Posted by: themoviecheese | January 25, 2018

Tom’s Top 20 Films of 2017, part 1 (20-11)

Tom’s Top 20 Films of 2017, part one (20-11)

20. Colossal

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Anne Hathaway suddenly discovers she is directly connected to a destructive phenomenon taking place in South Korea. Sounds it could be a Denis Villeneuve sci-fi drama. However, this is Nacho Vigalondo’s brutally original sci-fi comedy. Hathaway’s Gloria is a tremendously deep character, and that’s what ultimately gives the film its weight. She’s suffering from a “monster” of a problem in that she’s moving back in with her parents, but she’s also suffering from another “monster” problem in that she’s, well, controlling a monster that’s currently laying waste to South Korea. Hathaway and the rest of the cast are great, and the screenplay is genuinely refreshing.

19. Free Fire

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After a couple of arty efforts (High Rise & A Field In England) Ben Wheatley returns with a true genre film. Featuring a blistering cast that includes the likes of Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson and Wheatley regular Michael Smiley, Free Fire sees a small group of IRA attempting to buy guns from an arms dealer during the 1970s. Intricately shot, and taking place entirely in one abandoned warehouse, this is definitely Wheatley’s most crowd-pleasing film. As you can probably gather from the plot and the cast, the deal turns south very quickly and it’s hugely enjoyable watching this cast of colourful characters insult one another whilst all the bullets whizz and cling around the warehouse’s walls.

18. Shin Godzilla

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Shin Godzilla proves that there is only really one true home for the big man, and that is Japan. Whilst it’s no wear near the best Japanese Godzilla film, its way ahead of both the 1998 and 2014 American efforts. Shin Godzilla (Or Godzilla Resurgence as it’s known in the West) is actually a semi-remake of the 1954 Japanese original, re-imagining the first time that man has encountered the big guy. One of my favourite things about the film is that Zilla’s origin is rewritten – in this, it is the American government that dump nuclear waste leading to the creation of Godzilla. The film is actually somewhat light on destruction, and those complaining that 2014’s film didn’t contain much Godzilla may have the same complaint here. Still, what separates the two films ultimately is that this film has genuinely well written characters.

17. Wonder Woman

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Warner Bros have had some serious trials when it comes to launching their DC Cinematic Universe. Leave it to Patty Jenkins to take arguably the most exciting character to come out of Batman v Superman and create one of the most invigorating superhero films since RDJ’s first Iron Man. It’s to Warner Bros’ credit that they hired comic book writer Allan Heinberg to pen the screenplay, and indeed the writing is one of Wonder Woman’s strongest points. Simply put, Heinberg really knows this character. Scenes of Diana eating her first ice cream, or the various moments where she just can’t understand why humans act the way they do – absolutely brilliant, and bolstered by a hugely confident performance from Gal Gadot. Likewise, Jenkins’ directing hits every note. The “No Man’s Land” sequence is simply one of the most incredible superhero moments of the past 10 years.

16. The Breadwinner

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Ignore the fact that Angelina Jolie is all over he promo’s. She had very little to actually do with this. Regardless, the hype is real – The Breadwinner is a stunning film. One of the bravest and forthright animated films in decades. Centering on a young Afghan girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to push through the misogynistic barriers of her country so she can feed her family. This is gritty, heart wrenching stuff with some truly fantastic voice acting. It’s got Oscar bait written all over it, but God damn if it isn’t deserved.

15. Split

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“A true return to form for the director” is a sentence that’s thrown around way too often in the world of film, but it really rings true in the case of M Night Shyamalan’s Split. After a plethora of just downright terrible films, Shyamalan has returned with the genre that made him famous, delivering a taut thriller with a stupendous central performance. James McAvoy stars as Kevin, a man suffering from a split personality disorder. He has 23 personalities in total, but there is actually a 24th that has yet to surface and could prove to be the most dangerous. McAvoy is brilliant, and Shyamalan is fantastic at building tension, right up until the jaw-droppingly left field ending.

14. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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Hands down the boldest and most unpredictable Star Wars film of the entire saga. No other film in history has split audiences down the middle as this one has, and it’s really clear to see why. Rian Johnson has delivered a film that still feels like Star Wars, but bolsters the entire series in an entirely new direction that we’ve never seen before. For the first time since the 80s, we have absolutely NO idea what the next Star Wars film will even be about, and I for one find that incredibly exciting. The Last Jedi features some of the best performances we’ve ever seen in a SW film. Hamill is great in a role that takes his heroic Jedi in an entirely new direction, but one that is ultimately incredibly satisfying. For me though, its Adam Driver that *ahem* drives the film into brilliance. He is simply phenomenal in his line delivery and portrayal of arguably the most emotion-stricken character we’ve ever seen in a Star Wars film. All in all, what I got from The Last Jedi is something that has been absent from every single Star Wars film before it – true organic storytelling. The film doesn’t pander to an onslaught of fan service, and its a much better film for it.

13. La La Land

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In La La Land, Damien Chazelle delivered two hours of pure fun. A delightful love story featuring career defining turns from both Gosling and Stone. I’ve actually never been much of a fan of Gosling. I enjoyed Drive, but I’ve never been a fan of actors who continuously present the same acting style regardless of what role they are playing (see: Denzel Washington). Quiet, brooding and loner can be applied to pretty much every Gossling role so far, but at least in La La Land i discovered something slightly different. I actually really related with the character because I saw a little of myself in his characterisation. The one thing I will say about La La Land is that the songs are much better if you isolate them outside of the film. The film contains pin sharp choreography, and I did find it difficult to really appreciate the lyrics due to this. Watch the film once, and then listen to the songs seperately…then watch the film a second time and you’ll appreciate it a lot more, having already isolated the music/songs.

12. Blade of the Immortal

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Takashi Miike further proves he is the hardest working director in the world by releasing his 100th (100!) film Blade of the Immortal. Manji is a samurai who was blessed (or cursed) with immortality by a witch. Years later, he agrees to help young girl Rin take revenge on the clan that have wiped out her family. One of Miike’s biggest films without doubt, and one of his most instantly accessible in years. It moves at a breakneck pace, despite the 140 hour runtime. The opening scene especially is fantastic. The fights are why we are here, and they are superbly choreographed, especially the frankly verging on ridiculous ending. There’s around 12 separate fight scenes in the film as well, and despite that amount, there’s never a moment of fatigue. Takuya Kimura is great as Manji – bringing equal amounts dark humour with the badassery. There are also some great support performances from Japanese cinema faves such as Min Tanaka and Chiaki Kuriyama.

11. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

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One of the most surreal and intense cinema experiences I’ve had in ages, Sacred Deer is haunting in a way that’s so difficult to describe. Lanthimos makes films that aren’t easily absorbed, and this is no exception. Just like in 2015’s The Lobster, Lanthimos presents his subverted view – this time of the American suburban family. At its core its a revenge thriller, but it’s also an incredibly dark comedy and frankly terrifying horror film. The story centers on Colin Farrell’s doctor as he welcomes the son of an ex-patient into his life and his family, only to very quickly regret the decision. The narrative is more dense than a 15-tier chocolate cake, and in usual Lanthimos-style the topsy turvy tonal shifts take some getting used to. Roll with it though, and you’ll soon realise that the reason you feel so damn uneasy is because of the genius comedic nature in which everything is presented. It’s like if Michael Haneke directed a Coen Brothers film.

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