What They Had

My Top Ten Films of 2019

As there’s just two more days of 2019 and I’m not going to be watching any new 2019 releases over those two days, here’s my ten favourite films of 2019. These are based on UK releases and I reviewed a lot of these films so will link to my review if I did so.

I have contributed to the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten once again (though my top ten on there is slightly different as I’d forgotten a film that I loved) and do think it’s a cool and interesting thing to check out. I honestly found it more difficult than normal to even think of ten films that I really loved from this year but without further ado, here are my favourite films of 2019 in kinda of order.

10. Capernaum
This film was brutal but brilliant. The very young star was incredible and how the filmmaker got such a genuine performance out of a young child and a baby is astounding. Capernaum is a film I would highly recommend to anyone but it’s not one that I could watch again any time soon. It’s just so sad.

9. Crawl
This is like the perfect monster movie. It’s tense, atmospheric, with so many surprises. It’s a film where it knew exactly what it was – alligators going after a trapped father and daughter (and a dog) in a hurricane – and did it very well.

8. Hustlers
Hustlers is a funny and vibrant film with great performances and sharp storytelling. I love how it gives space for you to make your own judgements on these women that conned men out of hundreds of thousands of dollars but also made a family too.

7. What They Had
This is another film that I think is great with brilliant performances and a touching story but not one that I’d want to watch again anytime soon. What They Had hit close to home as it’s about a family dealing with a relative going through Alzheimer’s. That’s something I’ve been dealing with for over five years and I think the writer and director captured the highs and lows of it all perfectly.

6. Shazam!
Shazam! was an unexpected delight. It’s so much fun and sweet and young cast are great. It has one of my favourite tropes – found family – and it works so well and I cannot wait for a sequel.

5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a film I almost forgot came out this year even though it’s so great. I love all the twists and turns and illusions and those post-credit scenes are fascinating to me and I can’t wait to see what they mean.

4. Unicorn Store
I really need to rewatch Unicorn Store. Gosh I loved it so much when I watched it in the Spring because it resonated with me so much. Just that feeling of not knowing what you were doing our why and who you’re meant to be – it really struck a chord and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for ages.

3. Instant Family
Having rewatched this film yesterday I am very happy to give it such a high spot on my favourites of the year. It makes me laugh and cry and it gets me right in the feels.

2. Knock Down the House
This is such a fantastic documentary that’s equal parts frustrating and inspiring. To see women fight for what they believe in, a better country for normal people, and how some might not make it but there’s still ripple effects because of their actions – it makes you want to stand up for what you believe in.

1. Avengers: Endgame
Oh boy. What can I say about Endgame?! It was such a satisfying ending to a lot of these characters arcs, it was big and bold and I full on sob for the last 10 minutes or so every time I watch it (and I’ve seen it four times now).

What are some of your favourite films of 2019?

Mid-Year Film Update

I don’t usually do mid-year check ins with my film-related goals (mainly because I don’t have many) but after having a look of my stats on Letterboxd, it was something I fancied doing.

My main film-related goal of 2019 is to continue watching 52 films directed and written by women. I’m happy to say I’m well on track with that. This is in part thanks to my Reel Women movie marathon in May as I watched 12 films directed in women in 24 hours so that helped me catch up as I was lagging behind a bit before then. I’ve seen 30 films directed by women so far this year (you can find a list of them all here) and I’ve watched 32 films written by women (a full list of those are here). My favourite films made by women I’ve seen this year have been Unicorn Store, What They Had and Capernaum. They are three very different films but are all powerful in their own way.

I don’t think I’ve made a dent on my unwatched DVD’s/Blu-Rays at all this year as when I have watched a DVD it’s been of a film I’ve already seen. I actually have more than what I started the year with as I bought an Alfred Hitchcock boxset from a friend a few months ago.

My favourite thing about Letterboxd Pro is the actor and director stats. I thought it’d be cool to keep a record of who were my most watched actors of the first six months of 2019 and then see if and how there’s any changes by the time December rolls around.

My most watched actors of 2019 so far are:

I went on a bit of a Brie Larson binge in February, watching six of her films that I’d never seen before that month! I don’t know if another actor will become my most watched by the end of the year, but I think she’ll definitely be in the top five. Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane were a bit of a surprise, but I rewatched/watched all three of the John Wick films a few months ago so it does make sense. I’ve also started to rewatch and review all the Fast and Furious films (including the two short films I never realised existed) so that’s why some of those actors are here and I think a lot more of them will be there once I’ve finished my rewatch. Whether or not it’ll be a majority Fast and Furious-actors list at the end of the year (like it was with Harry Potter last year) remains to be seen.

My most watched directors of 2019 so far are:

This isn’t so exciting, and they can be put down to the John Wick films, MCU films, and then Cretton directed two films starring Brie Larson. I’ll be interested to see what other directors will end up on my most watched of the year list as there’s still plenty of room. Justin Lin will definitely be there as he directed a fair few Fast and Furious movies.

In the first half of 2019 I have seen 117 different films and have been to the cinema 35 times. A full list of what I’ve seen is here. I haven’t been putting pressure on myself to watch a film every single day, instead only watching things I want to watch and when I feel like it, so I was surprised that I’d still managed to watch so many. I’m going to continue to not put pressure on myself when it comes to watching films. I’ll probably see a good chunk more at the cinema before the year is out – I’m a big fan of seeing between two to four films in the cinema on a Saturday – but I won’t go out of my way to see EVERYTHING.

What’s been your favourite film you’ve seen so far this year? It could be a 2019 release, or an older film you’ve seen for the first time. Some of my favourites I’ve seen this year have been Avengers: Endgame, Instant Family and Short Term 12. Each month I share my Top 5 First Views on Twitter if you ever want to see what new-to-me films I liked the most each month.

REVIEW: What They Had (2018)

Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home to help her brother Nick (Michael Shannon) look after their mother Ruth (Blythe Danner) who has Alzheimer’s and persuade their father Burt (Robert Forster) it is time for him to look into care options for Ruth as her illness deteriorates.

What They Had opens with Ruth getting out of bed in the middle of the night, putting on some lipstick, her shoes and a coat over her nightshirt, and then lets herself out of her home and walks off in the middle of a snowstorm. This incident is the final straw for Nick who has been trying to get his father to see how much the illness is affecting Ruth and how they both need help and support. He calls Bridget and she and her daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga) fly out to help.

Everything about What They Had and how a family deals with a loved one having Alzheimer’s is incredibly true to life. Everyone’s experiences with an illness differs but there were so many moments in this film I could relate to as someone who has had one grandparent die after having dementia, and another currently living with Alzheimer’s. The script allowed each character to have their own point of view of what this illness was doing to their family. Nick is often frustrated as he’s the one that’s been helping his father look after his mother for so long, whereas Bridget can still see the funny side of things – because sometimes things happen or are said which are funny – but that’s not exactly helpful to Nick. Then there’s Bert who is in denial and doesn’t want to be apart from his wife, which is totally understandable, even if that could be what’s best for the both of them.

The whole cast give brilliant performances, with Swank and Shannon bouncing off one another really well and feel like proper siblings. It’s Blythe Danner though that really needs to be commended. The way she portrays someone with Alzheimer’s is spot on and even with the more absurd moments, she’s never over acts it. It’s the quieter moments though, when Ruth slips from being unaware of what’s happening around her, to momentarily understanding it and being frustrated by it, before slipping back to obliviousness, that are like a punch to the gut. It gives her loved one’s emotional whiplash and highlights how horrible the disease is.

What They Had is a well written and well-acted film that never lacks empathy for these characters. It’s certainly a tough watch at times, especially for those who have experienced a love one losing their mind to Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s a film that highlights the struggles and difficult choices a family in that position must make. 5/5.