Goodbye 2010s, a cinematic decade where the conveyor belt of superheroes and sequels have clogged up multiplexes like never before.

Anyone who is naive enough to think that cinema audiences have not grown more conservative over recent decades, should have a look at IMDb’s Highest Grossing Films of the Decade List.

Here’s the top ten worldwide: Avengers: Endgame; Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Avengers: Infinity War; Jurassic World; The Lion King; The Avengers; Furious 7; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Black Panther and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Disney produced seven of those ten and only two other companies (Universal and Warner Bros.) are represented. By my counting, of the top 50 highest grossing films, only four were not remakes, sequels or parts of a franchise.Frozen, Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets and Bohemian Rhapsody being the exceptions.

Frozen and The Secret Life of Pets have since become franchises and a Zootopia sequel will appear next year. No surprises there. Such is the lack of originality in Hollywood that it wasn’t even much of a surprise when rumours emerged last spring about a Bohemian Rhapsody 2.

Luckily, plenty of very good films are still being made and 2019 saw its fair share of triumphs (including one from the decade’s 50 highest grossing list). Here are the first ten of my twenty favourites.

Best Films of the Year - Part One

20. The Souvenir
Honor Swinton Byrne made her acting debut in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir and Honor Swinton Byrne is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future. The daughter of Tilda Swinton (who also plays her mother here) and playwright and artist John Byrne, she plays Julie, a posho film school student who wants to make a film about a working-class boy in Sunderland obsessed with the idea of his mum dying. It’s likely a misjudged idea but not as misjudged as her relationship with Anthony (an equally excellent Tom Burke).

19. Samurai Marathon
A highlight of this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival, Samurai Marathon is inspired by a real-life race that continues in Japan to this day. There’s fantastic action, humour, and Philip Glass supplies one of the year’s finest scores.

18. Crawl
Haley Kelley (played by Kaya Scodelario) is a competitive swimmer, a very good one, and her skills will prove very handy during the course of Crawl, a movie that Quentin Tarantino touted as one of his favourites of 2019.

Set in Florida during a Category 5 hurricane, Haley goes in search of her missing father. She finds him in the giant basement of their former family home, which has become the residence of some very unwelcome guests in the shape of a congregation of alligators. He’s trapped and one or more of the ‘gators have dined on a chunk of his leg.

Don’t ask why they didn’t finish him off. Crawl veers towards the daft regularly but it is a film that grips right up to its climax. Great B-movie viewing.

17. Lords of Chaos
A film about Scandi black metal band Mayhem starring the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin might not sound very promising but this is a blast from start to finish. Mayhem by name, mayhem by nature. Expect murder, devil worship, suicide, cannibalism and church burnings.

16. Hail Satan?
Keeping up the Satanic panic here. This documentary proved that Satanists appear to have a better sense of humour than the members of any mainstream religions. Many appear to be pranksters. Some are maybe more accurately described as attention seekers, and a small minority take it far too seriously.

15. Her Smell

The band Something She opens Her Smell with a version of The Only Ones’ Another Girl, Another Planet that fails in every way to match the sheer brio of the original. Luckily, the music here isn’t the movie’s strongpoint.

That’ll be Elisabeth Moss. Her turn as Becky Something, a batshit crazy, manipulating and ultimately tragic egomaniac who wrecks emotional havoc wherever she goes is up there with the best of the year.

14. Marriage Story
You’ve likely already read about the superlative performances of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson but Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda are all very deserving of praise too as the three lawyers they employ.

A suggestion, if you liked this then go seek out Baumbach’s earlier The Squid and the Whale, another tale that deals with divorce, albeit from a different perspective. I’ll be in a minority, but I reckon it’s the better film of the two.

13. Monos
If asked to conjure up atmosphere and essence of Monos, I could only point you in the ballpark direction of Werner Herzog directing Lord of the Flies or Alejandro Jodorowsky remaking Apocalypse Now. Mica Lev­i’s inventive percus­sive score is the perfect accompaniment to this visually striking film by Alejandro Landes.

Premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it lifted the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award, Monos has since been selected as the official Colombian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

12. Pain and Glory
A semi-autobiographical work, this tells the story of a gay Spanish filmmaker with a long list of health issues, who has stopped working and begun thinking more and more about his past. It may lack the flamboyance of Pedro Almodóvar’s earlier work but it lures you in slowly, then won’t let you go until the very last frame.

It debuted at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or, while Banderas won the festival’s award for Best Actor. Pain and Glory was chosen by a poll of Time magazine critics as the best film of the year.

11. The Lighthouse
I’d always assumed that living and working in a lighthouse might be an ideal job. Fantastic views, crisp sea air and likely not too much hard graft.

Not if your boss is Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). Here a day’s work is back-breaking. The food is rank. Gulls squawk incessantly. Wake farts pretty much incessantly. It would be enough to drive you crazy.

Last year a Dafoe film, At Eternity’s Gate featured on my Best Of list, while in 2017, The Florida Project also put in an appearance. Is Dafoe America’s most under-rated actor. He might just be.

Best Film Reissues 2019

Here’s some 2019 reissues I’d like to recommend too:

Stranger Than Paradise (Criterion); Three Films with Sammo Hung (Eureka); Coming Home (Eureka); The Protector (88 Films); The African Queen (Eureka); Legend of the Witches (BFI); The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (Arrow) and That’ll Be The Day / Stardust (Studio Canal).