Josh B Mabe 

Librarian, filmmaker, and programmer in Chicago, IL, USA

Work seen for the first time by me theatrically in Chicago in 2019.
1. Model Toddle (Bob Cowan, 1967)
2. Now 2 (Kevin Eskew, 2019)
3. Desnudo con alcatraces (Nude with Lillies, Silvia Gruner, 1986)
4. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
5. I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (Beatrice Gibson, 2019)
6. Greta (Neil Jordan, 2018)
7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)
8. Once, maybe twice; or, The clockwork of summer (Dicky Bahto, 2017)
9. What Is Nothing (After What Is Nothing) (Kristin Reeves, 2019)
10. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, 2018)

Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)



The best 2018 movies I saw in 2019

  1. Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
  2. Capharnaüm (Capernaum, Nadine Labaki, 2018)
  3. Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage, Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, 2018)
  4. Ahlat Ağacı (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
  5. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
  6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018)
  7. Kler(Clergy, Wojciech Smarzowski, 2018)
  8. El Reino(The Realm, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2018)
  9. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  10. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
  11. Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)
  12. Før frosten (Before the Frost, Michael Noer, 2018)
  13. Manto (Nandita Das, 2018)
  14. In den Gängen (In the Aisles,Thomas Stuber, 2018)
  15. Den skyldige (The Guilty, Gustav Möller, 2018)
  16. Dogman (Matteo Garrone, 2018)
  17. La noche de 12 años (A Twelve-Year Night, Álvaro Brechner, 2018)
  18. Gongjak (The Spy Gone North, Yoon Jong-bin, 2018)
  19. One Two Jaga (Nam Ron, 2018)
  20. Ying (Shadow, Zhang Yimou, 2018)


  1. Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018)
  2. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
  3. Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage, Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, 2018)
  4. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  5. Nan fang che zhan de ju hui (The Wild Goose Lake, Diao Yinan, 2019)
  6. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  7. Galveston (Mélanie Laurent, 2018)
  8. Judy & Punch (Mirrah Foulkes, 2019)
  9. The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018)
  10. Zimna wojna (Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018)

My favourite film of the year was easily Under the Silver Lake, a neo-noir which meets a David Lynchian type world with a great laconic performance from Andrew Garfield.

Earlier this year I travelled to San Francisco for the first time to attend the Noir City 17 film festival run by Eddie Muller (“the Czar of Noir”) at the wonderful Castro Theatre. It was a wonderful experience watching 24 film noir movies in 10 days all introduced by Eddie and a hostess. I liked it so much, I am going to attend Noir 18 International in late January 2020.

My Top 5 Movies at Noir 17

  1. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)
  2. Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956)
  3. Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
  4. The Turning Point (William Dieterle, 1952)
  5. Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959)

Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)

Miguel Marias 


Great recent movies (made since 2014) seen for the first time in 2019

  • Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Emmanuel Mouret, 2018)
  • Dau Huduni Methai (Song of the Horned Owl, Manju Borah, 2015)
  • El Crack cero (José Luis Garci, 2019)
  • Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)
  • Carré 35 (Plot 35, Éric Caravaca, 2017)
  • Sic transit Gloria Mundi (Gloria Mundi, Robert Guédiguian, 2019)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
  • Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
  • Le Chant du loup (The Wolf’s Call, Antonin Braudy, 2019)
  • Shooting the Mafia (Kim Longinotto, 2019)
  • Village Rockstars (Rima Das, 2017)
  • Tantas Almas (Valley of Souls, Nicolás Rincón Gille, 2019)
  • Un peuple et son roi (Pierre Schoeller, 2018)
  • Aamis (Ravening, Bhaskar Hazarika, 2018/9)
  • Fishbone (Adán Aliaga, 2018)
  • O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
  • La Fin de la nuit (Lucas Belvaux, 2015)
  • Ramen Teh (Ramen Shop, Eric Khoo, 2018)
  • Light of My Life (Casey Affleck, 2019)

Great movies (made before 2014) seen for the first time in 2019

  • ’49-’17 (Ruth Ann Baldwin, 1917)
  • Ba shan ye yu (Evening Rain / Night Rain of Mount Ba, Wu Yigong and Wu Yonggang, 1980)
  • The Spirit of the Flag (Allan Dwan, 1913)
  • Versailles (Pierre Schoeller, 2008)
  • Ùn pienghjite mica (Les Anonymes, Pierre Schoeller, 2012/3)
  • Foxfire (Joseph Pevney, 1954/5)
  • Johnny Come Lately (William K. Howard, 1943)
  • I girovaghi (Hugo Fregonese, 1956)
  • Nunal sa Tubig (Speck in the Water, Ishmael Bernal, 1976)
  • Ikaw ay Kin (You Are Mine, Ishmael Bernal, 1978)
  • Pervyí eshielon (The First Convoy, Mikhail Kalatozov, 1955/6)
  • The Sea Wolf (Alfred Santell, 1930)
  • Surrender (William K. Howard, 1931)
  • The Restless Years (Helmut Käutner, 1958)
  • Darling, How Could You! (Mitchell Leisen, 1951)
  • Ko:Yad (A Silent Way, Manju Borah, 2012)
  • The Flame (John H. Auer, 1947)
  • Ernst Thälmann-Sohn seiner Klasse (Kurt Maetzig, 1954)
  • Ernst Thälmann-Führer seiner Klasse (Kurt Maetzig, 1955)
  • Bólshaia Sémia (A Big Family, Iosif Kheífits, 1954)
  • Circuit Carole (Emmanuelle Cuau, 1995)
  • Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)
  • As It Is in Life (D.W. Griffith, 1910)
  • Abroad with Two Yanks (Allan Dwan, 1944)
  • Behind Office Doors (Melville W. Brown, 1931)
  • Lovin’ The Ladies (Melville W. Brown, 1930)
  • La Tarea o cómo la pornografía salvó del tedio y mejoró la economía de la familia Partida (Homework, Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, 1990/1)
  • A Modern Hero (G.W. Pabst, 1934)
  • Surrender (William K. Howard, 1931)
  • Jubilee Trail (Joseph Inman Kane, 1954)
  • Matinée (Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, 1976/7)
  • Linda (Mrs. Wallace Reid = Dorothy Davenport, 1928/9)
  • Die missbrauchten Lebesbriefe (Leopold Lindtberg, 1940)

Very good movies (made since 2014) seen for the first time in 2019

  • Photograph (Ritesh Batra, 2019)
  • The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
  • The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (Robert D. Krzykowski, 2018)
  • Frères ennemis (Close Enemies, David Oelhoffen, 2018)
  • L’Homme fidèle (A Faithful Man, Louis Garrel, 2018)
  • Pris de court (Not on My Watch, Emmanuelle Cuau, 2016)
  • Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
  • Frost (Šerkšnas, Sharunas Bartas, 2017)
  • Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
  • Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
  • Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
  • La Tenerezza (Tenderness, Gianni Amelio, 2017)
  • Fourteen (Dan Sallitt, 2019)
  • Bulbul Can Sing (Rima Das, 2018)
  • A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen, 2019)
  • Legado en los huesos (Fernando González Molina, 2019)
  • Ma vie dans l’Allemagne d’Hitler (My Life in Hitler’s Germany, Jérôme Prieur, 2018)
  • La Vie balagan de Marceline Loridan-Ivens (Yves Jeuland, 2018)
  • Gangbyeon Hotel (Hotel by the River, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
  • The Wind (Emma Tammi, 2018)
  • Kothanodi (The River of Fables, Bhaskar Hazarika, 2015)
  • Dar Jostojoy-e Farideh (Finding Farideh, Azadeh Moussavi & Kourosh Ataee, 2018)
  • Sir (Rohena Gera, 2018)
  • El Proyeccionista (The Projectionist, José María Cabral, 2019)
  • Intemperie (Benito Zambrano, 2019)
  • Madre (Mother, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2017, short)
  • Three Identical Strangers (Tim Wardle, 2018)
  • Madre (Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2019)

Very good movies (made before 2014) seen for the first time in 2019

  • A Life for a Kiss (Allan Dwan, 1912)
  • Futari de aruita iku haru aki (The Days We Spent Together, Kinoshita Keisukē, 1962)
  • The Necklace (D.W. Griffith, 1909)
  • Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen (Ship of Lost Men, Maurice Tourneur, 1929)
  • The Broken Locket (D.W. Griffith, 1909)
  • Primrose Hill (Mikhaël Hers, 2007)
  • The Rejected Woman (Albert Parker, 1924)
  • El último malón (Alcides Greca, 1917)
  • Bullets for O’Hara (William K. Howard, 1941)
  • Le Récit de Rebecca (Paul Vecchiali, 1964)
  • La noche avanza (Night Falls, Roberto Gavaldón, 1952)
  • Over-Exposed (Lewis B. Seiler, 1956)
  • I rollerna tre (Christina Olofson, 1996)
  • Il Viale della Speranza (Dino Risi, 1953)
  • Because of You (Joseph Pevney, 1952)
  • 1870/…Correva l’anno di grazia 1870 (Alfredo Giannetti, 1972)
  • Demi-tarif (Isild Le Besco, 2003)
  • L’Exercice de l’État (The Minister, Pierre Schoeller, 2011)
  • Cheng nan jiu shi (My Memories of Old Beijing / Old Stories of the Southern Part of the City, Wu Yigong, 1983)
  • Strangler of the Swamp (Frank Wisbar, 1945/6)
  • Sword in the Desert (George Sherman, 1949)
  • There’s Always Tomorrow (Too Late For Love;Edward Sloman, 1934)
  • East Side, West Side (Allan Dwan, 1927)
  • Le Départ (Damien de Pierpont, 1998)
  • Face aux fantômes (Jean-Louis Comolli, 2009)
  • The Eagle and the Hawk (Mitchell Leisen, credited to Stuart Walker, 1933)
  • Whirlpool (Roy William Neill, 1934)
  • The Animal Kingdom (Edgard H. Griffith; uc. George Cukor, 1932)
  • Le Passager (The Passenger, Éric Caravaca, 2005)
  • Razumov (Sous les yeux d’Occident) (Marc Allégret, 1936)
  • Banjo On My Knee (John Cromwell, 1936)
  • One Night of Love (Victor Schertzinger, 1934)
  • Enchantment (Robert G. Vignola, 1921)
  • Charell (Mikhaël Hers, 2006)
  • Men With Wings (William A. Wellman, 1938)
  • Delitto per amore (L’edera) (Augusto Genina, 1950)
  • Les Amants de Minuit/Les Amours de Minuit (Augusto Genina, 1930/1)
  • Human Cargo (Allan Dwan, 1936)
  • Up the Ladder (Edward Sloman, 1925)
  • Luxury Liner (Richard B. Whorf, 1948)
  • Surrender! (Edward Sloman, 1927)
  • The Judge (Elmer Clifton, 1948/9)
  • Turbión (Antonio Momplet, 1938)
  • Der Ruf (Josef von Báky, 1949)
  • Faubourg Montmartre (Raymond Bernard, 1931)
  • Träumerei (Harald Braun, 1944)
  • The Red Lantern (Albert Capellani, 1919)
  • El Paseíllo (Ana Mariscal, 1968)
  • La quiniela (Ana Mariscal, 1960)

Great movies growing up or just rediscovered in 2019

  • Letter of Introduction (John M. Stahl, 1938)
  • Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl, 1933)
  • Our Wife (John M. Stahl, 1941)
  • Wohin und zurück (Axel Corti, 1982-6)
  • Giorno per giorno, disperatamente (Alfredo Gianetti, 1961)
  • Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna (Hanns Schwarz, 1929)
  • Alyonka (Boris Barnet, 1961)
  • Craig’s Wife (Dorothy Arzner, 1936)
  • Imitation of Life/Fannie Hurst’s “Imitation of Life” (John M. Stahl, 1934)
  • Captains Courageous (Victor Fleming, 1937)
  • Test Pilot (Victor Fleming, 1938)
  • The Eternal Sea (John H. Auer, 1955)
  • Hello, Sister! (Anonymous: Erich von Stroheim, Alfred L. Werker, Raoul Walsh, Alan Crosland, 1933)
  • La noche de enfrente (Night Across the Street, Raúl Ruiz, 2012)
  • Journey into Light (Stuart R. Heisler, 1951)
  • Feel My Pulse (Gregory LaCava, 1928)
  • La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camelias, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953)
  • Nosotros que fuimos tan felices (Antonio Drove, 1976)

Very good movies improved

  • Liana (Boris Barnet, 1955)
  • L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
  • Du haut en bas (High and Low, G.W. Pabst, 1933)
  • Amok (Antonio Momplet, 1944)
  • The Man Who Never Was (Ronald Neame, 1956)
  • Open Range (Kevin Costner, 2003)
  • Con la vida hicieron fuego (Ana Mariscal, 1959)
  • Timberjack (Joe Kane, 1954/5)
  • En la Palma de tu Mano (Roberto Gavaldón, 1951)
  • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)
  • Expreso de Andalucía (Francisco Rovira-Beleta, 1956)
  • El Camino (Ana Mariscal, 1963)
  • La viuda del capitán Estrada (José Luis Cuerda, 1991)
  • Vestida de azul (Antonio Giménez-Rico, 1983)
  • Segundo López aventurero urbano (Ana Mariscal, 1953)
  • Hell’s Outpost (Joe Kane, 1954)



Top Films of 2019

  1. The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
  2. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  3. Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
  4. In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018)
  5. Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019)

Top Retrospective Screenings

  1. Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) Melbourne Cinémathèque, Capitol Theatre, 35mm print
  2. Pandora’s Box (G. W. Pabst, 1929) Melbourne Cinémathèque, Capitol Theatre, DCP
  3. A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971) Melbourne Cinémathèque, Capitol Theatre, DCP
  4. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) Melbourne Cinémathèque, ACMI, DCP
  5. Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988) MIFF, Astor Theatre, DCP

The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)

 Joe McElhaney 

Professor of Film Studies at Hunter College/City University of New York. His books include ALBERT MAYSLES, THE DEATH OF CLASSICAL CINEMA: HITCHCOCK, LANG, MINNELLI and the forthcoming LUCHINO VISCONTI AND THE FABRIC OF CINEMA.

The following is my list of 2019 titles for the survey

  1. Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)
  2. Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
  3. Domino (Brian De Palma, 2019)
  4. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  5. High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)
  6. Le Livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
  7. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  8. Mindhunter, episode 3 (David Fincher, 2019)
  9. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  10. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
  11. A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen, 2019)
  12. Richard Jewell (Clint Eastwood, 2019)
  13. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  14. Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello, 2019)

I am not a practicing film critic or journalist so I don’t immediately see a lot of new releases or regularly attend film festivals. Doubtless there are many major films released in 2019 I have not yet caught up with. But the titles listed above helped me to keep the faith.

Adrian D. Mendizabal 

Film Critic at VCinema Podcast & Web Blog

In no particular order

  • Midsommar(Ari Aster, 2019)
  • Reason(Anand Patwardhan, 2019)
  • Krabi, 2562(Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2019)
  • La cordillère des songes(The Cordillera of Dreams, Patricio Guzmán, 2019)
  • Joker(Todd Phillips, 2019)
  • The Irishman(Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  • The Dead Don’t Die(Jim Jarmusch, 2019)
  • White Noise(Antoine D’Agata, 2019)
  • Gisaengchung(Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  • Marriage Story(Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  • Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit(Heimat is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019)
  • Synonymes(Synonyms, Navad Lapid, 2019)
  • Un Rubio(The Blonde One, Marco Berger, 2019)
  • Der goldene Handschuh(The Golden Glove, Fatih Akin, 2019)
  • Pagkatapos ng Tigkiwiri(Danielle Madrid, 2018)
  • Histoire de la Révolution(History of the Revolution, Maxime Martinot, 2019)
  • Talking About Trees(Suhaib Gasmelbari, 2019)
  • Mr. Leather(Daniel Nolasco, 2019)
  • Jose(Li Cheng, 2018)

Honourable Mentions

  1. No Data Plan (Miko Revereza, 2019)
  2. The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
  3. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  4. Edward (Thop Nazareno, 2019)
  5. QCinema Shorts
  • Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss(Sonny Calvento, 2019)
  • Here, Here(Joanne Marian Cesario, 2019)
  • Isang Daa’t Isang Mariposa(Norvin Delos Santos, 2019)
  • Judy Free(Che Tagyamon, 2019)
  • Spid(Alejo Barbaza & Mervine Aquino, 2019)
  • Tokwifi(Carla Pulido Ocampo, 2019)

 Jamie Mendonça 

Theatrical Sales Executive, Curzon Artificial Eye, UK

Here’s the best of what my eyeballs consumed this year.

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma)
Love at first sight. I got the impression this was a filmmaker at her peak; how can Céline possibly surpass this? No need, frankly – to achieve just one piece of work as good as this in a filmography would be enough. Note to self: Must. Write. Something. Worthwhile. 2020.

Napszállta (Sunset, László Nemes, 2018)
So utterly mysterious, ambitious and intriguing. Found myself asking what on earth inspired someone to make this peculiar film? Doesn’t matter, film culture is extremely grateful.

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
Mr Malick returns to form and delivers what he does best: cinematic poetry. Even his “failures” are generally more interesting than whatever else is out on release at the time. I recall Christopher Plummer once commenting that “the problem with Terry is he needs a writer, desperately”. I hear Mr Plummer, but profoundly disagree; leave Terry be.

Madeleine’s Madeline (Josephine Decker, 2019)
This came out of nowhere and was so bold and refreshing. Hooked from the start and definitely felt the need to make a bloody film asap.

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
I’d seen the film only in numerous pieces on many occasions (ushered in countless shows at Curzon Soho, London where it played for months) but I needed to let some time pass before devouring it as a whole (at the cinema, to be clear). There’s an electricity that permeates throughout; every now and then a film just has that “something” which can’t be described. I used to work in film production and I’d give almost anything to have been crew on Call Me By Your Name. I’ll never forget the magic in the auditorium when we had Luca, Timothée and surprise guest Armie (donning fetching red tracksuit) for a Q&A; confession: I completely choked up in response to the audience reaction as the lads arrived on-stage. Beatlemania…ish.

The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
Didn’t see this coming; so special. A mirror. Films can most definitely change your life.

Mektoub, My LoveCanto Uno (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2019)
A severely under-rated, extraordinary ensemble piece filled to the brim with life…and an often wandering camera. But regardless of how apparently unacceptable it is to approve of this film I simply can’t (won’t) deny how I felt during that initial screening. Joyous. To Cinema!

Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2019)
Relentless. A delicious follow-up to Good Time from these ridiculously talented brothers, and indeed a showcase for Adam Sandler who after The Meyerowitz Stories once again proves his cinematic worth.

High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)
Sci-fi? Well I’m sold, whatever Claire does. Didn’t hurt that this one happened to be brilliant, and so completely different to her previous (and equally brilliant) film Let the Sunshine In.

Bros: After the Screaming Stops (Joe Pearlman and David Soutar, 2018)
This came to mind and I couldn’t resist. I really connected with this documentary which was caught late on BBC iPlayer, and to be clear – I was with the brothers throughout, never mocking them like lots seemed to do. Genuinely moved by the whole thing.

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
A distinct pleasure.

Tini zabutykh predkiv (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors) and Tsvet granata (The Colour of Pomegranates) (Sergei Parajanov, 1965 and 1969 respectively)
If ever in need of restored faith in cinema, turn to Sergei. There’s nothing quite like these films. Jaw-dropping in the Tarkovsky sense; it’s no surprise the two men were contemporaries/friends. No words can really describe the work; I’d insist viewing on the big screen and if that means waiting, then so be it. That’s what I did.

Un amour impossible (An Impossible Love, Catherine Corsini, 2019)
An old friend saw this at the London Film Festival in 2018 and highly recommended it; she was completely on the ball; an unassuming, magnificent piece of work.

Loro (Paolo Sorrentino, 2019)
A fine mess.

Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, 1950)
Curious to find a largely conventional film by Mr Buñuel. I’d trade it for Un Chien Andalou any day, but Los Olvidados is a cracker, nonetheless.

Straub-Huillet retrospective 2019
From the BFI to the ICA to MUBI; it was never easy but so very rewarding and each and every film, from Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach (The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, 1968) to Geschichtsunterricht (History Lessons, 1972) to Sicilia! (1999) will be revisited time and time again no doubt. Unbelievable.

Program of the Year

Taipei Stories at Close-Up Film Centre, London
This season featured the films of Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. Of everything CINEMA in 2019, this program was the ultimate.

From the beautiful so-called melodramas of Edward Yang such as Hai tan de yi tian (That Day on the Beach, 1983) and Yī Yī (A One and a Two, 2000) through the inventive Zuìhǎo de shíguāng (Three Times, 2006) by Hou Hsiao-hsien to the bleak but powerful Qīngshàonián Nézhā (Rebels of the Neon God, 1992) by Tsai Ming-liang, these films all struck me in different ways and proved deeply inspirational.

The one that hit the most was Tsai Ming-Liang’s Jiaoyou (Stray Dogs, 2013) which I somehow managed to miss on release. What a film, what a filmmaker.

Completely separate to the above season – months later – came the release of Wang Xiaoshuai’s heartbreaking saga Dìjiǔtiāncháng (So Long, My Son, 2019). Within seconds I’d connected the film with Taipei Stories and had perhaps found a new maker of the finest “melodrama” (after the late Edward Yang), which is meant as a huge compliment. It’s rare to sit through a three hour film and not want it to end. In fact, I’m in need of a re-visit.

Final note: I haven’t seen For Sama yet.

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)

Stefano Miraglia 

Artist and curator. Founder of MOVIMCAT / The Moving Image Catalog.

Eight films seen at festivals in 2019. In no particular order.

The Glass Note (Mary Helena Clark, 2018)
Vers le soleil (Towards the Sun, Nour Ouayda, 2019)
Vulcão: O Que Sonha um Lago? (Volcano: What Does a Lake Dream?, Diana Vidrascu, 2019)
Una película en color (A Film in Colour, Bruno Delgado Ramo, 2019)
Piramide erosionada (Eroded pyramid, Colectivo Los Ingrávido, 2019)
Vever (for Barbara) (Deborah Stratman, 2019)
Pwdre Ser: the rot of stars (Charlotte Pryce, 2018)
you’re a plant whisperer and for me, it’s enough (Charlotte Clermont & Julien Champagne, 2019)

Favourite programs/retrospectives/screenings. In no particular order.

Bruine Squamma (Claudine Eizykman, 1972-77) Claudine Eizykman retrospective in Paris, France.

Couple représenté en Mars et Vénus (Anne-Marie Miéville, 1990) Jean-Luc Godard, Parcours Livre d’image exhibition in Nanterre, France.

Journeys from Berlin/1971 (Yvonne Rainer, 1980) Annette Michelson, une américaine à Paris conference at Centre Pompidou.

Lee Anne Schmitt retrospective at Pesaro Film Festival, Italy, curated by Rinaldo Censi.

Nothing Is Something: Gestures from The Lux Collection program at (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico, curated by María Palacios Cruz.

Field Studies: Rose Lowder and Scott Hammen program at Nomadica’s Weekend On the Moon, curated by Francisco Algarín Navarro.

Nervous twitching (Martin Arnold’s Gross Anatomies coupled with Paul Sharits’ Epileptic Seizure Comparison) program at Nomadica’s Weekend On the Moon, curated by Rinaldo Censi.

Peter Hutton touring retrospective in France by Light Cone.




Team Manager Team (Films of the Year)

Otoko wa tsurai yo: Okaeri Tora-san (Tora-san, Wish You Were Here, Yamada Yōji, 2019)

Tajūrō jun’aiki (Love’s Twisting Path, Nakajima Sadao, 2019)

Umibe no eigakan – Cinema no tamatebako (Labyrinth of Cinema, Ōbayashi Nobuhiko, 2019)

First Team (Line-up in strictly alphabetical order)

Acuraṉ (Veṟṟimāṟaṉ, 2019)

The Beast in the Jungle (Clara van Gool, 2019)

L’Extraordinaire voyage de Marona (Marona’s Fantastic Tale, Anca Damian, 2019)

La fiera y la fiesta (Holy Beasts, Laura Amelia Guzmán & Israel Cárdenas, 2019)

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)

Kessan! Chūshingura (The 47 Ronin in Debt, Nakamura Yoshihiro, 2019)

Komunismus a síť, aneb Konec zastupitelske demokracie (Communism and the Net, or The End of Representative Democracy, Karel Vachek, 2019)

Nos, ili Zagovor “Ne takih” (The Nose or the Conspiracy of Mavericks,ì Andrej Hržanovskij, 2019)

Psykosia (Psychosia, Marie Grahtø, 2019)

Tantas almas (Valley of Souls, Nicolás Rincón Gille, 2019)

This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, 2019)

+ Polizeiruf 110: Die Lüge, die wir Zukunft nennen (Dominik Graf, 2019)

+ Die Sieger – Extended Version (The Invincibles, Dominik Graf, 1994-2019)


Groza (The Storm, Grigorij Konstantinopolʹskij, 2019) // Ang Hupa (The Halt, Lav Diaz, 2019) // i – Shinbun kisha Document (i – Documentary of the Journalist, Mori Tatsuya, 2019) // J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy, Roman Polanski, 2019) // Kāhnaur (Bitter Chestnut, Gurviṃdar Siṃgh, 2019) // Kimi to, nami ni noretara (Ride Your Wave, Yuasa Masa’aki, 2019) // Moffie (Oliver Hermanus, 2019) // Paradise Lost (Fukuma Kenji, 2019) // Sayidat ul-Baḥr (Scales, Šahad Amīn, 2019) // Super Deluxe (Tiyākarājaṉ Kumārarājā, 2019) // Die traurigen Mädchen aus den Bergen (The Sad Girls of the Mountains, Candy Flip & Theo Meow, 2019) // Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2019) // X&Y (Anna Odell, 2019)

+ Travail, salaire, profit [Miniseries] (Gérard Mordillat & Bertrand Rothé, 2019)

+ Crisis Jung [Web Miniseries] (Baptiste Gaubert & Jérémie Hoarau, 2018)

Extended Team

À cause des filles… et des garçons!? (For the Ones We Loved, Pascal Thomas, 2019) // Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019) // Barn (Beware of Children, Dag Johan Haugerud, 2019) // Eiga Sumikkogurashi: Tobidasu ehon to himitsu no ko (Mankyū, 2019) // Fortezza (Fortress, Ludovica Andò & Emiliano Aiello, 2019) // Kisik Dušik. Nedovršeni filmovi (2007. – 2017.) (Oxygen Nitrogen (Unfinished Films [2007-2017]), Damir Čučić, 2019) // Kkoktu iyagi (Kokdu – A Story of Guardian Angels, Kim T’aeyong, 2018) // Krew Boga (The Mute, Bartosz Konopka, 2018) // Luō Xiǎohēi zhànjì (The Legend of Hei, Zhāng Píng {MTJJ}, 2019) // Malʹčik russkij (A Russian Youth, Aleksandr Zolotuhin, 2019) // No m’estimis (Love Me Not, Luís Miñarro, 2019) // Partenonas (Parthenon, Mantas Kvedaravičius, 2019) // Pirotecnia (Mute Fire, Federico Atehortúa Arteaga, 2019) // Promare (Imaishi Hiroyuki, 2019) // Rakuen (The Promised Land, Zeze Takahisa, 2019) // Rambo: Last Blood (Adrian Grünberg, 2019) // Reiwa ikki (Reiwa Uprising, Hara Kazuo, 2019) // Skvozʹ čërnoe steklo (Through a Black Glass, Konstantin Lopušanskij, 2019) // To Thaúma tīs Thálassas tōn Sargassṓn (The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea, Sýllas Tzoumérkas, 2019) // Üres lovak (Empty Horses, Lichter Péter, 2019) // Vice (Adam McKay, 2018) // Voskresenie (Sunday, Svetlana Proskurina, 2019) // Waiting for the Barbarians (Ciro Guerra, 2019) // War (Siddhārth Ānand, 2019)

+ Adrian [Miniseries] (Adriano Celentano, 2019) // Zenra kantoku [Miniseries] (The Naked Director, Take Masaharu, Uchida Eiji, Kawai Hayato, 2019)

+ KAP 19 J (Kosta Ristić, 2019)


Team Manager Team (Revelation of the Year)

Vertikalʹ (Vertical, Stanislav Govoruhin & Boris Durov, 1967)

Denʹ angela (Angel Day, Stanislav Govoruhin, 1968)

Belyj vzryv (White Explosion, Stanislav Govoruhin, 1969)

Žiznʹ i udivitelʹnye priključenija Robinsona Crusoe (Life and Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Stanislav Govoruhin, 1972)

Kontrabanda (Contraband, Stanislav Govoruhin, 1974)

Veter «Nadeždy» (A Breeze of «Hope», Stanislav Govoruhin, 1977)

First Team (Line-Up in strictly alphabetical order)

‘Aḥdāṯ bidūn dilāla (About Some Meaningless Events, Muṣṭafā Derqāuī, 1974)

Berlin 1936. Iie Congrés International et Ve Congrés International du Cinéma d’Amateur (Jean Vivié & Pierre Boyer, 1936)

Das bumsfidele Häuschen (Marijan Vajda, 1971)

La Femme au couteau (The Woman with the Knife, Timité Bassori, 1969)

Hyŏlmaek (Bloodline, Kim Suyong, 1963)

[Keller-Dorian: Film gaufré: Sonia Delaunay] (Albert Keller-Dorian, 1925)

Muchachas de uniforme (Alfredo Bolongaro Crevenna, 1951)

Salainen ase (Theodor Luts & Erkki Uotila, 1943)

The Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Jones, 1982)

Smrtelný let aeroplánu pod pražským mostem (Fatal Flight of an Aeroplane under the Prague Bridge, Karel & Emanuel Degl?, 1919)

Taiyō no ōji. Hols no daibōken (The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun, Takahata Isao, 1968)

+ El encanto del águila [Miniseries] (Mafer Suárez & Gerardo Tort, 2011)


Au Maroc: Tanger (Société Pathé Frères, 1908) // [Aux Gémeaux avec Paul Grimault et son équipe] (1942?) & Le Voleur de paratonnerres (The Man Who Snatches Lightning Conductors, Paul Grimault, 1944) // Bandera rota (Broken Flag, Gabriel Retes, 1979) // [Chanteuse en robe longue sur scène] (Woman Singing on Stage, Auguste Baron enters the image for a second, Auguste Baron, 1898) // al-Ḍarīḥ (The Tomb, aṭ-Ṭayyib Maḥdī, 1977) // Cœur de lilas (Lilac, Anatole Litvak, 1931) // La Côte sauvage, «où les flots viennent se briser avec un bruit de chaînes et de sanglots» (Société des établissements Gaumont, 1912) // Les filles de Ka-ma-ré (ou Une petite culotte pour l’été) (The Girls of Kamare, René Vienét [& Suzuki Noribumi, Kyōfu joshikōkō: Bōkō Lynch kyōshitsu, Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom, 1972], 1974) // Le Goût de la violence (The Taste of Violence, Robert Hossein, 1961) // Ḥamāseh-ye ꜤEšq (Epic of Love, Laṭīf Aḥmadī, 1989) // La hermana blanca (The White Sister, Tito Davison, 1960) // Hyuil (A Day Off, I Manhŭi, 1968) // János vitéz (Johnny Corncob, Jankovics Marcell, 1973) // Misterios de ultratumba (The Black Pit of Dr. M, Fernando Méndez, 1958) // La Môme vert-de-gris (Poison Ivy, Bernard Borderie, 1953) // an-Nāṣṣ wa-n-Nīl (People of the Nile, Yūsif Šāhīn, 1968) // Over the Hill (Henry King, 1931) // Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, 1924) // Popoli e civiltà indiane. La misteriosa terra di fastosi imperi e di superstizioni stravaganti [Fragment] (Films Missioni Don Bosco, 1928) // The Sea Wolf (Alfred Santell, 1930) // The Second Journey (To Uluru) (Corinne & Arthur Cantrill, 1981) // Sois belle et tais-toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up, Delphine Seyrig, 1981) // Ten to sen (Points and Lines, Kobayashi Tsuneo, 1958) // La Vagabonde (Solange Bussi, 1931)

+ Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre: Guns for Garibaldi (Mark Stevens, 1960) // Weder Tag noch Stunde (Bruno Jantoss, 1976)

Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)



High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

Greenbook (Peter Farrelly, 2018)

Viaje en el cuarto de una madre (Journey to a Mother’s Room, Celia Rico, 2018)

The Kindergarten Teacher (Sara Colageno, 2018)

Gräns (Alice Abbasi, 2018)

Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)

Asako I&II (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2018)

Mid90s (Jonah Hill, 2018)

Gloria Bell (Sebastian Lelio, 2018)

Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, 2019)

Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)

El Reino (The Realm, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 2018)

Roubaix, une lumière (Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin, 2019)

Fête de famille (Happy Birthday, Cédric Kahn, 2019)

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen, 2019)

Hors normes (The Specials, Eric Toledano/Olivier Nakache, 2019)

Entre dos aguas (Between Two Waters, Isaki Lacuesta, 2018)

Il traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellochio, 2019)

Deslembro (Unremember, Flavia Castro, 2018)

Los Tiburones (Sharks, Lucia Garibaldi, 2019)

Le belle époque (Belle Epoque, Nicolas Bedos, 2019)

Párajos de verano (Birds of Passage, Ciro Guerra and Cristina ,2018)

Dans la ville blanche (In the White City, Alain Tanner, 1976) remastered version



Žagari (Zita Kaminska, 2019)
Incredible fly-on-the-wall documentary about two Latvian brothers steeped in the arts.

Illusions & Mirrors (Shirin Neshat, 2013)
Haunting short film screened as part of an installation at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (Ben Wheatley, 2018)
The best parties can be so over the top.

H is for Happiness (John Sheedy, 2019)
Sparkling Wes Andersonish comedy shot in Western Australia.

Le Miracle du Saint Inconnu (The Unknown Saint, Alaa Eddine Aljem, 2019)
Who knew the desert could be so funny.

Apocalypse Now Final Cut (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979, 2019)
Optimised for IMAX, this is a symphony of iconic images and sounds.

Zhuang si le yi zhi yang (Jinpa, Pema Tseden, 2018)
The remarkable remote Tibetan landscape is the star of this film.

It Must Be Heaven (Elia Souleiman, 2019)
Jacques Tati would be proud.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Very polished and very funny…. and on 35mm!

Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
We all grow old.

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Extreme arthouse.

Andy Norton 

Writer (Paper Owl Films); Actor (Reece George Scane Productions); Selection Committee Member (ABCD Film Society)

Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Baumbach writes and directs what has to be arguably his masterpiece. With an intelligent script that brings wit where appropriate amongst the film’s dramatic progression, and outstanding performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, this may be a hard watch for anyone experiencing relationship issues, but this slice-of-life comedy-drama has an emotional poignancy to live on in the memories of anyone that has watched this. That and you will not hear the Stephen Sondheim standard, “Being Alive”, the same ever again.

Hot and Tasty (Laura Jayne Hodkin, 2019)
This brilliant student film has such stunning use of colour and bold use of character design, you can honestly say that Laura Hodkin deserves to be an original animation artist to look out for in the future, with her wonderful snide on bestie relationships as well the as post-night-club activity of grabbing a cheeky takeaway.

Pagans (Lucy Luscombe, 2019)
Pagans is an amazing slice-of-life drama that deals with the sudden loss of a friend. For anyone that has ever lost a loved one, you will find this British short drama a rewarding journey with a balance of its themes of acceptance and struggling to cope with such a tragedy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
With standout performances from Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, you can honestly say that this is a subliminal snide towards the nostalgia of the 1960s, with Tarantino’s distinct eye for soundtrack choices, as well as the ending being somewhat archetypal of the director’s approach to violence, with dark wit thrown in for good measure. Subversive just about sums up this extraordinary epic that addresses finding work alongside the dark side of Hollywood.

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
For anyone that can binge-watch 3 episodes of your box set of choice, you will find The Irishman a sort of geriatric take on Goodfellas. Whilst fans of Scorsese will enjoy seeing DeNiro and Pesci playing these real-life mobsters, it should be noted that the likes of Al Pacino, as the cartoonish Jimmy Hoffa, and Stephen Graham’s convincing accent make worthwhile additions into this poignant true story where crime doesn’t pay for those that live into the twilight of their years.

For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab/Edward Watts, 2019)
For Sama is an excellent documentary in which Waad Al-Kateab chronicles a loving relationship in war-torn Syria. The film documents the pitfalls and struggles of Al-Kateab’s raising a family during such a conflicted period in the country’s recent history. Engaging, riveting and downright emotional for all the right reasons, you will not see a more powerful love story in a war-torn country.

Made Public (Foster Wilson, 2019)
For anyone that is glued to social media on their phones, you may wish to watch Made Public, a cautionary comic fable where the groom uses a Facebook poll to determine the outcome of his wedding. With a sharp and witty script, Made Public is not only laugh-out-loud amusing but also probably one of the best romantic comedies in recent memories.

Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
With all the anniversaries of such historical landmarks this year, it only seems appropriate that one of the best documentaries of the year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 1969, in which the titular vehicle helped propelled the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into public consciousness as well as the history books. Todd Douglas Miller manages to tackle such a broad and popular topic (there have been many addressing this topic this year!) into just over 90 minutes in an engaging and thrilling space venture with a visually striking use of imagery and dramatic music, particularly for the countdown sequences.

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Is this the best DC film outside of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy, or a false masterpiece of an origin story that idolises the iconic comic book villain to a vigilante people look up to during troubled times? Whatever your view on Joker, there is no denying Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal certainly brings out certain characteristics, like that manic laughter, into the spotlight, that other actors may not have thought about. Besides, Robert DeNiro appearing as the titular character’s favourite talk show host does bring an element of The King of Comedy to the mix of the film’s false-retro aesthetics. There are a few Easter eggs to keep the average Batman fan happy, but its grim undertone juggling themes of mental health funds and finding a role model against political frustration make this comic-book film just for grown-ups.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Mike Mitchell, 2019)
In a year in which we had sequel after sequel serving as primal currency for box office blockbusters, we find ourselves with the second installment to Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie which has a balance of great comic timing and some memorable music. With such exquisite musicality, you wish that it would pick up the 2020 Best Song Oscar with the brilliantly named “A Catchy Song”, currently on the Academy shortlists for such an accolade. Whilst the fun and games do bring out the core theme of collaborating with others, this sequel is just great entertainment, whilst the semi-serious ending being shoehorned may dent that experience slightly, it is still a noteworthy sequel to endure and enjoy.

Darragh O’Donoghue 

Archivist at Tate, contributing writer for Cineaste, struggling through a PhD on the Stephen Dwoskin Archive at the University of Reading

Top Ten

Animus animalis (A Story About People, Animals and Things) (Aiste Zegulyte, 2018)

Cele două execuții ale Mareșalului (The Marshal’s Two Executions, Radu Jude, 2018)

Dogman (Matteo Garrone, 2018)

Fin de siglo (End of the Century, Lucio Castro, 2019)

Huo shan (Up the Mountain, Zhang Yang, 2018)

Kabir Singh (Sandeep Reddy Vanga, 2019)

A film about a misogynist or a misogynistic film? Either way, a rare example of genuine amour fou in the cinema.

Laskovoe bezrazlichie mira (The Gentle Indifference of the World, Adilkhan Yerzhanov, 2018)

Lazzaro felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)

Prazer, camaradas! (A Pleasure, Comrades! José Filipe Costa, 2019)

Waves (Trey Edward Shults, 2019)

With Respect To

#21 XOXO (Sine Özbilge & Imge Özbilge, 2019)

Burning Cane (Phillip Youmans, 2019)

The Capture (Ben Chanan, 2019)

Climax (Gaspar Noé, 2018)

The Coldest Game (Lukasz Kosmicki, 2019)

Czarny Mercedes (The Black Mercedes, Janusz Majewski, 2019)

Greener Grass (Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe, 2019)

Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018)

Huo zhe chang zhe (To Live to Sing, Johnny Ma, 2019)

Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)

Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
The first reel is remarkable, and the rest of the film is fine, despite being hobbled by Scarlett Johansson’s fatal inability to convey any emotion whatsoever. This skews the film towards the husband, although Adam Driver’s complacency is probed rather than indulged for once. Laura Dern gives a masterclass in effortlessness. When Baumbach reveals his primary sources, however – Bergman and Sondheim, artists fearless in scraping emotional depths – he concedes how tidy and superficial his film is.

Mowa ptaków (Bird Talk, Xawery Żuławski, 2019)

Something for the Boys (Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, 2018)

Talking about Trees (Suhaib Gasmelbari, 2019)

This Way Up (Alex Winckler, 2019)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Robin Shaw, 2019)

Time and Tide (Marleen van der Werf, 2018)

War (Siddharth Anand, 2019)

A skilful Mission impossible knock-off transmuted into art by Hrithik Roshan’s rubber-limbed grace.

What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement et al, 2019)

And I appear to be the only person in the world who cried with laughter at Holmes & Watson (Etan Cohen, 2018)

Duds and Disappointments

Back to Berlin (Catherine Lurie, 2018)

The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)

Slack cinephile slop. Jarmusch long ago went the way of all Wenders.

Dracula (Jonny Campbell et al, 2020)

I didn’t want Sherlock with fangs, but this was disappointingly literal and humourless.

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, 2018)

The epitome of what is wrong with contemporary documentary.

Killing Eve, season 2 (Damon Thomas et al, 2019)

Legiony (The Legions, Dariusz Gajewski, 2019)

Line of Duty, series 5 (John Strickland & Susan Tully, 2019)

Loro (Paolo Sorrentino, 2018)

Mimesis: African Soldier (John Akomfrah, 2018)

Mr Jones (Agnieszka Holland, 2019)

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

El Pepe, una vida suprema (El Pepe, a Life Supreme, Emir Kusturica, 2018)

Pilsudski (Michal Rosa, 2019)

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Wim Wenders, 2018)

Sługi wojny (Servants of War, Mariusz Gawryś, 2019)

Tell it to the Bees (Annabel Jankel, 2018)

Valley of the Gods (Lech Majewski, 2019)

Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)

Astonishing, of course, but so pompously solemn I kept hoping someone would fart. It reminded me of being dragged to mass as a kid! It is curious in these punitively “woke” times how a white colonial male artist continues to be given a critical free pass to traffic in black, female and/or indigent suffering for Western consumption.

“Flat pack” arts documentaries that shoehorn diverse subjects into the same public TV chronological/biographical narrative format and sidestep the difficulty of the work for fear of frightening the viewer : Barbara Rubin and the Exploding NY Underground (Chuck Smith, 2018); George (Jeffrey Perkins, 2019); Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (Stanley Nelson, 2019); Searching for Sam: Adrian Dunbar on Samuel Beckett (Paul McGuigan, 2019) and the like.

Best Revival

I was thrilled to see for the first time Eine Dubarry von heute (A Modern Du Barry, Alexander Korda, 1926), Night Nurse (William A. Wellman, 1931), First a Girl (Victor Saville, 1935), Maclovia (Emilio Fernández, 1948), No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1950), The Cool World (Shirley Clarke, 1964), Vuk samotnjak (The Lone Wolf, Obrad Gluščević, 1972), Variety (Bette Gordon, 1983; part of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London’s terrific I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker exhibition), Le garçu (Maurice Pialat, 1995), Gudu (Alone, Wang Bing, 2013), and in particular Nachom-ia kumpasar (Bardroy Barretto, 2015) in various seasons and retrospectives.

Nevertheless, a rote repertory screening of Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) at the Regent Street Cinema was my revival of the year, for a very troubling reason – it was the first Hitchcock film I was able to see on film since moving to his home city half a decade ago. Something has gone badly wrong there.

Best Publication

Film Culture 80: The Legend of Barbara Rubin (2018). Although the same people were involved in the Rubin documentary (see above), this collection of letters and scripts alone preserves the essential and uncontainable vitality of Rubin’s voice.

Cinema-Related Non-Film Event

Staged soon after his death by Charing Cross Theatre, London, Michel Legrand’s beguiling fantasy romance Amour (2002) is the closest we’ll get to a lost Jacques Demy film.

Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)

Roberto Oggiano 


Here is my 2019 end of the year list in no particular order. 

  • Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
  • Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle (Just Don’t Think I Will Scream, Frank Beauvais, 2019)
  • A Portuguesa (The Portuguese Woman, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2018)
  • Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
  • Atlantis (Valentyn Vasyanovych, 2019)
  • Blanco en blanco (White on White, Théo Court, 2019)
  • Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)
  • The Beast in the Jungle (Clara Van Gool, 2019)
  • Abou Leila (Amin Sidi-Boumédine, 2019)
  • The Souvenir(Joanna Hogg, 2019)

Special mentions

  • Sophia Antipolis (Virgil Vernier, 2018)
  • Effetto Domino (Alessandro Rossetto, 2019)
  • O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
  • La llorona (The Weeping Woman, Jayro Bustamante, 2019)
  • Burning Cane (Phillip Michael Youmans, 2019)
  • De nuevo otra vez (Again Once Again, Romina Paula, 2019)
  • Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
  • A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmão (Invisible Life, Karim Aïnouz, 2019)
    Synonymes (Synonymes, Nadav Lapid, 2019)

Old but Gold

  • Maria Zef(Vittorio Cottafavi, 1981)
  • L’Affaire des Divisions Morituri (The Case of Morituri Division, F.J. Ossang, 1985)
  • La viaccia (The Lovemakers, Mauro Bolognini, 1961)
  • Pakeezah (Kamal Amrohi1972)
  • Island of Loves (A Ilha dos Amores, Paulo Rocha, 1982)
  • His Nibs(Gregory La Cava, 1921)
  • Kino im Kopf(Movies in the Mind, Michael Glawogger, 1996)
  • Fratelli d’Italia(Brothers of Italy, Fausto Saraceni, 1952)
  • Enamorada(Emilio Fernández, 1946)
  • Il delitto Matteotti(The Assassination of Matteotti, Florestano Vancini, 1973)

Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)

Wilfred Okiche 

Film Critic

International Film Festival Rotterdam

Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018)
A shrewdly observed- and edited- piece of socio-realism that is unsparing about the big issues it highlights.

Gloria Bell (Sebastián Lelio, 2018)
The final scene where Julianne Moore is on the dancefloor rocking to Laura Branigan’s Gloria may be the most joyful scene on film this year.

My Friend Fela (Joel Zito Araújo, 2019)
An intimate though Americanised look at Nigeria’s biggest cultural export.

Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
An entirely unforgettable exploration of memory and dreamscapes, this head trip will leave you reeling from the 3D 55-minute unbroken sequence that brings the experience to a stunning, bewildering conclusion.

Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018)
Rafiki may tick all the boxes expected from coming of age genre films but Kahui keeps things fresh and enough to ensure that her film has a viable shelf life long after the controversies have settled.

Danmarks sønner (Sons of Denmark, Ulaa Salim, 2019)
Timely as well as politically charged, Sons of Denmark presents an alternate version of Scandinavia, one not too far removed from today’s major headlines. 


Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliott, 2018)
Sydney Pollack’s gift of a film presents the queen of soul in all her power. Aretha Franklin performing gospel standards in a church in 1972, with a huge choir and an enthusiastic congregation for support is the joyful film experience you didn’t know you needed.

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind (Chiwetel Ejiofor, 2019)
The complex and constantly evolving relationship between fathers and sons.

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (Rob Garver, 2018)
This mix of archival footage, film clips, interviews and narration by Sarah Jessica Parker zooms into the life and legacy of one of film history’s most influential critics.

Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)
A thoroughly entertaining yet unusual biopic of a former United States vice president. On some level, Dick Cheney must be proud of Vice.

Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF)

The Burial of Kojo (Blitz Bazawule, 2018)
Bazawule’s enthralling The Burial of Kojo makes sea, sky, and sand sing in perfect harmony with his singular vision of magical realism.

Dhalinyaro (Youth, Lula Ali Ismaïl, 2017)
This quietly effective gem from Djibouti documents the pains of growing up as seen through the eyes of three girls.

The Ghost and the House of Truth (Akin Omotoso, 2019)
A profile on empathy and a study on crime, reconciliation and the darker side of humanity.

In Search (Beryl Magoko, 2018)
With this intimate documentary, Beryl Magoko confronts her personal demons. She also provides a safe space for women to talk, heal and just be. Such is the power.

The Lost Okoroshi (Abba Makama, 2019)
A fast-paced, hectic romp that embraces abstraction while considering identity, displacement and the forces that keep human beings grounded.

The Man Who Cuts Tattoos (Michael Omonua, 2019)
Trauma is often inherited and pain lingers until it is passed along generations. The key to understanding the present has always been in the past.

Our Lady of the Nile (Atiq Rahimi, 2019)
Evil doesn’t just appear. It starts from a hateful glance, a casual remark. Children pick up on it, internalise it and act on it.

Silent Forests (Mariah Wilson, 2019)
Mariah Wilson’s masterfully effective doc offers a hopeful look at efforts to save the few remaining forest elephants in the Congo basin.

Walking with Shadows (Aoife O’Kelly, 2019)
The trauma of homophobia cuts deep and wounds everyone. How do people cope when forced to hide away vital parts of themselves?

Locarno Film Festival

143 Rue du Désert (Hassan Ferhani, 2019)
In the middle of the Algerian Sahara, a woman lives her own history while welcoming strangers to her spartan shop.

Baamum Naafi (Mamadou Dia, 2019)
A Shakespearean clash between Islamic radicalism and conservatism as it plays out in the lives of two star crossed lovers.

Locarno Film Festival’s Black Light Retrospective
This expansive 46-film Black Light retrospective, focusing on 20th century international black cinema was curated for the Locarno film festival by Greg de Cuir Jr. Radical in conception and ambitious in scope, the curation expands on the auteur theory to accommodate seminal films from a wide variety of filmmakers and collaborators. Masters like Ousmane Sembène and Spike Lee were programmed alongside important but less visible auteurs like Med

Hondo and Julie Dash.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019)
An extremely personal look at gentrification, legacy, toxic masculinity and the power of the stories we tell ourselves.

O Fim Do Mundo (Basil da Cunha, 2019)
A fine example of how to tell the story of a marginalised community with respect for the people who inhabit these spaces.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood  (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The tenth film by Quentin Tarantino finds the much-heralded auteur in surprisingly sentimental form as he pays tender, revisionist homage to a bygone era.

Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Fast-paced, hectic and volatile, the genius of Parasite is that just when you think you are watching one thing, Bong Joon-ho switches it and takes you in an altogether different direction.

Show People (King Vidor, 1928)
Playing to the accompaniment of the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana, stardom never felt so bittersweet.

Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Pedro Costa unspools an epic, unforgettable tale of humanity in which grief, loss and a crisis of faith mix in a compelling slow burn.

Carthage Film Festival

Abou Leila (Amin Sidi-Boumédiène, 2019)
Surreal and stylish view on the lingering effects of violence.

Adam (Maryam Touzani, 2019)
Compassionate demonstration of the importance of sisterhood in patriarchal societies.

Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
Poetic and mystical meditation on migration. Unmissable.

You Will Die at Twenty (Amjad Abu Alala, 2020)
Personal yet political reflection on being stranded between two extremes.


The Delivery Boy (Adekunle Adejuyigbe, 2019)
Violence hasn’t played out so beautifully in a Nollywood film like it does in this dark thriller.

Lionheart (Genevieve Nnaji, 2018)
The Oscars may disagree but Lionheart is proudly, unwaveringly Nigerian. Who cares what language is predominant?

Living in Bondage: Breaking Free (Ramsey Nouah, 2019)
This sequel to the film that essentially birthed Nollywood reimagines the franchise for the social media generation 27 years later.

The Set Up (Niyi Akinmolayan, 2019)
Nothing is quite what it seems in this romp through upper class, high rolling Lagos.


Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019)

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

Joy (Sudabeh Mortezei, 2018)

Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)

Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)

Television as Film

Chernobyl (2019)

Unbelievable (2019)

When They See Us (2019)

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