2019 was another great year for film, delivering plenty of laughs, tears and thrills along the way. It was a year that ensured the decade closed rather brilliantly in the world of film and before I get to the main list, here's a few honourable mentions that fell just short of making the mark...

It Chapter Two
Dolemite is my Name
Alita: Battle Angel
Blinded by the Light
Long Shot
Fighting with my Family
Ready or Not
Ad Astra
The Favourite

Now for the main event, as per usual, going by UK release dates.

20) Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? came out of nowhere and surprised everyone, mainly for the fact that Melissa McCarthy turned in a fantastic performance that showed she shouldn't always rely on inane comedies to keep her career going. Bonus marks for bringing us Richard E. Grant having the time of his life during awards season.

19) Always Be My Maybe

Now this one really shocked me. Ali Wong and Randall Park share some great chemistry in this hilarious romantic comedy from Netflix. Cameos can make or break a film sometimes and the cameo from Keanu Reeves in this is utterly brilliant and had me howling. 

18) Spider-Man : Far From Home

The first stop on the MCU after the epic events in Avengers: Endgame was Spider-Man: Far From Home and they well and truly delivered again with this. Tom Holland is once again the perfect blend of Spider-Man and Peter Parker, struggling to come to terms with the loss of Tony Stark, making for a rather emotional ride. Oh, and that ending just gives me such high hopes for the next time we see Spidey in the MCU.

17) Green Book

The chaos that ensued when Green Book won Best Picture at last year's Academy Awards was a fair bit over the top in my opinion because I found it to be a really good film. Films of this ilk always get to me and the chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is just the icing on the cake.

16) Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley is utterly sensational in the lead role of Wild Rose, a film that focuses on the struggles of a young woman, fresh out of prison, being a mum and trying to live her dream of making it as a country singer in Nashville. It'll damn near bring you to tears but the finale where she belts out Glasgow (No Place Like Home) will leave you all warm and fuzzy inside.

15) Booksmart 

A comedy that certainly earns the hype surrounding it, Booksmart showcases the talents of Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, who together share irresistible chemistry as a pair of best friends decide to have one night of debauchery rather than burying their heads in books. The fantastic array of supporting characters really makes this fire on all cylinders, Billie Lourd in particular stealing the show as Gigi.

14) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The Rise of Skywalker was always up against it when it came to closing the Skywalker Saga. It was never going to please everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed this closing episode. Who else wants to go back to a time when Star Wars didn't create such a toxic online war?

13) If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk is one of the most beautiful films you could ever lay your eyes on, Barry Jenkins following Moonlight with a sensual tale of young lovers fighting for justice over his wrongful incarceration. It's got a number of great performances scattered throughout and a score from Nicholas Britell that is to die for.

12) Us

Jordan Peele proved he wasn't just a one-hit wonder and continued making a name for himself in the horror genre with Us, and it's just as twisted as Get Out. Lupita Nyong'o delivers a formidable double performance that was unforgivingly overlooked come awards season, a trend that will likely continue in horror films rather unfortunately.

11) Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold made one of the most accessible films relating to motor racing possible in Ford v Ferrari, its racing sequences possessing such a kinetic energy they make for such a fascinating viewing experience. Christian Bale and Matt Damon share great chemistry together as they try to engineer a car good enough to beat the Italians at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

10) John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

Suspension of disbelief is a key factor for the latest John Wick film, our hero battling his way out of New York through the criminal underworld. Keanu Reeves is as dedicated as ever and the action sequences are simply stunning, the stuntwork rivalling the Mission: Impossible franchise as the best. You think you've seen John Wick kill enemies in every imaginable way, just wait until you see this.

9) Rocketman

Taron Egerton literally throws himself into the role of Elton John and the results are truly spectacular in Rocketman, a musical biopic that strays away from the formulaic model to become its own beast entirely. The fantasy elements thrown in are perfectly suited to the great entertainer's larger than life personality, creating some rather memorable musical sequences along the way.

8) Toy Story 4

Remember when Pixar nearly destroyed our souls with the emotionally charged ending to Toy Story 3? Yeah, well they decided to return with Toy Story 4, which serves as an epilogue in the series and, quite frankly, Pixar floored me again with yet another story full of emotion designed to make adults a blubbering wreck by the end. It's wonderfully funny as expected and animated so gorgeously you won't believe your eyes at how good toys look in the rain.

7) Marriage Story

Try watching Marriage Story and telling me that Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver don't deliver two of the best performances of 2019. It's virtually impossible. Noah Baumbach's film is a heartwrenching tale of a marriage falling to pieces and their son caught in the middle, full of memorable performances and powerful moments, the scene in the picture above being one of the cinematic highlights of the year.

6) Little Women

The plot was ruined for me by Rachel in Friends way before this came out but that doesn't stop Little Women from being one of the sweetest films you could ever see. The cast are nothing short of delightful, Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh in particular, while Greta Gerwig's writing ensures the film possesses an energy that a lot of period dramas tend to lack.

5) Knives Out

A devilishly funny whodunnit from Rian Johnson, Knives Out was one of the most fun experiences I had at the cinema in 2019. Johnson's writing takes the audience through a number of twists and turns, keeping you guessing right up until the end, and the ensemble cast are having so much fun it's hard not to get swept up in it all. Keep an eye out for Daniel Craig's donut hole speech, one of 2019's funniest for sure.

4) Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

I always keep an eye out for a new Quentin Tarantino film and that was no different with Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. A love letter to an almost forgotten age in Hollywood that fel rather subdued for a Tarantino film, until the final few minutes that is, exploding with cartoonish violence to set up another Tarantino alternate history. It's one of his best and with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in such fine form, it's no doubt one I will love revisiting in the future.

3) Avengers: Endgame 

I don't think I'll ever have a cinematic experience quite like Avengers: Endgame again. It was utterly fantastic just watching the MCU wrap up eleven years worth of storytelling in such epic fashion, making me shout out in excitement once or twice along the way. Going on to become the highest grossing film of all time, I don't think the MCU will ever be able to top this in terms of scale or audience anticipation. Once in a lifetime sort of thing this.

2) Joker

Who remembers when Joker premiered on the festival circuit and the reaction from critics was to say it was a film that could be dangerous to the public? I do and it has to be the biggest overstatement I've ever seen. Led by an incredible performance from Joaquin Phoenix, Joker was every bit as special as I had hoped for, chilling me to my bones at times. It very much seems to have become a Marmite film in the sense that you'll either love it or hate it so good thing, like Marmite, I love it.

1) The Irishman

Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. Joe Pesci. I mean, I could just leave it at that in all honesty but The Irishman is such a special piece of work that more has to be said. Scorsese's name is synonymous with the crime genre, having made some of the greatest of all time, and with The Irishman he made a film that feels like a reflective look back on his career, mirroring the narrative of Frank Sheeran in the film. I'll admit the de-aging took a little while to get used to but it's a great way of allowing these great actors to play these characters throughout a number of years, De Niro in particular delivering one of his best performances in years. At three and a half hours long it's quite a marathon but it's a masterful film that deserves your attention.


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