2017 – A Film ’89 Year in Review.

It’s that time of year again when, bloated with too much turkey, stuffing, chocolates and alcohol, we find it impossible to do anything more physically demanding than lifting a remote control and changing the channel. No wonder then that it is also the time of year when we sit back and reflect on the 12 months that have come since the last time we ate, drunk and merried ourselves with so little self control. 

And what a year it has been. 2017 began with a man famous for his cameo in Home Alone 2 becoming  President of the United States, La La Land not winning best picture at the Oscars despite Warren Beatty’s insistence that it had, IT becoming the most successful Horror film of all time and making Stephen King famous (again), Harvey Weinstein’s secret – that most in Hollywood seemed to know about – becoming headline news and inspiring the Time Person of the Year; and ended with Christopher Plummer becoming the new Kevin Spacey and The Last Jedi becoming either one of the greatest Star Wars films ever made or one of the worst. 

It was the year we lost William Peter Blatty, Miguel Ferrer, John Hurt, Bill Paxton, Don Rickles, Johnathan Demme, Adam West, Martin Landau, George A. Romero, Sam Shepherd, Jerry Lewis, Tobe Hooper, Richard Anderson, X Atencio, Frank Vincent, Harry Dean Stanton and too many more people associated with the film and media that we love. 

There was also one other event which occurred quietly in August and has gone from strength to strength – the birth of Film89.co.uk. This is a site created by lovers of film, TV and Video Games who want nothing more than to share our love with other, like-minded people. A passionate group of individuals from all around the world, the Film ’89 staff like nothing more than discovering new films, celebrating older ones, standing up for their favourites and indulging in the odd bit of geekery every so often. 

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, here are the Film ’89 writer’s personal picks of 2017: 

Stephen Amos
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

A film which has really got everyone talking and many disagreeing, I thought The Last Jedi was the perfect Star Wars movie. I laughed, cheered and was moved by the exploits of Rey, Finn, Luke and, of course, our favourite princess, Leia. Can’t wait for Episode IX.

2. Okja 

Not many people talked about this little gem of a movie which was released on Netflix in May. The story of a young girl’s love for a giant pig, Okja is brilliantly funny and hard-hitting. 

1. Silence 

Released in the US in 2016, we in the UK had to wait until 2017 to watch this magnificent exploration of faith set in 17th Century Japan directed by Martin Scorsese. I’ve seen it 3 times now and each time it grows richer and more powerful. 

Honourable Mentions: Being dragged to see a Marvel film by my six year old is not my preferred idea for a Saturday afternoon but Thor: Ragnarok was great fun. It was also great to rewatch some classics on the big screen, including Goodfellas, Terminator 2: Judgement Day 3D & Silence of the Lambs. Finally a shout-out to Eureka Video for their stunning Masters of Cinema Buster Keaton Collection.

3. Bosch 

Amazon’s brilliant crime series starring Titus Welliver. Hard boiled, traditional but never dull.

2. Narcos Season 3

Who would have thought that, after losing Pablo Escobar, this series could maintain the power of seasons 1 & 2. It does. 

1. Stranger Things Season 2


I enjoyed this even more than the first series – the characters were richer and more developed and this time we got Sean Astin!

Honourable Mentions2017 was the year I finally started watching Game of Thrones and have managed to watch Seasons 1 to 6 since August. A bit uneven but there have been some brilliant highlights and this latest series has been consistently good. Roll on series 7 in the New Year (yes, I know I’m a season behind but I’ve been watching it on Blu Ray. In addition, I’ve got to mention the excellent Mind Hunter and The Expanse, based on one of my favourite series of books.

Onwards to 2018… 

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2018, especially during the first few months with awards season. The first big movie to look forward to is The Shape of Water because as I love Guillermo del Toro. I also can’t wait to see Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and Steven Spielberg’s The Post. Later in the year I’m really curious to see what Shane Black does with The Predator but the biggest film of 2018 for me will be released on Netflix – Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman! 

Neil Gaskin
3. Trainspotting 2 
Despite reeling at its somewhat sacrilegious use of ‘T2’ in its title, I was blown away by Trainspotting 2.  A sequel to the seminal 1996 cult classic had been rumoured for years and thank God that Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor put their differences behind them to make this happen. A satisfying conclusion, if not necessarily a happy ending, was perfectly served up with this brilliant sequel, almost twenty years on from it’s predecessors release.
2. Thor: Ragnarok

Firstly, that is how you do a trailer! A comic-book adaptation, space adventure, buddy movie, comedy… take your pick.  Although I’ve heard that some thought the humour distracted from the main story, for me it worked perfectly. After being outcast during the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thor and Hulk returned with a bang. The great part of it for me, is that we all know that Infinity War is coming, so there was no need to lay any more foundations. This is pretty much a stand-alone adventure and it was almost like Led Zeppelin’ Immigrant Song was written specifically for the film. I loved it.
1. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright returned to the movie world with style after his much publicised fallout with Marvel on Ant-Man, with this stylish, slick and most importantly, entertaining, action/heist/musical/love story.

As a fan of his previous work, I was intrigued to see it and after watching it, I was blown away by how good the final film was.  It provided me with one of my easiest reviews as there were so many aspects of this film upon which to heap some well deserved praise.
Honourable mentions: Spider-Man Homecoming, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes and American Made.
3. The Punisher
Marvel and Netflix bounced back after the pretty dire Iron Fist and the rather underwhelming The Defenders. I was worried that the character wouldn’t work as a stand alone series even though he was superb as a supporting character in season two of Daredevil. Thankfully I was wrong.  What we got was a well crafted, intense and compelling story, with only one of its thirteen episodes seeming surplus to requirements. Of course the violence was there (but always presented in context) but we also got a strong story too. I look forward to season two which has now been confirmed.
2. Mindhunter 

A classic example of why we truly live in a golden age of television. A period piece, set in the ‘70s, a long-form detective drama with fantastic performances from its leads, and also tightly written and well directed. If you’ve not seen this yet, make it a priority to do so.
1. Game of Thrones Season 7

A shorter season, but one with a much needed injection of pace that gave this season possibly the strongest straight run of episodes so far. Sure, you could argue that sometimes you questioned how characters managed to travel to different locations so quickly, but I gave them a pass. The show could have easily dragged out another season by changing pacing this one to allow for the vast distances travelled by its characters but I’m so glad they didn’t. I cannot wait for the final season to see who finally sits upon the Iron Throne.
Honourable mentions: Tin Star, Seasons Two of both Better Call Saul and Stranger Things. Dr Who (Capaldi finally getting his chance to shine), and Seasons Three of both Fargo and Narcos.
Onwards to 2018… 
I would not be able to hide the fact that I’m a massive Marvel fan, even if I wanted to. The two and a half minute trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was actually more enjoyable for me than the entirety of Justice League, so that’s definitely top of my list. The Meg  (or “Meg” depending on what they’ll finally settle on as it’s title) will see Jason Statham battling a giant, prehistoric shark and will be either the surprise hit of the year or a complete disaster and I can’t wait to see it either way! Deadpool 2 has the weight of my massive expectations behind it and I hope it can deliver, which will be a stretch after the bar was set so high with the first outing. The Han Solo movie seems to have had a bumpy ride but I’m hoping that after my disappointment of The Last Jedi, that this solo outing will reignite my love for Star Wars once again, the same way Rogue One managed to after the rather tepid Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As a Dr Who fan, I’m intrigued to see if they can make a female Doctor work and from speaking to one of our top secret sources near to the production the end result will make a lot of dubious fans happy.

Haydn Spurrell
3. War for the Planet of the Apes

 A perfect conclusion to one of the best modern trilogies. Part western, part war film, and always moving, there’s promise in its ending for the future of the franchise but enough closure that we can be satisfied with how the series comes to an end. It marks the end of a trilogy where each film was superior to the last, and War is a splendid character study detailing a redemption arc for the hero at the center of it. Matt Reeves is a director seemingly at the top of his game.

2. Moonlight

Released nearly a full month into 2017 here in Australia, Moonlight is split into three distinct parts and with its main character being portrayed by three different actors. Each actor takes on a different phase of the young boy’s life, and despite never meeting during production they each manage to convince us that they are one and the same through their performances. The transitions are seamless, and the result is profoundly powerful. A worthy Best Picture winner, and an important one too.

1. Blade Runner 2049

I’m convinced this will go down as one of the greatest sequels ever made. Denis Villeneuve produces stronger films with each passing project, and he followed up 2016’s Arrival with this moody epic filled with some of the most stunning imagery to grace the big screen at least in my lifetime. Blade Runner 2049 may well prove to be equally as timeless as its classic predecessor, led by Ryan Gosling and wisely opting to tell its own, self-contained narrative rather than exist solely as a direct follow-on to Ridley Scott’s original.

Honourable mentions: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which manages to achieve everything it set out to despite missing one or two ingredients that withhold it from being truly great. I had an equally great time with Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and, yes, Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, and Wonder Woman finally managed to drag the DCEU out of the mud at least for a little while there.
3. Westworld

Westworld gets points for ambition, even if creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s adaptation of the 1973 sci-fi adventure becomes mostly about its narrative arm-pulling rather than its richness of character. Still, it remains gripping and surprising from start to finish, ending in the promise of revolt that leaves us starving for more. Is it the successor to Game of Thrones that it seemed desperate to be? Not yet, but it could be.

2. Feud

Some incredible talent paired with immaculate production design are just two of many highlights found in Ryan Murphy’s latest FX anthology project. Feud follows the story of industry rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, whose flailing acting careers lead them to rely on one another. The series, details the making and aftermath of their 1962 film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It didn’t ask to be made, but we’re sure glad it was.

1. American Gods

Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) adapts Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed novel, and what a ride it is. Set in the modern day, it details a brewing war between the Old Gods and the New. Starring Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane, American Gods is inventive, strange, and shocking. Anyone familiar with Fuller’s Hannibal series might have some idea of what to expect here, but otherwise it’s a surreal experience that’s hard to prepare for. Cut from a similar crop as AMC’s Preacher, only dialled to up to a hundred, American Gods is worth trying out of curiosity alone, though I expect it won’t be for everyone.

Honourable mentions: While I haven’t seen the 2017 seasons of either series, the first two of each were so good I anticipate more of the same for Better Call Saul and Fargo. I have my issues with Game of Thrones’ seventh season, but it does manage to progress the story toward its inevitable end, and it’s too late to back out now.

Onwards to 2018… 

Wes Anderson directing, with a voice cast including Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Scarlett Johansson just to name a few, Isle of Dogs sits at the very top of this list for 2018. Damien Chazelle follows up Whiplash and La La Land with the Ryan Gosling-starring First Man, adapting a Neil Armstrong biography detailing man’s landing on the moon. The New Mutants promises to continue Fox’s trend of producing X-Men films cut from a different crop to their mainstream counterparts, following on from the likes of Deadpool and Logan. If the trailer is anything to go by then horror might just be the perfect fit for the next film in the lineup.

In other entertainment, Westworld is set to return at some point, while comic book writer Rick Remender recently saw his popular drama series about a school for assassins, Deadly Class, get a pilot order from Syfy. Here’s hoping for a season order; the more non-superhero-inspired comic book adaptations, the better. Speaking of comics, writer Brian K Vaughan will bring his wildly popular series’ Saga and Paper Girls back with new issues in early 2018.

Skye Wingfield

I’m going to forgo any particular ranking of the film’s I’ve seen this year purely because there are still so many that I haven’t seen. Basically I don’t want you guys to feel like I’ve ranked a particular film over another film that you may love that I’ve possibly still not seen. Instead I’m just going to talk about a few films that I’ve really enjoyed this year.

From the first time I saw THAT trailer replete with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, I just knew that Thor: Ragnarok would be something special and Taika Waititi’s final product didn’t disappoint. Yes, the humour was pushed close to breaking point at times, but it was still a riotously entertaining thrill-ride and for many, the best standalone Thor film so far and one of the best comic book films period. Hulk was perfected with an incredibly nuanced mo-cap enhanced performance from Mark Ruffalo and the whole thing just reeked of a studio and director beaming with a ballsy confidence and firing on all cylinders.

Whilst I share some of Neil’s disdain at the use of the ‘T2’ in Trainspotting 2’s title, you’ve got to give Danny Boyle credit for having the gall to seek James Cameron’s approval of us of T2 (which Cameron then gave). There are no such misgivings about the film, which walked a perfect line between progression and nostalgia. It played upon the nostalgia for my younger days with a strong vein of poignant remembrance running throughout Trainspotting 2, almost as a character in and of itself. This was the come-down after the heady days of club culture and whilst it’s aimed at a very particular demographic (and more power to it for not aiming for a mainstream audience) it’s one of the most effective and well crafted sequels I’ve seen in a long time.

Whilst I won’t say that Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best film of 2017, it’s possibly my most enjoyable theatrical experience of the year. After his grandstanding introduction in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Studios’ collaboration with Sony Pictures may well be my favourite comic book movie adaptation in a year where we had no less than 6 major comic book movies thrown at us. It’s just pure fun and a well written piece of rousing entertainment, from the clever home-movie style introduction to Aunt May’s “What the f**k?” ending. Tom Holland is arguably the best iteration of the character we’ve seen so far and Michael Keaton is perfect as Vulture, far more of a relatable villain than what we’re usually used to seeing in such films. The scene where he works out Peter Parker’s secret remains one of the most tense, well crafted scenes in the MCU so far and Marvel Studios have managed to perform a miracle in creating a film that is the third distinct representation of the character and the second reboot of Spidey since Tobey Maguire stepped down from the role in 2007. I went in with fairly middling expectations but came out with a broad smile on my face and have returned to it on Blu Ray to find that it more than holds up on repeat viewings.

Whilst Steve and Haydn have chosen to allow for U.K. and Australian release dates, I’m sticking to US release dates but if I wasn’t then La La Land would be high on any potential ‘Best of…’ list. As a general rule I really don’t like modern day musicals, in fact I generally hate them, but La La Land was the exception to this. It completely embraced a love and nostalgia for the golden age of Hollywood and the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was electric. It was one of the most beautiful looking films I’ve seen in a long time and the songs (most of which were brilliant) never took precedence over the story. It was an incredible follow-up to Damien Chazelle’s equally remarkable Whiplash and fully worthy of the Best Picture Oscar it nearly won. But then, as I said, it’s a 2016 film so I’m not going to mention it!

Honourable mentions: Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2, The LEGO Batman Movie, Wonder Woman, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049.


I’m afraid to say that my TV viewing in 2017 has suffered at the expense of watching films. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve still not finished Season 2 of Stranger Things (but what I have seen of it so far, it’s even better than the brilliant first season). Westworld was fine but a little bogged down by its overly complex narrative which I found bordered on pretentious. It looked gorgeous though and I’m intrigued to see what’s to come in the second season. For me the real TV highlight of 2017 was Game of Thrones’ pleasingly efficient seventh season. It showed that in focussing purely on propelling the show to an expectedly epic conclusion in the forthcoming eighth and final season, that the show makers were willing to put the needs of the narrative front and centre, something that AMC really should pay attention to with The Walking Dead, a show that has literally become as lame and shuffling as the undead it portrays. The quality of Game of Thrones production across all fronts is exemplary and unlike anything else on television. I was extremely critical of its less than stellar fifth season but it’s now firmly back on track and I’ve no doubt that the final push will be like nothing else ever seen on the small screen.

Onwards to 2018…

2017 saw the lid blown off the behind the scenes going’s on that have caused innumerable scandals this year regarding Hollywood’s longstanding culture of sexual harassment and sexual abuse, a culture that simply has to stop. Credit to all those brave individuals who came forward and blew the lid on this despicable behaviour and let’s hope that 2018 sees a new Hollywood free of such things.

 As as far as what films I’m looking forward to, I’ll keep it brief… Avengers: Infinity War. ‘Nuff said.

Richard Roberts
3. T2: Trainspotting

As a big fan of the original, and as a mid-teen when it was released, I had high hopes for this (whilst deep down expecting the worst). However, it did not disappoint. Perfectly bringing both the story full circle and the audience up to date with what the characters have been up to for the last twenty years, this film felt like an organic progression of the characters from where we left them two decades ago. In a time where belated sequels are more commonplace, this film satisfied fans of the original whilst not completely alienating those who hadn’t seen the original.

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
2017 was yet another great year for Marvel Studios and the MCU. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians 2 and Thor: Ragnarok, for me the Spidey reboot was their film of the year. In Tom Holland we have a perfect Spider-Man, one who fits seemlessly with Marvel’s now perfected mix of grandstanding action and humour.
1: War For The Planet Of The Apes
The Apes reboot trilogy should be seen as the template for any reboot/remake of a classic film series. The final(?) part has everything – a gripping story, brutal action, humour, heartbreak and hope, and by far the best motion capture/CGI ever committed to film. At no point do you not believe that you are watching real apes. Perfect.
3. Homeland Season 6
After having seemingly lost its way slightly, post Damian Lewis, and setting the series in various international locations, this season saw a return to the US for Carrie. Homeland works best when it focuses on character over spectacle and season 6 demonstrated just that. Each of the leads have arguably never been better, but special mention has to go to Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn who stole every scene that he was in, struggling with trying to lead a normal life after being gassed and feared dead in the Season 5 finale.
2. Game Of Thrones Season 7
Now free from the shackles of the source material, and building towards the finale, this series held nothing back. Storylines finally converging and set pieces that put almost any other TV show to shame. Reducing the number of episodes meant an appropriate trim of unnecessary fat and a consistent quality that held with each episode. The end is in sight. This was arguably the best season yet.
1. Stranger Things Season 2
I missed the boat on Season 1, watching it for the first time this summer. But that only meant I had a shorter time to wait for the exquisite Season 2. Building on strengths of Season 1, the scale was larger, the characters more endearing, and not just added Sean Astin, but Paul Reiser as well! As a child of the Eighties this show was the stuff of dreams. The production value and authenticity was second to none and the child actors, particularly Eleven, were phenomenal.
Onwards to 2018…
For me, Avengers: Infinity War is the film I am most looking forward to. I have very high hopes and based on the first decade of the MCU, I am very confident that it won’t disappoint. As someone who really enjoyed The Last Jedi, I wish I could say that I was looking forward to Solo: A Star Wars Story. I hope that the filmmakers are able to do justice to the back story of our favourite smuggler and that this is a story that isn’t best left to our imaginations.
Television wise, I’m most looking forward to Stranger Things Season 3 and the final season of Game of Thrones (should it land in 2018). I’ll also be watching with baited breath what the Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox means for its Marvel properties, as well as franchises such as Alien.

Thanks to all our readers and Twitter & Facebook followers, here’s to an even better 2018. We’ve got lots more in store and hopefully very soon we’ll be launching the Film ‘89 Podcast. Happy New Year!