Dec 24, 2019

50+ Cinematic Favorites of 2019

Another year is closing to an end, and once again I find myself challenged by more than fifty features that I rated high enough to consider for the annual list. When it comes to No. 1, I have absolutely no dilemma awarding uncompromising explorations of the Cinema itself and its alchemical, as well as experiential potentials, with three ex aequo winners emerging from the Luminous Void. They are followed by a masterful period piece which I compared to a 'slow-tempo gothic-doom metal album' in my review, the animated, Cubist-inspired ode to Art, the most exhilarating big screen experience and the oddest amalgam of psychological drama, absurd comedy and gothic horror that I've seen since Edgar Pêra's The Baron.

Inter alia, you'll also find an ancient myth turned historical epic, an unclassifiable flick about a 'murderous' flower, a magic-realist biography of the 80s Leningrad underground rock scene, some sharply satirical and stylistically impressive offerings, and even a cyberpunk puppet adventure! If that is not eclectic enough for you, maybe an emotionally sweeping anime, a genre subversion WTFery, or a Cinderella story gone surreal / pulp sci-fi in a world of pro-soccer will satisfy your needs? And let's not forget the clash of parallel dimensions in the 60s India, a post-war drama with the bold color palette, and a B-movie exploitation centered around a Lucha Libre fighter... Although the list is focused on the films released in the last three years, I allowed myself the liberty of including a few 2010s exceptions that I watched for the first time in 2019.

1. Luminous Void: Docudrama (Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2019)
    Autumnal Sleeps (Michael Higgins, 2019)
    Kino Clinic (Jann Clavadetscher, 2019)
2. The Riddle of Jaan Niemand (Kaur Kokk, 2018)
3. Ruben Brandt, Collector (Milorad Krstić, 2018)
4. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
5. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)
6. Ghost of the Golden Groves (Harun-Al-Rashid, 2019)
7. Romulus & Remus: The First King (Matteo Rovere, 2019)
8. Jonaki (Aditya Vikram Sengupta, 2018)
9. Long Day's Journey Into Night (Gan Bi, 2018)

11. Notes From a Journey (Daniel & Clara, 2019)
12. Seduction of the Flesh (Júlio Bressane, 2018)
13. The Wind (Emma Tammi, 2018)
14. Unicorn (Eduardo Nunes, 2017)
15. Pig (Mani Haghighi, 2018)
16. Little Joe (Jessica Hausner, 2019)
17. Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
18. Moon Tiger Movie (Maximilian Le Cain, 2019) (pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3, pt. 4)
19. Who Will Sing to You? (Carlos Vermut, 2018)

21. Leto (Kirill Serebrennikov, 2018)
22. Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)
23. Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
24. The Prince's Voyage (Jean-François Laguionie & Xavier Picard, 2019)
25. In Praise of Nothing (Boris Mitić, 2017)
26. White Snake (Amp Wong & Ji Zhao, 2019)
27. The Missing Sun (Brennan Vance, 2017)
28. With a Breath (Viveka Frost, 2019)
29. Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, 2019)
30. Luz (Tilman Singer, 2018)

31. Listen Little Man (Marko Žunić, 2019)
32. I Lost My Body (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)
33. Aren't You Happy? (Susanne Heinrich, 2019)
34. Greener Grass (Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe, 2019)
35. Empty Horses (Péter Lichter, 2019)
36. Rage (Sérgio Tréfaut, 2018)
37. Paradise Hills (Alice Waddington, 2019)
38. Little from the Fish Shop (Jan Balej, 2015)
39. Wildlife (Paul Dano, 2018)
40. The Mountain (Rick Alverson, 2018)

41. Battledream Chronicle (Alain Bidard, 2016)
42. Anna and the Apocalypse (John McPhail, 2017)
43. Krasue: Inhuman Kiss (Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, 2019)
44. The Attackables (Kerstin Cmelka & Mario Mentrup, 2019)
45. Ralf's Colors (Lukas Marxt, 2019)
46. Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, 2018)
47. The Wolf House (Joaquín Cociña & Cristóbal León, 2018)
48. Green Book (Peter Farrelly, 2018)
49. Lowlife (Ryan Prows, 2017)
50. Yamasong: March of the Hollows (Sam Koji Hale, 2017)

For various reasons, ranging from 'I'm still not sure how to feel about this' to 'it reminds me of the 80s cartoons which I'm a sucker for' to 'way too exotic to be ignored', honorable mentions go to...

1. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
2. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
3. The Night Comes for Us (Timo Tjahjanto, 2018)
4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)
5. Aquaman (James Wan, 2018)
6. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
7. Another Day of Life (Raúl de la Fuente & Damian Nenow, 2018)
8. Hanagatami (Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 2017)
9. Aniara (Pella Kågerman & Hugo Lilja, 2018)
10. Edge of the Knife (Gwaai Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown, 2018)

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