Awards – My Top 20 Films of 2019

TL;DR – 2019 was a great year in film and here are our favourites

So far in our awards, we have looked at Action, Animation, Best of Australia, Cinematography, Costumes, Emotion, Fun, Music, Tension, and Worldbuilding.

However, in this last entry into in our Best of 2018 awards, we crown our winner of the best film of 2019.

Now all films are subjective, so our list might look completely different than yours, also we didn’t get to see every film this year which means we will be only drawing our Top 20 from the 128 films we did get to see, which you can see a list of HERE. You can also click on the banners to go to the full review.

Okay with that out of the way let dive into the first entry in our list of Best Films of 2019.

20: Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. Image Credit: Transmission Films.

A film with some moving performances and also the brutal realities of a conflict that you are not prepared for. It was also one of the tensest films I have watched with every bullet having menace, made all the more impactful as this is based on real people and a real story.

Nominated: Best Action, Australian Film & Tension

Directed by – Kriv Stenders
Screenplay by – Stuart Beattie, James Nicholas, Karel Segers, Paul Sullivan & Jack Brislee

19: Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit. Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures.

When you hear the words “a WW2 comedy featuring an imaginary hitler’ there are a lot of warning sirens that go off in your head. However, while it delves into those more fantasy elements, at its core is a story of one young boy’s slide into fascism to cope for a great loss and then his climb back out of the depth of despair. 

Nominated: Best Costumes

Directed by – Taika Waititi
Screenplay by – Taika Waititi

18: Booksmart

Booksmart. Image Credit: Annapurna Pictures.

This is one of the best versions of the last-days-of-high-school genre because it fills the film full of people with goals and power. It takes the standard formula and twists it but then also critiques the twist. To add to this, it also might have the most creative ‘I’m on drugs’ scene ever put to film. 

Directed by – Olivia Wilde
Written by – Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel & Katie Silberman

17: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel. Image Credit: Marvel.

There is a lot that pulls you into this film, there is the sheer nostalgia of setting it in the 1990s and committing to that. There is the great banter between Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson that was a joy to watch. Then, of course, we have Ben Mendelsohn that turned all the Skrulls Australian and I love him for that. 

Directed by – Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Story by – Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet

16: Ad Astra

Ad Astra. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

This is a film that is more an exploration of themes than a traditional Science Fiction blockbuster as it descends into what would you see when you got to the edge. There is the deconstruction of masculinity, of power, of honour. Also, it predicts that one of the first things we would do on the Moon is to build a Subway on it and that feels like something we would actually do. 

Nominated: Best Action & Cinematography

Directed by – James Gray
Written by – James Gray & Ethan Gross

15: Rocketman

Rocketman. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The musical biopic is a very popular genre at the moment, however, while there have been a lot of contenders, there has been only one film that has nailed it for me. Rocketman is a deconstruction of a life, what motivated it, what damaged it, what rebuilt it. It explores the highs and the lows while also incorporating the music in clever ways. Part reality, part fantasy, all Elton.

Nominated: Best Costumes & Musical Score

Directed by – Dexter Fletcher
Written by – Lee Hall

14: I am Mother

I Am Mother. Image Credit: Netflix.

It has been a while since I have seen a good Australian Science Fiction film that has captured me in the same way as I am Mother. It is creepy, but you can’t put a finger on just why it is. It explores the intersection of AI and humanity and how that would play out. It also shows what you can do with a small budget and a lot of class.   

Nominated in: Best Australian Film, Tension, Worldbuilding
Winner: Best Tension

Directed by – Grant Sputore
Story by – Grant Sputore & Michael Lloyd Green

13: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu (Pokémon: Detective Pikachu). Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

There have been MANY attempts at adapting video games into the medium of film, and as a whole, they have fallen flat, that is until now. There is real emotion in this film, but also a real understanding of the medium and what makes it work. It has great callbacks to the past while also charting a new future. I mean it also has Bill Nighy as the big bad boss and watching him yell out Pokémon names might be the most fun I have had all year.

Nominated: Best Fun
Winner: Best Fun

Directed by – Rob Letterman
Story by – Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit & Nicole Perlman

12: Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

I didn’t know or want another Toy Story film, because Toy Story 3 ended on a perfect note, and could anything live up to that. Well no. however, that is not what Toy Story 4 is doing. Instead, it is more of an epilogue, a final lap of honour, a long goodbye. And hey, who knew that Forky would be so good. 

Nominated: Best Animation

Directed by – Josh Cooley
Story by – John Lasseter, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Josh Cooley, Valerie LaPointe, Martin Hynes, Stephany Folsom & Andrew Stanton

11: Avengers: Endgame

You rarely get to sit there at watch an end of an era unfolds in front of you, but that is what Avengers: Endgame felt like. It was a big goodbye to the past twenty-odd films, it was also a push into the future. Add to this one of the most bonkers action sequences and an emotional punch to the guts and you have a remarkable film.

Nominated: Best Action & Costumes

Directed by – Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Screenplay by – Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

10: Top End Wedding

Top End Wedding. Image Credit: Universal.

We enter our top ten with one of the best romantic comedies that I have ever seen. It is full of heart and funny to boot. However, that does not mean it is not also exploring some really powerful themes of identity and how we relate to our parents and the past. It has a great cast and shows off the top end in creative and wonderful ways. 

Nominated: Best Australian Film & Fun

Directed by – Wayne Blair
Written by – Miranda Tapsell & Joshua Tyler

9: Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko, 天気の子)

Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko, 天気の子). Image Credit: Madman.

I had absolutely no idea just what a film I was going to see when I sat down to watch Weathering With You. I was not expecting to see w film full of heart and care. I was not expecting to be so overwhelmed with beauty that it brought tears to my eyes. It was one of the best-animated films that I have ever watched.

Nominated: Best Animation, Cinematography & Emotion

Directed by – Makoto Shinkai
Written by – Makoto Shinkai

8: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home. Image Credit: Sony.

I have been and continue to be amazed by how good the Spider-man films are. I think at the core they show just how important casting and group dynamics are. You care about all of them, you care about Peter and the pain he is going through, you want to see them make it out. But we also get Jake Gyllenhaal swinging for the fences in one of Marvel’s oddest villains to date. A film I had a lot of fun with.

Directed by – Jon Watts
Written by – Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers

7: Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 극한직업)

Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 극한직업). Image Credit: CJ Entertainment.

In the first Korean film on our list (but not the last) we have a film that is just fun through and through.  It has bee such a long time since I have seen an oddball cop film that worked, let alone ascending to the heights that Extreme Job did. It is funny, absurd, meaningful, hilarious, thoughtful, and zany. Also, it might be the best advertisement for Korean fried chicken out there.

Nominated: Best Fun
Winner: Best Fun

Directed by – Lee Byeong-heon
Written by – Bae Se-young

6: Knives Out

Knives Out. Image Credit: StudioCanal.

Knives Out is a who-done-it, where you find out who the murder is in the first ten minutes yet it still captivates you from start to finish. It is a film that shows you just how important costuming is when you want to tell a story of who a character is from just a single look. It had an ensemble cast to die for, it was both funny but also did not waste an opportunity to show a mirror to the world. It is a film that I could watch over and over again.

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Costumes, Fun & Worldbuilding
Winner: Best Costumes

Directed by – Rian Johnson
Written by – Rian Johnson

5:John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Can you still be surprised three films into a franchise that framed itself on one main framework? Well, John Wick 3 shows that you can. The action is taken up to the next level, the world is taken up to the next level, hell the dogs are taken up to the next level. It moves everyone into the frame and sets them up for the fall, and what a fall it was.

Nominated: Best Action & Cinematography
Winner: Action

Directed by – Chad Stahelski
Story by – Derek Kolstad

4: Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충)

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충). Image Credit: Madman Films.

As we enter our top 5, I should say that all of these films are amazing, and it was really hard to work out just what order they would be in, and I might change my mind about that tomorrow. However, the first in our top 5 is the Best Oscar winner and all-round amazing film Parasite. It is hard to explain just what type of film Parasite is. It is a comedy, yes, a dark-comedy, oh yes, it is a film about class, of course, but then it also is a suspense thriller. It is all those things and more and yet it still keeps it all coherent and fascinating.

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Musical Score & Tension

Directed by – Bong Joon-ho
Written by – Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won 

3: The Australian Dream

The Australian Dream. Image Credit: Madman.

The only documentary in our best of 2019 list, but one that is one of the most important documentaries I have seen in a while. It explores what makes Australia tick under the surface through the case study of Adam Goodes. It touches on some raw realities of Australian life that are uncomeatable to watch, even more so because this is not fiction but reality. It is a film I said that every Australian should watch and I completely stand behind that statement.

Nominated: Best Australian Film & Emotion
Winner: Australian Film

Directed by – Daniel Gordon
Written by – Stan Grant

2: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Image Credit: Universal Pictures

There have been many films that have attempted a trilogy but very few have stuck the landing. Well not only did How to Train Your Dragon stick that landing, but it also made it look effortless. It respected the characters that we know but is also not afraid to have them grow and evolve. It is also not afraid of completely changing up the underlining order. The ending of this film moved me deeply, it was the first film we watched in 2019 and I knew from that moment it would make it onto our best films of 2019 list, and also our best films of the decade list.

Nominated: Best Animation & Emotion
Winner: Animation

Directed by – Dean DeBlois
Written by – Dean DeBlois

1: The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她)

The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她). Image Credit: A24.

The final film on our list, and of course the most difficult place to pick, had to be one that captured me with its narrative, one that surprised me, one that made me feel real emotions, one that is beautiful to watch, one that is telling a unique story, and one that made me openly weep in the cinemas. Well in 2019, there was only one film that pulled all of those points off and that was The Farewell. It explored two worlds colliding together, and the pain that comes from not fitting comfortably into either world. It is at times deeply hilarious, but then it can be so raw it moves you to tears. Awkwafina and Shuzhen Zhao have amazing chemistry with each other on-screen which makes those moments of discomfort hit all that much harder. I honestly cannot recommend this film enough and if you missed it in cinemas, make sure to grab it on digital/DVD/etc.     

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Emotion & Musical Score
Winner: Best Emotion, Musical Score

Directed by – Lulu Wang
Written by – Lulu Wang

With that our awards for 2019 come to a close, it was a great year for cinema, and we look forward to continuing our coverage into 2020.   

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

What are your favourite cinematic moments from 2019?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits – All images used were created by the respective studios and artists of each film


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