20 Dec 17
As social media feeds, newspaper inches and email inboxes clog up with end-of-year lists, it's our turn to have our say. Later this week Picturehouse Spotlight will publish the findings of our Members' Vote to decide our audience's favourite film of 2017, but as an aperitif, we've conducted our annual staff poll and the results are in.
Last year Denis Villenueve's sci-fi opus Arrival was crowned winner. If you're in a nostalgic mood, why not take a look at the lists of years gone by? Quite often these lists represent the sign of the times, and as Brexit negotiations play out in Brussels it is perhaps fitting that our top film, a profoundly international production, revels in the warmth of its European setting and its multilingual characters.
Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name offers pure escapism. It's a beautiful, sun-soaked coming-of-age tale that rekindles the excitement, awkwardness and the sheer bliss of first love.
Jordan Peele's genre-defying sleeper hit Get Out claims second spot – a film that perhaps belongs to 2017 more than any other. In a year defined by the posturing of Trump and soaring race tensions in the United States, here's a movie that dares to cut through the crap. Peele masterfully straddles his satire of liberal racism while making a hugely entertaining horror that stoked shrieks of shock and laughter in packed auditoria.
It's been a positive year for LGBTQ cinema, with same-sex relationships at the heart of some of the year's very best films. Besides Call Me By Your Name, Best Picture winner at the Oscars Moonlight continues to linger long in the memory. Park Chan-wook's erotically charged and exquisitely designed The Handmaiden also struck a chord with our staff, while Francis Lee's brooding drama God's Own Country narrowly missed out on the Top 10 listed below.
For the poll, we asked staff to rank their favourite 5 films released theatrically this calendar year. 128 members of staff voted with a grand total of 108 different films receiving at least one vote. 10% were documentaries, with the favourite being Ezra Edelman's eight-hour true crime epic O.J.: Made In America (which ranked in the overall Top 20). 17% of the long list qualify as a foreign-language title, with a singular representative for silent cinema in the wonderful form of The Red Turtle. The Studio Ghibli co-production was also our joint favourite animation of the year, tied with My Life As A Courgette. Both films are marked by their simplicity and immense charm.
Maren Ade is the sole female director to make it into the Top 10 for her very funny father-daughter comedy Toni Erdmann. Of the 108 films with at least one vote, 21% are directed or co-directed by a woman, which is a considerable increase from the previous year (a miserable 10%). With acclaimed films from established auteurs such as Sally Potter (The Party), Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women) and Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled) making the long-list – alongside exciting new voices such as Julia Ducournau (Raw) and Rungano Nyoni (I Am Not A Witch) – this is a cause for celebration. After all, this is the year that critics and audiences hailed the female empowerment of Wonder Woman – helmed supremely by Patty Jenkins – over its DC Universe rivals. Following the Weinstein revelations, public interest is firmly on the industry to change. We wait with intrigue to see if next year's poll continues this upward trajectory.
With the current film landscape dominated by reboots and sequels, it's heartening that original stories dominate the list. Only one film in the Top 10 can be considered a part of an existing cinematic universe, and only loosely so: Blade Runner 2049 was a visual feast that lived up to sky-high expectations. All in all, 17% of the films on the long list can be considered a franchise movie. James Mangold's Logan gritty and inventive take on the X-Men mythology was the most applauded "comic book film" and was another just to miss out on the Top 10.
Perhaps the common thought that binds our list together is that original storytelling shines through in the end. Whether it be the epic scale of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk or Damien Chazelle's spectacular La La Land or the more low-key human stories of Manchester By The Sea or The Florida Project, 2017 has provided us with variety and many memorable films to treasure.
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