Top films of 2019

RACQ Journalist Nathan Torpey reveals his top five movies of 2019.

The end of 2019 is almost here and, with that, I have chosen the five films which stole my heart and generated the most conversation in 2019.

Overall, I felt this year’s films were an upgrade over 2018 and each stuck with me long after the credits rolled.

Joker

Quite possibly the most-discussed film of the year – Joker inspired hundreds of opinion pieces and reviews which ranged from one to five stars. To say Joker was a divisive film would be an understatement after it prompted a wave of moral panic in America and even a warning from the US army. The film follows lead character Arthur Fleck’s (Joaquin Phoenix) descent into madness in a dystopian society. Phoenix’s performance is phenomenal and the best iteration of the character since Heath Ledger’s Academy Award-winning portrayal.

  • Classification: MA15+
  • Director: Todd Phillips.
  • Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen.
  • If you liked the movie, try: Taxi Driver, The Dark Knight, Batman (1989), The Man Who Laughs (1928), The King of Comedy, You Were Never Really Here.

1917

Arguably the most visually appealing film of the year, 1917 is a delight to the senses. Cinematography-wise, the film is a masterpiece and filmed to look like it was made in one continuous shot. The continuous shots immerse the audience in the world of 1917’s protagonists and follows them as they navigate blood-soaked trenches during World War I. 1917 is a film that must be seen in cinemas to appreciate the spectacle of the cinematography.

  • Classification: M15+
  • Director: Sam Mendes.
  • Cast: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth.
  • If you like this, try: Saving Private Ryan, Letters from Iwo Jima, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, The Hurt Locker, Dunkirk.

Ford v Ferrari

Like 1917, Ford v Ferrari is a film that must be seen in cinemas. To view it on a small screen would be doing Ford v Ferrari an injustice as the high-octane race scenes make viewers feel as though they’re in the driver’s seat with Ken Miles (Christian Bale). Rarely do movies capture the energy of a live race, but director James Mangold comes close in the film due to his insistence on using real race cars as opposed to digital stand-ins. The true story has been given the ‘Hollywood’ touch, but Bale and Matt Damon deliver strong performances that will interest both fans of the genre and those who have no interest in racing.

  • Classification: M15+
  • Director: James Mangold.
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts.
  • If you like this, try: Senna, Rush, Le Mans, The World's Fastest Indian, Days of Thunder, Grand Prix.

Us

The follow-up to Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning directorial debut Get Out, Us was a success both critically and commercially, securing the highest weekend opening for an original horror film. Story-wise, Us follows a family who are hunted by their doppelgangers while on holiday. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o steals the show with a dual performance that is as captivating as it is horrifying. While the film isn’t as good as Peele’s first, it is a must-see for horror fans and cinemagoers alike.

  • Classification: MA15+
  • Director: Jordan Peele.
  • Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker.
  • If you like this, try: Get out, The Conjuring, It Follows, The Shining, The Cabin in the Woods, Hereditary, The Babadook.

Knives Out

You’ll struggle to find a film as entertaining as Knives Out which delights audiences in its game of ‘who done it?’. While the murder mystery genre is nothing new, Knives Out is a refreshing take and a film that will leave audiences guessing who the killer is right up until the final reveal. The film also shines a light on just how appalling people can be and how money can corrupt almost anyone. The star-studded ensemble cast each excel in their respective roles.

  • Classification: MA15+
  • Director: Rian Johnson.
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Colette, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer.
  • If you liked this, try: Murder on the Orient Express, Murder Mystery, Clue, Identity.

Honourable Mentions:

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, The Irishman, Midsommar, Avengers: Endgame.

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