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24th Dec 2019

JOE’s top ten movies of 2019

We laughed, we cried, we got angry and felt inspired. We developed a life-long fear of scissors. These are top ten movies of the year, according to us.

Nooruddean Choudry

The top ten movies of the year, according to us.

Safe in the knowledge that we’ll almost definitely have left your personal favourites out, here’s JOE’s run-down of the top celluloid picks of 2019, in our humble myopic opinion. Please don’t shoot the messenger – unless it’s through a Panavision lens and the lighting is sublime.

10. Dolemite Is My Name

Hailed as Eddie Murphy’s grand return to prominence, this is actually a superb ensemble piece with the likes of Tituss Burgess, Keegan-Michael Key, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Craig Robinson all given ample chance to shine. Murphy is of course on brilliant form, but Wesley Snipes is wondrously camp throughout and threatens to steal the show.

9. The Favourite

Before Olivia Colman replaced Claire Foy on The Crown, she was busy winning an Oscar for her breathtaking turn as another conflicted monarch in The Favourite. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone provide glittering support, but Colman is simply incredible as the bratty, fragile and lost Queen Anne. And before anyone complains this is a 2018 film, its UK release was in January, so suck it.

8. Diego Maradona

Expectations were sky high when it was announced that celebrated documentary maker Asif Kapadia was to turn his film-making gaze to arguably the most charismatic and fascinating figure in the history of association football thus far. Diego Maradona – both the figure and the film – do not disappoint. A fascinating examination of a time and a place as much as a man.

7. For Sama

Waad al-Kateab has created something truly profound and affecting with this deeply personal account of living – and loving – through the ravages of war. It covers five years of her life through the uprising in Aleppo and subsequent Syrian conflict, and her documented account says more about the war than reams of news reports ever could. This is vital, must-see film-making.

6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino will always be a divisive figure, and his films will always divide opinion. OUATIH is no different, and some would suggest it is perhaps a little indulgent and takes some outrageous liberties. That said, Tarantino mines stellar performances from both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, and as a love letter to a particular Hollywood era it is incredibly watchable.

5. Hale County This Morning, This Evening

RaMell Ross’ examination of life within rural Hale County, Alabama is both incredibly intimate and epic at the same time. He somehow manages to infuse ordinary life and actions with a nobility that gives his subjects a level of dignity and respect they aren’t always afforded. This film – released in the UK in January – belongs in a time capsule for future generations to discover.

4. The Farewell

On paper, The Farewell sounds like an unremittingly morose affair. A film about a family who find out their elderly matriarch figure has only a short while left to live, decide not to tell her, and arrange a family gathering to spend some last moments with her. In reality it is one of the most uplifting films of the year. Funny, tender and beautifully acted. The credit reveal makes your heart jump.

3. Us

Following the critically acclaimed and brilliantly clever Get Out, Jordan Peele had the ominous task of following it up with something equally multi-layered, inventive and witty. With Us he serves up more visceral, horror-style scares whilst infusing it with just as much allegory and symbolism. As with Get Out, it hugely rewards numerous viewings.

2. The Irishman

Much has been said about the various CGI effects used in the making of the Irishman, as well as the 209 minute running time. But excusing a few minor gripes around de-ageing septuagenarians, this is a joy to behold. Ultimately it is a contemplation of past glories and getting old – as well as a collective last hurrah from cinematic giants. Even amidst the stellar cast, Joe Pesci quietly shines.

1. Booksmart

The high school coming-of-age genre has always thrown up clever, subversive, crowd-pleasing fare. From Heathers to Clueless to Mean Girls to last year’s critically-acclaimed Lady Bird. Booksmart comfortably scales that high bar and then some. For all its laugh out loud moments and sometimes gross out humour, this is heartfelt love letter to teen friendship and a true celebration of diversity. The two leads have incredibly chemistry, but the whole cast are amazing. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is our film of the year.