As we are halfway through 2019 already, the team at Flip Screen asked us to pick our top five releases of this year. For me it wasn’t too much of a hard choice as there has been some stand-outs this year already! Notable mentions that have just missed the mark include the ridiculously good John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski, 2019). Each installment of the series has brought with it more inventive action scenes than the last, but the knife fight in Chapter 3 just cannot be beaten. Knock Down the House (Dir. Rachel Lears, 2019) is another notable mention, a film that both educates and encourages equally for people to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how formidable the force is you may be fighting against. So, here are my top five picks of 2019 (so far)…
5. Booksmart (dir. Olivia Wilde)
The hilarious events of best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy’s (Kaitlyn Dever) last night of high school unfold in Olivia Wilde’s hilarious direcorial debut. Full of energy, crazy situations, and quirky characters, Booksmart is the coming of age comedy we deserve. Leads Feldstein and Dever have an enviable friendship, their personalities complementing each other brilliantly. The soundtrack is surprising, yet is the perfect fit for this wacky high school comedy.
4. Burning (dir. Lee Change-dong)
Burning is the kind of film you just can’t get out of your head. Adapted from the short story by master Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Burning tells the story of Jong-Soo (Yoo Ah-in), a young man attempting to unravel the mystery of his sweet love interest Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo) and her perplexing new boyfriend Ben (Steven Yeun). What follows is an intoxicating exploration into the mysterious Ben, as Jong-Soo’s efforts to understand him only unravel more questions. Burning is a beautifully atmospheric puzzle from Lee Chang-dong.
3. Eighth Grade (dir. Bo Burnham)
Eighth Grade follows 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she navigates her last week of middle school. Fisher is a natural talent, bringing an air of authenticity to the character. The film does a great job of highlighting the increased pressures on modern day teens from social media, in a sensitive way. Despite social media being less of a factor when I was Kayla’s age, I found her journey extremely relatable and empathise with her struggles in social situations. Eighth Grade should be mandatory viewing for young teens everywhere.
2. Vox Lux (dir. Brady Corbet)
Natalie Portman is electric as hardened popstar Celeste in Vox Lux, a film that surprised and thrilled me equally. Beginning with Raffey Cassidy as the teenage Celeste, we see her rise to superstardom after a tragic event nearly ends her life too soon. The pop soundtrack is addictive and the lyrics cleverly link to Celeste’s circumstances. What really stands out about this film is its unique method of storytelling: splitting the film into distinctive parts, with an other-worldly narration from Willam Dafoe. Vox Lux is an unforgettable experience.
1.The Farewell (dir. Lulu Wang)
My number one slot goes to The Farewell, a hugely personal film from Lulu Wang that tells the story of a Chinese family who decide to refrain from telling their beloved Grandmother that she has been diagnosed with cancer, choosing to carry the emotional burden for her. Surprisingly comical, the relationship between Awkwafina’s Billi and her Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) is a ray of light penetrating through the clouds of the sombre subject matter. Wang absolutely nails all aspects of the extended family dynamic, representing the crazy uncles, awkward cousins and drunken aunties we can all relate to. Full of heart, The Farewell has spoken to me like no other film so far this year.