Posted on January 2, 2020

It's the dawn of a new decade, but more importantly for us, it's awards season. With just days to go until Oscar nominations come in, we're counting down our favourite films of 2019. First up: CIFF's new Programming Administrator, Adam Keresztes. Here's his top ten of the year, in alphabetical order. 



(U.S.A.) dir. Davy Rothbart

My absolute favorite surprise at CIFF this year as I knew nothing about it going in. A poignant and ultra-realistic look at a low-income family living in Washington D.C. and shot over 20 years. You get to see the family move, the children grow up, have children of their own, and deal with all the struggles life throws at them between 1999 and 2018. The fact that all this takes place within 17 blocks of the White House really shows the wealth disparity in America today.17 BLOCKS web


(U.S.A.) dir. Harmony Korine

A cheesy stoner-comedy that is elevated by its dream-like cinematography and takes us on a wild ride. Every time Matthew McConaughey is on screen is something special to see. Moondog may just have started his own cult religion. This is trash cinema at its best and the costume design deserves some kind of award.MV5BMmYzYmExOTUtODlkZC00ZDY1LTliZTAtODNlNjY3MDZjMWU5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM. V1 SX1777 CR001777744 AL


(U.S.A.) dir. Andrew Ahn

A touchingly subtle portrait of being an outsider as a child. What looks to be a GRAN TORINO rip-off subverts the grizzled old racist stereotypes right away and is a compassionate story about friendship and love. Brian Dennehy is perfect for his role but the real stand-outs are Hong Chau and Lucas Jaye as the mother/son duo.


(U.K.) dir. Peter Strickland

A stylish and strange ghost story that pays homage to Giallo cinema and has some fantastic sound design. Technically it was released in 2018 but the first chance to see it in Calgary was at CUFF this year.MV5BZTJlOTUxYmUtMGMzMi00ZWM1LTk5YTEtYjMxZTA1ZGU4MDY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM. V1


(U.S.A.) dir. David Eggers

Easily one of the oddest films to get a mainstream release this year. In black-and-white, using a very narrow aspect ratio, we see Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson go crazy in a Lighthouse off the coast of Nova Scotia, what more needs to be said?MV5BY2EwODJiZjAtMDAzMC00YzZjLWFlMTctZmJkYTVjMDFkMmI0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ. V1 SY1000 CR0011931000 AL


(U.S.A.) dir. Eric Notarnicola

The On Cinema universe created by Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington has evolved to insane heights over the past few years. It all culminates in a pseudo-documentary of Tim running for the District Attorney of San Bernandino California. Fans of dry humorous satire will find Tim's Trump-era politician to be both hilarious and grotesque at the same time. 

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(Colombia) dir. Alejandro Landes

Beautiful cinematography juxtaposed with heinous acts of cruelty and violence. A harrowing and gorgeous film that easily became one of my favourite foreign films of the year.MONOS web



(U.K.) dir. Ken Loach

A realistic and scathing look at the people who are hurt by the corporate "gig economy". Ken Loach is fantastic at projecting his political viewpoints and this film will make you re-think the way you do your online shopping...13488SORRY WE MISSED YOU banner


(Canada) dir. Matthew Rankin

THE TWENTIETH CENTURY is some wild Canadiana! A totally unique style that takes influence from Guy Maddin and 30s German Expressionist silent films. The weirdest, and funniest, bio-pic of Mackenzie King you will ever see. 20TH CENTURY web


(U.S.A.) dir. Trey Edward Shults

A deeply moving film that seems ordinary and cliche on the surface but slowly engages you throughout. Shults has a way with camera movement that is disorienting and mesmerizing at the same time and his unique sound mixing style adds another element to the viewing experience. 13691waves 0HERO


Save the date for February 9th, 2020 - CIFF's annual Oscars watch party and fundraiser, A Red Carpet Affair. Can't wait for next year's festival? We've got year-round screenings to tide you over until then, and our newsletter will keep you up to date on all the goings on. 

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