Michael Heath 

Screenwriter, documentary film, and independent film-maker & avid Cinephile, who lives at Raumati South, north of Wellington, New Zealand

2019: A year in which European cinema soared, radiating a strong sense of truthful urgency- as viewing platforms merged,  and superb digital restorations of classic cinema from the bottomless vault of history allowed audiences to re-glimpse the past with new eyes.

  1. Fire Will Come (O que arde, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
  2. Dylda (Beanpole Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
  3. Jeanne (Bruno Dumont, 2019)
  4. Buoyancy (Rodd Rathjen, 2019)
  5. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
  6. Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
  7. Monos (Alejandro Landes, Colombia 2019
  8. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma, 2019)
  9. Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2018)
  10. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019)

Honourable mention of some unforgettable films from a variety of platforms including blu-ray restorations and streaming services:

  1. Koker Trilogy (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987-1994, Criterion): Khane-ye doust kodjast? (Where Is the Friend’s House?, 1987), Zendegi va digar hich (And Life Goes On, 1992) Zire darakhatan zeyton (Through the Olive Trees, 1994)
  2. Voina i mir (War and Peace), original 421 minute version, Sergei Bondarchuk, 1968 (Criterion)
  3. Detour (Edgar J. Ulmer, 1945, Criterion)
  4. When They See Us (Ava duVernay, 2019, Netflix)
  5. Mr. Mercedes, Season 3 (David E. Kelly & Jack Bender, AT & T Audience Network)
  6. Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts, Radu Jude, 2016)
  7. Peau de pêche(Peach Skin, Jean-Benoît Lévy & Marie Epstein, 1929)
  8. Khrustalyov, machinu! (Khrustalyov My Car!, Aleksei German, 1998)
  9. Ugetsu monogatori (Tales of Ugetsu, Kenji Mizoguchi 1953, Criterion)
  10. Gone to Earth (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1950)

Claire Henry 

Lecturer in Digital Media Production, Massey University, and committee member of the Wellington Film Society

Delicious indulgences

Memento Stella (Takashi Makino, 2018), Brisbane International Film Festival
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019)
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019)

Dark delights

New Zealand International Film Festival: Judy & Punch (Mirrah Foulkes, 2019), The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018), and Vivarium (Lorcan Finnegan, 2019)
Brisbane International Film Festival: Dark Place (Björn Stewart, Kodie Bedford, Liam Phillips, Perun Bonser, Rob Braslin, 2019) and The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019)
Terror-Fi Film Festival: Freaks (Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein, 2018) and Colour Out of Space (Richard Stanley, 2019)

Worth travelling to London for

The Cool World (Shirley Clarke, 1963) screening on 35mm as part of the Bebop New York: Birth of American Indie Cinema season at the Barbican Centre (19 June 2019)
The Garden (Derek Jarman, 1990) with a Q&A with producer James Mackay and costume designer Annie Symons at BFI Southbank
Dirty God (Sacha Polak, 2019), BFI Southbank

Wellington Film Society

I suggested pairing our opening night film, Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001), with Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950), which screened as our closing night film. It was a joy to see these on the big screen with a big crowd, but my personal favourites on the program this year were the Aki Kaurismäki ‘Proletariat Trilogy’: Varjoja paratiiasissa (Shadows in Paradise, 1986), Ariel (1988), The Match Factory Girl (1990). Other highlights were Félicité (Alain Gomis, France/Belgium/Senegal/Germany, 2017) and Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016). Wellington also paid tribute to Agnès Varda this year, with Visages, Villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, 2017) on our program (one of my 2017 World Poll picks) and a retrospective at NZIFF, including the wonderful Sans toit ni loi (Vagabond, 1985).

Community screenings

Seeing For My Father’s Kingdom (Vea Mafile’o and Jeremiah Tauamiti, 2019) with the Tongan community at NZIFF in Wellington, and attending tilde: Melbourne trans
& gender diverse film festival
, were great reminders of what cinema can mean to underrepresented communities, and of the importance of film festivals. Highlights of tilde included the opening night films – Becoming Colleen (Ian W. Thomson, 2018) and Framing Agnes (Chase Joynt & Kristen Schilt, 2018) – and the short films Anemone (Amrou Al-Kadhi, 2018) and Something to Cry About (Jules Rosskam, 2018). 

Alain Hertay 

Teaches cinema studies at the Haute Ecole de la Province de Liège, Belgium. Contributor to La Furia Umana, Culturopoing, POPNews and Flashback Magazine

Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019)
Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)
Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019)
Green Book (Peter Farrelly, 2018)
The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
Sibyl (Justine Triet, 2019)
J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy, Roman Polanski, 2019)
Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Chernobyl (Craig Mazin and Johan Renck, 2019)

In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018)

David Heslin 

Editor of Screen Education and a member of the Senses of Cinema editorial team

Best new films

  1. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  2. In Fabric(Peter Strickland, 2018)
  3. Fourteen (Dan Sallitt, 2019)
  4. Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)
  5. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  6. Les garçons sauvages (The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico, 2017)
  7. Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
  8. Animals (Sophie Hyde, 2019)
  9. Doubles vies (Non-Fiction, Olivier Assayas, 2018)
  10. Nuestro tiempo (Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, 2018)

When my girlfriend suggested that we spend our child-free night watching a middlingly received Natalie Portman pop-star drama, I can’t deny I was a little sceptical. But by the time the opening titles had come to an end, I was already well and truly in thrall to Brady Corbet’s audacious, over-the-top parable of American celebrity culture.

I’m a real sucker for bombast, as can probably be gathered by some of the other films on my year-end top-ten list: In Fabric is the best and most outrageous comedy I’ve seen in a long while, and The Wild Boys is… I don’t know, Guy Maddin on steroids? And I’m not even ashamed to admit that I was here for every minute of Adam Driver doing a Sondheim number. Not ashamed at all.

But I do still have some faint vestiges of good taste, as the top film on my list suggests. Céline Sciamma might already have been the most exciting director to have emerged in the twenty-first century – she’d certainly be in the top five – but I was still a little worried that the tropes of period drama might cramp her style. Not so; Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a masterpiece, pitch-perfect in its control of narrative, performance, visual language and music. Speaking of which, if that last sequence doesn’t both make you fall in love with Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and despise the lazy use of his music in every other period-drama trailer, then you are made of sterner stuff than I am.

Best repertory screenings

  1. L’année dernière à Marienbad(Last Year in Marienbad, Alain Resnais, 1961), Alliance Française French Film Festival
  2. Il posto (Ermanno Olmi, 1961), Melbourne Cinémathèque
  3. Aya (Solrun Hoaas, 1990), Unknown Pleasures
  4. Kissing Paris(Anna Kannava, 2008), Unknown Pleasures
  5. The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene, 1990), Melbourne International Film Festival

I caught a couple of amazing retrospective screenings – an encounter with a newly restored Last Year in Marienbad, perhaps the third or fourth time I’ve seen it and yet a whole new adventure; and my introduction to the work of Ermanno Olmi, the enchanting Il posto – but my two most special cinema experiences of 2019 were a couple of forgotten Australian films shown as part of Bill Mousoulis and Chris Luscri’s “Unknown Pleasures” program in the back-room theatrette of Fitzroy’s Long Play bar: Solrun Hoass’ drama of a Japanese war bride adjusting to an alien culture and unhappy marriage in Australia; and Anna Kannava’s low-budget chronicle of a woman’s disappointing holiday in Paris. Neither were necessarily masterpieces, but each were fresh and inventive, and excellent advertisements for a marginalised Australian cinema in urgent need of rediscovery – precisely what Mousoulis and Luscri are working so hard to achieve.

Best DVD releases

Une simple histoire (A Simple Story, Marcel Hanoun, 1959), Re:voir
Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969), Arrow Academy
1984 (Michael Radford, 1984), Criterion Collection

A combination of the dreaded GST import laws and not having any money made this a pretty lean year for DVD purchasing, but I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of Re:voir’s beautiful release of A Simple Story by a Parisian couchsurfer who was staying with us (no quid pro quo; the Senate will acquit). Otherwise, it was great to see Michael Radford’s underrated screen rendition of Orwell’s book – one of the best novel adaptations ever, in my humble opinion – get the Criterion treatment, and Arrow’s new Blu-ray of Model Shop (a film that I coincidentally only discovered for the first time this year) just looks fantastic.

Incidentally, I signed up for a month’s free trial on Netflix purely so I could watch Adam Driver’s rendition of “Being Alive” again, and while I was there I decided to take a look around at the rest of the service’s offerings. Friends, let me say this: if this is the future of film distribution, we’re all well and truly up Ship Creek without roadside assistance. In the meantime, I’m sticking with my DVD collection, and I hope that the cinephile community will continue to support the small-time physical-media distributors – Criterion, Arrow, BFI, Second Run, Re:Voir, Madman and so on – who, long after discs were declared dead, keep on making brilliant cinema available and at least postponing an oligopoly of streaming corporations.

Lee Hill 

Author of A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern and worked on one of two documentaries-in-progress about a certain horror film icon. Showbiz is hell

Top Ten

Transit (Christian Petzold, 2019)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)
(tie) The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019) / Rolling Thunder Revue (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (Nick Broomfield, 2019)
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
Seules les bêtes (Only The Animals, Dominik Moll, 2019)
Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan, 2019)
La Gomera  (The Whisperers, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019)
Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)

Runners-Up: Parajos de verano (Birds of Passage, Ciro Guerra and Christina Gallegro, 2018), Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist (Alexandre O. Philippe), Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019), Une fille facile (An Easy Girl, Rebecca Zlotowski, 2019), Ema (Pablo Larrain, 2019), Can You Ever Forgive Me (Marielle Heller, 2018), El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Vince Gilligan, 2019) , What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (Rob Garver), County Lines (Henry Blake, 2019)

The Far Side of Paradise: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019), Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019), Hannah (Andrea Pallaoro, 2017), Mektoub mon amour (Mektoub My Love: Canto Uno, Abdelitaf Kechiche, 2017), Bacurau (Kieber Mendonca Fihho and Juliano Dornelles, 2019), O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)

Worsts: The Other Lamb (Małgorzata Szumowska, 2019), Rose Plays Julie (Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy, 2019), Greed (Michael Winterbottom, 2019).

Reissues/Restorations: Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999), Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959), Sweet Charity (Bob Fosse, 1969), Apocalypse Now: Final Cut (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979/2019), The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980), Los Olvidados (Luis Bunuel, 1950)

Phil Hobbins-White 

Writer and lecturer in Film and Media, based in Berlin, Germany

When deliberating upon my choices I used a similar criteria to previous lists I have compiled, which is that only films released in my country of residence that particular year are eligible. This has meant that there are a number of films which I look forward to watching in the new year such as Little Women, Bait, Waves and A Hidden Life, to name just a few…

I previously compiled my thoughts on the best films of the year for Senses of Cinema in 2017, and commented on how one of that year’s standout topics for me personally was the increase in the number of films (both in terms of production and distribution) by non-white filmmakers, as well as the growing prevalence of LGBTQ films and filmmakers. It is pleasing, then, that 2020 will also represent some further progress in cinema, as five females (Chloe Zhao, Cate Shortland, Michelle MacLaren, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Cathy Yan) are helming big-budget comic book adaptations, positions which have seemingly been reserved for male filmmakers in the past. Surely it can only be a good thing that cinema – whether mainstream or otherwise – is starting to be a little more diverse and inclusive.

  1. In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018)
  2. Uncut Gems (Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, 2019)
  3. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
  4. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  5. For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, 2019)
  6. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
  7. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  8. Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
  9. La camarista (The Chambermaid, Lila Avilés, 2018)
  10. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)

I absolutely loved Peter Strickland’s stylish, giallo-infused tale of a blood-red dress with malevolent powers which found the pitch-perfect blend of the macabre, nightmares and surrealism, without ever being unknowingly kitsch.

Josh and Benny Safdie are two of the most exciting filmmakers working in cinema today and Uncut Gems serves as a great follow-up to 2017’s Good Time. The film boasts a great performance from Adam Sandler and allows for the Safdie brothers to display the electric and unpredictable filmmaking style that has become their calling-card.

As if reacting to the darkness and interiors of Hereditary, Ari Aster’s Midsommar uses the seemingly-idyllic sun-drenched landscapes of the Swedish summer to explore dread in a thoroughly sinister and unsettling way. Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist stock continues to rise with this truly unique period piece. Featuring outstanding performances from all three leads, Lanthimos does a roaring trade in dry humour and unpredictability as always, but The Favourite is perhaps his most entertaining film so far.

For Sama is both an intimate account of a mother and daughter’s struggle for survival, as well as a resonating chronicle of the horrors of the conflicts in Syria told over a five year period. Waad Al-Kateab unbelievably captures astonishing events of bravery and authenticity in this most engrossing and heart wrenching of documentaries.

Whilst much has been made of the links which exist between creator and subject matter, it is Joanna Hogg’s unassuming camera which enables the audience to digest every scene which is the real highlight of The Souvenir. Once again, Hogg provides her audience with the tools, time and space to dissect her characters’ relationships.

I was very much anticipating Céline Sciamma’s first film since the wonderful Girlhood, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire certainly doesn’t disappoint. Beautiful cinematography, great performances from the two central actors (Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel) along with great production-values all round (especially in the costume department) make this film an absolute visual treat.

Another visually-arresting release in 2019 was Monos, whose unsettling blend of haunting imagery and study of human nature in an unspecified nation makes the film an unforgettable experience which resonates all too clearly in current climate.

The Chambermaid is an understated and observational piece which focuses on the internationally-transferable story of wealth, opportunity and class divide, and is a film which represents a great achievement for debut director Lila Avilés.

The final film in my list is another socio-political allegorical tale, this time addressing social imbalance in South Korea – Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winning Parasite. Like many of Bong’s impressive list of previous features, Parasite challenges expectations and takes the audience on a genre-defying thrill ride.

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

Jytte Holmqvist 

Passionate about movies from all over the world and an avid film festival goer

This year in cinema opened up a debate around issues requiring urgent attention, including the global refugee crisis and identity politics like LGBTI rights. Films worldwide explored these issues and posed important interdisciplinary questions. Film festivals celebrating multiculturalism and diversity served as further effective platforms for globally acknowledged and lesser known filmmakers alike to make their voices heard nationally and internationally.

Some of the films listed below overlap thematically and draw from drama, thriller, and folklore to create narratives that engaged and captivated the audience.

  1. La mala noche (The Longest Night, Gabriela Calvache, 2019)
    A drawn-out commentary on the Ecuadorian sex trade and interconnected mafia-related drug traffic, La mala noche is, according to the director, inspired by real people, and their memories. This tight human drama effectively transports us into a nightmare scenario of sex and power, exploitation, female victimisation, human entrapment and isolation. Screened at international film festivals, Calvache’s debut film about a woman who sells her body in an attempt to help her sick daughter only to herself end up further victimised by the misogynist system stars a credible Noëlle Schönwald in the lead role. Winner of the Best International Feature Award at the New York Latino Film Festival 2019, the film tells a larger cross-national story while delivering a socio-political commentary.
  2. Celle que vous croyez (Who You Think I Am, Safy Nebbou, 2019)
    Classified as a comedy-drama, this cerebral movie, rather, borders on drama/thriller through its many elements of suspense effectively created by scriptwriter, filmmaker and main character Juliette Binoche alike. Binoche shines in this film that challenges our perception of ethics and normality, blurs lines and opens our minds, and that, ultimately, toys with notions of victim and perpetrator and draws a complex picture of a woman who recurs to unorthodox methods in her pursuit of recognition, passion and love.
  3. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
    Chilling, plausible and mentally taxing to watch, The Joker takes its commentary on the human condition to a new level when it turns into a grim reflection of society today; a harsh and ruthless society where those deviating from the norm inevitably fall prey to a system that rejects the underdog – and likewise the rebel who challenges conventions. Disturbing and unnerving, The Joker leaves an impact like few other films this year.
  4. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
    In this stunning cinematic masterpiece ‘fire’ becomes a metaphor for human temptation, attraction, passion and lust as we are presented a story about a forbidden relationship between two women at a time of sexual repression. Set in 18th century France, Sciamma’s film develops against the backdrop of a breathtaking landscape, and resembles, itself, a painting. It is true that “the world looks different through a woman’s eyes”.
  5. Canción sin nombre (Song Without a Name, Melina León 2019)
    A collaboration between the US, Peru and Spain and screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Canción sin nombre is set in 1988.  Shot in black and white and with noirish cinematography, the film covers a child trafficking case in Lima but is ultimately a larger narrative and a stark assessment of Latin America’s lost children; disappeared during totalitarian regimes and used to serve the military apparatus. Cinematographically resembling Cuarón’s Roma, Canción sin nombre is more effective: the characters more engaging and their senseless suffering more realistically painful to watch.
  6. Ut og stjæle hester (Out Stealing Horses, Hans Petter Moland, 2019)
    Slow-moving but with a message, Out Stealing Horses speaks of that which is unspoken and what lies beneath. Set alternatively in Norway and Sweden but shot in Norway and Lithuania, Moland’s fine visual narrative based on Per Petterson’s 2003 bestseller has been called sweeping and elegiac. In this film about complex human relationships and set in a vast, open landscape, the environment often speaks louder than the protagonists and becomes a character in its own right.
  7. Vai (Becs Arahanga, Nicole Whippy, Matasila Freshwater et al., 2019)
    Multi-directorial movie Vai remains faithful to the Pacific tradition of interconnectedness, communication, and intergenerational respect. The multiple island narratives focus on eight women at different stages of their lives. The film celebrates the main elements and, as reflected by its title, pays special tribute to water in all its shapes and forms. Vai essentially reads like a sweeping poem about the importance of a place to call home at a time when slowing down and returning to basics are much needed abilities.
  8. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
    The Spanish maestro has done it again but this time his introspective film is slow and reflective, self-discerning and therapeutically healing presumably not only for the director himself who here explores psychological depths and is unusually candid about his own past, personal anguish and battles, but also for the viewer invited to join him on his many self-explorations. With a cutting-edge cinematography, this film counts as one of the finest in Almodóvar’s extensive oeuvre.
  9. Aspromonte: La terra degli ultimi (Aspromonte: Land of The Forgotten, Mimmo Calopresti, 2019)
    Set in the Calabrian mountains, Calopresti’s film calls into attention a real event in 1951 when remote village Africo was destroyed by a flood. Shifting our attention from the centre to the rural margins, this aesthetically appealing film looks away from Rome and instead steeps its narrative in the spiritual south where the last ones standing remain hopeful until the very end.
  10. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
    Cannes Palme d’or winner Parasite paints a painful portrayal of social injustice. This speedy thriller/black comedy about a down-and-out family at the lower levels of the pecking order who climb the hierarchical structures by deceiving an upper-class family, impresses throughout. Action-packed and witty, gory, bloody and repulsive all at once, Parasite also delivers a sharp commentary on the North Korean regime. In the end class differences are eroded when no one survives unscathed. Once stripped of our dignity, we are all reduced to bare mortals.

Peter Hourigan 

Retired Melbourne teacher and lifelong cinephile

When I look back over 2019, I am aware that the commercial cinema was not as dominant in the best experiences as it used to be. How and where I saw a film or series seemed relevant. There were of course, those films that did make it to a commercial screen in Melbourne.  For me, the best were:

If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
Grâce à Dieu (By the Grace of God, François Ozon, 2019)
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory Pedro Almodovar, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)

Many wonderful films don’t get commercial seasons – and Film Festivals (for me, mainly the Melbourne International Film Festival) are often the only way to see these. This year my major Festival highlights were :

A Family Tour (Ying Liang, 2018)
Napszállta (Sunset, Laszlo Nemes, 2018)
Dylda (Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov, 2019)

One wonderful film only accessible to me via DVD was:

Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2016)

For all its shortcomings, blind spots and controversy about its impact on film making and exhibition, streaming is now one of the most important ways we have of accessing great films. There were also, thank goodness, sometimes ways of seeing films that were even having trouble getting onto regular streaming services. The outstanding films I saw via these various services (a couple may not be absolute great, but I greatly appreciated the chance to see them) were:

Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018)
Seder-Masochism (Nina Paley, 2018)
The King (David Michôd, 2019)
A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen, 2019)
The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh, 2019)
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Kathleen Hepburn & Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, 2019)

Several series were also rewarding enough to be acknowledged here:

Unbelievable (Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman, 2019)
When They See Us? (Ava DuVernay, 2019)
Chernobyl  (Craig Mazin, 2019)

And I am glad my first viewing of the film that straddled Cinema and Streaming, was in a Cinema.

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

Brian Hu 

Artistic Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival, Assistant Professor of Film and Television at San Diego State University
  1. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  2. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  3. Di jiu tian chang (So Long, My Son, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2019)
  4. When They See Us (Ava DuVernay, 2019)
  5. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
  6. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  7. A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmão (Invisible Life, Karim Aïnouz, 2019)
  8. O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
  9. Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, 2019)
  10. Synonymes (Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
  11. Sayonara kuchibiru (Farewell Song, Akihiko Shiota, 2019)
  12. Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
  13. Little Women (Greta Gerwig, 2019)
  14. Aidiyet (Belonging, Burak Çevik, 2019)
  15. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  16. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  17. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn, 2019)
  18. Fin de siglo (End of the Century, Lucio Castro, 2019)
  19. Driveways (Andrew Ahn, 2019)
  20. The Photograph (Ritesh Batra, 2019)

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

Yue Huang 

Director of programming at CineCina Film Festival in New York

Top recommendations

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
Anne at 13,000 ft (Kazik Radwanski, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019)
Fukuoka (Zhang Lu, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, 2019)
Katsuben! (Talking the Pictures, Masayuki Suo, 2019)
Lan xin da ju yuan (Saturday Fiction, Lou Ye, 2019)
Les misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
Synonymes (Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
Talking About Trees (Suhaib Gasmelbari, 2019)
This Is Not a Movie (Yung Chang, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, 2019)

Honorable mentions

Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
Balloon (Pema Tseden, 2019)
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Kathleen Hepburn / Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, 2019)
La cordillère des songes (The Cordillera of Dreams, Patricio Guzmán, 2019)
Dylda (Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
Family Romance, LLC. (Werner Herzog, 2019)
The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019)
Forman vs. Forman (Jakub Hejna & Helena Trestíková, 2019)
Hatsukoi (First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019)
Ich war zuhause, aber (I Was at Home, But, Angela Schanelec, 2019)
Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)
Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
Lhamo and Skalbe (Sonthar Gyal, 2019)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
Midnight Family (Luke Lorentzen, 2019)
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Répertoire des villes disparues (Ghost Town Anthology, Denis Côté, 2019)
Shao nian de ni (Better Days, Derek Tsang, 2019)
State Funeral (Sergei Loznitsa, 2019)
The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, 2019)
The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès, Agnès Varda, 2019)
Wet Season (Anthony Chen, 2019)

From previous year

Kiku to Guillotine Onna Zumô to Anarchism (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, Takahisa Zeze, 2018)
Kim-Gun (Sang-woo Kang, 2018)
Kimi no tori wa utaeru (And Your Bird Can Sing, Shô Miyake, 2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman, 2018)


Apocalypse Now: Final Cut (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
Beau travail (Claire Denis, 1999), 35mm at BAM
Monsieur Klein (Mr. Klein, Joseph Losey, 1976), at Film Forum
Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba, Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964), 4K restoration at Film Forum
Yi he yuan (Summer Palace, Lou Ye, 2006), 35mm at CineCina Film Festival

Christoph Huber 

Curator at the Austrian Film Museum

Fourteen Formidable Fortunes

Chihuo Quan Wang (Chasing Dream, Johnnie To, 2019) & Il traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018) & The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine, 2019)
Polizeiruf 110: Die Lüge, die wir Zukunft nennen (Dominik Graf, 2019) & Die Sieger [Extended] (The Invincibles [Director’s Cut], Dominik Graf, 1994/2019)
Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack & Alan Elliot, 2018) & The Devil and Father Amorth (William Friedkin, 2017)
Puheenvuoro (Taking the Floor, Hannes Vartiainen & Pekka Veikkolainen, 2017) & Avengement (Jesse V. Johnson, 2019)
Bliss (Joe Begos, 2019) & Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley, 2019)
Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (Heimat Is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019) & Harry Smith at the Breslin Hotel (Robert Frank, 2018)
Voyage à travers le cinéma français [series] (Bertrand Tavernier, 2017-18) & Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (Werner Herzog, 2019)
Rambo: Last Blood (Adrian Grünberg, 2019) & The Head Hunter (Jordan Downey, 2018)
3:30 pm (Ludwig Wüst, 2020) & Vox Lux (Brady Corbet, 2018)
I piccoli maghi di Oz (Little Wizards of Oz, Luigi Cozzi, 2018) & Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (David Amito, Michael Laicini, 2018)
Jia he wan shi jing (A Home With a View, Herman Yau, 2019) & So duk 2: Tin dei duei kuet (The White Storm 2: Drug Lords, Herman Yau, 2019)
6 Underground (Michael Bay, 2019) & Domino (Brian De Palma, 2019)
Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019) & Das Meer erzählt nur vom Meer (The Sea Only Talks About the Sea, Manfred Neuwirth, 2019)

The Treasure Trove

Maverick (Leslie H. Martinson, Arthur Lubin, Budd Boetticher, et al., 1957-62)
Journey Among Women (Tom Cowan, 1977) & Money Movers (Bruce Beresford, 1978)
Ataman Kodr (Michail Kalik, Boris Rycarev, Olga Ulickaja, 1958) & Neotpravlennoe pismo v moskvu (Unsent Letter to Moscow, Mikhail Kalik, 1977)
Franz (Jacques Brel, 1971) & Le Far-West (Jacques Brel, 1973)
Skin Game (Paul Bogart, 1972) & They Only Kill Their Masters (James Goldstone, 1972)
Xiang Gang qi an 5: Jian mo (The Criminals V: The Teenager’s Nightmare, Kuei Chih-hung & Mou Tun Fei, 1977) & Spell (Dolce mattatoio) (Alberto Cavallone, 1977)
Inflation (Cy Endfield, 1942) & The Underworld Story (Cy Endfield, 1950)
Igézet (Fascination, Bácskai Lauró István, 1963) & Scrap Happy Daffy (Frank Tashlin, 1943)
The Rockford Files: The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club (James Garner, 1975) & The Rockford Files: A Portrait of Elizabeth (Meta Rosenberg, 1976)
Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants (David Mamet, 1996) & The King’s Breakfast (Wendy Toye, 1963)
I giochi del diavolo: L’uomo della sabbia (Giulio Questi, 1981) & Fat gwong sek tau (Diamond Hill, Cheang Soi, 2000)
The Mad Bomber (Bert I. Gordon, 1973) & Trackdown (Richard T. Heffron, 1976)
La nuit des espions (Double Agents, Robert Hossein, 1959) & Le vampire de Düsseldorf (The Secret Killer, Robert Hossein, 1965)
Bouddi (Arthur & Corinne Cantrill, 1970) & Bondi (Paul Winkler, 1979)
Odyssey: The Ultimate Trip (Gerard Damiano, 1977) & Fantasy (Gerard Damiano, 1979)
Lo spettro (The Ghost, Riccardo Freda, 1963) & Più tardi Claire, più tardi… (Run, Psycho, Run, Brunello Rondi, 1968)
Ninja III: The Domination (Sam Firstenberg, 1984) & Man of Tai Chi (Keanu Reeves, 2013)
Assassins et voleurs (Lovers and Thieves, Sacha Guitry, 1956) & Nessuno è perfetto (Nobody’s Perfect, Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1981)
Life Eternal [Drakula in Wien] (Donald Richie, 1963) & Jerry Lewis Telethon Montage (director unknown, 1980s)
Hangman’s Knot (Roy Huggins, 1952) & Star in the Dust (Charles F. Haas, 1956)
Hok hau fung wan (School on Fire, Ringo Lam, 1988) & Mu lu xiong guang (Victim, Ringo Lam, 1999)
Dream No Evil (John Hayes, 1970) & Grave of the Vampire (John Hayes, 1972)
Alcoa Premiere: Flashing Spikes (John Ford, 1962) & Derrick: Tod des Trompeters (Zbyňek Brynych, 1976)
The Stranger Left No Card (Wendy Toye, 1952) & Tales of the Unexpected: Stranger in Town (Wendy Toye, 1982)
10 to Midnight (J. Lee Thompson, 1983) & Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (J. Lee Thompson, 1989)
Captain Voyeur (John Carpenter, 1969) & Multi-Facial (Vin Diesel, 1995)
Wenus z Ille (Janusz Majewski, 1969) & I giochi del diavolo: La Venere d’Ille (Lamberto Bava & Mario Bava, 1981)
Pigs (Marc Lawrence, 1973) & Criminally Insane (Nick Millard, 1975)
Marie-Octobre (Secret Meeting, Julien Duvivier, 1959) & Le septième juré (The Seventh Juror, Georges Lautner, 1962)
The Americanization of Emily (Arthur Hiller, 1964) & Tobruk (Arthur Hiller, 1967)
So viel nackte Zärtlichkeit (So Much Naked Tenderness, Günter Hendel, 1968) & Les onze mille verges (The 11,000 Sexes, Eric Lipmann, 1975)
Sierra Jim’s Reformation (John B. O’Brien, 1914) & Bound by Honor [Director’s Cut] (Taylor Hackford, 1993)
Les assassins de l’ordre (Law Breakers, Marcel Carné, 1971) & L’ordre (The Order, Jean-Daniel Pollet, 1973)
Night Gallery: Class of ’99 (Jeannot Szwarc, 1971) & The Rockford Files: So Help Me God (Jeannot Szwarc, 1976)
Lån meg din kone (Lend Me Your Wife, Edith Carlmar, 1958) & The Passionate Stranger (Muriel Box, 1956)
Silent Snow, Secret Snow (Gene Kearney, 1966) & Night Gallery: Silent Snow, Secret Snow (Gene Kearney, 1971)
Protokoll einer Revolution (Transcript of a Revolution, Günter Lemmer, 1963) & Telekritik zu: The Song of Ceylon (Harun Farocki. 1975)
The Fugitive: Glass Tightrope (Ida Lupino, 1963) & The Rockford Files: The Hammer of C Block (Jerry London, 1976)
Glastonbury Fayre (Peter Neal, Nicolas Roeg, 1972) & Two Deaths (Nicolas Roeg, 1995)
C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation: Cockroaches (William Friedkin, 2007) & C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation: Mascara (William Friedkin, 2009)
De røde enge (The Red Meadow, Bodil Ipsen, Lau Lauritzen jr., 1945) & Jericho (Henri Calef, 1946)
Midvinterblot (The Sacrifice, Gösta Werner, 1946) & Wolf Lake (Burt Kennedy, 1978-80)
Axe (Frederick R. Friedel, 1974) & Kidnapped Coed (Frederick R. Friedel, 1976)
L’occhio nel labirinto (Eye in the Labyrinth, Mario Caiano, 1972) & Mio caro assassino (My Dear Killer, Tonino Valerii, 1972)
Baby Rosemary (John Hayes, 1976) & Joy of Humiliation (Ron Dorfman, 1977)
Rawhide: The Testing Post (Gerd Oswald, 1965) & Nichols: The One Eyed Mule’s Time Has Come (Gerd Oswald, 1971)
Bluto (Albie Thoms, 1967) & Palm Beach (Albie Thoms, 1980)

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)

Parviz Jahed 

London based film critic and the Editor-in-Chief of Cine-Eye film journal

For fans of the classic cinema this year has been quite spectacular, we had the opportunity to see some wonderful new works  from giants such as Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Tarantino who showed us that their respective brands of cinema are not only alive and entertaining, but also capable of keeping up with the times and tell powerful stories in a way that doesn’t feel pastiche or an imitation of its former self.

We have also had some gems from veteran filmmakers such as Ken Loach, Terrence Malick and Kianoush Ayari whose The Paternal House was released recently just for a short period of time after having been banned since 2012 by the Iranian authorities. And there are less ambitious films from the American independent filmmakers like Noah Baumbach, Ari Aster and Jordan Peele, who have managed to establish themselves more recently with their previous work and have managed to build upon their new found reputation this year.

New on my radar were Hlynur Pálmason, a wonderful purveyor of hauntingly beautiful Nordic cinema, Bi Gan’s dream-like, noir-ish film, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Joanna Hogg (in part due to Scorsese’s involvement) whose excellent narrative and minimalist approach inspired me to look at her previous lower profile films. East Asian masters of cinema like Bong Joon-ho and Jia Zhangke took me, and seemingly many others by surprise, the sensational reaction to their films say much about the world we are living in. Likewise, former comedic director Todd Phillips managed to take similar messaging to the mainstream by Joker and encouraged discussion in a way few blockbuster films have been able to in recent memory.

To bring up Scorsese a third time, there was a lot of controversy as he compared the products being made by the Marvel Cinematic Universe to theme park rides, lacking the qualities required to qualify as cinema. I would love to weigh in on whether there’s validity to this criticism, but honestly, barring the first Iron Man, I’ve struggled to get past the first 20 minutes of any of these films that I tried to watch.

My best films of 2019 in order of preference:

  1. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  2. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong-Joon-Hoo, 2019)
  3. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
  4. Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  5. The White White Day (Hlynur Pálmason, 2019)
  6. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  7. The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2019)
  8. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  9. Di qiu zui hou de ye wang (Long Day’s Journey into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
  10. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
  11. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
  12. Khaneh pedari (The Paternal House, Kianaoush Ayari, 2012)
  13. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
  14. Jiang hu er nü (Ash Is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
  15. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)

Christopher Kearney 

Independent screenwriter, teaches TV Production and English at George M. Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida

Top Ten Films of 2019

  1. The Mustang(Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, 2019)
  2. Gisaengchung(Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  3. Marriage Story(Noah Baumbach, 2019)
  4. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood(Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  5. The Farewell(Lulu Wand, 2019)
  6. Midsommar(Ari Aster, 2019)
  7. The Lighthouse(Robert Eggers, 2019)
  8. JoJo Rabbit(Taika Waititi, 2019)
  9. Waves(Trey Edward Shults, 2019)
  10. The Irishman(Martin Scorsese, 2019)

Honorable Mentions

Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
Peterloo (Mike Leigh, 2019)
The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, 2019)
Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019)

Nelson Kim 

Filmmaker and teacher based in New York City. His feature film Someone Else was released in 2016

In alphabetical order:

Aidiyet (Belonging, Burak Çevik, 2019)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
Huan Tu (A Land Imagined, Yeo Siew Hua, 2018)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, 2018)
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)

Rainer Knepperges 

Filmmaker, Cologne

My 40 discoveries in 2019

  • The Chimp (James Parrott, 1932)Three on a Match (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932)
  • Polly of the Circus (Alfred Santell, 1932)
  • The Edge of the World (Michael Powell, 1937)
  • ‘Pimpernel’ Smith (Leslie Howard, 1941)
  • Driftwood (Allan Dwan, 1947)
  • Le mura di Malapaga (Beyond the Gates, René Clement, 1948)
  • Rachel and the Stranger (Norman Foster, 1948)
  • Samson and Delilah (Cecil B. DeMille, 1949)
  • Filumena Marturano (Eduardo De Filippo, 1951)
  • Tomorrow Is Another Day (Felix E. Feist, 1951)
  • Marito e moglie (Husband and Wife, Eduardo de Filippo, 1952)
  • Don’t Bother To Knock (Roy Ward Baker, 1952)
  • Sudden Fear (David Miller, 1952)
  • The Elephant Will Never Forget (John Krish, 1953)
  • Inferno (Roy Ward Baker, 1953)
  • Patterns (Fielder Cook, 1956)
  • I fidanzati della morte (Tornado on Wheels, Romolo Marcellini, 1957)
  • Dorp aan de rivier (Doctor in the Village, Fons Rademakers, 1958)
  • Canta delle marane (Song of the Marana, Cecilia Mangini, 1961)
  • Übermut im Salzkammergut (Hans Billian, 1963)
  • Where the Woodbine Twineth (Alf Kjellin, 1965)
  • Rouli-roulant (The Devil‘s Toy, Claude Jutra, 1966)
  • The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming (Norman Jewison, 1966)
  • The Owl Service (Peter Plummer, 1969)
  • Robin Redbreast (James MacTaggart, 1970)
  • Mon oncle Antoine (My Uncle Antoine, Claude Jutra, 1971)
  • T.R. Baskin (Herbert Ross, 1971)
  • The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman, 1972)
  • Flöz Dickebank (Johannes Flütsch, 1974)
  • Against The Crowd: Murrain (John Cooper, 1975)
  • The Finishing Line (John Krish, 1977)
  • Il Cilindro (The Cylinder, Eduardo De Filippo, 1978)
  • Leuchtturm des Chaos (Lighthouse of Chaos, Wolf-Eckart Bühler, 1983)
  • Superbia: Der Stolz (Pride, Ulrike Ottinger, 1986)
  • Hinter den Elbbrücken (Peter Goedel, 1988)
  • Blond Blue Eyes (Simone de Vries, 2006)
  • Prater (Ulrike Ottinger, 2007)
  • Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Sophie Huber, 2012)
  • Der über den Herzog herzog (Carsten Knoop & Dorit Kiesewetter, 2012)

My 2019 Top 15

  • Annabelle Comes Home (Gary Dauberman, 2019)
  • Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019)
  • Club Splendida (Caio Amado Soares, 2019)
  • Creed II (Steven Caple Jr., 2018)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
  • The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  • Leaving Neverland (Dan Reed, 2019)
  • Mike Wallace is here (Avi Belkin, 2019)
  • Neue Götter in der Maxvorstadt (Klaus Lemke, 2019)
  • Rolling Thunder Revue (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  • Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019)
  • Der Tag X (Bruno Sukrow, 2019)
  • Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019)
  • Il Traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
  • Wo der Widder stand (Carsten Knoop & Dorit Kiesewetter, 2017)

Jay Kuehner 

Critic, Programmer, Instructor based in Seattle, US

Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2019)
O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
State Funeral (Sergei Loznitsa, 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
Ich war zuhause, aber (I Was at Home, But, Angela Schanelec, 2019)
Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
La Gomera (The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019)
Longa noite (Endless Night, Eloy Enciso, 2019)
Colectiv (Collective, Alexander Nanau, 2019)
The Hottest August (Brett Story, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Erde (Earth, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2019)
Movements of a Nearby Mountain (Sebastian Brameshuber, 2019)
Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, Frank Beauvais, 2019)
Parsi (Eduardo Williams, Mariano Blatt, 2019)
La vida en común (Ezequiel Yanco, 2019)
COLOR-BLIND (Ben Russell, 2019)
Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (Heimat Is a Space in Time, Thomas Heise, 2019)
Krabi, 2562 (Ben Rivers & Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2019)
MS Slavic 7 (Sofia Bohdanowicz & Deragh Campbell, 2019)
L’Île aux oiseaux (Bird Island, Sergio da Costa, Maya Kosa, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie, Ben Safdie, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
A febre (The Fever, Maya Da-Rin, 2019)

Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)

Eugenia Lai 

Cinephile based in New York and Paris

 New Releases/New Titles (Alphabetical order by director)

  • Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, 2018)
  • Familia sumergida (A Family Submerged, María Alche, 2018)
  • Black Mother (Khalik Allah, 2018)
  • Manta Ray (Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, 2018)
  • La camarista (The Chambermaid, Lila Avilés, 2018)
  • Un film dramatique (A Dramatic Film, Eric Baudelaire, 2019)
  • Ray and Liz (Richard Billingham, 2018)
  • The Stone Speakers (Igor Drljača, 2018)
  • Coincoin et les z’inhumains (Coincoin and the Extra Humans, Bruno Dumont, 2018)
  • Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
  • I diari di Angela: Noi due cineasti (Angela’s Diaries, Yervant Gianikian, 2018)
  • Teret (The Load, Ognjen Glavonic, 2018)
  • Tiempo compartido (Time shared, Sebastian Hoffman, 2018)
  • An Elephant Sitting Still (Bo Hu, 2018)
  • Bait (Mark Jenkins, 2019)
  • Genèse (Genesis, Philippe Lesage, 2018)
  • Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
  • Divino Amor (Divine Love, Gabriel Mascaro, 2019)
  • Joy (Sudabeh Mortezai, 2018)
  • Temporada (Long Way Home, André Novais Oliveira, 2018)
  • La omisión (The Omission, Sebastián Schjaer, 2018)
  • Le concours (The Competition, Claire Simone, 2016)
  • Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska & Ljubomir Stefanov, 2019)
  • Once upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  • Alles ist gut (All is good, Eva Trobisch, 2018)
  • Sete anos em Maio (Seven Years in May, Affonso Uchoa, 2018)
  • Sophia Antipolis (Virgil Vernier, 2018)
  • A Rosa Azul de Novalis (The Blue Rose of Novalis, Gustavo Vinagre, 2018)
  • Present.Perfect (Shengze Zhu, 2019)
  • Querencia (Homing, Helvécio Marins Jr., 2019)

Repertoire/Retrospectives/Series/Artists’ films (Alphabetical order by director)

  • La última cena (The Last Supper, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1976)
  • La Via del Petrolio, (The Path of Oil, Bernardo Bertolucci, 1967)
  • Somos apenas corpos (We are barely bodies, Julien Bismuth, 2019)
  • Two Friends (Jane Campion, 1986)
  • Rien que les heures (Nothing but time), Alberto Cavalcanti, 1923
  • Les prisons aussi…, Hélène Chatelain, René Lefort, 1975
  • O necem jiném (Something different), Vera Chytilova, 1963
  • Les Grandes Repetitions: Cecil Taylor ou la découverte du free jazz (The great rehearsals: Cecil Taylor in Paris), Luc Ferrari and Gerard Patris, 1965-66
  • Les Grandes Repetitions: Karlheinz Stockhausen – Momente (The Great Rehearsals: Karlheinz Stockhausen – Moments, Luc Ferrari and Gerard Patris, 1965-66)
  • Gyres 1-3 (Ellie Ga, 2019)
  • La tierra quema, (The land burns, Raymundo Gleyzer, 1964
  • Ceramiqueros de tras la sierra (Pottery Makers, Raymundo Gleyzer, 1965)
  • México, la Revolución Congelada (Mexico, the Frozen Revolution, Raymundo Gleyzer, 1973)
  • Los traidores (The Traitors, Raymundo Gleyzer, 1973)
  • The Book of Water (Marco Antonio Goncalves, 2018)
  • Sayōnara CP (Goodbye CP, Kazuo Hara, 1972)
  • Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (Kazuo Hara, 1974)
  • Dislocation Blues (Sky Hopinka, 2017)
  • Spalovac mrtvol (Cremator, Juraj Herz, 1969)
  • Morgiana (Juraj Herz, 1972)
  • The Dilapidated Dwelling (Patrick Keiler, 2000)
  • Mossafer (The Traveler, Abbas Kiarostami, 1974)
  • Gozaresh  (The Report, Abbas Kiarostami, 1977)
  • Ghazieh-e shekl-e aval, ghazieh-e shekl-e dou wom (Case #1, Case #2, Abbas Kiarostami, 1979)
  • Avaliha (First Graders, Abbas Kiarostami, 1984)
  • Mashgh-e Shab (Homework), Abbas Kiarostami, 1989
  • Nema-ye Nazdik (Close-up), Abbas Kiarostami, 1990
  • Koker Trilogy (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987-1994): Khane-ye doust kodjast? (Where Is the Friend’s House?, 1987), Zendegi va digar hich (And Life Goes On, 1992) Zire darakhatan zeyton (Through the Olive Trees, 1994)
  • Be Tartib ya Bedoun-e Tartib (Orderly or Disorderly, Abbas Kiarostami, 1981)
  • Ta’m e guilass (The Taste of Cherry, Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)
  • Bad ma ra khahad bord (The Wind Will Carry Us, Abbas Kiarostami, 1999)
  • Atelier d’expression (Friedl Kubelka, 2016)
  • Diabolo menthe (Peppermint Soda, Diane Kurys, 1977)
  • Chronopolis (Piotr Kamler, 1982)
  • Pink Lady (California), Sonia Leimer, 2017)
  • Reassemblage (Trinh T. Mihn-Ha, 1982)
  • Il tempo si è fermato (Time Stood Still, Ermanno Olmi, 1959)
  • A Cidade é uma só (Is the City One Only?, Adirley Queirós, 2011)
  • Branco sai, preto fica (White Out, Black In, Adirley Queirós, 2014)
  • Era uma vez Brasília (Once upon a time in Brasilia, Adirley Queirós, 2017)
  • Los que desean (Those who desire, Elena Lopez Riera, 2018)
  • Riot in cell block 11 (Don Siegel, 1954)
  • Beirut Trilogy (Jocelyne Saab, 1976-1982): Beirut, Never Again (1976), Letter from Beirut (1978), Beirut My City (1982)
  • Rio, 40 graus (Rio, 40 degrees, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1955)
  • Azyllo muito louco (A Very Crazy Asylum, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1970)
  • Här har du ditt liv (Here is your life, Jan Troell, 1966)
  • Campaign (Kazuhiro Sôda, 2017)
  • Amazone (Nicole Vedrès, 1952)
  • La vie commence demain (Life Begins Tomorrow, Nicole Vedrès, 1950)
  • Enligt lag (According to Law, Peter Weiss & Hans Nordenström, 1957)
  • Pude ver un puma (Could See a Puma, Eduardo Williams, 2011)
  • Parsi (Eduardo Williams, 2018)

Marc Lauria 

An F.C. (Freelance Cinephile)
  1. State Funeral (Sergei Loznitsa, 2019)
  2. Parasite(Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  3. Bitter Money(Wang Bing, 2016)
  4. An Elephant Sitting Still(Hu Bo, 2018)
  5. The Irishman(Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  6. Heimat is a Space in Time(Thomas Heise, 2019)
  7. The Waldheim Waltz (Ruth Beckermann, 2018)
  8. Synonymes (Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
  9. Collective(Alexander Nanau, 2019)
  10. Sunset (Laszlo Nemes, 2018)

Elaine Lennon 

Film Historian, Author of Chinatowne and Pathways Of Desire: Emotional Architecture In The Films Of Nancy Meyers
  1. Once Upon a Time…  in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019): A Hawksian fairy tale for the ages
  2. Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019): Infinity, and beyond
  3. Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019): Horse power
  4. Destroyer (2018, Karyn Kusama): Femme fatalism
  5. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019): Infectious
  6. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019): Memories are made of this
  7. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019): Allenesque flattery
  8. Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019): Twirl power
  9. Little Women (Greta Gerwig, 2019): Girl power
  10. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019): Infinity, and before

Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, Frank Beauvais, 2019)

Thomas Logoreci 

Filmmaker and writer based in Tirana, Albania

My most transcendent cinematic experiences, in alphabetical order

  1. Dolor y gloria(Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar, 2019)
  2. Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019)
  3. Gospod postoi, imeto i e Petrunja(God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya, Teona Strugar Mitevska, 2019)
  4. La cordillère des songes (The Cordillera of Dreams, Patricio Guzmán, 2019)
  5. Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle(Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream, Frank Beauvais, 2019)
  6. Koko-di Koko-da(Johannes Nyholm, 2019)
  7. Knives Out(Rian Johnson, 2019)
  8. Sans Frapper(That Which Does Not Kill, Alexe Poukine, 2019)
  9. Shpia e Agës(Aga’s House, Lendita Zeqiraj, 2019)
  10. Solo(Artemio Benki, 2019)
  11. The Souvenir(Joanna Hogg, 2019)

And two memorable rep screenings

Walden (Diaries, Notes and Sketches) (Jonas Mekas, 1969). My directing partner, filmmaker Iris Elezi, is also the director of the Albanian national film archive. We are also the founders of Albania’s fledgling cinematheque. This year, we were both in Lausanne, Switzerland to attend the annual FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) meeting. Amid the whirlwind of activity, we found a small paper flyer advertising a 16mm showing of the late Jonas Mekas’ three-hour Walden. We got a map and found the venue, the Contre-Feux Ciné-Club, tucked away behind a concrete apartment building. The screening was packed and introduced enthusiastically by a young curator who told us that we would have to take a break between each reel change. Soup, bread and beer were served while we waited. This ciné-club gave us hope for the continuation of alternative and micro-cinemas the world over. Showing this magnificent experimental epic was the perfect way to honour Jonas Mekas, the avant-garde poet and artist who passed away in 2019 at the age of 96. I sleep better at night knowing that Lausanne’s Contre-Feux Ciné-Club exists.

Filmat e Shkurtër të Vëllezërve Manaki (The Short Films of the Manaki Brothers, Yanaki and Milton Manaki, 1905-1924). Yanaki and Milton Manaki are two brothers who, at the tail end of the Ottoman Empire, brought the first motion picture camera to the turn-of-the-century Balkans. On a cold November night in Tirana, Albania, Iris and myself (along with the cinémathèque of North Macedonia) showed most of the non-fiction silent films shot by these brothers. Commentary was provided by archival expert Arsim Leskovica, who managed to read his notes in one hand while holding a microphone and mobile phone flashlight in the other. Sandwiched between Hollywood blockbusters in a downtown theater in the Albanian capital, the program was attended by only a handful of cinephiles who raptly watched the flickering chronicle of history unfold before their eyes. This may have been the first time the entire body of the Manaki’s restored work played in Albania; a vivid documentary tableau of fez hats, parades, mustaches, folk dances and hangings. In short, the history of the Balkans compressed into eighty compelling minutes.

Tara Lomax 

Cinema studies scholar based in Melbourne

Continuing with the focus of my previous world polls, this list collates a representation of the year’s franchise movies. With this contribution, my objective is to document notable examples of franchise entries. It’s been a big year for Hollywood franchising: Black Panther (2018) was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar; two notable franchise sagas – the “Infinity Saga” (Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU) and the “Skywalker Saga” (Star Wars) – reached climactic conclusions; Avengers: Endgame (2019) broke the all-time box-office record; and New Hollywood darlings Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola chimed in to declare franchise movies “not real cinema”.

These highlights reveal that, like it or not, franchising is now the dominant production logic of contemporary Hollywood. Nonetheless, the notion of cinephilia is rarely associated with franchise blockbusters and franchise-literate audiences are all too often inappropriately disparaged by film critics – this needs to change. With this poll I reflect on what defined the highs and lows of franchise output in 2019 and document my year of appreciating franchise cinema. This list is ordered based on release date.

  1. Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, 2019)
    Captain Marvel is the twenty-first entry in the MCU and perhaps one of the most important stories in the culminating journey to Avengers: Endgame (2019). Set amongst dial-up internet and the Blockbuster Video stores of the 1990s, this is a prequel origin story that explores the nature of memory, identity, and superpowers both within the storyworld and in our own understanding of the MCU thus far.
  2. Shazam (David Sandberg, 2019)
    Based on the character originally known as Captain Marvel (different to the Marvel character above), this year’s Shazam marks the first time this character has returned to the cinema screen since laying claim as the first costumed comic book superhero adaption with The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). Following the promising Aquaman (James Wan, 2018), Shazam reinforces the compelling strategy shift in the DC franchise as it tries to set itself apart from the shared universe strategy of the MCU.
  3. Avengers: Endgame (Joe and Anthony Russo, 2019)
    The movie that finally declared “Avengers Assemble!” with full force. Eleven years and twenty-one movies in the making, Endgame was the blockbuster event of the year; indeed, considering it also surpassed Avatar (2009) as the highest grossing movie of all time, it might be better described as the entertainment event of the decade.
  4. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Michael Dougherty, 2019)
    Officially the third entry in the “MonsterVerse” franchise, following Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014) and Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017), King of the Monsters awakens its source material to introduce more kaiju (ahh, “Titans”) to this rather wacky storyworld which King Kong and Godzilla somehow both inhabit.
  5. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Simon Kinberg, 2019)
    With Disney’s official acquisition of 20th Century Fox in March 2019, and the subsequent return of the X-Men property to Marvel, Dark Phoenix is more of a tragic goodbye to the licensing legacy of Fox’s X-Men than a compelling franchise entry.
  6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (Jon Watts, 2019)
    The epilogue to follow Avengers: Endgame and the true conclusion to the “Infinity Saga”, Far From Home took Spider-Man on a high school field trip to Europe, where the line between superheroism and teen life becomes complicated by fake news and special effects. The second Spider-Man movie to be co-produced through an agreement between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, this entry leaves Spider-Man at a complicated crossroads between the two studios.
  7. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (David Leitch, 2019)
    A spin-off to the successful Fast & Furious franchise, Hobbs & Shaw teams-up Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham for a gloriously silly action movie that doesn’t take itself seriously. While this entry doesn’t do much for the franchise in terms of the interesting plot sequencing of previous instalments, the last time the Fast & Furious franchise went on a silly tangent without its core “family” it gave us Tokyo Drift (Justin Lin, 2006) and the beginning of a fascinating plot structure.
  8. Joker (Todd Philips, 2019)
    Director Todd Philips boasted that Joker is a “real movie disguised as a comic book movie,” as if that somehow means that comic book movies are not “real movies” (whatever that means). This movie sparked a lot of debate about the presentation of its subject matter and the meaningfulness of its cinematic allusions to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1982). But as a comic book franchise movie, I consider Joker reveals the potential for different tonal and stylistic adaptations of comic book characters.
  9. Terminator: Dark Fate (Tim Miller, 2019)
    I fell asleep during this movie. It happened sometime in between time-travelling and someone saying, “I’ll be back” – I also remember Arnie talking about the texture of drapes. I would usually blame my snooze on the lounge seats at the cinema or the late screening time, but honestly this was the weakest movie of the year. Still, I list it here because it’s an important example of a formal failure in the franchise’s logic. If the mythos of the Terminator franchise must indeed be defined by a temporal loop and an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger, then maybe this isn’t the right property to keep developing.
  10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (J.J. Abrams, 2019)
    The final episode in the “Skywalker Saga”, The Rise of Skywalker reflects the difficulty of ending a long-running story while negotiating the passions and conflicts of multiple generations of fans. While The Last Jedi threw the lore out with the lightsabre as it decentralised the Skywalker name, this final instalment in the nine-episode saga buries the Skywalker legacy in sand as it is simultaneously reborn.

Other notable releases: Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Mike Mitchell, 2019), John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019), Men in Black: International (F. Gary Gary, 2019), Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019), Rambo: Last Blood (Adrian Grünberg, 2019).

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