portrayed by Bill Skarsgard.
One of the more underrated movies of the year sees Avengers stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner team up to investigate the death of a young Native American girl, with Renner’s character seeking redemption for a dark past. This chilling thriller will have you on the edge of your seat at times and director Taylor Sheridan captures the perfect tone for the movie.
Blade Runner 2049
It took 30 years for a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and there were many sceptics when it was announced a sequel was in the making. But any doubts were soon swept away when Denis Villenueve produced the most perfect of sequels to one of the movies of the 80s. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford star in this brilliantly dystopian and engrossing sci-fi.
Brawl In Block Cell 99
Vince Vaughn produces his career best performance and reminds everyone of his acting prowess in this brutal prison based drama. A former boxer turned drug-runner finds himself in prison and having to fulfil his end of a deal in order to protect his pregnant wife.
The Death of Stalin
Armando Iannucci’s brilliant dark satire, The Death of Stalin, is a shocking, yet comical reminder of the horrors of the Soviet Union and the Joseph Stalin regime. With an all-star line-up of Steve Buscemi, Jeffery Tambor, Michael Palin and a hatful of others, the movie is brilliantly cast with literally every character bringing something to the table.
Director Taika Waititi puts a slightly different spin on the Avengers franchise with the latest in the Thor series, and it is hilarious. Imprisoned, Thor finds himself pitted in a death match against former ally Hulk but has bigger fish to fry in Cate Blanchett’s Hela who threatens the Asgardian civilisation.
The first instalment of Paddington stole the hearts of many and the sequel even more so. A wonderfully warm and charming follow up, aided by an impressive British cast, including a brilliant Hugh Grant – Paddington 2 is one for all the family to enjoy with plenty of laughs and heartfelt moments.
Battle of the Sexes
Steve Carell and Emma Stone go head to head in the true story which saw Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King battle it out on the tennis court in 1973. The movie follows the many sub plots behind the match up including the extreme adversity that Jean King faced in the lead up. A powerful and heart warming watch with two strong lead actors at the helm.
We fell in love with Ethan Tremblay after his performance in 2015’s Room alongside Brie Larson. He melts our hearts once again in Wonder where he plays a boy with facial differences as he progresses through school having to deal with bullying. Julia Roberts is brilliant as his mother with Owen Wilson also starring in the movie based on the New York Times Best Seller.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of his career as Jeff Bauman, the man who lost both of his legs in the 2013 Boston Bombings. The movie follows the inspirational true story of the aftermath his injuries. Where Stronger differs from Patriots Day is where it cleverly focuses on the individual rather and his difficulties rather than the collective.
There are still a number of films that I look forward to seeing that were released this year so make sure to check back for any further inclusions!