Callum Petch’s Top 20 Films of 2017: #5 – #1

You can call these movies any day or night.

Before anybody starts, I could have picked, like, 15 different terrible song-based film-relevant puns for that header, just remember that.  Anyway, welcome back to this here countdown of My Top 20 Films of 2017, a list that has already seen multiple films that would have easily cinched the #1 slot in other year fall by the wayside before we even hit the Top 5.  If you need a refresher, then we covered the first 10 on Thursday, and the first half of the Top 10 yesterday.  Today, though, it’s the grand reveal.  What took the #1 slot?  The answer may shock you… or it may not.  Point is, if this doesn’t make you cry, it doesn’t mean you’ve DIIIIIIIIIIED!

There may be spoilers.  Proceed with caution.


05] T2 Trainspotting

Dir: Danny Boyle

Star: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle

More than any other film on this list, T2 Trainspotting is this high up because of how personally it hit me.  It ain’t perfect, not in the slightest: it is inarguably too long, prone to tangents that don’t particularly go anywhere, many of the new characters are intentionally underwritten, and it becomes very melodramatic towards the end.  And yet every single one of those flaws is integral to the messy, sprawling, devastating epitaph that Danny Boyle, John Hodge, Irvine Welsh (by proxy), and all of the cast and crew have put together for their most iconic creation.  T2 is not perfect, but it is perfectly-constructed for what it set out to accomplish, and to alter it in any significant way would be to completely dismantle what it’s aiming to do: destroy the very thing that brought them here in the first place, so that we can all move on.

I am on-record stating about the profound impact that Trainspotting had on me growing up – its music, its visual flair and relentless pace, its honest and unflinching depiction of drug addiction and the mind-numbing boring horrors of working class life, its virtuoso filmmaking.  Trainspotting is one of my favourite films of all-time, something I could watch a thousand times over and never tire of, I love every single thing about it.  T2 is all about tearing down that cult of personality, about demonstrating in exacting, step-by-step detail, exactly why the original Trainspotting being such a cultural touchstone for so many people – an arbiter of Cool Brittannia whose various iconic sequences live on years later co-opted by the exact kinds of people with no concept of irony that Trainspotting would display nothing but pure disdain for and lionised by the kinds of people who failed to understand that nobody and nothing in that movie was being glamorised, because it was and it has been and it did (respectively) – is a bad thing.  Why clinging on to nostalgia to a supposed better, happier, cooler time is dangerous bullshit, all rose-tinted spectacles leaving one blind to the full truth of their actions and the people they worshipped at the feet of.

T2 is a tired, heavy movie, albeit very much intentionally, unlike a lot of [x] years later sequels to beloved classics.  It knows that it can’t recreate the energy, freneticism, and iconic nature of its predecessor, so not only does it not try, it’s not even aiming to do so.  This is a slow, introspective post-script.  Where Trainspotting pounded the pavement, giving us enough to make its characters feel fully formed but always keeping us at somewhat of an arm’s length from everybody except Renton, T2 forces us to spend actual, extended, uninterrupted time with Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.  The results are largely alienating, purposefully so, since, in the harsh sober light of day 20 years removed from our first drug-fuelled encounter, these are largely horrible, repellent people.  Addicts to vices found in both narcotics and general scumbaggy human nature: rage, extortion, revenge, bitterness, miseries both past and present, a life wasted that must be down to some kind of external fault because it couldn’t possibly be their own relentlessly bad decisions.

In this hateful, reactionary, post-Brexit social landscape, one that could be argued has its roots in the very same post-Thatcher years that Trainspotting first sprang from, it really is only fitting that Hodge and Boyle would use T2 to put together the most damning critique about the supposed “left behind” majority that crowed for such a thing.  Renton, Sick Boy, and Begbie all wallow in the past, waxing nostalgic for the days when they were King Shits – Renton and Sick Boy practically vomit their glory days all over young immigrant Veronika at the film’s midpoint, Begbie visibly lights up brighter than any other time we’ve known him once he starts reading Spud’s poetic transcriptions about his past deeds – forgetting, of course, that they were only King Shits in their own minds.  Attempts to actually relive those days only lead to bitter emptiness and dissatisfaction, the one heroin sequence in the entire film feels like an empty obligation because that is exactly what it is.  Not once do any of them try to better themselves, and attempts to make something of themselves amount to nothing because they’ve refused to change as people in 20 years, something society at large recognises almost instantly.  Spud, and a briefly cameoing Diane, is the only one who genuinely tries in the face of everything, which is why he’s always been the only character that both films have displayed any sympathy towards, using his past, that he views critically unlike everyone else, as a way to forge a new path for himself instead of wallowing in it.

T2 is never going to replace the original Trainspotting, but that was never its intention.  Instead, it forces the viewer to stare long and hard at everything the original represented in the cold light of day, so that they can better understand it and then close the book on everything to do with it before finally moving on.  That’s what better people than most of its cast do.  Who wants to be Mark Renton, sat on a couch, bored out of his mind, sniping about a supposed friend trying to make something of themselves, pissing away his life?


04] Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

Dir: James Gunn

Star: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice)

Maybe the fact that the Cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has largely been its own separate entity up to this point has something to do with it, but anybody who tries to argue that Marvel cannot handle directors with distinct voices of their own, conveniently forgetting that Jon Favreau started off this whole thing with Jon Favreau movies, should be forced to sit down and rewatch Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2Ragnarok turned over a comparatively floundering and indecisive branch of the MCU to Taika Waititi and allowed him to make a Taika Waititi movie, a raucous comedy that fully embraces the goofiness inherent in the character instead of trying to take much of it seriously.  Whilst James Gunn has been allowed to make two Guardians instalments that bear all of the hallmarks and feel of a James Gunn movie, being character studies about damaged jerks slowly coming to terms with that fact and spiced with an acerbic and irreverent sense of humour.  But, most surprising of all, these collaborations have been two-way streets, with the Marvel formula even teasing out hitherto unknown sides of both men: Waititi revealing a knack for crowdpleasing blockbuster setpieces, and Gunn, agent provocateur since his days in Troma, turning out to be a full-on sentimentalist at heart.

Ragnarok is great fun, but suffers from being a bit too ramshackle in its construction, especially in the opening half hour or so, which is why it’s not here.  Guardians vol. 2, however, is better than the original Guardians in almost every single way.  With one other exception (2014’s high watermark Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Marvel have notoriously struggled with direct sequels.  They’ve not been exactly bad, other than Iron Man 3 outside of the Mandarin twist and I know I’m in the minority on that, but they’ve either spun their wheels whilst waiting for the next big movie (Iron Man 2) or they’ve done that whilst also trying to artificially inflate the stakes in ways that never end up convincing (Thor: The Dark World).  For vol. 2, Gunn sidesteps these problems completely by, what else in a year where this became a surprising but very welcome trend, telling a much smaller and far more personal story than the original.  Vol. 2 is a film about the Guardians’ dysfunctions, digging down deep into the roots of them, firmly demonstrating that those past scars have left them all hurt, miserable, damaged people – assholes not in the jovial and affectionate sense of the term, but in the reckless, self-centred, egotistical, emotionally-stunted, abusive sense – and then forcing them to work through that fact.

Guardians vol. 2 has universe-threatening stakes, it even briefly shows them during the finale in the only false note that the film hits (it reeks of one particular studio exec misguidedly fearing that audiences won’t care about that stakes of the film unless we see a nebulous civilian group in peril), but the actual stakes of the film are incredibly personal: will Peter choose his surrogate family over his real one?  It’s a film about egotistical manly men so enthralled to the notion of self-reliance and toxic notions of prideful masculinity – and, yes, Gamora and Nebula are not exempt from this, either, despite being women – that they refuse to allow themselves the ability to cry, to grieve, to display an emotion beyond stoic jackassery.  This is why the film ends not with a giant fireworks display, not with the Guardians all stood together looking all defiant and shit, and not with a quip, but with a close-up of Rocket crying, having learned throughout his journey that his refusal to ever truly open up and admit his feelings and insecurities leads to the kinds of self-destructive behaviour that drives everyone away.  So, he cries and he forgives, both himself and everyone else, so that he can move on – they all do, all in various ways.

Gunn’s always had this kind of secretly sentimental heart within him – and if you don’t believe me, then go back and really watch Super again for prime evidence of it – but he’s never worn it so proudly on his sleeve, and resultantly critically examined the kind of egotistical man-child behaviour he’d used as foundations in earlier works, as he does here.  It’s not like the villain being both the personification of and literally called EGO makes this at all subtle or anything, yet Gunn’s screenplay roots that criticism in our already-three-dimensional characters, teasing out new subtleties and surprising traits by, get this, making them go through actual character arcs and shit.  And though the result is a much more emotionally enriching and melancholy affair that’s all about diving head-first into the parts that should undercut the unique joy that the series runs on, Guardians vol. 2 manages to do all of this without sacrificing the fun, humour, or quirk of the original film.  Then there are the supplemental joys: Gunn’s massively-improved action direction, Kurt Russell’s insidiously brilliant turn as Ego, the vibrant and fantastical visual designs, a scene-stealing star-making Pom Klementieff…

Upon first viewing I knew, deep down, but it took a second viewing for me to confirm it: Guardians vol. 2 really was superior to the original in nearly every respect, deconstructing its foundations without ever undermining that specific fun and joy.  No other superhero movie came remotely close to what vol. 2 managed to do this year, and it’s the best blockbuster since Mad Max: Fury Road… well, it was.  For about 3 months, anyway.  Until…


03] War for the Planet of the Apes

Dir: Matt Reeves

Star: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller

One of the downsides to a year as uniformly, ridiculously strong for movies as 2014, insomuch as it could be called a downside, is that I can sit here and call Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a modern near-masterpiece of science-fiction filmmaking, underrated and have that be near-enough a fact instead of another piece of hyperbolic Internet opinionism.  Dawn was a phenomenal film, vastly improving upon the shockingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes by focussing more on the apes, strengthening the writing on the human side, leaning into the tragedy inherent in its nature as a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series and refusing to provide any catharsis in its moments of ape-on-human spectacle, and being shockingly timely in its staunch anti-gun messaging.  Unfortunately, 2014 was so 2014 that, by the time Year-End rolled around, everybody kind of forgot about it, lost in the dogpile of the year’s many other treasures.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone; it didn’t make my Top 10 for the year, at the time.

I’m not about to make that same mistake twice.  Somehow, some way, War for the Planet of the Apes sees Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback improving upon Dawn and crafting together an intellectually stimulating, emotionally gruelling, and fittingly satisfying conclusion to this consistently unpredictable series that’s quite possibly the best blockbuster of the decade.  And, exactly like I’ve mentioned with the year’s other great sequels, they’ve done it by going decidedly quiet and small-scale.  War features no less than the potential extinction of humanity as we know it, and the entire remaining remnants of Caesar’s ape clan being whittled down and tortured within an inch of their lives, yet at every turn Reeves keeps proceedings understated, riding on the battle between two cults of personality and a deeply personal fight for one’s own soul in the face of despairing odds.  Just like how Dawn promised the sight of apes riding into battle on horseback whilst dual-wielding machine guns only to turn around and make its eventual appearance the bleakest and most-heartbreaking stretch of the movie, War promises an all-out war, then not only continues to make its battle sequences completely horrifying messes that you just want to end as soon as they begin, but also instead reveals that it’s actually a prisoner-of-war movie.

Logan turns out to be a surprising spiritual sibling to War for the Planet of the Apes, in that respect.  Perhaps Mangold saw something in the way that Reeves depicted violence in Dawn as a dehumanising, brutally unnecessary act – something that’s been a constant throughout his career as a director, going all the way back to Cloverfield – and felt inspired by it.  Reeves follows that through to its natural conclusion, here, not only staging just two blow-out war setpieces throughout the entirety of War’s near 2-and-a-half-hour runtime, but completely withholding any catharsis from any and all violent acts that occur.  War recognises that some may consider violence a necessity in extreme and desperate times, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an act that everybody can live with, as contrasted by the sadistic and hard-line Colonel and the revenge-driven but guilt-racked Caesar.  Both are trying to help their respective species survive, forced to engage in an impossible battle from which there will be no winners.  But one seems to revel in the idea, buying into the concepts of superiority and survival of the fittest to rationalise the cruel, inhumane, and extremist methods that they take to ensure their survival, whilst the other considers conflict to be an absolute last resort, and even when caught in the grip of blind revenge he’s still haunted by the ghosts of those whose lives he was forced to take years ago.

War is not subtle about any of its imagery or thematic undercurrents – Alpha-Omega’s prison camp and its conditions call to mind nothing less than World War II concentration camps, Caesar’s apes and their dichotomy with the Colonel plays with colonialism parallels, and at one point there is even prominently displayed graffiti that reads “Ape-ocalypse Now” – but that’s in-keeping with the Planet of the Apes lineage, and it doesn’t make shots of apes trussed-up on poles, collapsing from exhaustion due to over-working, slaving as dehumanised “advisors” for the humans, or Caesar pressing his temple to the Colonel’s gun with an expression of furious defiance any less powerful.  Bluntness is not an inherently bad thing, particularly when it’s attached to filmmaking this strong.  Reeves cements himself as one of the best directors working today through a masterful handling of tone & mood and some utterly gorgeous visuals, Andy Serkis puts in the absolute finest performance of a career filled with finest performances, the characters are all fantastically written… this is the kind of film where it has an obvious comic relief character, deployed at exactly the moment things threaten to become soul-crushing, who never breaks the mood because the humour always carries an undercurrent of tragedy to it, based upon his abusive past and evident PTSD.

But what truly makes War, and what cements the rebooted Planet of the Apes as one of the greatest trilogies of all-time, is the moment that Reeves finally allows the catharsis that he otherwise withholds for the sake of the story.  There is a big blockbuster finale, explosions, fate of the world stuff… and it all happens in the background.  The apes don’t partake in the violence.  They just flee and the world tears itself apart whilst they do so.  They escape the cycle, they escape a planet not worth saving, and they are rewarded for their faith, their patience, their resolve, and their hope with their own corner of paradise where they can finally live.  At that point, Reeves releases 3 films worth of build-up, and the full-on sobbing that I descended into is the kind of power that can only come from masterfully-handled serial storytelling.  It’s earned, on both the micro level of War as a film on its own merits with its own themes of survival and pacifism, and on the macro level of this Apes trilogy as a whole being the conclusion of a genuinely epic narrative journey.

There is every chance that War for the Planet of the Apes is going to be lost in the melee of 2017’s other riches by those making lists, but I’m not about to let one of the finest blockbusters of the decade become “underrated.”  Not for a second.


02] Nocturama

Dir: Bertrand Bonello

Star: Finnegan Oldfield, Vincent Rottiers, Hamza Meziani

There is every single possible chance that you are going to absolutely hate Nocturama.  Not “politely disagree with me,” not “mildly dislike,” not “be indifferent to;” full-on HATE Nocturama.  Bertrand Bonello’s latest is the kind of movie where the criticism “pretentious” will be thrown around by every single person who falls on the negative side of the reaction divide, and they would for once be completely justified in using it.  There are no characters, there is no emotional connection, its messaging is vague and muddied by coolly stylish direction that could be interpreted as glamorising the very things it’s ostensibly critiquing, the events that unfold across 130 minutes could be summed up totally in 3 sentences, and it is oh so very mean, bordering on contemptuously-nihilistic.  This is filmmaking designed to provoke, to anger, to make everybody other than the tiny subset of people who click with it want Bonello’s head on a spike by the following morning…

And I fucking love it.  I first saw Nocturama at 2016’s London Film Festival, where the lights going up were met with extremely loud grumbles from a lot of very annoyed critics with the exact same reactions I described up top, and fell in love with it instantly.  I was hooked by the stellar filmmaking on display: the slowly-coiling tension that starts from frame one, winds itself tighter and tighter, explodes at the halfway mark, then resets and builds to an even more nerve-shreddingly nail-biting payoff of pure viciousness.  I was entranced by the visuals: Leo Hinstin’s vacuum-sealed cinematography, draining every shot of life in order to draw attention to the emptiness of the film’s locations in a manner that reflects the artificiality of late-Capitalist society, Bonello’s deliberate camera movements creating the feeling of an alien wading through space, and Fabrice Rouaud’s slick and indispensable editing, so vital to the film’s sense of forward momentum even as it plays with time and folds back in on itself.  I was unnerved by the sound design: impeccable Pop music cues being re-contextualised as funeral marches and dissonant ambiance, whilst the nauseating finale enhances the sounds of gun shots to levels that equate their arrival as a firm audible punctuation mark.

Most of all, however, I was enraptured by the very arrogance that will turn so many people off of it.  The comparison I most frequently make when describing Nocturama to other people is “Spring Breakers but for terrorism,” but such a comparison ignores the fact that Harmony Korine has at least some kind of sympathy for his cast, given that their rebellion is all about them trying to find themselves and several of them go home when things become too morally dubious.  Bonello’s cast commit the acts they do for seemingly no other reason than boredom.  What they are rebelling against is unclear, and Bonello heavily indicates, through the characters predominant refusal to state any ideological reasons why to each other, that it doesn’t matter anyway.  Nothing would sufficiently justify their actions, and nobody other than them particularly cares to begin with.  Living in a city nowadays, you essentially accept the risk that terrorism might happen, as something that comes with the territory.  Attacks will happen, some people might die and some might witness them, but everybody else will simply read about it, go home, and then get up the following morning and carry on as before.  To think anything else will happen, particularly when your displays carry no discernible rhyme reason or message, is egocentrism on a massive scale.

Besides, if the group are so desperate to “[set] the city on fire,” then they seem oddly enthralled by the society that they want to smash to pieces.  Much of them spend the night in the high-end department store, that starts as their hideout after the job is done but slowly becomes their tomb, indulging their most materialistic and vapid impulses seemingly out of an instinctual compulsion.  Some of them find themselves having late-breaking crises of conscience, potentially inadvertently setting their swift punishment in motion as a result of that, perhaps hoping this somehow mitigates the wrongs that they have done.  Several others are once more bored, breaking the clear instructions given at the night’s beginning almost immediately, maybe because they’re hoping it will provide the excitement and fulfilment that they keep fruitlessly searching for.  When given the run of the store, their individual responses reveal an (ethnically and gender) diverse group of young people acting out their fantasies, what they would do should society collapse as a result of their actions that day, and it brings not a single one of them any satisfaction or pleasure – one practically forces herself to dance to “Call Me” in the hopes that it will make her feel something, but the song ends and she has the same empty look as when she started.  None of this makes their fate any less sickening to watch.

This was how I felt about Nocturama when I first saw it back in 2016.  This year, the film went straight-to-Netflix in the UK, and, upon a re-viewing, I feel exactly the same about it now as I did then.  You may HATE it; I fucking love every last breath-taking second of it.


01] Get Out

Dir: Jordan Peele

Star: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery

Back at the year’s mid-point, Owen Hughes asked me to submit a mid-term Top 5 list of the year so far for Failed Critics.  In it, I placed Get Out at my #1 slot and wrote the following words: “Normally, when a critic tells you that something is perfect barring one bum note, they’re talking in the metaphorical sense.  With Get Out, however, I mean it in the literal sense.  Apart from the one moment early on where the orchestra scoring the film collectively reacts to Georgina’s shadow like somebody accidentally fired a gun in the recording studio, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is as perfect as I have ever seen a movie…  I said it when I first exited the film and I’ll say it again now: if I see anything in cinemas this year that is somehow better than Get Out, then I don’t even know how I’ll react because I genuinely do not see anything toppling this.”  Well, 6 months on, and here we are.

Here’s the dirty little secret about these Top 20 Films lists: I couldn’t exactly tell you how I rank these beyond gut feelings.  I mean, there’s a reason why I don’t call them “The 20 Best Films,” although I would obviously get more clicks if I did, or “My 20 Favourite Films,” which I guess is more honest but still doesn’t fully explain how these lists shake out – I don’t think much about my Favourite Films, although I do have ones that I return to over and over again (which I guess is the definition of the term), and I would draw a complete blank if you asked me to list my 10 Favourite Films of All-Time.  Instead, it largely comes down to gut feeling, what feels like the right answer to me, that I can look at and go, “that makes sense.”  In the past two years, that question has been ridiculously easy, because Inside Out and (to a lesser extent since it fought tooth-and-nail with Zootopia) Arrival both hit me in such a deeply-personal way, being the perfect film for that moment in my life, that I couldn’t envision anything else bearing the title of “My Film of 201x” no matter how hard I could’ve tried.

But 2017, for reasons we shall come to tomorrow – because now even hack film blogs such as my own are going Bad Cinematic Universe on your ass, leaving important holes in a story that will be retroactively filled-in in future instalments – didn’t have an Arrival or an Inside Out.  It had a lot of outstanding films, as this list should attest to, but it didn’t have that one film that burrowed its way deep into my soul to provide the message and comfort that I needed at that particular time.  What it did have, however, were an onslaught of films that reminded me why I go to the cinema every week.  2017 was the year that I fell back in love with movies.  I never fell out of love with movies, despite how that sounds, but I think, at a certain point, I kind of took them for granted; not exactly an obligation but also not something that I was always massively excited for, either.  But this year, as everything else in my life fell apart in various ways, there were the movies, ready to thrill and excite and provoke and engage again, to provide something to look forward to in the face of everything else.  To let me, whether it be for 2 brief hours in my new more-conducive-to-movie-watching room or for a full day during my weekly trek to the cinema, forget everything and escape to somewhere, anywhere else.

So, yeah, that makes picking my Film of the Year a harder task than usual, since it all eventually comes down to what feels most right.  But as December rolled on, as I caught up on movies I had missed due to availability issues, as I reacquainted myself with films I had loved earlier in the year but had been swallowed up by the endless madness that was 2017 and so needed a reappraisal, as I forced my tired mind to scan back through the year to the films that had occupied my headspace the most, and as I drafted and redrafted this list over and over until I got that one incarnation that felt the most right…  One film remained consistently at the top, never once moving, and never once feeling anything less than right to me.  That film was Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

Get Out is the best film of the year.  If I decided this list based on objective quality, even in a year as strong as this, Get Out would still be #1.  What I wrote in the mid-term report I sincerely believe to be a fact, and I’ve checked!  I have seen Get Out 4 times this year, and every time other than the first, I’ve kept my eye out for any moment in which Peele even slightly stumbles in any other respect, and I just haven’t found one.  There’s not a wasted second, not a line out of place, not a performance that isn’t just astounding – especially Allison Williams’ incredibly-convincing con-job and then downright chilling work as Rose, but especially Daniel Kaluuya’s relatable and utterly terrified (followed by some of the best “I am so done with this shit” work I have seen in a movie) turn as Chris.  Strip away all of the film’s social commentary, or just blot it from your mind in your attempts to talk about Get Out, and you would still have a near-perfect Horror Thriller that plays its audience like a symphony orchestra, and which Peele, in his debut directorial gig, commands with a level of talent that can escape directors who have been doing this for 40 years.

But, of course, Get Out is not just a prodigious display of pure filmmaking and storytelling talent.  It’s also an incredibly dense, layered, nuanced, clever, and blisteringly angry movie about liberal racism that calls direct attention to the kinds of microaggressions that even supposed allies can visit upon Black people – particularly in their performative desire to display how “woke” they are, once more reducing a Black person to just the colour of their skin – and then traces a direct link between those and America’s history of White supremacy and slavery.  Along the way, Peele also tackles eugenics, justifiable fear of the police, the falsehood that Blackness is just a skin colour that one wears instead of a race with its own long history and culture, self-described “colour-blind” people who nonetheless happily benefit from a racially-biased system, the way that society silences Black voices in a manner that makes them feel like they are screaming into the void, the shocking lack of interest that society has in the disproportionately high amount of missing Black men, and so, so, so much more.

All of these layers slowly reveal themselves not only over repeat viewings, but also over the hours, days, weeks, even months between those viewings.  I have had morning showers this year where my mind suddenly made another startling realisation about another message buried in Get Out, which is something that has genuinely happened to me multiple times and is not a joke or hyperbole.  But no part of this film ever feels like a lecture because Peele’s filmmaking skills are so strong.  The messaging goes down effortlessly alongside the thrill of watching the movie; a properly scary Hororr movie, too, as a result of Peele’s unique viewpoint, which he is able to get all viewers, regardless of race or wokeness, to understand thanks to the way he communicates that.  I saw no better film than Get Out in 2017, I saw no film more times than I did Get Out in 2017, and, yeah if you wanna go there, I saw no film that better captured this moment in our cultural landscape in 2017 than Get Out.

But none of those are the reason why Get Out is My Film of 2017 above all others.  Get Out is My Film of 2017 because, much like with Gone Girl before it in 2014, it is the film that occupied my brain the most.  It is the film that I could not stop thinking about, and which, every time I thought about it, never failed to provide me with even more pleasure.  Whether it be in the astonished sputters of pure adoration that I had with a friend after my first viewing, uncovering a new thematic strand weeks later that I hadn’t realised until that point, talking about it with other friends during the few times I got to see them this year, or the fact that I was still getting goosebumps whenever I thought about the keys scene months after having it first sprang upon me…  No matter what, I could not stop thinking of Get Out, and every time I thought about Get Out, I’d have a realisation that movies are pretty fucking great reasons to keep on moving.

When I think back on Film in 2017 in a decade or so’s time, my first thought is going to be Get Out.  That is why it is My Film of 2017.


Tomorrow: a hyper-personal, barely-filtered, first-draft summation of my miserable year on this Earth.

Callum Petch dreamed he was missing.

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