Top 20 films of 2019

 Top 20 films of 2019

I’ve done singles, I’ve done scripted TV shows, and I’ve done albums – so here we are at my final, yes final list of 2k19 (aside from the conclusion to my decade-end singles, of course): my favourite movies. Gosh, don’t you just love this onslaught of ALL MY OPINIONS?! …Anyone?

Here are the “””flicks””” with UK release dates in 2019 that I adored most. (I kinda spaffed The Favourite up the wall a bit early last year – because it came out in London on Boxing Day, y’see).

20. Little

Predictable, formulaic… and thanks to this exceptional cast and some genuinely brilliant gags, also a lot of fun. Perfect viewing for a casual night in. Loved this way more than I expected.

19. Official Secrets

The problem with ‘based on a true story’ things is that sometimes, if the true story is dramatically a bit naff… you’re fucked. That’s not entirely the case with this – in fact I really liked it, and thought Kiera Knightley was fab – but because of its faithfulness to Real Events, be prepared for a very abrupt ending.

18. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

This is a sharp about-turn away from the more boundary-nudging style Rian Johnson introduced in The Last Jedi, which means that – although TROS is a fine ride on its own terms – the sequel trilogy as a whole feels a touch more disjointed than it perhaps could have. But I did think this was a satisfying finale overall: the action set-pieces are brilliant, the one-liners are in no short supply (it’s Anthony Daniels’ best C-3PO outing since the very beginning), and the third act is one hell of an impressive spectacle. Is it a bit daft? Hell yes!!! Did I expect it to be a bit better? You betcha! But I enjoyed myself.

17. Stan and Ollie

A really sweet film, this: Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are excellently cast as Laurel and Hardy, and Nina Arianda is a standout in a supporting role.

16. Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Psyduck should be part of the Best Supporting Actor conversation and that’s all I’ll say on this baffling fever dream of a motion picture.

15. Late Night

I honestly thought this was going to be crap, but I adored it. I watched it on my own on a weekday afternoon and just walked away feeling so buoyed. Mindy Kaling is a treasure, and I’m looking forward to adding this to my regular list of pick-me-up comedies.

14. Always Be My Maybe

You all did The Most over Keanu Reeves’ supporting role, but – thanks to Ali Wong and Randall Park – ABMB is eeeeasily one of the best Netflix originals of this year.

13. Captain Marvel

I thought Carol Danvers’ origin story took a little while to find its feet, but once it got going? WHEW!!!! The final act especially was SO exciting; and Brie Larson did great in the tricky role of a woman who doesn’t have a scooby-doo who she really is.

12. Rocketman

You fuckin’ bet I’m basic enough to give this extra points for having a Richard Madden gay sex scene. And hey, even without that, this is still really good!!

11. Toy Story 4

The “chatter” around this was all about whether or not it’s really NECESSARY after the third movie, and honestly it’s really not – but it’s still a wonderful story, in my opinion. Plus it’s only gently emotional this time around; much easier on the tear-ducts than the all-out devastation of its predecessor.

10. Brittany Runs A Marathon

This, on Amazon Prime, is a right treat – especially for anyone who goes running occasionally but doesn’t think of themselves as “a sporty person”. Lots to relate to.

09. Avengers: Endgame

Best enjoyed if you don’t think about the logic too much, I maintain that the Infinity Saga stuck the landing and went out on a very satisfying high. Can’t say I was a fan of all the story decisions (Black Widow’s ending still feels a bit crap), but as a huge Blockbuster Event it was monumental.

08. Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley’s come a long way since I’d Do Anything!!! She’s fabulous in Wild Rose, a drama about a wannabe singer that is – I’M GONNA SAY IT, DON’T TRY AND STOP ME!!!! – easily better than A Star Is Born.

07. Eighth Grade

I only just saw this last weekend, and crikey – even though my upbringing was (obviously) very different to Kayla’s, I saw FAR! TOO! MUCH! of myself in this film!! I had to keep pausing it so I could take a breather from the discomfort!! What a movie, though: Elsie Fisher is outstanding (all of you who said she should have had more awards noms were 100% correct) and I also thought Josh Hamilton pitched his performance as her dad very well indeed.

06. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

With a career-best performance from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant’s most enjoyable turn since Spice World, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a really hearty, gently funny biopic that I think deserved a tiny bit more recognition than it got.

05. Fighting With My Family

It sticks to a formula to an extent, but the ride is so enjoyable I didn’t really care. Florence Pugh is magic as Norwich-born wrestler Paige; writer/director Stephen Merchant’s heartfelt and family-focussed storytelling making it accessible even to those of us who don’t have a clue about actual wrestling.

04. Marriage Story

It’s a shame that the ~discourse around this has been dominated by that one hysterical scene being shared out of context on social media, because I found Marriage Story to be a really bloody brilliant film. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are great as the two deeply flawed lead characters whom you never really like, but you still kinda root for all the same. Laura Dern and Alan Alda are awards buzz-worthy in supporting roles, and I’d really recommend putting your phone out of touching distance and giving this a go on Netflix.

03. Hustlers

I know it’s become a bit of a bandwagon-jump to say it, but I’m gonna say it anyway: J-LO FOR THE OSCAR!!! Hustlers is a riot; a delicious based-on-a-true-story drama that packs more of a punch than the publicity might have had you believe. Constance Wu, Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart are also brilliantly cast.

02. Booksmart

Another movie that’s been tarnished somewhat by THE DREADED DISCOURSE, Booksmart is – I have to tell you!! – absolutely amazing. Olivia Wilde’s journey from bisexual icon in The OC to genius film director is a TREAT to behold. Her story of two keep-your-head-down high school kids who reach their graduation and realise they forgot to have fun along the way is uproariously funny and full, FULL, of heart and warmth. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are STARS.

01. Knives Out

I had very high expectations for Knives Out, and they were 100% met. Rian Johnson’s film is both a knowing tribute to (and ever-so-gentle send-up of) classic whodunnit stories, and a refreshing addition to the genre in its own right. Daniel Craig’s accent is camp and ridiculous, and Jamie Lee Curtis in a power suit is EVERYTHING – but this is a star-making vehicle for Ana De Armas, and she – and Johnson!! – deserve all the praise they’re getting. I don’t even care if this did have a couple of minor flaws; it was the most fun I had at the cinema all year by a long shot (/blade?).

Shaun Kitchener

Scriptwriter for the theatre and TV (currently Hollyoaks) and freelance entertainment ~reportage.