Well, here we are. Not just the end of a year in film, but also the end of a decade! Having started the blog in late 2012, it feels like the best part of the 2010s marked my transition from casual fan to full blown cinephile. In 2019 I racked up 85 visits to the cinema, a personal record! Here’s to another decade of bangers! With no further ado, here are Oh! That Film Blog’s top ten movies of the year, as always, dictated by UK release dates.
In true Oh! That Film Blog fashion, my favourite film of the year is the one that I happened to see on January 1st, even more conveniently titled The Favourite! This unconventional period romp ticked every single box for me, from the direction to the sharp humour, to the exploration of royal and historical themes of the kind that aren’t usually explored in film. Not to mention, the sensational performances given by all three leading ladies. Glenn Close was far and away the favourite for Best Actress on Oscar night, but Olivia Colman caused an upset and I was delighted!
Eighth Grade was a film that absolutely gutted me. Whilst the story of this shy, socially awkward young teen growing up in the age of demanding social media isn’t exactly a replica of my own coming of age, there are themes explored across the narrative that are so universal and heart wrenching, you will feel as though you are right back there in your own classroom, dealing with your own problems. Eighth Grade is really, really special and didn’t get half as much recognition as it should have.
Sure to be a big contender across all the major categories this coming awards season, Marriage Story was a film experience that felt kind of retro in many ways. Small in scale but big in themes and emotion, it evoked a wide range of comparisons from Kramer vs. Kramer to La La Land. I laughed and I cried, and Adam Driver gives arguably the best performance of his career. A real gem that gives Netflix a solid chance of grabbing Best Picture this year in my opinion.
Booksmart really felt like it was tailor-made for me. A smart, hilarious, poignant, kind of off beat teen comedy wit a queer angle; more about friendship than anything else, but also packed full of the relevant romantic escapades and drunken party adventures that make this genre so traditionally fun and addictive. I hope that 2019 is looked back on as Beanie Feldstein’s breakout year, because she steals every part of this movie.
In many similar ways to Eighth Grade, Mid90s tapped into the kinds of melancholy coming of age themes that I am a real sucker for in cinema. Telling a story of a young kid growing up in Los Angeles who finds solace from his troubled home life with a crew of older skateboarders, the film is equal parts sweet and distressing, giving unfiltered glimpses both into the good and bad sides of children left to their own devices in an urban 1990s landscape.
The Kindergarten Teacher was a film that came out of absolutely nowhere to leave me completely shook. Telling the troubling tale of a school teacher who develops an unhealthy and troubling relationship with a gifted student, the film is a masterclass in making something unbearably tense and uncomfortable also be completely impossible to tear your eyes away from. This one stayed with me for a very long time afterwards.
Classic Greta Gerwig, coming in days after Christmas to force last minute alterations to my top ten of the year list! This 2019 adaptation of the iconic novel certainly did not disappoint, with a wonderfully refreshing timeline structure and performances that might just come to be regarded as the defining ones for their respective characters, especially Florence Pugh as Amy March. Gerwig’s Little Women will give you all of the feels, an absolutely perfect mixture of comfortable nostalgia with a few modern touches here and there to bring the universal story even further into the 21st century.
Perhaps one of the most underrated and under discussed movies of the year, The Last Black Man In San Francisco is a certified hidden gem of 2019. The tale of a young black man trying to reclaim his childhood home might sound simple, but layered within the story are so many poignant and important themes that it will take you hours to unpack everything afterwards. It is a film that feels almost fairytale-esque, yet addresses some of the most important and crucial modern themes of the age.
I don’t mind admitting that this one is a little bit heart over head, but I’m a sucker for Judy Garland and this movie really indulged me. Renée Zellweger has certainly put herself in Oscar contention with her transformative performance as the troubled and treasured legend, and whilst I certainly can’t argue with those who think Judy is more on the average side, it touched on lots of things that I hold dear, and it won my heart as a result.
You might recall that I was incredibly underwhelmed by last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which is why I was so pleased to report that Rocketman had the exact opposite effect. Both biopics of two of Britain’s most beloved and legendary stars, but whilst Rami Malek’s performance was just about the only redeeming in Bo Rhap, Rocketman was filled with so many exciting and experimental techniques that it was impossible not to fall in love with it. Taron Egerton made for a wonderful, authentic feeling Elton John, and his leading turn was backed up by a wider film that took risks, didn’t try to sugarcoat and did lots of interesting and musical theatre inspired things with its soundtrack that made it feel like a real event.