Top 10 movies of 2019

By Orielle Berry Time of article published Dec 17, 2019

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From comedy to animation, these productions delivered.

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

Nostalgia rules in Quentin Tarantino’s ninth outing and almost every minute is a pure joy to watch in this triumphant homage to the glory days of Hollywood.

Both Leonardo di Caprio and Brad Pitt as has-been Hollywood actor Rick Dalton and war-vet slash stunt double and driver Cliff Booth respectively, fit into their roles brilliantly, creating an on-screen union that is truly a match made in heaven. An utter joyride with the most fabulous 1960s soundtrack.

Parasite

Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s masterful film is a richly textured affair. Darkly humouristic, it tracks the inevitable collision that ensues when Ki-woo, the eldest son in a family of four barely employed adults, is introduced to the wealthy Park family for a well-paid tutoring job. His new opportunity spawns hopes of a regular income for the family. At the Park’s home a whole string of events is unleashed that become unstoppable in the most unpredictable of ways

Small wonder it was the winner of the Palme d’Or award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the first Korean film to do so.

Green Book

Peter Farrelly does a consummate job of telling this story of two real-life characters set in 1962. A former white bouncer Tony (Lip) Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) drives the talented black classical pianist, Dr Don Shirley (Mahersala Ali) , through America’s Deep South. Vallelonga is to ensure that the pianist remains safe and must also protect him from potentially explosive racial situations.

The “Green Book” refers to the booklet of hotels where blacks were allowed to sleep.

Lion King

Disney’s classic film has received no shortage of remakes and spin-offs since its original 1994 release. As the film reached its silver anniversary, a new take on the animated musical followed the lion prince Simba (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) as he goes on a journey of self-discovery after the murder of his father Mufasa (James Earl Jones) at the hands of his uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor). 

John Kani is in the role of Rafiki, an old mandrill who serves the Pride Lands with wisdom and Beyoncé Knowles-Cater voices Nala. Other stand-out performances from Zazu (John Oliver), Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen). 

Charlie’s Angels

The unashamedly feminist take on new trio of Angels is slick, fast and brilliantly funny. This time around there’s a new trio of kick-ass angels - Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska. 

The film has big attitude and is filled with some delightful one-liners that will have you laughing once you get over another edge-of-your-seat chase or confrontation between the good guys and the baddies. Here, woman power plays centre stage - these Angels are certainly eye candy but they are also ready to take on anyone who crosses their path.

Downton Abbey

For fans of the TV series, this is just like watching an extended series.

The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century is as good as it gets, not only for aficionados but newcomers alike.

Maggie Smith is there playing the redoubtable Violet Crawley, with Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Talbot, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley and Brendan Coyle as Mr Bates. To put it simply, a true celebration of the addictive series all distilled into one super package!

Rocketman

Superbly directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, this is the fascinating story of Elton John. Taron Egerton simply shines as the rock star. In a series of flashbacks, it shows his early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music and through his musical partnership with songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) how he rose to fame and lived the life of a global super star, spiralling down into drugs and denizens and alcohol until he saw the light. 

One of the best-made movies of the year, with both raw moments and fabulous glitzy scenes of performances and concerts of one our of most enduring musicians.

Knives Out

This fabulously gripping whodunit follows a family get-together that goes terribly wrong.

A wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his family to his lavish home for his 85th birthday party. But the following morning, his housekeeper Fran finds him dead, with a slit throat. A private detective Benoit Blanc is anonymously hired to investigate and discovers there are many family secrets. 

Daniel Craig plays the detective; Don Johnson is Richard Drysdale, Harlan’s son-in-law and Jamie-Lee Curtis is Linda Drysdale, Harlan’s daughter and Richard’s wife. A hugely entertaining movie with a clever plot.

Gloria Bell 

This whimsically warm love story is about a free-spirited divorcee, who spends her nights on the dance floor. She joyfully lets loose at clubs around Los Angeles and soon gets thrust unexpectedly into a new romance. 

Beautifully evoked it shows all the joys of a budding love juxtaposed against the complications of dating afresh. Julianne Moore offers an irresistible interpretation of her character as the divorced mother of two children with John Turturro as Arthur, her love interest.

Joker

Arthur Fleck is alone in the world, mentally dysfunctional he prowls the streets of Gotham City, disregarded and mistreated by those around him. He wears two hats or rather two masks - that of an aspirant comedian and clown for hire - his day job - in a desperate bid to feel he’s part of society.

But his projectile downwards into madness and bloody crime brings him face-to-face with his alter ego the Joker.

Joaquim Phoenix masterfully plays Fleck and Robert de Niro the talk show host Murray Franklin.

This gritty but superbly evoked study of a criminal mind offers a cautionary tale of human behaviour.

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