Top 10 Surprising Films of 2019 (Scott Gilliland)

Below is the Top 10 Surprising Films of 2019 from our new writer Scott Gilliland. So what makes this list different from the usual Top 10 Best/Worst Films Lists? The list below is films we didn’t have high expectations. Not trying to sound selfish or arrogant, we may not known what to expect. We do love those films with no expectations and surprise us!

Before you cry blue moon, just remember film is a subjective art form, everyone’s tastes are different. More to come from Scott!

Le Mans 66

I didn’t expect too much from this and it really did surprise me in a multitude of ways. A film that lets Christian Bale be funny is one that we have been missing for a long time it seems. He may be a rough character, but he is as funny as he has been in a long time here. Matt Damon is able to steer the ship in the right direction and Mangold’s direction is sublime. Another surprise is that the film has different titles. Weird. [our review]

Detective Pikachu

I will hold my hands up and say from the start, I wanted to put this in my top ten of the year and I was pretty close to it. I loved it from start to finish and I will never apologise for it. I am surprised because it was able to pull it off so effortlessly. It hits all the right notes and the trailer happily didn’t show all of the best parts like I would have expected. A delightful film… Where is my sequel btw? [our review]

Booksmart

A great cast who as they grow older are only going to get more and more confident and stronger as actresses (Check out Dever in Netflix show Unbelievable to see what she can do as an actress), but I am most surprised that Olivia Wilde was able to create this film with such ease. Direction and writing could be her new forte, much like Greta Gerwig, I will be excited to see what she makes next.

Toy Story 4

I didn’t know what to expect from this and I am so happy that it was able to successfully pull the story off. The biggest judge I had with me was my girlfriend Victoria who was a huge Toy Story fan but was very reticent regarding this film and although she wanted to see it, she was worried that it might ruin the previous three outings. Luckily she enjoyed it and I have to say as someone who has watched the franchise but not given a lot of time towards it. It was great.

Ash is Purest White

This almost made it into my overlooked list for the simple fact that, not many people would have clocked its existence. For some reason, it was decided that this wonderful film would be released the same weekend as Avengers: End Game. Which meant it had a release of under 25 screens I believe. While everyone was getting their Marvel on they missed out on this terrific piece of cinema. Lead by the undeniably brilliant Tao Zhao, the surprise wasn’t that the film would be great. It is the fact that it was hidden away so next to no one would even know about it. Where ever it is on a digital or physical release, get it.

Wild Rose

2019 was the year of the solo musician it appears, with Vox Lux, Rocketman and Her Smell. But one stood out this year and it was the smallest dog in the fight. Wild Rose tells the story of an aspiring country music star who has to find this fame and success while being a parent and newly released from prison. Jessie Buckley is a force to be reckoned with. A really top film. [our review]

Crawl

Who knew a film about alligators attacking a family in their home would be so fun. What is surprising is how much the plot stays on track throughout, and really, just how fun the damn thing is. An utter joy (for a horror fan) to watch. It is welcoming to see Alex Aja return to form.

One Cut of The Dead

I am not sure how Shin’ichiro Ueda worked out that 37-minute opening scene in his head, but I would be surprised if he could have done it any better. There will be comparisons to this being the Japanese Shaun of the Dead, and while there are subtle (and not so subtle) nods to it and other zombie films, it is more than that. It really is just a love letter to the genre in the funniest way possible. A can’t miss film.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse surprised me by just how powerful the leads are in it. Pattinson is taking the types of roles that will challenge him and his confidence is rightfully, increasing. But this is Dafoe’s show. He commands the screen and the film. I have been lucky enough to catch it, although it doesn’t come out here in the UK until January 2020. Is that a cheat? I will accept it. Shot in black and white and in an almost square format, this is a film that will stay with you and should earn a multitude of nominations. [our review]

Shazam!

I was surprised by how much fun this was and truthfully I enjoyed it far more than I enjoyed Avenger’s: End Game. A delightful origin story, though how he and the family will fit in with the rest of the DC Universe at the minute I do not know. It really did deserve better at the Box Office, but with it being released where it was… It never really stood much of a chance of really raking in dollars. Hopefully, there is a sequel as we know we are getting Black Adam. [our review]