2019 Year in Review

As 2019 wraps up, we tend to reflect on the year that gave us so many wonderful films. So here are my Top 10 films of 2019. It was very hard to only choose 10, so I decided to break down the genres.

Top 10: 

  1. The Irishman
    dir. Martin Scorsese
    starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Anna Paquin and Sebastian Maniscalco.

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    The Irishman Review Excerpt:
    This felt like Scorsese’s magnum opus because there was such a finality to this piece. It was a love letter to all of the mob films that came before and in a way an introduction to the new generation.



  2.  Joker
    dir. Todd Phillips
    starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, and Marc Maron.joker
    Joker Review Excerpt: The reason why this performance was so incredibly stunning, was because his movements and facial expressions became more crisp and rigid. He went from timid poverty stricken every day working man, to confident, stand up comedian, who has A LOT to say about how society has treated him. His growth in this film is beautiful to watch but also incredibly unnerving to know that it leads him down this violent path.


  3. Once Upon A Time in… Hollywood
    dir. Quentin Tarantino
    starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Emile Hirsh and Margaret Qualley.onceOnce Upon A Time in… Hollywood Review Excerpt: The reason it’s called “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is because it’s a story about filmmakers and their everyday lives. Whether they’re old agents, washed up actors or newcomers, everyone had a story and everyone wanted to see their name in lights.


  4. Honey Boy
    dir. Alma Har’el
    screenplay. Shia LaBeouf
    starring: Shia LaBeouf, Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, Martin Starr, FKA Twigs, Natasha Lyonne and Byron Bowers.hb
    Honey Boy Review Excerpt: The direction from Alma Har’el was so masterful, she took the time to let these characters grow. The dialogue shared between them filled the screen because there was always heavy tension that was resting beneath the surface.


  5. Knives Out
    dir. Rian Johnson
    Starring: Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Katherine Langford and LaKeith Stanfield.knives out
    Knives Out Review Excerpt: It had a very intricate story and if you don’t pay attention you’ll definitely get lost in the madness. It also helps to watch this in a theatre filled with people because the reactions, throughout the film, make it a much richer experience.


  6. Parasite
    dir. Bong Joon Ho
    Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyu, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam.

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    Parasite Review Excerpt:
    The one line that stood out to me and brought me to tears was, Kang Ho Song’s delivery of “You know what plan never fails? No plan.” he then proceeds to say that life cannot be planned. This was the moment that struck me the most because after everything that the family had gone through together, life happens and it cannot be controlled, it can change in a second.


  7. Uncut Gems
    dir. Josh and Benny Safdie
    starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox and Kevin Garnett
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    Uncut Gems Review Excerpt: The execution of this story was beautiful. The film was visually appealing and incorporated experimental elements followed by flawless editing. The film had me at peak anxiety level the entire runtime but in a good way.


  8. The Peanut Butter Falcon
    dir. Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz
    Starring: Zack Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnsonpbf
    The Peanut Butter Falcon Review Excerpt: LaBeouf and Gottsagen’s natural chemistry was beautiful to watch unfold because of how heartfelt both performances were. LaBeouf’s carefree nature came through and the genuine love he had for Zack was so evident on screen.


  9. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
    dir. Céline Sciamma
    starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajramip
    Portrait of a Lady on Fire Review Excerpt: As the story travels back into the memory of Marianne, the tones in the frame become softer, warmer and almost dreamlike. The entire film felt like we were entering this alternate timeline of another place entirely, with these characters, as if it were a fragment that was repressed. 


  10. Booksmart
    dir. Olivia Wilde
    Starring: Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie FeldsteinbsBooksmart Review Excerpt: Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is effortless. The integration of character’s and their connection with one another was not forced and it was refreshing to see it all come together in a cohesive narrative. Most of the time coming of age films force the character’s into a situation but in this case it just flowed and it was all believable.


***Honourable Mentions***
– Rocketman
– Ford v Ferrari
– Bombshell

Best Animated Feature:
Frozen 2
dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown

f2

Best Franchise Film:
Shazam
dir. David Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Grace Fulton, Djimon Hounsou, Marta Milans, Adam Brody, Jovan Armand, Michelle Borth, Megan Goode, Cooper Andrews, Ross Butler, D.J. Cotrona and Faithe Herman.

shazam
***Honourable Mentions*** 

– Alita: Battle Angel
– Spider-Man: Far From Home 

Best Comedy:
Long Shot
dir. Jonathan Levine
starring: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel and Andy Serkis

long-shot-seth-rogen-charlize-theron
***Honourable Mentions*** 
Late Night 
Good Boys 

Best Horror Film
Ready Or Not
dir. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell.

Ready-or-Not

***Honourable Mentions***
Doctor Sleep 
It Chapter 2 

Marriage Story Review

Noah Baumbach’s, Marriage Story is one of the most well written family dramas I’ve seen in this decade.

The screenplay is so well written and the dialogue is painful and realistic. It’s a very raw take on divorce and relationship issues. Baumbach’s direction should also be recognized because of how well he framed his leads and the emotions he captured from them.

The structure of this film is very fluid and captures the toughest moments of leaving someone. Baumbach began the film highlighting the positive traits of his protagonists. Charlie, played by the incredible Adam Driver, expressed his fondness for his wife over a montage of the memories he had of her. Charlie had his own perception of Nicole and thoroughly expressed his feelings for her. Right after, Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson, in such a raw and authentic way, expresses her perception of Charlie in the same detailed manner. The editing at the beginning of this film, gives the audience the warm feeling of how wonderful their ten years of marriage was. It abruptly cuts to a couples therapist office and that’s when we are hit with the harsh reality of divorce.

Baumbach wrote Nicole’s character extremely well and Scarlett Johansson delivered a career best performance. When Nicole goes into speak with Nora, played by Laura Dern (who owned this role entirely), she explains why she needed to leave Charlie. Nicole talks about her agency as a performer and the feeling of losing her identity because of Charlie. It’s a powerful scene because she openly discusses how women can lose who they are, due to their selfless nature when in a relationship. She wanted to be her own person and Charlie did not allow her to do so. It was heartbreaking to watch Nicole take charge and break free of the shackles in which Charlie placed her in.

On the other hand, Baumbach also made Charlie a victim, well attempted to. Driver had such an emotional range and his reserved nature for the first half of the film, made it uncomfortable at times because it felt like he was inconvenienced by this divorce. As time went on, his aloofness turned to frustration because he wasn’t getting his way and once he found out that custody of his son Henry, was at stake, he then began to take Nicole seriously. His competitiveness finally came to the forefront. To Charlie this divorce was this great battle that he had to win and to Nicole, this divorce meant freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to love and freedom of speech.

Like all couples, love is what keeps them centred but it can also cloud their judgment when it comes to make decisions to better themselves. Love can blind those who are being abused, mentally, physically and emotionally. In Nicole and Charlie’s situation, love was shown through Charlie controlling Nicole through her career, without her even knowing it was happening.

The most incredible scene in Marriage Story was towards the end and the placement of this scene was crucial. Nicole going over to Charlie’s new apartment in LA and her finally having a private conversation with him, nearly knocked the wind out of me. Driver and Johansson were toe to toe and all the built up tension with lawyers exploded in hurtful words between them. They were both fantastic but Driver… Adam Driver’s explosive build up was the cherry on top of that scene. Driver is one of the most interesting actors working today and this film definitely proves his chops.

Marriage Story is a difficult watch but it also educates people in reevaluating your happiness in a relationship. What matters to you now, as an individual, will be different ten years from now. Your agency is the most important thing in this world and if you’re not with the right person, you will lose yourself and become your partners version of yourself.

Joker Review

I’d like to begin by saying, that this is NOWHERE NEAR a comic book film. Todd Phillips takes what we know and throws it out the window.

Joker has a very simple storyline and Joaquin Phoenix’s character study takes it to another level. It’s a vengeful take on how the government and society treat the mentally ill or those who suffer financially.

The first half of this film, analyzes the mental illness of Arthur Fleck. He is verbally, physically and mentally abused by people around him because he has a condition. It showed how society paints victims of mental illness and how they label them as less than humans. Joaquin’s performance in the first half made me sympathize with his illness, his vulnerability and timidness made me feel for Arthur. He lived with his mother, watched the Murray Franklin Show and went to work, that was his reality. Anyone can sympathize with Arthur Fleck in the first half of this film AND can understand his frustration when things keep getting worse for him as the film goes on.

Naturally, we know that Arthur Fleck becomes a villain BUT the human qualities and the education of mental illness makes audiences relate to that aspect of him.

The second half of this film highlighted Arthur’s descent into madness. His transformation into the Joker was slow but the build up was worth it. The reason why this performance was so incredibly stunning, was because his movements and facial expressions became more crisp and rigid. He went from timid poverty stricken every day working man, to confident, stand up comedian, who has A LOT to say about how society has treated him. His growth in this film is beautiful to watch but also incredibly unnerving to know that it leads him down this violent path.

The score by Hildur Guðnadóttir, is sinister and accompanies Arthur’s descent so well. There were soft moments and then booming ones, that made this ride so enjoyable from beginning to end. Phillips’ direction was his best to date and I valued the extreme close ups of Joaquin so much. Joaquin’s eyes were enough to sell audience’s on the fact that this man was crazed.

The character of the Joker has never been an easy one to play but Joaquin brought a human element that people could relate to. Arthur Fleck’s story is heartbreaking and it is a tragedy, until HE decides to change his story and turn it into a comedy. Comedy is subjective and what the JOKER finds humorous… well, we don’t relate to that.

This is not a comic book film, so do not compare it to any of them. This is a singular entity putting the government and society on blast. This is the most different and challenging film of the year.