The Festivals, Oscars, critics and audiences praised PARASITE (Dir. Korea 2019), MARRIAGE STORY (Dir. Noah Baumbach US 2019), PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (Dir. France 2019) though there were dissenting voices.
It was good to see a subtitled film winning the Oscar but though Parasite was very good did I enjoy it as much as Bong Joo-Ho's previous films? No. Brilliant acting in Marriage Story but it seemed too long (a common fault nowadays in most films) and fell away. Portrait of a Lady on Fire was to my mind the film of the year. Gorgeous to look at with a fresh eye on composing shots, there was something about it, almost magical, that makes it linger in the mind when most films vanish at the end of the credits. But then, there were those who thought it was tosh.
If I were to choose another great film of the year it would be BACARAU (Dirs. Kleber Mendonca Filho & Juliano Dornelles Brazil 2019), a distinctive and decidedly weird but absolutely memorable modern western about villagers fighting injustice in an isolated village in Brazil that simply disappears off the map. I also admired LA BELLE EPOQUE (Dir. Nicholas Bedos France 2019) which unfortunately seems to have disappeared off the radar. The truly wonderful Daniel Atueuil stars in a very French-style romantic, nostalgic comedy-drama that was utterly delightful and entertaining.
Unfortunately, Parasite, Marriage Story (and Roma) were exclusive to Netflix, and La Belle Epoque to Amazon, which meant that we would not have been able to screen them. Streaming does have serious down-sides.

Stephen Dorril, Director Holmfirth Film Festival.
26 November 2020