The best films of 2019
Full confession: the end of this year caught up on me big time.
I kind of ran out of time to do a bigger write up on the best films of the year but there are plenty of geniuses out dropping long-reads at this time of year.
Firstly, I wanted to say a big thanks if you’ve read or shared anything from this corner or via any of my outlets, it means a lot.
Over the past year at the movies it got personal.
Major film studios have merged, cinematic universes have formed, and blockbusters are now too big to fail but, somehow, the films that stood out in 2019 were the ones that cut deep.
I’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge that I have seen ‘Cats’ and they are horrifying but because I sat through ‘Cats’ you can trust these picks.
Here’s a list of the best in a loose descending order. Based on Australian release schedule and film festival attendance.
Yorgos Lanthimos you magnificent bastard! Ye olde power plays with those absurd Lanthimos flourishes.
An epic concert film that traces Beyonce’s vision from conception to rehearsal to one of the best damn live shows you’ll ever see.
An absurdist trip through Nazi Germany that explores what it means to be a ‘good person’ in deeply cooked times.
Dolemite is my Name
Authorship, ownership and the importance of telling your own story. Welcome back Eddie Murphy.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The blockbuster of the year with an epic monster mash and an eco-friendly heart.
Hunger, addiction and trauma in a world that’s dimming. An engrossing conversation with the past that’s weird in all the right Stephen King kinda ways. This is the sequel I never knew I wanted.
Olivia Wilde creates a high school utopia that captures what it’s like to get to know people who think you know right when it’s all ending.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
A holdover film from 2018 that I felt so guilty about seeing late because it’s brilliant. A deconstruction of superhero origin stories that paves the way for the future of these stories. The animation is stunning.
I like Peter Strickland’s Salespiria a lot.
The myth of the ‘male genius’ is pushed to absurd extremes in this neon soaked comedy with big vape energy. Matthew McConaughey at his bongo playing best.
Karyn Kusama’s crime drama whips like a gun to the back of the head.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Nobody shoots close-ups like Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). Prepare to swoon and then cry, a lot. Romance sits beside tragedy in the adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel.
A whodunnt that understands the deadliest weapon of all is American privilege. Let’s hope there are at least eight more of these Detective Benoit Blanc mysteries (Daniel Craig may have found a life after 007).
A late-career master work from Martin Scorsese that examines the value of a life through the filter of a crime saga.
Pain and Glory
Pedro Almodóvar gets autobiographical and delivers a stunner. A beautiful film that explores how we use storytelling to reflect and process. Antonio Banderas is Almodóvar’s avatar and it’s an unforgettable performance.
Sometimes it takes a village to end a relationship. Ari Aster made us not want to sleep with Hereditary and his follow-up film made you not want to sleep with anyone. A horror film about what happens when you take away the systems that enable men to be cowards.
“A divorce is a death without a body.” An honest and deeply personal reflection of the toll of divorce and finding a way to fit into the new lives of ex-partners. Scarlett Johannsson and Adam Driver give career-best performances.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s heartfelt throwback to old Hollywood doubled as a resignation letter. A melancholic film about the inevitability of change and the certainty that all good things will come to an end.
Jordan Peele’s sophomore film shows how American society justifies and compartmentalises the horrors of its foundations. Lupita Nyong’o gives a hell of a two-for-the-price-of-one performance.
The best science-fiction film of the year shot Robert Pattinson into space for a paternity odyssey across the cosmos. Claire Denis’ gets existential on the edge of the galaxy.
No film summed up life in 2019 like Bong Joon-ho’s ingenious tale of intertwined families in South Korea separated by class. A blistering takedown down of life under capitalism with so many wild twists.
What can I say? I love films.