I watched a lot more TV and films this year because I’ve been too ill and tired to read much of the time, but only having Netflix has meant my watching has been more purposeful – instead of watching whatever’s on I’ve been actively choosing stuff to watch, so I’ve watched better things (and also more trash, but good trash). In no particular order, this is the ten best of film and TV I saw in 2017 (House of Cards would have been on this list, but Kevin Spacey, so…):
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) film, Netflix
I’m pretty much always here for post-Twilight Kristen Stewart, and I loved this film. It’s really smart and meta and there’s loads to think about. I love the way the play they run lines from blends into their real conversations so at times it’s easy to forget that it’s not a real conversation (and the characters seem to often forget too). But the actors (in real-life) themselves and what we know of them also informs how we read the film. It’s like this double-layer of the read and the real, combined with great performances from Kristen Stewart and Juliet Binoche, that makes this film magic.
Logan (2017) film, cinema
I’ve got a bit of superhero-movie fatigue, but this was incredible – both as a superhero film and just a film in its own right. Though it could have pushed some of the themes further, I liked the different story arc and how character-driven it was. Loved it.
Get Out (2017) film, cinema
I love smart horror, and this is it. The twists are all pretty obvious, so it’s not shocking or terrifying in that sense, but it’s still really enjoyable. It takes the more covert kinds of racism and appropriation from white people who “couldn’t possibly be racist because they like Obama” and then stretches it into more traditional horror tropes. Really worth watching.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) film, Netflix
This is brilliant. It’s a sexual coming-of-age that’s funny, emotional, bold, and non-judgemental, even though there are some complex moral questions. Bel Powley is great in the lead role, and Kirsten Wiig is surprisingly good in a non-comic role.
Dear White People (season 1) series, Netflix
This Netflix series was even better than the original film. The extra time gives more space to explore the characters and themes in greater depth, but it still retains its super sharp humour. I loved it.
The Handmaid’s Tale (season 1) series, All4
This is probably the best adaptation of a book I’ve seen. It’s different, and changes aspects of the story to suit the different medium, but remains true to the feeling and themes of the original book. I’m not sure how a second series that moves beyond the ending of the book is going to work, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
The Lodger (1927) film, cinema
I think I enjoyed this so much because I saw it with live piano accompaniment and it was just a really enjoyable experience. I’m also not a fan of slapstick and this was the first silent film I’ve seen that isn’t a comedy. Ivor Novello is like this hot creepy Bowie-esque stranger on the doorstep, and London is all smog and danger. It’s fairly predictable, but it doesn’t matter.
13th (2016) documentary, Netflix
This is probably the best documentary I’ve ever seen. Not only is it an incredibly important film about mass incarceration in the US, and its roots in slavery, but it’s incredibly well put together. It’s tightly edited, interesting, informative, and has some really affecting sections, particularly the scenes with Trump speaking at one of his campaign rallies over old footage of black people people pushed and beaten on the street, and the montage of black men killed by police filmed on mobile phones. Ava DuVernay is a genius. I urge you to seek it out.
Hidden Figures (2017) film, cinema
As well as being just a really enjoyable film with a great soundtrack, it also highlights the often forgotten contribution of these black women to the space program. I know they’ve messed with the timelines and used some broad brush strokes in adapting the book, but it’s great.
The Last Jedi (2017) film, cinema
I wrote a long-ish list of thoughts about this film over here, so I’ll just say that this is rapidly becoming my favourite Star Wars film. It’s basically about dismantling the system, from both the dark and light sides, so the story can truly move forward and the universe could become different. The accidental goodbye scene for Carrie Fisher between Leia and Luke hurt my heart, and I hope JJ Abrams doesn’t backtrack on what was done in this film. It has its faults, yes, but it’s the Star Wars film with the most to think about and the most potential.