Film Review Daily

Michael Darvell looks back at the year of 2019


Jon S. Baird’s film Stan & Ollie drew no Oscar nominations, although Bafta nominated Mark Coulier and Jeremy Woodhead for their amazing transformations of actors Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly into Laurel and Hardy. Woodhead also had the job of transforming Renée Zellweger into Judy Garland for Rupert Goold’sJudy II excellent Judy biopic. Zellweger has already won some film awards for playing Garland and the Oscars are surely waiting in the wings...


Outstanding documentary films were in evidence in 2019. Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things presented the sometimes sad life of one of America’s most lauded singers. Another fascinating documentary was Midge Costin’s Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, a film that should be required viewing for every filmgoer. Ed Perkins’ Tell Me Who I Am was an extremely moving documentary about twin brothers, one of whom lost his memory following a motorcycle accident; but they were all overshadowed by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama, their extraordinary account of war and death in Syria. However, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum was the film that moved me the most during 2019. It tells a very human and humane story of a young Lebanese boy forced to live off his wits to survive on the streets. As the boy, young Zain Al Rafeea gives an astonishingly naturalistic performance – surely a great actor in the making?


Most of the big guns were released late in the year. Who could argue that we saw some of the finest movie making in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, with the Big Three actors De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, François Ozon’s By the Grace of God, a sensitive and unsensational film on the abuse of children by Catholic priests, Ken Loach’s view of Britain and its gig economy in Sorry We Missed You, and Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s bleak look at, what? Marriage? No, divorce!

That then only leaves the disappointments: Knives Out, Le Mans 66, Hustlers, Destroyer, Mary Queen of Scots, All Is True, Bait and The Souvenir (Part 1). As I write, Part 2 is in pre-production. I wonder if it will make it to my list next year. I fear not...


1.  Capernaum
2.  Stan & Ollie
3.  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
4.  The Irishman
5.  Judy
6.  Pain and Glory
7.  By the Grace of God
8.  Sorry We Missed You
9.  Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
10. Tell Me Who I Am