The Films of 2019

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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swo17
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Re: Netflix Originals and Other Exclusives

#51 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:22 pm

Is this the first time in the history of cinema that this has happened?

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#52 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:54 am

Ladies in Black

I read Madeleine St. John's 1993 novel (Women in Black) a few years ago, an entertaining comedy of manners set in a Sydney department store Christmas 1959. The movie is old-fashioned, breaks no new ground, but is genuinely optimistic, an emotion you don't often encounter nowadays.

Bruce Beresford's craftsmanship is in full bloom, excellent performances, and there are few directors who are as interested in the tender mercies life has to offer. The best part of the movie concerns the interactions with a group of Hungarian refugees who have endured the double whammy of Nazis and Bolsheviks and have a touching appreciation for their new found home. Julia Ormand, Vincent Perez and Ryan Corr are superb in these roles.

The movie played at a festival in NYC in the spring but otherwise no theatrical release in the US. It recently popped up streaming free on Prime.

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: The Films of 2019

#53 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:01 pm

American Factory is a documentary about a giant Chinese manufacturer that opens an automotive glass plant near Dayton Ohio in a factory that was used by GM until it closed in 2014. They bring in hundreds of Chinese engineers and workers to teach the American's how to make glass. The culture clash is as noisy and frustrating as the loud and overly dramatic film score.

One thing the Chinese understand very well is that they don't want their US plant unionized. They pay a labor consulting company $1M to defeat the union drive, roughly $500 per employee. And all I could think was that was $1M that could have gone to wages. I really wonder why any employee there would vote against unionizing. But I guess scare tactics, including mandatory anti-union meetings, work.
The company also tosses out a $2/hour raise for all employees, which to me just underscores how underpaid they were, and even the threat of unionization got the workers better pay. But with starting salaries at $12/hour, a $2 raise is fairly significant. And the fact is most of these workers are/were pretty desperate, and thankful even for a job that pays a good deal less than half what they made at GM.

I've lived in China a long time. So maybe my best service can be providing some context. We hear the Chinese workers in Ohio will be away from their families for 2 years. A hardship. But working in the US two years and improving their English is a definite career advancement boost. And we see some of the Chinese managers do have their families with them, and sending their kids to an American school for a few years is a big plus. The Chinese workers sent to America to work were no doubt carefully selected, are some of the most skilled and dedicated workers, and not that representative of the Fuyao factory workers in China. And in this film, we're seeing skilled Chinese glass workers teaching lowly paid Americans a new trade.

Fuyao Glass Company is from Fujian Province, across from Taiwan. And they are powerful and wealthy enough to pay off the local govt and do whatever they like. In China, there are plenty of factories that regiment their workers as FuYao does. Though a lot of the company celebration and fanfare stuff is pretty dated for Shanghai. I'm sure safety and labor standards aren't much of a concern in their little fiefdom in Fujian.

Another issue is that in the US, the company is paying a relatively low wage for repetitive factory work. $12/hr doesn't go far, so FuYao tends to get older ex-factory workers who can't find other work, and then starts switching to young workers who will accept low pay. The workers in China make less than the US counterparts, but the cost of living is probably 1/5 or so, so these factory jobs in China can lead to a middle class life, while they are just dead end, barely pay the rent jobs in the US.

I liked when the Chinese hold lectures for the Chinese employees in the US, telling them that Americans are lazy and overconfident and careless. Then we see large signs throughout the Ohio factory with poor, non-grammatical English. Not surprisingly the relentless Chinese corporate propaganda rubs many employees the wrong way. Finally we see the best way to deal with American workers is to replace them with robots. And remove all the American managers.

I think the best part of the documentary is the access the filmmakers have to the US factory and the company Chairman. He seems pretty self-aggrandizing, and probably thought this would make him look like a great international tycoon. I thought the film could have gone into more detail in a number of areas. An injured worker talks about never having had a workplace accident in 15 years in GM, but we never hear what his accident was or how it happened or if it related to Fuyao safety issues. Etc.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2019

#54 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:43 pm

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

What an absolutely strange and sublime film, taking shape as more of a spiritual poem than a traditional story. The movie tackles issues on racism but seems to be retreating from externalizing frustrations onto macro systems and focusing its attention on identity, and the draw to hold on to tangible symbols of said identity in nostalgia, securing ownership of constructions that were built by effort and for memories, especially for African-Americans who’ve had most of their historical bearings erased. Our protagonist cares, but he cares about his own physical space and microsystemic community, the one that’s given him a subjective sense of meaning, and this is all that really matters. Consider the opening scene, where the two main characters chastise a man for preaching about ‘insignificant’ macro environmental concerns outside facing the ocean, in contrast to a later scene where a preaching man digs into micro-level concerns in a small church populated with seemingly the entire cast of characters. The outside space ironically feels far more claustrophobic compared to the packed room. It’s not that these ‘larger’ issues don’t matter, but they have no room in this film, and the studied life this film resembles, for they lack an emotional stake that’s already present and full with tone and passion, practically bleeding emotions. Could it be so metaphorical that the preacher is looking out to sea while our surrogate focuses on land, staying grounded and aiming his navigation to the urban physical spaces that he can try achieve some mastery within, or at least traverse freely? By meditating on the microsystems, identity through collectivist cultures is found in everyday real communities, and yet this film consistently leaves this reality to the emotional plains of dreams.

The style and narrative choices are inventive, a standout being the hauntingly beautiful musical score that lifts this off the ground to soar amongst the clouds. Along with excellent dense performances that don’t insult the vision by spoonfeeding the intentions of the signifiers to the audience, this is one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in a long time. The energy is of the ultimate existential quest driven by pure hope and positive intentions, like the kind of dreams that exist in the warm pocket between reality and fantasy. Partly conceived by its star Jimmie Fails as a quasi-autobiographical metaphysical meditation on his own relationship to his community along physical, emotional, and spiritual lines, he achieves a kind of mastery (though perhaps not the one he expected) through coming to understand his own identity, reaching self-actualization by accepting, and embracing, a state of serenity through humility.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#55 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:58 pm

Rambo: Last Blood

I love a good Rambo movie. This is...sometimes a good Rambo movie. I don't know, aside from the ending, most of the movie is unexciting and poorly written interpersonal drama that culminates in Rambo enticing a Mexican cartel to invade his farm and get killed. Once the invasion starts, holy shit, it's as horrific and violent and astonishing as you'd want from a Rambo movie. But it's also curiously weightless. There are no stakes, since Rambo kills everyone so easily that he's never in any danger, and he does it all alone, so there's no one to protect or worry about. There's no drama in it; you're just there to enjoy seeing people killed with incredible ferocity. Which is enough, considering it's a Rambo movie and that's what you're here for, but it's a step down from all the other Rambo movies, which did at least invest their endless action scenes with dramatic stakes. Also, there's one repulsive scene half way through where Rambo tortures a human trafficker for information by slicing open his shoulder, reaching inside, snapping his collarbone, then pulling it out of the wound to twist it around. It's the first time I felt kinda sickened by a Rambo movie.

So it's probably my least favourite Rambo. I can't figure out why they called it Last Blood, either, since nothing's really resolved. Last Blood would've been a better title for the previous movie, which brought the character, to use the series' metaphor, full circle. I actually realized, tho', that the new movie makes a lot more sense if you think of it as taking place before the previous one. It works as a good explanation for why he ends up in Burma (as he tells one woman before he sends her off, he's just going to wander like always), why he's so down and out in the previous movie, and also why he seems to've regressed in this new one. So I'm going to mentally treat Last Blood as tho' it's a prequel.

Anyway, the most interesting thing about Last Blood is that it creates an unintentional irony. Considering Rambo II was basically a right-wing Reaganist fantasy of going back to win the Vietnam war and stick it to the Vietcong, it's something to see Last Blood reenact the Vietnam war with Rambo as the Vietcong! I mean, the last third of the movie is a foreign enemy invading someone else's home with superior numbers and firepower, and getting owned by an enemy using tunnels, Punji stick traps, hit-and-run tactics, and superior knowledge of the environment. No, the movie is not aware of this. But it might be the most interesting development in the whole series.

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Brian C
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Re: The Films of 2019

#56 Post by Brian C » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:21 am

Monos (Alejandro Landes)

The opening scene in this film is a beauty: a group of teenagers playing a game of soccer, blindfolded, high on a mountain top, presumably in South America. Neon's marketing for the film has played up a comparison to Apocalypse Now, but this doesn't feel like something with Coppola in its DNA. Rather, it feels more like something Herzog would come up with - beautiful, and amusingly surreal, with the people appearing small against the vastness of their surroundings.

The whole opening third or so of the film plays like this, and it's mysterious and captivating. We learn that the teenagers are revolutionary soldiers of some kind, keeping watch over a presumably American hostage, but the actual level of life-and-death stakes are tough to discern. I think a great film could have been made just observing their routines and the dynamics between themselves and their hostage, juxtaposed against being set in this place.

Alas, at a certain point the film switches locations, and the spell is broken. A more structured and familiar narrative is introduced, and the distinctions between the characters become less vivid. There's one last great scene after the move to the jungle, when the kids' superior officer gets to the bottom of what's going on. But almost all at once, things get far more conventional and far less mysterious and compelling. After awhile, the films runs out of inspiration completely, and doesn't end so much as just kind of arbitrarily stop. It's a real disappointment, because Landes really had something there, for a little while.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: The Films of 2019

#57 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:05 am

Mr Sheldrake wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:04 am
Cold Pursuit

A dull, predictable revenge blood fest gets preempted quickly by a comical drug war between rival gangs. Tom Bateman, an excellent Rawdon Crawley in the recent TV Vanity Fair, leads one group and is allowed to chew up the scenery, and he's good at it, especially when he confronts his formidable ex-wife, who knows his soft spots, so to speak. Tom Jackson leads his rivals, a band of Utes, and adds a touch of magisterial dignity to the slaughter. There are other interesting performances floating about (William Forsythe, Emmy Rossum), everyone gets their moment, even as director Moland gets carried away with his enthusiasm for gallows humor.
Even though it's basically the plot of every Neeson film since Taken, I did find this quite enjoyable; partly because the rest of these films are generally humourless, but this was actually pretty funny. As you say, Bateman's villain stole the film, and Neeson is hardly in it in the second half. They even re-used the Seinfeld 'reservation' faux-pas.

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#58 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:11 pm

Ash is Purest White

One can detect in the outlines a 1930s Joan Crawford vehicle, George Brent perhaps, melodramatic tensions on the surface. They're mostly below the surface and around the edges here but it is still a strong resilient female having to find her way in a world of pathetic, unreliable men.

Jia is sometimes too reticent in his approach. Questions are asked and ten seconds later we might get a terse response. It can be confusing as to what extent Bin and his brothers are gangsters, or just little boys playing at it.

The movie is at its best when Qiao escapes the confined cloister of male rivalry and wanders through Antonioni-esque spatial dimensions of cityscape and landscape, trains, buses and scooters. We see a dilapidated infrastructure transformed into a gleaming concrete souless miracle.

There's a great sequence on a train when Qiao falls for the blather of another weak delusional man on a trek (he says) to build a UFO sighting resort. Qiao left stranded on a remote station platform is bracing but you never lose faith that she will prevail with her sense of righteousness intact.
Last edited by Mr Sheldrake on Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:55 am, edited 2 times in total.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2019

#59 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:38 pm

Greener Grass is a glossy color-popping anti-social commentary on American suburbia. Fans of absurdist interpersonal humor a la The State might find a home here, but while the gags are at either the same or a more extreme level of unexpectedness compared to, say, Wet Hot American Summer, it definitely feels more like a series of individual sketches rather than a cohesive narrative. One doesn't need to care about the characters or plot to have a good time, but part of what makes those farcical films work is some sense of groundedness. This one pushes the limits of the ridiculous and clearly has no interest in consistency of any kind, initiating tonal shifts that can be as coarse as funny. I laughed a lot here, and you will too depending on your sense of humor, though if you don't please don't judge me. Definitely one of the most deranged comedies I've ever seen.

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Re: The Films of 2019

#60 Post by nitin » Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:27 am

A plug for Karim Anouz’s The Invisible Life Of Eurydice Gusmao, a Brazilian period melodrama that feels indebted as much to Sirk as it does to Almodovar.

Lushly photographed in saturated colours, it’s the story of two sisters separated in 50s Rio De Janeiro by a stubborn father and the cruelty of fate. The film has its share of highly emotional scenes rendered with utter sincerity but it’s not just an exercise of wallowing in the misery that befalls the two main characters. In amongst all the struggle, Anouz paints a vivid picture of a society of women that are outsiders to regular society but bond together amongst themselves, creating with each other the families they do not otherwise have (or more accurately the families they did have but that disowned them).

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#61 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:42 am

Ford v Ferrari

Bale v Damon - Damon wins if only for his meticulous rendering of Tommy Lee Jones' drawl, Bale is also good in a more actorly performance of bodily transformation. Enzo v Henry- a battle of industrial Titans that has a mythical aura in the rear view mirror.

The Mavericks v the Suits- the mavs win, for a while at least. The boardroom scenes have an authentic taste to them in the calculated banter and the powerful presence of corporate compromise. As some of the reviewers have noted, the movie can be seen as a metaphor for what it is like to make a movie one believes in while trapped in an art that requires lots of money, and many suits to out-maneuver.

Although it sticks to the basic story, every scene cries out dramatic license. The sentimentality is deeply dug. Fortunately there are some fine performances including Tracy Letts as Ford who has inspired moments, the best of which the trailer gives away.

The racing sequences are amazing. I saw it on an Imax screen and I felt like I was on the track. Especially eerie is the 24 hours of Le Mans climax, the racers enveloped in darkness and a thunderous rainstorm.

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#62 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:02 am

The Good Liar

A high concept movie for the septuagenarian set much as The Good Wife was last year. As I’m a recent inductee to the target audience I should have enjoyed it more. Mirren and McKellen are excellent, a juicy part in particular for the latter, shifting his character seamlessly from evil to endearing. There is also a lovely score from Carter Burwell.

Like most movies of this type, once the reveal is revealed, everything falls apart. Two long lugubrious flashbacks of explanation do little to prop up the flimsy structure. The only other interesting aspect was the jarring coda, a utopian dream of togetherness, a vast family picnic, happiness abounding, with many ethnic and sexual identities represented, to compensate I presume for the dark view of humanity we had previously experienced.

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#63 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:12 am

Charlies Angels

Elisabeth Banks wrote, directed and co-starred, one might expect a labor of love, but this is as impersonal as Hollywood gets, a tired rehash of twists and betrayals from the MIs, Bond and Bourne. The killing machine villain appears to be a clone of Robert Patrick from T2. The global travelogue and the expert stunt work somewhat compensates.

Kristen Stewart is adept with the wisecracks but is otherwise unconvincing as an A class warrior. Ella Balinska graduated from a performance combat academy and is indeed convincing in her interminable fight scenes, but watching a man and a woman pummeling each other has limited entertainment value for me. Naomi Scott steals the show (not that there is much competition), she has great comic instincts and exudes a charming wide eyed innocence, a movie star in the making, maybe.


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DarkImbecile
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Re: Lists of the Best Films and Performances of the 2010s: A Plague We'll Be Enduring For a While

#65 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:07 pm

Jack Kubrick wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:24 pm
Sight and Sound top 50 films of 2019.
... including domino’s most anticipated bluray release of 2020 at #43!

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2019

#66 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:29 pm

After reading all the effusive praise, I thought Bacurau was a disappointment. I love the “weird western” and metaphorical esoteric social commentary pictures as much as the next guy but this one felt like a series of half-measures, and I was waiting for a film to materialize that clearly had the resources and intention for audacious aspirations to be unapologetically let loose here. Instead the film felt rather safe for such an unsafe blueprint. The decision to disrupt the narrative perspective halfway through to give us some spoonfed insight killed a lot of the fun and apart from some entertaining moments often via splatter sight gags in the final act, I fail to see the spaces to place enthusiasm into the genre nods. I did enjoy the first half, a deliberate build that welcomed interest to mystery and attention to culture and systemic oppression, but the latter half’s delivery felt shortchanged and unfinished. Not a bad film but one where I’m puzzled over the accolades.

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2019

#67 Post by knives » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:41 pm

That sounds quite a bit like, though less successively so, Let the Corpses Tan which I just watched. It's essentially a remake of Bava's Rabid Dogs with bits of Cul-de-sac thrown in. A Jodorowsky inspired aesthetic though along with an ever shifting POV adds a level of inscrutability preventing heroes to matter.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2019

#68 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:58 pm

I loved Let the Corpses Tan. A movie simultaneously abstract and intensely particular and physically grounded. It's the best kind of pastiche in that it pulls apart, reworks, and comments its source material without feeling inauthentic or grasping. In fact, it has such a clear feel for the texture of its various contexts (time, place, and sources) that it has the paradoxical effect of feeling more authentic than what it's imitating.

I thought of Bava's film as being a reference point more than something being directly remade, but it hardly matters: Cattet and Forzani's film easily outdoes it.

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Mr Sheldrake
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Re: The Films of 2019

#69 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:18 am

Last Christmas

This is more a celebration of diversity than of Christmas. Emilia Clarke works in overdrive mode attempting to inject charm into her obnoxious character as written. Henry Golding glides through the movie with a character that’s barely written. I did detect enough chemistry in their relationship that I wished Emma Thompson (screenwriter) had ditched the supernatural and gone for a down to earth romantic comedy.

The narrative turns on a confrontation on a bus when a young white man berates an older couple for conversing in a foreign language. “Speak English in my country or go back to where you came from!” It’s a jarring moment leading to an eye rolling finale, a pageant that comes out of the blue, everyone is accepted, all oppressed identities united including the homeless. It reminded of the equally jarring party in the finale of The Good Liar, and the much more resonant pro-immigrant metaphor of Knives Out. Were that these endings could cure mean-spiritedness!

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2019

#70 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:06 pm


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FrauBlucher
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Re: The Films of 2019

#71 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:39 pm

I just got back from seeing a doc on Pauline Kael -What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael- which was a thorough look at her career and personal life and very well produced. Many on this forum will enjoy this. Not sure what platform this will stream on but definitely look out for it

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2019

#72 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:41 pm


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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2019

#73 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:57 pm

Mike D'Angelo's reconstruction of the Village Voice Film Poll in Filmmaker; includes 90+ individual critic's ballots
Just the Top 25 wrote:
  1. The Irishman (403/57)
  2. Parasite (352/54)
  3. Uncut Gems (299/47)
  4. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (283/41)
  5. Marriage Story (221/35)
  6. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (190/32)
  7. Little Women (162/29)
  8. Transit (164/25)
  9. Pain & Glory (133/20)
  10. The Souvenir (121/26)
  11. A Hidden Life (102/17)
  12. The Farewell (91/17)
  13. Ash Is Purest White (90/14)
  14. High Life (87/19)
  15. Atlantics (77/21)
  16. An Elephant Sitting Still (68/13)
  17. Apollo 11 (64/10)
  18. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (60/10)
  19. Asako I & II (60/9)
  20. Knives Out (57/14)
  21. Midsommar (57/12)
  22. Us (55/12)
  23. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (55/9)
  24. Peterloo (50/9)
  25. La flor (49/8)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2019

#74 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:01 pm

Every time La flor makes it onto a best-of list, an angel gets its wings

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Films of 2019

#75 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:29 pm

I was going to only post the top ten, then wanted to make sure to include some A Hidden Life propaganda and expanded it to twenty, then saw where La Flor was and figured you’d appreciate a top 25.

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