Megan Wilson’s Top 10 Films of 2019

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that I was writing my top 10 films of 2018, but here we are! I have to admit I initially balked at the idea of doing this again – my year in film criticism has been comparatively restrained due to my studies and subsequent absence from LFF. Despite the pitiful number of new releases on my Letterboxd, some reflection left me feeling even more grateful for the films I have been able to see this year, especially Netflix releases like Unicorn Store and Wine Country that gave me some much-needed giggles during all the dissertation writing. I might not have caught the likes of Marriage Story and The Irishman just yet, but I am however proud to present to you a pretty neat (in my opinion) list of films that also happens to spotlight some excellent feature film directorial debuts, as well as majority female and BAME creatives. Enjoy!

10. Atlantics (dir. Mati Diop)

Young lovers Ada and Souleiman are torn apart when the latter goes missing at sea, but Ada remains resolute that they will meet again – though perhaps not in this life. Serene, seductive, yet undeniably sinister; a seriously impressive feature debut by director Mati Diop that effortlessly weaves the supernatural with romance and social critique.

9. Honey Boy (dir. Alma Har’el)

Shia LaBeouf’s biographical portrayal of his tempestuous father is one of the most vulnerable works of art I have seen recently. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges share the role of Otis (a young LaBeouf) with startling cogency that picks at the scabs of a devastating father-son relationship.

8. Captain Marvel (dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)

You know that feeling when you see Brie Larson absolutely obliterate a man who told her to restrain her emotions? Yeah, it’s pretty good.

7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (dir. Joe Talbot)

I love films that are love stories between people and places. Written by Jimmy Fails about his relationship with the city of San Francisco, The Last Black Man is a tender ode to the struggle to find a home when your roots have been torn from under you.

6. Us (dir. Jordan Peele)

Anyone who has ever met me probably knows how much of a wuss I am when it comes to horror movies. As in, I find Monsters Inc. too scary. So the fact that Jordan Peele’s Us has made it onto this list is a miracle I can only attribute to the genius humour, killer soundtrack, and a knockout performance by Lupita Nyong’o – even if I did watch most of it from behind my sweaty hands.

5. Vita & Virginia (dir. Chanya Button)

Me, falling head over heels for a repressed lesbian biopic? It’s more likely than you think.

Read my review here.

4. Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Despite the immense hype surrounding Parasite from Cannes, I was fortunate to know very little going in; this film has certainly earned my admiration for the least-expected plot development of the year. Extremely witty, daring, and perfectly executed on all fronts – just excellent.

3. Booksmart (dir. Olivia Wilde)

At first I wondered if it was the free wine at the press screening of Booksmart that made it so goddamn hilarious. A second, sober, viewing confirmed that it was not. Turns out women are just that funny!

2. The Farewell (dir. Lulu Wang)

Based on a real lie, a sublime ensemble cast breathes life into Lulu Wang’s peculiar family anecdote; a morbidly funny but immensely moving narrative that crept up on me until I found myself sobbing relentlessly in its final moments.

1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir. Céline Sciamma)

More repressed lesbians? But this time they’re French and they paint. I trusted Sciamma to deliver the goods, but I did not expect to have my heart ripped out and handed back to me in the form of Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Bold and new but so, so familiar, I found myself both exposed and healed on screen in a way I didn’t think possible. Doubtless I will be returning to it many times in the years to come. Un film parfait!

by Megan Wilson


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