Ticket Awards 2017: The best films of the year

Here are our favourite film moments of the last year. Don't forget to vote for yours


Our critics have picked their standout performances from 2017 and now it’s over to you. Click on irishtimes.com/ticketawards to vote for your favourite scene stealers from 2017. If you think we went off-script, nominate your pick in the space provided at the end of each category online. We’ll publish the results in two weeks and you’ll be in with a chance of winning one of our prizes.

It’s not just about film, though. Check out our cultural picks across books, music, art and television

Best film

A few films knocked the ball out of the metaphorical park – The Florida Project, Moonlight, Get Out – but, for the most part, this was a year of steady, consistent achievement, rather than spectacular success. The streaming services rustled a few of the tastier features. The box-office wobbled. Cinema remained, however, awash with variety and creative strangeness. If there were an award for the film people seem most proud of not liking it would go to poor old La La Land. No, you weren’t the only one.

Barry Jenkins’s (eventual) Oscar winner employed a balanced triptych to tease out an emotional story of disadvantage and sexual awakening.

My Life as a Courgette
Wonderful French animation that, despite being set in a home for troubled children, managed a stirring optimism throughout.

God’s Own Country
Francis Lee’s debut feature relates the passionate relationship between a Yorkshire farmer and a visiting Romanian worker. Raw, muddy beauty.

The Florida Project
After the iPhone experiments of Tangerine, Sean Baker brings us among families living awkwardly in the maroon penumbra around Walt Disney World. A great film about childhood.

It Comes at Night
Trey Edward Shults explores new paranoias in a post-apocalyptic thriller set within a remote cabin during a deadly outbreak. Trust nobody.

Sônia Braga stands out in a superb drama detailing an older music critic’s efforts to remain living in her beachside apartment.

Vroom! Crash! Christopher Nolan goes for cinema of effect in his study of the most triumphant defeat in military history. A technical marvel that made the most of theatrical exhibition.

Lady Macbeth
Florence Pugh eats up the screen in William Oldroyd’s ruthless translation of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District to windy Northumberland. We cheer on the murderer.

Natalie Portman has received deserved praise for her turn as a bereaved Jackie Kennedy in Pablo Larraín’s bewitching film, but the standout element is Mica Levi’s spooky score.

Get Out
Few genre mash-ups have, in recent years, had quite such emotional and political punch. A blackly funny satire on middle-class racial tensions that throbs with sobering lessons.

Best director

The year began with the depressing news that, despite a rumbling diversity debate, the number of female directors fell in 2016. Women comprised just seven per cent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016. Yet they occupy four spots on our shortlist of 10. So when are the big franchises going to start hiring them?

Best cinematography

We sometimes fall into the trap of taking “best cinematography” to mean “most cinematography” and you will certainly find few more intoxicating images than those in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden. But we also saw restrained work from our own Kate McCullough in The Quiet Architect and, in the funky Beach Rats, from up-and-comer Hélène Louvart. Still, a “best means most” award (and probably an Oscar) goes the way of Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049.

Best screenplay

The new vogue for art horror provided plenty of great, genre-bending repartee (especially Get Out and Raw) but snappy dialogue is no longer a requirement for great screenwriting, as the frequently silent Dunkirk and the largely quiet Ghost Story demonstrate.

Best performance

How nice it is to welcome Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the class of Twilight, into the winners’ enclosure. Those fine actors have, with, respectively, Personal Shopper and Good Time, shown an admirable determination to use their fame for good rather than evil. Isabelle Huppert deserved that Oscar nomination for the tricky Elle. And James Franco came good in his own mad film. What variety.

Best ensemble

Hot dog, if 2017 wasn’t the Year of the Ensemble. Many films, notably Mudbound and The Death of Stalin, featured no one performance that could be easily singled out for awards purposes. There were great team efforts from The Disaster Artist, Lady Macbeth, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer and, well, we could go on and on. Now if only a certain academy would take note.

Best breakthrough

Not everybody here is fresh out of the box. It has taken Anna Biller 10 years to follow up her first feature, but The Love Witch a delicious feminist horror, finally pushed her to the top table. Emily Beecham owned the role of a troubled singleton in Daphne. Two youngsters stood out at this year’s Cannes Film Festival: Ahn Seo-hyun – friend to a giant pig – brought humanity to Bong Joon-ho’s characteristically strange Okja and Brooklynn Prince charmed the world in the sad, touching The Florida Project.

Best documentary

The Great Documentary Rush of the Noughties seems like an awfully long time ago. And the best docs of recent times – Ava DuVernay’s The 13th, Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet – have gone straight to Netflix. As with animation, it was a tough year for docs. Plenty of titles received small theatrical runs, but few hung around or caught the public imagination. Some gems, nonetheless.

Best comeback

Adam Sandler reminded us that, when steered away from effluent, he really can act. Julia Roberts found a warmth we had little seen recently in the eight-hankie tear-jerker Wonder. Vaughn kicked bottom. Kidman reversed her slide. But, among 1980s phenomena, Michelle Pfeiffer delivered the most lethal blows. She radiated real sass in both Mother! and Murder on the Orient Express. Great to have her back.

Best Irish film

There was nothing as splashy or as Oscar-baity as Room or Brooklyn in 2017. But there were lots of small, sweet, smart movies. Too many, in fact. In another year, The Drummer and the Keeper, Between the Land and the Sea, Maze, or Rocky Ros Muc – to name just four – might have waltzed onto the shortlist. We used to pick just five films here, you know. Strength in depth.

Best animation

If only Cartoon Saloon’s The Breadwinner had been finished that little bit earlier, it would have wiped the floor with all comers. There was no Laika film this year. And Pixar was on poor form (Cars 3 anyone?). There were, however, plenty of cheaply produced, celebrity-voiced nasties, including Spark and The Nut Job 2. Thank goodness for Your Name, Lego Batman, and The Red Turtle, a European co-production that proves there may be life for Studio Ghibli after Miyazaki.

Best franchise

A weird year for the big mainstream series. Wonder Woman stood out like a spring flower in the grim wasteland that was the DC Universe, but even she couldn’t save Justice League. Meanwhile, Marvel grasped full-on fun with the delightful Spider-Man: Homecoming and the hilarious Thor: Ragnarok. Paddington 2 continued that series in triumph. The grim War for the Planet of the Apes closed a singular trilogy. There is hope in the multiplex.

Best score

It was a fine year for movie music and narrowing down the field was no fun at all. Michael Giacchino’s orchestrations for War on the Planet of the Apes provided a suitably grand exit for Hollywood’s finest franchise, Sufjan Stevens went full-swoon for Call Me by Your Name, Mike Patton brought the dissonance to Netflix’s 1922, and Baby Driver zoomed along to everyone from The Modern Lovers to Martha and the Vandellas. All missed the cut.

Best Irish performance

Barry Keoghan, formerly of Love-Hate
Barry Keoghan, formerly of Love-Hate

Love/Hate is beginning to look like the most significant acting academy of recent years. Half of this year’s 10 – Barry Keoghan, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Caoilfhionn Dunne, Ruth Negga and John Connors – graduated from those mean streets. Who else is yet to emerge? We also had great turns from Charlene Kelly and Kieran Coppinger, two actors with Down syndrome, in the singular Sanctuary. Catherine Walker did angst in A Dark Song. Fionn O’Shea was charming in Handsome Devil. You know about this Colin Farrel chap.

Worst film

Ah, the trough of shame? Yes, Daddy’s Home 2 was utterly horrible. Deciding between Baywatch and CHiPs was a real “angels on the head of a pin” conversation. Fifty Shades Darker and Transformers: The Last Knight somehow managed to be worse than necessary. But the largely unseen standout (if that’s the word) was jaw-dropping Ukrainian epic Bitter Harvest.

Ticket Awards 2107: Film shortlists

Best director

Rungano Nyoni: Zambia and Wales “are both laidback places. There’s a sense that neither changes dramatically”
Rungano Nyoni: director of I Am Not a Witch 

Best cinematography

Ryan Gosling’s deadened quality suits a character who (we assume, anyway) is not a paid-up member of the human race. Photograph: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros/AP
Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049. Photograph: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros/AP
  • Hélène Louvart, Beach Rats
  • Kate McCullough, The Quiet Architect
  • Chung Chung-hoon, The Handmaiden
  • Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson
  • Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049

Best screenplay

Eric Ruffin and Chloe Levine in ‘The Transfiguration’
Eric Ruffin and Chloe Levine in The Transfiguration
  • The Death of Stalin,  Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows
  • The Transfiguration,  Michael O’Shea
  • Graduation, Cristian Mungiu
  • Ingrid Goes West,  David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
  • Heal the Living, Katell Quillévéré, Gilles Taurand

Best performance

Hope floats: Mahershala Ali and Alex R Hibbert in in Barry Jenkins Oscar-nominated Moonlight
Mahershala Ali and Alex R Hibbert in Moonlight
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist
  • Richard Gere, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
  • Kirsten Stewart, Personal Shopper
  • Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth
  • Gemma ArtertonTheir Finest
  • Peter Simonischek, Toni Erdmann
  • Sônia Braga, Aquarius
  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Robert Pattinson, Good Time

Best ensemble

Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) celebrate their stunning achievements in one of the greatest operations in history. Photograph: Hopper Stone
Hidden Figures.  Photograph: Hopper Stone
  • The Death of Stalin
  • Certain Women
  • Brimstone
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
  • Hidden Figures
  • 20th Century Women
  • Colossal
  • The Beguiled
  • The Big Sick
  • Mudbound

Best breakthrough

Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Okja’
Ahn Seo-hyun in Okja
  • Emily Beecham, Daphne
  • Anna Biller, The Love Witch
  • Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project
  • Joshua Z Weinstein, Menashe
  • Ahn Seo-hyun, Okja

Best Irish Film

John Butler’s Handsome Devil (above) will close the 2017 Audi Dublin International Film Festival
John Butler’s Handsome Devil
  • Handsome Devil
  • Twice Shy
  • Cardboard Gangsters
  • Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Song of Granite
  • The Farthest
  • Sanctuary
  • Not Yet Dark
  • Maudie
  • Pilgrimage

Best Irish Performances

Cardboard Gangsters: Noisy, loud, violent and sad
Cardboard Gangsters features one of the best Irish performances of the year from John Connors
  • Barry Keoghan, Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Maze
  • Catharine Walker, A Dark Song
  • Caoilfhionn Dunne, In View
  • Fionn O’Shea, Handsome Devil
  • John Connors, Cardboard Gangsters
  • Charlene Kelly, Sanctuary
  • Kieran Coppinger, Sanctuary
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Colin Farrell, Killing of a Sacred Deer

Best Documentary

In her prime: a youthful Whitney Houston on stage in June 1988. Photograph: RDA/Getty Images
Whitney: Can I Be Me: a youthful Whitney Houston on stage in June 1988. Photograph: RDA/Getty Images
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Casting JonBenet
  • Kedi
  • Cameraperson
  • Whitney: Can I Be Me
  • The Work
  • Jane
  • The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson
  • Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press
  • The Farthest

Best comeback

Banged up in the Big House: Vince Vaughn in Brawl in Cell Block 99
Banged up in the Big House: Vince Vaughn in Brawl in Cell Block 99
  • Julia Roberts, Wonder
  • Vince Vaughn, Brawl in Cell Block 99
  • Nicole Kidman, The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, Mother!, Murder in the Orient Express
  • Adam Sandler, The Meyerowitz Stories

Best animation

Batman refuses to take an interest in the orphan he accidently adopts, Michael Cera’s Robin
The Lego Batman Movie
  • Your Name
  • The Boy and the Beast
  • The Red Turtle
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Silent Voice

Best franchise

Best franchise? Wonder Woman 2
 Wonder Woman
  • Logan
  • Split
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Annabelle Creation
  • Despicable Me 3
  • Shin Godzilla
  • Thor Ragnarok
  • Wonder Woman
  • Paddington 2
  • Spider Man: Homecoming

Best score

  • Jackie
  • Good Time
  • A Ghost Story
  • Hidden Figures
  • Rocky Ros Muc

Worst film

Bottoms up: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Darker
Bottoms up: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Darker
  • Bitter Harvest
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Baywatch
  • Fifty Shades Darker
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
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