Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 15 Best English Language Films of 2017

I've not had the chance to catch all English movies in the cinema this year, so don't judge me if your favourite is not on this list, which is limited to those I've had the chance to watch. 


15) La La Land

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Considering all the critical acclaim and universal attention that this film received, you might think it deserves to be higher on this list.  It is a technical masterpiece no doubt. But then again, musicals? We've seen better. Success stories? We've seen a lot of those. We still enjoyed this film, which is why it is even ON this list in the first place. The songs, despite being performed by non-singers, are still really good. The story does tug at your heartstrings very well and plays to its advantage.


14) The Foreigner


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Director Martin Campbell ignores Chan's usual Hollywood persona and gives him a more dramatic role. The film gives Chan fans what they want; an action-packed thriller with Jackie kicking some serious butt every now and then. However, it is mostly a compelling story with another big star, Pierce Brosnan, playing an equally big part. We're not sure if this is a film for Jackie Chan fans, but it sure is made for those who enjoy a good political thriller with some action thrown in. 


13) Alien: Covenant


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If anything at all, this film proves one thing; even at his most average, director Ridley Scott can make a better film than most film directors today. Most die hard fans of the original Alien films never liked Prometheus to begin with. So, it is only natural they were displeased with this new prequel as well. Maybe we like this film so much because we never grew up watching the original films. It stays true to the Alien film formula, but heightens everything else - the gore, the suspense and the horror.


12) Logan


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Hugh Jackman ends his seventeen years playing the titular character with what is possibly the most violent yet most emotional X-Men standalone film ever made. As the director of the last Wolverine film, James Mangold must have had huge expectations on his shoulders but he still manages to deliver on all expectations while defying them. The reason is Logan is a survivalist film, a Western film, a  film noir and many more, but it is not a superhero film, which makes it so great.


11) Beauty and the Beast


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A major complaint against 2014's Maleficent is it was disloyal to its source material. Disney learned its lesson and stayed more faithful to their original films' premises with Cinderella and The Jungle Book. With this film, Disney stayed true to its winning formula and gave us a more than decent film. This film could have been higher on this list if it had been a little bit bolder with the direction it was headed but it still is a very entertaining film for the entire family.


10) It


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It is always challenging to adapt a film from a popular book that already has a small screen adaptation that is almost as popular. However, director Andy Muschietti still managed to deliver a film that is not only set in the 80s, but feels like an 80s film too with the whole kids-on-bikes vibe. Unlike other horror films today that rely too much on gore and jump scares, this film has a surprising amount of emotion and comedy too.


9) Split


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Given the right opportunity, M. Night Shyamalan has proven that he can not only make a good movie, but a great one. Early reviews kept promising they would not give out any key plot points, which was enough for audiences to expect a twist end. Knowing that audiences would keep guessing the twist, the film surely gave those familiar with Shyamalan's earlier work, a jaw-dropping ending. Even without that end, this is probably the best psychological thriller of the year.


8) Wind River


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In a list full of horror films and big blockbusters, here is one that stands out. A mystery thriller set around the Native American community that is based on actual events. The film is a slow burn, which means it is not for people who prefer the other films on this list. The film takes its time to reveal the actual culprit behind the murder that our two main leads are investigating, but when we get there, the reveal is satisfying and brutal to say the least. 


7) Blade Runner 2049


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In what world would a sequel to one of the most beloved and iconic science fiction films in history live up to its predecessor's name? Live that to director Denis Villeneuve, who has not made one bad film as far as we can tell. Villeneuve took Ridley Scott's advice by leaving some room for mystery, which made the first film so good. This film stayed true to the first film's theme on what makes us human and expanded on its possibilities. A good sequel to a good film indeed.


6) Wonder Woman


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Finally, we have a proper female superhero film that does not disappoint. While Marvel continues to make comedy films and other DC films try to be gritty,  Wonder Woman has found the right balance. This film could have taken the easy road and shoved feminism down our throats, but it didn't. Instead, it showed both our male and female leads in a positive light, working hand in hand to save the world from evil. And of course, this film finally gave us a theme music that will become iconic.


5) Get Out


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Although it has been marketed as a horror film, it is best described as a socio-thriller as mentioned by its director, Jordon Peele. This film is a clever commentary on race in America today that toys with the missing white woman syndrome with multiple layers of symbolism and metaphors that cannot be truly appreciated in just one sitting. While Hollywood has been accused for conservative-bashing over the years, this one has something to say about whites who assume they are liberals but are harmful than helpful towards minorities.


4) Dunkirk


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How do you tell a story based on true events of which people already know the outcome? Director Christopher Nolan did not give his audience any room to breath throughout the film. He maintains the tension from the start right to the very end. Since the entire film is set in real time, we feel as if we are there at the beach with the British and French soldiers fighting to escape the Germans. This is hands down one of the best war films to be released in recent years.


3) Arrival


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Technically, just like La La Land, this is a 2016 film but its arrival (pun intended) to our local cinema was a few months late. This is the second Denis Villeneuve film on this list and he has quite a few surprises up his sleeve. This kind of films never get released here but I suppose because it revolves around aliens, people assumed it was a big action flick and we were surprised with a full house. The film takes its time in revealing the aliens true intentions and impatient audiences did walk out, but those who stayed till the end were we rewarded with a more than satisfying ending.


2) Star Wars: The Last Jedi


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Unlike most blockbusters (read: DCEU films) that are loved by the fan base but disliked by critics, this film has achieved the opposite. However, as someone who was never a Star Wars die-hard fan, The Force Awakens peaked my interest, and this film made me fall in love with the new sequel trilogy. For almost two years, there has been lots of speculations and fan theories. Director Rian Johnson subverted all expectations and gave us something truly surprising.


1) War for the Planet of the Apes


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How do you get an audience to turn against its own fellow humans and support another species that we know, in the future, is going to enslave us. Ask director Matt Reeves, who gave us one of the best final movies in a trilogy. It is hard to believe Andy Serkis will never receive an Oscar for all his motion capture work, including this one, because we can actually see the emotion in his face. This is one of those rare blockbusters that make us think and question things.


1 comment:

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