2019 has been the year of endings. The Avengers ended, Game of Thrones ended, Star Wars ended, and me feeling bad for the films I like ended. I think this list is reflective of that, and I hope you think so too. I watched 74 of 2019’s releases across the year, so getting it down to 10 favourites was particularly difficult. With that being said, here are some honourable mentions before you read on: Ready or Not, Fighting With My Family, Booksmart, Captain Marvel, System Crasher, and Dark Phoenix
I will link to my review if I’ve written one, but if I haven’t I’ll try to point you in the direction of another critic I admire, hopefully introducing you to some great writers along the way. Thank you for reading, I hope you had an amazing year, and here’s to 2020.
10. Knives Out dir. Rian Johnson / Detective Pikachu dir. Rob Letterman
A pairing you never knew you needed. These two films have been slowly inched to the edge of my top ten recently, but they truly earn their spot as joint winners here. Knives Out is roarous fun from Rian Johnson, a pitch perfect whodunnit that fits neatly into the 2019 climate, I reviewed the film for SQ here.
Detective Pikachu just completely surprised me. As an avid Pokémon fan as a kid (I was very good at the cards too, even attending weekend tournaments *cough* nerd *cough*), I can honestly say I didn’t expect much. But the second that clever spin on the score kicked in and Justice Smith bounced onto the screen with his endless charisma, I was sold. The film is intelligent and vast, and the visual effects truly brought these characters to the real world and I had so much fun.
9. Marriage Story dir. Noah Baumbach
Marriage Story is heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measure, a visually gorgeous film with central perfromances that truly astonished me. The film easily cemented Adam Driver as one of the greatest actors working today, and I thought about it for a long time after I saw it. I didn’t review the film, but my friend Ella Kemp wrote some thoughtful words on it here. Her writing almost made me sob as much as the film did.
8. La Belle Époque dir. Nicolas Bedos
A whimsical French romantic comedy that seamessly weaves together ‘time travel,’ laughs and rekindled relationships. La Belle Époque is just a joy to watch; I LOVE love! Here is a great five-star review from Ed Potton at The Times.
7. Doctor Sleep dir. Mike Flanagan
The Haunting of Hill House deeply moved me. Director Mike Flanagan has an incredible talent for approaching trauma through horror with real emotion and care, so when I heard he was adapting my favourite Stephen King novel, I had no doubt he would do it justice. I was still surprised though, because he made it better than I ever could have hoped for. I said in my review, “It’s full of feeling, imagination, and thrills, and with the seal of approval from King himself, this isn’t one to miss.” Read here.
6. Apollo 11 dir. Todd Douglas Miller
Apollo 11 wowed me at 8 am in the morning at my first Sundance London. With its stunning restored footage and breathtaking pace, it filled me with an immense feeling of pride at what humankind can achieve. My first time ever in print was a review for this film, but as that isn’t available online, allow me to direct you to my friend Chris Shortt’s fantastic writing on it here.
5. Honey Boy dir. Alma Har’el
My love for Shia LaBeouf has never wavered, and I think his work in Honey Boy is some of his best. In fact, Honey Boy offers, perhaps, three of the best performances of the year in LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, and Noah Jupe. It is a deeply personal act of forgiveness, one that I can only imagine offered its writer some real catharsis. Katie Goh wrote beautfully on it here.
4. The Farewell dir. Lulu Wang
Another stunning entry on this list by a female director, The Farewell told a specific story of a facet of Chinese-American existence that resonated on a universal level. I immediatley wanted to call my parents and tell them how much I love them. My friend Graciela Mae had a personal conenction to the tale and wrote brilliantly on it here.
3. Little Women dir. Greta Gerwig
As a diehard fan of Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 adapation, I was very against this from the start, why make yet another Little Women? I saw it anyway of course, because I love the March sisters and I would do anything for Emma Watson and Florence Pugh, and boy oh boy …that Greta Gerwig really knows how to make a film huh? I quietly sobbed for the entire last hour, wishing desperately I had sisters to love and fight and hug. Gerwig has created a warm embrace in this astonishing film, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I wrote about my connection to the youngest sister, Amy, for a wonderful Girls on Tops feature here.
2. I Am Easy to Find dir. Mike Mills
Another film where I cried a lot. Are we sensing a running theme yet? I’d never listened to a song by the band The National before, but I’d heard Alicia Vikander was in this so of course I watched it. A serene and moving short film by Mike Mills, I Am Easy To Find uses The National’s new album to tell the story of a young woman from birth to death. The beauty of her story is its ordinariness; I often wish for a big life where I am known and loved, but art like this reminds me that it’s possible to find beauty in the mundane and small. The brilliant Laura Venning reviewed it for Screen Queens here.
1. Avengers: Endgame dir. The Russo Brothers
Are we surprised? A near-perfect conclusion to a spectacular ten-year story that made me feel a million things all at once. I’m a bit more artciulate in my review which you can read here.
by Millicent Thomas
Millicent Thomas is a proud Mancunian studying Film & Publishing in Bath. She has written freelance for Little White Lies, Much Ado About Cinema, Reel Honey, and more. Her favourite films include Logan, Columbus, and Spy-Kids. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Letterboxd at @millicentonfilm
Categories: Anything and Everything