Wednesday 1 January 2020

My Top 20 Films of 2019

(All films released in UK cinemas between January 1 and December 31, 2019; click on individual titles, should you require further persuasion.)

20. Monos
An arthouse Village of the Damned, yielding some of the year's most extraordinary imagemaking.

19. Marriage Story
For making me care.
Now streaming on Netflix.

18. Everybody Knows
Any cinema that underrates, overlooks or shrugs at Asghar Farhadi is a dying cinema.
Available on DVD through Universal, and to stream via the BFI.

17. Hale County: This Morning, This Evening
A great year for non-fiction: I could have compiled a top ten just of documentaries alone.

16. Us
The year's best (dropped) popcorn movie.
Available on DVD through Universal.

15. Ash is Purest White
Available on DVD through Drakes Avenue, and to stream via Curzon and the BFI.

14. Article 15
Not a stellar year for the Hindi mainstream, all told - the only other title that came within a whisker of making this list was February's Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, by some distance the year's most surprising and elevating romantic comedy - but I found the taut plotting and choice imagery of this tough, atmospheric policier hard to shake.
Now streaming on Netflix.

13. I Lost My Body
Now streaming on Netflix.

12. Little Women
A period drama that felt spirited, and not pickled.
Now playing in cinemas nationwide.

11. The Souvenir
Pipped Bait to the title of the year's most distinctive British film; returned Joanna Hogg to my good books.
Available on DVD through Curzon Artificial Eye, and to stream via Curzon and the BFI.

10. John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
A great, wide-ranging essay film; starts out impossibly niche - as a technical analysis of the tennis star's serve - and broadens into an investigation into what drives certain personalities on, sometimes to distraction. It wasn't that he wanted to win the point; it's that he wanted to win all the points.
Available to stream via the BFI.

9. The Farewell
Who needs Ang Lee now that we have Lulu Wang?
Available on DVD through Entertainment from January 13.

8. For Sama
Horrors and miracles, barbarism and bravery set side-by-side.
Available to stream via All4

7. Minding the Gap
The better Boyhood.
Available on DVD through Dogwoof, and to stream via Curzon and the BFI.

6. The Sisters Brothers
My favourite Audiard movie, presided over by an already spectral Rutger Hauer, sits waiting to be reclaimed as a great lost film of the 2010s.
Available on DVD through Universal.

5. So Long, My Son
Pretty damn deep, too.
Available on DVD through Curzon Artificial Eye from February 10, and to stream via Curzon.

4. An Impossible Love
A tangled #MeToo narrative avant la lettre, made with absolute compassion and at least two stupendous performances.
Available on DVD through Curzon Artificial Eye.

3. Apollo 11
What happens when we work together, and look up and out; a comet-bright corrective to the insularity and gloom of the past twelve months.
Available on DVD through Dogwoof, and to stream via the BFI.

2. The Irishman
The only Netflix-backed project that doesn't feel a single minute overlong.
Now streaming on Netflix.

1. Honeyland
The one film on this list where I still have no idea how they made it. I don't know how the filmmakers found that woman in the middle of nowhere; I don't know how they timed their arrival to coincide with the arrival of the neighbours from hell; and I don't really know how what plays out became the funny-sad-instructive free-market parable that it became. Not so much a movie as a miracle that needed witnessing.
Available to stream via Amazon Prime.

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