In Depth

The best films from 2017

Whether you're after hard-hitting Oscar nominees or harmless fluff, these are last year's movie must-sees

La La Land Emma Stone Ryan Gosling

Cinephiles had a bumper year in 2017, with new releases from Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee and Terence Davies alongside popcorn-perfect blockbusters such as Fifty Shades Darker and Hugh Jackman's final outing as Wolverine.

From whimsical Hollywood musicals and biopics to the return of Trainspotting, here are the films to revisit from 2017.

Get Out

Get Out, a darkly comic horror written and directed by US comedian Jordan Peele, tells the story of a white girl bringing her black boyfriend home to meet her parents. The boyfriend (Daniel Kaluuya) soon discovers that behind his girlfriend’s parents’ superficially warm demeanors lies a dark secret.

Peele’s film manages to scare audiences while also offering a savvy critique of race relations in America. Vulture’s David Edelstein described it as “the satirical horror movie we’ve been waiting for”. The film took home Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards.

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s first historical film follows British troops trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940 awaiting evacuation and those desperately trying to save them.

The Guardian’s Mark Kermode gave the film four out of five stars, calling it “an utterly immersive experience that fulfils Nolan’s promise of creating ‘virtual reality without the goggles’”.

Underscoring every tension-filled moment of the film is Hans Zimmer’s tense yet mournful score, keeping you at the edge of your seat. Dunkirk won the Oscars for Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing.

Silence

Martin Scorsese's long-awaited historical drama stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s who travel to Japan – where practising Christianity is punishable by death – to undertake a gruelling, dangerous search for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson).

Scorsese's fascination with violence, honour and Catholic guilt get a workout in the “powerful, emotional” drama, says The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, who gives it four out of five stars.

Available on Amazon Prime

La La Land

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in this musical romantic drama as a musician and an aspiring actress dreaming of stardom in modern-day Los Angeles. The film's magical aura, inspired by the glamorous musicals of 1950s Hollywood, as well as Gosling and Stone's irresistible chemistry, will make you overlook the “papery slightness” of the plot, says the Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin.

La La Land was the critics' favourite to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but lost to Moonlight.

Available on Netflix

Jackie

Jackie is far from a paint-by-numbers biopic of America's most iconic First Lady. Instead, Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain uses dialogue-driven scenes and unflinching close-ups to build an intimate portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and her state of mind in the days following her husband's assassination. Natalie Portman was widely celebrated for her performance in the title role, which the Hollywood Reporter calls “incandescent” and “astonishing”.

Available on Amazon Prime

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Ang Lee's adaption of Ben Fountain's novel follows a young Iraq War veteran sent on a "victory tour" during the Bush administration. Critics were divided over Lee's decision to shoot at 120 frames per second - five times more than the standard rate. The technique is intended to give the movie an immersive, "hyper real" feeling. It's an interesting concept, says The Guardian's Benjamin Lee, but "the intimacy of certain scenes feels invaded, and it's a struggle to feel emotional involvement".

Fifty Shades Darker

E.L. James's trio of erotic novels have provoked mirth and scorn from the literati for their idiosyncratic descriptions, disjointed dialogue and paper-thin protagonists, but for many, they remain a guilty pleasure.

The second film instalment of the trilogy, starring Dakota Johnson as wide-eyed Anastasia Steele and The Fall heart-throb Jamie Dornan as brooding millionaire Christian Grey, hit cinemas just in time for Valentine's Day. Expect romance, angst and seemingly endless scenes of bonking.

Fences

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprise their on-stage roles for a film adaptation of August Wilson's play about an African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh, released in December 2016 in the US and in February 2017 in the UK.

Although stage-to-screen adaptations have a chequered history, the film is all about the leading performances from Washington and Davis, who were showered with praise during Fences' 2010 run on Broadway. Davis turns in "the single greatest performance of 2016" as Washington's long-suffering wife, says Mic's Kevin O'Keeffe.

Logan

Hugh Jackman sharpens his metal claws for his final on-screen appearance as Wolverine. Years on from the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan's famous anti-ageing mutations are starting to fade, but he must overcome his failing powers to protect a young girl threatened by sinister forces.

The Wolverine spin-offs have never quite inspired the same enthusiasm as the main X-Men series, but this Western-tinged take on an aging Logan proves a poignant send-off to a much-loved character.

A Quiet Passion

A recluse who never married or moved out of her family home, Emily Dickinson nonetheless produced some of the most unusual and interesting poetry of the 19th century. That paradox is at the centre of British auteur Terence Davies's biopic, A Quiet Passion.

"An absolute drop-dead masterwork" says the New Yorker's Richard Brody, who believes it is destined to become "one of the great movies of the time". Cynthia Nixon (Miranda in Sex and the City) has been roundly praised for bringing out Dickinson's unconventional spirit and wit as well as the sensitive, otherworldly nature that prompted her to withdraw into her own world.

Available on Netflix

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