By Roger Costa
“Let us Dance to show God we are Grateful for being alive.”
After watching 374 new films in 2019, here are my personal Top 10, essential picks, the most pleasurable moments Cinema offered me:
1- THE REPORTS ON SARAH AND SALEEM
An impossible affair between a Jewish woman and an Arab man, stirs up controversy in Muayad Alayan’s powerful thriller. Superbly performed and masterly crafted, it’s a fascinating puzzle with focus on social, political and religious clashes, affecting all areas of communion. The well-elaborated, suspenseful screenplay and its twists, prove the reason why we love movies: you just can’t take your eyes away from it.
2- THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
Two lonely, unemployed artists contemplate the beauty of San Francisco, its architecture, its people, history and culture, as well as themselves in Joe Talbot’s adventurous, poetical and inclusive drama. With brilliant commentary on loyalty, friendship values, financial and emotional despair, it’s a remarkable, miraculously touching buddy-story.
3- HOTEL BY THE RIVER
A gravely ill writer gathers his sons at a remote hotel in South Korea for an analysis of their bond. Right next door, two sisters also come to terms with their dilemmas, dreams and fears. Director Hong Sangsoo provides thoughtful philosophies on human relationships, family values and how to face the realities of our disturbed world, with this lovely, sensitive, astoundingly shot dramedy.
4- JOJO RABBIT
A young German boy develops a risky imaginary friendship to his idol, Hitler, while his mother is hiding a Jewish girl under their roof in this amazingly dysfunctional, extremely funny and irreverent comedy, that turns out to be also one of the most beautiful depictions of mother-son relationships ever made. Taika Waititi conceived a provocative anti-war statement, while Scarlett Johansson and Roman Griffin Davis give the best performances of the year, as mother and son- you just want to squeeze both of them.
5- SORRY ANGEL + GENESES + SYNONYMS
Three marvelous French-speaking films depicting the turmoils of young love, interests, perspectives and behavior. All three revolve around a love triangle, examining topics of emotional and sexual identity, nationality, participation in society and desire, painting relevant, absorbing portraits of this generation. Directors Christopher Honore, Philippe Lesage, and Nadav Lapid, respectively, had made their best work yet.
6- ASH IS PUREST WHITE
In Jia Zhangke’s contemplative mobster romance, a woman is wrongly convicted of a crime, covering for her lover, and struggles to connect to the new era of technology and distant relationships. Tao Zhao gives a heartbreaking, absorbing performance, while Chinese master Zhangke scores his most romantic and explosively violent film to date.
7- LES MISERABLES
Director Ladj Ly’s outstanding feature debut is a vivid, inventive and tangled dramatic thriller depicting police corruption, racial conflicts and humanitarian values through a multiple characters study. Connecting the lives of a group of rebel kids, criminal Gypsies from a circus, a gang of Nigerians running drugs and prostitution, a restaurant owner who serves as leader and guidance, and a pair of corrupt cops training the “new naive guy”, the film reveals itself as one of those amazing stories that you just can’t get enough, an accomplished modern-take on the “power to the people” genre.
8- INVISIBLE LIFE
Two sisters try to reconnect after their lives go separated in Karim Aïnouz’s Cannes winner efficient, superb melodrama. Addressing issues such as male dominance, the role and importance of women’s freedom, family and societal standards, the film delivers highly emotional performances, including an unforgettable sequence with Fernanda Montenegro. A seductive, amusing work of art, a passionate tale about sisterly love, its endurance and sacrifices.
9- THE THIRD WIFE
In 19th Century Vietnam, a 14-year-old girl arrives at a village to become the landowner’s youngest wife; First-time director Ash Mayfair conceives a gorgeously erotic, utterly delicate portrait of a teen bride experiencing the turmoils and pleasures of an ambiguous first love. Exuberantly crafted and designed, it’s a visually-arresting coming of age story, a poetic meditation on the deflowering of a complex girl.
10- A HIDDEN LIFE
Terrence Malick’s latest anti-war odyssey into human condition and the Creation of Nature is an eye-popping experience, offering the most beautiful landscapes, a glorious look on the co-dependence relationship among men, family, earth and the Creator. A man and his family, face conflicts in his village as he refuses to go to war, constantly standing up for his humanitarian perspectives against it. It’s an inspiring and triumphant depiction of family strength and the necessity of a closer encounter with God’s will.
*THE OTHER TOP 10:
11- THE DEAD DON’T DIE
13- ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
14- EDGE OF DEMOCRACY + FOR SAMA + 17 BLOCKS
16- PAIN & GLORY
18- BIRDS OF PASSAGE
20- UNCUT GEMS
*THE 10 WORST FILMS:
The Beach Bum, The Souvenir, High Life, John Wick 3, Us, Midsommar, Madea’s Funeral, Atlantics, Replicas, Cats.
HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!