Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 20 Films of 2017

To go out on a limb (although all are welcome to join), I would say that 2017 has been the best year of film releases in as long as I've been deliberating each 'year in film'.

Not only in terms of the quality but also in the range of genres, styles and voices. I'll limit myself to 20, but I could've easily gone to 30+ and found films that I have a lot of time for and may have made lists from previous years.

As ever, I've gone by UK release dates (theatrical where available). Full reviews (where available) are linked in each entry.

Monday, 13 November 2017

BFI LFF 2017 - THELMA - Dir. Joachim Trier

A father and his daughter Thelma walk across a frozen lake; she pauses momentarily to watch the silvery fish slinking through the icy water below. Later, a fawn crosses their path; the father raises his rifle to shoot, but turns it towards his daughter just ahead of him. He holds his aim but can’t bring himself to pull the trigger.

It’s a brilliant opening – one of the year’s best – to Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s fourth film Thelma, his first foray into genre cinema. It’s unsettling and gives Trier a blank canvas on which to map out his chilling sci-fi drama; the unexpected should be expected at every turn.

Monday, 9 October 2017


A three and a quarter hour documentary about a library may not sound like the most enticing of prospects and yet, Frederick Wiseman’s glimpse into the comings, goings and inner workings of the New York Public Library is riveting and absolutely worth taking the time to savour.

As libraries go, the New York Public Library with its 209 branches is a million miles away from the stuffy village sites that would spring to my mind. Wiseman takes his camera to many of the locations found on the streets, corners and in the suburbs of the continuously unfurling city. He’s there simply to observe how people use the facilities available to them and how the management work to continually provide their patrons with the means to live, learn and connect with the wider world.

Friday, 6 October 2017

BFI LFF 2017: BAD GENIUS - Dir. Nattawut Poonpiriya

Now here’s that rarest of things, a film you never knew you wanted: a high-school exam heist thriller. Whilst Hollywood faces continuous accusations of lacking ideas, Thailand has delivered Bad Genius: an inventive and thrilling caper that has already wowed audiences on home soil and across much of southeast Asia.

Keen to settle in quickly at her new school, Lynn (newcomer Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) begins to tutor her new friend Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan). Tutoring quickly turns to cheating and as Grace’s grades improve, more of Lynn’s classmates want her to provide the answers to their exams, and they’re willing to pay good money for her help.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

BFI LFF 2017: PRINCESS CYD - Dir. Stephen Cone

There’s a specific joy that comes from watching a film with no preconceptions and being completely won over by it and, in the modern era of lengthy marketing campaigns, it is becoming an occurrence to savour. The film on this occasion was Princess Cyd, from Chicago based writer and director Stephen Cone.

Jessie Pinnick stars as teenager Cyd, who travels to Chicago to spend the summer with her aunt Miranda (Rebecca Spence), a famous novelist. Cyd and Miranda haven’t seen each other since the funeral of their mother/sister almost a decade ago.