How many have you seen?
It’s halfway through 2017, meaning it’s high time for us to take a look at all the great films that have hit screens so far this year. Here’s our pick – and we’ll be updating this list with more as the year goes on.
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Returning to the franchise’s roots after the slightly tangential Prometheus, Ridley Scott brings back the horrifying chest-bursting monsters of his 1979 original for an Alien prequel in which Katherine Waterston shines. Its prevailing subtexts – creation myths, God complexes, evolution theory – answer some long-held questions about the Alien universe.
Edgar Wright has truly left the Cornettos behind with this Atlanta-set heist movie. Essentially a musical – but without all the awks singing – Ansel Elgort’s Baby is the perfect getaway driver, but only when he’s got the right soundtrack. Cue lots of soul, funk and ’70s bangers. Awesome stuff.
Three years into the US civil war, a girls’ seminary is forever changed by the arrival of a handsome wounded soldier (Colin Farrell). Sofia Coppola’s gripping adaptation of the 1966 novel starts heady and ends deliciously dark thanks to the efforts of a stellar ensemble cast led by Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst.
In this monster movie with a difference, hard-partying Gloria (Anne Hathaway) becomes aware of an enormous, destructive creature mirroring her movements in South Korea whenever she gets black-out drunk – providing a conversely memorable parable about addiction.
Quirky British director Ben Wheatley’s first Hollywood pic can be summed up in four words: guns, lots of guns. Fast paced, funny and really quite gruesome, it was Harold Pinter meets Quentin Tarantino, a one-set epic with slick dialogue, super surprises and a, erm, killer soundtrack.
Jordan Peele’s satirical horror pokes at the open wound of American racism with a cheeky grin. When Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris Washington’s visits the parents of his girlfriend (Allison Williams) for the first time, he finds himself drawn inextricably into their too-perfect world; the horrifyingly slow revelation of his true situation is balanced out by several moments of pure comedy. A delight.
Natalie Portman’s tour-de-force performance gives this biopic its lifeblood. It’s the story of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the week after her husband President John F. was assassinated next to her on November 22, 1963. It’s isn’t just a convincing and riveting depiction of a 20th century icon; it’s also a heart-rending portrait of a grieving woman trying to regain control when the life she knows is suddenly and cruelly taken away.
Whiplash director Damien Chazelle improbably brought the musical format back into critical acclaim with this story of two star-crossed lovers (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.) His visual feast portrays their dogged pursuit of the arts and one another, in the cold world of Los Angeles: this leads them to both personal growth and midair dance routines, combining their real-life struggles with feather-light surrealism.
In which Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine approaches old age with ‘knuckle-pus’ and something approaching fear. For the first time in the superhero genre, here is a film examining what happens when superpowers wane – the result feeling something like a Western. Despite the ageing protagonists, it’s got plenty of memorable action thanks to Patrick Stewart’s explosive Dr Xavier and a new Wolverine-kid, Laura, whose arrival creates a subtle family dynamic in the trio.
A camp-as-Christmas black comedy about a woman who used sex-magic to drive men crazy. Made to look like a 1960s b-movie, the costumes, set dressing and general amazing vibes were all the work of one woman, tour-de-force director Anna Biller.
Kenneth Lonergan’s heavy, darkly humorous drama starred Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck in a pair of weighty performances for which Affleck won an Oscar and for which Williams was nominated. A powerful exploration of bereavement’s effect on the human psyche.
Sustaining silliness for a whole 90 minutes, this glorious comedy by The Mighty Boosh‘s Simon Farnaby and Julian Barratt is set on the Isle of Man, where it captures some of Anchorman‘s mad energy. When ageing actor Richard Thorncroft (Barratt) reprises his role as a fictional super-detective Mindhorn – in order to stop an obsessive criminal (Russell Tovey) – his self-aggrandising exploits end up alienating the entire island and all his old friends. Then he saves the day, obviously.
2017’s Oscar-winner for Best Film is a beautiful triptych of a gay man’s life that begins in elementary school, flits to high school, then lands in adulthood. Filled with small, telling moments from a brilliant cast (Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monáe) Moonlight is almost as expansive a portrait of a life as 2014’s Boyhood, but where that film’s Mason blossoms, here our laconic protagonist Chiron surrounds himself with a protective armour that stifles his real self and steeps the audience in his needless tragedy.
Mija grows up just outside Seoul with a genetically modified ‘super-pig’ donated to her family by a large corporation, but when they come to claim their chubby investment, she tries to disrupt their plans. The cartoon humour and feelgood flavour of this film bely its message about the evils of the meat trade: Okja can’t decide if it’s straightforward, family entertainment or serious social commentary, but as its wild adventure progresses, it finds itself mastering both worlds.
Kristen Stewart and Olivier Assayas first collaborated on his 2014 psychological drama ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’; for her supporting role she became the first American actress to win a César Award. Here she takes the lead in Assayas’ chic ghost story, playing Maureen – a personal assistant to supermodel Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten) and also a medium in search of her dead brother’s spirit. Offering no easy answers, Assayas’ film balances her quarter-life crisis with the pain of her loss, lingering long in the memory.
This gut-busting horror by Belgian first-timer Julia Ducournau follows a vegetarian who goes cannibal after being forced to eat a rabbit kidney: in the great horror tradition, it’s about sex and hormones and coming of age, and a fierce sibling rivalry that makes Liam and Noel look like Topsy and Tim.
Catapulting fun back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man brought the franchise back to school for a rite-of-passage superhero film that still packed in plenty of large-scale action. Shoutout to Zendaya for the sardonic wit.
21 years after Danny Boyle’s original, he finds Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy and Spud grappling with middle age in different ways, but fundamentally as irresponsible as ever. The soundtrack throbs with new sounds from the likes of Wolf Alice and Young Fathers, and the dazzling update on Renton’s iconic “Choose Life” speech is almost as satisfying as the original hit.
After years in development hell, Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman took the lead in her first solo big-screen outing, and about bloody time, too. Gal Gadot starred as the DC Comics hero in this funny, explosive and smart take on the classic character that defied the nay-sayers. Your move, Marvel.