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My Top Ten Nollywood Cinema Movies of 2017

The year is more or less a wrap, and it’s only fitting that we reminisce on some of the hottest movies that showed in cinemas in the last twelve months. To be honest, the year hasn’t seen many runaway successes. Last year had a lot more; 76, 93 Days, The Wedding Party, Gidi Blues, The Arbitration and others too many to mention. But this year, we were treated to just a handful of movies that really shook the ground, some of which are listed below.

Clearly, this is one person’s opinion, but as a film-lover, storyteller and frequent cinema goer, it is probably a trusted analysis. So, let’s dig in.

10. Banana Island Ghost (B.I.G)

BIG elicited mixed opinions and reviews upon its release. But this is probably because it tried to be solely a comedy film when it clearly could be more. I however applaud this film as one of my best ten for the imagination behind it.

Imagine for a second that you wake up one morning to find a strange man in your bed who turns out to be a ghost. And just when you are scared to the teeth and about to scream yourself to death, you see the horror on his face too. But fate has tied you both together. Or in this case, God, and you must figure out your problems and fall in love in three days.

Unique storyline, with the revelation of new face Patrick Diabuah who does a remarkable job. Execution could be better in other areas, but BIG rates highly on originality. The movie is directed by BB Sasore.

9. King Invincible

King Aderopo of Ayipada-Oba is strong and valiant. When the people of Atupa, a neighboring village, steal from his kingdom, he doesn’t care that he is advanced in years, but goes out to war with his men, including his grandson Adetiba and a slave, Taari. Aderopo returns wounded, and his son, Adewale must rule in his stead. Because Taari was brave at war, saving the lives of his people, Adewale adopts him as his son, and gives him his daughter, Princess Morenike’s hand in marriage. Everything seems to be going well until greed and lust set in, and then there is a curse that puts Taari’s life in shambles and a quest for power that threatens to destroy Adetiba.

King Invincible, next to BIG, has the most believable stunts and fights I have seen in a Nigerian film. The costuming is rich and the story, one of love and loss, has depth. It features competent actors, and while its resolution could have worked way better, it puts up a good show. The movie is directed by Femi Adisa.

8. Isoken

I tend to make a lot of noise about Jadesola Osiberu, and for good reason. Her creations have been brilliant, and so her feature film had to be. And it was, with great acting telling a story of unusual love in Nigeria.

Isoken Osayande’s life seems somewhat perfect on the outside, but doesn’t even come close as pressure from her family members to settle down barely lets her sleep at night, especially since she is going on thirty-five and her younger sisters are married. Her mother match-makes her with Osaze, and they hit it off. Osaze is handsome, successful and from a good family, making him perfect Nigerian husband material. But in an unexpected turn of events, Isoken meets Kevin who she finds herself falling in love with and he just might be what she truly wants in a partner. The only problem is, not only is he not an Edo man, he is ‘oyinbo’ (Caucasian).

7. In Line

Debo has served a six-year sentence for the murder of his father. He gets a presidential pardon and returns to his life, but no longer sees things the same. His wife Kate has held the fort on their joint business, has stayed unmarried and faithful but has withdrawn into a shell that only pain and distance can carve. Still, she remains, excusing Debo’s anger, complaints and bouts of violence. Debo on the other hand is paranoid, believing his wife could not have stayed faithful all this time. So he hires a private investigator, Bella and brings her home as a help. What she finds from her investigations would send tempers flaring and loyalties crumbling.

In line is plodding but steady, going about its story its own way and eliciting a slow clap in the end. Directed by Tope Oshin, the movie stars Adesua Etomi, Chris Attoh and Uzo Arukwe.

6. Something Wicked

Something Wicked tells a story of the Gatta family. Hauwa is a widow with three children, Ali, Amira and Jumai. She gets a knock on her door in the middle of a rainy night and it turns out to be her nephew, Abel who has come to live with her, following the passing of both his parents in Northern Nigeria. Strange disappearances and deaths begin to take place that attract the local investigative unit.  These occurrences are coincidentally centred around Hauwa, and we soon find that Abel’s presence is responsible for every evil.

Something Wicked is an ambitious horror that has its many great moments. And it really did freak me out. The acting is generally good, with Okey Uzoeshi taking the cake as the creepy demented protagonist. The story could use more believability, but altogether, Something Wicked is a darn fine attempt.

5. Idahosa Trails

This biopic about the late Benin bishop who did many mighty works in his time is long and detailed. It goes about its story from the perspective of an American journalist who comes to Benin for answers that could change the course of his career. He finds much more than he bargains for, and this changes him altogether.

Idahosa Trails employs a lot of flashbacks in its storytelling with Bishop Benson Idahosa being portrayed by actor and lookalike, Charles Okafor. The movie is written and directed by Stanlee Ohikuare.

4. Ojukokoro

A manager of a Lubcon Petrol Station, Andrew, has lung cancer and plans to steal from his workplace to save his life. What he doesn’t realize is that he isn’t the only one with an agenda. Everyone around him is devising a plan to take money that isn’t theirs and would go to any length to satisfy their greed.

Dare Olaitan’s debut film was a hit in many ways but its budget. With cheap-looking repetitive locations, you could already tell that this was made with as little money as possible. However, Ojukokoro is excellent for its ingenuity, originality, imagination and acting. Many actors got major breaks from featuring in this film.

3. Potato Potahto

This movie about a divorced couple who refuse to live apart is as hilarious as it is riling. You wonder, why would they always be at each other’s necks when they can just move out? A part of you roots for them being apart, but another part, the one that loves love, cannot wait to see them miraculously resolve their differences and become a happy couple again.

Directed by Shirley Frimpong-Manso, Potato Potahto movie which stars OC Ukeje and Joselyn Dumas is engaging and tasty, repetitive in its conflict, but able to sustain and engage the viewer’s interest.

2. Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect explores the life of a well-off fashion designer, Kunmbi who, by sheer workings of fate, encounters a typical Lagos area boy, Jobe, who helps her in her time of need. He would subsequently become a regular in her life, a pain in her neck, and the reason for many mistakes she would make.

Picture Perfect was another film that got movie lovers excited upon its release. With its unforced yet intelligent humor, and especially Bolanle Ninalowo’s excellent portrayal of Jobe, a character that should totally begin a spinoff series of its own, Picture Perfect did not let its audience down. It is highly entertaining from start to end. The movie is directed by Tope Alake.

1. Catch.er

Catch.er is a story about the death of Abiodun Bello, an ambitious accounting executive and daughter of a millionaire. On her first wedding anniversary, she is summoned at work to sort some issues. She meets a fraudulent colleague, returns to a cheating husband, and tries to find comfort in the arms of a reliable family member.  And then she winds up dead. Detective Komolafe and Officer John Okoli must find her murderer, and they would have to look beyond the words said and defenses made to catch him.

This Walter ‘WaltBanger’ Taylaur film is one that rocked the year to its core. Aside from its star-studded cast, it is a superbly done whodunit that makes Nigerian whodunits proud. The writing, the directing, the acting; they all showed up to work.

***

Bonus: The Wedding Party 2

Nobody has watched The Wedding Party 2 just yet, and we might have to wait a few more days. But it feels like we have; we have met all the characters in its prequel and we loved meeting them. We didn’t try so hard to find laughter, laughter was all around us in every place we turned, and we are almost confident that this would be the case in this one, especially with the addition of Patience Ozokwor and Chiwetelu Agu to the cast as dramatic village people.

Plus the movie is directed by Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration, so our expectations are through the ceiling.

There you have it, folks. Cheers to the coming year!

Ifeoluwa Olujuyigbe was the 1st runner-up in The Critic Challenge 2017. She is a writer, editor and film critic. Her short stories, reviews, essays and flash fiction pieces have appeared on Brittle Paper, Akoma, The Naked Convos, Storried Nigeria, The Scoop, Pulse Nigeria, Words are Work, Writivision, Paragraph Planet UK, Short Sharp Shot Literary Magazine, and 'A Mosaic of Torn Places' anthology, to mention a few. She won Flash Fiction Competition, Blackout (2016), and the SGNT Media Short Story Prize (2016), and she was a runner-up for the iWriteArt Competition (2016). She currently writes movie reviews for True Nollywood Stories (TNS) and edits for gemWoman Magazine.

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