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2019 Top Ten Lists

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Traditionally we've had threads to post our Top 10 lists (or links to them) or (if you must) external reviewers' lists that you wish to comment on.

Mine's pretty much set: http://1morefilmblog.com/2019/12/24/2019-top-ten/

10) Toy Story 4

9) Dark Waters

8) Bombshell

7) 1917

6) Knives Out

5) The King

4) Little Women

3) Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2) Jojo Rabbit

1) By the Grace of God

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I'm still working on mine and will publish it before the calendar turns.  For certain, Never Look Away, A Hidden Life, and Synonyms will get my one, two, and three spots; and I suspect By the Grace of God and Dark Waters will make my list, too.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I won't publish until mid-January (fewer screeners, and a lot of year end releases won't play in Indiana until then), but Knives Out and By the Grace of God are practically guaranteed to make my list. I have high hopes Little Women will, but I'll find out tomorrow. Ken's list reminded me I need to track down Portrait of a Lady on Fire.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Here's my top 20 of 2019. For those just wanting to see a list of films, here's the top 10:

1) A Hidden Life

2) Amazing Grace

3) The Lighthouse

4) The Irishman

5) Portrait of a Lady on Fire

6) Parasite

7) Light from Light

8) For Sama

9) Booksmart

10) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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4 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Here's my top 20 of 2019. For those just wanting to see a list of films, here's the top 10:

I just requested Little Joe and Wild Rose from my library. Great list, Joel!


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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52 minutes ago, Evan C said:

I just requested Little Joe and Wild Rose from my library. Great list, Joel!

I am typically a Hausner fan (Lourdes, Amour Fou), but Little Joe didn't do it for me. I hope you can talk me into liking it better, if indeed you do.

Joel did you not include Young Ahmed because it was a festival viewing or because it didn't make the cut?

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2 hours ago, Evan C said:

Great list, Joel!

Thanks Evan! Hope the list sparks some new discoveries.

1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

Joel did you not include Young Ahmed because it was a festival viewing or because it didn't make the cut?

I didn't include it because it will get a US release in 2020 via Kino Lorber, so it'll be more of a "2020" film than a "2019" film for most folks. But if I had included it here, it would be in the top 10 at #6 (between Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Parasite).

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I haven't seen nearly as many new films this year as I usually do, and I've walked out of or turned off quite a few critically acclaimed movies. But here you go ...

1.The Souvenir
2.High Life
3.Transit
4.An Elephant Sitting Still
5.Ash Is Purest White
6.Uncut Gems
7.The Hottest August
8.A Hidden Life
9.La flor
10.Grass

Edited by Darren H

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I did my list a little differently this year, since I couldn't for the life of me rank my favorites beyond 1-3.  So I got alphabetical:

Cream of the crop: A Hidden Life, Never Look Away, Synonyms

The Best of the Rest: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, By the Grace of God, The Cave and For Sama, Deadwood: The Movie, Hail Satan?, Honeyland, Pain and Glory, Zombi Child

Honorable Mention: American Factory, Beanpole, Dark Waters, Hearts and Bones, Kifaru, La Belle Epoque, Les Miserables, Parasite, Us

(Transit would've made my Best of 2019 if I hadn't been lucky enough to see it in Toronto in 2018; I think I put it at #3 that year.)

Here's my full write-up: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/01/the-best-films-of-2019/

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I posted my top 30 favourites on Facebook at the end of last year, with the usual caveats that it was going by Australian release dates (so A HIDDEN LIFE will have to wait till next year) and likely subject to a lot of changes throughout January, which it so far has been. But as of today, I’m feeling very happy about my top 10, and I think it will likely stay fairly solid.

My 10 favourites (in order of preference):

1. AMAZING GRACE
2. THE IRISHMAN
3. LITTLE WOMEN
4. ONE CHILD NATION
5. THE FAREWELL
6. APOLLO 11
7. THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN
8. KNIVES OUT
9. MARRIAGE STORY
10. BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Edited by Benchwarmer

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My write-up is here:

https://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/favorite-films-of-2019/

Top ten for those too lazy to click:

  1. Little Women
  2. Marriage Story
  3. The Irishman
  4. Knives Out
  5. Parasite
  6. The Dead Don't Die
  7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  8. The Farewell
  9. By the Grace of God
  10. Frozen II

That last one is not a typo.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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9 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Evan, I notice our thread on the "Irishman" has exactly one post, a trailer from Netflix. Have you written about it anywhere?

Not beyond the paragraph I wrote for my yearend list. I hope to make time to write a review both of that and Little Women.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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On 1/16/2020 at 12:19 AM, Evan C said:
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • The Irishman
  • Knives Out
  • Parasite
  • The Dead Don't Die
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • The Farewell
  • By the Grace of God
  • Frozen II

The Dead Don't Die

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On 1/16/2020 at 5:19 AM, Evan C said:

My write-up is here:

https://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/2020/01/15/favorite-films-of-2019/

Top ten for those too lazy to click:

  1. Little Women
  2. Marriage Story
  3. The Irishman
  4. Knives Out
  5. Parasite
  6. The Dead Don't Die
  7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  8. The Farewell
  9. By the Grace of God
  10. Frozen II

That last one is not a typo.

Evan, I love the audacity of your putting Frozen II on this list.  It won't be in my top 10, but I confess that its songs and the narrative moments they join are quite a bit more interesting to me than the songs and narrative of the first film.  I should know, because the most frequent question asked (by little voices) of the Echo Dot in our house is, "Alexa, play Frozen 2 songs."

Edited by Brian D

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I'm working on my Top 10 list for posting over at 3 Brothers Film before the Oscars, but as it stands right now, I would have Frozen II on my list and I think the lack of serious engagement with the film as anything other than a sequel to a kid's animated film is pretty egregious. Americans for all their attentiveness to political and racial issues still have a blind spot when it comes to issues dealing with indigenous peoples.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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1 hour ago, Anders said:

I'm working on my Top 10 list for posting over at 3 Brothers Film before the Oscars, but as it stands right now, I would have Frozen II on my list and I think the lack of serious engagement with the film as anything other than a sequel to a kid's animated film is pretty egregious. Americans for all their attentiveness to political and racial issues still have a blind spot when it comes to issues dealing with indigenous peoples.

Agreed. It's also one of the best cinematic depictions of struggling with and overcoming depression.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Here is where I ended up:

  1. The Image Book
  2. Long Day's Journey Into Night
  3. The Souvenir
  4. A Hidden Life
  5. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open*
  6. Transit
  7. Honeyland
  8. Diane
  9. The Irishman
  10. Last Black Man in San Francisco

So many other contenders: Black Mother, Uncut Gems, Grass, Toy Story 4, Paddleton, Amazing Grace, For Sama, Ash is Purest White, Rolling Thunder Revue, Apollo 11, Dark Waters, High Flying Bird, The Wild Pear Tree, Knives Out

*This stunning long-take, one camera wonder bodes well for an indigenous cinema I hope continues to flourish.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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16 hours ago, M. Leary said:

 

So many other contenders: Black Mother, Uncut Gems, Grass, The Two Popes, Toy Story 4, Paddleton, Amazing Grace, For Sama, Ash is Purest White, Rolling Thunder Revue, Apollo 11, Dark Waters, High Flying Bird, The Wild Pear Tree, Knives Out

 

Dark Waters is such a strange movie. I can't decide if its commitment to true-life story saves it from falling into routine legal thriller territory or if it is blissfully unaware of the unconventional nature of its story structure. 

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I also have trouble deciding what to do with Dark Waters. It has great pacing. I like the restrained direction and palette, which allows the weight of the environmental tragedy to take on human scale. It does fall back on exposition in points and nearly every scene between Ruffalo and Hathaway is superfluous.

What do you find unconventional about the structure?

FWIW, I am always trying to find cinema on human research abuses for a national platform I host on narrative research ethics education. Dark Waters is a great entry on that list.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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The conventions of the legal thriller would seem to dictate a climax and quick conclusion around the verdict, but we get the whole third act with the medical study, and even that is undercut by DuPont reneging on the plea agreement (having bought themselves 7 years or so of not settling). Yeah, there's a postscript saying he went back and started suing on behalf of individual plaintiffs, but I think it deconstructs the themes of a legal procedural and ends up suggesting that even the legal/political system has been polluted beyond (easy) repair. 

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Anders wrote:
Americans for all their attentiveness to political and racial issues still have a blind spot when it comes to issues dealing with indigenous peoples.

But doesn't Frozen II come off as a pretty cliched and/or didactic bit of anti-colonialism etc.?

Dark Waters felt to me like a very conventional story told in a very intelligent way... but I've never been as attentive to Todd Haynes' directorial style as I would have to be to explain *why* his compositions and whatnot struck me as a cut above the sort of thing we usually see in a real-life legal-procedural drama of that sort. Frankly, the *first* thing that comes to mind whenever I think of Dark Waters is the fact that Anne Hathaway's career was on an upswing just a few years ago -- she won an Oscar, for pity's sake! -- and now she's got a thankless "The Wife" role.

Oh, and I wish someone had corrected that one kid when he said the Bible calls Mary Magdalene a prostitute. It doesn't!


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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8 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Oh, and I wish someone had corrected that one kid when he said the Bible calls Mary Magdalene a prostitute. It doesn't!

Well, a central theme of the film is that it is nearly impossible to correct people in the wrong if they don't want to be corrected, when we try, when we look the other way, when we notice but do nothing....

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I'm so grateful for the folks who shared their appreciation here of The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.  What a splendid, thoughtful film.  I was inspired enough to write a full review yesterday: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/02/the-body-remembers-when-the-world-broke-open-a-rewarding-subtle-film/?fbclid=IwAR1rtO8QPFxqHHHgS-jEJCKSDd3Tr314TxJzo85QRWptv8zxA_4i_3pGijk


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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My Top 10 write-up can be found here: https://3brothersfilm.com/blog/2020/1/6/arens-top-10-films-of-2019

1. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood
2. Parasite
3. The Irishman
4. Sunset
5. A Hidden Life
6. Little Women
7. Deadwood: The Movie
8. The Lighthouse
9. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
10. Apollo 11

Yes, I put The Rise of Skywalker on my Top 10....

Edited by Aren Bergstrom

"Cinema is an improvement on life." - Francois Truffaut

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