William Edwards 

Long time film fanatic, Sydney
  1. Gisaengchung (Parasite,Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  2. The Nightingale(Jennifer Kent, 2018)
  3. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu(Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  4. Dronningen(Queen of Hearts, May el-Toukhy, 2019)
  5. A Vida Invisível (The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Karim Aïnouz, 2019)
  6. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  7. Downton Abbey(Michael Engler, 2019)
  8. Les Misérables(Ladyj Ly, 2019)
  9. Grace à Dieu(By the Grace of God, Francois Ozon, 2019)
  10. Leaving Neverland(Dan Reed, 2019)

What a magnificent year for cinema it has been and at the same time I suppose it was inevitable but the merger of television and cinema as a single medium appears to be near complete. One must simply accept it and move on with it but my heart will always be with the big screen experience. Given that I must say that my most enjoyable viewing of the year was finally seeing for the first time the entire 6 seasons of Downton Abbey (2010-2015) during an 11 day binge watch – pure bliss.

Geronimo Elortegui 

Lente Creativo website editor, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Rūgštus miškas (Acid Forest, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, 2018) was the best film I watch in 2019. I was smiling or laughing all the time, and of course thinking how terribly harmful men can be with the planet we all share. A true delight.

From here on in alphabetical order. In a close second place:

Hasta la muer7 (Raúl Perrone, 2019)
Krabi, 2562 (Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma (2019)
Un rubio (The Blonde One, Marco Berger, 2019)

And still in the group of the bests

A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen, 2019)
Ai-naki mori de sakebe (The Forest of Love, Sion Sono, 2019)
Alles ist gut (All is Well, Eva Trobisch (2018)
Angélica (Delfina Castagnino, 2019)
Arguments (Olivier Zabat, 2019)
The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)
Di jiu tian chang (So Long my Son, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Domino (Brian De Palma, 2019)
Dong wu xiong meng (The Storms in our Blood, Shen Di, 2018)
Foto estudio Luisita (Sol Miraglia & Hugo Manso, 2018)
Giraffe (Anna Sofie Hartmann, 2019)
Girl (Lukas Dhont, 2018)
Here for life (Andrea Luka Zimmerman & Adrian Jackson, 2019)
Hombres de piel dura (Men of Hard Skin, José Celestino Campusano, 2019)
Kursk (Thomas Vinterberg, 2018)
Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
Los atardeceres rojos (The Red Sunsets, Emilio Aguilar Pradal (2019)
Los miembros de la familia (Family Members, Mateo Bendesky, 2019)
Ma nudité ne sert à rien (My Mudity Means Nothing, Marina de Van, 2019)
Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Lady J, Emmanuel Mouret, 2018)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Mi mejor amigo (My Best Friend, Martín Deus, 2019)
Midsommar (Ari Larter, 2019)
Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage, Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra, 2018)
Peterloo (Mike Leigh, 2018)
Sankt Bernhard Syndikatet (St. Bernard Syndicate, Mads Brügger (2018)
Shéhérezade (Jean-Bernard Marlin, 2018)
Surematu (Ksenia Okhapkina, 2019)
Tiempo después (Some Time Later, José Luis Cuerda, 2018)
Un peuple et son roi (One Nation One King, Pierre Schoeller, 2018)
Viaje al cuarto de una madre (Journey to a Mother’s Room, Pedro Casablanc, 2018)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Richard Linklater, 2019)

Plus the 10 films of the decade

Ang babaeng humayo (The Woman who Left, Lav Diaz, 2016)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
Kak ya provyol etim letom (How I Ended this Summer, Aleksei Popogrebsky, 2010)
Kibô no kuni (The Land of Hope, Sion Sono, 2012)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, 2013)
Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
Taxi (Jafar Panahi, 2015)
A torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr, 2011)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

And of course this last list must include a number eleven, Acid Forest, the best one I saw this year. 

John K. Emelianoff 

Consultant, Editor, USA

2019 altogether was, to my American senses, trash. The only respite was entertainment, on screens or on pages or through earbuds. If I do not list your favourite films here, please assume I have not yet found the means to see them. Time is luck. Good riddance to the 2010s. Happy new decade, everybody.

Favourite 2019 new release cinema experiences, arranged into categories:

The High Budget Bombardment Of Colours And Stunts and CG-aided Sound & Fury Category

6 Underground (Michael Bay, 2019)
Pissed off nuns.

Avengers: Endgame (Anthony & Joe Russo, 2019)
Everyone is invited. A monopolistic corporate behemoth tells us to appreciate collectivism. Universes collide and congeal. Resistance is futile; resistance is necessary.

The Fascism, What Is It Good For? Category

On The President’s Orders (Olivier Sarbil, James Jones, 2019)

Blinded By The Light (Gurinder Chadha, 2019)

Papicha (Mounia Meddour Gens, 2019)

Rambo: Last Blood (Adrian Grunberg, 2019)
The closest thing to pure violent exploitation released in multiplexes this year; I treasure such blunt bloody boldness, although I may never forgive myself for laughing at the sight of a literal heart-ripping. I felt the same way about the literal throat-ripping scene in Rambo (2008). A more satisfyingly grotesque vigilante story than Joker.

The Outer Space Adventures Category (the most cinematic genre)

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
Brad Pitt warned himself 20 years ago (Fight Club) about the dangers of space monkeys, even if there were not 12 of them as he warned himself even earlier than that.

Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)

The Terrence Malick Category (the second-most cinematic genre)

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
This immortal filmmaker will outlive us all.

The Fighting, With Family Category

Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping, 2019)

Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez, 2019)

Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)

Crawl (Alexandre Aja, 2019)
That gator-resistant shower door must have been made of the same unbreakable glass as those tables hilariously featured in Game Night (2018). The fact that the protagonist did not remove her ear rings made me squeamish.

Fighting With My Family (Stephen Merchant, 2019)
I did not love this movie, but Florence Pugh deserves award consideration for Best Actress. The fact that her character did not remove her lip ring made me squeamish.

The John Wick Category 

Revenger (Lee Seung-won, 2018)

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019)

This is the latest John Wick movie. No further explanation required.

The Actor, Interrupted Category 

Nina Wu (Midi Z, 2019)

Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)

Sibyl (Justine Triet, 2019)

The Beyoncé Category

Homecoming (Beyoncé Knowles, Ed Burke 2019)
She breaks chains all by herself.

O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)

Fernando Chaves Espinach 

Costa Rica / London, UK – Writer, former programmer Costa Rica International Film Festival, independent curator

Top 20 films seen in cinemas and festivals in 2019 (shorts and features)

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Jiang hu er nü (Ash Is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Wan mei jin xing shi (Present.Perfect, Shengze Zhu, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Dà Xiàng Xídì Érzuò (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2019)
Tarde para morir joven (Too Late to Die Young, Dominga Sotomayor, 2018)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
SaF05 (Charlotte Prodger, 2019)
Vulture (Philip Hoffman, 2019)
Fausto (Andrea Bussmann, 2017)
O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
No Data Plan (Miko Revereza, 2019)
Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
A Moon for My Father (Mania Akbari & Douglas White, 2019)
the names have changed, including my own and truths have been altered (Onyeka Igwe, 2019)

Best repertoire & retrospective cinema experiences

India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975) in 35mm at the French Institute, London
Moral (Marilou Diaz-Abaya, 1982) at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival
Young Soul Rebels (Isaac Julien, 1990) intro by Isaac Julien at the British Film Institute
The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene, 1990) 2019 restoration at the British Film Institute
Un rêve plus long que la nuit (Niki de Saint-Phalle, 1976) at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival

The year in Central America

Despite the enduring hurdles for production in the region, 2019 will surely be considered a milestone year in terms of international diffusion. Our Mothers (Nuestras madres), by César Díaz, won the Camera d’Or at Cannes, the top prize achieved so far by a Guatemalan film, and later became Belgium’s submission for the Academy Awards – highlighting the relevance of European co-production in a region with scant funding and limited markets. La Semaine de la Critique saw the premiere of the enchanting, dreamy tale of Land of Ashes (Ceniza negra, Sofía Quirós, Costa Rica/Argentina/Chile/France) and the unsettling short Lucía en el limbo (Valentina Maurel, Belgium/France/Costa Rica), the second Cannes premiere for both.

But it is Guatemala’s Jayro Bustamante who seems on the verge of an international breakthrough, having completed his “triptych of insults” that began with the the outstanding Silver Bear-winner Ixcanul in 2015 (a film that has popped up in a few decade-best lists, at least those able to imagine a Latin American cinema beyond Mexican filmmakers in Hollywood). Back in Berlin with the effectively paranoid drama Tremors (Temblores, Guatemala/France/Luxembourg), Bustamante next showed the post-war drama cum ghost story La llorona, which in a less cluttered year would have stood out immediately after screening in Venice (it has received positive buzz and may still enjoy healthy distribution). Bustamante then scored the unusual feat of showing both Tremors and La llorona at San Sebastian and at the BFI London Film Festival. The director has hinted at French- or English-speaking projects in the near future, so further honours for Guatemala are certain.

The vagaries of cultural policy provide little comfort in a region mired in institutional uncertainty, but some uplifting news came from countries like El Salvador, Panama and Honduras, which are expected to expand their support for filmmakers, as well in regional initiatives focused on archival work (Nicaragua, however, will likely only re-emerge after the Ortega regime finally ends). Costa Rica unexpectedly slashed its funding for the national film centre in an otherwise remarkable year for its filmmakers (with recent premieres at Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, IDFA, San Sebastián, Tallinn, Sitges and elsewhere). However, as proven by films such as the heartfelt domestic drama El despertar de las hormigas (Antonella Sudasassi), which became the first Costa Rican feature nominated for a Goya in Spain, and the IDFA premiere Moving So Slowly (Natalia Solórzano), a patient and timely dissection of bureaucracy and institutional stagnation, there is room for growth and diversity in the country, especially by a hyperactive generation of female filmmakers.

2020 begins with a Costa Rican premiere, La boda del tigre, by local box office darling Esteban Ramírez, and two promising films in competition in Rotterdam: Sebastián Lojo’s Los fantasmas (Argentina/Guatemala) and Ana Elena Tejera’s Panquiaco (Panama). Whereas diversity and quality are by now fairly assured, the biggest challenge in the coming year – and decade – will be securing stable public and private funding and attracting audiences. In a world increasingly dominated by a few American power players, smart public investment in film art and film culture might prove more urgent than ever before.

The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

Ted Fendt 

American filmmaker and translator based in Berlin. His films include Classical PeriodShort Stay and Broken Specs.

Top Films seen in 2019 (films listed in alphabetical order)

Bouquets 21-30 (Rose Lowder, 2001-2005)
I’m sure there is somewhere in the world where Rose Lowder’s work is screened relatively often. I had never seen anything by her before and this series of films made me feel like living again.

For the Shape of Columns (Daniela Zahlner, 2017)
A rough, tactile film, gestural in the purest sense: repeated, silent, Super 8 images of the Parthenon interrupted by a hand reaching into the frame, the full gesture revealed in a wider shot some seconds later as a woman in white recreates a pose discovered by Isadora Duncan a hundred years ago as Alfred Stiegletz wanted to photograph her at the site. But here in full motion, turned into dance by the staging and by the camera, held in the filmmaker’s own hands. Perhaps a distant, cinematic relative of Raymonde Carasco’s Gradiva, minus the Freudian aspect.

Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
Seen twice in the German version that was for whatever reason released in Berlin, wherein Godard himself dubbed much of his off-screen commentary in heavily-accented and fairly incomprehensible German. As extraordinary as Adieu au langage. The fact that Godard evidently still edits using two tape decks makes everything going on in this film on an image-sound level all the more extraordinary.

Luz, clarão, fulgor – augúrios para um enquadramento não-hierárquico e venturoso (Light, Blaze, Fulgor – Auguries for a Non-hierarchical Framing and Flourishing, Silvía das Fadas, 2019)
A “film in metamorphosis” presented in a two-projector, approximately two hour variant with the filmmaker herself behind the 16mm projectors and reading a narration aloud as well as live sound (music and field recordings) provided by João Farelo. A journey through Portugal’s Alentejo region depicting its landscape and geography, its people, festivals, architecture, and the remaining traces of a commune. One place flows into the next in the film’s exploratory, handheld images (generally full camera rolls spliced together, sometimes black & white, sometimes colour), shot alone or with different groups of visiting friends, on land and on rivers. A portrait of a woman baking bread; a band playing on a summer stage; a boat flowing along a river (I’ll allow myself one cinematic reference and say that, like in Trop tôt, trop tard [Too Early, Too Late, Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, 1981], the camera only moves when on another moving object); a snake moving among some ruins…

The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
There is much that could be called goofy about this film, but the narrative compression within the first ten minutes in favour of a rare fluidity – the lack of any development of the Eastwood character’s decision to change from florist to drug mule and the cut of him missing his daughter’s wedding to twelve years later once the Internet has ruined his flower business – and the languorous scenes of Eastwood’s character driving around alone listening and singing along to Dino make it far more compelling for me than other narrative films I admittedly mostly did not see this year. The film was released in Berlin in direct competition with the 2019 Berlinale, allowing it to be, in my mind, the best film of the Berlinale. Richard Jewell will be released in Germany on 22 February 2020 and I expect it will again be the best film of Berlinale.

Pitcher of Colored Light (Robert Beavers, 2007)
The program did not clarify why, but the Austrian Film Museum has a 35mm blow-up of this film in its collection that they screened in October. Everything that is already remarkable about this film becomes magnified ten times upon its passage through the optical printer and lens of the 35mm projector: the fade ins and out to and from black; the focus pulling; the deep shadows in the house of the filmmaker’s mother; the clarity of each image; the passage of the seasons as registered in the garden outside. Why are more prints of this version not in circulation?

Rasendes Grün mit Pferden (Rushing Green with Horses, Ute Aurand, 2019)
Some twenty years of portraits captured by hand with a Bolex. Not so much dealing with the passage of time (as in one of Aurand’s acknowledged influences Jonas Mekas) as with the age. All ages are represented here: babies and the elderly and everything in between. Not just people either, but cities as well: a fantastic series of cuts connects Massachusetts, Italy, and New York. Robert Beavers discussing with a younger woman the feeling of seeing a photo of himself at the age of eight; a father buzzing off his hair while his daughter stands by watching in fascination; the cut from a baby in a crib to a flower; an older man’s birthday party; and the filmmaker’s friend Maria Lang accompanied on the soundtrack by her voice recorded years earlier…

Adalberto Fonkén 

Lima-based social communicator and film writer for the Séptima Ilusión blog.

Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

There is an uncertainty, a reflection on existence far from the earth, a fragmentary narrative that reveals details in an unstable time.

Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
Pájaros de verano (Birds of passage, Ciro Guerra y Cristina Gallego, 2018)
Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
Visages villages (Faces places, Agnes Varda, 2017)
Rosa Chumbe (Jonatan Relayze, 2015)
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer 2013)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
Pola X (Leos Carax, 1999)
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)
Il gattopardo (The leopard, Luchino Visconti, 1963)
The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster 

Experimental filmmaker, author, curator, Willa Cather Professor of Film Studies, unl.

Top Films of 2019

No Data Plan (Miko Revezera, 2019)
Commodity Trading (M. Woods, 2019)
Transmitting and Receiving (Dee Hood, 2019)
My Gossip (Kelly Gallagher, 2018)
Love and the Epiphanists (Scott Stark, 2018)
Sleep Has Her House (Scott Barley, 2017)
The Self-Made Trap (Sylvia Toy, 2018)
Twins: I. – IV. (Jennifer Sharpe, 2019)
Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès Agnès Varda, 2019)
Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
Twarz (Mug Małgorzata Szumowska, 2018)
Little Woods (Nia DaCosta, 2019)
Fast Color (Julia Hart, 2019)
The Wind (Emma Tammi, 2019)
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Pamela Green, 2019)
The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, 2018)
Portrait d’une jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)

Despite the dumbing down of movie making as a result of Netflix and pre-tested empty comic book films hogging up valuable movie screens, it was a great year for truly independent and underground film, experimental film, and art-house movies, as well as for women in film. Female directors delivered amazing anti-fairy tales this year with films like Atlantics, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Mug along with brilliant and heartfelt independent films such as The Wind, Little Woods, and Fast Color.

Bubbling under in the world of experimental film (much of it to be found on Vimeo and other alternative platforms) is a healthy and formidable underground world of film and video artists such as Sylvia Toy, M. Woods, Scott Barley, Dee Hood, and Jennifer Sharpe. Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog is a brilliant and clever use of found footage, as is Scott Stark’s Love and the Epiphanists. Kelly Gallagher’s My Gossip is a beautiful personal film about female friendships that should not be missed.

World cinema is a bit harder to track down these days, as it is crowded out of art houses by biopics, costume dramas and “light art-house”, but Céline Sciamma is at her finest with Portrait of a Lady on Fire, as is Mati Diop in her breathtaking film Atlantics. In the realm of lost and found treasures, Miko Revereza’s No Data Plan is simply breathtaking: Akerman meets Pedro Ultreras in an experimental feature-length documentary. No Data Plan features a breathtaking use of sound, poetic cinematography, and sparing elliptical narration: it is a film that breathes the despair and the harrowing itinerant cold place that America has become, particularly for immigrants and the undocumented.

Mark Freeman 

Course Director of Film and Television, Swinburne University, Editor at Senses of Cinema

Work has kept me insanely busy this year so getting to the cinema has been an extreme rarity. Truly, the few that I saw in a cinema were mostly for the Senses of Cinema podcast; the rest of the time I was flaked out, exhausted in my lounge-room, numbly watching film through streaming services. So this is in no way definitive – in fact it’s a very narrow view on what came through Australia in 2019. I didn’t even make it to MIFF – the first time in about 20 years. As a faithful Letterboxd nerd I’m aware that I watched about half the number of films as I did in 2018. So here’s the list, for what it’s worth.

  1. Gisaengchung(Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
  2. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  3. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
  4. If Beale St Could Talk (Barry Jenkins (2018)
  5. Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
  6. Unbelievable (Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner, Susannah Grant, 2019)
  7. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  8. Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
  9. Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018)
  10. The Australian Dream (Daniel Gordon, 2019)

Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2019)

Sachin Gandhi 

Programmer (World Cinema), Calgary International Film Festival.

2017 and 2018 represented such high points in world cinema that I was a bit cautious about the state of cinema at the start of 2019. Surely, the last year of the decade couldn’t match the cinematic highs of the previous two years? Thankfully, I was wrong. 2019 provided many films which surprised, shocked and even jolted me. In doing so, these films reaffirmed that cinema was well and truly alive contrary to the annual articles debating its demise. Sadly, 2019 continued the trend of previous years where many stellar international films were hard to see legally outside of film festivals or one-off screenings. Despite the numerous streaming online options, distribution of world cinema remains broken and 2019 didn’t offer much hope in the form of a solution. Majority of the titles in the top 10 list were screened mostly at international film festivals. Some of these titles will get a limited theatrical release in 2020 and a few will likely be only available online. For the rest, I do hope they manage to be released in one platform or another.

1. One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (Zacharias Kunuk, 2019)
Cinema has documented historical encounters between two cultures with violence and blood. On the other hand, Zacharias Kunuk has taken a completely different and thoughtful approach in documenting a historical encounter between two sides in 1961 Baffin Island. There is no violence in the film but a harmless friendly conversation. However, by the time the film ends, it is clear if the Inuit leader Noah Piugattuk doesn’t cooperate, the next encounter will involve force. The implications of this conversation extend well beyond the confines of Baffin island and apply to countless other encounters in North America and beyond.

2. Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2019)
It was an emotional experience watching this knowing that this was the last time I would see a work by Varda. However, she has left a film that provides new entry points into studying her older films and also a way to experience cinema with new eyes.

3. Abou Leila (Amin Sidi-Boumédine, 2019)
Set in Algeria 1994, the film digs beneath the surface and shows the psychological impact of a society engulfed in civil war and violence. In doing so, the film highlights why decades old scars refuse to go away resulting in a never ending cyclic course of events.

4. Aamis (Ravening, Bhaskar Hazarika, 2019)
There has never been a movie like this to come out of India and given the way things are going in India, there will never be a movie like this. It is astonishing that this movie exists. However, existence is not enough. This film needs proper distribution so that it can be seen and doesn’t disappear.

5. Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
A living breathing painting, Vitalina Varela feels like the completion of a narrative cycle between Cape Verde and Lisbon that Costa has explored for almost 25 years.

6. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Like Costa, Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory also appears to complete a narrative cycle the director started decades ago while revealing inspirations for his lovely stories.

7. El despertar de las hormigas (The Awakening of the Ants, Antonella Sudasassi, 2019)
Antonella’s exciting debut film is rooted in a small Costa Rican town but there is a universality to the story; the events could unfold in any society where there is an imbalance in a relationship due to a patriarchal structure.

8. Dylda (Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
Inspired by Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War”, Beanpole sheds a light on the rarely scene topic of women’s role in the war and the challenges they faced adjusting to post-war life.

9. Aidiyet (Belonging, Burak Çevik, 2019)
Burak Çevik’s startling debut feels like an evolution of cinema because of the unique way it allows audience to experience a crime movie. The film is based on a real life murder that took place in the director’s family.

10. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019) tied with Il Traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
Two different Italian films separated by decades in time but actions in one film’s timeline have direct consequences in the other’s. Martin Eden shows how ordinary citizens can be manipulated based on the right words spoken at the right time. The words in Martin Eden are laced with deception but it is honesty that is the cause of all problems in The Traitor. Based on the real life story of Tommaso Buscetta, The Traitor shows how Buscetta’s words brought down the mafia.

Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order):
Aga’s House (Lendita Zeqiraj, 2019)
Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, 2019)
La cordillère des songes (The Cordillera of my Dreams, Patricio Guzmán, 2019)
Gully Boy (Zoya Akhtar, 2019)
Made in Bangladesh (Rubaiyat Hossain, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Photograph (Ritesh Batra, 2019)
Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas, 2019)
La Gomera (The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019) 

Steve Gaunson 

Film scholar and teacher at RMIT University

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher, 2019)
Mary Poppins Returns (Rob Marshall, 2018)
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack, 1972/2018)
Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Judy & Punch (Mirrah Foulkes, 2019)
Rolling Thunder Revue (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

Flora Georgiou 

Melbourne based freelance writer and filmmaker

Senses of Cinema Top 10 picks for 2019


  1. Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018)
    Capernaum heralds a new age in Arab Cinema. Labaki painstakingly sourced non- actors to paint an authentic picture of slum life in Beirut.
  1. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
    A laboured project, set in the 1950s, a true to life and somewhat fictionalised account of crime, corruption and the Teamsters. Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) a real to life character who gives a chilling flashback account of his life while working for the mob. Al Pacino as Hoffa was not so convincing. An epic production.
  1. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Celine Sciamma, 2019)
    Sciamma has really come of age with this delicate portrayal of artist and muse. It is a scintillating historical drama about two women discovering each other at a time when women artists were fashionably sought after.
  1. Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
    A hilariously somewhat fictionalised account of a fifties “B” grade actor and his stuntman caught up in in the swinging sixties and the crazy helter-skelter world of the Manson family.
  1. The Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
    Arthur Fleck is a loner, a clown, a criminal mastermind and the joker. Production values were low key and very filmic retro New York.
  1. Iklimer (Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)
    A noted fact for followers of Ceylan this was his first film shot on High Definition. A relationship in turmoil, set in and amongst poetic landscapes along with many dwelling-heart wrenching scenarios.
  1. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
    Parasite is a brilliant execution of a family drama meets horror meets thriller and delivers  a poignant message on the constraints and imbalances of the rigid class system.
  1. The Swallows Of Kabul (Zabou Brietman, Elea Gobbe-Mevellec, 2019)
    An animated feature film based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra, tells the story of Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul, during the Taliban occupation. Set in the summer of 1998, and focuses on two married couples.
  1. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
    A stage director (Adam Driver) and actor wife  (Scarlet Johansson) struggle to keep their marriage alive. This is a great modern day version of Kramer versus Kramer.
  1. Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
    A harrowing portrayal of the ghetto life in Paris and the problems the anti-crime brigade face daily. Based on actual riotous events in suburban Paris in 2005.

Uncut Gems (Josh & Benny Safdie, 2019)

Sean Gilman 

A film critic in Tacoma

Best of 2019 (World Premieres)

  1. Little Women(Greta Gerwig, 2019)
  2. The Irishman(Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  3. Hatsukoi(First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019)
  4. Fourteen(Dan Sallitt, 2019)
  5. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood(Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  6. Bacurau(Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, 2019)
  7. Uncut Gems(Josh & Benny Safdie, 2019)
  8. Wǒ de quán wáng nányǒu(Chasing Dream, Johnnie To, 2019)
  9. Martin Eden(Pietro Marcello, 2019)
  10. Lynch: A History(David Shields, 2019)
  11. Jiā hé wànshì jīng (A Home with a View, Herman Yau, 2019)
  12. The Dead Don’t Die(Jim Jarmusch, 2019)
  13. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  14. Rolling Thunder Revue(Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  15. The Lighthouse(Robert Eggers, 2019)
  16. Marriage Story(Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  17. MS Slavic 7(Sofia Bohdanowicz & Deragh Campbell, 2019)
  18. Deadwood: the Movie(Daniel Minahan, 2019)
  19. Xīn xǐjù zhī wáng(The New King of Comedy, Stephen Chow, 2019)
  20. Hamabe no gēmu(Jeux de plage, Aimi Natsuto, 2019)
  21. Das freiwillige Jahr (A Voluntary Year, Ulrich Köhler & Henner Winckler, 2019)
  22. Tenki no ko(Weathering with You, Makoto Shinkai, 2019)
  23. Huājiāo zhī wèi (Fagara, Heiward Mak, 2019)
  24. Synonymes(Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
  25. Dolemite is My Name(Craig Brewer, 2019)

Antony i. Ginnane 

Producer or executive producer of 70 feature films, mow’s, miniseries and TV series over 46 years.

Top 10 (Eligibility: 2019 festival films in theatrical, festival, premiere DVD or VOD or streaming first release in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand) listed alphabetically by title:

The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2019)
Eastwood’s meditation on old age, loss, race and the impossibility of the American dream is both profoundly moving and often bitingly funny. Shot in his classic style, he takes on bureaucracy and law enforcement while endeavouring to reconnect with the family he has cast aside.

Destroyer (Karyn Kusama, 2018)
The past and present collide with Kidman playing a burnt-out cop cast adrift in LA noir land trying to put together a puzzle from 20 years ago which still ravages her with guilt. Kusama plays with redemption but gives us a tough dark Kathryn Bigelow style to contemplate.

John Wick: Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019)
The Melville inspired loner is back with a series of incredible stunt set pieces that would give John Woo pause. Keanu Reeves is the almost non-speaking hero-killer still searching for peace.

Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019)
A director looks back on the success and failures of his career and the lives of those he has hurt along the way. Almodovar channels his own life experiences into this memoir of 80’s Spain as he has done many times before. Banderas is extraordinary.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Tarantino chronicles a time of change in Hollywood (and the US) as 1969 becomes 1970. Like Godard’s early work it’s imbued with the grace notes of cinema and the micro detail of that time. His best work in my view as he digs deep into the strange obsessions of cinephiles.

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma, 2019)
A haunting period portrait of female constraint that reminded me of Rivette’s La Religeuse (1966) and yet its details mirror late Rossellini or Visconti. The ambiguity of the camera’s gaze here pushes boundaries.

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Can Scorsese take his reflections on mob life any further? Like Ford in Cheyenne Autumn (1964) or Hawks in “El Dorado” (1967), he ponders on the worth of his anti-heroes and the meaning of death, obligation and betrayal.

Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2019)
Like a Don Siegel movie blended with Peckinpah violence, Gibson and Vaughn as the two twisted cops spit racist bile while they wait out a payback on a ruthless gang which backfires on a grand scale. No morality here – just grindhouse pulp.

Richard Jewell (Clint Eastwood, 2019)
Eastwood’s second release this year again takes on the case of an ordinary guy impaled by the media and the government and who against the odds come through. Arguably the best performance of the year by Paul Walter Hauser, and Kathy Bates as Jewel’s mother is also standout.

Queen and Slim (Melina Matsoukas, 2019)
Super stylish “killers on the run” road movie spinning off “driving while black” as the couple on the run are forced to rethink their lives as they realise death is catching up with them.  Kaluuya and Turner-Smith, at first an unlikely fit, become a dynamic duo and Matsoukas’ Langian sense of destiny is often chilling.

Other titles that have excited or inspired me during the year include:

  1. You Were Never Here (Lynn Ramsay, 2018)
  2. Sorry I Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
  3. Rabid (Soska Sisters, 2019)
  4. The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
  5. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
  6. The Gentlemen (Guy Ritchie, 2019)
  7. Harriet (Kasi Lemmons, 2019)
  8. The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
  9. Bird Box (Susanne Bier, 2019)
  10. Lora (Paolo Sorrentino, 2018)
  11. The Combination: Redemption (David Field, 2019)
  12. Greta (Neil Jordan, 2019)
  13. Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018)
  14. The House That Jack Built (Lars Von Trier, 2018)
  15. Under The Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2019)
  16. Les Plus Belles Années d’une vie (Best Years of A Life, Claude Lelouch, 2019)
  17. Werk ohne Autor (Never Look Away, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmark, 2019)
  18. Crawl (Alexandre Aja, 2019)
  19. Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
  20. The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)
  21. Ready or Not (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyles Gillett, 2019)
  22. I Am Mother (Grant Sputane, 2019)
  23. Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019)
  24. Ad Astra (James Grey, 2019)
  25. Official Secrets (Gavin Wood, 2019)
  26. The King (David Michôd, 2019)
  27. Anna (Luc Besson, 2019)
  28. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  29. Terminator: Dark Fate (Tim Miller, 2019)
  30. Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton, 2019)
  31. The Report (Scott Z. Burns, 2019)
  32. Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
  33. The Good Liar (Bill Condon, 2019) 

Shawn Glinis 

Film Inquiry

Top 10 home video releases of 2019:

Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount (Indicator)
The Harder They Come (Shout! Factory)
9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (Vinegar Syndrome)
Jarman Volume 2: 1987-1994 (BFI)
The Boys Next Door (Severin)
Kundun (Kino Lorber)
Wanda (Criterion Collection)
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Criterion Collection)
The Reckless Moment (Indicator)
Apocalypse Now Final Cut (Lionsgate)

Fourteen (Dan Sallitt, 2019)

Leonardo Goi 

film critic, journalist, berlinale talent press coordinator

Seconds after jotting these picks down, I spent a good half hour trying to rank them. A waste of time. While some of the films below have spoken to me in ways that few others ever had, quantifying all the awe, devastation, and healing they’ve inspired would be fruitless. To quote Serge Daney, here’s a handful of “films that watched me” over the past twelve months:

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Fourteen (Dan Sallitt, 2019)
Synonymes (Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019)
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019)
The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
Dijiutianchang (So Long My Son, Xiaoshuai Wang, 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
Babyteeth (Shannon Murphy, 2019)
Ema (Pablo Larraín, 2019)
Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (Heimat is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019)
Take Me Somewhere Nice (Ena Sendijarevic, 2019)
August at Akiko’s (Christopher Makoto Yogi, 2019)
Dylda (Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Benny and Josh Safdie, 2019)
The Fever (Maya Da-Rin, 2019)
Space Dogs (Elsa Kremser, Levin Peter, 2019)
The Hottest August (Brett Story, 2019)
Nhà Cây (The Tree House, Minh Quy Truong, 2019)

Jaime Grijalba 

Film Critic (Kinoscope, MUBI, The Film Stage)

My list is comprised entirely of films that premiered originally in 2019. Includes, shorter, longer and even a TV mini-series.

  1. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
  2. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  3. It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, 2019)
  4. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  5. Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)
  6. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  7. Good Omens (Douglas Mackinnon, 2019)
  8. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
  9. Sete anos en maio (Seven Years in May, Affonso Uchoa, 2019)
  10. Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès, Agnès Varda, Didier Rouget, 2019)
  11. Harley Queen (José Luis Sepúlveda & Carolina Adriazola, 2019)
  12. Hvítur, hvítur dagur (A White, White Day, Hlynur Palmason, 2019)
  13. 3 From Hell (Rob Zombie, 2019)
  14. The Day Shall Come (Chris Morris, 2019)
  15. Ella es Cristina (She is Cristina, Gonzalo Maza, 2019)
  16. Nona, si me mojan yo los quemo (Nona, Camila José Donoso, 2019)
  17. Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window (Andrew Hevia, 2019)
  18. Depraved (Larry Fessenden, 2019)
  19. Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
  20. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)

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