Matt Rodgers on the top 10 movie moments of 2017…
If you were putting together a showreel to represent the outstanding moments beamed onto a cinema canvas from the past year, then you’d have plenty to choose from; Emma Stone’s hypnotic rendition of The Fools Who Dream from La La Land. The Mr. Blue Sky shootout during the opening credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The moment Rod triumphantly shows up at the end of Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Or how about the lounge room roulette from The Killing of a Sacred Deer?
The fact that none of these have made it into this very personal rundown is a testament to 2017 on the big-screen, and also the fact cinema has that very special way of appealing to the individual. So, please turn your mobile phones off, and come with me on a journey through the top ten movie moments of the year. It goes without saying that the following contains SPOILERS for the films in question.
IT (dir. Andres Muschietti) – The Storm Drain
When it was announced that our childhood dreams, or on this occasion nightmares, were to once again be mined as a substitute for originality, there was a worry that whatever scares were conjured up by the remake, they’d pale in comparison to Tim Curry in a storm drain.
The only thing we should have been worried about is whether we’d get any sleep that night, because Andy Muschietti managed to take the familiar and make it terrifyingly unique. A lot of this is down to Bill Skarsgard’s reptilian Pennywise, but the Mama director achieved chills by doing the opposite of what most great horrors do; he showed you too much.
Georgie’s final moments are almost too harrowing to watch, setting a precedent the rest of the film never quite matches, but as that blood disappears down the drain, you shift in your seat, longing for the playful Pennywise of 1990.
Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins) – The Beach
Barry Jenkin’s eventual Oscar winner is a film of such oppressive suffering, from internal and external influences; the brutality of Chiron’s playground fight, the beat down he’s given by the lot allocated to him by a life on the periphery of society, or simply the perpetual disappointment of his own mother.
Such things make the literal and metaphorical release on that moonlit beach so indelibly powerful and infinitely romantic. It’s a moment of stripped back humanity in the face of prejudice, and two-fingers to a world in which the kind of marginalised thinking that faces our multi-generational protagonist is all too prevalent.
Baby Driver (dir. Edgar Wright) – Opening Credits
In terms of the language of film, you won’t find better shot composition in 2017 than Edgar Wright’s B-A-B-Y Baby Driver. The best example of which can be found in the opening sequence trip to the coffee shop.
A one-take tracking shot that follows Ansel Elgort as he picks up his drinks, swings on lampposts, shadow syncs perfectly with his background, and mimes to the lyrics of Harlem Shuffle. All of the cues and beats are perfectly aligned to the on-screen action, evolving in such an organic manner that it feels like one fluid process.
T2: Trainspotting (dir. Danny Boyle) – The Shadow
The most subtle and beautifully judged moment on this entire list boils down to what’s essentially a single shot. Having returned home from his Amsterdam sham, Ewan McGregor’s Renton visits his concrete council house, where his father greets him. His mother’s fate is depicted via a frame that echoes the original. In a movie littered with smart dialogue, this carries so much more weight than any flashy t-shirt adorning monologue could.
Gerald’s Game (dir. Mike Flanagan) – Slipping out of the cuffs
The third Stephen King adaptation to hit screens this year was Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood’s ill-fated kinky getaway. Balancing relevant themes with plenty of genre beats; man’s best friend taking on a whole new meaning, and the spooky moonlight man, Gerald’s Game is a wickedly delightful two-hander. Although based on the scene in question, Gugino’s Jessie is lucky to fall into that classification.
With her half chewed husband at the foot of the bed, suppressed memories puncturing her sanity, and only half a glass of water left, a chained to the bed Gugino decides to perform some of the most excruciating self surgery in order to free herself from her death sentence bondage. Queue a moment of watching through fingers, armchair gripping, body horror brilliance that’ll have you writhing on the edge of your seat.
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