Welcome back to day six of the Ford On Film Awards 2017. With the film awards handed out, I’m turning my attention to television with my picks for Best TV Show. As you can guess from the name, I didn’t think I’d talk about TV when I first started the blog. I was a typical film snob, precocious about my beloved cinema and dismissive of TV. Unfortunately, around about the time I watched Breaking Bad, I was forced to admit that TV is often just as great.
2017 has felt like a particularly good year for TV. Great comedies reached their pinnacle, new shows became instant classics, and beloved favourites wrapped up for good. The UK can never compete with American budgets, and only one British show made my top ten, but there are some great homegrown shows that are worth a watch, like Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty, and Inside No. 9. I’d also like to give honourable mentions to returning beast Game of Thrones, and new shows like the hilarious American Vandal and the brutal The Handmaid’s Tale. All were great, but none were quite great enough to crack my top ten. Here are my picks for Best TV Show of 2017:
Rick and Morty
Despite its increasingly irritating online community attempting to drive every joke into the ground, Rick and Morty remains as funny and clever as ever in its third season. While not quite reaching the genius of Total Rickall or the hilarity of Interdimensional Cable, there was plenty of fun to be had with the ‘alternative clip show’ Morty’s Mind Blowers and nightmarish journey to the Citadel in The Ricklantis Mixup.
Day five of the Ford On Film Awards 2017, and it is time for our last film prize before we move on to television. Today, I’m picking the Best Scene of 2017. Each year, the best scene award is brutally competitive, with my favourite films often clashing with rank outsiders that feature at least one all time classic scene. Last year’s winner was Arrival’s ‘First Contact’ scene, a blinding moment from a blinding film, but 2015’s winner was Pheonix, a solid World War II film with one of the best endings of all time.
In this list, you’ll find creepy monologues, superb musical moments, nerve-shredding tension, and an opening scene so good, it made the rest of the film look tame by comparison. Here are the ten most memorable scenes of 2017:
*WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD*
Bradley gets a visitor – Brawl in Cell Block 99
If you need someone to deliver a chilling monologue, Udo Kier is always a solid choice. Kier only appears for a few minutes, telling Vince Vaughn that he must get sent to a maximum security prison or face something horrible happening to his unborn daughter, but his short speech stays with you long after Brawl in Cell Block 99 ends.
No More Catholics – T2 Trainspotting
Danny Boyle’s long awaited follow-up to the best film of all time came and went with relatively-little fanfare, but there were pleasures to be had even if it didn’t quite live up to the hype. This scene, in which a reunited Renton and Sick Boy improvise an inflammatory song to appease a Protestant club, came the closest to capturing the old magic of the first film.
We are four days into the Ford On Film Awards 2017 and with the acting categories out the way (congratulations once again to Willem Dafoe, Allison Williams, Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Lawrence), it’s time to turn our attention to the Best Directors. What makes a great director? It could be shooting beautiful set pieces, working with actors to create outstanding performances, or dreaming up a unique vision and seeing it through to completion. Ideally, the best directors do all three.
This year’s Best Director award has been closely fought, with many brilliant visionaries being left out of the top five. To give an example of how competitive this category has been, the honourable mentions include Jordan Peele for Get Out, Paul King for Paddington 2, and David Lowery for A Ghost Story. All three films made my top ten of the year, but none of the directors finished in the top five. As with previous categories, no 2017 Oscar nominess are allowed to win (sorry Barry Jenkins, you know you’re still great), and I’m only looking at UK releases (Paul Thomas Anderson and Greta Gerwig will have to sit this one out). A great year of film always promises a list of great directors, and here are my picks for the finest directors of 2017:
Julia Ducournau – Raw
Narrowly beating Jordan Peele for the crown of best debuting director of the year, Julia Ducourna’s Raw is one of the most memorable and memorably strange horror films in recent years. Despite its low budget, Ducournau pulls off some impressive set pieces, while her character work and controlled pace are first rate. Whatever she ends up directing next, it’s bound to be one to watch out for.
Hello, and welcome back to the third instalment of the Ford On Film Awards 2017. Yesterday, I awarded Allison Williams and Willem Dafoe the awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Today, I’m handing out the big prizes for leading actors: Best Actress and Best Actor.
It has to be said that going off of UK dates is always a struggle when awarding actors, because many performances considered to be the best of 2017 haven’t made it to these shores yet. Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, and Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread are just three of the Oscar favourites I won’t get to see until further into 2018. Luckily, I’ve seen more than enough stunning performances over the last year to be able to pick my favourites.
As with all the categories, I’m ignoring any film previously nominated for an Oscar. If I had included the Oscar films, you can bet that Casey Affleck and Natalie Portman would have ranked highly for Manchester by the Sea and Jackie. However, those two have earned more than enough plaudits; I want to highlight some fresher performances. Here they are then, my picks for Best Actress and Best Actor:
Carla Gugino – Jessie Burlingame, Gerald’s Game
Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game was a decent stab at adapting Stephen King, but it let itself down with a weak ending. Thankfully, many of the film’s flaws were patched up by Carla Gugino, stunning in a role that required her to spend most of the film alone. Realistically portraying the disturbing moral conundrum posed by the film, Gugino is so good in her solo scenes that it’s almost a shame when she’s disrupted by her co-stars.
Welcome back to the Ford On Film Awards 2017. Yesterday, I ranked my top ten films of 2017, crowning The Florida Project as Best Film of the Year. Today, I’m turning my attention to the best supporting performances of the past year. While there have been some tremendous leading performances this year, the Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations were stacked, with young newcomers making a big breakthrough and older veterans giving career best turns.
As usual, I’m looking at films released in the UK over the last year, and ignoring any films previously nominated for an Oscar (sorry Michelle Williams and Mahershala Ali, you were both great but you’re not featuring in this list). With that in mind, let’s take a look at my picks for the Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor of 2017:
Best Supporting Actress
Holly Hunter – Beth Gardner, The Big Sick
The Big Sick was a solid rom-com that felt a too long and shambling to be truly great. However, there is still plenty to enjoy about the film, especially the performances of Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as the parents Kumail Nanjiani has to deal with when his girlfriend Zoe Kazan falls into a coma. Feisty and brittle, Hunter gets big laughs from her interrogations of Nanjiani and shouting matches with hecklers, but it’s her softer conversations where she reveals the extent of her emotional pain that provides much of The Big Sick’s heart.
Has it really been a year since Ford On Film crowned Paterson the best film of 2016? Yes, it’s that time of year again when I look back over the last twelve months of film and television, ranking the best films, actors, directors, and everything else of the year. After a slow start to the year, during which many of my most anticipated titles left me disappointed, the second half of 2017 delivered some outstanding titles from new and old directors alike.
Like previous years, I’ve decided to omit any film previously nominated for an Oscar. As much as I loved Oscar favourites like Manchester by the Sea and Toni Erdmann, they’ve already been written about extensively, and I wanted to free up some space for the less talked-about films I loved this year. Sorry The Handmaiden, My Life As A Courgette and Moonlight; you’re brilliant, but you won’t be making my list.
As per usual, we’re kicking off the Ford On Film awards with the big one: Best Film. It’s been a close race to the top this year, with one film holding out the top spot for months until two very different contenders took over the first and second spot. As diverse as ever, the top ten includes British and Italian romances, pure horror, family adventure, a few laughs and plenty of drama. It’s been a great year, and I’m excited to unveil my list of the ten best films of 2017.
Before we kick off the countdown, there are a few honourable mentions to include. Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer and S. Craig Zahler’s grisly Brawl in Cell Block 99 were two totally different films that inflicted disturbing imagery and unique performances on their audience, while two female directors made powerful directorial debuts in Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch and Julia Ducournau’s Raw. Now, let’s get onto the top ten!
Call Me By Your Name (Dir. Luca Guadagnino)
2017’s best romance? Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino’s languid, passionate tale of a teenager (Timothee Chalamet in a terrific breakout performance) exploring his sexuality with an older student (Armie Hammer, giving his best performance since The Social Network) is subtle compared to most love stories, more interested in the tiny details (a light touch here, a longing glance there) than any grand gestures. Guadagino knows how to create a memorable image (Hammer’s dance moves, the unbroken final shot), but it’s a quiet monologue from the brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg that stands out the most.
So many shows came to an end in 2017. Damien Lindelof’s moving The Leftovers ended its run with perhaps the greatest television season of the year. Britain’s best-loved mystery Broadchurch finished up with another gripping ‘whodunnit?’. Netflix finally took the plunge and cancelled many of its original series including, controversially, Sense8. On December 13th, another great show concluded after a short run of just three series and a Christmas special. Unlike The Leftovers or Sense8, this show didn’t end with high drama. Instead, it ended as it began – gently, with a wry, melancholic look at two middle-aged men and the eternal optimism their shared hobby brings. I’m talking about Detectorists, Mackenzie Crook’s cult BBC4 sitcom about two metal detector-enthusiasts that quietly became one of the greatest British comedies of the decade.
Is it fair to say the best Stephen King adaptations tend to ditch most of his material? The Shawshank Redemption swapped its Irish protagonist for Morgan Freeman. Stanley Kubrick changed almost everything about The Shining. Even this year’s It, one of the most successful horror films of all time, removed King’s infamously disturbing sewer scene. While King has written some classic stories, it’s usually best to avoid his weirder ideas, lest you end up with a Maximum Overdrive or Dreamcatcher. While Mike Flanagan’s 2017 adaptation Gerald’s Game is mostly an enjoyably-gory chiller, he makes the fatal flaw of staying too faithful to the book’s flawed third act.
It might seem unthinkable that a film set in 2017 could depict a young girl being convicted of witchcraft, but that’s the situation in a remote village in Zambia, the setting for Rungano Nyoni’s terrific debut feature I Am Not A Witch. Mixing biting satire with coming-of-age tragedy, Nyoni has crafted one of the most unique and strangely affecting films of the year.
Since catapulting into the A-list (and the hearts of teenage girls) with the Twilight series, Robert Pattinson has been on a mission. Rejecting mainstream leading roles, he has instead been quietly trailblazing across the independent film scene for the last five years; working with legendary auteurs (David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog) and indie darlings (James Gray, Brady Corbet), ranking up an impressive, eclectic array of supporting performances. Teaming up with New York directors the Safdie Brothers for the stylish, intense crime thriller Good Time, Pattinson might have just delivered his best performance yet.