2017 has been a corker for cinema, with the likes of Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi knocking it out of the park. But there were also plenty of absolute gems that fell under the radar. Here's our pick of 2017's hidden gems.
1. Toni Erdmann
German comedy-drama about a father trying to connect with his stressed and over-worked daughter by dressing up as an alter-ego called Toni Erdmann. Very sweet and very funny (and also pretty long at 162 mins, but go with it).
2. Certain Women
Moving, wistful portmanteau drama about three women in small town America, starring Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and Kristen Stewart. The most affecting is probably the segment with Stewart as a young lawyer teaching a class four hours away from where she lives, who meets and eventually rejects Lily Gladstone's isolated ranch hand. It's directed by Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy) so expect tears.
3. Double Date
Surprisingly good comedy-horror about two sisters who pick up a couple of unfortunate blokes for a doomed date. Awkward, hilarious, and surprising with genuinely likeable characters and strong performances.
Pregnancy horror directed by Alice Lowe (who was herself seven months pregnant at the time of the shoot). Funny and unusual.
5. The Limehouse Golem
Period crime thriller starring Olivia Cooke as a young woman accused of murdering her husband, and Bill Nighy as the police officer who is convinced her dead hubby is the notorious murderer The Limehouse Golem. Based on a book by Peter Ackroyd, it cleverly blends true history with fiction.
Weird, funny, poignant sci-fi about an alcoholic woman who discovers she can control the movements of a giant kaiju on the other side of the world. It's way more profound and dark than that sounds. Stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis.
Terrific coming-of-age horror about a young woman brought up as a strict vegetarian who gets her first taste of flesh at university, awakening something in her. A striking exploration of dark female desire.
8. Personal Shopper
Modern ghost story starring Kristen Stewart as a personal shopper who begins to believe her dead twin brother—or possibly something else—is haunting her. Quiet, beautiful, and odd, this proved divisive at release. It's a slow burner with no clear answers but it's undeniably tense throughout.
9. The Love Witch
Visually stunning feminist comedy-horror-romance about a woman who uses spells to make men fall in love with her. Director Anna Biller crafted the whole production herself—the attention to detail is stunning and the whole thing looks like it was shot in the '70s.
10. The Florida Project
Powerful slice-of-life drama centred around a Florida motel where a young mother and her 6-year-old daughter struggle to makes ends meet. It's told from the point of view of the kid—Brooklynn Prince gives an amazing performance as the errant child with not much great to look forward to.
11. My Cousin Rachel
Adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's novel where a passionate, paranoid young man falls for his late cousin's wife and then becomes convinced she was responsible for his death. Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin are perfect as Rachel and Philip in this gothic chiller with a powerful ending.
12. It Comes at Night
Claustrophobic slow-burn infection horror about a family holed up in a remote cabin, who take another young couple with a child into their home. A very bleak, end-of-the-world nightmare of fear and paranoia.
13. Patti Cake$
Rags-to-slightly-better-rags story of an aspiring female rapper in downtrodden New Jersey who dreams of hitting the big time. The arc might be generic but it's Danielle MacDonald's performance as Patti Cake$ aka Killa P that elevates this.
14. The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola's gorgeous, dreamy fable follows an injured Union soldier taken in at an all-girls school, causing disruption among the women. Colin Farrell is terrific as the sole male in a haven of femaleness. His attempts to manipulate Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning do not go well for him.
15. The Big Sick
Good-hearted comedy about a Pakistani-born comedian (Kumail Nanjiani) dating an American girl, with the relationship having to get more serious than planned when she contracts a serious illness. Not as mawkish as that sounds, it's very funny and features our favourite gag of the year: "A giraffe walks into a bar and says, 'The highballs are on me!'"
16. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos's absurd, harrowing horror sees Colin Farrell's careless surgeon faced with an impossible choice by a mysterious young man (Barry Keoghan) out for revenge. Fans of Michael Haneke's Hidden (Caché) should love this.
17. Lady Macbeth
A tale of a young woman rebelling against her loveless marriage to an older man, Lady Macbeth is a period drama that couldn't feel more contemporary and fresh. Largely this is down to a star-making and terrifying turn from Florence Pugh, who commands the screen and captivates throughout. It's not an easy watch, but you won't be able to tear yourself away.
From: Digital Spy
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.