Another year, another stellar crop of top-drawer crime films for us to enjoy. From the return of Steven Soderbergh and his trademark heist capering to arthouse vigilante sleeper hits. From big budget Agatha Christie adaptations to darkly violent grindhouse thrillers – 2017 pretty much had it all.
Let’s track back through the past year of cinema and pick out some of the last twelve months’ very best crime movies, shall we? Some you might have seen, some you might not have. A couple you may not have even heard of.
In no particular order, here are the best crime movies of 2017, as chosen by us.
The best crime movies of 2017:
A movie that’s more about fun that anything else, Logan Lucky sees the return of Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight director Steven Soderbergh after his recent hiatus from the business. No one can sculpt complex heist stories quite like him. Soderbergh recruits a crack team of thesps here for the job, including Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Hilary Swank and Adam Driver. And it’s a move that pays off.
A pair of West Virginia rube brothers plot to rob the famous Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and, as you can imagine, things don’t quite go to plan. Which makes it all the more fun. A shoddy cameo from Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane aside, Logan Lucky hits all the right buttons and deserves an evening of your attention in the near future.
A somewhat rather glum and harrowing tale, Shot Caller is a prison movie that may well have flown under your radar this year. With no cinema release in the UK, this gritty tale of a businessman’s plunge in the murky world of prison gangs after a DUI charge sends him to jail was released into the ether with little to no fanfare. Yet its unrelenting nature and some powerfully strong performances from Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Mindhunter’s Holt McCallany make it well worth a watch.
The main character’s journey from successful yuppie family man to feared white supremacist gang leader isn’t exactly subtle, but it is a powerful indictment of the US prison system.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Another brilliantly dark crimer crept our way without a great deal of noise this year in the shape of the oddly-titled I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. But this effort didn’t miss out on a theatrical showing exactly – it came courtesy of Netflix, debuting on the streaming service back in February. It features a captivating lead performance from Melanie Lynskey and a fantastically funny turn from an extremely on-form Elijah Wood.
Directed by Blue Ruin star Macon Blair, I Don’t Feel… deals with social roles, gender dynamics and the concept of fear expertly in its tale of two unlikely vigilantes tracking down some stolen silverware. It’s a pleasing tale punctuated by serious belly laughs and the odd scene of rather unexpected ultra-violence. Quirky, knowing, but really hits the mark.
It’s been over two decades since the shocking murder of six-year-old American girl JonBenet Ramsey. What’s almost more shocking is that the child beauty pageant star’s brutal slaying in her Boulder, Colorado home is still unsolved to this day. Countless theories exist as to the identity of the killer, yet justice has never been brought. Several documentaries have been made recently to commemorate JonBenet’s passing, but none were as intriguing as Casting JonBenet.
Made exclusively for Netflix, this two-hour-long doc features reenactments of the aftermath of the heinous crime. But instead of casting actors, the filmmakers recruited Boulder residents to play the lead parts, asking for their unique understanding and view of the crime and how it affected the community. Cleverly thought-out, Casting JonBenet naturally offers no easy answers but does give a telling insight into the crime, its impact and how people view and react to traumatic events in their local area.
Murder on the Orient Express
Not too long ago we gave you our in-depth thoughts on Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie classic Poirot tale in our Murder on the Orient Express review. It’s beautifully staged and shot and features an impressive ensemble cast. Branagh’s Belgian detective might be a little too close to silly, but there’s tension, excitement and more red herrings than you can shake a fishy stick at. This new version manages to be true to its source material and yet breathes life into the story at the same time. A future ITV Christmas staple, we’re sure.
Two federal agents (Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen) team up to investigate the violent rape and murder of a young woman on a Native American reserve in this disturbing thriller. Written and directed by Sicario and Hell or High Water scribe Taylor Sheridan, this murder mystery is as much about the characters in it as it is about the crime. That said, Wind River poses lots of questions about American justice and the Native American community and offers no easy answers for viewers. Oddly, it has an almost Scandi-noir feeling to it. Don’t miss it.
Brawl in Cell Block 99
We thought we’d save the best until last. This idiosyncratic genre film isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but if you love exploitation movies and don’t mind a little (okay, a lot) of on-screen violence, then this brutal prison outing is going to be right up your street.
From the same director as 2015’s insane cannibal western Bone Tomahawk, Brawl… follows nice guy drug runner Vince Vaughn as he’s blackmailed into breaking bad in the most bone-crushing way. Literally. Vaughn is a revelation here, a huge, hulking beast of a man that wants to play nice in a world that just won’t let him. Funny, stylish, dark, entertaining, borderline insane and even – weirdly – quite poignant, Brawl in Cell Block 99 just has to be seen. No argument.
Those are our picks from the past twelve months. What were your highlights? We’d love to hear about any great crime films we might’ve missed this year. Tell us your favourite movies of 2017 in the comments below!