Best Films 2017

The Best New Film I saw this year was Get Out, which was so scary I had to go back and see it again a couple of days later. This was pretty much the only grown-up movie I saw at the cinema this year, apart from Dunkirk, which was what it was, proper cinema for sure. There are lots of films I didn’t see but wanted too…. I did see The Breakfast Club on the big screen for the first time ever, which was odd, because it’s the first time I ever watched this movie (I have watched it a lot) without pausing and/or rewinding, and and both La La Land and The Last Jedi, but those last two in the company of a 10-year old, so not sure they count as grown-up.

The Best thing I watched on Netflix was Shimmer Lake, not least because I didn’t even realise it was going to be backwards (oops, gave it away, but not really). I started Wormwood, but haven’t finished that yet. West of Memphis is a bit old now, but was still great, and sad, and now I understand Lucinda Williams’ song a bit better (and there’s an interesting side-story going on about celebrity activism). Stranger Things was fun. I also caught up on some Hollywood oldies, including Johnny Guitar (I have a bit of a thing for Sterling Hayden), Sorry Wrong Number (Barbara Stanwyck doing 120% frantic), Double Indemnity (actually, you can catch up on pretty much the whole of Stanwyck’s Noir career on Netflix), and It Happened One Night (which I didn’t quite realise was what it was until I realised what it was).

The Best Old Film I watched was Laura, which is now just my favourite film ever. I was genuinely knocked sideways by the ‘twist’ in the middle – it took me about 10 minutes to settle back down and realise what was really going on (I can’t tell if you if you don’t know, because you need to not know before watching it). I watched lots of old films this year, the sort of old films that one is led to by the odd conjuncture of binge-listening to Karina Longworth in the car on the way to work and having read too much of the ‘lighter’ Stanley Cavell on Hollywood comedies and melodramas. The Best newish-old film I watched again was a tie between Desperately Seeking Susan and Something Wild (“Yeah. I’m a rebel. I am! I just channelled my rebellion into the mainstream” – since first watching this movie as an undergraduate in 1987, I have tried my very hardest to live my own life by that principle).

The Best Kids Film was Captain Underpants. This is now up there with Frozen and Box Trolls in my all time Best-movies-I-saw-with-my-children-which-I-wouldn’t-have-watched-otherwise Top 3.

Last, but not least, the Best Documentary Series I watched this year (a bit late again) was definitely Little Lunch. I learnt so much from watching this, again, and again, and again.


Growing Old

CHIYou know you’re of a certain age when all the movies you go to see are animations, and are mostly U rated. I just saw my tenth kids’ movie of the year, not counting Frozen, which I have seen twice this year at the cinema, after seeing it twice last year when it first came out, and of course, having watched it again, and again, and again at home on DVD; and not counting Home Alone either, which I got to see on the big screen for the first time as a birthday treat earlier in the year. I have no expectation of seeing a better movie than Frozen for quite some time. Here is my list of this year’s lot, in a rough order, and bearing in mind there are two months to go still:

  1. The Boxtrolls [awesome]
  2. The Book of Life [the least scary kids’ movie with loads of death in it that you could imagine]
  3. Earth to Echo [ET meets Blair Witch without the scariness of either]
  4. The Nut Job [clever doubling of human and animal capers]
  5. Peabody and Sherman [a movie for dads]
  6. Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy [the least disappointing of the lot]
  7. The Lego Movie [awesome only in parts]
  8. Dolphin Tale 2 [not good enough to make me watch the first one]
  9. Tarzan (The Legend Starts Here) [very peculiar]
  10. Postman Pat: The Movie [forgot about all the good characters]

I seem to have missed a couple aimed at the target audience of which I am now a part, such as Maleficent and Muppets Most Wanted. This year, I have seen a grand total of 1 grown-up movie, which was ’71. On the basis of this rather skewed sample, I think the difference between kids’ movies and grown-up movies is that death always seems to have a redemptive purpose in the kids’ movies – ‘cos there is a surprising amount of death in most of these films.