2019 on the Silver Screen: the Best Films of the Year

From the 26th Scorsese to the first Alma Har'el, here are HUNGER's top films of 2019.

It’s been a tumultuous year for all, and when there is trial and tribulation, many of us find solace and solutions in the world of cinema. Whether the compassion of FKA twigs in Honey Boy, the hope of Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems or the earnestness of The Dead Don’t Die, there is a sense of urgency in 2019’s films unlike before. Uncertain times call for strong voices to guide us, and so we’ve collated the films this year that we believe offer a light in the darkness…

The Irishman

Not only one of the best of 2019, this is in our eyes Scorsese’s best film this decade (sorry Leo). We thought that Marty was done exploring the mobster world, but then he goes and finds a whole new way in. Exploring the measures of masculinity in an entire new light, The Irishman moves away from the likes of epic’s Goodfellas and Casino, questioning instead the state of his protagonist’s soul rather than his place in the mob. As full of faith as it is intrigue, the director’s 26th feature is as good an answer as any to the question ‘What is cinema?’.

Honey Boy

As far as debut narrative features go, Alma Har’el’s is one of the best ever, let alone one of the best this year. Delving deep into Shia LeBeouf’s psyche, the Israeli director’s unique perspective of addiction and trauma (both her own and Shia’s) allows this film to blur the lines of fantasy and reality. Propositioning itself as a vital story about just how damaging toxic masculinity really is, the film follows Otis (Shia’s pseudonym character) and his tumultuous relationship with his father as he recounts it from his court-ordered rehab facility.


A classic success story of actor to director, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is an authentic and moving tale of coming-of-age. Celebrating the power and tenacity of female friendships, Booksmart celebrates and acknowledges them as vital parts of our upbringings. From coming outs to staying ins, this raw creation delves deep into the young psyche, and captures a moment in time difficult to distinguish, but fundamental to remember.

uncut gems

The Safdie Brothers’ follow up endeavor to their 2017 grit hit Good Time is just as full of edge and heat as their previous pulp crime thriller, only this time it’s got a little bit of Adam Sandler thrown in. Focusing on the Jewish community in New York’s diamond district, Sandler becomes a charismatic jeweler who loves a bet, and hopes for once it will pay off. Featuring captivating first-time actor Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel and Kevin Garnett, this is the story of an insatiable man who is trying to strike a balance in a topsy turvy life.


One of the most unpredictable films of the year, Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece is a shapeshifter of a movie. Merging genres and breaking boundaries – it’s as much a black comedy as it is a tragedy – Parasite is a needed sharp satire in these trying times. Following a con-artist family on their discovery of some easy prey, it’s a mainstream film with an indie edge that has taken Joon-ho way into the popular sphere. A must watch.

The Dead Don’t Die

A zombie film unlike the rest, this Jim Jarmusch tale of existentialism and extinction is an earnest satire that 2019 needed. As things start to go a little wrong in the small town of Centerville, local cops Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny set out to set it straight. But a zombie breakout of mass proportions changes all that, and things are surely going to end badly… But along the way you’ve got some delightful cameos with Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Carol Kane, Tom Waits, RZA, Selena Gomez and Austin Butler, who make the watch very worth your while.

once upon a time in Hollywood

An exceptionally relaxed and self-aware Tarantino creation, this meta-western is the heartfelt return we needed from the director. Following Leonardo DiCaprio as a fading star and his relationship with his stunt double, Brad Pitt, the two cross paths in a time-changing few moments with Sharon Tate and the Manson family. This luminous film is just what we needed from the director this year: full of life, love and hope.

24 December 2019