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Gianni Damaia’s Top Ten Favorite Films of 2019

Gianni Damaia - I love movies because they’re magic. You can look at them and instinctually connect or relate to something within it that you never knew about yourself before. They combine every art form imaginable to best tell a story.

Hi everyone! Yes, I do written reviews sometimes, and yes I have always had a fondness for top tens. As is customary, this is my annual Top Ten that ranks my favorite films of the year. Why did it take me a little longer to release? Simply because this was an absurdly dominate year in filmmaking and I had to make sure I was prepared. Granted, I’m still missing things, but ‘Pobody’s Nerfect’. (Please don’t stop reading.. I know that was a miserable joke)

For anyone unfamiliar, ever year I rank the new releases I’ve seen. Originally, I only ranked ten. Then twenty. Now I rank every new release I watch throughout an entire year. For the sake of this blog, I’m only going to detail my Top Ten of the year (with a few honorable mentions, of course)


A couple of things to note: 1) there are still a few films on my watch list that I have yet to see that could theoretically cut into this Top 10. Most notable among them are 1917, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, etc. If something you loved didn’t get mentioned in this list, it’s possible I haven’t seen it. So please, let me know what I might have missed! I’m easy to reach via email, twitter, whatever. 2) This is my favorites list. I talk all the time on my podcast about my personal belief that your favorite is not necessarily what you think is the best. If you don’t subscribe to that belief, that’s totally fine, but please refrain from any bashing just because I liked some big Hollywood blockbuster more than your favorite critical indie hit. Or vice versa. This list is generally spoiler free, but if you’re entirely unfamiliar with the film, then I’d recommend skipping my commentary and watching for yourself before reading my blurbs.

I’ll justify all my picks, and try to summarize a quick review for each of them (rating included) so you can see how I thought about them objectively too. You’ll notice some ratings may be higher for films that are ranked lower, and that is by design. I don’t want my list to just be what I thought was the most technically or artistically masterful of the year. Overall, I’m making this list to celebrate my experiences with this year in film, so I want you to celebrate it with me!

Honorable Mentions
These are the movies that are just barely outside of my Top Ten this year. They’re fantastic in their own right, and on any given day they could easily be included in this Top Ten.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
The Lighthouse

There are several others that I could toss up there. Jojo Rabbit comes to mind as it has one of my personal favorite endings of the year. Longshot is a brilliant and classic execution of romantic comedy. Ford V Ferrari had some of the most impressive sound design of the year (behind only one film which is of course on this list). So, ok, I had about six honorable mentions right there. Sue me. But these next picks are the ones that truly matter the most to me, and are certainly the ones I will continually revisit for years to come.

The List

10. Ad Astra

Ad Astra

“A journey into the mystic mind of James Grey, Ad Astra kicks the list off with a somber journey into the deeply unsettling unknown both literally and figuratively.”

9. Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems

“The Safdie brothers have officially cemented themselves as masters in adrenaline thrillers.”

8. The Farewell

The Farewell

“A stunning exploration in collective grief, The Farewell hits like a freight train. Of course I’m saying this in part because it’s true and in part because Golden Globes nominated Awkwafina in this as a comedy and that in itself is a tragedy.”

7. Marriage Story

Marriage Story

“As with all of Baumbach’s narratives, Marriage Story excels in the bravely earnest penmanship of the helmer. Marriage Story is not just a excellent drama with creative displays of tragedy layered with comedic sincerity that punctuates each moment with a relatable thread.”

6. The Irishman

The Irishman

“It’s easy to look at The Irishman as simply another mafia film, and if that’s your outlook I certainly don’t fault you for being unable to separate the creatives from their previous work.”

5. Anima/Avengers Endgame

Anima Avengers Endgame

“Paul Thomas Anderson casts an ethereal trance over the viewer in this Thom Yorke collaboration. While the poetic interpretations are endless, it strikes hardest in its final 5 minutes with such haunting emotion that assaults the senses with a staggering melancholy.” 

“The simple reality is that this is the movie I always wanted from The Marvel Cinematic Universe. And indeed if this was the one truly exemplary experience I had in the theatre this year, it would already have made for a better year in film than the entirety of last year.”

4. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood

Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood

“Tarantino’s sterling achievement is a hang out movie. And I mean that with all the love and adoration I can muster. It’s interesting that two of the greatest auteurs of our time create two of their greatest works in the same year (Scorsese and Tarantino) because they have quite a bit in common under the hood.” 

3. Knives Out

Knives Out

“A masterful genre recreation that cements Rian Johnson’s legacy, Knives Out is easily the most entertaining film of the year topped with a poignant political message that subliminally lines the final moments.” 

2. Little Women

Little Women

“I waited to publish this list until I saw Little Women. And that decision proves more and more wise the longer I sit with it. Greta Gerwig captures emotion in film as if she invented it.” 

1. Parasite


“Not only one of the best films of the year, but what likely will go down as one of the best films ever made, Parasite is my choice for number 1. I know it’s a bold claim, but if ever there was a film so perfectly conceived in the 2000’s, it’s this one.” 

And there you have it! My Top Ten! This has been a revolutionary year for film in my eyes, and hopefully you feel similarly. Please let me know your top ten lists. Lets argue and discuss and put language to these remarkable visuals so that’s we can better ourselves as we examine art. Thank you for reading!

BAFTA 2020 Nominations Announced

Best Film
1917 – Pippa Harris, Callum Mcdougall, Sam Mendes, Jayne-Ann Tenggren
The Irishman – Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Joker – Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – David Heyman, Shannon Mcintosh, Quentin Tarantino
Parasite – Bong Joon-Ho, Kwak Sin-Ae

Outstanding British Film
1917 – Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Callum Mcdougall, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Bait – Mark Jenkin, Kate Byers, Linn Waite
For Sama – Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Rocketman – Dexter Fletcher, Adam Bohling, David Furnish, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn, Lee Hall
Sorry We Missed You – Ken Loach, Rebecca O’brien, Paul Laverty
The Two Popes – Fernando Meirelles, Jonathan Eirich, Dan Lin, Tracey Seaward, Anthony McCarten

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
Bait – Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director), Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Producers)
For Sama – Waad Al-Kateab (Director/Producer), Edward Watts (Director)
Maiden – Alex Holmes (Director)
Only You – Harry Wootliff (Writer/Director)
Retablo – Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio (Writer/Director) *

Film Not In The English Language
The Farewell – Lulu Wang, Daniele Melia
For Sama – Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Pain And Glory – Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar
Parasite – Bong Joon-Ho
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – Céline Sciamma, Bénédicte Couvreur

American Factory – Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Apollo 11 – Todd Douglas Miller
Diego Maradona – Asif Kapadia
For Sama – Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
The Great Hack – Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaime

Animated Film
Frozen 2 – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho
Klaus – Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh
A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon – Will Becher, Richard Phelan, Paul Kewley
Toy Story 4 – Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen

1917 – Sam Mendes
The Irishman – Martin Scorsese
Joker – Todd Phillips
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
Parasite – Bong Joon-Ho

Original Screenplay
Booksmart – Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Katie Silberman
Knives Out – Rian Johnson
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
Parasite – Han Jin Won, Bong Joon-Ho

Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman – Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit –Taika Waititi
Joker – Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Little Women – Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes – Anthony McCarten

Leading Actress
Jessie Buckley – Wild Rose
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Renée Zellweger – Judy

Leading Actor
Leonardo Dicaprio – Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Taron Egerton – Rocketman
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes

Supporting Actress
Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh – Little Women
Margot Robbie – Bombshell
Margot Robbie Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

Supporting Actor
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
Al Pacino – The Irishman
Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Brad Pitt – Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

Original Score
1917 – Thomas Newman
Jojo Rabbit – Michael Giacchino
Joker – Hildur Guđnadóttir
Little Women – Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – John Williams

Joker – Shayna Markowitz
Marriage Story – Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Victoria Thomas
The Personal History Of David Copperfield – Sarah Crowe
The Two Popes – Nina Gold

1917 – Roger Deakins
The Irishman – Rodrigo Prieto
Joker – Lawrence Sher
Le Mans ’66 – Phedon Papamichael
The Lighthouse – Jarin Blaschke

The Irishman – Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit – Tom Eagles
Joker – Jeff Groth
Le Mans ’66 – Andrew Buckland, Michael Mccusker
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Fred Raskin

Production Design
1917 – Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales
The Irishman – Bob Shaw, Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit – Ra Vincent, Nora Sopková
Joker – Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh

Costume Design
The Irishman – Christopher Peterson, Sandy Powell
Jojo Rabbit – Mayes C. Rubeo
Judy – Jany Temime
Little Women – Jacqueline Durran
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Arianne Phillips

Make Up & Hair
1917 – Naomi Donne
Bombshell – Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan
Joker –Kay Georgiou, Nicki Ledermann
Judy – Jeremy Woodhead
Rocketman – Lizzie Yianni Georgiou

1917 – Scott Millan, Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson
Joker – Tod Maitland, Alan Robert Murray, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic
Le Mans ’66 – David Giammarco, Paul Massey, Steven A. Morrow, Donald Sylvester
Rocketman – Matthew Collinge, John Hayes, Mike Prestwood Smith, Danny Sheehan
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood

Special Visual Effects
1917 – Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, Dominic Tuohy
Avengers: Endgame – Dan Deleeuw, Dan Sudick
The Irishman – Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, Pablo Helman
The Lion King – Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Elliot Newman, Adam Valdez
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy

British Short Animation
Grandad Was A Romantic. – Maryam Mohajer
In Her Boots – Kathrin Steinbacher
The Magic Boat – Naaman Azhari, Lilia Laurel

British Short Film
Azaar – Myriam Raja, Nathanael Baring
Goldfish – Hector Dockrill, Harri Kamalanathan, Benedict Turnbull, Laura Dockrill
Kamali –Sasha Rainbow, Rosalind Croad
Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl) –Carol Dysinger, Elena Andreicheva
The Trap – Lena Headey, Anthony Fitzgerald

EE Rising Star Award (Voted For By The Public)
Jack Lowden
Kaitlyn Dever
Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Micheal Ward

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