2019 was an amazing year for film, delivering some of the decade’s best movies.
It is certainly a step up from 2018, where I only gave one film a five star rating, that being Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
As for 2019 itself, I gave eight films that came out then five stars, making it a much more successful year.
The only downside to how many amazing films there were is that not all of them could make the list.
Dr Sleep, John Wick Chapter 3: Parrabellum, Weathering With You, Toy Story 4, and many more almost made the list but, at the end of the day, I had to narrow it down to 10.
And, here they are.
Taron Edgerton should have got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Elton John in Rocketman.
He just absolutely transforms into the singer, lifting the film up to a higher standard.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the biopic follows the life of the singer from his highest highs to his lowest lows with a new spin on the genre.
This spin being that the whole film plays out like one big fantasy with musical numbers and theatrical moments that make it seem like we are watching a play rather than a film, and I obviously mean that as praise.
As well as Edgerton, the rest of the cast is great, especially Richard Madden in his sleazy portrayal of John Reid.
The musical numbers are also really good, helped greatly by Edgerton’s singing that provides a new take to the old Elton John songs that will get you singing along with the film.
All in all, Rocketman is a stellar biopic that provides a new take on the genre, separating it from the standard ones like the previous year’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
9. Uncut Gems.
Uncut Gems was the last film from 2019 I watched before I started making the list.
I knew with all the praise it was getting that I had to watch it before I did it.
Another thing that peaked my interest was the Oscar buzz Adam Sandler was getting because he is generally the last person you would expect to get nominated for one.
However, after watching the movie, I can clearly say that, like Edgerton, Sandler also got snubbed.
Directed by the Safdie brothers, Uncut Gems tells the story of Sandler’s Howard Ratner, a jeweler and gambler, whose life spirals out of control when he buys a rare opal.
Howard is an engaging character in every sense of the word as I routed for him and simultaneously wanted to strangle him because of his decision making.
Only Sandler could make this unlikable character so likeable.
The film feels like an adrenaline rush and the realism of certain scenes grounds the story, making the intensity of the film stand out all the more.
Uncut Gems is a movie that makes you feel the same rush as its main character, putting you in his oh, so questionable decision making shoes.
8. Marriage Story.
Directed by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story is the first film on this list that I gave five stars to.
The movie details the divorce of its two lead characters, Charlie, played by Adam Driver, and Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson, and how this affects their young son.
Both Driver and Johansson are phenomenal in this film, playing equally flawed people, which makes you unsure of whose side you want to take as the movie goes on.
Adam Driver is the standout though, especially during a scene where he sings while out with some friends,
Along with him and Johansson, Laura Dern is another standout in the cast who deserved her win for Best Supporting Actress as the lawyer who inevitably makes things worse.
Another thing I can praise Marriage Story for is its cinematography and editing, which create some truly standout moments, along with the acting.
Baumbach crafted a fantastic film with Marriage Story that, even if you have never been divorced or been in a situation involving a divorce (which I haven’t), you can still relate to the story and characters.
7. Knives Out.
I will never look at a donut the same way again after watching Rian Johnson’s Knives Out.
In all seriousness, while I do think I made a mistake in including Johnson’s highly flawed, yet still enjoyable, Star Wars: The Last Jedi on my Top 10 Films of 2017 list, I do not think I am making the same mistake here.
Knives Out is a fantastic throwback to the detective murder mysteries of old, with Daniel Craig being wittingly over the top as the eccentric Benoit Blanc.
Equally as good is Ana de Armas, whose character is surprisingly more of a main character than Blanc.
Then there is Chris Evans who goes against type playing a snobby rich boy, a role that he is clearly enjoying.
The rest of the cast is also stellar but that is not surprising considering the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and many more are involved.
The cinematography and symbolism are great as well, with the final shot of the film being so purposefully on the nose that me and the audience I was watching the film with laughed.
Knives Out is a great, new take on the detective, murder mystery genre and, with a sequel announced, I cannot wait to see more adventures for Benoit Blanc.
6. Avengers: Endgame.
“And I… am… Iron Man.”
Directed by the Russo Brother’s, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame may not be as well cinematically crafted as Knives Out or Marriage Story but, in terms of enjoyment factor, it is a film I will be returning to for years.
This is despite the film’s three hour runtime, which it more than earns, unlike other movies that came out in 2019 (cough, cough, The Irishman, cough, cough).
Following the devastating event of Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War, the Avengers must come together once more in a desperate bid to undo the damage and put an end to Josh Brolin’s mad Titan once and for all.
The massive ensemble cast do a great job here, especially Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who are most likely playing their characters for the last time with them getting amazing send offs.
The CGI is phenomenal, making the cataclysm of the third act’s final battle all the more thrilling.
What’s more, the film is also incredibly emotional, resulting in me tearing up more than once.
Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe does not end with this, I can still say that Avengers: Endgame was the emotional end to a story that had been going on for more than ten years.
5. Jojo Rabbit.
Taika Waititi had to walk on a thin tightrope when making Jojo Rabbit.
This satire that declares war on hatred could have so easily become a film that was in bad taste what with its story but it didn’t.
In his first movie role, Roman Griffin Davis stars as Jojo Betzler, a boy living in World War Two Germany who is infatuated with Adolf Hitler to the point that the dictator is his imaginary friend, played by Waititi himself.
But, when Jojo discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johannsson) is harboring a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), everything he thought about the Third Reich begins to change.
Jojo Rabbit is easily my favourite Taika Waititi film because it perfectly blurs the lines between being a drama and a comedy.
I was laughing one moment at the absurdity of the Nazis and horrified by their actions the next.
This culminates in probably the most shocking film scene of the year that had my jaw on the floor for a solid minute.
All of the cast do an amazing job and the slow switch from Jojo’s childlike perception of the Nazis to how horrible they were in real life is perfectly illustrated through the change in Waititi’s performance.
Funny, tragic, and heartwarming, Jojo Rabbit is a great film that only Taika Waitit could have pulled off.
4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Quentin Tarintino is one of the greatest directors of all time and he created another hit with his film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star as has-been actor Rick Dalton and his stuntman Clint Booth who live through the daily struggle of 1960s Hollywood.
Both actors are amazing in their roles, as is the rest of the cast in a film that shows a lot of love and respect for the film industry of this time.
Some of my favourite scenes are the ones where Rick is acting in a Western TV Show and when Sharon Tate (Margo Robbie) goes to watch one of her own movies.
However, while our main characters thrive or struggle in the Hollywood landscape, the Manson family looms as a deadly shadow, ready to strike.
This results in a dark, yet unexpectedly hilarious, final act that had me and the rest of the theater laughing out loud, which definitely made me question if we were all really messed up for a moment.
It was the perfect ending for the film, with a bittersweet final scene paying more respect to Sharon Tate’s memory that the awful and morally bankrupt The Haunting of Sharon Tate ever could.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the Hollywood of old and, as someone who loves movies, I can say it is one of my favourites of his.
Joker is one of the most talked about movies of 2019 but not for the reasons it should be.
The Todd Phillips directed film was bashed by many journalists who were saying the film would motivate people to commit horrible crimes.
You know what ended up happening?
Because Joker was never about motivating violence against the rich, which its main character unintentionally achieves through his criminal actions.
Instead, the film is about the dangers of not taking mental illness seriously and discusses class differences, especially in relation to poverty.
These messages just happen to be in a comic book film about an insane clown who murders people.
Joaquin Phoenix plays that clown, Arthur Fleck, as life kicks him down again and again, with every opportunity for help turning away from him before he finally snaps.
Phoenix is incredible in the film, being more than deserving of his Oscar win.
Likewise, Hildur Guðnadóttir also deserved her Oscar, with her score being the best of the year and a character in its own right.
Then there is the cinematography, which is perfectly handled, as can be seen by how Arthur is framed whenever he is on stairs.
All of this combines to create a deeply uncomfortable film with a great message at its dark, dead heart.
Go watch it, and don’t believe what the journalists said.
I wish I had watched Parasite before it won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Being a fan on Bong Joon-ho’s films, I am kind of ashamed it took me so long to watch it.
But, when I finally did, boy, did it live up to the hype.
Although it is not my favourite film of the year, I can say with no doubt that Parasite definitely deserved Best Picture, along with all of the other awards it won.
All of the cast do a great job with Song Kang-ho being especially fantastic as the father of a poor family who scams their way into a wealthy family’s employment.
Bong has crafted a masterful film that starts off as a comedy drama, until a certain event happens that switches the story into high gear right up until its depressing end.
And what an ending it is, as it felt like I had been punched in the gut upon seeing it.
Before this ending though, there are many standout scenes, from a comical montage involving a scheme Song’s character Kim Ki-taek plays, to the turning point about half way through the movie.
Like Joker, Parasite does an incredible job of bring across its message about class with the film not just being accessible to a South Korean audience but a worldwide one as well.
I would say that Parasite is my second favourite Bong Joon-ho film, coming behind Memories of Murder, making it a masterpiece in its own right.
Hopefully, its Oscar wins will make the Academy consider more non-English speaking films going forward.
It took a couple days for me to decide what was my favourite film of 2019, with me constantly switching between Joker, Parasite and 1917.
The Sam Mendes film eventually won out though because of its excellent story, cinematography, acting, special effects and score, all of which combined to create my favourite movie of the year.
1917 follows two soldiers in World War One, Lance Corporals William Schofield (George MaKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are tasked with delivering a message to call off an oncoming attack that will result in the deaths of 1,600 men.
The film is gloriously shot, with it all being made to look like one tracking shot.
If Roger Deakins hadn’t won for Best Cinematography then the world would certainly have gone mad.
This film style lead to many adrenaline rush fueled scenes that had me gripping the arm rests of my movie seat as if my life depended on it.
The rush through the seemingly abandoned German trenches, the scene in the destroyed town, and the final mad dash are scenes that I will remember for years to come.
I jumped, I cringed, and I very nearly cried by the end.
1917 made me feel all kinds of emotions and reminded me why films about this awful time of war need to be made.
I would go as far to say that 1917 is not just my favourite film of 2019 but also up there with Saving Private Ryan as one of the best war films of all time.
Be sure to watch this film in theaters for one hell of a great experience.