Numbers Nineteen To Ten
19). Happy Death Day (2017)
The slasher genre got a mind-bending ‘Source Code’-style effort this year in which instantly likeable Jessica Rothe played care-free one night stander (the improbably named) Tree Gelbman, who has to solve her own murder on her-birthday ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ stylee. It was fresh, it was funny, it was wickedly inventive. Consistently entertaining, the finale was a slight let down but I decided to let it off for being so bold and ambitious in the first place. Excellent Friday night fun well worth checking out.
18). Elysium (2013)
Matt Damon gets the Bic razor out and straps on his metallic Exo-skeleton to play the broke factory worker up to his Exo-neck in trouble in his attempts to escape a diseased and festering shit-hole excuse for Earth for a better life on the titular palatial space station. Neil Blomkamp’s magnificent and eye-popping follow up to ‘District 9’ was absolutely startling and inventive, with Sharlto Copley again chewing up the scenery as the unintentionally hilarious psychopathic-Hobo-Sleeper-agent-Assassin thingy.
17). T2: Trainspotting (2017)
Twenty years later and the Skag ‘eads are back in town in a much-changed Edinburgh and they’ve cleaned up their acts (of heroin anyway). But, of course, it’s not long before a new get-rich scheme spirals badly out of control (again!). A welcome reunion that definitely didn’t disappoint; progressing the gang’s story forward massively, bravely making one character the unlikely star of the show and peppering the sequel with enough cheeky nods to the previous film to keep those old enough to remember the predecessor very happy indeed. Oh, and the soundtrack was absolutely bangin’ too.
16). The Disaster Artist (2017)
James Franco puts in an utterly amazing performance as the preternaturally weird social oddball / wannabe movie-making megalomaniac Tommy Wiseau, a loser and a loner of indeterminable age, wealth and origin (and has a habit of missing entire words from his sentences, to hilarious effect!) who set about making a serious relationship drama ‘The Room’ , which went on to become internationally regarded as the worst film ever made. An hysterically funny account of the making of said disastrous film and the countless ways it all seemed to fall spectacularly apart before accidentally becoming a huge international hit for all the wrong reasons. Worth watching for the ingenious split screen sequence alone, this is easily the funniest film I have watched all year. Altogether now: “Lisa, can’t you see you’re tearing me apaaaart? Oh, Hi Dave.”
15). Blade Of The Immortal (2017)
Takashi Miike’s one hundredth…yes, one hundredth film in the director’s chair (!), this was an absolutely epic 150 minute bloodbath as the classic lone Samurai tale was given a supernatural twist (clue’s in the title) with marvellously gruesome sound design, buckets of blood and hundreds of lopped-off limbs and slashed throats, It also found time to pack in deep themes of life, love, family, honour, redemption, mortality and the questionable futility of vengeance whilst stacking up literally hundreds of corpses amidst all the metallic clanging, death throes and ear-splitting screeching. Bring ear plugs. Use occasionally.
14). Logan (2017)
Huge Ackman bids farewell to the Adamantium claws and the legendary mutton chops after seventeen years in this grizzled, sad, sombre and wonderfully twisted road trip. Fully deserving of it’s reputation as being the ultra-violent Wolverine film we had all waited nearly twenty years for. An amazing Marvel film like no other.
13). I Don’t feel at Home In This World Anymore (2017)
Green Room / Blue Ruin star Macon Blair made his directorial debut with this suitably odd-ball crime comedy, and turned in an assured and confident debut feature. A dazzling, quiet, off-beat, low-budget Indie crime thriller with Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood teaming up to find the punks who broke into her house. What starts off as a bizarrely brilliant odd-couple film veers off into some seriously gruesome curve-ball scenes towards the end and, for me, this film was an absolute hidden gem well worth unearthing. Watch it for free, right now on Netflix. I hope you’re not disappointed. I certainly wasn’t:
12). Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Craig F. Zahler’s marvellous debut feature certainly didn’t fuck about (pardon my French). Before directing a virtually unrecognisable Vince Vaughn last year in ultra-violent prison thriller Brawl In Cell Block 99, Zahler created a hitherto-unheard-of genre that certainly didn’t spare the horses: the Horror-Western. An amazing cast (Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson and the always magnificent Richard Jenkins) bickered and bantered their way through an undeniably terrifying rescue mission which relished in its cringe-inducing sound design and nerve-shredding realism. Well, well worth a watch, but be ready for the astonishingly cruel and near-unwatchable dismemberment scene towards the end. It will haunt you for a long time afterwards.
11). The Hand Maiden (2016)
Korean revenge-supremo Park Chan Wook (Lady Vengeance, Old Boy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengerance, Stoker) took a slightly different direction for his most sumptuous and exquisite film to date with this deviously tricksy thriller cleverly disguised as a stuffy Sunday evening costume drama set in 1920’s Japan and Korea. The viewer and the main-characters are consistently wrong-footed by the stunning direction so that the viewer is never sure that exactly what they are seeing is actually what they are seeing, until the magnificently twisting plot finally clips into place. Featuring some seriously graphic sex scenes, fantastic sound design (step forward the DIY-dentistry scene), magnificent production design, sets, cinematography, acting, music and of course the superbly unpredictable script, this is Foreign cinema at its very best.
10). Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)
Tom Holland slipped effortlessly into the Spidey-suit after his instantly crown-pleasing introduction in Captain America: Civil War. There were twists and surprises galore, Aunt May got younger (and fitter) once again, Michael Keaton gave great villain as The Vulture and the technical overhaul of the Spidey-Suit was an absolute joy to behold. Was there anything it couldn’t do? Spider-fans finally got the Spiderman film that they had been waiting for. An excellent Marvel film that kicked off the Spidey-franchise, in, well, amazing style (sorry!)