The Top 10 Films of 2019
Time & Leisure’s film critic Ben Peyton rounds up the best ten movies to grace cinema screens in the last year of the 2010s
Stan & Ollie (PG)
Handled with sensitivity and care by director Jon S. Baird and performed with skill and astonishing attention to detail by Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie is a fitting tribute to Laurel and Hardy and a welcome trip down memory lane to a time when something as simple as putting on the wrong hat was enough to make the world a happier place.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Shazam. Created in comic book form in 1939 and even outselling Superman in the 1940s, this very funny action film sees Zachary Levi playing the eponymous hero. As well as being occasional hilarious, what makes this stand out is the sense of family and love at its heart. Acceptance, hope and courage run through the movie proving many times that not all heroes wear capes.
Doctor Sleep (15)
Almost 40 years have passed since the Torrance family’s somewhat eventful stay in the Overlook Hotel, a place hiding dark secrets that eventually drove Danny’s (Ewan McGregor) father insane leaving Danny and his mother fighting for their lives as shown in 1980’s, The Shining. Featuring some deeply disturbing scenes, Doctor Sleep isn’t for the faint hearted. It doesn’t shy away from the subject matter and occasionally makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing. A strong follow-up to The Shining, Mike Flanagan’s film shows its appreciation to what came before and he has magnificently produced his very own hauntingly atmospheric horror.
Le Mans ‘66 (12A)
Passing the chequered flag at just over two and a half hours, it may be a long haul, but Le Mans ’66 is one hell of a ride and delivers some of cinema’s finest racing sequences with outstanding performances from its two leads (Matt Damon and Christian Bale) keeping it motoring along.
Rocketman is an exciting, explosive, outrageous and spectacularly inventive biopic about Elton John that features a career best performance from Taron Egerton. Big, bold and brash it’s a cascade of colour and a symphony of sound which sheds some light into the origins of one of pop’s most beloved musicians.
Avengers: Endgame (12A)
Over ten years and twenty films later, Marvel studios presents the conclusion to its epic Avenger’s series with Avengers: Endgame. After the devastating consequences of Avengers: Infinity War where big, bad baddy Thanos got his big, bad baddy hands on the Infinity Stones and wiped out half of humanity, it’s up to the surviving heroes to unite one last time in a bid to restore order to the world. Weighing in at a colossal 181 minutes, Avengers: Endgame is an emotional and extremely satisfying conclusion to this particular instalment of the MCU and a blockbuster of gargantuan proportions.
An origins story, Joker shows us how Arthur Fleck becomes Batman’s greatest nemesis. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is utterly mesmerising. Vulnerable, intense, pitiful, eccentric and, ultimately, majestically insane. It’s a turn of accomplished excellence and totally worthy of the praise being bestowed on him. Everything you see on screen has clearly been practised to perfection, from the way he runs to the frighteningly maniacal laugh. There’s an internal despair behind his eyes that eventually gives way to acceptance and it’s horrifyingly compelling to watch Arthur’s brutal journey of self-discovery.
Knives Out (12A)
Director and writer Rian Johnson fully embraces the classic “whodunnit” genre made famous by writers such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and this is one of the film’s greatest strength. It never takes itself too seriously, is completely self-aware and revels in the arising conflicts as the mystery deepens. Witty, intelligent, full of twists and a razor-sharp script, Knives Out is dead good and, as the next 007 adventure approaches, is a timely reminder that Daniel Craig has so much more than a license to kill in his locker. Could there be a sequel? If there isn’t, it would be a crime.
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (18)
Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film is his most self-indulgent yet. Rewriting history in his own heavily stylised way, we follow Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) fading acting career and his friendship with stuntman Brad Pitt during LA in the 1970s. Featuring the notorious Charles Manson and then girlfriend Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), Tarantino’s gift with a script combined with, arguably, career best performances from the two leads make for compelling viewing.
Marriage Story (15)
It’s a simple premise with complex issues. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s marriage is disintegrating and although their break-up starts amicably, the gloves soon come off as the nastier side of divorce is explored in fascinating style. Noah Bauhbam’s deeply personal script is brought to life in exceptional ways by the two lead actors. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll share their emotionally draining journey right to the end.