I’ve watched 84 films on Mubi this year. These are the 40 films I liked the most. Some of them are reviewed on here. If there’s any films you’d like me to review, please leave the title in the comment section.
Here’s the 40 best films I’ve watched on HBO Go in 2020. You can find reviews for some of them on here. If you’d like me to review any of the others, please comment below. This is a list I’ve created on my letterboxd, and thought I’d also paste it in here, just like last year.
Check out my 2019 list: https://joanneholly.com/2019/12/07/45-best-films-watched-on-hbo-go-in-2019/
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It’s a story of a 10 year old boy, of Hitler youth who, just like his classmates, buys into the Nazi propaganda. He is wounded while training to be a soldier which keeps him from joining Hitler’s army. Jojo, suddenly having a lot of time on his hands, finds out his mother’s greatest secret. A teenage Jewish girl, hiding in the attic. Thomasin McKenzie goes from hiding in the woods in ‘Leave No Trace’ to hiding in Scarlett Johansson’s attic. The first half of the film is intentionally offensive and may be sickening to some, but please try to look past it. At my screening, a few people in the audience were outraged, sighed at the sight of Hitler and one shouted ‘I thought this was a family film!’, but please give it a chance.
‘You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.’
Can’t believe no one wanted to buy it and they told Scorsese no one would watch ‘another gangster film’ of his in 2019, and only Neflix offered to buy it? The film turned out to be another Scorsese masterpiece. De Niro’s contacts are a little distracting, but I can look past that, because it’s one of the best films of the year. I keep asking people in my surroundings whether they’ve seen it and most don’t even know haven’t even heard of the film. They don’t really care for films or Scorsese for some reason? Both break my heart. Even though DeNiro doesn’t seem to be at his best, Al Pacino certainly is. I was pleased to see Ray Romano star in this too, he doesn’t act enough anymore. Some of my favourite scenes are the ones where Robert de Niro ‘paints the walls’.
I’ve chatted with this 70 year old lady after the screening and she said she had seen a few stage productions of Cats and she liked this one best because the story was much clearer as opposed to just cats singing. We’ve had a bunch of pre-teen girls laughing through the entire thing, even during Jennifer Hudson’s performace of the famous song. 20 minutes in, one of the girls shouted ‘Wait! It’s a musical?!’ They only shut up when Jennifer got off the ground and began to hit all those high notes that left the entire audience with goosebumps. Don’t forget to bow to your cat when you address them tonight. This is a good example of the trailer being better than the film itself. I teared up when the main character said ‘Are you going to try for a different life?’ Taylor Swift doesn’t perform the beautiful song she co-wrote with Cats creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, it’s experienced and accomplished ballerina and acting newcomer Francesca Hayward who sings it in the film. Taylor performs ‘Macavity’ about the film villain played by Idris Elba.
Burn Burn Burn
A story of two friends who embark on a ‘Thelma and Louise’- like journey around the UK, a last wish their deceased best mate had. One of the friends is desperate to get out of a loveless relationship and the other’s girlfriend cheats on her. They travel around England spreading their mate’s ashes and then encounter an elderly hitchhiker running from an abusive husband. They feel there’s something is wrong and offer to take her all the way to her son in Scotland. They can see the lady is scared of someone, but it isn’t until later on when she reveals the husband was going to kill her. The film stars Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael.
Katie Says Goodbye
A story of a young adult from a small town in the middle of nowhere, who dreams of moving to San Francisco. She works at a diner, while her unreliable mother sits at home, drinks and goes out with men. On her lunch breaks, Katie, played by Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke, has sex with men stopping by the dinner. She makes a steady income from it, collecting only $11 dollars from her regulars. She finds a boyfriend, and doesn’t tell him what she does, when he finally, he stays with her at first but treats her badly. She refuses to sleep with two locals, but they don’t take no for an answer. I really wish they went into why she thought selling her body was a good way to earn money and showed us how she came up with this idea. Was sex with random people just another everyday activity to her? Was she abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends? She had a stable job, the owner seemed understanding, she surely could have asked for extra hours. Mireille Enos has a very little supporting role here, they really should have given her more to do. I like the simplistic scenography and costumes, most of the scenes were shot in the desert while Olivia Cooke is wearing the exact same clothes, her waitress uniform, in every scene. I am personaly familiar with a loved one taking all your money, so this twist, however predictable, was something I related to.
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A tragic story of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ star. The portrayal of Judy’s eating disorder is what I’ve found the most disturbing. According to the film, Judy’s diet consisted of alcohol, cigarettes, amphetamine-based appetite suppressants and sleeping pills. The last two since before her Dorothy days. Teenage Judy, played by young actress Darci Shaw, complaints about being overworked, being forced to starve herself, not having a normal life and having to work up to 18h a day. There’s even a snippet of an example of sexual harassment she endured working for MGM, director Rupert Goold shows the audience a suggestive scene of Louis B. Mayer caressing 16 year old Garland’s chest. There are scenes from Judy’s personal life, interactions with children, including Liza Minelli, and Judy’s life post divorcing her 4th husband. Judy’s poor diet and medication addiction eventually lead to her early death by overdose at 47, 6 months after the events of this film. You cannot deny Zellweger’s talent as she sings Garland’s famous songs and simply shines in this biopic. I wish Goold mentioned Judy’s relationship with her older sisters and focused on Garland’s 20+ suicide attempts. While I think you should watch ‘Judy’, I’m certain Showtime’s upcoming ‘Sid & Judy’ documentary will be even better.
‘I just want what everybody wants. I seem to have a harder time getting it.’
A family gathers for their patriarch’s 85th birthday. The family wake up the day after to find someone has died. A private detective doesn’t believe the death to be suicide and as the trailer hints, ‘suspects foul play’. It’s a comedy and mystery in one and it stars Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Colette and it’s simply one of the best films of 2019. I doubt you’ll figure this one out in the first half, but give it a go, it really is worth the hype.
‘I suspect foul play. I have eliminated no suspects.’
After the Wedding
A manager of an orphanage in India is forced to visit the US to look for a benefactor for the orphanage she works in. To her surprise, the benefactor’s husband and her share history. There are a few big twists and you may not be ready for all of them. It’s my favourite film from Bart Freundlich so far. It has amazing performances from Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. I desperately need to see the original this was based on.
Le Mans ’66 aka Ford v Ferrari
A tragic true story of race car driver Ken Miles. You’ll love it even if you’re not into cars. Christian Bale is fantastic in it and will surely fight with Phoenix over that Oscar. I wasn’t expecting the tragic ending, because I clearly don’t know enough about cars.
A family lies to get work and the way they do it is brilliant. This film is a comment on class hierarchy as lower and upper class clash. Parasite truly is a masterpiece and this year’s best film. I keep recommeding this film to everyone I know. My school friends already knew about this film, one of them as it turns out has seen it before me and loved it and another one really wants to see it. Sadly most of people I see every day weren’t interested, I lost them at ‘South Korean’ or ‘foreign’, which just shows, sadly I am not were I should be in my life. It’s also the 600th new film I watched this year, and as I type this, I have now seen 660 films.
Stanley Kubrick would be satisfied, if not proud. For years The Shining used to be my favourite film, so the third act felt like coming home.
‘The world’s a hungry place. A dark place. I’ve only met two or three people like us. They died. When I was a kid, I bumped into these things. I don’t know about magic. I, I always called it ‘the shining’.’
At Eternity’s Gate
Oil painting was my favourite medium in my advanced Visual Arts class in high school and one of the very few I was quite good at. I haven’t painted in years and I miss it greatly. I still draw though. I really hope one day I’ll stop being lazy, take out one of my easels and turpentine and get back to it, because I really miss the person I was back then. The film could have used a faster pace, but Willem Dafoe is superb as Vincent van Gogh. If you’re an artist, this is a must see. If you can relate to any of the quotes below, watch it.
‘Maybe God made me a painter for people who aren’t born yet. It is said, Life is for sowing. The harvest is not here.’
‘Are all the painters crazy?’
‘Maybe just the good ones.’
‘I can make people feel what it’s like to be alive.’
‘There’s a lot of destruction and failure at the door of a successful picture. I find joy in sorrow. And sorrow is greater than laughter. You know, an angel is not far from those who are sad, and illness can sometimes heal us’
‘I’d like to find a new light for paintings that we haven’t yet seen.’
‘Without painting, I can’t live’
‘But these flowers will wither and fade. All flowers do.’
‘I know. Everybody knows that.’
‘But mine will resist.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘At least they’ll have a chance.’
‘What do you paint’
‘I’ve spent all my life alone, in a room. I need to go out and work to forget myself. I want to be out of control. I need to be in a feverish state. It’s called the act of painting for a reason.’
‘I paint, as a matter of fact, to stop thinking. I stop thinking, and I feel that I’m a part of everything outside and inside of me.’
‘I wanted so much to share what I see. Now I just think about my relationship to eternity.’
‘I am my paintings. ‘
‘Sometimes they say I’m mad, but a grain of madness is the best of art.’
‘I paint with my qualities and faults.’
‘Paintings have to be done in one clear gesture. Paintings have to be painted fast. The painters I like all paint fast in one clear gesture, each stroke. You’ve heard of a stroke of genius? Well, that’s what it means.’
‘If I couldn’t paint, I would murder someone.
‘Because painted reality is its own reality.
‘Maybe what you are saying is that your gift to the world is painting.’
‘If not, what good is an artist?’
‘Why do you say you are a painter?’
‘Because I paint. I love painting. I have to paint. Always been a painter, that I know of.’
‘I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but don’t you see that this painting is, how can I say, unpleasant? Ugly?’
‘Why would God give me a gift to paint ugly and disturbing things?’
This year we’ve had Smallfoot, Missing Link and now Abomidable. What is it with 2019 and all the Yetis? Sadly I liked the previous two more, because they were as realistic as a Big Foot film for children can be, and I really didn’t buy into the Yeti magic here.
Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil
Usually I’m disappointed with 3D effects, but not here! I know that Angelina has semi-retired from acting and she’s been directing meaningful films that I love, but I really wish she still acted regularly on the side.
‘There are many who prey on the innocent. I’m sure your kind would agree.’
‘If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were making a threat.’
‘Well, do you?’
Back in 2007 there was this website that would tell you when you’ll die and everyone in my school was obsessed with it. The app could easily be manipulated, you changed your weight and added yourself a couple of years. 12 years later someone stole this idea, modernised it by changing the website into an app and made it into an average horror. The highlight of my viewing experience was when this 20 year old two seats from me shouted ‘That’s Axl from The Middle’ when Charlie McDermott showed up.
The Addams Family
This would have been so much better in the hands of Tim Burton. The animated Addams Family is nowhere need as good as the TV show or the films starring Angelica Huston and Christina Ricci. It was so average I fell asleep. I felt like all it was about was the Addams’s extended family coming to the multiple parties they seemed to keep having.
Mrs Lowry and Son
Acting is not everything. Mrs Lowry & Son, filmed mostly in one room, feels more like a play, not a feature film. Timothy Spall is outstanding in it though.
Here’s the 45 best films I’ve watched on HBO Go in 2019. You can find reviews for some of them on here. If you’d like me to review any of the others, please comment below. This is a list I’ve created on my letterboxd, and thought I’d also paste it in here.
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Our favourite family and their staff are back after 4 years! This feature film was just as delightful as the series! I really hope they come back in a few years to show us what happened to Downton and the characters during WWII and then, even later, because I really want to see Mary as the grumpy old aunt. And yes, I got an A1 poster with all characters from my local cinema! I can’t wait to buy it on DVD and show it to my family! Someone asked me the other day what it is about Downton that is so good and no matter how many nice things I had to say it just doesn’t explain it well enough. A friend or two of mine watched Downton for a season or two and then abandoned it. I started watching Downton back in season 4, right after I read online about Anna’s rape storyline. I started from the pilot and after two or three episodes I was hooked on the lives of the Crawleys and Downton’s staff. Cora played by Elizabeth McGovern and Anna played by Joanne Froggatt are my favourite characters on the show, but honestly, everyone is highly likeable, even Mary. I still haven’t been to the Highclere castle, but it’s definitely on my to do list. The king and queen’s visit seemed a little far fetched to me though, and that’s honestly the only problem one may have with this film.
‘Will you have enough clichés to get you through the visit?’
‘If not, I’ll come to you.’
‘Oh Violet. After all these years you still astonish me.’
‘Oh good, I’m glad I’m a revelation and not a disappointment.’
‘You are the future of Downton’
A riveting documentary made out of 11 000 hours of unused footage and never-heard-before audio recordings of Neil Armstrong’s trip to the moon. I especially liked shots of the public waiting for the launch. Just think about it, these people, some of them long gone, will never learn about this film, and those still with us, won’t probably know about this documentary. I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen, this is why I love Odeon’s Silver Screen.
‘One small step for man… one giant leap for mankind.’
The Shape of Things
This was a great way to kick off my birthday celebration! I went in, thinking it was a rom-com, instead I was handed a refreshing twist! Rachel Weisz plays this artsy character who’s really into sex, art projects and stirring shit and Paul Rudd plays her clueless boyfriend. Rachel’s character decides to change the main character, she changes the way he dresses and even convinces him to have a nose job. The ruthlessness of Rachel Weisz’s character and Paul Rudd’s naivity balance themselves out perfectly.
A big fan of Full House over here. Yes, this means I am quickly running out of the cute romcoms and murder mysteries starring Candace Cameron Bure. According to letterboxd, I’ve seen 27 of her films (out of 40), and there were maybe 3 that were genuenly good? I’m looking at you Punchline (also starring Sally Field and Tom Hanks), Freshman Fall, it’s this campus rape made for tv film were Candace plays a survivor and No One Would Tell, another 90s tv movie where Candace plays a teen who’s abused and eventually killed by her boyfirend, played by Wonder Years’ Fred Savage. Some true genius thought to put Full House agains Wonder Years. Finding Normal is an awesomely cute romcom, which seems a lot like a fresh take on Doc Hollywood. I really hope I’ll get to show it to my mum one day, as I know for a fact she would love it.
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Some of the films I’ve seen this week include:
Everglades my ass!
I know crocs are supposed to be more agressive than gators, but you wouldn’t want to encounter a hungry aligator. Crawl is a surprisingly entertaining water creature flick, a must have every summer. I haven’t seen Uncaged, aka 47 Meters Down 2 yet, but it can’t be better than this.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
They asked Lana Del Rey to record a new version of ‘Season of the Witch’. I liked the film enough to read the book.
Finally got to see this masterpiece. For different reasons, it made me think of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village’ and Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Dreamers’. I need to take one half star off because of the unnecessary unsimulated sex scene.
I loved reading V.C. Andrews’s books growing up, so I’ll always be biased when it comes to Lifetime’s adaptations, because I’m just happy anyone’s making them. I’ve always wondered though, did Virginia know about her breast cancer before writing ‘Heaven’?
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
This certainly is an odd take on the Sharon Tate tragedy. Tarantino spends too much time on the made up action films DiCaprio’s character stars in, but overall, I liked the film a lot until the last 15 minutes. I know I should be glad about Tarantino’s ‘humane’ ending, but the change to real events is almost…disappointing?
If you’re in the UK, go see it at Odeon to get 3 character postcards.
Nymphomaniac Volume 2
Most of the first 4 hours of the Nymphomaniac project are intriguing, sadly in the very last minute of Volume II, just for a shock effect, von Tier chooses to piss on asexuals, leaving viewers disappointed, angry and confused.
A Short Film About Love
What makes this film brilliant is that everyone has longed for someone they couldn’t have at least once in their life. Nowadays kids obsessively stock their obsession’s online activity, back in the 80s, there were binoculars. What I’ve always wondered was, is this a coincidence that Kieslowski named the Peeping Tom, Tom?