How was it for you? Esther McCarthy's highlights from 2017

Our regular contributors select their highlights of the year.

How was it for you? Esther McCarthy's highlights from 2017


It’s been a strong year for both Irish and international cinema, with enough diversity to help counteract the inevitable flurry of blockbusters and sequels that is summer at the


To be fair, some of those juggernauts delivered, most notably Taika Waititi’s hilarious Thor: Ragnarok and the likeable, female-centric adaptation of DC’s Wonder Woman.

The most memorable films bookended the year. It wasn’t for everyone but I won’t hear a word against Damien Chazelle’s wonderful La La Land, which had me from that terrific opening freeway scene, and Kenneth Lonergan’s exceptional Manchester by the Sea.

In recent weeks I’ve been charmed by the lovely Paddington 2 and the crazy The Disaster Artist, which invoked howls of laughter at the screening I attended.

The good-looking and effective Bladerunner 2049 and Dunkirk livened up the summer, but there were under-seen gems too, most notably the crime mystery Wind River and Steven Soderbergh’s great caper, Logan Lucky, which are among my favourite films of the year.


In Irish cinema, the wonderful Sanctuary, featuring an almost-entire cast of people with intellectual disabilities (a world first) found a loving audience. Barry Keoghan was exceptional — and menacing — in the excellent, Irish-produced The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

It was a super year for Irish documentaries, topped by Emer Reynolds’ Voyager space epic The Farthest, backed up by the moving It’s Not Yet Dark and Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect.


Other than Peaky Blinders, which just seems to get better with every episode, a TV highlight for me was Lady GaGa’s Superbowl performance.

From the costume changes to the trapeze act, to the hits, the humour and the how-did-she-do-that mic drop it was everything you could hope for from a superstar. I still revisit it to cheer a gloomy day.


I smiled and cried — often on the same page — at Ruth Fitzmaurice’s wonderfully moving and well penned I Found My Tribe. Written before the recent tragic death of her husband, Simon, from complications of motor neurone disease , it’s an insightful account of caring and coping and the power of the sea.


Other than that cringe-worthy and incorrect Best Picture announcement at the Oscars, a real low point has been the news this year that the magnificent Savoy 1 in Dublin — the biggest screen in Ireland — is to be split into smaller screens in the new year. I watched The Last Jedi in this wonderful theatre really saddened that it might be my last such movie memory there.


I’ve been fortunate enough to have a year of great interviewees, and notched one off the bucket list in chatting to the legendary, and really lovely and warm-hearted, Diane


Brendan Gleeson for Paddington 2 was lively and funny, even by his high standards.

It was great to hear Cillian Murphy speak so fondly of seeing The Young Offenders, and being able to share his praise with the two young leads afterwards. Chris Walley and Alex Murphy grew up watching the Cork actor, and to say they were chuffed was an understatement.


I’m hoping that 2018 will be a strong year for cinema, and based on a couple of forthcoming films I’ve seen — the terrific Three Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri, The Post, I, Tonya — there’s plenty to look forward to. I’ve also got my ticket for Patti Smith and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds safely tucked away.

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