Film discussion

Best of 2017… Movies (so far)

As we head into the latter half of 2017, Dan Taylor takes a look at the best movies of the year so far...

2016 was a rip-roaring year for film, jam-packed full of big blockbusters from Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story all the way to the more highbrow or independent titles such as Sing Street, The Neon Demon and The Witch. As we rolled towards the New Year it looked as if 2017 wouldn’t be any different and once again our theatres across the globe would be filled to the rafters with films both big and small.

Set The Tape takes you through the year so far to see the movers and shakers of another varied cinematic year…

JANUARY-MARCH

January certainly didn’t disappoint as Oscar fever was in full swing from day one with the release of Martin Scorsese’s much anticipated historic drama Silence, which unfortunately went slightly unloved by audiences and critics alike and only managed one Oscar nomination despite early predictions before release that it would be one of the top performers. Few could question it’s beauty but many thought Scorsese’s exquisite epic about inner spirituality was somewhat dull and a number of critics argued it was one of his most underwhelming pictures to date.

Despite Silence and Ben Affleck’s gangster crime drama Live By Night‘s lukewarm reception, there’s no denying that Damien Chazelle’s second big screen picture La La Land starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone reignited the Oscar hype train like nothing we’ve seen since 2012’s black and white love letter to a Hollywood of yesteryear, The Artist.

Chazelle’s follow up to the incredible Whiplash cemented his position as one of the industry’s most promising young filmmakers. It walked away with 6 Academy Awards but despite being named as the winner of the top gong by Faye Dunaway in one of the award shows most memorable moments, it lost out to the heartbreaking coming-of-age drama Moonlight which was an incredibly personal debut film by American writer and director Barry Jenkins.

The Winter months continued to offer up a number of incredible Oscar nominated films such as Lion, a tale of self discovery starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman, the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, Kenneth Lonergan’s cathartic drama Manchester By The Sea starring Academy Award winning Best Actor Casey Affleck, Denzel Washington’s big screen adaptation of stage-play Fences and Mel Gibson’s spectacular directorial return with Hacksaw Ridge.

Mel Gibson wasn’t the only interesting returnee this year as Renton, Spud, Sickboy and Begbie were back after a 20 year wait in T2: Trainspotting, the follow up to the cult hit where Danny Boyle made his name back in the 90’s. The flick was nostalgic while still covering fresh ground showing how a group of people can grow up and change but ultimately still remain the same.

APRIL-MAY

Entering into Spring, Marvel offered up the first live action superhero blockbuster of the year with 20th Century Fox’s Logan, which brought to an end the story of one of the most recognizable and best loved superheroes of modern times. Hugh Jackman has been on the silver screen as Wolverine for over 25 years but he’s never been better in this stylish adaptation of the ‘Old Man Logan’ storyline from the comics.

Spring often sees a continuation of the more “high brow” pictures, films made primarily for older audiences. This year we saw Hugh Bonneville joined by The X-Files star Gillian Anderson in costume drama Viceroy’s House while The Sense of Ending and The Zookeepers Wife kept OAP’s busy in April.

From the older generation to the younger, there has been plenty to keep children amused this year. In amongst all the Oscar-bait material, February half term saw the return of Sony’s Lego franchise with a fantastic take on DC’s Batman in The Lego Batman Movie. Meanwhile, Disney released their live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast in time for the Easter holidays that was met with as much praise as last years The Jungle Book adaptation. The Smurfs were also back for the third instalment in the franchise before Alec Baldwin voiced a high powered baby in The Boss Baby in April.

JUNE-AUGUST

Two months later and with the Summer holidays fast approaching those little Minions waddled back to our screens in Despicable Me 3 before the third kids franchise of the year released their third film in the series with Disney’s Cars 3. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature and The Emoji Movie, which also kept kids entertained during the Summer break (though was anyone entertained by The Emoji Movie?) while Diary of Wimpy Kid also returned to our screens back in May.

It comes as no surprise that 20th Century Fox’s Logan wasn’t the only superhero release of the year and we’ve been blessed this year that both DC and Marvel have released stellar films in Spider-Man: Homecoming and the pleasantly surprising hit Wonder Woman that thankfully exceeded all expectations. Gal Gadot and Tom Holland made their respective roles their own, the latter particular impressing in a role that audiences have seen many times before. While the combination of Sony and Disney’s Marvel had fanboys tongues wagging, it was Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman that really left a lasting impression, proving to naysayers that a solo female superhero flick can not only work but also be a massive success.

As always, conversely, we were not short of misfires! Audiences lapped up the fifth instalment of the Transformers franchise but it was met with the usual critical onslaught that we all expected. Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and controversial sci-fi action flick Ghost in the Shell both bombed at the box office, relying on foreign markets to recoup its budget, while Tom Cruise-led The Mummy reboot also missed the marked and failed to make the splash Universal were hoping for.

Nothing, however, could contend with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter which was by far the worst performing release of the franchise, not even surpassing the 40 million dollars that was spent making it. I’m sure Hollywood bigwigs will be questioning the decision to green light the proposed series reboot by Mortal Kombat writer James Wan.

From the lows to the highs the Summer was dominated by the release of war epic Dunkirk that looks set to lead the years box office in terms of “original” stories (a film that isn’t an adaptation, sequel or connected to an established franchise), only contested currently by Jordan Peele’s crowd pleasing psychological horror Get Out. It’s fair to say that Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was truly mesmerising and potentially the most memorable picture of the season.

The curtain came down on the Summer with Charlize Theron’s kick ass Atomic Blonde, action packed comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Scarlett Johansson led chick flick Rough Night and Steven Soderbergh inevitable unexpected return to the big screen with quirky heist comedy Logan Lucky.

It’s not hard to predict what will be the number one film of the year with the latest Star Wars sequel upon us in December but it’s highly likely that most of the current highest grossing films will still be in the Top 10 come the end of the year. Either way, 2017 may still go down as a fantastic year for film.

What have been your favourite or least favourite films of 2017? Did we miss any? Let us know in comments or via social media.

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