Best Of 2019 So Far – Shaun Alexander

2019 has been an eventful year for me. I finished university with a first-class film degree and attended film festivals that I have dreamed of visiting. I broke my back in January but didn’t let it get the best of me. Films, as always, have been a massive comfort for me, but this year more than ever they have meant a lot to me. So far it’s been a pretty great year for movies, here are my top 5.

Disclaimer: This list includes a future release that was seen at Cannes Film Festival.

5. High Life (dir. Claire Denis)

The anticipation for this one was high even from the announcement of a Robert Pattinson and Claire Denis team up, and it doesn’t disappoint. We experience an exploration of fatherhood, loneliness and sexuality all within the setting of a space prison. Beautiful visuals that mix the futuristic with the industrial lead to locations that look incredibly authentic. High Life explores many big ideas in such a small-scale movie, but always feels grand in the way it does it.

4. Toy Story 4 (dir. Josh Cooley)

It’s hard to believe that a franchise has been able to remain this consistent through nearly 3 decades. Every instalment has explored new aspects and with Toy Story 4 we have perhaps their most emotional take yet. As always, the voice cast are incredible with new and old members coming together to flesh out this world further. The visuals are starting to get incredibly realistic with rain droplets and dust particles creating a greater sense of immersion into Woody and co’s world. Forky shines as our new hero and it will be hard to find a more satisfying or emotional ending this year.

3. One Cut of the Dead (dir. Shinichiro Ueda)

I never would have expected this film to blow me away the way it did. Starting off as a low budget zombie movie all shot in a singular take for the first 30 minutes, it soon breaks away into something far more impressive. It’s a film you need to go in to knowing nothing else about, because the experience will blow you away. Full of huge laughs and heart, this movie will make you appreciate the art of filmmaking more than ever.

2. Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

First screened at Cannes Film Festival in May, Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) follows an filmmaker who has to deal with his own aging as well as his actions in the past which put him on the path he leads today. Filled with gorgeous set and costume designs and with a powerhouse performance from Antonio Banderas, which saw him take the Best Actor prize at Cannes, this film is sure to please fans of Almodóvar’s work as well as bring in a whole new crowd. It is a beautifully heart-breaking and hopeful story of the people we meet in life and how we impact each other in unexpected ways.

1. Booksmart (dir. Olivia Wilde)

An incredibly strong debut from director Olivia Wilde sees her create a film with endless re-watchability. Whether it’s the lead performances of Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, the incredible soundtrack, the charismatic supporting performances or the incredible direction, Booksmart knows its audience well and is crafted to please them endlessly. There are not many films that keep an audience laughing as constantly as Booksmart and I would be surprised if this doesn’t end up being my most watched movie for years to come.