This year, I just managed to watch 500 films (36 released this year and 262 for the first time). My most watched director was John Lasseter and my most watched actors were Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine.
My most watched films were The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Lady and The Tramp, even though I didn’t include the times I had to watch them more than once in a single day (since my toddler discovered his love for Disney!).
And here are my top 10 films of 2019:
You can also view a constantly updated list on my Letterboxd page.
Now this is how to do a biopic. It’s no wonder that Elton John had such an emotional reaction to watching the film for the first time, because I felt that pride for him. From the glamorous costumes to the group choreographies, to the musical performances and the quieter moments of emotional drama, Rocketman hits every note perfectly.
There’s definitely an element of fantasy to it and the story reshuffles time somewhat, using Elton’s hits to tell a story rather than to tell a linear account of his discography, but it does this brilliantly. The performance of ‘I Want Love’, especially, is a standout moment in the film, bringing the characters together, using the lyrics to show their emotions, and tugging on your heartstrings with every note.
2. Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame is everything that I could have wanted and so much more. With all of the footage that we’ve seen from the film’s trailers and promotional footage happening within the first 15 minutes, at least, Endgame is a voracious, tense, daring, hugely entertaining, and emotionally impactful blockbuster of epic proportions.
The film brilliantly begins with a focus on the traumatic state of the world is after half of its population turned to dust. With the Avengers feeling defeated, they each deal with the loss of so many loved ones in their own way – Captain America councils others, Black Widow buries herself in work, Hawkeye goes on killing a rampage, and Thor falls into a state of depression. With such a personal feel to the destruction left behind from Infinity War, I wasn’t expecting so much real-life context in a film that I thought was going to get straight to the point.
3. Little Women
Little Women is a passionate adaptation of a timeless and timely tale decorated with ravishing country scenery and immaculate costume designs, led by today’s leading actors both young and old. It is beautifully crafted in every way, telling a well-recognised story in a contemporary and progressive way, staying faithful to the book whilst reflecting Gerwig’s own ideals.
I’ve seen a few adaptations of the story already but this is the first that made me cry (twice). The warmth and love that you can feel between these characters is incredibly powerful, just as their individual ambitions and desires in life are, as these vibrant characters are taken from page to screen with such skilled hands that it’s hard not to feel instantly connected to them.
4. Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari)
When I think of my favourite directors, James Mangold doesn’t come to mind. But I think that might have to change. You just have to glimpse at his filmography to see what a talented film-maker he is. And Le Mans ’66 is the best of them. It is an absolutely stunning film with fantastic performances, beautiful cinematography, and fantastic sound design.
There are a few sports that I really can’t stand watching, and motor racing would top that list. But films about motor racing I seem to be a big fan of. Maybe it’s because of the high-octane tension and thrill of the race that makes them so exciting, or maybe it’s the often brilliant lead performances that make them so much more engaging, but I couldn’t take my eyes of this film.
5. The Favourite
Not everybody will understand Yorgos Lanthimos‘ dry humour and eccentricities, but if you’ve enjoyed his work so far, you will definitely love this. He’s certainly a difficult director to appreciate as he’s undeniably daring and out-there, although he is quickly becoming one of my favourites, and his previous films have had much darker tones, but this is probably his most relatable and relevant film yet.
Whether you’re a fan of his already or not, his sharp and witty dialogue in The Favourite is something for all to enjoy. I dare you not to laugh at the absolutely chaotic ongoings and over-dramatic performances throughout this. The lavish costume design and makeup make for such a beautiful production, as well. It really is an impressive film in every way.
6. Beautiful Boy
Based on the true story of journalist David Sheff and his son, Nic, Beautiful Boy is an emotional and heartfelt yet hard-hitting story about drug addiction from a point of view that we don’t often get to see – seeing the grief caused from the point of view of Nic’s family, but also involving a family with money.
Whilst no one’s addiction is easier than any other’s because of their personal circumstances, we’re used to seeing a story like this set in a cheap bedsit or stingy hotel room, as a character trawls the gritty backstreets of an unsympathetic city full of bad company.
Joker is a gritty character study that explores the links between mental illness and violence, which has got audiences talking for all kinds of reasons. There’s no escaping the “discourse” that has been in the media around this film since its premiere a few months ago, but it is certainly a film that demands your attention for more than just its controversies, most notably for its overall quality, impressive performances, and well-crafted design and costumes.
Whilst I don’t agree with the views that it is likely to inspire any real-world violence, no more than any other films involving weapons, mentally unstable characters, or acts of anger, it is understandable why some viewers have been left feeling uncomfortable with the film’s standpoint.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing this since it’s release earlier this year and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Whilst I enjoyed Get Out, it was so hyped up that my late viewing of it didn’t live up to the excitement when I finally got around to watching it, so I was worried that the same would happen with this film. But I think Us is a lot more about how you interpret it personally, and after having a think and read about the final scenes since watching it last night, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m even more impressed now that I’ve had time for it to come together in my head.
Wow, this film certainly leaves some disturbing images in your head. I wasn’t quite expecting the brutality of some of the events involved and they definitely hit hard (no pun intended).
I don’t particularly like films with satanic/paranormal cult twists which is why I couldn’t get into Aster’s Hereditary as much as I did this one because I often quickly detach myself from any investment I had in the story. But when the cults are more generic and based on tradition, human evil and self-sacrifice rather than mystical forces and demonic summonings, I feel much more unnerved.
10. Knives Out
As director Rian Johnson pays tribute to the mystery mastermind that is Agatha Christie, Knives Out has a very classic ‘whodunnit’ feel to it. There are a host of eccentric and conflicting characters, who are stuck in an extravagantly furnished mansion together, and any one of them could have done it. For a short while, that is. I would have happy for the film to follow a simple murder mystery plotline, but it quickly becomes much more than that.
Impeccably well written with sharp and hilarious dialogue and character chemistries, Knives Out is a wildly entertaining modern twist on a classic genre. Turning the basic structure on its head, it is a cleverly developed thriller that has the perfect dose of mystery, bluffs, and deceptions.