Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

5 Best Films of 2017 (so far)

We’re just over the halfway point of the year, so what better time to reveal the five best films released in the UK so far? It’s been something of a mixed year, with a phenomenal awards season followed by a rather quite stretch. Certain films that I assumed would easily crack the top 5 (T2 Trainspotting, Get Out) ended up being minor disappoints (to me, anyway), while a few unassuming films turned out to be among my favourites of the year. As with every year, there have been some terrific releases in 2017. Here are the best of the bunch:

*Note: I haven’t seen every major release of the year so far, so if you think I’m missing a modern classic, it’s likely that I haven’t got round to it yet. Looking at you, Logan.*

Honourable Mentions:

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Dir. Juho Kuosmanen)

The Salesman (Dir. Afgar Fahadi)

The Fits (Dir. Anna Rose Holmer)

La La Land (Dir. Damien Chazelle)

Jackie (Dir. Pablo Larrain)

 

moonlight

5.

Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins)

The surprise winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight has come a long way from its humble start as a low budget indie about three chapters in the life of Chiron, a black gay boy growing up in America.

Jenkins’ confident direction and the beautiful cinematography enhanced the feeling of a waking dream spanning two decades, but Moonlight is very much an actor’s showcase; Naomi Harris gives a terrific performance as Chiron’s crack-addicted Mother, while Mahershala Ali deservedly won an Oscar for his sensitive performance as a patriarchal drug dealer.

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The Eyes of My Mother is too horrific for the arthouse crowd, and too arty for the horror crowd

At what point does an art film become shlock? The Eyes of My Mother, Nicolas Pesce’s hideously unpleasant debut feature, is clearly aiming for the arthouse crowd; filmed in stark black-and-white, the film is too slow and uncompromising to reach mainstream horror fans. However, the levels of gore and psychological torture on display have mostly been seen in torture porn and New French Extremity, meaning only the most hardened arthouse fan could sit through it. Despite some interesting imagery and a unique style, The Eyes of My Mother won’t quite satisfy either audience.

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Prevenge gets by on the creepy charms of director/writer/star Alice Lowe

Having made a name for herself starring in low-budget black comedies like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Sightseers, it’s only fitting that Alice Lowe’s directorial debut Prevenge follows a similar strand of broad humour and bloody mayhem. Written by and starring Lowe as Ruth, a heavily-pregnant woman whose unborn baby convinces her to go on a killing spree, Prevenge isn’t as consistent as her previous work, but a few memorable setpieces and Lowe’s wonderfully deadpan performance keep it entertaining.

Prevenge

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The Best Films You’ve Never Seen #3: Afterschool

In this semi-regular feature, I discuss some of the best films which had low box office earnings, found little audience, or have otherwise been forgotten about over time.

Despite dominating the lives of teenagers for over a decade, very few films have focused on ‘the youtube generation’. Apart from a few teen comedies that show the funny side of public humiliation, or BBC-lite teen dramas that show the dark side of public humiliation, cinema has lacked genuine insight into how the world has changed, and is changing, in the face of anybody being able to access every known video available, from cute kittens and vlogs to execution footage and hardcore pornography.

Antonio Campos’ 2008 debut Afterschool attempts to confront the issue head on. The film is a troubling character study focusing on a lonely teenage boy at a boarding school, and the disturbing event he witnesses. Trying to find honesty in a world of pretence, Afterschool examines the psychological and sociological effects of having cameras constantly ready to invade your personal life.

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Twin Peaks is back – was it worth the wait?

Twin Peaks 1

Laura Palmer’s promise came true. Twenty-five years since coffee loving FBI agent Dale Cooper was trapped in the Black Lodge by evil spirit BOB, David Lynch’s beloved cult mystery Twin Peaks has returned to television screens. With Lynch directing all eighteen episodes and much of the original cast returning to their most iconic roles, Twin Peaks: The Return certainly isn’t a nostalgic cash-in. Four episodes have been released so far – were they worth the wait?

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Modern Masterpieces #7: Mulholland Drive

Some films demand to be scrutinised; intricate films with difficult plots, hidden details, and perception-altering twists are often watched and re-watched constantly by fans desperate to discover the film’s real meaning. On the surface, David Lynch’s 2001 magnum opus Mulholland Drive is such a film. Its dreamlike structure is disorientating, asking audiences to notice subtle hints and clues to uncover the true meaning of the film’s non-linear plot. However, despite the film growing more meaningful with every watch, viewers don’t need to take notes to feel the atmosphere of Mulholland Drive. Like a beautiful drug trip, the film works best when you simply allow it to wash over you, taking you on a journey into the unknown.

mulholland drive

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The Handmaiden is a twisting, turning revival of the erotic thriller

Sensual isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook. After all, this is the director behind such brutal films as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Stoker. It’s surprising, then, to see his latest film The Handmaiden, the story of an orphan sent to work for a mysterious heiress, is a romantic period drama, focusing on forbidden love, restrained emotions, and genuinely erotic moments of intimacy. At least, it is for the first ten minutes.

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A Ghost Story’s trailer is the most beautifully haunting thing you’ll see all year

Three months after wowing audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, David Lowery’s utterly bizarre-sounding A Ghost Story has released its first trailer. Distributed by A24 (Moonlight, Ex Machina), A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck as the titular apparition in a white sheet, and Rooney Mara as the lover he pines for.  

Shot in the beautiful Academy Ratio and presumably spanning hundreds of years (the trailer has at least a few shots that seem to take place in the 19th century), the film looks a true original, and the early buzz from Sundance suggests a slow, moving film inspired less by Lowery’s previous influence Terrence Malick (Lowery’s debut was the Badlands-homaging Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) than Palme d’Or winning oddball Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Whether the film turns out to be as utterly fascinating as its first trailer or not, I still can’t wait for the film to be released in the UK.

 

By Harry J. Ford

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

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Rebecca Hall should have dominated awards season for her performance in Christine

Should a biopic about Christine Chubbuck exist? Many believe the story of the young news anchor who shot herself live on air in 1974 should never be made, out of respect for the dead. A recent documentary, Kate Plays Christine, focused on the very topic, concluding that making a film about Chubbuck could only be exploitative. However, in Antonio Campos’ hands, Christine is a moving, troubling story that never feels at all exploitative, mostly due to the career best work of Rebecca Hall in the title role.

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Edgar Wright is back with the trailer for Baby Driver

It’s been nearly four years since Edgar Wright’s last film, the brilliant Cornetto Trilogy-closer The World’s End, and in that time, it feels like there’s been a serious lack of genuinely cool, genuinely thrilling action films. Until now.

That’s Wright, Edgar’s back with his long-awaited passion project Baby Driver. The story of a getaway driver who lives to the beat of his own personal playlist, early reviews are promising a mixure of Fast and Furious car mayhem with the rhythm and energy of a Busby Berkeley musical. With evil Kevin Spacey, deranged Jamie Foxx, and slick Jon Hamm in supporting roles, and charismatic leading roles from Ansel Elgort and Lily James, Baby Driver looks as fantastically stylish as Wright’s previous filmography. Is Baby Driver going to be your new favourite film?

I hope so.

By Harry J. Ford

Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film

Like Ford On Film on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FordOnFilm/