Best of the year 2017 – Garth’s movie picks
Continuing our blog crew selection of their favourite pieces of the year, today it is our resident movie fiend, a man who lives only at 24 frames per second, and appropriately enough Garth is sticking to films for his best of picks. You can read the other blog crew 2017 Best Of posts here, and previous years’ Best of selections can be browsed here. Over to Garth:
We went The Farthest in 2017!
It’s that time of year that we write up our year in reviews… I’ve been to over two hundred press screenings this year, and would have been to more but the body betrays us some times. All I can say is that 2018 will be a higher count as I enter the sixth year of reviewing. When the Editor in Chief, or He Who Must Be Obeyed, as we call him at the Forbidden Planet Blog Secret HQ somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, said we don’t have to limit this selection to those films we’ve reviewed for the site that actually gave me a little tingle, so some here are fantastic genre ones I reviewed on the blog, others I didn’t.
The reason is that one film this year, a documentary, that I myself didn’t review for the site. This film showed me the hope we should have for humanity, and this year more than most that has been, and must continue to be important. The Farthest shows the amazing, and every other superlative you can imagine, story of the Voyager mission. The 1977 mission to explore the outermost parts of our solar system, a mission which forty year on is still sending back information and still shows that we can be better than we are. I cried through this documentary as I realised that this is the type of mission, the type of thing that we should be doing more of, was done by us putting cultural and intellectual differences aside to instead do something purely as humans striving into the unknown. We came together to make this happen, we’re capable of that, and we should do that more instead of being so divided. Also the footage of the process that launched this mission, the effort behind it, and the images that the still travelling Voyagers sent back just thrilled me to the core. Seriously if you haven’t seen this beautiful film then it is your mission now to correct that. (Farthest is reviewed here on the blog)
Among the other films that I’ve seen this year that have moved me, along the movie geek lines now, was Thor: Ragnarok (reviewed here). Although the previous two movies in the franchise were entertaining enough and the character in The Avengers offers a lot of muscle to the team, I was more hopeful of this film because the director from last year’s The Hunt for the Wilderpeople was behind the whole thing. The Marvel Studios brand seems to have a good balance at the minute of giving the talented people behind the camera the reigns to do what they know that they can. Ragnarok turned the actioneer franchise into something funnier and far more enjoyable, right from the start, something that is lacking in the Marvel Universe. Great casting and with the cast showing that they were actually enjoying being on set together we felt that as the audience. The box office gave vindication to the film maker and cast as we see Marvel and Disney posting another bunch of numbers at the end of the year.
On the horror front, for me, the new incarnation of IT came to life and gave me a few good jump scares, more than any other horror film this year. Just a few weeks after seeing the train wreck that was the other Stephen King adaptation this year, which I won’t go into, but it rhymes with Snark Bower, I didn’t have a lot of good thoughts going into it. Thankfully Warner and the new Pennywise in Bill Skarsgard, along with a very talented younger cast took their time and made one of the best horrors of the year. I’ve seen a lot of horrors this year, and that is a great thing, but this is the one that I want to buy on Blu Ray for my own home collection, the one I’m buying the merchandise for. I cannot wait to see the next part in the series. The 90s Mini Series was good, this was fantastic… (review here)
In a similar vein, although no jump scares, just leaving the cinema being freaked out, I have to give Get Out (reviwed here) a mention. Jordan Peele takes the psychological thrillers and horrors from the 70s and gives them a fresh twist, hitting contemporary hot-topic buttons as he does so. The twist is the level of The Usual Suspects and Empire Strikes Back and I’m not going to say too much more. But this reviewer left the cinema so happy that I almost tapped danced down the stairs, which was back when I could actually go up and down the stairs, while the film, remarkably, has become one of the biggest grossing movies relative to its small budget, an enormous critical and audience success. (reviewed here)
Although Thor was the refreshing sorbet for the year, when it comes to superhero movies, this year has one film that rose above them all. With two Oscar worthy performances and a clean and fresh take on the genre, Logan went to a brave place with a character that a lot of us love. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart took one last ride with Wolverine and Professor X and showed those reviewers out there that there are still a few surprises. James Mangold was given the reigns and Fox trusted him to make this R rated, or 18 certificate, masterpiece. He could have easily gone down the tights and spandex route but instead gave us the best Western of the year. (reviewed here)
Other films that hit me in a good way this year included Cars 3, which may sound like an odd choice, but is seriously deeper than any other film in the series. It’s like a version of Rocky, but with animated Cars. Also the small British Indy horror film Prevenge (reviewed here), which is an amazing head trip horror/thriller and well worth checking out if you can. Film Four helped fund it and have since shown it on TV, but I am sure it will crop up again on screen, so watch out for it, or better still, help out the film-maker by buying it on disc!
Finally I want to say that a film without words, that was beautifully animated, and stole my heart in a way that few films can was The Red Turtle (reviewed here). It’s just a beautiful fantasy that I can watch on repeat all day and still see magical parts that I missed before. A serious contender for animation of the year for me and very different visually from most Studio Ghibli work – they sought out the film-maker after seeing his short animation, Miyazaki-san himself wanted him to do a film for Ghibli. Although the visuals are different from Ghibli, many of the themes of the personal journey of discovery and communicating with nature are very much in keeping with Ghibli’s ouevre.
I’d like to thank everyone for reading the reviews, for sharing them, and the Editor of this blog for entertaining my ramblings. Fingers crossed in twelve months we’ll chat about the best of 2018. Have a great end of year, however you spend it, and be safe out there.