I have a distinct impression that, in my book, 2019 was not a stellar year for high-quality films. I actually saw a few less films this year and lack of time was not really the issue. The latest by Bi Gan and Bon Joon Ho are exceptional. The former is outstanding in terms of cinematography and storytelling. The last hour or so is shot in 3D and apparently in one single take. I also saw the 2D version and could not tell the difference. Parasite has attracted almost universal claim, deservedly so. After the Okja disaster, this is good news for film-making.
Online viewing continues to gain ground, unfortunately. I could not see The Irishman in a local theater so streaming was the only option. In the US, ticket sales continue to decline while ticket prices in New York continue to rise. Some theaters
While I managed to watch a film every 2.5 days on average, online sources were instrumental in making this a reality. The astounding public library system of the US county where I happen to live at the moment also played a significant role. In addition to facilitating access to academic books (usually on the expensive side) at no cost, it also provides free access to online film platforms.
This is the first time I make extensive use of this resource – and certainly not the last. In fact, fifteen percent of the films I was able to catch this year delivered via this channel. In any event, I am still a big fan of the big screen and will not change that for any other platform.
It seems to me this year the quality of the films released was probably higher than in the recent past. Films like
Travel and work got on the way big time this year. Watching films on the big screen thus became a bit more challenging. Here is where online streaming and, to a lesser extent, DVDs come to the rescue. In the past, missing a film implied waiting for months if not years to play catch up. Television was usually an option and one that offered edited films on a narrow (never mind small) screen. Not that I miss those old days. But on the other hand, most film revival houses have disappeared.
New digital companies such as Netflix and Amazon are going beyond film distribution and are now betting on film production. Perhaps real competition to Hollywood backed by big money is finally emerging. Will these and other similar companies disrupt the sector? Perhaps. But the good news is that film production
Stopping a declining trend, I saw 140 films this year. That is about 40 more than last year. One big change to note here: For the first time, I watched more than 50% of films either online and/or on DVD. This is probably a reflection of increased competition as now we have many more players that just Netflix in the sector. For example, the wonderful Criterion Collection DVD outfit launched its own online channel just before the end of the year. Expect many other to jump into the fray. Nevertheless, I still believe nothing can really beat going to see a film in a theater.
As with previous years, many supposedly “good” films were launched towards the end of the year. I did not have the time to watch them all so I will probably have those in my next year’s list if they are indeed as good as
This was not the best of years, that is for sure. Let us call it a big transition year that included a huge roller-coaster ride that lasted not seconds but months. A bit longer that what is probably really needed. Yet, I was able to some how see 144 films. That is almost 10% less than last year and over 17% below the 2012 peak. Still, it is not a bad number if we bear in mind that an average of 700 or so films are official release in the US on an annual basis.
In terms of films, this was not either a very good one if we compare it to the 2013 or 2012. One of the films that I saw and actually liked a lot was not really considered by mainstream media or placed into many best films of the year. The film, The Launchbox from India, is a simple film about ordinary life where food, love and loneliness
This year I saw just over 125 films. Below is the list of the films I liked the most, presented in chronological order, according to the date I saw them. Unlike other similar lists, no ranking is intended.
I did not see many of the blockbuster films that most people see. So do not expect to see them on this list. And I saw a few films that have not yet been officially released in the US. Expect to see them on the list.