The best films of 2019

From The Souvenir to Midsommar.

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Madeline’s Madeline (15)
dir: Josephine Decker

Highly original oddity in which a teenager (Helena Howard) finds joy and jeopardy at an experimental theatre company.

Happy as Lazzaro (12A)
dir: Alice Rohrwacher

Folklore meets social commentary in a witty, unpredictable fable about the peasants that time forgot.

Bait (15)
dir: Mark Jenkin

Visually stunning black comedy about a Cornish fisherman battling the threat of extinction.

The Souvenir (15)
dir: Joanna Hogg

Student falls for saturnine mystery man in this barbed love story.

Midsommar (18)
dir: Ari Aster

Florence Pugh gives the performance of the year as a grieving woman drawn into a pagan festival.

Monos (15)
dir: Alejandro Landes

Teenage guerrillas fall apart in the mountains. Mica Levi supplies the score of the year.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (no cert)
dir: RaMell Ross

An elliptical doc on Alabama’s “black belt” of former slave plantations.

Under the Silver Lake (15)
dir: David Robert Mitchell

Comic noir with Andrew Garfield as a seedy gumshoe. Imaginative and widely misunderstood.

Atlantics (15)
dir: Mati Diop

Take one Dakar woman whose lover is lost at sea then add ghosts and watch open-mouthed.

By the Grace of God (15)
dir: François Ozon

Anger, compassion and dynamic storytelling characterise this real-life drama about child abuse in the Catholic church.

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards and is Film Critic in Residence at Falmouth University.

This article appears in the 13 December 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas special

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