Nat’s Top 10 Movies for 2017

It’s a personel moment when a film reaches into your mind to take you on a journey.  And I’m happy to say this is what the films below have given me over the past year.

Being an avid fan of the horror/thriller I was surprised when I realised  IT didn’t make it into my top 10 for 2017.  However, after a re-watch I found that, although a great coming-of-age film (still rating:★★★★), IT was more a monster movie than a thriller with Pennywise a little too animated for my taste.

So, brace yourself because it was more about the suspense and intellectual thrill that tickled the grey cells this year, with a bit of humour thrown in the mix.

10.

MOONLIGHT

Drama ★★★★☆ (4.2/5)

Moonlight is unique in that it’s both raw and subtle, creating something else, a feeling that stays with you that’s beautiful because it’s laid bare.  What a rarity and an experience you won’t soon forget.

9.

DUNKIRK

Action / Drama / History ★★★★☆ (4.2/5)

Nolan has used his talent to bring the true story of Dunkirk to the screen without over-dramatising, allowing us to admire the courage and valour of the civilians of Britain who saved more than 330, 000 soldiers’ lives.

Suspense like a ticking time-bomb.

8.

WIND RIVER

Crime/Mystery ★★★★☆ (4.2/5)

After writing the screenplay for the two highly regarded crime/thrillers, Sicario (2015) – which I gave a 5/5, and, Hell or High Water (2016), Taylor Sheridan has returned as writer and as director (debut) of the crime/mystery, Wind River: a tragedy based on actual events, beautifully told, where each moment, word and gesture show more than just the surface.

7.

GOOD TIME

Drama/Arthouse ★★★★☆ (4.2/5)

The Safdie brothers (Josh and Ben) return with their fifth feature film, building on their gonzo-style street films with Official Selection and winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award, Good Time.

And I was hooked from the opening scene.

6.

PADDINGTON 2

Comedy for kids but made to be enjoyed by all: Hillarious! ★★★★☆ (4.2/5)

When any thought of reality is overwhelmed with wonder.

5.

BLADE RUNNER 2049

SciFi ★★★★☆ (4.3/5)

Atmospheric and quietly menacing.

And that’s the quality of the film, subtle: complicated emotions yet, made to feel simple.  A kind of gentle unfolding with an underlying darkness driving life into the shadows, but the shadows fighting back, like life…

Ah, don’t you love it when a movie makes you feel all moody when you leave the cinema!

4.

SUBURBICON

Comedy/Crime/Mystery ★★★★1/2

Deadpan delivery of the clever, the very dark and the very funny.

3.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Fantasy/SciFi ★★★★1/2

Rian Johnson also wrote and directed, Looper (2012) and has brought that same attention to the script here, revealing layer upon layer of story to take the audience on a journey totally unexpected.

No other word to describe: Epic!

2.

Miss Sloane

Drama / Thriller ★★★★☆ (4.6/5)

This is a thoroughly absorbing film because its cleverness is combined with an undercurrent of emotion that’s felt without needing explanation. 

Classy and smart all the way – brilliant.

1.

MOUNTAIN

Documentary ★★★★★

Unbelievable as it may be, but a documentary tops my list of best films of 2017: I felt like my soul was being fed by this symphony of poetry, imagery and sound.

A combination of sound and stomach clenching cinematography creates a thrill as people fly down slopes or jump into the air 1000s of feet above the earth, death defying leaps, where there really must be an element of insanity, to even think, yet, it’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling alive.

Enjoy!

Dunkirk

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MDunkirk

Written and Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Music by: Hans Zimmer

Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

I’m still trying to figure out the feeling, that swell in the chest I felt while watching Dunkirk.  Whether it was pride or love of humanity or patriotism, Dunkirk was an emotive intersection of timelines during Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of troops from, Dunkirk, France, during World War II.

The film focuses on three different Fronts from:

1. The mole: Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) the soldier who’s been on the ground for a week;

2. To the steadfast Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) for a day;

3. To Farrier (Tom Hardy) the pilot of a Spitfire in the air for an hour.

All of these men are fighting the same war and all of these men are either trying to escape or save the men surrounded by the Sickle Cut (war strategy) the German forces have maneuvered on French soil; the Allied forces stranded on the beach where they desperately wait for ships to take them back to Britain, just across the channel:

Commander Bolton: You can practically see it from here. 
Captain Winnant: What? 
Commander Bolton: Home.

With leaflets falling from the sky depicting the hopelessness of their effort to escape – an arrow pointing: ‘You are here’, surrounded by the enemy and literally being pushed into the sea only to be picked off by fighter pilots dropping bombs, the soldiers watch battleships sink, one after the other to then watch the tide bring in the dead.

But this film isn’t about blood and guts, Dunkirk is about celebrating the small victories and how all those victories eventually add up.

Hence that swell in the chest because there’s this overriding feeling of people doing the best they can and somehow the everyday civilian can make all the difference: Sometimes doing right, wins.

Take that notion and add the suspense of the desperation to escape, full credit going to Hans Zimmer and his soundtrack creating tension with music like a ticking time-bomb.  Director and writer, Christopher Nolan uses little dialogue, instead it’s about the words unspoken, just a nod here and the audience knowing the music is building.

There’s a simplicity to each scene combining the different threads of storyline in real time like a formula pulled together by sound: the low thud of bombs, the droning of jets, the running of boots on sand and bullets popping through the hull of a ship like copper coins hitting tin.  There’s much to be said about the soundtrack, but watching the film on IMAX with that big square screen?  Can I say it didn’t really need it?  But what am I saying, go see that expanse of beach and ocean on IMAX – why not?

Dunkirk

The effort to film the movie on 65mm film (transferred to 70mm for projection) brings the story to life all the more, leaving little room for error.  Dunkirk is such a solid film, with such beautifully orchestrated performances (was also a win to see Harry Styles finally get a haircut!) to see the views from air to the beach to under the water on such a large screen just added more to an already impressive project.

Lastly, I just want to say I usually struggle with war films.  The reality of the violence of war makes my blood boil. I love the fact that there’s no unnecessary violence here.  We all know what happens when a bomb goes off.  We don’t need to see or imagine our ancestors or grandparents getting blown apart.

Nolan has used his talent to bring the true story of Dunkirk to the screen without over-dramatising, allowing us to admire the courage and valour of the civilians of Britain who saved more than 330, 000 soldiers’ lives.

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