The 10 best films of 2019

There goes another year; come and gone. And another raft of triumphant, multifarious, breathtakingly original films have joined the ranks of all time classics.

Forget The Queen’s Corgi. The Laundromat never happened. We’ve moved on. All is forgiven. Perhaps.

Focus instead on the cream of the crop. Those cinematic charmers, devastators, thrillers and chillers that drew audiences to screens across the globe.

Continue reading The 10 best films of 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Review

★★★

What once seemed like a brave new era of adventure in a galaxy far far away has rather stewed of late. While there’s no denying a franchise so casually able to earn hundreds of millions, if not billions, at the box office still holds fond regard in hearts and minds across the globe, Disney’s reborn Star Wars all too quickly shed its early sparkle. If The Force Awakens took things to light speed on the power of nostalgia, an internal failure to configure a future for Star Wars beyond the past has rendered it all rather vanilla. Rogue One had it, Solo didn’t; as for The Last Jedi, that depends on who you ask. Now comes The Rise of Skywalker – grand finale to a nonology four decades in the making – less victory lap than MOT with longevity to prove.

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Knives Out | Review

★★★★

It is with much the same liberated creative abandon that saw him split the spine of one or two Star Wars mainstays that Rian Johnson now cuts into Christie and the classically camp whodunnit candle her novels lit way back in the thirties. Knives Out honours such tradition but wears alien debts to Hitchcock and The Fugitive with equal pride. Originality stabs through all with an flare for boundless wit and nose for the tension it sporadically breaks. The cast are sublime and gothic manor setting pitch perfect. It’s all very knowing, very smart and very deliberately subversive. All of that and a real crowd pleaser in the very best meaning of the phrase.

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Jumanji: The Next Level | Review

★★★

Having been so successfully welcomed back to the jungle in Jack Kasdan’s 2017 Jumanji revival, audiences must surely have higher expectations for the director’s second stab. Lower them. Not by much but enough for some due tempering. The Next Level has its moments but fewer laughs, less momentum and a noticeably longer runtime – an admittedly harsh critique of four additional minutes. An improved second half ramps things up towards an enjoyable finale, promising at least one more sequel, but the weight of familiarity teeters of contempt when things drag prior.

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Frozen II | Review

★★★★★

The last time Disney’s animation studios were on form as fine as they have been in recent years, back in those Renaissance days of the nineties, a sequel to a hit like Frozen would have landed direct to DVD, latterly destined for some bargain bucket. While, these days, the equivalent might be direct to streaming, such was the global impact of Frozen that only a big screen return will do. Praise be for that. Whatever your expectations, Frozen II exceeds them. This is a fabulously matured, wry and beautifully rendered sequel from a production team whose care for their characters is evident in every millisecond of the final piece. A triumph worthy of that rare group of sequels to improve on prior instalments.

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Jojo Rabbit | Review

★★★★

‘Had I known of the actual horrors of the German concentration camps, I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.’ So wrote Charlie Chaplin, some two decades after his Great Dictator tickled the war torn millions of Europe and America. A further half century on, it’s hard to imagine that Taika Waititi will ever decree regret for Jojo Rabbit. If anything, the New Zealander is more likely to wind up wishing this deliriously flippant, self-proclaimed ‘anti-hate satire’ were more politically incorrect. And yet, if the brio of the film’s first half proves unsustainable across Waititi’s full script, such a decline barely detracts from the funniest film of the year bar none.

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Last Christmas | Review

★★★

The Holiday, Jingle All The Way, Four Christmases…each gifted a frosty release reception by critics but adored with enduring regard by cross-generational audiences. At this funny time of year, festive features defy slovenly box office returns and common sense to become the most re-watched of all time. Even It’s a Wonderful Life bombed. Hoping to join this upper echelon of absurd timelessness, Paul Feig’s Emma Thompson and Greg Wise scripted Last Christmas – met with misery in most early reviews – ticks many boxes. It is a flawed gem. Of that there can be no question. And yet, there’s likability here in abundance, driven by good humour and a genially engaging cast. 

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