Josh Timmermann 

Writes about movies, music, and other things at JLT/JLT. He lives in Vancouver, BC.
  1. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  2. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  3. Mi hang (Lost Course, Jennifer Li, 2019)
  4. Chun jiang shui nan (Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, Gu Xiaogang, 2019)
  5. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  6. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
  7. Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)
  8. Mary Magdalene (Garth Davis, 2018)
  9. MS Slavic 7 (Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell, 2019)
  10. Atlantics (Mati Diop, 2019)
  11. Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)
  12. The Lodge (Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, 2019)
  13. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
  14. 1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019)
  15. Roubaix, une lumière (Oh Mercy! Arnaud Desplechin, 2019)
  16. One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (Zacharias Kunuk, 2019)
  17. Once upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  18. Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2019)
  19. Le Jeune Ahmed (Young Ahmed, Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2019)
  20. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  21. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  22. Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019)
  23. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
  24. Koko-di Koko-da (Johannes Nyholm, 2019)
  25. The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, 2019)

John Tuttle 

A writer and creative featured in The Playlist, Midwest Film Journal, The Millions, University Bookman, Movie Babble and Cultured Vultures.

2019 in Film: An Ode to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and the Underdogs of Cinema
The following is a list of the ten most admirable or otherwise most intriguing films I viewed from 2019. The listing delves into features and short films which bring to light some of the things closest to my heart such as fantasy and simply good storytelling.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois, 2019)
This movie came out near the beginning of the year and, unfortunately, got left behind while 2019 plodded on bringing other, bigger features which explored giant reptilians such as Godzilla: King of the Monsters. While The Hidden World was perhaps not the greatest installment in Dreamworks’ HTTYD franchise, it nevertheless provided a satisfactory conclusion with some healthy character arcs.

Avengers: Endgame (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, 2019)
Yes, it might be a little overrated as the MCU is all the craze of the entertainment industry these days, but Endgame was the climactic moment the Avengers deserved and which was superior to Infinity War‘s shallow run-through of a host of abandoned characters. While Infinity War followed a handful of Avengers, Endgame felt more dedicated to a wider range of characters.

Tolkien (Dome Karukoski, 2019)
Another picture which fell out of the loop of film discourse was Fox Searchlight’s J.R.R. Tolkien biopic. The subject matter was close to my heart as I’m a true Lord of the Rings nerd. While the film overlooked several key points to the personhood of Tolkien, the story it wove was one of overcoming real-life obstacles, tragic though they may be. Nicholas Hoult, who has appeared in such fantasy epics as Clash of the Titans (2010) and Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), plays the great mastermind of fantasy himself and does a fine job with Tolkien.

Spider-Man: Far from Home (John Watts, 2019)
Another one of this year’s significant MCU instalments, the chief theme running throughout this Spider-Man film was truth. The protagonists sought it; the villain perverted it, leading people into dwelling in fantasy and in fear. It also showcases what perhaps Marvel does best: the action-comedy flick.

The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz, 2019)

The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz, 2019)
A splendid original film sporting the terrific acting talents of Zack Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf, and Dakota Johnson. I’d safely venture to say that one cannot sit down and watch this movie without being moved. The protagonist is a man with Down syndrome and proves himself to be nothing less than authentically human. With a tone of genuine equality and acceptance, Peanut Butter Falcon follows the dreams of this man, a man who seeks to love and to be loved.

Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019)
The DC cinematic franchise has had several worthwhile inclusions this past year, the most outstanding being Shazam! and Joker. Shazam! is actually a Christmas movie, or at least I would classify it as such. The primary plotline as well as all the flashbacks take place over the holidays. The child actors were phenomenal, especially Jack Dylan Grazer. Additionally, the villain was quite dark and depth-filled for this overall lighthearted, juvenile-centered film, which made for an interesting aspect of the story.

Spies in Disguise (Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, 2019)
While it isn’t going to become one of my favorite films of all time in the near future, this animated feature displayed some meaningful character development, an element too much of the mainstream entertainment industry is overlooking of late. Will Smith brings his average humor, and Ben Mendelsohn, stereotyped as he may be, offers another splendid villain. However, the moral theme the movie tackled felt like it was too big for its own breeches.

One Small Step (Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pintillas, 2018)
It is only understandable that the animated short One Small Step reaches the spotlight now. We are living in the age of the Artemis project and of a deep aspiration toward Martian-based existence. Men and women voyage to the Space Station, becoming icons to our youth, the explorers of tomorrow. It is one such dreaming child who finds herself the subject of this short. It is a story of inspiration, loss, and triumph. It certainly deserves the Oscar nomination it received.

Occupant (Peter Cilella, 2019)
Here’s an intriguing indie film for you, an original DUST presentation. I discovered DUST a while back, and being as big a sci-fi geek as I am, I’ve quickly come to enjoy a number of the productions the company has been responsible for. One of my favorite shorts which DUST presented has to be Embers & Dust (2016). It’s marvelous – as is Occupant. Countless indie films came on the scene in 2019 that are worth watching; Occupant was simply one which caught my fancy. It takes the scene of a father investigating sounds in the night, taking the precautionary step to defend his family if need be, and makes it a far more unsettling threat than any earthly intruder might pose.

Battle at Big Rock (Colin Trevorrow, 2019)
From Universal Studios, comes a mini-installment to the Jurassic World canon, directed by Colin Trevorrow, who sat in the director’s chair for other features including the original Jurassic World (2015) and the controversial Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With no Jurassic features coming out last year, Battle at Big Rock was a warmly-welcomed short to follow up Fallen Kingdom. The kids are the chief victims and heroes in this little movie, and overall it works despite the clichés of the franchise which it has inherited.

Donatella Valente 

Film academic and writer on art cinema, experimental moving image work, feminist film theory and the archive.

My favourite films of 2019 are, in no particular order
Lazzaro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Krabi, 2562 (Anocha Suwichakornpong, Ben Rivers, 2019)
Love, Life and Laughter (George Pearson, 1923)
Colette (Wash Westmoreland, 2018)
Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker, 2018)
High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
Ni de lian (Your Face, Tsai Ming-Liang, 2018)
Varda by Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)



Top Five
Dylda (Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
Greetings from Free Forests (Ian Soroka, 2018)
Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott/Sydney Pollack, 2018/1972)
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
Ich war zuhause, aber… (I Was at Home, But, Angela Schanelec, 2019)
The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine, 2019)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Uncut Gems (Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, 2019)
Waiting for the Barbarians (Ciro Guerra, 2019)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
Angelo (Markus Schleinzer, 2018)
Atlantique  (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
Das schönste Land der Welt (The Most Beautiful Country in the World, Želimir Žilnik, 2018)
Dnevnik Diane Budisavljević (The Diary of Diana B., Dana Budisavljević, 2019)
Jeanne (Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2019)
Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
Oroslan (Matjaž Ivanišin, 2019)
Roubaix, une lumière (Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin, 2019)
Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
Synonymes (Nadav Lapid, 2019)
Tommaso (Abel Ferrara, 2019)
Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa. 2019)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Richard Linklater, 2019)
Babyteeth (Shannon Murphy, 2019)
Hatsukoi (First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
Lillian (Andreas Horvath, 2019)
Lux Æterna (Gaspar Noé, 2019)
Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham, 2018)
Santiago, Italia (Nanni Moretti, 2018)
The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2019)
Zgodbe iz kostanjevih gozdov (Stories from the Chestnut Woods, Gregor Božič, 2019)
1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019)
Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Mads Brügger, 2019)
Colectiv (Collective, Alexander Nanau, 2019)
Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019)
Il traditore (The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio, 2019)
It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, 2019)
J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy, Roman Polanski, 2019)
Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)
Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019)
La Gomera (The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019)
Les misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (Nick Broomfield, 2019)
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma)

1917 (Sam Mendes, 2019)

Miha Veingerl 


My favourites (in no particular order)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
Zgodbe iz kostanjevih gozdov (Stories from the Chestnut Woods, Gregor Božič, 2019)
Oroslan (Matjaž Ivanišin, 2019)
Lara (Jan-Ole Gerster, 2019)
Gospod postoi, imeto i’ e Petrunija (God exists, her name is Petrunya, Teona Strugar Mitevska, 2019)
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, 2018)
JoJo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019)

Peter Verstraten 

Assistant Professor Film and Literary Studies, Leiden University

My list is based upon theatrical releases in the Netherlands in 2019, except for numbers 3, 5, 13, 15, 22, 35

1. Diqiu zuihou de yewan (Long Day’s Journey into Night, Gan Bi, 2018)
2. Lazzaro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
3. Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
4. Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, 2018)
5. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
6. Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, 2019)
7. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
8. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
9. Der goldene Handschuh (The Golden Glove, Fatih Akin, 2019)
10. Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Bo Hu, 2018)
11. Napszállta (Sunset, László Nemes, 2018)
12. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
13. Une Colonie (A Colony, Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, 2018)
14. Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019)
15. Hvítur, hvítur dagur (A White, White Day, Hlynur Palmason, 2019)
16. Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
17. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, 2019)
18. Double vies (Non-Fiction, Olivier Assayas, 2018)
19. Donbass (Sergey Loznitsa, 2018)
20. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
21. Bumperkleef (Tailgate, Lodewijk Crijns, 2019)
22. The Lodge (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, 2019)
23. Di jiu tian chang (So Long, My Son, Xiaoshuai Wang, 2019)
24. Le daim (Deerskin, Quentin Dupieux, 2019)
25. L’homme fidèle (A Faithful Man, Louis Garrel, 2018)
26. Take Me Somewhere Nice (Ena Sendijarevic, 2019)
27. In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2019)
28. Un amour impossible (An Impossible Love, Catherine Corsini, 2018)
29. Climax (Gaspar Noé, 2018)
30 God Only Knows (Mijke de Jong, 2019)
31. Jiang hu er nü (Ash is Purest White, Zhangke Jia, 2018)
32. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
33. It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, 2019)
34. Grimm re-edit (Alex van Warmerdam, 2019)
35. Jallikattu (Lijo Jose Pellissery, 2019)
36. Sorry, We Missed You (Ken Loach, 2019)
37. Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler, 2018)
38. Dronningen (Queen of Hearts, May el-Toukhy, 2019)
39. Temblores (Tremors, Jayro Bustamante, 2019)
40. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
41. Zhuang si le yi zhi yang (Jinpa,  Pema Tseden, 2018)
42. Rojo (Benjamín Naishtat, 2018)
43. La chute de l’empire américain (The Fall of the American Empire, Denys Arcand, 2018)
44. De Patrick  (Tim Mielants, 2019)
45. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
46. Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
47. De Libi (Shady El-Hamus, 2019)
48. De Belofte van Pisa (The Promise, Norbert ter Hall, 2019)
49. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
50. Los Versos del Olvido (Oblivion Verses, Alireza Khatami, 2017)

Tom Vincent 

Curator, Perth

Holy shit! Some good things did happen in 2019.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (Nan Goldin, 1985-2013); Tate Modern London, June
Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019); Palace Cinemas Perth, July
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar 2019); Cannes, May and Somerville Perth, November
For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, 2019); Cannes, May and home, September
The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene, 1990); Revelation Perth International Film Festival, July
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019); The Backlot Perth, August
Mid90s (Jonah Hill, 2018); EK421 Perth to Dubai, May
The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019); New Zealand International Film Festival Dunedin, August
Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, 1950); Cannes, May
Once Upon a Time …In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino 2019); Reading Cinemas Perth, August and Palace Cinemas Perth, August
Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019); Cannes, May and Somerville Perth, December
Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham, 2018); New Zealand International Film Festival Wellington, July
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924, with score by Viola Dana); Bassendean Outdoor Community Cinemas Perth, March

The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

Nicholas Vroman 

Writes about film on his blog, A Page of Madness.

Los Pilares (Raúl Vallejo, Javier Cástor Moreno, Lucía Touceda and Claudia Negro, 2018)
The Souvenir (Johanna Hogg, 2019)
Je te tiens  (Sergio Caballero, 2019)
SG̲aawaay Ḵ’uuna (Edge of the Knife, Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown, 2018)
Yara (Abbas Fahdel, 2018)
Lonely Rivers (Mauro Herce, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019
Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Almodóvar, 2019)
The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)

David Walsh 

World Socialist Web site

These are the best films I saw in a theatre or at a film festival this year

Peterloo (Mike Leigh, 2018)
J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy Roman Polanski, 2019)
Gisaengchung (Parasite Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)
Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019)
Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
Ibrahim: A Fate to Define (Lina Al Abed, 2019)
Terminal Sud (South Terminal , Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, 2019)
Jiang hu er nu (Ash Is Purest White Jia Zhang-ke, 2019)
The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh, 2019)
Official Secrets (Gavin Hood, 2019)
Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy, 2019)
The Public (Emilio Estevez, 2018)
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam, 2018)
Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton, 2019)
Kler (Clergy Wojciech Smarzowski, 2018)
Dijiutianchang (So Long, My Son Wang Xiaoshuai, 2019)
Und der Zukunft zugewandt (Sealed Lips Bernd Böhlich, 2018)
Gundermann (Andreas Dresen, 2018)
Dreigroschenfilm (Mack the Knife—Brecht’s Threepenny Film Joachim Lang, 2018)
Gospod postoi, imeto i’ e Petrunija (God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya Teona Strugar Mitevska, 2019)
63 Up (Michael Apted, 2019)
The Current War (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, 2017)
Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)
Dogman (Matteo Garrone, 2018)
Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
Rosie (Paddy Breathnach, 2018)
Isha Ovedet (Working Woman Michal Aviad, 2018)

And the best bodies of work of the decade

Peterloo, 2018—Mike Leigh (Another Year, 2010, Mr. Turner, 2014) (All or Nothing, 2002), (Vera Drake, 2004), (Happy-Go-Lucky, 2008)
J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy), 2019—Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer, 2010) (The Pianist, 2002), (Oliver Twist, 2005)
The Young Karl Marx, 2017—Raoul Peck (Moloch Tropical , 2009), (Murder in Pacot, 2014) (Lumumba, 2000), (Profit & Nothing But! Or Impolite Thoughts on the Class Struggle, 2001)
Ash is Purest White, 2018—Jia Zhang-ke (A Touch of Sin, 2013) (Platform, 2000), (The World, 2004)
Parasite, 2019, Bong Joon–ho (Memories of Murder, 2003)
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, 2013—Danis Tanovic (Cirkus Columbia, 2010), (Tigers, 2014)
A Screaming Man, 2010—Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (A Season in France, 2017) (Daratt, 2006)
A Separation, 2012—Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman, 2016)
Phoenix, 2014—Christian Petzold (Barbara, 2012), (Transit, 2018)
So Long, My Son, 2019—Wang Xiaoshuai (11 Flowers, 2011), (Beijing Bicycle, 2001), (Drifters, 2003), (Shanghai Dreams, 2005)
The Traitor, 2019—Marco Bellocchio (Dormant Beauty, 2012) (Vincere, 2009)
Dark Waters, 2019—Todd Haynes (Mildred Pierce, 2011)
Roman J. Israel, Esq., 2017—Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler, 2014), (Velvet Buzzsaw, 2019)
Isle of Dogs, 2018—Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014), (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001), (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004)
Loving, 2016—Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, 2011)
Lincoln, 2012—Steven Spielberg (The Post, 2017) (Catch Me If You Can, 2002), (Munich, 2005)
The Big Short, 2015—Adam McKay (Vice, 2018)
Win Win, 2011—Tom McCarthy (Spotlight, 2015), (The Station Agent, 2003), (The Visitor, 2007)
Nebraska, 2013—Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, 2002)
Omar, 2013—Hany Abu-Assad (Rana’ s Wedding, 2002), (Paradise Now, 2005)
A World Not Ours, 2012—Mahdi Fleifel Short films (Xenos, 2014), (A Man Returned, 2016), A Drowning Man, 2017)
Timbuktu, 2014—Abderrahmane Sissako (Waiting for Happiness, 2002), (Bamako, 2006)
Iraqi Odyssey, 2014—Samir (Forget Baghdad: Jews and Arabs–The Iraqi Connection, 2002)
99 Homes, 2014—Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, 2005), (Chop Shop , 2007)
Sweet Country, 2017—Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, 2009)
Good Kill, 2014—Andrew Niccol (In Time, 2011)

Rick Warner 

Author of Godard and the Essay Film: A Form That Thinks, Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Best 15 Films Seen in 2019

  1. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  2. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
  3. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, 2019)
  4. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
  5. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
  6. Jiānghú érnǚ (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2019)
  7. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
  8. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)
  9. Atlantique (Atlantics, Mati Diop, 2019)
  10. Dà Xiàng Xídì Érzuò (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2019)
  11. Dolemite is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)
  12. A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019)
  13. Abi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari (To the Ends of the Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019)
  14. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
  15. La Vérité (The Truth, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2019)

Abi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari (To the Ends of the Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019)

Jason Wierzba 

Writer, musician, and film programmer from the Canadian prairie

1. Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
Maupassant & Company.
2. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
Kafka, “In the Penal Colony”: “It’s always questionable to intervene decisively in strange circumstances.”
3. Ich war zuhause, aber (I Was at Home, But, Angela Schanelec, 2019)
I am not quite quoting Spinoza when I assert, enthusiastically, that we do not even yet know of what blocks of durée are capable…
4. La Gomera (The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019).
Though quite obviously, to one extent or another, a matter of pastiche, Porumboiu’s disarmingly brilliant policier, co-produced by Maren Ade and Sylvie Pialat (!), is avowedly modernist, combining elements of Denis’ L’intrus (2004) and the novels of Harry Mathews. J’adore.
5. Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)
Hamaguchi’s Histoire de Marie et Julien, you might say, following up his La bande des quatre.
6. Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018)
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty.
7. Midsommar: Director’s Cut (Ari Aster, 2019)
Florence Pugh, notably unspeakably bad in Lady Mabeth (2016), inhabits to perfection each way station of fate’s insuperable arc. Still, the thing I love most about Midsommar is, oddly, its bratty insincerity.
8. Ang panahon ng halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
Talampunay Blues & The Phantasmal We.
9. Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2019)
The year’s most credible model of an incipient Popular.
10. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar, 2019)
I turned forty this year. I am modelling my middle age after Jane Birkin circa, oh, 1987-1991. Almodóvar has helped to very tenderly consolidate my sense that you age into something like the Platonic ideal of yourself.
11. Tondal’s Vision (Stephen Broomer, 2018)
I saw Broomer’s intoxicating and highly virtuosic détournement of 1911’s L’inferno in November, finding it to dovetail ever so nicely with my February reading of Vilém Flusser’s The History of the Devil.
12. Îmi este indiferent daca în istorie vom intra ca barbari (I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, Radu Jude, 2019)
Another populism, of the purely progressive variety. It’s, er, uh, hurdles.
13. The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine, 2019)
Dropout Boogie. Every enterprising anarcho-syndicalist can tell you: the destructive act is an inherently commercial one.
14. Donbass (Sergey Loznitsa, 2018)
Post-truth meltdown in the form of hellacious Ukrainian portmanteau.
15. Den’ Pobedy (Victory Day, Sergey Loznitsa, 2018)
More supremely grim Loznitsa. The social commons, shot to shit.
16. La vendedora de fósforos (The Little Match Girl, Alejo Moguillansky, 2017)
A couple years back, a gentleman named Mark Limacher turned me on to the extraordinary German composer Helmut Lachenmann, who plays himself in Moguillansky’s fascinating hybrid film. I like especially the part where a young fella asks Lachenmann who his favourite composer is, and Lachenmann says, effectively, well, it’s a secret, please don’t tell anybody, but Ennio Morricone.
17. Synonymes (Synonyms, Nadav Lapid, 2019)
Lapid, assisted by his outrageously gifted regular DP, Shai Goldman, would appear to be telling the story of the time he, as a younger man, stumbled into Michèle Bernstein’s All the Kings Horses. Paris, medieval forest.
18. Shao nian de ni (Better Days, Derek Tsang Kwok-cheung)
Mind-blowing Chinese weepie, the general anomie itself subversive (the State’s fitful obstructions appearing to testifying to this), by a director one day older than myself.
19. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019)
Contrary to the orthodox Hegelians, we probably now have cause to hesitantly conclude that the history of civilization is merely that of successive real estate bubbles.
20. Frankie (Ira Sachs, 2019).
Falling somewhere between Straub-Huillet’s Der Tod des Empedokles (1987) and Malle & Company’s Vanya on 42nd Street (1994), though the screenplay is an original one, I would like to imagine it an elegant little touch that the final film on my list ends with one of the all time great curtain calls.
Addendum: 1) The stupefyingly amazing music video (a genuine masterpiece) for Swedish pop sensation Robyn’s banger “Ever Again,” evidently directed by a person named Colin Solal Cardo, also has a certain Straub-Huillet chic; 2) Not the biggest fan of longform, television or streaming, I will confess to having watched the performance of the musical number “Misbehavin’” from HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones at least twenty times in a single night.

Virginia Wright Wexman 

Professor Emerita, University of Illinois at Chicago, author, Hollywood’s Artists: The Directors Guild of America and the Construction of Authorship (Columbia University Press, March 2020)

Best Recent Releases

  1. Gisaengchung (Parasite Bong Joon Ho, 2019) Bong’s farcical thriller shades into an allegory of class privilege.
  2. The Farewell (Lulu Wang, 2019). Wang’s poignant, comical tale of family ties and loss features a cast of strong women and a masterful use of visual misdirection and overlapping sound.
  3. JoJo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019). A bold examination of childhood innocence and moral awakening.
  4. Di jiu tian chang (So Long, My Son) (Xiaoshuai Wang, 2019). Wang’s subtle, elliptical narrative technique highlights the ways in which the death of a child causes ripples throughout a community
  5. The Laundromat (Stephen Soderbergh, 2019). A witty and inventive reimagining of the Panama Papers scandal.
  6. Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, 2019). Ly’s raw rendering of the complexities of a French immigrant community updates Hugo’s classic tale of poverty and injustice.
  7. In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2019). Strickland’s audacious horror-comedy mash-up satirizes modern consumerism.
  8. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019). A nostalgic portrait of urban displacement and the meaning of home.
  9. Varda par Agnès (Varda by Agnès) (Agnès Varda, 2019). An affecting tribute to the life and work of an exemplary cinematic talent.
  10. The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018). Feminist rage at its most compelling. An ideal          film to commemorate the Trump era.

Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas, 2019)

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)
Antigone (Sophie Deraspe, 2019), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019), Be Natural: The Films of Alice Guy Blaché (Pamela B. Green, 2018), The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester, 2018), Blinded by the Light (Gurinder Chadha, 2019), Bombshell (Jay Roach, 2019), Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019), La Camarista (The Chambermaid) (Lila Aviles, 2018), Capharnaüm (Capernaum) (Nadine Labaki, 2018), Dolemite Is My Name (Ray Brewer, 2019), Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory) (Pedro Almodovar, 2019), The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins, 2018), Harriet (Kasi Lemmons, 2019), Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018), Hustlers (Lorraine Scarafia, 2019), In My Room (Ulrich Köhler, 2018), The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019),  Isha Ovedet (Working Woman) (Michal Aviad, 2018), Knock Down the House (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, 2019), The Mustang (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, 2019), Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019), Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage), (Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra,  2018), Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas, 2019), Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher, 2019), Roll Red Roll (Nancy Schwartzman, 2018), Shindisi (Dito Tsintsadze, 2019), The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019), The Two Popes (Fernando Mireilles, 2019), Vice (Adam McKay, 2018),Ying (Shadow) (Zhang Yimou, 2018)

Best Revival Screenings
In alphabetical order, with Los Angeles-based venue/sponsoring organisation

Babylon (Franco Rosso, 1980) Jamaican musicians lead hardscrabble lives in 1970s London. Neorealism at its most visceral (Downtown Independent Theater)
Bare Knees (Erle C. Kenton, 1928) Snappy dialogue, stand-out performances and an energetic live score by the Famous Players Orchestra. (CineCon)
The Broken Butterfly (Maurice Tourneur, 1919) Elegant staging of a no-holds-barred tearjerker (American Cinematheque)
Cane River (Horace Jenkins, 1982) A long-lost study of class divisions within a Black community in Louisiana. (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
Girls About Town (George Cukor, 1931) Raymond Griffith’s witty script is given standout support by a team of Hollywood pros, highlighted by Lilyan Tashman’s wisecracking gold-digger. Classical Hollywood in top form. (American Cinematheque)
Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) (Francesco Rosi, 1979) A poetic turn on Neorealism. (Laemmle Royal Theater)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wallace Worsley,1923) Organist Clark Wilson brought new life to this silent classic. (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Disney Concert Hall)
The Love Parade Ernst Lubitsch, 1929. This frothy confection was the first pairing of Maurice Chevalier and Jennette McDonald. Not the director’s best, but it boasts a full complement of Lubitsch touches. (Hollywood Heritage)
Mills of the Gods (Roy William Neill, 1934) Hollywood in New Deal mode. (CineCon)
Muriel’s Wedding (P. J. Hogan, 1994) A bold, exuberant landmark of feminist cinema. (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
The Oyster Princess (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919) Peter Vermeersch and the Flat Earth Society added an Absurdist spin to this early Lubitsch comedy. (Cal Arts, RedCat)
The Shamrock Handicap (John Ford, 1926). Ford’s first Irish film showcases his affection for the country of his birth. (CineCon)
The Sin of Nora Moran (Phil Boldstone, 1933). A convoluted and compassionate fallen women tale from the pre-Code era (UCLA Film Archive/Raleigh Studios)
Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba) (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964). See it for the cinematography alone. (Downtown Independent Theater)
Voyna i mir (War and Peace) (Sergey Bondarchuk, 1966) A blockbuster to end all blockbusters. (American Cinematheque)

Best Cinema Event
The weekend of silent Japanese and Hollywood films accompanied by live Benshi performances at the Hammer Museum, sponsored by the UCLA Film Archive.

Biggest Disappointments
The tendency of reviewers to pass over inventive social satires like The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh 2019) and JoJo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, 2019) in favor of “realistic” films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019) and The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019), which feature homosocial bonding and climaxes built around glorified gunplay. We need more women critics.
The new Alamo Drafthouse multiplex in downtown LA. During the feature presentations staff members scurry about the tiny screening rooms to deliver food to your neighbours, who can contemplate their dinners by the lights installed around each seat. Thus is arthouse cinema recreated as TV movie fare.

Neil Young 

Freelance film-critic and programmer based in Vienna.

1. Mitski: A Pearl (Art Camp, Gosset & Moosajee, 2019)
2. The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine, 2019)
3. Ich war zuhause, aber… (I Was At Home, But…, Angela Schanelec, 2019)
4. Wild Berries (Romulus Balazs, Hedda Bednarszky & Marianna Vas, 2018)
5. dogs, moon river and Baudelaire (Marija Kovačina, 2019)
6. Gisaengchung (Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho, 2019)
7. horizōn (Sid Iandovka & Anya Tsyrlina, 2019)
8. Kolektyviniai sodai (Community Gardens, Vytautas Katkus, 2019)
9. Mémorable (Memorable, Bruno Collet, 2019)
10. Deszcz (The Rain, Piotr Milczarek, 2019)

Austé Zdanciuté 

From Vilnius based in Paris. Film lover, independent film curator, cultural producer for cinema and the moving image

1. Liberté (Albert Serra, 2019)
For being the mesmerizing director of today, radical and brave, and every time so different.
2. Longa Noite (Endless Night, Eloy Enciso, 2019)
For saying in such a political and poetic way that we need to move on.
3. Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019)
For helping to feel grief, anger, frustration and power of humanity at once.
4. Un Film Dramatique (A Dramatic Film, Eric Baudelaire, 2019)
Such a beautiful search for answers, singularities and power in making together.
5. 143 rue du désert (143 Sahara Street, Hassen Ferhani, 2019)
A film that caught me in the endless movement and let me stop for a bit to have a peaceful feeling.
6. Jíibie (Laura Huertas Millán, 2019)
For proposing beautiful ways to repair and deconstruct the colonised perspective.
7. O que arde (Fire Will Come, Oliver Laxe, 2019)
I was touched by its sensitivity through the camerawork towards nature, wonderful lyricism, and incredible Benedicta Sanchez.
8. Felix in Wonderland (Marie Losier, 2019)
For a never-tiring laugh and fun and wittiness.
9. Los miembros de la familia (Family Members, Mateo Bendesky, 2019)
Just a cute, fresh and romantic gaze to life. Often so missed.
10. Gustoniai Gustoniuose (Gustoniai in Gustoniai, Darius Žiūra, 2019)
A loving look to contemporary Lithuania, that one could laugh at or be secretly proud about.

I’d also like to mention one film which was a discovery for me this year.
De quelques événements sans signification (About Some Meaningless Events, Mostafa Derkaoui, 1974)
For me this film rounds up pretty well this whole decade, in a light of ongoing efforts and meaningful work by film historians, archivists, museums, etc. As being one of those newly restored and “rediscovered” gems, it reflects brilliantly how important (or maybe meaningless) is to talk about expectations of today’s cinema. And reporting this from the streets of Casablanca.

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