Arts

Dunkirk, Jawbone and Bad Day For The Cut among our top films of 2017

The year is almost over, so what better time to look back at some of the best films of the past 12 months? David Roy picks out some of his favourite cinema experiences of 2017

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk was one of this year's best movies

DUNKIRK

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy, Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard

THE one film of 2017 that pretty much everyone saw at least twice was Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan's visually stunning and minimally 'talky' film offers us a visceral taste of the week-long Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940.

Best experienced in IMAX with Hans Zimmer's ominously droning score cranked to the, er, max, Nolan brings us three war stories from land, sea and air which eventually intersect.

'Relentless' might be the best word to describe Dunkirk. For nearly two hours, its characters are under siege from a hugely realistic wartime maelstrom. There are few traditional heroes on display here, just frightened men reacting to events beyond their control as best they can.

Despite Dunkirk's queasy, dread-inducing qualities, it's an instant classic destined to rack up further repeat viewings on the smaller screen for years to come with each and every television airing.

Expect it to take home a statuette or five on Oscar night.

LOGAN

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E Grant, Dafne Keen

THE first X-Men movie made explicitly for an adult audience, Logan was hands-down the most violent film of 2017 – which is exactly what any picture about an angry man fighting people with huge metal claws should be when it's not being

In sharp contrast to the fun superhero frolics of previous ensemble-based X-Men instalments aimed squarely at action figure-loving 12-year-olds, Logan is a much (much) darker, brutal affair.

How this gore and dismemberment rich film ever got a 15 certificate is beyond me – yet, happily, Logan is not just about the violence. Informed by the classic western Shane, Mangold (who also co-wrote) also crafts an affecting and often amusing tale of a flawed anti-hero's journey towards redemptive self-sacrifice.

JAWBONE

Director: Johnny Harris

Starring: Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley, Ian MacShane

THIS gritty socially aware independent boxing drama from writer/star Johnny Harris (This Is England) was one of the year's most under-appreciated gems.

The Thomas Napper-directed Jawbone tracks the exploits of middle-aged pugilist Jimmy McCabe, a former youth boxing champion turned desperate alcoholic who finds himself contemplating a lucrative yet potentially lethal career move into the world of illegal fights.

Jawbone might be a boxing drama, but Rocky it ain't: there's not much actual in-the-ring action until the final act, with Harris's tightly written script initially concentrating on character development-rich scenes that offer the excellent cast (including an excellent Michael Smiley) ample time to flesh out their roles.

However, once Jimmy eventually does step into the ring, the Barry and Shane McGuigan co-ordinated fight action is pummellingly intense.

PREVENGE

Director: Alice Lowe

Starring: Alice Lowe, Dan Renton Skinner, Tom Davis, Kate Dickie, Jo Hartley

A MEMORABLY offbeat and often genuinely disturbing watch, Prevenge was a memorable directorial debut for actress Alice Lowe (Sightseers).

Left devastated by the death of her partner just as she discovers her pregnancy, Ruth (Lowe, who also wrote the film) sinks into a depression.

Some months into this lowest of ebbs, the mum-to-be embarks on a killing spree while taking homicidal instruction from her as-yet unborn, the details of which she diligently records in a Baby's First Steps 'memory book' – a good example of Prevenge's warped comic sensibility.

At first Ruth's victims seem random – a sleazy pet shop owner (Dan Renton Skinner), a terrible club DJ (Tom Davis), a businesswoman (Kate Dickie) – but gradually her little inner dictator's true motives are revealed.

Shot in just 11 days while Lowe was six months pregnant and driven by her own terrific on-screen performance as a 'serial killer mother-to-be', Prevenge will appeal to fans of her previous work in director Ben Wheatley's similarly skewed horror comedy Sightseers.

BAD DAY FOR THE CUT

Director: Chris Baugh

Starring: Nigel O'Neill, Susan Lynch,

MADE entirely in Northern Ireland, this well made low-budget thriller follows mild-mannered farmer Donal (Nigel O'Neill) on his increasingly violent quest for revenge from the Co Tyrone sticks to the big bad city.

Investigating a botched break-in at his isolated rural home, Donal finds himself crossing paths with unhinged Belfast crime boss Frankie (Susan Lynch) and a selection of her unpleasant minions who take their orders from Stuart Graham's be-suited 'fixer', Trevor.

Having wowed audiences and critics at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival back in February, the Chris Baugh written and directed Bad Day For The Cut is a gritty, violent and darkly funny watch featuring a stand-out performance from lead man Nigel O'Neill (Game of Thrones).

If you missed it at the cinema, BDFTC is currently available via on demand platforms and will be released on DVD on January 8.

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