Salty Popcorn Top 20 Movies of 2019

WOW – I cannot believe another year has passed already. So many movies, so little time and so many movies we did not get to see this year. We neary shut down this year with multiple Kernels taking new jobs and the overwhelming annoyance of life getting in the way of writing but the Kernels banded together and brought fresh air into the Salty Cob and so we will go on. As of this month Kernel Claire will be promoted to Editor at Salty Popcorn and will assist in the posting of reviews and direction of articles etc.

The 2019 competition was strong. I found a lot more enjoyment this year in the art-house releases – so many marvellous independent talent around the world and as PARASITE director Bon Joon Ho said at the 2020 Golden Globes; “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” If only everyone supported this our culture would grow and grow and become more understanding to greatness and beauty in other cultures. I cringe wholeheartedly when I see U.S. remakes of foreign films just changing the language.

It is great joy I can announce that Madman Films was the most successful distributor in the Top 20 having 1/4 of all listed films, Disney/Fox/ Marvel – The Empire came in a close second if you join them all together. As a group the Salty Kernels all voted (OK, except Blake), and based on votes that JOKER was the highest rated film of the year.

From all of us at Salty Popcorn we wish you all a wonderful and thriving 2020 – stay safe, have fun and prosper endlessly.

Just to clarify, this list may contain movies that we have viewed in 2019, even if they do not release until early 2020.

Kernel Claire’s Top 5

  3. JOKER

Kernel Blake’s Top 5

  4. JOHN WICK 3

Kernel Elie’s Top 5

  1. JOKER

Kernel John’s Top 5

  4. JOHN WICK 3
  5. JOKER


Click on film titles below to be taken to the review of said film. 

20) 1917 – 4 Pops – review coming!

Distributed by: Universal • Rated M • 119mins

A truly sensational war film. It has abundant heart and pacing that could give you a heart attack but that is also nuanced and heartwarming. It brings further confidence to my call that George MacKay is one of the most underrated actors of this generation. So many cameos it’s superb and Lannister, Dean-Charles Chapman really owned the camera – definitely an actor to keep your eyes on!

1917 Movie Poster image
1917 Movie Poster


Distributed by: The Empire • Rated M • 141mins

Is it my favourite Star Wars movie? not by a long shot. Is it a wonderful ending to the trilogy of trilogies, for me – YES. I would love to honour the last word of the trilogy of trilogies and suggest you get on out there and support The Rise of SKYWALKER.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Movie Poster
Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Movie Poster

18) KNIVES OUT – 4 Pops

Distributed by: StudioCanal Australia • Rated M • 130mins

If you like fun things – don’t even think about it, just go and see KNIVES OUT if it’s still in cinemas or see it as soon as you can on streaming on Blu Ray. Embrace the hilarity that the Thrombey family is way more nuts than yours. Also see it for some of the best comedic performances of 2019 and recent years.

Knives Out Movie Poster
Knives Out Movie Poster

17) DESTROYER – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Madman • Rated MA15+ • 123mins

See DESTROYER for a powerhouse direction from Karyn Kusama and to see Nicole Kidman’s 36yrs of acting skills come together to blow the screen away. This won’t make squillions being so indie but it demands a viewing for serious movie lovers.

Destroyer Movie Poster
Destroyer Movie Poster

16) THE KEEPER – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Icon Film Distribution • Rated M • 120mins

A wonderful light hearted sports drama set in the aftermath of WWII THE KEEPER turned out to be one of my favourite films of 2019. This is one to watch with your parents and/or grandparents. A wonderful film filled with all the feels.

The Keeper Movie Poster
The Keeper Movie Poster


Distributed by: Marvel and Sony Joint Release • Rated M • 129mins

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME could possibly be the greatest live-action Spider-Man movie ever released. It was perfectly timed and more than just a Spidey movie, it is the MCU bridging film between Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the MCU and it delivers on everything we love about the MCU and Spider-Man. Tom Holland is a revelation yet again and I cannot wait to see more from him. Where this film leaves the story set-up for Holland’s Spider-Man 3 is more exciting than I could have imagined.

Spider-Man Far From Home Movie Poster
Spider-Man Far From Home Movie Poster

14) AVENGERS: ENDGAME – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Marvel • Rated M • 181mins

The ultimate conclusion to Phase 3 of the MCU. My god it tied it all up well.

Avengers Endgame Movie Poster
Avengers Endgame Movie Poster

13) MONOS – 4.5 Pops – review coming!

Distributed by: Festival Release Only • Rated Estimated MA15+ • 102mins

A Spanish film that sees APOCALYPSE NOW meet LORD OF THE FLIES in a mind blowing film of tension and survival.

Teenage commandos perform military training exercises by day and indulge in youthful hedonism by night, an unconventional family bound together under a shadowy force know only as The Organization. After an ambush drives the squadron into the jungle, both the mission and the intricate bonds between the group begin to disintegrate.

Monos Movie Poster
Monos Movie Poster

12) THE KING – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Netflix • Rated M • 140mins

I assume you have Netflix, if you haven’t seen THE KING yet, you need to amend this gross negligence immediately. Do not see it for a documentary on the history of Henry V, see it for Chalamet and RPatz, who both give next level performances. Also it isn’t historically accurate (never claims to be), it is based on Shakespeare’s stories, who himself altered facts for entertainment. I don’t seen Shakespeare being judged negatively for it so do not think Michôd should be either. The film is a winner!

The King Movie Poster image
The King Movie Poster

11) MIDSOMMAR – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Roadshow • Rated R18+ • 147mins

MIDSOMMAR will not be for everyone. For me it borders on a masterpiece that takes the viewer so far out of the comfort zone that it’s over two hours of feeling disturbingly uncomfortable. It doesn’t give horror jump scares but it does give us something far more visceral to digest. For Ari Aster, thank god we have directors out there still willing to push the boundaries to absurd levels and give us original cinema that will stay with us for a long time. And for my final words on the matter, “Hoo Hah.”

Midsommar Movie Poster
Midsommar Movie Poster

10) BUOYANCY – 4.5 Pops – review coming!

Distributed by: Umbrella Films • Rated M • 93mins

Australia’s entry for the Oscars for 2019/2020 – a superb film on every level. It gives a truly wonderful message about Fishing Slavery and gives performances worthy of awards. This is a MUST SEE film.

Buoyancy Movie Poster
Buoyancy Movie Poster

9) FORD V FERRARI – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox • Rated M • 152mins

The level of adrenalin I felt just watching it is enough for it to win awards, but the acting and direction gets it over the line in 5th gear, it is top notch. I think Damon and Bale would cancel each other out for Oscars but Bale deserves one, it is one of the greatest performances of the year, beaten by Joaquin. This one’s a keeper, it will make the collection on 4K Blu Ray when I can get my hands on it.

Ford V Ferrari Movie Poster image
Ford V Ferrari Movie Poster

8) JOKER – 4.5 Pops

Distributed by: Roadshow • Rated MA15+ • 122mins

JOKER’s daring approach to examining the impact of an oppressed society on a mentally distorted individual is a disturbing and emotionally resounding success. Todd Phillips crafts a technical masterpiece that offers a reflective social commentary on present-day society whilst also segueing into uncharted territory for comic book movies. The result is a disturbing character study that delves into the perplexing nature of the human condition. Capped off with Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-worthy performance, JOKER is a unique cinematic achievement in an age where too few risks are taken within film.

Joker Movie Poster image
Joker Movie Poster

7) FREE SOLO – 5 Pops

Distributed by: Madman • Rated M • 100mins

FREE SOLO is a documentary masterpiece of one inspirational and lovable real life Spider-Man. I covered my eyes for most of the harrowing scenes. Alex Honnold lives on or over the edge and belongs among the greatest sporting and pioneering achievers in human history, up there with Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay with their Everest climb. Cannot recommend FREE SOLO enough!! 

Free Solo Movie Poster image
Free Solo Movie Poster

6) ARCTIC – 5 Pops

Distributed by: Umbrella Films • Rated M • 97mins

ARCTIC deserved more. It is not a blockbuster, but it is a nuanced masterpiece of human survival and the world needs nothing more in their lives right now than Mads Mikkelsen going into battle with Mother Nature.

Arctic Movie Poster image
Arctic Movie Poster

5) APOLLO 11 – 5 Pops

Distributed by: Madman • Rated G • 93mins

Up there as one of the greatest documentaries ever made APOLLO 11 is a film that NEEDS TO BE SEEN IMMEDIATELY. It puts you in the cockpit of the space shuttle with Neil, Buzz and Michael and has footage so well archived it looks like it was shot on HD Digital in the last couple of years. Even know you know the outcome there is as much tension as watching GRAVITY or APOLLO 13. 

Apollo 11 Movie Poster image
Apollo 11 Movie Poster

4) ROCKETMAN – 5 Pops

Distributed by: Paramount • Rated M • 121mins

Kernel Claire’s thoughts on ROCKETMAN when it finished “I have no notes, it was just perfection.” I could not talk I was so floored and sitting in a pool of emotional happy tears. I will be seeing ROCKETMAN again this week, have the soundtrack and all of Elton’s tunes on Spotify loop, and will own this on 4K Blu Ray – it is one of the best films I have ever seen and I cannot rave enough about it.

Rocketman Movie Poster image
Rocketman Movie Poster


Distributed by: Transmission Films • Rated MA15+ • 136mins

THE NIGHTINGALE is one of the best films made in 2019. It is raw, honest and non-gratuitously brutal in its delivery. Australia, like most of the world, has a shameful and horrendously violent past. Jennifer Kent acknowledges this in a beautiful Colonial Gothic Tale of Inequality, Love and Revenge.

The Nightingale Movie Poster
The Nightingale Movie Poster

2) PARASITE – 5 Pops

Distributed by: Madman • Rated MA15+ • 132mins

A film that makes you laugh, cry and constantly misleads you while offering a great message and absurd view on the human condition? There is little not to love in the masterpiece of Bong Joon-Ho’s PARASITE. It might have won Cannes, and it might have won the Sydney Film Festival, now will it win the Salty Popcorn Film of 2019? Highly likely. (Ed Note: It came SO CLOSE!!)

Parasite movie poster image
Parasite Movie Poster


Distributed by: Madman • Rated M • 126mins

I never thought I would come across one of my Top 10 Films of 2019 in January but here it is. Any of my Top 4 could have won the Salty Best Film of 2019 so it had to come down with which film had the best message, the most heart and which film stayed with me the longest – based on this CAPHARNAÜM clearly stood out.

CAPHARNAÜM is one of the most difficulty haunting but also beautiful movies you will see in your lifetime. Zain gives us more humanity in a human being than the world deserves. This movie makes me want to be a much better human being.

Capharnaüm Movie Poster image
Capharnaüm Movie Poster


Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.