Best Films of 2019

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Better late than never is probably a phrase I’ve been clinging to for too long when it comes to this blog, but gathering this list was not an easy job. Since January, I’ve increased my writing output and focused on reviewing exceptional films of 2019 which I had not had time to give my thoughts on. Turns out 2019 was another solid year for film and I had an uneasy task of whittling down which films stood out for me.

Every year I’ve to make the same disclaimer that Ireland unfortunately has a different release schedule to other countries so films such as Parasite, Jojo Rabbit and Richard Jewell get 2020 releases here. Also, sometimes I just don’t get time to see others like The Irishman or Marriage Story, the latter might be because I got engaged in 2019 and I’m terrified to see it. So many of these films can make the 2020 best films list (please support us till then).

Us

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Jordan Peele’s stellar debut, Get Out, was unnerving and undoubtfully fitted into the horror genre but Us, his directorial follow up, is a more clear cut horror filled with numerous scares, heightened tension throughout and shocking imagery. There is also plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and great humour throughout but it never dampens the terrifying nature of the film. There’s a home invasion sequence that had me on the edge of my seat and puts the entire horror subgenre to shame with its effectiveness. It may not quite reach the same quality of Get Out but it’s like asking do I want garlic butter or pepper sauce on my steak, I prefer pepper sauce but I’m still a happy customer if I get garlic butter.

Read the full review here.

The King

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The only film on this list that I never got the chance to review, The King strangely enough is my first introduction to Timothée Chalamet. The young actor certainly impressed me in a pretty fun role that definetly feels Shakespearean. The King is a callback film to the historical epics we see so few of anymore, there’s brutal battles, dagger politics, a well intentioned hero rising through the ranks in a an environment trying to compromise their intentions. The King may not have been a gamechanger but it’s a solid film with thrills, great performances and a decent adaptation and callback to true events. Also, Robert Pattinson’s performance as an arrogant French prince was one of may favourite cinematic moments of 2019.

The Favourite

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While lacking the absurdity and shock factor of Lanthimos’ previous films, The Favourite is sharply written, wickedly funny and a true showcase for the three central actresses.  Yorgos Lanthimos has a great track record of bewildering audiences with his unapologetic absurdist style. The is shot in a cold, matter-of-fact style that bends and twists to capture moments of absurdity and anguish while accompanied by a sporadic soundtrack utilizing harsh and sudden strings (a Lanthimos motif no doubt) that creates a sense of unease. It’s a wonderful parody of British period drama with a dynamic power rift at its core.

Read the full review here.

Ready or Not

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For a quality year in horror, Ready or Not was another welcome surprise and a great entry to the comedy horror genre. Marrying into a new family can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when that family is part of the 1% and a circle of elitist narcistic sociopaths. Ready or Not fully realises its concept the upper class following ridiculous traditions and protecting their way of life at all costs. Ready or Not takes a pretty familiar concept and turns it on its head with a stellar cast, sharp and witty writing, grisly deaths, and a fantastic leading lady.

Read the full review here.

Doctor Sleep

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Doctor Sleep may not have broke the box office but its accolades are far more impressive. The announcement that Flanagan would be both adapting the book and making a sequel to the 1981 film was a shock to most and seemed like an overambitious task by Flanagan to appease too many fans of both properties at once. Thankfully Flanagan has a key understanding of the legacy of both the books and films. Doctor Sleep may not be all that scary but it packs a punch with unsettling scenes and surreal imagery. There is a legitimate sense of finality and closure for the character of Danny Torrance that we do not see with many sequels. Despite the ghosts of the past and crazy hippy cults, Doctor Sleep takes a substantial focus on overcoming trauma and empowering oneself.

Read the full review here.

Knives Out

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Knives Out is a sleek and stylish homage to genre cinema and a great reminder of why Johnson is one of the best writers/directors working today. There’s so many essential elements of the classic murder mystery from the conspicuous victim, an ensemble of two-faced elitist suspects, a gothic setting, and an eccentric detective. In lesser hands, Knives Out would become more parody than homage, but the script is lean and brilliantly thought out while also delivering plenty of laughs and great performances from a stellar cast.

Read the full review here.

Endgame

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There is a lot to be said for the sheer spectacle of Endgame with truly amazing scenes of a scale we have not seen before, but the heart of the film lies within its characters. Infinity War was about Thanos’ journey with the MCU roster clocking in as nearly secondary characters in their own film which was a genius tactic of making him almost sympathetic and at the same time fully displaying his sheer force of will and commitment to his objective. Endgame now puts the spotlight back on our heroes and how they deal with the magnitude of events that have befallen them; they’ve lost despite giving everything they had. Infinity War and Endgame feel less like films and more like cinematic events, and I’m happy to be a part of what will surely be seen as a milestone in cinematic history.

Read the full review here.

The Hole In the Ground

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If A24 has attached their name to an upcoming film, it’s almost like a quality mark because of the companies track record of distributing critically acclaimed movies. Usually this is followed by a degree of hype among critic circles and film boards. It was to my delight that A24 lent their name to the Irish horror film The Hole in the Ground. Director Lee Cronin understands that less can be more to horror films with a concise and condensed direction that swaps thrills and cliches for unbearable tension and paranoia. In a year where doppelganagers featured promenantly in horror movies, none were quite a creepy and skin crawling as The Hole in the Ground.

Read the full review here.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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Tarantino delivers his most self-indulgent film to date with his revisionist history and heightened excitement for an era of Hollywood he goes to strainous efforts to recreate. The end result is a colourful, meandering, and over-the-top tale that dips it’s toe in fiction and reality using real life character, real sets and props really helps recapture that time in history, and a wonderful central cast of new characters who operate tragically within the Hollywood machine. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood can surely be called Tarantiono’s heartiest and most touching film to date but there’s still enough of pitch black humour and plenty of shock value to remind you who’s sitting in the director’s chair

Read the full review here.

The Joker

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When you think of comic book villain’s the Joker would probably be top of the list for many people. For nearly 80 years the Joker has terrorised the Dark Knight and cemented himself as an iconic figure in pop culture. In recent years the character has become an immortal character in cinema history, the role has helped give numerous actors a solid legacy and is easily the most dynamic villain to play. Phoenix takes different elements from the Joker’s 80-year history and blends it together to create something fresh but also familiar. For what this film is trying to achieve, Phoenix’s performance is simply flawless, and you can tell he’s throwing everything at the role.

Read the full review here.

The Lighthouse

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The Lighthouse is a wonderful mishmash of surreal imagery, mystery, fragile masculinity, and psychological horror. Similar to The Witch, Eggers uses folk horror for his narrative and recreates a specific period with time accurate dialogue and speech patterns as well as utilizing clever filmmaking techniques to recreate an early 20th century 35 mm look. Pattinson and Dafoe give two career best performances delving into lunacy, camaraderie, frustration, and theatrics as two men crumbling under the weight of their predicament. Eggers delivers a nightmarish tale sprinkled with bleak humour and mythical metaphors.

Read the full review here.

Author: Reel Time Flicks

Passionate about film and writing since 2015.

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