Films of the year: Get Out (1st place)
Be honest: who saw Get Out coming? Its trailer promised, on the surface, the ingredients of a Jason Blum-backed horror, one set to explore racial tension. It was interesting, sure, and Blumhouse has fuelled impressive talent and films in the past (The Gift and Whiplash instantly spring to mind). But still: Get Out not only became a monster hit, it also quickly became something of a sensation. And deservedly so.
It’s also the film that’s just pipped Blade Runner 2049 to the top of our writers’ annual film of the year poll. The vast majority of our writer base placed it somewhere in their top five, and nine months on from its UK debut, its mark has very much been made.
Written and directed by Jordan Peele – his directorial debut, no less – on the surface it’s the story of a young African-American man, Chris, going to meet the parents of his white girlfriend, Rose. As played by Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, Peele builds his film slowly, introducing the young couple in love, and seeing Rose defending Chris when the pair attract the attention of the police. And eventually, they pull into the home of Rose’s parents, Missy and Dean. And that’s when things start to take a gradual, horrifying turn.
Powered by a quartet of excellent acting performances – Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford as Rose’s parents are quite exquisite – what Peele’s screenplay then does is gradually ask questions. Why do Missy and Dean have African-American staff working on their estate, who are behaving so oddly? And what lies behind the very friendly welcome that Chris has received? Is all as it seems?
It wouldn’t be much of a film if it was, but what’s so impressive about Get Out is not only how it explores that surface story, but also the discussion it’s having not far under the surface. In fact, followers of Peele’s Twitter account will have noticed the ties he’s made to real life events that have been going on this year, that continue to make Get Out more and more relevant by the day.
Furthermore, it achieves what it does, and also offers a tremendously entertaining film. We put on a reader screening of the movie just prior to its UK release, and moments of comedy brought the proverbial house down. This is a film that doesn’t skimp on its horror moments, or its laughs. It’s real testament to its ambition that it packs as much in as it does.
In our review of the movie, we wrote that “as a debut, it’s about as assured, well-judged and original as you’re likely to see all year”. That proved to be true. Few films have touched the originality of this one, especially coated in such genre clothing.
Breakout star Daniel Kaluuya’s incredibly leading performance – his face dominating the promotional campaign for the film – is next to be seen in Black Panther, and clearly has a hell of a future in front of him.
And so does Peele as a writer and director. In fact, he’s set to work on several more horror-tinged movies going forward, that he plans to direct. Personally, I’m happy to buy my tickets for each of them right now.
Here, then, is our complete top 10…
1. Get Out2. Blade Runner 20493. Dunkirk4. Paddington 25. Wonder Woman6. A Monster Calls7. Colossal8. Logan9. War For The Planet Of The Apes10. The Big Sick
If we can get a list that good come the end of 2018, we’re in for a very, very good year at the movies. May your 2018 be a good one…