Tag Archives: Parasite

Top 30 Best Films of 2019

best movies of 2019

2019 has been a fantastic year for film, whether it be from legendary and acclaimed filmmakers or very promising up and comers, there have been a lot of great movies and I’m now here to acknowledge my 30 favourites of last year.

Now to preface this list, I haven’t gotten around to watching every film single movie from 2019, however I think I watched the movies that would likely end up in my top 30 favourites of the year. As of right now, I’ve seen 94 movies from 2019, and I’m satisfied with the movies that I chose to watch.

Also, if I have made a very positive review of a particular movie from 2019 and it’s not here, it didn’t make the cut, whether it was never in that position to begin with or if my opinion on it significantly dropped between then and now.

Honourable Mentions

While I’m not going to go into too much depth with them, there are some movies that missed out on being in the top 30 which I think deserve being mentioned at least.

  • Dolemite is My Name
  • The Farewell
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Light of My Life
  • Luce
  • Official Secrets
  • The Souvenir
  • Us

 

Without further ado, here’s my full list.

30. Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory is an emotional, and intimate movie that has been growing on me the more I’ve thought about it, and I actually want to watch it again sometime in the future. The first half was decent, with the first act in particular being a little too slow for my liking, and I didn’t really know what the movie was really moving towards. However by the time it gets to the second half, it really picked up and comes together, becoming something great. The story is very self reflective and melancholic, it felt really personal and special. The cast are all good but it’s of course Antonio Banderas who shines the most, a truly emotional performance, played absolutely perfectly. Pedro Almodovar also directed this really well, and he’s definitely a filmmaker whose other work I definitely want to check out now. Pain and Glory is well worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already.

My review of Pain and Glory

29. Avengers Endgame

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Avengers: Endgame is one of only two comic book movies which will be making an appearance on this list. Even though I was absolutely loving it when I first saw it, it’s pretty clear now that a lot of my hype played a huge part in my enjoyment. No it’s not a 10/10, no I’m not quite sure I’d still go so far as to say it’s one of the best comic book movies of all time, and yes there’s a bunch of issues that I could list. But even after re-watching it, it’s still quite impressive how well they ended this 11 year-long movie arc, I think they mostly pulled it off. Giving this movie a 3 hour long runtime really helped it quite a lot, particularly for the main characters, and it really does feel like an epic conclusion to this storyline. It does get very fan servicey, but with this essentially being a giant conclusion, it’s expected, so that didn’t bother me too much. Endgame is entertaining, and most of the handling of the characters was good. There are some issues I had with the story for sure, from some plot decisions I wasn’t quite a fan of, and moments that could’ve been handled better. However I just can’t deny that I still think this movie is quite good, flaws and all.

My original review of Avengers: Endgame

28. High Life

High Life is… a very weird movie, it’s still strange even just thinking back on it, and that makes it a very hard movie to recommend. However it does so many things that I just admire, that I can’t help but put it on this list. There’re so many weird and interesting ideas that this movie has, I didn’t fully grasp a lot of what the movie was trying to say, but I was more than willing to be on this bizarre ride. You really felt the runtime with the slow burn pacing throughout, but didn’t take away from my immersion of the movie too much. Claire Denis’s direction is amazing, it’s such a stunning movie, and effectively eerie and full of dread throughout. The cast also all perform well, with Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and more. While I’m not confident that I can say that I loved High Life, there’s a lot of great things in there, and it made me curious to see Denis’s other movies.

My review of High Life

27. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

As this is a Best Films of the year list, I’ll get this out of the way quickly: yes my love for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood have decreased immensely, and to get an idea of how much, it went from my third favourite to my second least favourite film of Quentin Tarantino. Even though I didn’t feel the magic that I experienced when I first saw it though, that doesn’t mean there’s a lot here that isn’t still great. Tarantino’s love for cinema is on display from to start to finish, and he really put everything together well. His direction is excellent, bringing late 60s Hollywood bacl onto the big screen. His writing is strong, the characters memorable, and the dialogue great as usual. The tribute to Sharon Tate was beautiful, and gave her the happy ending in the movies that she sadly didn’t get in real life. Topping that off is a stellar cast, led by two great leads in Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Even though I couldn’t really get into the movie on the second viewing, there’s at least a lot in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that I really admire and worth praising.

My original review of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

26. The Art of Self-Defense

One of the most surprising movies to come from 2019, darkly hilarious, disturbing, and entertaining all at once. The satire and commentary on the likes of toxic and hyper masculinity is for sure ham fisted and over the top, but it works for its intentionally ridiculous style and story. Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are great in their roles, but it’s Alessandro Nivola who steals the whole movie in one of the best supporting performances of the year. Not many people have seen The Art of Self-Defense yet, so definitely get around to it, particularly if you’re a fan of dark comedy.

My review of The Art of Self-Defense

25. Rocketman

After Bohemian Rhapsody, one could be excused for not expecting much from Rocketman as far as music biopics go, but it actually turned out to be the anthesis of the former. It was basically as perfect as an Elton John biopic as you could possibly get. Sidestepping the typical biopic tropes, it’s unconventional, uncensored and unsensitized, and it really was a fantastical musical, with Elton’s music used excellently throughout the film. At the centre of it all is Taron Egerton, who completely embodies Elton John, not just with the singing and performing, but also with the spirit and character of the music icon. Rocketman was visually stunning and entertaining throughout, one of the stand out cinematic experiences I had from the past year.

My review of Rocketman

24. Motherless Brooklyn

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Before watching Motherless Brooklyn, I wasn’t expecting to like it so much despite the talent involved (mostly due to the initial reactions), but I was actually surprised by it. The script may be a bit bloated and messy in parts, and it could get a little side-tracked at points, but on the whole, I was really into this movie. It’s a very solid neo-noir, with an intriguing central mystery that I was invested in throughout. Edward Norton’s direction embraced all the noire elements, and while for some that might be a little overbearing and trying way too hard, it personally got me more into the atmosphere and the overall story. Making the movie even better was the great cast with the likes of Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe and more, all performing excellently in their roles. I’d say that Motherless Brooklyn it’s worth giving a watch whenever you get the chance to see it.

My review of Motherless Brooklyn

23. Dragged Across Concrete

One of the more controversial movies on this list, S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete is a dark and gritty crime drama that I rather admired. The script creates an effectively unpleasant and bleak world, with deliberately flawed and unlikable characters, and while that will turn plenty of people off, I still liked it for that. It was such a well-crafted and put together movie, with a very effective final act to cap it all off. It’s directed excellently, and the lead performers in Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play their roles very well. Dragged Across Concrete does have its issues, it is a little too long, and while I think most of the slow burn works for this film, the pacing at certain points is a little too slow for its own good. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s really good.

My review of Dragged Across Concrete

22. A Hidden Life

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Terrence Malick’s latest film is amongst his best work in his filmography. Although like with many of his other movies, it felt drawn out at points and indeed it’s a very long film, it didn’t take away too much from how incredibly well made it is. It’s an incredibly breathtaking and stunning film, so amazing to watch. However it’s not just great because Malick directed the movie well, that’s to be expected, the story itself was also good. The more straightforward narrative worked, with an emotional backbone that I don’t even remember seeing in Malick’s other movies, not for a while at least. Add on top of that two very great performances in August Diehl and Valerie Pachner, and you have an all around incredible film.

My review of A Hidden Life

21. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Matthew Rhys (Finalized);Tom Hanks (Finalized)

Mister Rogers (Tom Hanks) meets journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) in TriStar Pictures’ A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

What could’ve been just a standard Fred Rogers biopic turned out to be a genuinely heartfelt and touching movie. A story about love and forgiveness that deals with its topics with maturity (much like a Mr Rogers episode), it’s actually quite compelling and can speak to everyone, whether or not you’re familiar with Rogers. Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys deliver on some great performances, with Hanks completely embodying the character and spirit of Fred Rogers and Rhys also giving a believable and emotional lead performance. Marielle Heller also directs it quite well, with some particular creative choices that help this movie stand out as being more than just a run of the mill biopic. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lot more than it initially appears to be, definitely a movie that everyone should see.

My review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

20. Ford v Ferrari

It’s a real credit to James Mangold that he managed to make a movie about racing to be entertaining and endearing to all, even those who weren’t interested in the subject matter. It may at first seem like a conventional sporting biopic, but it managed to have you engaged in the story and characters, and isn’t only just built on the racing scenes, even though those are great too. The cast all work together, with Christian Bale giving particularly fantastic performance. It’s directed by Mangold immensely well, with the racing scenes being particularly tense, gripping and really well filmed. If you haven’t seen Ford v Ferrari because you don’t think you’d be into it, don’t let that stop you from checking it out, give it a chance.

My review of Ford v Ferrari

19. John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick Chapter 3 is at least on the level of its predecessor, a fast paced action flick that’s entertaining from start to finish. The world and lore of the John Wick series is expanded further, and there’s a sense of urgency throughout as Wick is constantly on the run, not giving him or the audience too much time to breathe. The action is as usual filmed fantastically, with multiple exciting and entertaining setups and scenarios. Keanu Reeves as usual shines in the best role of his career, great on an action level as well as a performance level. As far as criticisms go, I guess at times the action can get overwhelming and borderline tiresome at points, however I see that not becoming too much of a problem on repeat viewings. I can’t wait to see the John Wick series progress even further, these three movies are already one of the best action trilogies of all time.

My review of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

18. 1917

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Much has already been said about Sam Mendes’s war movie, and I’d say that it generally deserves a lot of its wide praise. On a technical level it is masterful, the method of shooting the movie to look like it was filmed in one shot paid off and wasn’t used as just a gimmick, it immerses you and puts you through the horrors of war that its main characters are experiencing too. Even though its lacking on a story and characterisation front, George MacKay’s lead performance manages to make up for a lot of that, and the payoff at the end is genuinely fantastic. While time will tell whether the movie will hold up past this year, it’s still a technical achievement on a massive level.

My review of 1917

17. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco unfortunately didn’t get quite the amount of attention that it deserved. It’s a personal, affecting and melancholic story, that’s greatly written and felt very real. While its plot wasn’t driven by anything and it meanders a little, I was invested throughout it’s runtime. The two main performances from Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors were great, some of the most believable on screen friend chemistry I’ve seen in a while in a movie. On top of all that it was directed incredibly (in an amazing debut from Joe Talbot), particularly featuring some of the best cinematography and music in a 2019 film. Definitely watch this whenever you get the chance to, it needs a lot more love and attention.

My review of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

16. Joker

Joker has caused quite the stir upon its release, not only from people believing that it would spark real life violence (it really just made some people dress up as clowns and dance down some stairs), but also from people who really hated on the movie itself. While I don’t love it as much as when I first saw it in cinemas, I still think it’s great. Joker is very different for a comic book movie, a dark and grounded character study that’s reminiscent of movies from the 80s from the likes of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese. It seems like this movie was a bit of an experiment to try something new within this genre, and it seemed to have paid off quite well. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of movies that handle its topics and themes in more depth, however for a comic book movie to go there and actually try to say something, that’s still a step forward for the genre. Writer and director Todd Phillips has done a lot better with this than I thought he would, not that I disliked the couple of movies I’ve seen from him already, but he really impressed here with his work on Joker. It completely sets you in this dark and grimy version of 80s Gotham City, with stunning cinematography and an eerie and excellent score throughout. However at the centre of it all is Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, who’s excellent, thankfully so since this movie relies on him so much. Phoenix really show’s Arthur’s descent into becoming the Joker, and it’s really a performance like you haven’t seen him give before. While I’m not quite sure I’d say that it’s his best performance, at the very least it’s one of his best. One could say that this movie could’ve done without being associated with a comic book character such as Joker, and that’s true, I still like what they did here. While the similarities between this movie and classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy don’t bother me too much, it would’ve been better if it was able to be a little more different. On the whole though, I still think that Joker is a very solid movie.

My review of Joker

15. Dark Waters

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Mark Ruffalo stars as “Robert Bilott” in director Todd Haynes’ DARK WATERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : Mary Cybulski / Focus Features

Dark Waters wasn’t a movie I was expecting much from, but it actually turned out to be pretty great. While it is a pretty familiar and conventional legal drama, it’s nonetheless very good for what it is. Once the lead character is engaged with the lawsuit at the centre of the movie, you’re locked in too, all the way through to the end. This story and topic are very important and relevant, making it worth seeing, but it’s also handled very well as a movie in itself. The acting was also great, with Mark Ruffalo being particularly strong in the lead role. Engaging, important, and well made all round, Dark Waters is definitely worth your time.

My review of Dark Waters

14. Glass

Despite Unbreakable’s now cult following and Split’s generally positive reception, people seem a little divided about Glass. I was one of the few people who loved the movie from when I first saw it, and I still really like it today. Sure it has its typical M. Night Shyamalan-isms, mainly with the writing and especially some of the dialogue where it just feels very unnatural. However, I thought the movie was handled well on the whole, and I was generally fine with the direction it went in with the story. Some people were expecting a much larger scale movie with a big conclusion to this story, but I loved that Shyamalan still kept it as a smaller movie at its core. The performances are all great, from Bruce Willis, Samuel. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, to Anya Taylor-Joy and more. However it is James McAvoy who shined the most, managing to top his performance in Split, he’s truly spectacular. Glass ranks among M. Night Shyamalan’s best films.

My review of Glass

13. Uncut Gems

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The Safdie Brothers have created another effective thriller with Uncut Gems. It’s full of energy from start to finish, and the tension escalates further as the lead character Howard Ratner just keeps making bad decisions, landing him into more threatening situations. On a technical level it’s also great, with the Safdies managing to top their work on Good Time on a directing level. The acting from everyone is really good but it’s of course Adam Sandler who really stands out in a career best performance, as a character that only an actor like him would be able to make him bearable and somewhat likable. I think I’ll have to watch this movie again, and it has a second act that slows its pace down a little too much, but on the whole Uncut Gems is great.

My review of Uncut Gems

12. Honey Boy

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Honey Boy is an incredibly raw and personal film, and really a standout from 2019. Shia LaBeouf’s very vulnerable and therapeutic script just worked perfectly, and it’s an intimate and affecting story. Alma Har’el’s debut immediately shows her as a director to pay attention to, beautifully dreamlike, even in contrast with many of the harrowing scenes. It also features 3 excellent performances in Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, and Shia LaBeouf, with Jupe and LaBeouf’s particularly delivering some of the most emotionally performed scenes from 2019. I do think that it really needed to be a little longer to flesh out certain aspects, especially for the present day storyline, that’s the only thing that I really had a problem with. Outside of that, Honey Boy is fantastically made, heartfelt, and emotional and by the end, cathartic.

My review of Honey Boy

11. Doctor Sleep

A movie based off the sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining doesn’t sound all that great, in fact it sounds like it could be a disaster. But Mike Flanagan and co. have managed to handle this movie significantly well, way better than I thought they would. The recently released 3 hour long director’s cut is even a little better than the theatrical, with some additional scenes fleshing out the movie just a little more. The cast are great, from Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, to Kyleigh Curran who holds her own as Abra Stone. But it’s of course Rebecca Ferguson who steals the movie as Rose the Hat, who’ll no doubt go down as one of the most iconic horror movie villains. While Doctor Sleep is a follow up to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and indeed references it many times (mostly in the last act), it manages to stand on its own. Flanagan adds his own unique voice and style to the story, and has delivered on something truly great. It’s captivating, character driven, and really works at bridging the gap between the book and the movie. I think in some years it’ll be regarded as one of the best movies based on Stephen King’s books.

My review of Doctor Sleep

10. Waves

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Waves turned out to be quite the polarising movie amongst audiences. The two part structure (one part chaotic and intense, and the other much more calm and slower), and aspects of the direction which could be sensory overload at times, were things that you either loved or hated, thankfully I gravitated more to the former. It’s an incredibly emotionally powerful movie, featuring some of the most affecting scenes of the year. The performances were excellent too, with the likes of Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and more delivering on some incredibly acting. Trey Edward Shults’s writing and directing didn’t work for everyone, but I thought that he crafted an impactful, gorgeous and ultimately great film with Waves, and I’m glad to count myself as one of the people who loved it.

My review of Waves

9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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I wasn’t sure what to expect Portrait of a Lady on Fire to be, and it was a beautiful and intimate film so excellently put together. The acting from the two leads Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel were great, their interactions drive the movie and their chemistry was completely believable. Portrait is also one of the best directed movies of 2019, it’s a gorgeous looking movie and handled with such care, perfect on a technical level. It’s a movie I definitely want to revisit in the future, I get the feeling that I haven’t had quite the full experience with that some others had. However, I can tell that it was something really special.

My review of Portrait of a Lady on Fire

8. Marriage Story

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Noah Baumbach’s empathetic movie about divorce has cemented itself firmly as the best movie about the topic. So much of the film’s success is due to its writing, which was fantastic. While the movie at first looks like another typical movie about divorce, there’s some real honesty behind it all. It’s not just an emotional slog and just people arguing for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Instead we are following the main characters as they go through this process of divorce, filled with light hearted moments, sad moments, painful conflict, and a satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion at the end of it all. There are some parts that aren’t so perfect, it very strongly feels like Charlie’s (Adam Driver) film a lot more than Nicole’s (Scarlett Johansson), and I wasn’t emotionally invested in these story and characters as much as I thought I would be, even though I was engaged with what was going on, but even then the complaints aren’t so huge. The cast are all around great but of course the highlights were Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, who give incredibly performances. They felt so believable and natural, some of the best performances of the year for sure. Definitely check out Marriage Story when you can, it is well worth your attention.

My review of Marriage Story

7. Knives Out

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Knives Out proved to be one of the most entertaining and surprising movies of the year. Rian Johnson’s shown once again that he’s one of the most exciting talents working today. While his direction is superb, it’s his script that particularly shines, smart, subversive, hilarious, and with many twists and turns that keep you entertained throughout. There’s also an ensemble all star cast who perform their roles excellently, with Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, and Chris Evans really excelling in particular. This is an original whodunit that we don’t get nowadays (at least not one that’s not based on source material), and I hope we get a resurgence of these types of movies. I’m glad to be hearing that there’s plans for sequels following Craig’s Benoit Blanc, because I’m looking forward to seeing what Johnson does next with this genre.

My review of Knives Out

6. Little Women

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I really wasn’t expecting much from Little Women, but I ended up really loving it. A heartfelt and genuine movie about growing up, Greta Gerwig has crafted a modern version of the classic story for today’s audiences to love. What could’ve just been a stale and by the numbers movie, she gave so much heart, personality, life and energy that makes it delightful to watch from start to finish. While I’m aware that some people are mixed on this aspect, I loved the use of the non-linear structure with two different storylines, and the way it cut between the two was fantastic. The ensemble cast were all great as their characters, with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh particularly standing out. Many people have already started calling this a future classic, and I don’t really disagree with that. I can honestly see myself revisiting this multiple times in the future. The more I think about it, the more I love it.

My review of Little Women

5. Ad Astra

While this movie isn’t really for everyone, certainly a lot slower than most people were expecting, I really loved Ad Astra. Despite being on a such a large scale, it feels incredibly intimate, absolutely a character driven movie throughout. It is indeed a slow movie, but I found myself incredibly wrapped up with the plot over the 2 hour runtime. With themes about masculinity, fathers and sons, and moving on, the story is written and told beautifully by James Gray. His direction is outstanding and presents an immensely stunning and immersive movie, with sequences ranging from absolute beauty and wonder to tense fear and horror. Outside of the direction, this movie is really Brad Pitt’s show, giving one of the best performances of his career, subtle yet beyond emotional and powerful. Haunting and very personal, Ad Astra was truly transcendent, and one of the highlight cinema experiences I’ve had this past year.

My review of Ad Astra

4. The Nightingale

One of the most controversial and divisive movies of the year is also one of my favourites. Jennifer Kent had already impressed me with The Babadook, which I consider one of the best horror movies in recent years, but she is somehow on a whole other level with The Nightingale. Brutal, harrowing, and uncompromising, it is so well put together. Its widely criticised on screen acts of violence are painful to watch, but necessary. Starting off seemingly as a rape revenge movie, this film could’ve easily fallen over to being exploitive or a revenge fantasy. But Kent keeps the focus steady, never glorifying any action taken, while adding the right level of depth and empathy to the story and characters. The acting was fantastic too, with Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganabarr, and Sam Claflin giving some of the best performances of the year. Franciosi is particularly outstanding, and if this movie had any awards attention, she would be deservedly one of the frontrunners for Best Actress (she’s my personal pick for that category anyways). The Nightingale isn’t for everyone, and I can’t blame you if you can’t sit through it, it’s personally not one that I’d watch again. However, I can’t deny how much of a powerful impact it had on me, and has still stuck with me ever since I saw it.

My review of The Nightingale

3. The Lighthouse

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Robert Eggers’s sophomore film is just as fantastic as his debut film The Witch. With a dark atmosphere throughout, it starts off relatively tame, and slowly becomes more unhinged over time, culminating in a effectively unforgettable third act. It’s hard to pin down this movie to being a single genre, it’s original, bizarre, creepy, funny, horrifying, and one of the most memorable movies of the year. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe gives some of the best performances of their careers (career best in Pattinson’s case), both as two people slowly growing insane together. There’s also glimpses of some interesting depth to this movie, that I’m looking forward to exploring upon some rewatches. With his two movies, Eggers has made himself known as one of the most unique and exciting up and coming filmmakers to really pay attention to, and he’s easily becoming one of my favourites.

My review of The Lighthouse

2. Parasite

Bong Joon-ho’s latest has been receiving acclaim from audiences everywhere and for very good reason. A perfect mix of comedy, thriller, and horror elements, Parasite is one of those movies that’s ‘overwhelming well made’. A Hitchcockian thriller about class divide, capitalism, and the like, Bong has written and directed this so incredibly, and it’s got to be one of the best crafted movies I’ve seen all year. I was already loving it for the first half, but the second half cemented it as not only one of my favourite films of the year, but of the decade. The ensemble cast should also receive plenty of praise for their great performances too, each of them played their roles perfectly. Parasite is one of those movies where not only is the movie itself entertaining, but witnessing the excellent filmmaking was also entertainment. Bong is a master of his craft, and has made something special. If you haven’t seen it yet, go into it knowing as little as possible. To talk in further depth about how great it is would be to ruin the surprise for those who haven’t seen it. I can say that Parasite is truly an extraordinary piece of filmmaking.

My review of Parasite

1. The Irishman

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Martin Scorsese is very likely my favourite director, and with the cast, the premise, and this film being over a decade in the making, I couldn’t wait to see what he had in store. Even with extremely high expectations, I was truly blown away by what he’s delivered. While Scorsese has made mob movies before, he’s never made one like this. Gone are the excess, thrills, and luxury, and instead we are seeing this storying from the perspective of a dying man with many regrets that he can’t make right. While it starts off like a typical gangster movie, after the first act it turns into something else entirely. It’s written excellently, ranging from being genuinely entertaining and even funny, to sombre, reflective, and melancholic. Scorsese’s skill as a filmmaker are on full display here, over 5 decades of experience have led up to this movie. Don’t let the runtime scare you, this is likely the most invested you’ll be watching a 3.5 hour long movie. Even the daunting task of de-aging the main actors was pulled off mostly successfully (outside of one particular scene with questionable directing choices). The acting is effective too, from the quiet but powerful and dangerous Joe Pesci, to the explosive and wild yet emotional Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, to then of course Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran the titular character, the latter of whom gives a stoic and subtle, yet greatly heartbreaking performance. The Irishman is one of the best from Martin Scorsese’s career, and it’s potentially his best film yet.

My review of The Irishman

What are your favourite movies of 2019?

Ranking the 2020 Best Picture Nominees

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This shall be the second year that I’ll be ranking the Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Awards. While I’m not as emotionally invested in Awards Season as a bunch of other people are (way too invested I should add), I’m still nonetheless paying attention to what’s going on with it.

Considering the disappointing awards (even just for the nominations) last year, this year’s line-up is a considerable improvement. I actually managed to predict all the Best Picture nominees correctly, aside from assuming that The Two Popes would somehow get in as well. Usually I can predict that the Best Picture winner will be between two particular frontrunners, but this time it’s between four, and I’m not actually sure which one will win. Predictions aside, looking at my least favourite nominees this year compared to last, you can really see the stark difference in quality. It might not necessarily what I’d pick for the nominees, but it’s mostly a line-up I’m okay with.

So along with ranking the Best Picture nominees, what I’ll be doing is that I’ll talk briefly about my thoughts on each movie, then talk about its awards chances.

9. Jojo Rabbit

Considering last year with Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book, having Jojo Rabbit as my worst of the nominees for Best Picture is a considerable step up. Now I really loved Jojo Rabbit when I first saw it, it was hilarious, well written, and all around very entertaining. Thinking about it more, while I still liked the movie, I realised there wasn’t a whole lot to it at its core. The message against Nazis, hate and fascism is forever timeless and one that I fully support. However, beyond that, it doesn’t really have much to say. For a satire, and one by Taika Waititi, I know it could gone a little further than it actually did. At least the movie is set from a child’s perspective, so there’s some excuse for the simplicity of Jojo Rabbit. Nonetheless, I felt it could’ve said a little more. With that said, what it gets right, it does very well. It’s well written and directed by Waititi, it has some entertaining scenes, and even a couple effective emotional scenes. The cast was also great, with Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie (who really was the standout Supporting Actress performance in this movie) being the highlight performers. Overall a solid movie that could’ve been even better.

Jojo Rabbit isn’t winning Best Picture, this much I can say for sure. It may have received some praise and some awards nominations, but I really don’t see it going further than that. It has much better chance at some of the technical categories like Production/Costume Design.

My review of Jojo Rabbit

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I’m aware how potentially controversial it is that this movie is so low on this ranking, and surprising most of all to me considering how much I loved it when I first saw it. Let’s just say that my opinion on it has been decreasing recently, and I had a rew-atch to see how I would feel about it. Even though I have enough things to say about it to make up another review, I’ll condense it for here. There’s nothing I can really pin down as being actually bad, in fact I could still call this a great movie. Quentin Tarantino’s love for cinema and Hollywood is on full display here as he brings its late 60s era onto the big screen. It’s a great looking movie with some stunningly filmed sequences, and Tarantino as usual writes a good script, especially with the dialogue. While not everyone was a fan of how it was handled, I thought the tribute to Sharon Tate and giving her a happy ending was great. It gave the audience a glimpse of who Tate was, instead of just the perception of “Roman Polanski’s wife who was killed by the Manson family”. What I’ll remember most positively most of all with the movie are Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in their roles of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, which ranks some of their best performances. So you’re probably wondering where the ‘however/but’ comes in after all that high praise. Even though most of the decisions make sense and there’s nothing I inherent had an issue with, I just couldn’t get into it this time. Maybe when I first saw it, it was the anticipation and hype, maybe it was some onscreen cinema magic that really grabbed me. Whatever it was, it wasn’t present for my second viewing, and it just didn’t have the same effect on me. Despite how warm the movie, is especially compared to Tarantino’s other movies, I really lacked a connection to the story and characters, which didn’t help when this was a movie not driven by anything and was 2 hours and 40 minutes long. At a point it became tedious to get through to the end, even if it wasn’t unpleasant to watch. To put it simply, it’s a movie that I admire and appreciate more than I actually love.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and it could very well get it. Quentin Tarantino hasn’t had one of his movies win the top awards, it’s a leading contender in some other categories (including Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay) and it’s a movie about Hollywood, so you know it has at least a solid chance. You can probably tell I’m from up above that I’m less than enthused about this idea. While it’s a solid movie and as far as Best Picture winners go it would fit in just fine, it just sounds rather predictable and most of all safe for the Academy to award. I guess I could accept if it won (especially considering last year’s Best Picture winner), but I’d be seeing it more as a career win for Quentin Tarantino more than for the actual movie itself.

My initial review of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

7. Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari surprised me in how great it was. For a movie that’s about racing, it could really appeal to anyone who could relate to having a passion for anything. It wasn’t just a movie about cars (even though it was that), it was a drama that most people could really get into, even if some of the structure and certain moments do feel typical of most sport movie biopics. We are following our underdog main characters in Matt Damon and Christian Bale and root for them as they try to achieve the seemingly impossible. When it came to the racing itself, it was engaging, intense and great to watch, with 95% of it practical making the movie even more enjoyable. On top of that it’s further elevated by a solid cast, with Christian Bale particularly giving yet another outstanding performance, and possibly one of his best. While at its core Ford v Ferrari is another racing biopic, Mangold and co. managed to make it a little more than just that.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised Ford v Ferrari actually got into the nominees despite all the praise, when I predicated that it would get nominated, I just throw that in as a guess. With that said, it’s got the same amount of chances as Jojo Rabbit winning Best Picture, in that it’s not going to win. However, it actually has a shot at winning some of the awards in the technical categories that they’ve been nominated for like Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and the like. I wouldn’t be surprised if it managed to sneak away with one of those awards, but don’t expect it to be walking away with the top prize come Oscar night.

My review of Ford v Ferrari

6. 1917

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Early on, 1917 was quickly written off as ‘just another war movie’, especially after being released a couple years after Christopher Nolan’s World War 2 movie Dunkirk, however it’s a little more than that. A technical achievement, Sam Mendes took on this ambitious task and delivered on some great results. Much has been said about how they made the movie look like it was filmed in one shot and it’s indeed impressive and lives up to all the acclaim. More than a gimmick, it really immerses you in the daunting environments and dire situations that the protagonists are stuck in, never allowing a break at any point. However, 1917 is more than this technique, and I hope people recognise some of the other special choices that were made that make it work so well. I will say that I’m not sure the movie will be quite as impressive once it leaves cinemas, and I don’t know how well it will last. While most of the major cast basically just have notable one scene cameos, the leads with George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman are great, with MacKay particularly shining. What would’ve taken 1917 to the next level is if the handling of the story and characters better. While I’m definitely on board with the protagonists and their goal, I wasn’t as invested in them as I would’ve liked to have been, and so the downtime and characterisation scenes didn’t work quite as well (although MacKay’s performance compensated for at least half of that). With that said, that didn’t stop the movie from having a very effective emotional payoff at the end. Overall, 1917 is an impressive piece of filmmaking from 2019.

1917 is one of the four frontrunners for Best Picture, with the win at the Golden Globes establishing it as a big player. Like Ford v Ferrari, it’s a very technical based movie, and on that side of things it’s very impressive (no idea why it got nominated for Original Screenplay though). While I’ll get to the other two frontrunners later, it seems like this and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be one of the ‘safe’ choices for the award, and as that I wouldn’t be so excited if it did win. Not to say that it’s completely undeserved though, story and characters aside, 1917 is a filmmaking achievement, so I guess I’ll be comfortable enough with it winning even if it’s really not at all my first choice for the award.

My review of 1917

5. Joker

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So, among all the divisiveness surrounding Joker, I’m very much on the side of people who really liked it. It’s generally good throughout and I don’t have many complaints, however the third act is where it all comes together and really becomes great. Joker is very different for a comic book movie, a dark and grounded character study that’s reminiscent of movies from the 80s from the likes of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese. It seems like this movie was an experiment to try something new within this genre, and it seemed to have paid off quite well. Todd Phillips has done a lot better with this than I thought he would, with the movie completely setting you in this dark and grimy version of 80s Gotham City, with stunning cinematography and an eerie and excellent score throughout. However, at the centre of it all is Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, who’s excellent, thankfully so since this movie relies on him so much. While I’m not quite sure I’d say it’s his best performance, at the very least it’s one of his best. One could say that this movie could’ve done without being associated with a comic book character such as Joker, and that’s true, I still like what they did here. While the similarities between this movie and classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy don’t bother me too much, it would’ve been better if it was a little more different. On the whole I still think that Joker is a very solid movie.

It’s no secret that despite all the backlash against this movie, Hollywood clearly loves Joker, with the Academy Awards giving it 11 nominations. It has a good chance at winning some of these, with Best Score having a good chance (alongside Thomas Newman’s score for 1917), and is the frontrunner for Best Actor with Joaquin Phoenix. With that said, they probably aren’t going to give Best Picture to Joker, there are other movies that are way ahead of it, and I haven’t seen it win Best Picture in any other awards shows. One thing for sure though, it would certainly spark quite the divisive reaction if it somehow got it at the end of that night.

My review of Joker

4. Marriage Story

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Noah Baumbach’s bittersweet yet hopefully story of divorce is incredibly well made. Showing the process of divorce as well as its effect on a family, it’s very well put together. Baumbach has directed it all very well but his writing is what’s particularly incredible, reaching a range of different emotions and most importantly feels genuine and human above all else. The cast were all great, with the leading performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson truly tremendous, and some of the best from this past year. I guess my one gripe is that although I was very much engaged in this story, I was slightly disconnected from the characters, despite how intimate and character driven this movie is. I’m also not sure if it’s a movie that’s going to hold up that well on repeat viewings. With all that being said, from my one viewing of Marriage Story, it ranks among the highlights of movies to come from 2019.

Marriage Story is indeed receiving critical acclaim from pretty much everyone, but it doesn’t seem to be winning many Best Picture awards from many award shows. Even if it wins some of its awards like Adapted Screenplay, it’s very unlikely that it’ll win Best Picture. If it does somehow win it however, even though it’s not my personal favourite of the nominees, it’s still a great movie that I’d be satisfied seeing being given the award.

My review of Marriage Story

3. Little Women

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I wouldn’t have thought months ago that Little Women would be one of my favourite movies of the year, but indeed it was quite the surprise. While I’m not familiar with the other adaptations or even the original story, Greta Gerwig seems to have done a great job at making this version of Little Women instantly appealing for today’s audiences, crafting a warm and heartfelt film that certainly has the potential of becoming a beloved classic. Her writing and direction were fantastic, and although not everyone was a fan of the parallel storylines that the film cut between, I thought it worked perfectly for the story (I really wished it got nominated for Best Editing at least). The whole cast were all great, with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh particularly standing out as great performers. The more I think about Little Women, the more I really love it, and I can’t wait to see it again in the future.

Despite the nominations, Little Women doesn’t really have a great chance to win Best Picture. It might be able to win for some of its nominations like Best Costume Design, and possibly Best Adapted Screenplay (competing with The Irishman). However, don’t expect it walking away with Best Picture at the end of the night, not that I’d have a problem if it somehow did.

My review of Little Women

Now these next two are interchangeable. I firmly believe that if either of them win, they’d be firmly the best ‘Best Picture’ winner of the 2010s.

2. Parasite

Parasite is one of the most acclaimed films of the year, and for very good reason. Bong Joon-ho’s latest starts off simple at first but over time becomes something completely different, a Hitchcockian thriller so excellently written and directed, truly made by someone who’s a master at their craft. Even watching it again more recently, I was just enthralled by how well made it is and still holds up, it’s entertaining and hilarious at first and then becomes incredibly dark and tense. The themes of class divide, and the like were also implemented perfectly in the story. The cast were great and deserved a lot more praise than they’d been receiving, it would’ve been nice to see at least one of the actors receive a nomination. Parasite is an extraordinary film, and it’s very satisfying to see it receive the love and praise that it deserves.

Parasite is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and it’s great to see a bunch of support for it. It’s already got Best Foreign Film in the bag, could possibly get Best Original Screenplay (although competing with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Marriage Story), and maybe even some technical awards, so it would seem it has a shot at the big award. There’s just one problem, it’s a foreign language movie. This isn’t the first time a foreign movie has been nominated for Best Picture, but none of them have actually won. Now it’s not impossible for it to break through, with Parasite already being loved by Hollywood, even breaking through to American audiences. However, I can still see the voters being snobby over the fact that they have to read subtitles for it and choosing another film instead. If it does somehow manage to win though, that will be quite an achievement, and could even pave the way for the Academy to recognise even more foreign movies (beyond the foreign movie category) in the future.

My review of Parasite

1. The Irishman

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Martin Scorsese is my favourite director, and with so many excellent movies under his belt, for his latest film The Irishman to be my favourite of his work, that’s saying a lot. While on paper it could’ve been just another mob movie from him, and indeed it starts off like that (albeit a really good one), Scorsese ventures into territory he hasn’t covered before. He’s at the top of his game, telling a melancholic and contemplative story about betrayal, regrets, and growing old, taking place over a lifetime. The ambition of this project is incredibly high and could’ve failed on many aspects, but Scorsese and co. have pulled it off. The whole cast is good, but particularly the trio of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci gave incredible performances, some of the best of their careers (and considering some of their movies, that’s saying a lot). The Irishman is not only one of the best movies of the year, it’s also one of the best movies of the decade, and shall be remembered in the years to come.

The Irishman is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and a while ago I would’ve said it was the definite frontrunner above the others. There are a few things that might stop it however. Some voters won’t like the long runtime or just dismiss it as just another Scorsese mob movie, but most importantly there’s also the fact that it’s a Netflix movie, and of course certain parts of Hollywood really are against Netflix. The question is whether that is going to stop the Academy voters from voting for a Martin Scorsese film. The biggest indication that it might not win however is the fact that the Irishman himself, Robert De Niro, wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor. The fact that the most important person of the movie, the titular character who the story entirely surrounded, wasn’t seen by voters to be important enough to be nominated, might also mean that they might not find the movie itself worth voting for. Not to say that it can’t pull it off, in other awards circles it has been winning quite a bit, but there’s even a bit of an uphill battle that they’re fighting here, despite being a frontrunner.

My review of The Irishman

What’s your ranking of the Best Picture Nominees, and what do you think of the nominees?

Parasite (2019) Review

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Song Kang-ho as Kim Ki-taek
Jang Hye-jin as Kim Chung-sook
Choi Woo-shik as Kim Ki-woo
Park So-dam as Kim Ki-jung
Lee Sun-kyun as Mr. Park
Cho Yeo-jeong as Choi Yeon-kyo
Director: Bong Joon-ho

Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

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So I’ve heard much about this movie for a while now, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding it. This movie won the Palme d’Or, the highest award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the director is Bong Joon-ho, who made Snowpiercer and Okja (and apparently plenty of acclaimed movies that I have yet to see). Not to mention all the overwhelming praise that it’s been receiving from those who’ve seen it. It’s very rare for some movies to be declared as outright masterpieces immediately after seeing them, and it’s even rarer for them to actually live up to all the immense acclaim, but Parasite did just that.

Thankfully unlike some other recent movies released this year, people have chosen the much more respectable choice to not spoil anything from Parasite’s plot. I’ve not watched the trailer to the movie myself, but even if it doesn’t give anything away, I’m willing to bet the experience is still much better if you go in not having watched any footage beforehand. It’s actually pretty hard to review this movie, there are so many parts I’m choosing to not talk about that aren’t necessarily spoilers, but they’re even better when you don’t know that they are coming. So if I’m being vague, it’s for a very good reason. The writing is absolutely fantastic, for sure one of the best scripts of the year. Thematically, the movie is mostly about class as you could probably tell from the brief plot synopsises, and I liked how they explored that (again no spoilers). You’d actually be surprised to learn that much of the movie is a full on comedy, and I found so much of it gleefully hilarious as our protagonists somehow manage to succeed at their goal surprisingly easily. I had heard beforehand that it had some dark comedy, but I didn’t expect the amount there was (and if you know me, you know that I love me some great dark comedy). However at a certain point there’s a dramatic switch, and the movie turns into an all out thriller at the turn of a dime, and it does so very well. It’s gripping all the way to the very end. There are so many things set up earlier in the movie that come into play later on. It seems so well put together that I can see myself revisting Parasite sometime in the future. The movie is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, and I enjoyed every second of it.

The cast are all good, with the protagonists the Kim family being played by Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam, and the rich family (the Park family) played by Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Jung Ji-so and Jung Hyun-joon. Everyone was great in their roles but personally my favourite was Song Kang-ho as the father of the Kim family, he’s been good in the few things I’ve seen him in and he’s stellar here.

This is the third film I’ve seen from Bong Joon-ho, and I’ve really got to see his other movies because from what I’ve seen from him, he’s already shown himself to be a masterful filmmaker. It’s such a great looking movie, it’s shot pretty much perfectly and it really establishes you in their environments, whether it’s the Kim family’s basement home, or the wealthy Park family’s glamorise house. Also during the moments of tension, it’s fantastically directed.

Even if you’ve never heard of this movie before, I implore you to watch Parasite as soon as you can, and knowing as little as possible going into it. The acting by everyone is really great, and Bong Joon-ho’s writing and direction is nothing short of phenomenal. It’s hilarious and entertaining, gripping and shocking, and just was one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had watching a movie this year. I honestly can’t believe that it’s as great as it is, and I wasn’t even lowering my expectations necessarily. There are some upcoming movies that could potentially take its place, but for the time being, Parasite is firmly my favourite movie of the year.