Sight & Sound: the January 2018 issue

The best films of 2017, with critics’ votes and comments, and reflections on key themes of the year, from blockbusters and franchises to late works by veteran filmmakers. Plus new essays on Get Out and Twin Peaks: The Return, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Miike Takashi, The Disaster Artist and The Deuce.

In print and digital from 5 December 2017. Log in / sign up, subscribe or buy a print issue.

The world may be upside down, but the movies are adapting. For our annual snapshot of the year’s best movies, we cast our poll open to the full spectrum of moving-image art works – films, video art, TV, VR, you name it (because we can’t).

One hundred and eighty-eight international critics and curators choose five new releases that made the biggest impression on them in 2017 – and as you’ll see below and over the link, rising to the top are some exciting new voices, new visions and new forms…

 

Features

Films of the Year

Films of the Year

2017 has seen disruption on many fronts – race, gender and technology among them – and the films voted for by critics in our annual poll reflect the anxieties afflicting the world in general and the film business in particular. But there is room, too, for slowness, silence and sheer beauty. By Nick James.

 

The Year in Review

The Year in Review

+ The year in… American independent cinema

In an age of infinite choice and perpetual crisis, it gets harder and harder for independent filmmakers to break through all the noise. Even so, quality will out – and 2017 prepared the way for future excitements. By Violet Lucca.

+ The stars turn and a time presents itself

The theme of loss permeated every moment of Twin Peaks: The Return, and revealed itself as the focus of what could be David Lynch’s final work. By Michael Ewins.

+ The year in… British cinema

A bumper harvest of accomplished and original British films – what more could anyone ask for? But look a little deeper into the success, and it is clear that British filmmakers are working under heavy constraints. By Nick James.

+ The year in… blockbusters and franchises

Hollywood’s conviction that bigger is better has led to some bloated, bland franchise fodder this year, but hints of originality and humour still crept through – and it looks like the women are storming the barricades. By Leigh Singer.

+ That sinking feeling

Get Out has provided new language for thinking about race simply by considerating the essence of black anxiety. By Kelli Weston.

+ The year in… late works by veteran filmmakers

There was something of an elegiac feel to aspects of the year, marked as it was by a number of long-held passion projects that finally made it to the screen by a generation of auteurs approaching the end of their careers. By Philip Concannon.

 

Frances McDormand: The Power of Saying No

Frances McDormand: The Power of Saying No

Frances McDormand has always excelled when playing tough, quick-witted characters – often with a comic edge – and in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri she gives the performance of her life playing a no-nonsense mother on the trail of her daughter’s murderer. By Dan Callahan.

 

The Skin Game

The Skin Game

The recent revelations of widespread sexual misconduct in the film industry can’t help but cast a light on the experience of watching The Deuce, a series which tracks the sex workers and smut peddlers of 1970s New York  through the early days of the porn industry. By Hannah McGill.

 

Trail of Blood

Trail of Blood

The tirelessly prolific Japanese director Miike Takashi’s brutal supernatural samurai drama Blade of the Immortal is the latest brilliant addition to a restless, genre-switching career whose hallmark has always been its resistance to easy categorisation. By Tom Mes.

 

Gary Oldman: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Gary Oldman: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

From his early roles playing punks, skins and dreadlocked criminals to his remarkable portrayal of Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s World War II drama Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman’s extraordinary career has been marked by a chameleon-like ability to inhabit his characters. By Graham Fuller.

 

Another Dimension

Another Dimension

The influence of Rod Serling’s sci-fi/fantasy series The Twilight Zone, which ran on US television from 1959-64, has always been pervasive, but as a new stage version arrives in London, its legacy feels more powerful than ever, surfacing in everything from Black Mirror to Get Out. By Dick Fiddy.

 

Regulars

Editorial

Films, stories, lengths and formats

 

Rushes

Our Rushes section

Our Rushes section

On our radar

Slapstick Festival; Ingmar Bergman retrospective; Ava; Overnight Film Festival; Agnès Varda box-set; London Short Film Festival; Pandora’s Box BFI Film Classic

 

Preview: Afghan stars

Sonia Kronlund’s The Prince of Nothingwood shows how much more there is to Afghanistan than extremism and conflict. By Jason Burke.

 

The numbers

Loving Vincent and adult-skewed arthouse animation at the UK box office. By Charles Gant.

 

Dispatches: Lost in translation

The prints of rare international film classics are often available for screenings, but lack subtitles – here’s how we can change that. By Mark Cousins.

 

Wide Angle

Our Wide Angle section

Our Wide Angle section

Profile: Marginal advantage

Working at the edge of film culture, Pierre Léon creates complex, ambiguous cinema that celebrates family and friendship. By Quintín.

 

Festival: Revolutionary road

Overshadowed by the death of former artistic director Hans Hurch, this year’s Viennale was nevertheless a stellar event. By Kieron Corless.

 

Primal screen: The moving picture show

Research has brought to light a forgotten early film genre – the recreation on film of scenes from classic paintings. By Bryony Dixon.

 

Reviews

Films of the month

The Disaster Artist
Hostiles
Mountains May Depart

plus reviews of

Our Reviews section

Our Reviews section

A Bad Moms Christmas
Battle of Soho
Better Watch Out
Bingo: The King of the Mornings
Blade of the Immortal
Brawl in Cell Block 99
A Caribbean Dream
Daddy’s Home 2
The Dinner
Dolores
Happy Death Day
Hi-Lo Joe
Human Flow
Jigsaw
Justice League
Love, Cecil
Lu over the Wall
The Man with the Iron Heart
Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge
Menashe
Molly’s Game
Mountain
Mudbound
Murder on the Orient Express
Paddington 2
The Prince of Nothingwood
Sanctuary
Secret Superstar
Shot Caller
Stronger
Thank You for the Rain
Wonder

 

Home Cinema features

Our Home Cinema section

Our Home Cinema section

O frabjous day! Jabberwocky

Scrubbed up by modern technology, Terry Gilliam’s solo directing debut can now be seen in all its filthy glory. By Philip Kemp.

 

Rediscovery: Witchhammer

Otakar Vávra’s drama about 17th-century witch hunts had clear resonances in 60s Czechoslovakia – and has other resonances today. By Pamela Hutchinson.

 

Lost and found: Adieu Philippine

Jacques Rozier’s 1962 debut saw him hailed as one of the stars of the nouvelle vague – yet for decades it has been almost forgotten. By Adam Batty. 

 

plus reviews of

The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks
Beggars of Life
The Big Knife
Lon Chaney – Before the Thousand Faces: A Mother’s Atonement/If My Country Should Call/The Place Beyond the Wind
Fragment of Fear
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask
George A. Romero – Between Night and Dawn: There’s Always Vanilla/Season of the Witch/The Crazies
Montparnasse 19
The Philadelphia Story
Play Dirty
See No Evil

 

Books

The Cinema of Norman Mailer: Film Is Like Death edited by Justin Bozung (Bloomsbury) reviewed by Nick Pinkerton

A Dance with Fred Astaire by Jonas Mekas (Anthology Editions) reviewed by Mark Webber

Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski (Wesleyan University Press) reviewed by Jasper Sharp

No Way but This: In Search of Paul Robeson by Jeff Sparrow (Scribe UK) reviewed by Tara Judah

My Adventures with Satyajit Ray: The Making of Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) by Suresh Jindal (Harper Collins) reviewed by Philip Kemp

American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby (Signum Books) reviewed by Kim Newman

 

Our Endings section

Our Endings section

Letters

 

Endings

The Apartment

The final line of Billy Wilder’s comic gem is a beautiful, matter-of-fact deflection of one of the great expressions of love in cinema. By Mark Cousins.

 

→ Buy a print issue
Access the digital edition
Subscribe

Find out more

Access the digital edition

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.
Hand-picked.