Like my 2018 list, this is an entirely subjective list of the films I enjoyed the most in the year that was.
Prepare yourself, Joker is a brutal at times uncomfortable but utterly engrossing tale of The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix is Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill aspiring stand up comic who – after a series of cruel setbacks, growing anger at the unjust society he lives in and the vast gap between the rich and poor – becomes the titular character. A bold, shocking and timely film that is essential viewing but one you will not walk away from full of cheer. Director Todd Phillips did a stand up job, as did Joaquin in an Oscar worthy performance.
4) The Highwaymen
Directed by John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks) The Highwaymen is about the two Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, that were brought out of retirement to catch the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. It is a slow burning, down to earth tale of two grizzled lawmen out of touch with the modern world played with aplomb by Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. A patient game of cat and mouse with an explosive ending that shows the murder and mayhem behind the fame and adoration.
3) Le Mans ‘66
Based on Ford’s attempt to beat Ferrari and win the 1966 race, Le Mans ‘66 is an adrenaline fueled romp that both petrolheads and non petrolheads with love. Off track drama, larger than life characters, genuine emotion and of course the racing keep you enthralled and make the two and a half hours fly by. The blockbuster pairing of Christian Bale (Ken Miles) and Matt Damon (Caroll Shelby) works, with the fractious bromance between Miles and shelby a huge part of the charm.
2) Ready or Not
A horror comedy centred on Grace’s marriage to Alex Le Domas and into his rich family. In order to be accepted into the family she has to play a game at midnight, unfortunately for her she chooses hide and seek and when the family find her, you guessed it, they kill her. Ready or Not is a gory and riotously funny film that does not take itself too seriously and merrily satirises the gilded elite along the way. Samara Weaving’s compelling turn as Grace is the glue that holds the film together.
1) Knives Out
Full of enough murder, motives, blackmail, bribery, twists and turns to keep Jessica Fletcher happy – Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is an absolute blast from start to finish. A whodunnit with a lot of laughs and a star studded cast – the pick of a brilliant bunch being Chris Evans’ conniving man-child Hugh Drysdale and Daniel Craig’s sleuth with the expertly hammed up accent Benoit Blanc. It gleefully ticks off all the genre cliches and, with a sequel in the works, I cannot wait for more.
The films that just missed out and occupy sixth to tenth place are as follows; Cold Pursuit (if you like Fargo you will like this), John Wick 3 Parabellum (I hope you like carnage), The Perfection (get ready to wince), Toy Story 4, Us.
The botched, uninspired muddle that is Hellboy comes second but the runaway winner of the wooden spoon, my worst film of the year, is Isn’t It Romantic – a predictable and painful way to spend 90 minutes.