2019 End Of Year Lists: Film Categories



Similarly to recent years the vast majority of major, mainstream movies came out terribly flawed in 2019. The brightest exceptions to that were Uncut Gems and Parasite, however, this year was not a good one for movies in general. Fortunately there have been indie films which didn't disappoint, and a few remarkably well done.

D//E's favorite feature films, documentaries and scores follow in our annual outline of cinematics.



Films


10. The Beach Bum



Although Harmony Korine's latest hedonistic comedy isn't nowhere near his best work, it still justifies its entry among the year's most important films for its easy to predict but well realized eccentricity, and its stunning cinematography. Among a list of obnoxious characters portrayed by an all star cast, McConaughey is the one who seems to be having the most fun in a role which feels cut out for him.



9. Lords of Chaos



No matter how high the film's level of accuracy is compared to the real events, Lords of Chaos makes an interesting depiction of one of the most fascinating series of events in modern music, one that involved suicide, murders, church arson and some deeply groundbreaking music that shook the world. Its main weaknesses lie mostly in parts of the casting and the dramaturgy, but Jonas Åkerlund's direction is still really good. Preferably one should go for the Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind's book first, because that's where the trve thrill is.



8. Skin



Based on true events, Skin, is a solid, tough, yet easily digestible film whose impact has less to do with the storyline, a narrative more or less foreseen and heard before in many cases involving nationalist groups, and exists mainly in the powerful acting of its protagonist, who makes both a very convincing tattoo-ridden skinhead and a moving, devoted family man. After an Academy Award for his short of the same name, director Guy Nattiv continues making his exciting mark.



7. Zombi Child



Not an ordinary zombie flick, and at the same time not the average art-house movie, Bertrand Bonello's Zombi Child, like Wes Craven's baser The Serpent And The Rainbow, and Jacques Tourneur's groundbreaking, I Walked with a Zombie, substantiates its zombiism to Haitian voodoo, culminating in a fairly realistic supernatural horror drama with great performances from its starring young actors. The film is presented in two different timelines, interrelated and skillfully paired, bringing its fantastical plot to a believable solidity.



6. An Elephant Sitting Still



An Elephant Sitting Still is a film without parallel which derives from pure nihilism. It's four hours of beautiful, cinematic poetry that needn't be that long, but which surely makes a very much compelling experience for those willing to endure it's hefty gloominess. Hu Bo was a profound artist and writer whose zenith tragically will never be reached.



5. Midsommar



With a much more impressive art direction and a clearer vision than his imperfect breakthrough debut, Hereditary, from last year, Ari Aster’s Midsommar is an elegiac horror flick, merging the psychedelic, the occult and the cultlike, as well as the folklore quite masterfully. While beautifully shot and cinematographed, the film is as disturbing as it gets, not just because of the shocking gore, but also for its depravity and provocativeness.



4. Ash Is Purest White



A love story fueled by violence and adversity, the latest movie by veteran dirctor, Zhangke Jia, is both a compelling drama and a fascinating gangster story, made even greater by the two starring actors, Tao Zhao and Fan Liao whose performances are sensational. Spanning a seventeen-year timeframe, the film is incredibly well detailed and all around devoid of flaws, eventful, electric and grabbing throughout its considerable length.



3. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find



Abner Pastoll's second feature length is a very much tense, suspenseful and smart thriller, an all dense and tight film with revenge as its main concept. Showcasing an excellent lead, a couple of believable villains, stark photography, and dexterous and promising direction, A Good Woman Is Hard To Find is the crime chiller flick that Hollywood hasn’t been able to deliver these last few years; sunless, dark-hued, yet, positively fresh.



2. Aniara



Based on a piece of literature from 1956 when human outer space flight was still an idea, Swedish film, Aniara, is an apocalyptic science fiction epic which makes impeccable use of a low budget and talented actors, and delivers a stark message under a considerably negativistic point of view. While it’s obviously not for everyone, the film offers a questioning and thought provoking look at humankind’s future, in an analogous poetic manner as its original source.



1. Bliss



Director of Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye and the anticipated VFW, Joe Begos is steadily making a name for himself as one of the new greats in art-house horror, and Bliss is his best movie thus far. Lustful, hallucinatory, fueled by excessive drug use, sexually tense and blood-soaked for its final act, Bliss is a compact 80-minute movie, more of a character delineation rather than a conventional narrative. The film’s strong effect is enhanced by the fantastic musical selections, including tracks by post punk band Deth Crux, sludge metal heaviness by Electric Wizard, Isis and Doomriders, more obscurities like The Nymphs, The Nukes and Harassor, as well as an original score by Zombi’s Steve Moore which has yet to be released. While Dora Madison carries the film’s eeriness very well, so does Begos’ direction which keeps getting fitter with each new film. Bliss is a beguiling,yet, far from joyous flick which has 'cult classic' written all over it.



Documentaries

Our favorite documentaries this year include a couple based on restored material that feel like the closest we get to a sort of a time machine at the moment, a thrilling documentation of a notorious murderer in his own words, a testament that at long last slapped pop culture in its blinkered face, and an enticing and informative film about a nontheistic religious group and its actions, which are very much antithetical to what the average mind would expect from it.


5. They Shall Not Grow Old




4. Conversations With A Serial Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes




3. Leaving Neverland




2. Apollo 11




1. Hail Satan?





Scores

For our favorite scores of 2019, we felt compelled to become more inclusive than the previous years, and consider original music from television works, many of which, both musically and filmically, cut through to a much bigger effect than the majority of traditional cinema. Once again many of these derive from rock and underground music, which makes for an interesting and hopeful fact.



10. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: Bird Box




9.  Mark Korven: The Lighthouse




8. Disasterpeace: Under The Silver Lake




7. Clark: Daniel Isn't Real




6.  Daniel Lopatin: Uncut Gems




5. Wolfmen of Mars: Satanic Panic




4. Ryuichui Sakamoto: Black Mirror: Smithereens




3. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: Watchmen




2. Cliff Martinez: Too Old To Die Young




1. Bobby Krlic: Midsommar







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