The best 9 films of 2019 in the UAE
Do you agree with our list?
GIVEN 1917 IS yet to open in the UAE, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker has been booked solid and Hustlers inexplicably missed this part of the world, compiling up a 'best-of' film list has been a more difficult task this year compared to those gone by. It's safe to say 2019 won't go down in history as a vintage 12-months in film anyway, but here we have endeavoured to bring a couple of gems. Let's roll.
Top of the list, king of the hill, 'A' number one, was an easy pick. Joker is perhaps the only movie, which has truly stayed with us since sitting down in Dubai and watching the plot unfold. The physicality lead star Joaquin Phoenix lends to the character examination of a middle-aged sufferer of acute lifelong mental anguish is astonishing. From the first second when Joker's notorious laugh is explained as an affliction - triggered by both pain and joy - to the disturbing interpretations of traditional clown movements the actor chooses to employ, right down to the infantile run of a person denied a childhood, it is a triumphant performance in what is an accessible, nuanced mainstream masterpiece.
One of the more recent releases of the year, the phrase 'saving the best 'til last,' feels rather apt, as this film is superb. Straight to the point, witty, well-cast and possessing keener societal deconstruction than a Derrida theorem, this seemingly simple whodunit is five-star. It is perhaps Knives Out's central performances which are key to its success. Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig (soon to be seen together in the next James Bond outing) are fantastic as the two characters on the privileged Thrombey family's periphery; De Armas the patriarch and murder victim Harlan Thrombey's (Christopher Plummer) nurse, and Craig as the Foghorn Leghorn-accented Hercule Poirot of the piece, Benoit Blanc.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Very much a movie connoisseur's picture, this ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood and its aftermath from one of its most respected disciples, Quentin Tarantino, may have divided audiences' opinions, but the critics loved it. Regardless, it made four times its budget objectively making it a success. Loosely based around the murder of actor Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson Family, the story follows the career of TV cowboy Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) during the changing movie landscape of the '50s and '60s. Together with stunt man Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), the two must come to terms with their altering fortunes while the world morphs around them.
We'll watch anything director Taika Waititi chooses to put on screen, even if it means he casts himself in a central role as Adolf Hitler. It's true, in Jojo Rabbit he does play Hitler, but this is not some misjudged Hollywood establishment fever dream. This is an ultimate tale of acceptance delivered in the best manner possible: through comedy. 10-year-old Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is an ardent Nazi youth member in the depths of World War II who conjures an imaginary comedic Adolf whenever times are trying. When Jojo meets teenage Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), his perspective begins to alter as their respective journeys play out.
Stan & Ollie
Yes, we know. We realise this one came out in December of 2018, but it opened just after last year's list was completed and is too good to ignore. Stan & Ollie is a tour de force from lead duo Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly playing '20s slapstick movie stars Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. We catch up with the double act at the tail end of their careers after exploitation has left the world's most famous comedians almost destitute. They embark on a tour of Britain and Ireland for a series of live stage shows, which after initial poor interest, grow into the hottest ticket in town.
How could we not flock to a Martin Scorsese- Robert De Niro- Al Pacino - Joe Pesci epic? Especially when it was beamed straight into our living rooms via Netflix? In what could be the final ensemble offering from the mob cinema powerhouses, The Irishman serves up classically lit, brooding entertainment this time enhanced by special de-ageing technology allowing the film's duration to span many decades. Watch Frank Sheeran (De Niro) go from mid-thirties truck driver, to mafia enforcer, to Teamster boss while his friends' fates twist and turn, often on the whim of America's omnipotent crime families.
Criminally overlooked, Long Shot is the blueprint for all future rom-coms. A well-balanced mix of clever one-liners, gross-out humour and contemporary relationship values, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron are perfect fits for the lead characters. Rogen plays a journalist tasked with making former baby-sitter/ crush and outstanding presidential candidate Theron's speeches more relatable. Travelling the world together, the funnyman and workaholic politician become close, but is an enduring relationship possible in the media spotlight?
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Possibly taking the gong for this countdown's guilty pleasure, El Camino may not be one of the best constructed nor thrilling films ever made, though we couldn't help but enjoy catching up with the old Breaking Bad gang. As huge fans of the seminal TV show (who isn't?), it was a welcome break from 2019's real-life turmoil to see what happened next in the story peppered with a large helping of nostalgic flashbacks.
Ford v Ferrari
Unlike Rush (2013) or Senna (2010), if you don't like cars and have no interest in motorsports you may struggle with this one. Thankfully we adore both. Add Matt Damon and Christian Bale to the mix and you have a wonderful historic film. As the title suggests, we see vehicle designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and racing driver Ken Miles (Bale) take the family-friendly Ford brand to the 24-Hours of Le Mans to break legendary marque Ferrari's stranglehold on the competition in an attempt to appeal to new automobile owners and break track records.