Asif Ahmed 

Critic & Cinephile based in Lockport, NY

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
High Flying Bird (Steven Soderbergh, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018)
Doubles vies (Non-Fiction, Olivier Assayas, 2018)
Photograph (Ritesh Batra, 2019)
Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
The Wedding Guest (Michael Winterbottom, 2018)
Ahlat Ağacı (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)

Antti Alanen 

Helsinki, film programmer, author, critic, historian.

Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack, 2018, shot in 1972). The Gospel according to Aretha Franklin, documenting spiritual ecstasy and a moment of crisis in the civil rights movement.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Edward Burtynsky, Nicholas De Pencier, Jennifer Baichwal, 2018). A global odyssey about humans changing the face of the Earth and destroying the sublime of the nature.
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory Pedro Almodóvar, 2019). A message from childhood inspires a film director to reassess his life and art. Almodóvar at his most serene and naked.
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017). Arenas are full when Prosperity Gospel is being taught, but nobody listens to a lonely country priest who warns about the destruction of the planet. Schrader at his best.
For Sama (Waad al-Kateab, 2019). An extraordinary first person documentary of a journalist and mother documenting the destruction of Aleppo.
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019). Scorsese’s best crime film is an epic shadow history of America. There is a French touch in the account of the ageing mobsters. The parallel montage in three time dimensions is brilliant.
Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019). Robin Wood used the term “an incoherent text” to discuss films like Taxi Driver. Joker is disturbing in a similar way. The reboot of Bob Kane’s character also evokes masterpieces of Weimar cinema.
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019). A Nordic viewer familiar with marriage tragedies by Ibsen, Strindberg and Canth can give Baumbach an approving nod. Nothing is sadder than a marriage inferno.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019). Something new from Tarantino: a portrait of a has-been, with universal appeal as a picture of the world we knew vanishing abruptly. Hollywood 50 years ago is recreated in loving detail.
Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019). A film about the gig economy: what happened to society after the 2008 crash. Also a love story about family solidarity. Loach’s talent of observation and crisp storytelling is undiminished.
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2018). A visual poem, an evocation of mad love inspired by the director’s art school days. An original voice is becoming heard, sensitive to intimate conversations, based on vérité, conveyed via ellipsis.
Systemsprenger (System Crasher Nora Fingscheidt, 2019). Helena Zengel gives the performance of the year together with Joaquin Phoenix as Joker, both as system crashers. A devastating portrait of a little girl who does not fit in.
Tottumiskysymys (Force of Habit Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Reetta Aalto, Alli Haapasalo, Anna Paavilainen, Miia Tervo, Jenni Toivoniemi, 2019). The most epochal movie of the year deals with harassment and violence towards women. I have never before seen a film in which the theme has been treated so comprehensively.
The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019). The Church is in crisis and the world is going under. Such epic themes are efficiently dramatized in the screenplay by Anthony McCarten, and Meirelles brings Southern hemisphere passion to the portrait of Pope Francis.
Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès Agnès Varda, 2019). What a way to go! The mother of all new waves, not only in France but everywhere, never lost her youthful zest. She invites us to a walk through her life and oeuvre, her eyes always directed towards the future.
Werk ohne Autor (Never Look Away Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2018). The glossy surface notwithstanding I love this film covering three Germanies, all of which fail colossally to understand art. Kurt’s trajectory goes from “entartete Kunst” to socialist realism to capitalist realism. What remains: a bottomless sadness in his eyes.

Al-ard (The Land Youssef Chahine, 1969). The masterpiece, often ranked as the best Arab film, now circulating in a new restoration, seen in Bologna.
Le Charme de Maud (René Hervil, 1913). Maud’s charms bring her so much trouble that she must hide them, risking the love of her life. Seen in Pordenone’s “Nasty Women” series.
Chushingura (Makino Shozo, 1910–1917). A 2019 restoration of the classic, seen in Pordenone with Ichiro Kataoka as the benshi and a Japanese trio of musicians.
Crisis: A Film of the “Nazi Way” (Herbert Kline, Hans Burger, Alexander Hackenschmied, 1939). A shattering documentary of the fate of Czechoslovakia after the Munich Agreement. A 2019 restoration seen in Bologna.
Duck Soup (Fred Guiol, 1927). A 2019 restoration-in-progress. They had not been planned as a comedy team, but in front of our very eyes Laurel and Hardy transform into one. Seen in Pordenone.
Ghazieh-e shekl-e avval, ghazieh-e shekl-e dovvom (First Case, Second Case Abbas Kiarostami, 1979). A 2018 restoration of Kiarostami’s stark lesson in ethics seen in Bologna.
The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show (W. K. L. Dickson, 1896–1902). The 2018 BFI digital restorations of the technically superior Biograph films, four times as large as the standard. Seen in 4K in Kino Regina, Helsinki.
Oblomok imperii (Fragment of an Empire Friedrich Ermler, 1929). The definitive experience of the classic film: a film concert of the 2018 restoration with the original Vladimir Deshevov score in Pordenone.
Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone, 1923). The beautiful 2019 restoration with a Robert Israel score. Seen in Kino Regina, Helsinki.
State Fair (Henry King, 1933). 2019 restoration by 20th Century Fox. A classic piece of Fox Americana that everybody had heard about but few had seen. The subtle masterpiece was a revelation in Bologna’s Henry King retrospective.
Sången om den eldröda blomman (Song of the Scarlet Flower Mauritz Stiller, 1919). A centenary restoration of a masterpiece of the golden age of Swedish cinema, complete with the original score by Armas Järnefelt. Seen in a film concert at Helsinki Music Center.
Pordenone revelations included new copies of In the Sage Brush Country (1914), The Aryan (1916), The Gun Fighter (1917) and Wolf Lowry (1917) in the William S. Hart retrospective. On display was also an outstanding first sample of documentaries from Musée Albert-Kahn (1914–1925) and an innovative presentation of Flipbooks (1896–1898) on the screen.

Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)



The best film I saw in 2019 was At Uluru (1978), by Arthur and Corinne Cantrill. Also: Palinode (1970) and The Count of Days (1969), by Robert Beavers, Watersmith (1969), by Will Hindle, Umitori – Shimokita hanto Hamasekine (1985), by Noriaki Tsuchimoto, Athanor (1972), by Philippe Garrel, Lisa and Suzanne (1972), by Ernie Gehr and Women I Love (1979), by Barbara Hammer. It was really wonderful to see films on 16mm at Lightcone (a day dream!) and Arsenal. The best 2019 films I saw are Rasendes Grün mit Pferden, by Ute Aurand and Vitalina Varela, by Pedro Costa. The great moment of the year was the performance by Malcolm Le Grice, Castle 1, at the (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico. Tears and mind expanded.

For the rest, not differentiating between films seen for the first or several times:

——— ——————— (Short Line Long Line Thom Andersen & Malcolm Brodwick, 1967), The Arthur Cantrill and Corinne Cantrill films 4000 Frames – An Eye-Opener Film (1970),  At Eltham, a Metaphor on Death (1974), At Uluru (1977), Bouddi (1970), Earth Message (1970), Experiments in Three-Colour Separation (1980), Garden of Chromatic Disturbance (1998), Island Fuse (1971), Notes on the Passage of Time (1979), Ocean at Point Lookout (1977), Seven Sisters (The Pleiades) (1980), Skin of Your Eye (1973), The Room of Chromatic Mystery (2006), The Second Journey (To Uluru) (1981), Warrah (1980), Waterfall (1984). The Will Hindle films 29: Merci Merci (1966), Billabong (1969), Chinese Firedrill (1968), FFFTCM (1967), Later That Same Night (1971), Non Catholicam (1963), Pasteur 3 (1976), Pastorale d’été (1958), Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos and the Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides in West Coast Places Sucking Alabama Air (1970), Trekkerriff (1987), Watersmith (1969). The Eric Rohmer films 4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (1986), Conte d’automne (1998), Conte d’été (1996), Conte d’hiver (1992), Conte de printemps (1990), L’Arbre, le Maire et la Médiathèque (1993). The Stan Brakhage films A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea (1991), Anticipation of the Night (1958), Fire of Waters (1965), Interpolations 1-5 (1992), Naughts Series (1994), Preludes 1-24 (1996), Scenes from Under Childhood 1-4 (1967-1970), Short Films 1975 #1-10 (1975), The Lost Films (1995), The Text of Light (1974).

Paulo Rocha’s films A Ilha de Moraes (1984), A Ilha dos Amores (1982).

Milena Gierke’s films À la Saskia (1990-2009), Bau Am Haus (2002), Brooklyn Bridge (2008), Hans Poelzig’s IG-Farben Haus in Frankfurt (2006-2008), Kretische Steinskelette (1996), Le Corbusier au mistral (2005-2008), Muralla roja (2008), Portikus 1 (1990), Portikus 2 (1992), Saskiaqueen (1997), Sixteen Candles (1990), Visual (2008), Volver (2009)

A Star Is Born (George Cukor, 1954)

Charlotte Pryce films A Study in Natural Magic (2013), Concerning Flight: Five Illuminations in Miniature (2004), Curious Light (2011), Discoveries on the Forest Floor 1-3 (2007), Looking Glass Insects (2013), Prima Materia (2015), Pwdre Set- the rot of Stars (2018), The Parable of the Tulip Painter and the Fly (2008), X (1988)
Malcolm Le Grice films Academic Still Life (Cézanne) (1976-1977), Berlin Horse (1970), Castle 1 (1966), China Tea (1965), Horror Film 1 (1971), Little Dog for Roger (1968), Threshold (1972), Yes No Maybe Maybenot (1967)
Accattone (1961), Pier Paolo Pasolini
Aerial (Margaret Tait, 1974)
Ahora te vamos a llamar hermano (Raul Ruiz, 1971)
Album 1 (Boris Lehman, 1974)
Fritz Lang films American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950), Fury (1937), The Return of Frank James (1940).
Anatahan (Josef von Sternberg, 1953)
Anna (2004), Lester (2008), Luke Fowler
Richard Serra films Anxious Automation (1971), Color Aid (1970-1971)
Nathaniel Dorsky films Apricity (2019), April (2012), August and After (2012), Calyx (2018), Colophon (2018), The Return (2011)
Frank Tashlin films Artists and Models (1955), The Geisha Boy (1958), Who’s Minding the Store? (1963)
Noriaki Tsuchimoto films Aru kikanjoshi (1963), Dokyument rojo (1964), Minamata – Kanjasan to sono sekai (1971), Ryugakusei Chua Sui Rin (1965), Shiranui kai (1975), Umitori – Shimokita hanto Hamasekine (1984)
Phillipe Garrel films Athanor (1972), Elle a passé tant d’heures sous les sunlights… (1985), J’entends plus la guitare (1991), La Concentration (1968), Le Berceau de cristal (1976), Le Bleu des origines (1979), Le Révélateur (1968), Les Hautes solitudes (1974)
Beaded Light – Dissolving – Beyond (Barry Gerson 1970)

Bent Time (Barbara Hammer 1984), Women I Love (Barbara Hammer 1976)
Birds at Sunrise (Joyce Wieland, 1965)

Bloemen (À propos de fleurs Charles Dekeukeleire 1952), Images du travail (Charles Dekeukeleire 1938), Usine Ford à Anvers (Charles Dekeukeleire 1949)
Rose Lowder films Bouquets 1-10 (1994-1995), Bouquets 21-30 (2001-2005), Habitat, Batracien (2006), Tartarughe d’acqua (2016), Turbulence (2015), Voiliers et coquelicots (2001),
Briefe Aus Dem Schweigen (Claes Söderquist, 1989)
Carolyn and Me (David Brooks, 1968)
Catfilm for Katy and Cynnie (Standish Lawder, 1973)

Cézanne (Luke Fowler 2019), Houses (for Margaret) (Luke Fowler 2019), Mum’s Cards (Luke Fowler 2018)
Chicago Loop (James Benning, 1976)
China Doll (Frank Borzage, 1958)
Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964)
Danses macabres, squelettes et autres fantaisies (Rita Azevedo Gomes, Pierre Léon, Jean-Louis Schefer, 2019)
Der Tod der Maria Malibran (Werner Schroeter, 1972)
Dolor y gloria (2019), Pedro Almodóvar
Double Ghosts (George Clark, 2018)
Dyn Amo (Stephen Dwoskin, 1972)
Eklipsi anofelou fotos (Théo Deliyannis, 2015)
Peter Weiss films Ansikte i skugga (with Christer Christian, 1956), Enligt lag (with Hans Nordenström, 1957), Hagringen (1959), Studie IV : Frigörelse (1954)
Envíos (Jeannette Muñoz 2005-2018), Fotogramas (ongoing), Puchuncaví (Jeannette Muñoz 2019)
Eyewash (Robert Breer, 1959)
Alia Syed films Fatima’s Letter (1992), Priya (2012), Swan (1986), Three Paces (1989), Unfolding (1988), Watershed (1994)
Feuilles d’été (Teo Hernández, 1983)

Scott Hammen films Field Studies (1996), Log Abstract 1985-1987 (1987), Log Abstract 1988 (1988), Log Abstract 1989 (1989), Saugatuck (1993), Seven Landscapes (1995)
Gangbyub Hotel (Hong Sangsoo, 2018)
Goodbye in the Mirror (Storm de Hirsch, 1964)
Grain Graphics (Dana Plays, 1978)
Gueule d’amour (Jean Grémillon, 1937)
High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941)
Hulda Zumsteg (Gregory J. Markopoulos, 1969)
I Diari di Angela – Noi Due Cineasti. Capitolo Secondo (Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricci Lucchi, 2019)
I’d Climb the Highest Mountain (Henry King 1951), Jesse James (Henry King 1939), Tender is the Night (Henry King 1962), The Gunfighter (Henry King 1950)
Imaginary (Moira Sweeney, 1989)
In the Stone House (Jerome Hiler, 2012)
Know Thy Instrument (Bruce McClure, 2019)
L’Amore (Roberto Rossellini, 1948)
Light Licks: Pardes: Counting Flowers on the Wall (Saul Levine, 2018)
Lisa and Suzanne (Ernie Gehr, 1968-1969)
Locations (Bruno Delgado Ramo 2019), Una película en color (Bruno Delgado Ramo 2019),

Movie Stills (J.J. Murphy 1977), Preview (J.J. Murphy 1979), Science Fiction (J.J. Murphy 1979)
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (2019), Quentin Tarantino
Otherwise Unexplained Fires (Hollis Frampton 1976), Surface Tension (Hollis Frampton 1968)
Palinode (Robert Beavers 1970/2001), The Count of Days (Robert Beavers 1969/2001)
Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts (Edward Owens 1970), Remembrance: A Portrait Study (Edward Owens 1967)
Rasendes Grün mit Pferden (Ute Aurand, 2019)
Recital (Stephanie Beroes, 1978)
Roseblood (Sharon Couzin, 1974)
Saugus Series (Pat O’Neill, 1974)
Scotch Tape (Jack Smith, 1959-1962)
Suzanne, Suzanne (Camille Billops & James Hatch, 1982)
The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino, 1953)
The Oblique (Jayne Parker, 2018)
The Purchase Price (William A. Wellman, 1932)
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (Budd Boetticher, 1960)
The Wind Variations (Andrew Noren, 1969)
Twelve Seasonal Films (Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas, 2019)
Untitled #1 (Sun Vision) (Barbara Sternberg, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)
What Mozart Saw on Mulberry Street (Rudy Burckhardt, Joseph Cornell, 1956)

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

Victor Alicea 

Former Programmer for WID Film at the University of Wisconsin Madison
  1. Gisaengchung(Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  2. The Irishman(Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  3. Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  4. Little Women(Greta Gerwig, 2019)
  5. Jiang hu er nü(Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)
  6. Diqiu zuiho de yewan(Long Day’s Journey into Night, 2018)
  7. Us(Jordan Peele, 2019)
  8. Peterloo(Mike Leigh, 2018)
  9. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum(Chad Stahelski, 2019)
  10. The Beach Bum(Harmony Korine, 2019)
  11. Gangbyeon hotel(Hotel by the River, Hong Samg-Soo, 2018)
  12. Jojo Rabbit(Taika Waititi, 2019)
  13. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood(Marielle Heller, 2019)
  14. The Last Black Man in San Francisco(Joe Talbot, 2019)
  15. Alita: Battle Angel(Robert Rodriguez, 2019)
  16. High Life(Claire Denis, 2018)
  17. Booksmart(Olivia Wilde, 2019)
  18. Long Shot(Jonathan Levine, 2019)
  19. Ford vs. Ferrari(James Mangold, 2019)
  20. Netemo sametemo(Asako I & II, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)

Rowena Santos Aquino 

Los Angeles-based film lecturer and critic

Favourite films viewed in 2019 (in alphabetical order)

  1. At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel, 2018)
  2. Alles ist gut (All is Good, Eva Trobisch, 2018)*
  3. American Factory (Julia Reichert/Steven Bognar, 2019)
  4. Atlantiqe (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)*
  5. Boku wa Iesu-sama ga kirai (Jesus, Okuyama Hiroshi, 2018)*
  6. Climax (Gaspar Noé, 2018)
  7. Di yi ci de li bie (The First Farewell, Lina Wang, 2018)*
  8. Die Tomorrow (Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, 2017)
  9. Gisaengchoong (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  10. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
  11. La camarista (The Chambermaid, Lila Avilés, 2018)*
  12. La vérité (The Truth, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2019)
  13. Mao Mao guo kao shi ji (Mao Mao Cool, Zhang Yang, 2019)
  14. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  15. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)

Honourable mentions
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Familia sumergida (Family Submerged, María Alché, 2018)*
Ivana cea Groaznică (Ivana the Terrible, Ivana Mladenović, 2019)
* feature debut



10 favourite new release films from 2019 in the UK, listed in alphabetical order:
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-Dong, 2018) UK cinema release
Destination Wedding (Victor Levin, 2018) UK cinema release
Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2018) UK cinema release
Todos lo saben (Everybody Knows, Asghar Farhadi, 2018) UK cinema release
Luce (Julius Onah, 2019) UK cinema release
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019) UK cinema release
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019) UK cinema release
Ying (Shadow, Yimou Zhang, 2018) UK streaming release
Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski, 2018) UK cinema release
Varda par Agnès (Varda By Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2019) UK cinema release

Jennifer Lynde Barker 

Associate Professor of Animation and Film History at Bellarmine University, Louisville (Kentucky); Chair of the English Department and Director of the Film Studies program.

A Volta ao Mundo quando tinhas 30 Anos (Around the World When You Were 30, Aya Koretzky, 2019)
Eiga Sumikkogurashi: Tobidasu ehon to himitsu no ko (Mankyū, 2019)
L’Extraordinaire voyage de Marona (Marona’s Fantastic Tale, Anca Damian, 2019)
Kiku to Guillotine. Onnazumō to Anarchism (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, Zeze Takahisa, 2018)
Kimi to, nami ni noretara (Ride Your Wave, Yuasa Masa’aki, 2019)
Königskinder (2019 Digitalisation) (Star-Crossed Lovers, Frank Beyer, 1962)
Kono sekai no (sara ni ikutsumono) katsumi ni (In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World, Sunao Katabuchi, 2019)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
Perehodnyj vozrast (Puberty, Elena Kondratʹeva, 2019)
Wánměi xiànzài shí (Present. Perfect. Zhū Shēngzè, 2019)

Kono sekai no katsumi ni (In This Corner of the World, Sunao Katabuchi, 2019)

Christopher Barkman 

Media and Communications PhD Candidate at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia

2019 marked the second year in a row where I decided to attempt the 365-film challenge of watching an average of one film a day (potentially a lapse in judgement considering my commencement of a PhD at the same time). Last year I achieved the lack-of-social-life-induced total number of 502 watched and enjoyed the experience of having so many different viewing experiences so much that I could not resist this year despite extraneous circumstances (i.e. PhD). My total for 2019 at the moment of writing stands at 489, making it look like a photo finish largely dependent on how asocial I feel over the holidays. The total lists can be found on Letterboxd, a site that is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to watching so many films so frequently.

As for the actual films of 2019, I was lucky to see a plethora both during my annual cinematic incubation period over MIFF and across the year as a whole. While there are many I am still eagerly anticipating like Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019), 1917 (Sam Mendes 2019) and A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (Marielle Heller, 2019), there is a plentiful bounty of fantastic films to choose from for my favourites of the year. Special mention goes to Klaus (Sergio Pablos, 2019), Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019), For Sama (Waad al-Kateab & Edward Watts, 2019) and The Report (Scott Z. Burns, 2019) as well as so many others that I would egregiously go over the word limit to list them all. I do not necessarily believe that 2019 was an exceptional year for cinema but based purely on my personal experience it was still one dotted with standouts.

10. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Vince Gilligan, 2019)
9. The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
8. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
7. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma, 2019)
6. The Day Shall Come (Chris Morris, 2019)
5. Honeyland (Ljubomir Stefanov & Tamara Kotevska, 2019)
Turns out my favourite film of MIFF 2019 was also the first. Good job Honeyland. You set the bar too high. We may be inundated with docos about Macedonian Beekeepers right now, but Honeyland might be the best – stylistically understated, thematically prescient and with a surprising amount of emotional heft for an incredibly simple story.
4. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
While undoubtedly a fantastic family drama that’s incredibly well directed and acted, the thing I found most compelling about Marriage Story is its perspective on society’s response to divorce – what is ostensibly a story of two people’s failed relationship is dragged out and overcomplicated by legal and social ramifications both within the narrative itself and very frequently in real-world circumstances. This bolsters the already-felt sense of authenticity for the film even further and makes for both a tender and achingly real viewing experience.
3. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Even crammed into the far front corner of a packed cinema with my neck craning to just see the screen, I was swept away in Scorsese’s swansong to the genre he had already given so much. What makes it genuinely special is the prolonged moments of melancholic thoughtfulness – an introspection that grapples with both the character’s and Scorsese’s long and storied careers. Aging, regret and the enduring image of the mobster swirls together into something that I eventually found both emotionally compelling and mature in remarkable ways. Just wish my back forgave me for choosing an almost sold-out session to see it in.
2. Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019)
Perhaps an odd addition considering the more measured response to this apparently unnecessary sequel compared to its brethren, but I still found so much to love here. Not only does it prove that animation has progressed to an astonishing level, but Toy Story 4’s central narrative was just as intelligent, entertaining and emotionally compelling as any of the films that came before. If anything, my appreciation for this franchise and its ideas has only grown as I have matured and taken on more responsibilities, thus allowing me to see myself piece by piece in the plights of small pieces of digitally-created cloth and plastic in the way only incredible art can make possible.
1. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho, 2019)
Frankly I don’t think it’s worth saying anything about Parasite. Either it has already been said or it will be said at some point in the inevitable future when film scholars take this masterwork apart piece-by-piece in appreciation of the immaculate craft Joon-Ho displays. Just see it if you have not already (though assuming where this will be published, it seems likely you already have).

Mike Bartlett 

Subtitler and freelance film writer based in London, UK.

Ten Best Recent Films Seen For the First Time in 2019
Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
Da xiang xi di zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)*
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
Grass (Hong Sang-Soo, 2018)
In My Room (Ulrich Kohler, 2018)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
Sandome no satsujin (The Third Murder, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2017)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen, 2017)
* My nomination for film of the decade

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) – for annoying so many of the right people
November (Rainer Sarnet, 2017)
Song of Granite (Pat Collins, 2017)

Biggest Disappointments…
..and you can almost take this list as a roll-call of the most overrated turnips of the decade
Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
The Endless (Justin Benson/Aaron Moorhead, 2017)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
The Other Side (Roberto Minervini, 2015)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)

The Jury’s Still Out
Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles/Kleber Mondonca Filho, 2019)
Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)
The works of great directors, clearly, but aren’t they the doodles or idle sketches of a master capable of producing a timeless painting?

Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles/Kleber Mondonca Filho, 2019)

Rhett Bartlett 

The Hollywood Reporter obituarist, ABC Radio Film Reviewer (DialMForMovies)

Favourite Films of 2019.
=1 Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
=1 Chasing the Moon (Robert Stone, 2019)

Alphabetical order
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
The Keeper (Marcus H. Rosenmuller, 2019)
The King (David Michod, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho, 2019)
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (Matt Wolf, 2019)
Stan & Ollie (Jon S. Baird, 2019)
Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Watergate(Charles Ferguson, 2019)
Widows (Steve McQueen, 2019)

Arta Barzanji 

Cinephile, based in Los Angeles
  1. It has to be lived once and dreamed twice (Rainer Kohlberger, 2019)
  2. Sebastian and Jonas Leaving the Party (Ken Jacobs, 2019)
  3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  4. Uncut Gems (Josh & Benny Safdie, 2019)
  5. Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
  6. Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)
  7. Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
  8. High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)
  9. Hypnagogia (Pierre-Luc Vaillancourt, 2018)
  10. La casa lobo (The Wolf House, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, 2018)
  11. La Cordillère des songes (The Cordillera of Dreams, Patricio Guzmán, 2019)
  12. Fountains of Paris (Stephen Broomer, 2018)
  13. Îmi este indiferent dacă în istorie vom intra ca barbari (I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, Radu Jude, 2018)
  14. Climax (Gaspar Noé, 2018)
  15. Mes Provinciales (A Paris Education, Jean-Paul Civeyrac, 2018)
  16. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  17. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  18. Doubles vies (Non-Fiction, Olivier Assayas, 2018)
  19. Como Fernando Pessoa Salvou Portugal (How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal, Eugène Green, 2018)
  20. Ultra Pulpe (Apocalypse After, Bertrand Mandico, 2018)
    Note: Films like The Image Book, Transit and Long Day’s Journey into Night were included on my 2018 list.

Raphaël Bassan 


In no particular order:
Bacurau(Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles 2019)
Equilibrio (Vincenzo Marra 2019)
The Wild Goose Lake (Nam Fang Che Zhan de ju Hui Diao Yinan, 2019)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers 2019)
Lillian (Andreas Horvath 2019)
Tenzo (Katsuya Tomita 2019)
Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello 2019)
It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman 2019)
Les Misérables (Ladj Ly 2019).

Gustavo Beck 


Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (Heimat is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019)
Ich war zuhause, aber… (I Was at Home, But…, Angela Schanalec, 2019)
Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
L’Île aux oiseaux (Bird Island Maya Kosa & Sergio da Costa, 2019)
Nunca subi el Provincia (I Never Climbed the Provincia Ignacio Agüero, 2019)
Ne Croyez Surtout Pas Que Je Hurle (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream Frank Beauvais, 2019)
Dau (Ilya Khrzhanovsky, 2019)
La Nature (Artavazd Pelechian, 2019)

Ich war zuhause, aber… (I Was at Home, But…, Angela Schanalec, 2019)

Sean Bell 

Pop Culture Blogger at Sex & the Eternal City

The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
The film I saw in the first days of January had lost none of its acerbic charm when I returned to it again towards the end of the year. The Favourite dissects the nature of female power and Colman, Weisz and Stone cunningly play with our allegiances throughout, making the film so hilarious and desperately sad at the same time.
2. = Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
2. = Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Two thoroughly engaging genre films (thriller and horror respectively) that employ home invasion plots and subterranean settings to challenge our perceptions of the “underclass”. Political film-making can be accessible, exciting to watch and challenging to ponder.
4. The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
Nothing is forced in this subtle exploration of cultural identity. The emotional pyrotechnics come from the smallest observations, the most throw-away lines of dialogue and Awkwafina’s luminous face.
5. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)
Can you really make comedy out of the Holocaust (a question explored in Ferne Pearlstein’s 2016 documentary, The Last Laugh)? Do you embrace the inevitable offence like Silverman or retreat into sentimentality like Begnini? Jojo Rabbit may not have satisfactorily answered that question for many critics, but it does represent a culmination of Waititi’s extraordinary filmography, one which sets quirky, child-like imagination amidst the cruel reality of the adult world. By the time Jojo (an extraordinary Roman Griffin Davis) and Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie proving that last year’s Leave No Trace was no fluke) were dancing to Helden, I was laughing through my tears.
6. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
I think I fell in love with both Marianne (Noémie Merlant) and the film in the opening scene when she dives from the boat to salvage her canvases. The scene reminded me of Campion’s The Piano (1993), another period film (I can’t use that term without smirking now, thanks to Fleabag) about female sexuality and the resilience of the artistic voice. This is a slow burn of a film and Claire Mathon’s cinematography brings the same hazy sensuousness she provided for Mati Diop’s Atlantique (Atlantics).
7. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
While Alan Parker’s Shoot the Moon (1982) remains the benchmark for films in the niche divorce drama genre, Baumbach’s funny and insightful film shows how love curdles and sours when one partner feels unlistened to. The acting is superb; Alan Alda, Merritt Wever and Laura Dern deftly provide the comedy without unbalancing the film while Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson embody its raw, raging heart.
8. Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack, 2018)
The music is extraordinary, Aretha’s voice is goose-bump inducing and those 70’s fashions are wild (it is worth the price of admission just to clock the extravagant wiggery going on in the audience). However, the most striking revelation from the sweat drenched close ups that the documentary provides, is of its subject’s quiet self-possession.
9. = The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
9. = Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)
Is Netflix a force for good in cinema? These two end of year releases – Scorsese’s sweeping epic, his best film since Goodfellas (1990) and Brewer’s foul mouthed and affectionate paean to the joy of making movies – suggest that the streaming giant might just actually really love movies and where you watch is far less important than what you watch and empowering talented people to make more.

Malik Berkati 

Berlin-based Swiss film critic and political scientist

This year has been rich in post-#MeToo scandals in many countries concerning famous filmmakers, which has revived the eternal debate: should we differentiate the artist from the man, his work from his deeds? The issue has not finished being debated, I’m afraid, and that’s something that will continue to raise questions, and even problems, for we film critics in the years to come. For my part, this year I have decided to make a short and very subjective list: it may not be the best factual films of the year that I am proposing, but the ones that come to mind spontaneously among the thousand or so that I have seen; the ones that have marked me for one reason or another.

A spontaneous short list of films that comes back to mind about the thousand films seen this year. There are certainly some very good films missing and it is not impossible that some have appeared on this list depending on the mood of the moment. However, with the exception of de facto masterpieces, it is this conjuncture subjectivity that makes the magic of cinema!

Talking About Trees (Suhaib Gasmelbari, 2019) Documentary: a Cinema Paradiso in the light of Sudanese history.
Di Jiu Tian Chang (So Long, My Son Wang Xiaoshuai, 2019) Great cinema, mastered from start to end: from the script that takes us over three decades, to editing, as well as directing and actors.
Gospod postoi, imeto i’ e Petrunija (God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya Teona Strugar Mitevska, 2019) – the most refreshing film of the year comes from Macedonia and it’s a little jewel!
Napszállta (Sunset László Nemes, 2018) A warning from the past that looks the present straight in the eye.
Dolce Fine Giornata (Slodki koniec dnia Jacek Borcuch, 2019) The most beautiful, poignant and spectacular ending scene of 2019!
Il Traditore (The Traitor Marco Bellocchio, 2019) A masterpiece that manages to captivate us although we all know this true story.
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019) A very successful transposition of Jack London’s story into the Naples of the 20th century without ever falling into the trap of literal adaptation. And the discovery of a great actor in a different register: Luca Marinelli.
Gisaengchoong (Parasite Bong Joon-ho, 2019) Maybe not the best of Bong Joon-ho but a very Korean and at the same time very universal story, brilliantly realised!
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire Céline Sciamma, 2019) Magnificent, powerful, moving from beginning to end.
Corpus Christi (Jan Komasa, 2019) A very clever approach to the shortcomings and tensions of Polish society (while remaining universal), an extraordinary cinematography and a great performance by lead actor Bartosz Bielenia.
Dafne (Federico Bondi, 2019) A poignant and caustic story between a father and his daughter with Downs Syndrome.

Napszállta (Sunset László Nemes, 2018)



Favourite 30 films in the UK in 2019.

My top ten, in order of preference:

Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma, 2019)
Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Honeyboy (Alma Har’el, 2019)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019)
Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018)
Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, 2018)
Gisaengchoong (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
Nabarvené ptáče (The Painted Bird, Václav Marhoul, 2019)

The further 20 films in alphabetical order:
37 Seconds (Hikari, 2019)
Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019)
Un Divan à Tunis (Arab Blues, Manèle Labidi Labbé, 2019)
The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
I’m (not) a Monster (Nelly Ben Hayoun, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)
Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
Little Women (Greta Gerwig, 2019)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz, 2019)
Il Traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2019)
Waves (Trey Edward Shults, 2019)

Hannu Björkbacka 

Film critic at Keskipohjanmaa newspaper, Finland

This is what I like and found humane in the films I saw in 2019:
1. Beoning (Burning Chang-dong Lee, 2018) Slow-burning menace. Just magnificent.
2. Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018) Find your own family.
3. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018) The best scifi of the 2010s, and it did not even get a theatrical release in Finland, although it had big stars like Binoche and Pattinson. When I got my autograph from the director at Sodankylä in 2013, I asked why the protagonist in Beau Travail must die. She answered: “So you only like happy ends?” To get a “happy end” – well, sort of – from Denis is a priceless gift.
4. Koirat eivät käytä housuja (Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, J-P Valkeapää,
2019) Astonishing third film from the Finnish maverick. Visually arresting and touching. Pekka Strang’s portrait of a sad man is masterful.
5. Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019) Pure joy. Better than Wolf of Wall Street.
6. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory Pedro Almodóvar, 2019). The artist comes of age with this comeback of a sort. Its purity and simplicity is remarkable, though it is not on a par with his true masterpieces. Ravishing, still. The moment the child sees his calling and faints is comparable to such moments of revelation in the works of Terence Davies.
7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019) Tarantino puts his best foot forward in this atmospheric L.A. celebration. Sharon Tate gets the eulogy she deserves.
8. Asako I & II (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2018) Loved Asako I and adored Asako II. The TV show and discussion about Chekov’s Three Sisters struck a chord: I’ve played that scene in amateur theatricals!
9. Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018) Vertigo-like movie hallucinations in L.A., again. A pop conspiracy reminiscent of Phantom of the Paradise. Andrew Garfield is a treasure.
10. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019) Giving new horror a good name.

Lukas Brasiskis 


Film lists can colonise the mind and impoverish the imagination, as Elena Gorfinkel rightly points out. Films lists should not be overestimated (see: Elena Gorfinkel’s “Against Lists”). However, memories of film experiences do matter, I think. Below I share the most memorable film experiences I had in black boxes and white cubes throughout 2019 (listed in no particular order).
Da xiang xi di zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
Atlantique (Atlantics Mati Diop, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Synonyms (Nadav Lapid, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov, 2019)
SaF05 (Charlotte Prodger, 2019)
Whispering Pines ­­­­ (Shana Moulton, 2019)
Swarm Season (Sarah Christman, 2019)
O que arde (Fire Will Come Oliver Laxe, 2019)
Nhà Cây (Tree House Minh Quý Trương, 2019)

Promising debuts
First and Negative Two (Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew, 2019)
Animus Animalis (Aiste Zegulyte, 2019)
Ende der Saison (End of Season, Elmar Imanov, 2019)

Atlantique (Atlantics Mati Diop, 2019)

Collin Brinkmann 

Wisconsin cinephile & student

0. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) (Extended Cut). Terry tinkers with greatness to produce—who guessed it?—even more greatness.
0.5 Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) (Final Cut) Ditto for Coppola. The French plantation sequence especially, which I’d never seen before, is the kind of “unnecessary” sequence that only great, anti-“perfect” films are bold enough to include.

1. Frost (Sharunas Bartas, 2017)
A film that defies encapsulation. Suffice to say it was the most earnest and genuine film about the world that I saw this year, totally unconcerned with being anything other than what it is. (That’s probably why no one from the U.S. cared to distribute it.) Haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I saw it in January.
2. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017) & Gangbyeon Hotel (Hotel by the River, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
Hong captures the inhale and exhale of life—and its contents and discontents—better than just about anyone. Whether sobbing uncontrollably on a couch or simply standing outside in the cold, Hong understands that sometimes the most dramatic thing of all is existence itself.
3. Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
“We’re never sad enough for the world to be better.” Less of a film and more of a direct window into the associative thinking patterns of an octogenarian cinema legend. If Godard = cinema, then Godard’s thinking patterns = montage. Think about it…
4. Domino (Brian De Palma, 2019)
Bare-bones cinema, late film material, where the images in their baroque austerity seem beamed straight from De Palma’s aging brain. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely modern—it’s set in 2020 for goodness’ sake!
5. Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
Panahi squeezes more wonderful, far-reaching ambiguities and truths out of his specific situation as a filmmaker and citizen than I ever expected was possible.
6. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
A lullaby to moving images. “Love never dies…”
7. Aladdin (Guy Ritchie, 2019)
“I can show you the world.” Themes of love & politics cribbed from a Straub/Huillet film thrown into a cash-grab Disney musical remake—God only knows how this ended up being good.
8. Drift (Helena Wittmann, 2017)
The half hour or so of pure oceanic drift, the black waters engulfing me in their uncertain being, was the most mesmerizing and beautiful stretch of cinema that I can recall from this past year.
9. Jiang hu er nü (Ash Is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Watching Zhao Tao go from dancing to “Y.M.C.A.”, to seeing the flash of a UFO in the sky, to the rest of her ambiguous journey through a modernising China, was to experience the familiar sensation of the meaningfulness of time passing/events occurring while still not understanding what exactly that meaning is.
10. Les fantômes d’Ismaël (Ismael’s Ghosts, Arnaud Desplechin, 2017)
Messy and complex, moments of certainty accumulating to from an uncertain whole—and vice versa. Desplechin drunk on the possibilities of storytelling and cinema.
11. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
“I’m on a road to nowhere…”

Other new films that I found varying degrees of edification in watching and/or thinking about this year:
Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez, 2019)
Ang panahon ng halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
Arábia (Araby, João Dumans & Affonso Uchoa, 2017)
Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
Barbara (Mathieu Amalric, 2017)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
China Not China (Dianna Barrie & Richard Tuohy, 2018)
The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)
Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, 2018)
Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2018)
Gemini Man (Ang Lee, 2019)
The Great Pretender (Nathan Silver, 2019)
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, 2018)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Joker (Todd Philips, 2019)
Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Two Plains & a Fancy (Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn, 2018)
Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018)
Yara (Abbas Fahdel, 2018)
Ying (Shadow, Zhang Yimou, 2018)

Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)

Samantha Broadhead 

Head Of Research, Leeds Arts University, UK; interested in the fabric of film

There are two outstanding films of 2019 and perhaps the decade. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019) and Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) are so different in tone, scale and narrative structure, however they share the top position of my review. There have been many films based on Stephen King’s novels this year, unfortunately, only two made my list. The majority of films come from the horror genre, however a couple of interesting ‘super-hero’/action films have crept in; sometimes the boundaries between genres are fluid. The quality of horror films is growing every year. Should the mainstream academy awards recognise this excellence?

Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
This film re-imagines folk horror (The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy, 1973; Blood On Satan’s Claw, Piers Haggard, 1971) as a contemporary and relevant genre. The lead characters played by  Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor, convey their alienation from each other as they slowly become assimilated into a Swedish Pagan cult. The film is visually stunning, where darkness and stomach-churning graphic violence are set against the prettiness of folk art, plants and flowers. Bright sunshine and the whiteness of the Swedish costumes contribute to breath-taking cinematography. Midsommar (2019) feels like a much more coherent film than the excellent Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018).

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
The Joker’s joyful but macabre ‘staircase’ dance reminds me of Leatherface’s twirls and pirouettes as his victim escapes at the end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974). Both sequences evoke a carnivalesque sense of horror that subverts humour into chaos much like The Terrifer (Damien Leone, 2018).   Joaquin Phoenix’s performance stayed with me for days after the screening. I truly felt the emotion and despair behind the forced smile of the clown. The sublime acting communicated the profound tragedy of the story, which was about, much more than the Joker’s origin.

Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Us is an innovative and imaginative revisiting of the doppelgangers theme. Peel revealed that the centre of the film was based ‘Hands across America’ in 1986, where 6.5 million people held hands for fifteen minutes creating a human chain. Imagining this event evoked a sense of discomfort and horror in the mind of Peel, which inspired him to make this disquieting film.

The Wind (Emma Tammi, 2019)
This is a slow-paced, yet beautiful and understated horror film that slowly reveals itself through the themes of loneliness, loss, jealously and betrayal. Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) is isolated from civilisation in an unrelenting wilderness where the wind constantly howls. A demonic presence regenerates the dead out of the stark landscape or are they apparitions of Lizzie’s mind?

In the Tall Grass (Vincenzo Natali, 2019)
Based on a Stephen King story this film is creepy and claustrophobic. Various characters find themselves lost and disorientated in a field of sinister, tall grass. The mis-en-scene is illuminated by strange green glow whilst the narrative plays with non-linear time and space.

Pet Sematary (Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, 2019)
Another film based on a Stephen King novel is Pet Sematary. Unlike It Chapter Two (Andy Muschietti, 2019) and Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan, 2019) this film seems well-structured and timed to perfection. Church the cat comes back from the dead to terrorise his family. Visually Church looks spectacularly dark and vicious played brilliantly by cat actors: Leo, Tonic, Jager and JD. While this version may not have added much to the original Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert, 1989), it is very watchable for a horror-loving cat owner.

Terminator: Dark Fate (Tim Miller, 2019)
There was mixed feedback on social media about this film. However, I enjoyed it; there are three great female roles leading the action. Linda Hamilton looks fantastic in her aviator glasses and shock of grey hair. She plays Sarah Connor as an irascible, angry woman (with history) who is fated to save a young woman (Natalia Reyes) for the salvation of the human race. Connor also resolves to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator who has (ironically) gained redemption through love and domestic security.  Challenging the conventional male heroic tradition, an enhanced human called Grace (Mackenzie Davis) ends the narrative with noble, Amazonian, self-sacrifice.

Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)
The final film in Shyamalan’s trilogy shows the interplay between security guard David Dunn and Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities. Overseen by Elijah Price as Mr. Glass, the storyline twists and turns towards a powerful conclusion. The characters played by James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson provoke our compassion, fear and moral conflicts.

Annabelle Comes Home (Gary Dauberman, 2019)
Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren have placed Annabelle in a glass cabinet, keeping the world safe until their daughter’s friend opens the door. Fortunately, for the audience, Annabelle awakens the evil spirits from the James Wan universe and they come out to play. Annabelle Comes Home is a generic horror with little innovation; however, it does give a certain pleasure in familiarity and the continuation of interlocking narratives.

Rabid (Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, 2019)
Superficially based on the brilliant Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1977) this version feels like a very different film. This is due in part to setting the film in the fashion industry. The body-horror resulting from the maiming of the lead (Rose) due to a motorcycle accident is more disconcerting than the strain of vampirism that she subsequently contracts.

Brandon Bui 

Sometimes-cinephile in Toronto

1. Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
2. Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
3. Ich war zuhause, aber… (I Was at Home, But…, Angela Schanalec)
4. SaF05 (Charlotte Prodger, 2019)
5. Cézanne (Luke Fowler, 2019)
6. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
7. Longa noite (Endless Night, Eloy Enciso, 2019)
8. Remembrance: A Portrait Study (Edward Owens, 1967)
9. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
10. Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
11. Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (Heimat is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019)
12. Uncut Gems (Ben & Josh Safdie, 2019)
13. La Gomera (The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumbiou, 2019)
14. Il traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
15. State Funeral (Sergei Loznitsa, 2019)
16. Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui (The Wild Goose Lake, Diao Yi’nan, 2019)
17. Sete anos em Maio (Seven Years in May, Affonso Uchôa, 2019)
18. Rūgštus miškas (Acid Forest, Rugile Barzdžiukaite, 2018)
19. Bewegungen eines nahen Bergs (Movements of a Nearby Mountain, Sebastian Brameshuber, 2019)
20. A Topography of Memory (Burak Çevik, 2019)
21. 143 rue du désert (143 Sahara Street, Hassen Ferhani, 2019)
22. Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another (Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2019)
23. Krabi, 2562 (Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2019)
24. Hatsukoi (First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019)
25. A febre (The Fever, Maya Da-Rin, 2019)
26. A Mordida (The Bite, Pedro Neves Marques, 2018)
27. Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello, 2019)
28. O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
29. Austrian Pavilion (Philipp Fleischmann, 2019)
30. 2008 (Blake Williams, 2019)
31. (tourism Studies) (Joshua Gen Solondz, 2019)
32. Ani Mulalu (Crazy World, Nabwana I.G.G., 2019)
33. Circumplector (Gastón Solnicki, 2019)

Favorite retrospective viewing+discovery of the year: undoubtedly Les rendez-vous d’Anna (The Meetings of Anna, Chantal Akerman, 1978). Being able to revisit and learn more about Chantal, especially through stories from Babette Mangolte and Claire Atherton is not something I’ll soon forget.

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


A two-headed, four-handed, single-minded beast of an entity provided with sheer critical wit and relentlessness with which it hunts upon its doomed prey.

The films below are listed in alphabetical order.
The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine, 2019) Confronting phantoms of liberty in the Florida Keys.
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) What. What. What. What. What. What. What. What.
Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019) The things they do in broad daylight.
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019) Perro! Show me your war face!
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018) You don’t want trouble but sometimes trouble wants you.
Nabarvené ptáče (The Painted Bird, Václav Marhoul, 2019) The painted bird won’t fly with its flock.
Gisaengchoong (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019) On letting the right ones in.
Wilkolak (Adrian Panek, 2018) The kids can’t go hungry, or they’ll kill each other.

Honourable mentions
And now for something complete and restored:
It‘s Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Norwegian Blu-ray Edition.
Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut

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