Now that the end of the year has actually arrived, a list of the best movies of the last 12 months can be delivered with much more credibility than such a list published at any time before now. Generally, lists of this type are meaningless because they are published a month or more before the end of the year and are usually compiled by people who are slaves to personal preferences (genre, performers, directors), political/social ideologies, industry influences and/or an over-inflated belief in the value of their opinion. None of that applies here though because the only factor considered in the compiling of this list is the quality of the product that has been presented on screen.

Needless to say, it would be impossible for me to have seen every film released this year so, as always, this list is drawn from the movies that I have seen in cinemas in 2019 (regardless of when they were initially released). From new releases to festival screenings, re-releases, previews or retrospectives; if I saw it in a cinema in 2019, it is eligible for inclusion in this list. Films viewed on DVD, television or via streaming or online platforms are most definitely not considered.

This list is compiled using the reviews and ratings that I posted on Letterboxd in the days following each screening. Given that there will be many movies with the same or similar ratings, I also take into account the way in which a film has continued to resonate with me long after I saw it, which always suggests that there is something prescient or powerful about a particular production and the reality is that there are some movies that are just so good that they simply cannot be overlooked or ignored.

The films are not ranked in any particular order as all of the films listed in this group of ten are outstanding and attempting to narrow the order into some kind of sequential evaluation of merit seems a little pointless. They are all excellent and they all deserve to be celebrated and admired. No doubt there are those who will disagree with my choices and that is fine because those people absolutely have the right to be wrong.

Only films viewed in a cinema by me in 2019 have been considered. Release dates are irrelevant and should never be considered for such lists. This is about the best movies I saw in a cinema between January 1 and December 31, 2019. It also, obviously, precludes any films released in 2019 that I am yet to see.

So, my Top Ten movies of 2019 (in no particular order) are:

Eighth Grade


Vox Lux



Marriage Story

Chained for Life

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Nightingale


Of course, these were plenty of other great movies released on cinema screens in 2019 for which justification for inclusion could easily be mounted. The compilation of such a list necessitates the absence of some very good films to arrive at a final ten.  Therefore, here are 10 others worthy of mention that could quite easily have been included as one my final selections:

Judy & Punch

Ad Astra

The Souvenir

Portrait of a Lady on Fire


Pain & Glory


The Farewell

Little Woods


Fortunately, in 2019 I made mostly wise choices with regard to the movies I chose to see and was able to avoid most of the schlock that somehow made their way onto screens. However, the film that does standout as my worst cinema viewing experience of the year is Greta. Despite the pedigree of director (Neil Jordan) and star (Isabelle Huppert), there is nothing to recommend about this ham-fisted ‘thriller’ that also starred Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe, both of whom should regret ever being a part of it.