Half-way through the year, our writers at Cold Coffee Press choose their best and worst films of 2017
Best Movie – Elle
There’s been so much excellent movies this year. Yet, no film has stayed with me in the same way Paul Verhoeven’s Elle did. Isabelle Huppert – stars as Michele, a wealthy business woman who in the opening scene is raped by an intruder wearing a ski-mask. Not wanting to go to the authorities due to an incident in her past, she takes it upon herself to find the attacker.
Based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Dijan (PS if anyone can tell me where I could get an English translation it would be much appreciated), the story goes to some very dark, transgressive places – subverting typical narrative beats in favour of exploring issues such as the relationship between trauma and sado-masochism, rape culture and misogyny. On top of this, Verhoeven adds a wicked strain of satire targeting bourgeois and polite society (the Catholic imagery evoking memories of his early film The Fourth Man). He manages to ring a surprising amount of humour out of a very humourless subject matter.
Yet, while this material – particularly in its bonkers third act – could easily offend, the glue that keeps it all together is Isabelle Huppert (winner of a Golden Globe for her work). Used to controversial characters from her collaborations with Michael Haneke, she delivers a performance as multi-layered as the film – fragile one moment, powerful and even cheeky at others. Her character isn’t on paper a good person – having an affair with her best friend’s husband, actively trying to seduce her neighbour’s spouse. Yet Huppert somehow makes her compelling and even fiercely likeable. Elle is dark, twisted and blackly comic, an ambitious blend of story, style and performance.
Worst Movie – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
2017 gave us Atomic Blonde, John Wick: Chapter Two and Baby Driver – phenomenal, original blockbusters which melded terrific editing with jaw-dropping set-pieces. However, it also gave us the opposite with the headache inducing, glitchy, CGI fest of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, hopefully the last of the franchise. Milla Jovovich has been a cool action heroine in the past which makes the fact that they cut her scenes so fast and kinetically that there’s absolutely no physicality really strange. Yet, what’s even more of a mess is the story which after six entries is so convoluted and stupid that critics in my press screening were guffawing with laughter out of disbelief. Twas about the only joy they derived from it.
Best movie – Logan
Logan was a breath of fresh air in a stagnating genre. Director James Mangold blends Americana, dystopia, and brutal violence into a thrilling and emotive mix. In his last outing as Wolverine Hugh Jackman brings a great deal of gravitas to a role that in anyone else’s hands would be deemed kitschy. Logan earns its place as one of the best films of this year and one of the best superhero films ever thanks to gritty realism, near future darkness and an amazing debut from Dafne Keen.
Worst Movie – CHiPs
CHiPs is by far the laziest film to come out in 2017. Jokes face-plant instead of properly landing. Action scenes are uninspired and boring. The lack of sick motorbike tricks in a film about motorbikes is unforgivable. This is an action-comedy that is both incredibly passive and hideously unfunny. CHiPs deserves to be forgotten oh and Dax Shepard, the director and star, should be ashamed of the ugly, chauvinistic role he gave his wife Kristen Bell.
Best Movie – Baby Driver/Get Out
It’s a tie between Get Out (wasn’t completely head over heels for it the first time I saw it but I watched it again and the more I thought about it the more I began to appreciate it for what it was) and Baby Driver, a film I called upon its release: “original, entertaining, funny, well-written, emotionally hefty, beautifully filmed and unlike anything else out in cinema at the moment.”