Little White Lies

The 30 best films of 2017

From Lady Bird to Logan Lucky, these are our highlights from what’s been a mast year for new movies. How many have you seen?

With 2017 drawing to a close, it’s time once again to reflect on the films that have left the biggest impression on us over the past 12 months. As ever, this entirely unscientific ranking comprises only new features which received theatrical or digital distribution in the UK or US during the current calendar year. Once you’ve browsed the full list, please do share your thoughts and personal top 10 with us @LWLies. Here’s to plenty more fantastic films in 2018 and beyond…

30. Logan

What we said: “The success of the so-called “revisionist” comic book movie roll-out has allowed a movie like Logan the solid financial underpinning to exist. But where Deadpool was ‘regular comic book movie with swears’, Ant-Man ‘regular comic book movie with LOLs’, and Doctor Strange ‘regular comic book movie with Tilda Swinton’, this one has cantered even further off the reservation. It dares, appropriately, to mingle with the DNA.”

Read the full review

29. I Called Him Morgan

What we said: “Kasper Collin’s exceptional, atmospheric film avoids the hysteria and hyperbole of similar true crime documentaries to usher this delicate story in with a palpable sense of sorrow rather than a desire to retroactively point the finger of justice. There’s no hatred here, just regret. There are no conspiracies or attempts at highfalutin justification, just acceptance that some really bad things happen and that fate sometimes conspires to make those things even worse.”

Read the full review

28. Girls Trip

What we said: “Even the weaker comic set-pieces, such as one unfortunate incident of public urination while suspended from a Bourbon Street zip-line, come from a good-natured place. Most of the humour plays, and there’s no overstating just how good Haddish is, but chief among this film’s virtues is its eagerness to please. You want to love it as much as it loves you.”

Read the full review

27. Okja

What we said: “This is big, not-so-dumb fun with a girl travelling the globe to rescue her best friend from cash-grabbing evildoers. There’s only really one way out of this story, even if Bong does often likes to turn down darker, less scenic byways. And politically, the film trades in shrugging “you’re damned if you do…” pessimism rather than suggest we should all become vegans.”

Read the full review

26. I Am Not Your Negro

What we said: “Peck doesn’t attempt to encompass the entirety of Baldwin’s painful and prolific life like a more straightforward, cradle-to-grave biography might. But what emerges is a bracingly complete vision of Baldwin, a multi-chaptered portrait of the artist as a weary, conflicted, but purposeful man, newly returned from Paris and trying to determine his role in a vast America that seemingly has no place for him.”

Read the full review

25. Wonder Woman

What we said: “On paper, it sounds like we’ve been there and done that. But Wonder Woman is a more sedate and thoughtful work that we’d perhaps expect from the consistently disappointing DC brand imprint. And that’s down to the fact that Jenkins appears dedicated to making sure that the viewer retains a sense of space and geography at all times. The action is not lost between a flurry of scatter-gun edits, or slowed down at the expense of some extravagant camera trickery.”

Read the full review

24. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

What we said: “While delivering his lines in an uninflected monotone seemingly giving little away, Farrell’s remarkable contribution exudes unease from every pore, bringing an emotional veracity to these austerely pointed environs as a man daunted by the enormity of his responsibilities. Kidman makes an effective foil, the hardness in her looks simply intensifying the punishment.”

Read the full review

23. Raw

What we said: “Cannibalism is both metaphor and reality here. The triggering of Justine’s bloodlust coincides with her sexual awakening, and with her first tentative steps into womanhood, making her peculiar condition a clear figure for the emergence of unrestrained, animalistic appetites.”

Read the full review

22. The Death of Louis XIV

What we said: “Despite all the beliefs, rituals and superstitions, the film concedes that there is, in the end, nothing we can do to stall the inevitable. When the crumbling meat sack we refer to as our body decides that it’s time to head for the exit sign, then it’s time. This is a humanist work, looking at death as the one thing that aligns us all.”

Read the full review

21. Baby Driver

What we said: “It’s a visceral privilege to join Wright as he revels in the sheer bliss of screen kineticism, with Baby’s slightly pat grief narrative a tolerable respite for breath-catching between rollicking displays of technical firepower. And true to form, Wright shoehorns in enough amusing visual curlicues and pop ephemera in-jokes (a Paul Williams cameo here, a Buster Keaton-caliber physical sight gag there) to delight the cult that sprang up around his rightly vaunted Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.”

Read the full review

20. God’s Own Country

What we said: “For all the ways in which the subject matter apparently touches on very public issues (the economy of the land, LGBT rights, post-Brexit attitudes), in essence the film is absolutely intimate and personal, shaped by marvellously believable performances and ultimately achieving a heart-rending authenticity.”

Read the full review

19. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What we said: “Clearly inspired by her recent caustic turn in the Emmy winning HBO series Olive Kitteridge, McDormand kicks against convention and expectation, with an out-of-the-box performance that delivers what one would hope for, and so much more. McDonagh has said that he wrote the role specifically with McDormand in mind, and it shows – one can’t imagine anyone else pulling this off with such ferocity and style.”

Read our first-look review

18. Dunkirk

What we said: “What it lacks in terms of story, Dunkirk more than makes up for in style. Whether he’s shooting from the wing of a Spitfire, the deck of a wooden pleasure yacht or the bowels of a sinking naval vessel, Nolan infuses each frame with dazzling texture and attention to detail.”

Read the full review

17. The Post

What we said: “Another masterclass in storytelling from Spielberg, The Post is a slick, hopeful sort of film, brimming with optimism about the power of the people. It’s impossible to get away from the influence of the 2016 US election on the film’s script and staging, but thanks to powerhouse performances from Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, it nimbly avoids becoming overly preachy.”

16. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

What we said: “One of the things that has always set Star Wars apart from other sci-fi blockbusters is its total earnestness. It invites us to believe in a human struggle taking place in a fantastic setting. The Last Jedi is no exception, transporting us to distant reaches of a galaxy where anything is possible. Where anything has to be possible.”

Read the full review

15. The Beguiled

What we said: “This is Coppola’s funniest film to date, and also her straightest historic film to date. Still, it is very much a work by a maestro of heady melancholy. Beneath the exquisitely rendered visual and atmospheric gild is a passionate and brilliantly observed lament for female sexuality left to go to seed.”

Read the full review

14. My Life as a Courgette

What we said: “This is animation that dares to engage with uncomfortable reality, plain and simple. It is, among other things, a gorgeous hymn to the social care system and the work undertaken by people who have dedicated their lives to caring for the vulnerable and unfortunate.”

Read the full review

13. Song to Song

What we said: “As with Malick’s previous narrative feature, Knight of Cups, this one also dances around a set of characters whose personal traumas leave them blind to the natural beauty that surrounds them. There’s a biblical feel to this film in which lovers become so intwined with one another that they’re numbed to the elements – the peach-hued Eden of Austin and its dustbowl city limits.”

Read the full review

12. The Work

What we said: “The Work proves just how useful such an environment can be, especially for those addicted to the poisonous performance of hyper-masculinity. It shows truly brave men confronting gender norms that have hitherto served as interior prisons. This sometimes makes for uncomfortable or upsetting viewing, but courage and hope always sit at the forefront of every scene.”

Read the full review

11. Mudbound

What we said: “From the outset, Rees’ coolly majestic film displays all the trappings of a handsome prestige picture purpose built for the awards set, though it’s not long before a deeper, more lyrical work blossoms. As its story develops, we are allowed access to the inner monologue of most of the key players. These aren’t direct portals into the mind that offer instant emotional insight, more literary musings on life, the world, religion, family, economics and conflict.”

Read the full review

10. Good Time

What we said: “The setting is present-day New York City, yet the film’s ultra-gritty, gutter-level milieu instantly recalls the past masters of Gotham pulp: Abel Ferrara, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese. The Safdies were raised in Queens and Manhattan, and they populate their film with precisely the kind of scum which the city’s most famous fictional anti-hero, Travis Bickle, so aggressively stood up against.”

Read the full review

9. Get Out

What we said: “Landing its sharp social commentary somewhere between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Society, Get Out takes racism’s more traditional forms – slavery, incarceration, exploitation, blackface – for a new, thoroughly modern appropriative spin.”

Read the full review

8. Paddington 2

What we said: “What’s so satisfying here is the obvious amount of thought that has gone into every element of the film, from the dazzling visual designs to the cleverly reverse-engineered plot, and everything in between. King and his writing partner Simon Farnaby have proved themselves dab hands at wacky call-backs and long-lead punchlines, as off-the-cuff details from the beginning of the film all end up having deeper relevance later on.”

Read the full review

7. The Shape of Water

What we said: “The world of The Shape of Water is a movie world. One where its protagonists work in a secret government facility that hosts experiments on mysterious creatures snatched from the depths of South America. One where our heroine lives above a dilapidated revival-house screening double-features of biblical epics and swiftly forgotten musicals. One where a mute cleaning lady can fall in love with a god.”

6. Logan Lucky

What we said: “This one isn’t an overtly political film, as satire is a mode that’s beneath this master filmmaker. But its politics come as a natural byproduct of the way he and enigmatic debut screenwriter Rebecca Blunt plant real, unpredictable souls within familiar bodies.”

Read the full review

5. The Levelling

What we said: “This is naked, unadorned filmmaking that’s only interested in hacking emotions back to the marrow and making everything that appears within the frame count. It’s invigorating to be in the presence of someone in such control of a film and who clearly cares deeply about what viewers see, hear and feel.”

Read the full review

4. Lady Bird

What we said: “This coming-of-age story, set in 2002, takes the broad details of Gerwig’s upbringing in Sacramento, California and uses them to create moments full of spiky humour, all the while sketching a family set-up loaded with struggle. A standard growing pains set-up is given originality by a glorious script, written with relish for odd vocabulary choices and attuned to the faux casual way some teenagers present.”

Read our first-look review

3. The Florida Project

What we said: “Even though the world of this film consists of outstretched carparks, giant dumpsters, novelty fast food concessions and scads of overgrown scrubland, Baker constantly assures that there is always a dash of fairy dust in the air if you know where to look for it.”

Read the full review

2. Phantom Thread

What we said: “Though this is very much a PTA original in the way it playfully fudges the line between fastidiousness and spontaneity, the film it recalls the most is 1964’s Gertrud, the dour final work by the Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. Both films are concerned with the mysteries of love, but employing a unique (and uniquely austere) dramatic approach, they manage to drill right down to love’s masochistic core.”

Read the full review

1. Call Me by Your Name

What we said: “Like the book, Call Me by Your Name will almost certainly be championed as a vital queer text, but at its most nakedly unambiguous – as when Elio de-stones a piece of fruit with no intention of eating it, or when Marzia (Esther Garrel), the local girl with the long-term crush, makes a kind gesture just to let him know she still cares – the film is a profound study of the different ways people, regardless of their sexual orientation, process complex physiological impulses.”

Read the full review

Now share your personal Top 10 with us @LWLies

Published 14 Dec 2017

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Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.