2019 in Film: The Very Best and the Very Worst

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
Medium /
December 31, 2019 /

Click here to view original /

Welcome to the list of the 149 new release films I saw in 2019. These were seen in the US or in Australia, or were new features with teeny tiny cinema releases that I saw on streaming services. (Note that I list by viewings in a given calendar year, which means that some films released in certain markets in 2019 appeared on last year’s list).

I didn’t leave many screenings this year having fallen in love, but I did swoon over 1–7– and my favourite film of the year, Yesterday, is one I wrote about here.

8–34 were films I very much enjoyed — which I’d be delighted to recommend — but which, alas, didn’t involve any swooning.

35–69 were films I liked — which fit the bill for being in, varying degrees, worthy or entertaining — but which weren’t transformative, weren’t ones I need to bully you into seeing and which aren’t masterpieces. 70–105 are in the passable/forgettable/meh category: acceptable viewing experiences but ones you needn’t prioritise. From 106 onwards are the films I hated — ones where I felt robbed, where the bad far outweighs the good, or where I simply walked out of the cinema in overwhelming frustration (as I did with Cyrano, My Love and The Mountain). The most egregious on this list were the films where the undue hype only sharpened my loathing (think Joker, The Lighthouse, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Gloria Bell, and The Irishman).

It’s hard to make generalisations about a year’s worth of film, but here’s six:

· I thoroughly enjoyed an awful lot of films about disintegrating relationships. This should surprise no one.

· While I made a concerted effort to see female-directed films, that three in my top ten — and five in my top twenty — were directed by women is just splendidly fortuitous.

· While not always directed by women, many of my high-ranking entries — from Booksmart to Portrait of a Lady on Fire to Animals, from Pink Wall to The Wolf Hour to After the Wedding and Maiden– are properly pithy takes on female stories and completely worthwhile.

· My favourite takes on sexual consent were given by two completely unlikely films: Good Boys and Daniel Isn’t Real.

· Living in small-town New England for a chunk of 2019 meant that I didn’t have easy access to many foreign films. That said, that the French, the Spaniards, the Russians and the English are represented in my Top 10 is a reminder that sometimes we — or, at least me — have to dig a little for the year’s gems because those that dominate the box office aren’t normally what I want to see. And on that note…

· I only saw two of 2019’s ten highest grossing films, both of which I hated. There’s a point here to be made about the films that make the money not being the ones I’m interested in and, more broadly, I just generally remain loathed to spend time or money on animation or superheroes.

Enjoy. Happy watching and have a wonderful 2020!

P.S. You can access my 2016, 2017 and 2018 lists here.

1. Yesterday

2. Booksmart

3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

4. Pain and Glory

5. Mrs. Lowry and Son

6. Leto

7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

8. Parasite

9. Honey Boy

10. Marriage Story

11. Untogether

12. Animals

13. Pink Wall

14. Sometimes, Always, Never

15. Luce

16. The Wolf Hour

17. After the Wedding

18. The Report

19. Maiden

20. Dark Waters

21. A Kid Like Jake

22. Late Night

23. Fast Color

24. Ready or Not

25. Stan & Ollie

26. Queen & Slim

27. 21 Bridges

28. The Peanut Butter Falcon

29. Jojo Rabbit

30. Black and Blue

31. Ford v Ferrari

32. Good Boys

33. Rocketman

34. Diane

35. Where’d You Go Bernadette?

36. The Goldfinch

37. The Best of Enemies

38. Before You Know It

39. Blinded By the Light

40. American Woman

41. Papi Chulo

42. Judy

43. Long Shot

44. Sword of Trust

45. The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir

46. John Wick 3: Parabellum

47. Bird Box

48. The Operative

49. Wild Rose

50. I Am Mother

51. Official Secrets

52. Fisherman’s Friends

53. The Professor

54. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

55. Don’t Let Go

56. The Upside

57. Brian Banks

58. The Chaperone

59. The Kitchen

60. Escape Room

61. Love, Gilda

62. Knives Out

63. Midsommar

64. Doctor Sleep

65. Greta

66. The Quietude

67. The Laundromat

68. On the Basis of Sex

69. Where’s My Roy Cohn?

70. The Farewell

71. The Fall of the American Empire

72. Light From Light

73. Last Christmas

74. Angel of Mine

75. Cold Pursuit

76. A Dark Place

77. Anna

78. Little Woods

79. Harriet

80. Always Be My Maybe

81. A Rainy Day in New York

82. Plus One

83. Motherless Brooklyn

84. The Aftermath

85. Gemini Man

86. Angel Has Fallen

87. The Tomorrow Man

88. The Souvenir

89. Villains

90. Mike Wallace is Here

91. Velvet Buzzsaw

92. In the Aisles

93. Countdown

94. Under the Silver Lake

95. Destroyer

96. ECCO

97. Murder Mystery

98. If Beale Street Could Talk

99. Fyre

100. The Hummingbird Project

101. The Aeronauts

102. Wine Country

103. Cold Case Hammarskjöld

104. The Art of Self-Defense

105. After Class

106. Drunk Parents

107. Ad Astra

108. Isn’t It Romantic

109. Aladdin

110. The Trouble With You

111. Stuber

112. Dumbo

113. Burning

114. Dora and the Lost City of Gold

115. Lucy in the Sky

116. Charlie’s Angels

117. Hustlers

118. Gloria Bell

119. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

120. Serenity

121. The Current War

122. Joker

123. An Acceptable Loss

124. The Last Laugh

125. Euphoria

126. Stockholm

127. The Song of Names

128. The Irishman

129. Playing with Fire

130. Cyrano, My Love

131. Evaru

132. Den of Thieves

133. Palm Beach

134. The Lighthouse

135. Cats

136. Light of My Life

137. The Dead Don’t Die

138. Jexi

139. The Fanatic

140. The Bravest

141. Ranarangam

142. The Hustle

143. State Like Sleep

144. Daniel Isn’t Real

145. Her Smell

146. Chained for Life

147. In the Tall Grass

148. The Mountain

149. Swiped

© Lauren Rosewarne 2019