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Our pick of the films of 2019

  • STAFF OF MERCATORNET

A bumper crop of superior viewing.


popcornWe've selected 20 films (CERC has only posted 19 of those films) from the hundreds released during 2019.  Not all of them are Oscar material, but they all have that combination of artistry, engagement and reasonably humane values which put them a cut above the rest. 

We've done our best to cater for all ages and interests.  No doubt we've left out some of your favourites – please leave comments with your suggestions. 

Ad Astra 

Astronaut Roy McBride travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of Earth.  His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.  Brad Pitt is fantastic in his role as an emotionless, duty-driven man who discovers himself. Rotten Tomatoes 84%

Avengers: Endgame

Thanos's annihilation of half the universe compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in the grand finale to 22 films.  A must-see for Marvel fans.  Mind-bending special effects with an impossibly complicated plot. Rotten Tomatoes 94%  

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Against all the odds, a 13-year-old boy in Malawi saves his family and village from famine.  Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba who provided electricity for his village by designing a wind turbine powered by a dynamo made from spare parts.  Inspiring. Rotten Tomatoes 86%.

Farewell 

A Chinese family discovers that their beloved Grandmother has only a short time to live.  They decide to keep her in the dark and schedule an impromptu wedding to bring the scattered family together for one last celebration.  America-raised Billi struggles with the family's decision to hide the truth from her grandmother.  A wonderful, heart-warming film.  In Mandarin and English with subtitles. Rotten Tomatoes 99%  

Ford v Ferrari

Visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary car for Ford and take Ferrari at Le Mans in France in 1966.  Petrolheads will love the skidmarks; non-petrolheads will appreciate the human drama. Rotten Tomatoes 92% 

A Hidden Life

This is director Terence Malick's poetic interpretation of the life of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, a simple farmer who refused to swear allegiance to Hitler.  His unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fanni and his three daughters keep his spirit alive.  He was guillotined as a traitor in 1943 and beatified as a martyr in 2007.  A beautiful and inspiring film about conscientious objection. Rotten Tomatoes 76%  

The Irishman 

Hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) recalls his years working for the Bufalino crime family and his involvement in the disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa.  A brilliant Oscar-bound film by Martin Scorsese filled with violence, dark humour and spiritual reflection. Rotten Tomatoes 96%

The LEGO Movie 2

The sequel reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an action-packed adventure to save their beloved city.  It's been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are now facing a huge new threat.  Enormous fun. Rotten Tomatoes 85%

Little Women

Another adaptation of the classic American novel by Louisa May Alcott, updated for millennials.  In director Greta Gerwig's charming feminist version, four young women are each determined to live life on her own terms.  A wonderful story. Rotten Tomatoes 96%

Marriage Story

A stage director and his actress wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce.  That this powerful film is based on a true story is obvious.  But it becomes even more poignant when you realise that it is the director's own story.  Perhaps that's the secret of its emotional dynamite. Rotten Tomatoes 96%

Missing Link

Mr Link is 8 feet tall, weighs 630 lbs, and is covered in fur – he's a Big Foot.  Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, he recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.  Wonderful, funny animation. Rotten Tomatoes 89%

One Child Nation

China's One Child Policy ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma is just beginning.  This brilliant documentary explores the ripple effect of a devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another. Rotten Tomatoes 98%  

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Zak, a young man with Down syndrome, runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck.  A strange turn of events pairs him with a small time outlaw on the run, his unlikely coach and ally, and a kindly woman charged with bringing him back.  Huckleberry Finn for 2019. Rotten Tomatoes 95%

Peterloo 

British director Mike Leigh portrays the infamous Peterloo Massacre of 1819, in which cavalry charged into a peaceful crowd of 80,000 that had gathered in Manchester to demand democratic reform.  Lots of oratory and political passion.  A "brilliant and demanding film," according to the New York Times. Rotten Tomatoes 66%

Shadow   

Director Zhang Yimou paints a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of colour from the blood of the defeated.  In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a "shadow", a look-alike to fool both his enemies and the King.  Now he must use this weapon to wage a war that the King does not want.  Brilliant and mesmerising.  Mandarin with English sub-titles. Rotten Tomatoes 94%

Shazam!

A funny, cool and goofy film about a superhero – but not in the sombre Marvel tradition.  Billy Batson discovers that he has superpowers if he shouts "shazam!" According to the Wall Street Journal, "What 'Shazam!' lacks most obviously is gravitas.  And grimness.  Also bleakness, darkness and relentless self-seriousness.  In other words, it's terrific fun." Rotten Tomatoes 90%

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Peter Parker, our friendly neighbourhood Super Hero joins his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation.  But his plan to leave super heroics behind are scrapped when he has to help Nick Fury solve mysterious attacks which are creating havoc across the continent.  "A breezy romp that positively drips with crowd-pleasing charm," says one critic. Rotten Tomatoes 90%

Stan & Ollie  

Laurel & Hardy set out on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953.  Diminished by age and with their golden era as the kings of Hollywood comedy behind them, they face an uncertain future.  They re-connect with adoring fans but they have to re-examine their own relationship.  A wonderful story of genuine friendship. Rotten Tomatoes 93%

Tolkien 

"Tolkien" explores the formative years of the beloved author.  His friendships at school deepen as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien's tumultuous courtship and the First World War which threatens to tear their fellowship apart.  In later life he worked these experiences into The Lord of the Rings. Rotten Tomatoes 51%

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Acknowledgement

Staff of MercatorNet. "Our pick of the films of 2019." Mercatornet (December 12, 2020).

MercatorNet is an innovative internet magazine analysing current affairs and key international news and trends which touch its readers' daily lives. If you enjoyed this article, visit MercatorNet.com for more.

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