We’re halfway through 2019 and we’ve had some great films so far. So I thought it would be a good time to look back over the 54 films I’ve watched so far and pick 10 of my favourites. This list will be going off UK release dates, so there will be some films that US viewers will have seen previously. As always, this list is just my personal favourites, and I would love to hear what films you’ve loved so far this year in the comments. Oh and there will be SPOILERS for the films listed, you’ve been warned.
10) Us – Jordan Peele’s Get Out was an incredible breakthrough directorial debut, and following that up with Us helped cement him as one of the most brilliant and original voices to have emerged in film making over the past few years, particularly in the horror genre. A twisted doppelgänger horror, every single actor in Us has to take on a dual role as their main character and a tethered version. Much like Get Out this is a film that will stick in your brain long after you’ve left the cinema due to Peele’s script, but he really gets to show off his directorial flair in Us, especially with the final fight. Oh and hopefully Lupita Nyong’o doesn’t get completely left out of the Oscar talk this year, because her performances as Adelaide and Red are incredible.
9) The Favourite – Released on New Year’s Day in the UK The Favourite laid down an incredibly strong early marker for 2019. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos it brings his unique filmmaking style to an 18th Century story of politics and intrigue in the court of Queen Anne. Led by three phenomenal female performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone as the aforementioned Queen and two of her closest confidants it is no surprise that The Favourite performed incredibly well at awards time. The script from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara is hilarious and riveting, and brought to life brilliantly by Lanthimos and the actors.
8) Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade is a genuinely remarkable film, and one I absolutely love, but would struggle to watch again. Starring Elsie Fisher, in her breakthrough performance, as Kayla, an eighth grade student who suffers from anxiety, this is one of the most authentic and relatable portrayals of anxiety I have ever seen on the big screen. As someone who suffers from social anxiety it was incredible to see that brought to life in such a realistic way. But Eighth Grade also manages to tell a lovely, heartwarming, story and bring all of the comedy and humour you would expect from Bo Burnham. I think this is one of the best films that I’ve seen in a long time, but it will be hard for me to revisit because it hits a little too close to home.
7) Wild Rose – A brilliant country musical drama from Tom Harper about a recently paroled woman and aspiring country musician, Rose-Lynn, from Glasgow whose dreams come into conflict with her responsibilities as a young mother of two. Nicole Taylor’s screenplay in the end is a bit of a love letter to Glasgow as Rose-Lynn, who firmly insists that she needs to go to the states to achieve everything she wants, finally comes to realise that it is her home that defines who she is and her musical voice. The film would absolutely not work if it wasn’t for the incredible performance by Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn, both dramatically and musically, and the brilliant dynamic between her and Julie Walters, who plays Rose-Lynn’s mother. Buckley brings the film to life and makes this beautiful cinematic experience.
6) How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World – The How To Train Your Dragon trilogy deserve to be heralded as one of the greatest trilogies in modern film making as Dean DeBlois wraps up Hiccup and Toothless’ stories beautifully. This was a film about being able to let go of someone else for their sake, even though it hurts to do so, and so even though it doesn’t go for big and epic, that really gives The Hidden World a big emotional punch that had me sobbing. On top of that, visually, How To Train Your Dragon 3 is on another level. The sequences of Toothless and the Light Fury flying are magical, especially when set to John Powell’s score.
5) If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins followed up his debut Best Picture winning film Moonlight with an adaptation of James Baldwin’s book of the same name about a young pregnant woman seeking to prove the innocence of the father of her unborn child who has been wrongfully charged. Jenkin’s screenplay fantastic, and his direction absolutely stunning. The cinematography from James Laxton is sumptuous and Nicholas Britell’s score deserved so much more love during award season. That before even mentioning the performances. The leads are fantastic, but it is supporting roles from Regina King and Brian Tyree Henry that really steal the show. This was yet another incredible film from Jenkins, and whatever he does next will be incredibly exciting.
4) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – The John Wick franchise is a brilliant example of world building and how to direct action, both aspects that were built even further upon in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Whilst the title isn’t great, the film was everything we’ve come to expect from a John Wick film, as director Chad Stahelski brought his signature flair for brilliant action sequences and series creator Derek Kolstad dives even further into the world of Assassins. Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane are on absolutely top form, and the new additions to this installment bring another rich tapestry of characters to the franchise.
3) Toy Story 4 – I think after Toy Story 3 there wasn’t anyone clamouring for another film in the franchise and many, myself included, were sceptical at the idea of a fourth. Thankfully there was no need to worry at all, as Pixar delivered another typically moving, funny, and beautiful film for the Toy Story franchise. This is truly the perfect ending for Woody in this franchise, as he realises that since leaving Andy he is no longer needed as the ‘favourite toy’ but instead can exist alongside Bo Peep as a lost toy, because Bonnie has Forky and the other to look after and comfort her. That goodbye is a beautiful and moving moment, that understandably had me in tears.
2) Booksmart – Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart is an incredible coming of age high school comedy, one that I hope people will come to view as highly as past classics such as Clueless or Mean Girls. Following Molly and Amy’s attempts to prove that they can party as well as just being smart, Wilde manages to create a truly hysterical film focused on one of the most authentic and rich friendships we’ve seen in recent films. The growth both characters go through is fantastic, with Molly learning to become less controlling, and Amy stepping out of her shell more. Supported by a brilliant cast of young talented actors, who are all great, this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen since the original Anchorman.
1) Avengers: Endgame – Endgame honestly wasn’t just a film, it was an event. This was the culmination of 11 years of storytelling, and thankfully it was everything I could have hoped for. The film may be 3 hours long, but it absolutely flies by with its brilliant character driven story telling culminating in one of the most epic battle sequences in film history. Endgame does a brilliant job of bringing the storylines of several key characters to a close, particularly Tony Stark. His journey from the original MCU film, Iron Man, comes full circle as he selflessly sacrifices himself to save everyone else. Throw in powerful storylines for Thor, focusing on depression, and Hawkeye and Black Widow, focusing on redemption, and this is easily one of the MCU’s crowning achievement, and possibly the greatest cinematic experience of my life.