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Best Films of 2017

Charmaine Blake



Cannibalism in France, a latterday Our Gang in Florida, three women in Tel Aviv, and, at last, a Blade Runner sequel are among the years must-sees

To get a sense of how many great movies played UK cinemas in 2017, just look at some of the outstanding titles that didnt make my top 10 list. From Park Chan-wooks The Handmaiden (brilliantly adapted from Sarah Waterss novel Fingersmith) to Anocha Suwichakornpongs dazzling By the Time It Gets Dark, Paul Verhoevens Elle (featuring an Oscar-nominated Isabelle Huppert) and Kleber Mendona FilhosAquarius (with Snia Braga in breathtaking form), there was a dizzying array of delights on offer. Even so-called mainstream cinema seemed particularly adventurous this year, ranging from Patty Jenkinss rip-roaring Wonder Woman to Christopher Nolans overwhelming Dunkirk, Kathryn Bigelows gripping Detroit, Edgar Wrights pulse-racing Baby Driver and Darren Aronofskys bewildering Mother!.

Home-grown triumphs included William Oldroyds Lady Macbeth(which made a star of Florence Pugh) and Francis Lees passionate Gods Own Country, while Zambian-born, Welsh-raised Rungano Nyoni emerged as a major new talent with the uncategorisable I Am Not a Witch. My favourite Bollywood film of 2017 was Advait Chandans Secret Superstar, which cleverly interwove dark themes of domestic abuse into its musical fantasy narrative. There were also several Netflix-backed movies that cried out to be seen on the big screen, most notably Bong Joon-hos creature-feature Okja.

As always, I restricted my top 10 list to films that actually opened in the UK cinemas in 2017, so such eagerly awaited titles as Clio Barnards Dark River, Greta Gerwigs Lady Bird, Guillermo del Toros The Shape of Water, Lynne Ramsays You Were Never Really Here and Martin McDonaghs Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (all of which will be released here in 2018) arent eligible. My list also features some films that other critics may have included in last years lists, such as Toni Erdmann, The Red Turtle, My Life As a Courgette and of course Moonlight, all of which competed for the Oscars in February.

Ella Rumpf and Garance Marillier in Raw.

The subject of the Academys most infamous mix-up, Barry Jenkinss Oscar-winner Moonlight was a kaleidoscopic gem which found great beauty in tough surroundings a quality that also characterised Sean Bakers vibrantly honest The Florida Project. In my review of Moonlight in February I wrote: I doubt I will see a better film this year. But then I hadnt reckoned on Raw, the flesh-ripping French-Belgian debut from writer/director Julia Ducournau. Using cannibalism to tell an intimate story of growing pains and sibling rivalry, Raw is an astonishingly assured work from a film-maker whose unique vision is etched into every frame, straddling humour, heartbreak and horror with ease.

The year has proved particularly strong for horror, with Andy Muschiettis It becoming a record-breaking box-office hit, while Trey Edward Shultss It Comes at Nightgot under the skin of these paranoid times. And then there was Jordan Peeles Get Out, a brilliant sociopolitical chiller which provided a rollercoaster ride into the dark heart of so-called post-racial America, aided by a superb cast led by the versatile British actor Daniel Kaluuya.

From the hand-drawn beauty of Michal Dudok de Wits The Red Turtle to the stop-motion wonder of My Life As a Courgette, a variety of animation formats continued to thrive, coexisting with the computer graphics that were once predicted to wipe out more traditional techniques. Both these movies moved me to tears, offering some of the richest and most profound viewing experiences of the year. Good, too, to see Makoto Shinkais Your Name (which featured in my top 10 last year) back in UK cinemas in 2017.

This year also saw the long-awaited release of The Levelling, a tremendous debut from writer-director Hope Dickson Leach. Its a brilliant work from a film-maker who should also be commended for setting up Raising Films, a campaigning organisation whose suggestions for addressing harassment and discrimination in the UK film industry in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal offered some positive, practical responses to the horrors of this still unfolding story. Brava!

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out. Photograph: Allstar

Top 10 films

Julia Ducournau devours her audience with this fearless feature debut.

Barry Jenkinss Oscar winner is a miracle in a minor key.

The Levelling
Love, loss and reconciliation in Hope Dickson Leachs family drama.

The Red Turtle
Swoon and swoon again at the beauty of Michal Dudok de Wits heartbreaker.

The Florida Project
Sean Baker finds a modern-day Our Gang on Disneys doorstep.

My Life As a Courgette
Stop-motion magic from director Claude Barras and screenwriter Cline Sciamma.

Toni Erdmann
Sandra Hller shines in Maren Ades bittersweet comedy.

Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve doesnt disappoint with this belated sci-fi sequel.

Get Out
Shades of Ira Levin in Jordan Peeles razor-sharp chiller.

In Between
Three women in Tel Aviv find their own space in Maysaloun Hamouds feature debut.


Wolves at the Door
A repellently exploitative entry in the already sordid Manson movies canon.

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Judy Garland lives again, in the form of Rene Zellweger in ‘Judy’: Photo



Rene Zellweger in 2017

Image: Jason Laveris / FilmMagic

Renée Zellweger is practically unrecognizable in her latest film role… but she does bear a striking resemblance to somebody else.

Pathé UK has released the first official photo from Judy, which stars Zellweger as silver screen legend Judy Garland. 

(For comparison, here’s a photo of Garland in 1960, via Vanity Fair.)

The film takes place in the late 1960s, as Garland arrives in London for a series of concerts. By this point, Garland is well into her 40s and her memorable turn in The Wizard of Oz is nearly thirty years behind her. 

But even as she prepares to face crowds of adoring fans, she’s still battling the demons left behind by her troubled childhood in Hollywood.

Judy, which started shooting Monday, also stars Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, and Michael Gambon. Rupert Goold (True Story) directs from a script by Tom Edge (Lovesick). Some of Garland’s most beloved songs will be featured in the movie, including “Over the Rainbow.”

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Madonna to direct movie based on life of ballerina Michaela DePrince



MGM announces the singer will direct Taking Flight, the story of DePrinces journey from war orphan in Sierra Leone to world-class ballerina

Madonna is to return to the movies after a seven-year absence to direct Taking Flight, a feature film based on the life of Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who became a leading ballerina.

According to Deadline, Hollywood studio MGM has been developing the project since 2015 when it acquired the rights to DePrinces memoir, co-written with her adoptive mother, Elaine.

Michaelas journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity, Madonna said. We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone, and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honoured to bring her story to life.

Ballet dancer Michaela DePrince in Johannesburg, in 2012. Photograph: Gallo Images/Rex/Shutterstock

DePrince, 23, lost both of her parents in Sierra Leones civil war when she was three years old. The following year, she was adopted by a New Jersey couple and brought to the US, where she developed a passion for ballet. She was one of the stars of 2011 documentary First Position, about young ballet hopefuls, and is a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet and Opera. She also appeared in Beyoncs music video album, Lemonade.

We were immediately awestruck by Michaelas journey and know Madonnas vision and passion for the material will deliver a film that inspires audiences everywhere, said producer Leslie Morgenstein.

No cast or released date has yet been finalised. Camilla Blackett, writer of the comedy series Fresh Off the Boat, will write the screenplay.

Madonna is the bestselling female recording artist of all time but her movie career has been more chequered, especially behind the camera. Her 2008 feature debut, Filth and Wisdom, was described by the Guardians Peter Bradshaw as a dumb and tacky comedy-drama about three people sharing a flat in a quaintly conceived London. Its follow-up, 2011s WE, in which Andrea Riseborough played Wallis Simpson, was also critically panned, with Bradshaw describing it as one long humourless and necrophiliac swoon at the Windsors supposed tragi-romantic glamour.

Madonna wrote, produced and narrated 2008 documentary I Am Because We Are, about children in Malawi orphaned by the Aids epidemic. She has adopted four children from Malawi, including twin girls in 2017.

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‘Black Panther’ Hits $1 Billion Mark In Worldwide Box Office Numbers



“Black Panther” has surpassed $1 billion at the worldwide box office, challenging industry norms about films with black casts. 

The Marvel blockbuster passed the major benchmark on Friday, Forbes reports.

The film is now the United States’ ninth highest-grossing film of all time, and had the second-largest four-day domestic opening weekend. “Black Panther” brought in $242 million in the U.S. over Presidents Day weekend, behind the $288 million “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made when it opened in 2015. 

The international success of “Black Panther” has challenged the myth that films with predominately black casts don’t sell  and it helps unravel “unwritten Hollywood rules,” Jeff Bock, a senior analyst at entertainment research firm Exhibitor Relations, told The New York Times.

“I think about it like a wall crumbling,” Bock said. “In terms of ‘Black Panther,’ no studio can say again, ’Oh, black movies don’t travel, overseas interest will be minimal.’”

Stars of the film, including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, have spoken out about the importance of representation in the movie. “Black Panther,” which is set in the fictional country of Wakanda, shows the possibilities of an African society untouched by colonialism and gender inequity. 

“I think there’s a thirst for these images,” Boseman told NBC. “There’s a real thirst for black superheroes.” 

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed this week that a “Black Panther” sequel is in the works. Feige told Entertainment Weekly that there was “nothing specific to reveal” about the next movie but added that “we absolutely will do that.”


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