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THE BEST OF 2017

OUR TOP FIVE FILMS OF THE YEAR

YEAR IN REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Charlie David Page
17th December 2017

What a huge year for movie lovers. There have been endless ups and downs, but we’ve been gifted with some of the finest films in a long time. The SWITCH team share their top five films - with plenty of controversial choices from the year.

The only rules: it can only be five films, and it has to have been released in Australia in 2017. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think!

JUMP TO...

Jess
JESS FENTON
5
'THE BIG SICK'
If you’re looking for an epic love story, sometimes they don’t get more epic than the truth. Based on the real-life story of actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, this beautiful and hilarious film is more about the love story between family than the culture-clashing romance between Kumail and Emily. With Judd Apatow’s name attached as a producer you know two things going in - 1) It’s going to be about 20 minutes too long, and 2) it’s going to have a little something more to it than dick and fart jokes - and this one has the most heart of any of Apatow’s projects. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
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4
'THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN'
My father is still alive and well, my brother has never dated my best friend (that I know of), and I’ve never sent a deeply embarrassing message propositioning my crush - and yet I left ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ tear-stained, feeling as though its protagonist Nadine and I were kindred spirits. How? Perhaps it’s the universal language of horrifying adolescence. We try so hard to be unique and stand out while trying to be invisible at the same time, when the truth is everyone is going through the exact same thing at the same time. I hadn’t seen a coming-of-age movie quite like this in a long time. I long for the days when they were almost weekly. But this one is quite special and moving, and it has Woody Harrelson in it. ‘Nuff said. 
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3
'GET OUT'
They say that comedy is hard, drama is easy. This is why Robin Williams won an Oscar and comedians like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey have made stunning and successful dramatic turns in their careers. But can the same be said for writer/directors? Apparently so. We’ve laughed at and with Jordan Peele for years, and now - according to the Golden Globes and Peele himself - we still are, but for totally different reasons. Being Australian, we aren’t entirely privy to African American culture outside of entertainment, and as for their history - a high school module or two doesn’t really cut it, save for some names, dates and something about a tea party. The key to Peele’s brilliant horror ‘Get Out’ is subtext. It’s entertaining and creepy on the surface, but dig a little deeper to find the hidden meaning behind every inch of this masterpiece and it becomes remarkable.
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2
'BABY DRIVER'
If you look up “cool” in the English dictionary, surely you’ll see the poster for ‘Baby Driver’. Edgar Wright has already proven himself as a fantastic comedy writer/director with that wicked British wit and charm to hook us, but for his first American film (‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’ was Canadian, people!) he added hot women, gorgeous men, fast cars, a romance to die for, and the mother of all soundtracks for us to drool over. We all thought we’d seen the limit of impeccably choreographed chase scenes before, until Baby got behind the wheel and Edgar was on the decks. This isn’t just a romance with some epic driving thrown in - this is a four-wheeled ballet with a symphony accompaniment and the best players money can buy.
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1
'CALL ME BY YOUR NAME'
This will likely be the second queer film in a row to take out the Best Picture Oscar come March 5th. And while ‘Moonlight’ was dark, gritty and tough to watch leaving everyone wondering if “enjoyment” should be a qualifying factor when it comes to nominations, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ will leave no one scratching their heads. Exquisitely acted by all involved, it’s 21-year-old Timothée Chalamet that will floor you and force you to wonder where he’s been this whole time - only to discover that, yes, you have seen him before and then hang your head in shame for simply not noticing. I couldn’t get this superb film out of head for days after seeing it for the first time. I cannot wait for audiences to follow me into this thought-provoking and beautiful abyss.
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Daniel
DANIEL LAMMIN
5
'DUNKIRK'
Debate will always rage on this issue, but as far as I’m concerned, ‘Dunkirk’ is Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. This is pure cinema, an assault on your senses delivered at a breathless pace, with images I still can’t shake and an emotional integrity that left me sobbing by the end. I still can’t comprehend how they made the damn thing in the first place. He might have been an exciting director before, but ‘Dunkirk’ establishes Nolan as one of the great artists of his generation.
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4
'JACKIE'
Pablo Larraín defies all logic, cliché and common sense with this film, so singular and extraordinary that lumping it in with other lesser films as a “biopic” feels reductive. ‘Jackie’ is a haunting, strangely funny, unexpectedly camp and quietly furious master class, with Natalie Portman delivering the best performance of her career and Mica Levi’s beguiling Oscar-nominated score. There’s never been anything quite like it, which just makes it all the more special.
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3
'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'
Francis Lee’s miraculous debut hits you like a freight train: an unforgiving, deeply moving and powerfully romantic work of art about human longing and connection, what it is to call yourself a man, and the redemption of a soul hell-bent on self-destruction. Both Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu give breathtaking performances, but the achievement is Lee’s, crafting a deeply personal and hopeful masterpiece that will be forever be seen as a queer classic. To have this, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Call Me By Your Name’ in the same year, as well as many other great LGBTIQ+ films, is a cause for enormous celebration.
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2
'CALL ME BY YOUR NAME'
If ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Carol’ announced a new era in queer cinema, Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ raised it to the heavens. I still haven’t been able to find the words to describe how this extraordinary film made me feel, the way it touched my heart and soul as very few films ever have. A masterpiece in every sense of the word, transcendent and generous and overwhelming, and Timothée Chalamet gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen on film.
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1
'MOONLIGHT'
Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning masterpiece left me in awe, that a film could capture so much about the loneliness and longing of human existence with such grace, honesty and artistry. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes’ collective performance as Chiron is still an achievement that defies description. As far as I’m concerned, this is probably the best film of the decade.
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Jake
JAKE WATT
5
'IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD'
The beautifully animated and incredibly detailed drama ‘In This Corner of the World’ provides a history of wartime from the perspective of an ordinary family and village in Hiroshima in 1935. Adapted from Fumiyo Kōno's manga of the same name by director Sunao Katabuchi, the film is a gentle, folktale-like story that delves into the daily lives of the little people, where the war is very much in the periphery of the story, looming like a storm cloud on the horizon. Saddening and ultimately heart-warming, this film edges out 'Loving Vincent' as the best animated movie of 2017.
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4
'LOGAN'
It's a rare thing to watch an extremely well-choreographed action film where the audience is on the receiving end of the biggest gut-punches. For Hugh Jackman's final outing as the iconic Wolverine (and Patrick Stewart's final appearance as Professor X), director James Mangold took full control of 'Logan' to craft one of the strangest and arguably the best superhero film yet: an R-rated post-apocalyptic road-movie/Western that riffed more on George Stevens' 'Shane', Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven' and George Miller's 'Mad Max' than comic books (referred to as "ice cream for bed-wetters" by the film itself).
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3
'GOOD TIME'
An exciting, pulsating, modernised noir/New Hollywood thriller from The Safdie Brothers, 'Good Time' been likened to the gritty work of Abel Ferrara and 'Dog Day Afternoon', Sidney Lumet's taut and incredible bank-heist-gone-wrong film. Big-headed Robert Pattinson turns in his best performance as an ashen-faced, stubble-laden, nervy-eyed criminal, paired with Ben Safdie as his mentally-challenged brother. With electric cinematography and Daniel Lopatin's throbbing score, 'Good Time' is a delirious panic attack of a film. I slept on this movie during festival season and was blown away when I finally managed to watch it.
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2
'THE FLORIDA PROJECT'
Featuring Willem Dafoe as a motel manager, Sean Baker’s film 'The Florida Project', about fringe-dwellers living week to week in run-down budget accomodation in the long shadow cast by Disney World, is a lyrical evocation of American childhood. Baker and Chris Bergoch's screenplay touches upon the bleakness and the monotony of the lives of the poor in America with a mix of gut-wrenching honesty and good humour.
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1
'BLADE RUNNER 2049'
Director Denis Villenue, cinematographer Roger Deakins, production designer Dennis Gassner and writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green crafted an absorbing neo-noir detective film and a beautiful, elegant, worthy sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 landmark sci-fi film. Riffing on Robert Towne’s ‘Chinatown’ and ‘The Two Jakes’, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ takes an issue planted in the original movie and makes it the central, haunting mystery: what makes us human? I originally had no desire to see this film, but then I watched it, loved it, and was subsequently crushed when it painfully belly flopped it at the U.S. box-office.
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Charlie
CHARLIE DAVID PAGE
5
'THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER'
This film sticks with you, whether you like it or not. In a universe devoid of displays of emotion, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan offer up rich, darkly funny, severely troubled characters within a story of injustice balanced. While a more tangible tale from Yorgos Lanthimos than ‘The Lobster’, ‘Sacred Deer’ goes to darker places and aims to make you feel as uncomfortable and tense as possible. A work of endurance, but entirely rewarding.
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4
'BABY DRIVER'
What a film. The technical and creative prowess brought to the screen by Edgar Wright is mind-boggling, with such an apt synchronisation of visuals and music, it’s hard to believe they were ever separate entities. Add to that a career-defining role from Ansel Elgort, whose need for dialog is almost completely non-existent yet his performance speaks volumes. ‘Baby Driver’ is grand in a way most Hollywood films aren’t these days, yet as fresh and edgy as you could ever possibly imagine.
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3
'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'
Quality queer stories have always been hard to come by, and even more so ones which showcase same-sex couples in a believable light. ‘God’s Own Country’ achieved this to an impeccable degree, with unflinching dedication from writer/director Francis Lee and raw, genuine emotion from its leads Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu. This trio have crafted something they are truly proud of, which is evident in every single one of the film’s social media posts and in every interaction they have with fans and critics. I’m at a disadvantage as I haven’t had the opportunity to see ‘Call Me By Your Name’, but the impact of these two films on audiences this year has been remarkable to see.
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2
'A MONSTER CALLS'
This film broke me. Numerous times. It’s impressive in so many ways: the story itself is startlingly unique, the visuals are rich and lush, the acting is top-notch - especially from then 13-year-old Lewis MacDougall - and it’s brutally honest. By not sugar-coating the topic of death, it does so much to teach you about life. Director J.A. Bayona has created a very special piece of magic here, and I can’t wait to see what he does with ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ next year.
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1
'COCO'
This was a hard call for me. But 2017 has left me broken and battered, and honestly, I needed something as refreshing and uplifting as ‘Coco’ to be my #1. The tale of a boy transported to the Land of the Dead is beautifully crafted, masterfully written, and culturally sensitive. It’s more heartfelt and endearing than anything Pixar has released in years, with some excellent songs to boot. It was one of the few films that left me grinning from ear to ear this year, and reminded me that not everything is as dire as it seems. See it, and be inspired too.
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Brent
BRENT DAVIDSON
5
'KEDI'
Movies that make me cry on a plane are a guide to what is a good film. This documentary created a veritable river! It’s a documentary detailing the lives of the cheeky stray cats in Istanbul and how they influence the lives of the people they interact with it. I can’t stress enough this will make you want to get a cat soooo bad. It’s just a problem when you’re at 36,000 feet above sea level. There is nothing cuter than cats and nothing sweeter than seeing people’s lives changed by furry little friends - I definitely know people who’s lives have been changed by their sometimes ambivalent loved ones.
4
'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY'
Simple and elegant storytelling at its finest. It is humble and raw and hits you in places you weren’t expecting. Stand out debut performances, a brilliant script and direction makes ‘God’s Own Country’ one of 2017s must-see films. So much of what makes this film incredible isn’t what is said but what is not said. It might be a slight touch, but that touch sends ripples through the whole film and through your soul. Definitely pack a tissue.
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3
'THOR: RAGNAROK'
The third instalment of Thor’s standalone films saw it being handled once again in a different way (talk about me loving the slightly more quirky Marvel movies). Directed by Taika Waititi, his comedy roots are impossible not to miss. His strides in diverse casting decisions and crew members are also impossible to miss and are yet another reason ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is just so joyous a film. It’s impossible not to have a great time on the rollercoaster that is anther Thor movie!
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2
'LOGAN'
This is probably one of the most gritty and real Marvel films I have ever seen. I love how mature it was and how seriously it took its role as the final film for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It was violent and funny and extremely full of heart. It shows that when risks are taken within a universe and franchise that it can completely pay off. ‘Logan’ is Marvel coming of age, and I for one welcome the more mature and more risky films in the Marvel universe! They pack even more of a punch.
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1
'A MONSTER CALLS'
Probably the most harrowing children’s film I’ve ever seen. It will stay with you long after you’ve seen it and if you’re anything like me, after three gins on a plane you’ll be a slobbery blubbering mess. It’s so delightfully told and the tough subject matter so deftly handled that it’s surprising it’s even a children’s film at all. The performances are great, complimented exceptionally well by the stunning animated sequences. I can’t stress how affected by this film I was. If it serves only as a reference point for children to handle the harsh things the world might have in store for them, it is an exceptional reference point. But to be fair, I think the adults will be more affected than the kids. Definitely pack even more tissues than you think you’ll need for my pick of the year.
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Chris
CHRIS EDWARDS
5
'PADDINGTON 2'
2017 has been, well, let’s just say "a wild ride", and so I feel absolutely no qualms at all in placing a film that celebrates kindness, diversity, honesty, and the healing power of orange marmalade as my number five film of the year. Seriously, I could wax poetic about how wonderful a celebration of the migrant experience it is, or about how flawlessly structured a piece of screenwriting it is, or about how spectacularly unironic and full of joy it is. Instead, I’ll shut up, and simply give thanks for the CGI-animated bear that might just be the second coming of Charlie Chaplin.
4
'MOONLIGHT'
Forming one half of a beautiful set of queer cinema bookends for 2017 (releasing at the opposite end of the year to Luca Guadignino’s sublime ‘Call Me By Your Name’), Barry Jenkins’ stunningly generous, heart-stoppingly intimate and artfully constructed deep-dive into one young man’s wounded soul is an outright marvel. In a year that has not been kind to LGBTQI+ people, this film stands as a hopeful testament to the personhood, the legitimacy, and the diversity of queer people. I mean really, look no further than the film’s final image, one that I haven’t been able to shake since seeing it almost a year ago. Soul-revealing, heartbreaking, beautiful.
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3
'TONI ERDMANN'
It’s been over a year since I saw Maren Ade’s excruciatingly uncomfortable, hilariously upsetting German comedy, and I’m not sure if in that time more than a day or two has gone past where I haven’t had my mind wander over to the two fascinating figures at its centre. It bites off more than anyone could chew, but gnashes its teeth together anyhow, tackling familial resentments, global politics, and workplace misogyny, all with the devastating undercurrent of two depressed people just trying to connect. Add in maybe the single most iconic, most hysterical, most heart wrenching karaoke scene ever put on film, and you’ve got yourself a modern classic.
2
'DUNKIRK'
Maybe the most perfect apotheosis of auteurist blockbuster filmmaking, Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic might have been the tightest, tensest movie-going experience I had in 2017. Its intimacy, its bombast, its furiously controlled editing, its jaw-dropping visuals, its refusal to be any sort of war movie that we may have seen before – it all makes for a stunningly humanist vision of warfare. And in case I don’t already sound like a pathetic Nolan fanboy (I am) with an overworked thesaurus and a defective critical mind, I’ll end on this note - Harry Styles deserved an Oscar campaign.
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1
'20TH CENTURY WOMEN'
This spot has been locked up since May, because Mike Mills’ under-seen gem grabbed hold of my heart, gave it a knowing look across a kitchen table, said something wise and hilarious, and then ran off into the Californian twilight with it. Genuinely warm and honest depths of human feeling course through its veins, erupt, and then are tossed off like the embers at the end of a cigarette. The wisdom, empathy and complexity of emotions of every line, every frame, every breath, are no less than astounding, and Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning each give the best performances of their careers. It’s a masterpiece.
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