Talking Movies: Spling’s Top Ten Films of the Year

Spling reviews his Top Ten Films of the Year as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.

Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about my top 10 films officially released in 2019…

Starting at number 10… we have Us, Jordan Peele’s horror thriller starring Lupita Nyong’o. A dark horror comedy drama and social commentary, this funny and smart film cemented the director’s incisive feature film debut, Get Out, demonstrating it wasn’t a one hit wonder. A curious and original premise executed with nightmarish precision, he’s managed to create a comic, surreal, intoxicating and ghastly follow-up, which is both thought-provoking and frightening.

Coming in at number 9 is Dark Waters… taking a similar line to Erin Brockovich, Dark Waters is about a cattle farmer’s inquest that turned into a class action against pharmaceutical giant, Du Pont. Mark Ruffalo is a warm actor known for his quirky and charming to bittersweet performances. Determined, consistent and unflinching in the face of adversity, this inspirational, and eye-opening legal drama is admirable showing the power of one in the face of a seemingly unwinnable case.

At number 8 we have Blinded by the Light… a coming-of-age drama based on a true story about a young Pakistani teen in Luton, England who develops an obsession with the music of Bruce Springsteen. This unusual musical comedy drama has flair, spirit and operates with crowd-pleasing charm. Going more in-depth with Springsteen’s lyrics and trying to match the artist’s own origin story from across the pond this entertaining, fun, socially relevant, moody and toe-tapping film is a triumph.

At number 7 we have Rocketman… the music biopic about Sir Elton John’s early years. This imaginative, touching and well-acted film bursts with life as Bohemian Rhapsody’s Dexter Fletcher captures a series of turning points in John’s life and career as a rock star with daddy issues through a career-best performance from Taron Egerton. Faithful recreations, psychedelic colours and great flamboyance underpin a beautifully choreographed musical testament to a remarkable talent with many great behind-the-scenes moments and smash hits.

At number 6 we have Marriage Story… a raw, insightful, quirky indie style comedy drama with a first-rate ensemble. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johanssen bring their a-game to Noah Baumbach’s romance comedy drama about a modern divorce between New York and Los Angeles. Each essentially representing an iconic city, the film gets to grips with the nuances and eccentricities of a divorce between two coasts as a family tries to protect one another as they tear apart.

At number 5 we have Joker… writer-director Todd Phillips has crafted a tribute to the work of Martin Scorsese and the perfect vehicle for Joaquin Phoenix. Following the troubled Arthur Fleck, we are led on the awakening of a super villain in a crime-ridden Gotham City in the ’70s. This divisive and immersive character portrait turns superhero movies upside down. While dark, intimate and focused, it remains captivating thanks to a transformative performance from Phoenix, explorative cinematography and bold direction from Phillips.

At number 4 we have I Lost My Body… an animated film from Guillaume Laurant the screenwriter who brought us Amelie. Relaying an unusual romance with the sort of nuance and detail you would expect from Japan’s Studio Ghibli it juxtaposes this against the story of a severed hand brought to life and searching for its body. Beautifully drawn, sparsely scripted and wonderfully original, it’s a life-affirming, moving and magical animated journey.

At number three we have Once Upon A Time in Hollywood… arguably Tarantino’s most mature film to date. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, Tarantino brings out their best in a tale about a popular TV actor on the rocks and his loyal stuntman. Immersing us in the life and times, this eclectic film has historical elements as Tarantino blends his favourite aspects of Hollywood and the golden age into a compelling, moody, tense and surreal yarn with many memorable scenes.

At number 2 we have The Irishman… Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster crime drama, which reunites the Goodfellas trio of Scorsese, De Niro and Pesci. We journey with Frank Sheeran, played with great restraint by Robert De Niro, a mobster hitman reliving his memoirs and connection with Jimmy Hoffa. Supported by Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, this 3 1/2 hour epic centres on strong performances. Scorsese demonstrates they’ve all still got it through a compelling and strong genre film with elegant storytelling set against authentic production design and styling.

At number one we have Parasite… Boon Jong-Ho’s masterpiece. Serving as a poetic social commentary on the strained relationship between the privileged elite and struggling working class, this unusual and original film starts out with a brilliant setup for a comedy around impostors. Showing a command for the comedy genre with sharp writing, a versatile collective of performances, deft direction and sleek cinematography, Parasite latches onto a completely different genre transforming into an elegant yet perilous cat and mouse thriller of the highest order.

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