The filmmaker’s annual list is as idiosyncratic as always
As the year draws to a close, everyone is reflecting on their favourite moments from 2019, but we all know that no one’s opinion matters except John Waters, who’s blessed us with his annual top ten films of the year.
Following on from last year’s list – an eclectic mix of comedies, romance, and factual docs – this year, Waters has gone a little more mainstream. Topping the list is Gaspar Noé’s Climax – which hit UK cinemas in 2018, but didn’t arrive in the US until March 2019 – an acid-soaked depiction of a late night dance party that turns into a nightmare. “The best movie of the year gives meaning to the term ‘bad trip’,” Waters wrote. “Freak out, baby, freak out!”
Next up is Bruno Dumont’s French drama, Joan Of Arc, which Waters says “will give you Catholic goose bumps”, closely followed by Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, which the filmmaker describes as “a real crowd-pleaser that deserves every bit of its critical and financial success”. He praises Tarantino for “pulling the rug from under America’s true-crime obsession and daring to give the Manson murders a feel-good happy ending that manages to be both shocking and terribly funny”.
Hitting the halfway mark, Waters lists fantasy film Border by Ali Abbasi, Amazing Grace, Alan Elliott’s documentary about Aretha Franklin, and Penny Lane’s eye-opening doc Hail Satan?. Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain & Glory is at number seven, with Waters describing it as “not one bit funny or melodramatic”, but says “it goes beyond the valley of maturity and over the top of riveting self-reflection to gay mental health”.
Fatih Akin’s The Golden Glove – an adaption of Heinz Strunk’s eponymous novel which tells the story of German serial killer Fritz Honka – is Waters’ eighth favourite film of 2019. “Shame on you, Fatih Akin, for making it,” he wrote. “Shame on me for putting it on this top ten list. Shame on you if you like it.” In ninth place is Joanna Hogg’s masterful memory movie The Souvenir, which Waters says is “an ugly-to-look-at but beautifully shot high-class art film”.
Surprisingly, Todd Phillips’ Joker fills the final slot. “Irresponsible?” Waters questions. “Maybe. Dangerous? We’ll see. The first big-budget Hollywood movie to gleefully inspire anarchy. Bravo, Todd Phillips! Only you could get away with it.”
See John Waters’ full list below.
- Climax – Gaspar Noé
- Joan Of Arc – Bruno Dumont
- Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
- Border – Ali Abbasi
- Amazing Grace – Alan Elliott
- Hail Satan? – Penny Lane
- Pain & Glory – Pedro Almodóvar
- The Golden Glove – Fatih Akin
- The Souvenir – Joanna Hogg
- Joker – Todd Phillips