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.
First, the runners up:
And now, without further ado, our ten favourite films of 2019 are…
10. If Beale Street Could Talk
A cinematic beauty through and through, Barry Jenkins’ third feature might not have met the transcendent highs of Moonlight but came thrillingly close. Regina King deservedly took the Oscar but KiKi Layne proved to be a real find.
9. At Eternity’s Gate
Largely overlooked, by virtue of a limited and scattershot run, Julian Schnabel’s Van Gogh biopic was a nonetheless dizzying success. A powerhouse central turn by Willem Dafoe overcomes the odd minor quibbles, whilst some bold, daring visuals do much to heighten Schnabel’s artistic intentions.
8. The Farewell
We knew Awkwafina had comic chops but who could have predicted so strong a showing in as serious an affair as The Farewell. This tale of collective mourning and familial secrecy excelled in emotional heft and cultural sensitivity.
Olivia Wilde made stars of Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in 2019, gifting them a script to die for in the process. Booksmart was a laugh a minute, coming of age pleasure from start to finish. Not alone in its genre last year but surely the most likely to find a cult future following.
6. Marriage Story
Johansson and Driver gave career best turns in Noah Baumbach’s intensely personal parable of divorce. Love it or loathe it, the Netflix model has given Marriage Story a much wider audience than could have been offered by the art houses. It was deserved.
5. Frozen II
Not found in the upper echelons of most critic lists in 2019, Frozen II hit every button for us – and we’re not ashamed to claim it. Superior animation aside, the Jennifer Lee sequel matched emotional depth with a matured adventure and the sparks flew. A second reel of tremendous songs helped too.
A lengthy, murky, often nightmarish watch, Burning saw Lee Chang-dong deliver arresting psychological thrills and a many layers of intrigue to chew over. Once it had muscled its way into your head, Burning simply refused to vacate. An confounding, unmissable experience.
3. Little Women
Gorgeous to look at and rapturous on the level of intellectual engagement, Little Women proved definitively that Lady Bird was no fluke for Greta Gerwig. Expect a strong showing in the nominations when award season comes a looming.
A sweeping, breathtakingly charged masterpiece of absolute cinema, Monos oozed experiential illusionism. Pitch perfect visuals and a superb cast of youngsters paired for a film better seen than merely read about.
1. The Favourite
Blackly comic, wilfully arch and acted with aplomb, The Favourite might have been robbed of top spot at the Oscars but seizes our number one position by a country mile. Yorgos Lanthimos remains, were it ever in doubt, among the greatest and most inventive directors of the modern cinematic age.