Paul Steward’s Top Ten Films of 2019

PUBLISHED: 18:57 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 18:58 02 January 2020

Full of unexpected twists and turns, Knives Out is a brilliantly witty, stylishly-filmed and extremely funny murder mystery. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECH

Full of unexpected twists and turns, Knives Out is a brilliantly witty, stylishly-filmed and extremely funny murder mystery. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECH

Archant

The top ten films of 2019

Le Mans 66Le Mans 66

10. Knives Out

When an eccentric patriarch is found dead on his 85th birthday, his entire family become suspects in his murder. Star Wars the Last Jedi director Rian Johnson returns with this inventive whodunnit which cleverly balances an intriguing mystery with a humorous tone without ever descending into parody. The stellar ensemble cast features Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer and a scene stealing performance from Daniel Craig as chief investigator Benoit Blanc.

9. Le Mans 66

The Peanut Butter FalconThe Peanut Butter Falcon

Based on the true story surrounding the 1966 Le Mans 24 hour endurance race, Matt Damon and Christian Bale are both on top form as car designer Carroll Shelby and fearless racing driver Ken Miles who battle against corporate interference and personal demons as they attempt to build a Ford car capable of challenging Ferrari in the famous race.

Director James Mangold delivers an exhilarating and emotional character drama that won't just appeal to fans of racing.

8. The Peanut Butter Falcon

Hilary Swank in I am MotherHilary Swank in I am Mother

Shia LeBeouf continues his career renaissance alongside Dakota Johnson in this heartwarming tale of Zak, a young man with Downs syndrome, who escapes from his care home and goes on the run with LeBeouf's small time outlaw in order to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.

Zack Gottsagan, who plays Zak, is deservedly generating awards buzz for his performance while the script from co-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz puts a modern spin on a Mark Twain style adventure. Utterly endearing throughout and packed with laugh out loud moments.

7. I Am Mother

BooksmartBooksmart

In the wake of humanity's extinction, a robot named Mother, designed to repopulate the world, raises a teenage girl in an underground bunker. However, the pair's unique bond is threatened by the arrival of an inexplicable stranger.

Produced and distributed by Netflix, this engaging Sci-Fi is the debut feature from director Grant Sputore and stars Hilary Swank and Clara Rugaard.

Featuring a sharply plotted script that demands close attention, this is high concept Sci-Fi at its very best.

Once Upon a Time in HollywoodOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood

6. Booksmart

This directorial debut from actress Olivia Wilde follows Amy and Molly, two academic high school superstars, who on the eve of graduation begin to regret studying so hard at the expense of their social life. The best friends, played by rising stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, attempt to cram four years worth of partying into one crazy night. The result is a hilarious and affecting coming of age drama packed full of interesting and charming characters. The year's best comedy.

5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

JokerJoker

Acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino returns with his ninth feature, this time focusing on Hollywood's golden era of the late 1960s and follows the exploits of a fading actor and his stunt double, while the ominous shadow of the Manson family looms large in the background. Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt have great chemistry as the lifelong friends while Margot Robbie sparkles as actress Sharon Tate.

This is a rich and deeply layered film from a more mature Tarantino and one not to be missed.

4. Joker

Avengers EndgameAvengers Endgame

Staring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro this origin story of the famous DC comics' bad guy, tells the tale of troubled loner Arthur Fleck before he became Batman's greatest nemesis.

Phoenix is absolutely mesmeric in the role, while a subtle string-laden score adds to the already haunting atmosphere. Marking a huge departure for The Hangover director Todd Phillips, the filmmaker delivers a darkly disturbing and thoroughly unnerving experience, and a film that will live long in memory.

3. Avengers: Endgame

DestroyerDestroyer

The most anticipated film of a generation, Marvel Studios concludes its 11-year and 22-film saga with this three-hour epic.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo, reunite with the stellar cast including Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans to bring the long running story to a satisfying conclusion. Something they achieve spectacularly.

Endgame takes its time to establish the stakes before the huge final battle lays everything on the table. Packed full of emotional highs and lows, this is the perfect pay-off for long running fans of the series and blockbuster event cinema at its brilliant best.

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2. Destroyer

Nicole Kidman stars in this gritty tale of a former undercover cop, reconnecting with contacts from her past in order to catch an elusive criminal.
Expertly directed by Karyn Kusama, Destroyer pairs a thoroughly engaging story with a truly excellent performance from its leading lady.
 With the help of some extremely believable make-up effects, Kidman plays the alcoholic older version of the character as well as a much more naïve, fresh faced version in the film's many flashbacks.
The narrative cleverly weaves between present day and past events, as it slowly reveals more pieces of the jigsaw.
 Destroyer passed many people by unnoticed at the cinema in January, but is currently available to watch on Netflix.

Film fans eager enough to seek it out will find themselves rewarded by a brutal and thoroughly gripping crime drama.

1. Us

Jordan Peele the Oscar winning writer/ director behind 2017's Get Out returns with this twisted horror story of a young family confronted by their own doppelgängers. The film begins as an entertaining but rather generic home invasion thriller, but Peele cleverly subverts audience expectations as things progress and takes the story into strange and unexpected places.

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o is truly outstanding in the dual lead roles as tormented mother Adelaide and her unhinged doppelgänger Red.

Keeping a steady flow of twisted humour running throughout, Peele's film remains an unnerving and at times unsettling watch. Just as the the title has multiple meanings, there are many ways in which the film can be interpreted. It's packed full of enough iconography and symbolism to stimulate debate on its true meaning for years to come.

Relentlessly entertaining as well as challenging, and for my money the best film of the year.

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