2019 was the year cinema needed a break. As socio-political movements of the past few years work to increase the basic human decency in the filthy business, the movies being pumped out felt more and more like a distraction, rather than anything to really pay attention too. Regardless, the blockbusters kept coming this year, with us even seeing a brand-new highest-grosser-of-all-time (even if they were shady re-releasing bitches about it), and it felt a bit like business as usual. I dunno, as will be *evident* soon enough, I have not been keeping up with it all. Still, what’s this whole website if not a space for me to air my uninformed opinions!
10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
By this point, everyone and their egg-sucking nan knows what they think about this new Star Wars flick. While we’ve been drip-fed a rehash of the original trilogy for the past 4 years, of course with intermediate odd bits like the excellent Rogue One and the less excellent Solo, it always felt exciting to me; these were well-acted, visually stunning and phat loads of fun. However, there are a few moments of staleness and predictability that taint this entry; it’s not one for anyone looking for that same rush of The Force Awakens, that’s fer sure. That said, it’s not all bad, with a similarly gorgeous visual palette, plenty of throwbacks to the originals and a fine sense of conclusion to it all.
9. Spider-Man: Far From Home
In the current state of “ay a Marvel film, fine” that we live in, it still feels like a relief that we have a solid Spider-Man film every now and then — or must I remind of the Andrew Garfield days, eh? Hmmh mhmbhmhhmmmmmm???? Of course, Tom Holland feels like little more than Tony Stark’s errand bitchboi a lot of the time, a dynamic that works brilliantly in the Avengers flicks. However, it’s belittling if you’re not the one in charge, in your own film. That said, much like Homecoming, Far From Home is everything you’ll expect from a Spidey film, with a decent serving of comedy and perfectly loathable Jake Gyllenhaal in the villain role.
8. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
To be totally honest, I’m still scratching over whether I like this one or not. One side of me is saying that it’s erring on the side of 3 hours, with very little in the way of anything happening, apart from, of course (OOP A SPOILER BETTER WATCH YASELF), the ending where everyone just gets fucking murdered very hard and lots (YA GOOD NOW SWEETIE). However, goddDDDDDDD, Leo and Brad are fucking very watchable, especially with the sharp nonsense that Tarantino has made his bread in for the best part of almost 30 years. As long as you don’t go in expecting the steady flow of blood, or a tangible plot for that matter, then you’re golden.
7. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
Despite it making an appearance in my *favourite movies* list, 2014’s The LEGO Movie, with all its pure joy and playfulness, as well as genuine humour, is slightly marred in my memory by something I can’t really put my finger on. This is to the point where I wasn’t that bothered about watching the sequel. However, watching it just reminded me of every irreverant thing I loved about the first one. While the visuals are great and the supporting cast are rock (or plastic) solid, it’s the dream pairing of Chris Pratt with that excellent, exciteable script that makes this pop.
6. The Irishman
In the midst of his old-white-director-sponsered tirade against comic-book joy, Martin Scorcese also found the time to call his mates in and make a mob movie — not realising the irony of calling out unoriginality while making essentially Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed again in The Irishman. Sure, they’re all very different (and excellent) movies, but I’m certain that he must’ve gone “ahhhhh, we’ll just do a bar scene like in (…)” or “I know, how about we do a bit in one of those Italian restaurants with the stained glass lamps on all the tables because they’re a thing I guess”. BUT. GODDAMN. It do work. It very do work, it do. When you stick Harry, Bobby DeNobby and Al “hoo-haa” Pacino in a 50-year-long room and tell them to act good, they act fucking great. De Niro, in particular, especially in the later life scenes, is putting work that I haven’t seen from him in a while, at least not in Dirty Grandpa.
5. Captain Marvel
Yes, finally we’ve got a woman in charge, and it’s expectedly fucking a great film. But that is just a fragment of contextual aura surrounding why this film is the breath of fresh air that Marvel needed (and, Endgame or no, they did need it). Brie Larson is a fucking revelation for me, after years of not finding her particularly interesting (even post-Oscar-win), she out here with one of the coolest performances of her career. It’s just a cool film. Sure, it’s a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, sure, it’s Come As You Are. But I like superhero movies and I like Nine Inch Nails and I like Come As You Are — and she punches Jude Law, who could resist?
4. At Eternity’s Gate
Okay, respectively fuck off Rami, anyone with the teeth for it can do a fine Freddie. The fact that Willem Dafoe didn’t get a fucking Cheeselet for one of the most emotionally affecting, beautiful bits of acting I’ve seen all year is a travesty. Alright, it was a good Mercury. But in terms of celebrity impressions, Van Gogh is a lot harder. However, even after years of scaring me as a child with his weird face, Dafoe is proving himself as the actor of another generation with turns like this. On top of this, Julian Schnabel’s eye for just striking, fluid movement — somehow catching the painter’s style even as good as Loving Vincent (a film made of paintings) — left me in awe of this magnificent film.
3. Avengers: Endgame
What a landmark event in movies. Love them or hate them or Scorcese-hate them (HATE THEM), you can’t help but admire the patience and tenacity behind the MCU — especially with pay-offs like these. Sure, you’re not gonna enjoy this as much as you could if you’re even a dabbler in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — you gotta know it. Thankfully, I spent more than half of my life loving each and every one (oop call me Tracey Thorn) of these perfectly crafted blockbusters — and this was just everything I wanted from its conclusion. While Infinity War felt a bit like a pricktease, and an overbearing one at that, Endgame really had the focus to just send everything off — and how they could’ve better brought the Iron Man/Captain America arc to an end is beyond me.
2. The Favourite
After impressing with The Lobster and Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos proves himself as a true genre-hopper with the period-biography-comedy The Favourite. However, his distinguishable movement within a scene, as well as a frightfully, Britishly drab (in the best possible way) colour palette, ties these films together, as well as a consciously silly, terrifyingly deadpan performances. In this case, you have a triple threat in Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman — the latter of which gives the performance of a career as the scene-stealing Queen Anne. Her background in dark comedies like Peep Show preps her for a masterclass in utter ridiculousness, but she has the seasoned professionalism and sheer gravitas to pull it off; as her Oscar win proves.
Umm honourable mentions? Yeah? You reckon. Yeah, you would reckon. Typical.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Toy Story 4
Yes, yes, we do live in a society.
Definitely the most controversial film of 2019, Joker has not failed to split audiences, then split again. Meanwhile, I’m out here scratching at my noggin at how the guy behind the motherfucking Hangover was able to elevate a comic book movie even above Nolan’s trilogy. A scathing societal commentary is a big part of it, an excrutiatingly slow-burning plot (with a helluva crescendo) is another. That said, you can’t argue with the sentiment that Joaquin Phoenix has put in the performance of a generation here, much like Heath Ledger did over a decade ago. However, as Nicholson did Romero, then as Ledger did Nicholson, Phoenix has made the Joker darker. Now, where Ledger added a wild comic derangement, an element of horror to the character, Phoenix has added tragedy — a mirrored tragedy that makes Joker a difficult watch. He’s not slamming pencils in eyes, he’s a broken man, in every sense. It’s simply masterful. Suck it, Jared.
And there we have it! There are my favourite films of the year, it’s not the widest, I know. Here’s to getting a bit more in next year, eh? Drop your faves in the comments. Go on.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations