It's that time again.... As usual, everything on this list had a first-time cinema release in the UK at some point in 2017, using Launching Films' site as reference. I missed a lot of films, either through choice (they looked horrible), minimal distribution, and/or assorted other personal circumstances. It's a mixture of which ones I think were the "best" and which ones I would acknowledge weren't actually the "best" but the ones I enjoyed most. In ascending order:
I'm still pretty meh on the subject of comic-book movies: they're either shiny happy Marvel or miserable joyless DC. This is actually fairly glum, much darker, much more serious than the usual X-Men fare: an actual superhero movie for actual grown-ups.
9. WONDER WOMAN
Still on the superheroes: easily the best film from the DC stable.
8. A GHOST STORY
Melancholy drama about the haunter rather than the haunted: what does the ghost do when the house is empty? Oddly moving, leisurely, unusual, liked it a lot.
The Academy Awards got it right for once (eventually): infinitely better than the unsatisfying La La Land (terrific for the first five minutes, utterly unremarkable the rest of the time). Intelligent, grown-up cinema; if only we could have one of these every few months instead of yet another superhero whizzbang.
6. VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Eye-popping fantasy from Luc Besson, even topping the bonkers The Fifth Element. Okay, the mystery villain is no mystery and the leads are cardboard, but the visuals are dazzling.
Angry, thrilling and timely drama of violent racism; incredibly powerful and utterly essential viewing.
A superb Martin Scorsese religious drama: 160 minutes long but never feels it, completely absorbing, visually beautiful.
3. THE HANDMAIDEN
I actually saw the Director's Cut which is a full half-hour longer: personally I could have done with less of the explicit sex but even so it's easily my favourite foreign-language film of the year.
2. BLADE RUNNER 2049
Granted, it didn't have Vangelis on the soundtrack (and Hans Zimmer is no substitute), but the expanded world of Ridley Scott's classic original is pixel perfect, and Ryan Gosling's usual blankness is for once a plus factor. Mainstream blockbuster of the year and a more than worthy follow-up.
1. HOUNDS OF LOVE
I don't think I breathed for the last twenty minutes.
Honourable mentions (in no particular order) to Get Out, Hacksaw Ridge, A Cure For Wellness (shut up, I enjoyed it), The Limehouse Golem, Life and Denial.