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'Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood' Is Our Film Of The Year 'Cause We Froth Tarantino

31 December 2019 | 10:57 am | Hannah Story

Yet again, we polled 'The Music' team and contributors to pick out the best of the year 2019. Hollywood smash hits overran critical darlings for the Film Of The Year.

Quentin Tarantino has long said he only wants to make ten films. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is his ninth – that is if you count both volumes of Kill Bill as one feature, as the celebrated auteur does – and it would’ve made a neat swansong to his career. Tarantino’s work has always been deeply stylised, marked as it is by a penchant for non-linear storytelling and graphic depictions of violence. 

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood largely eschews those stylistic choices – until a finale that gives the audience the gore they spent much of the two-and-a-half-hour running time anticipating. 

Instead the focus is on the friendship between two fast-fading Hollywood types, former leading man Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). The film functions as a kind of ode to an old Hollywood Tarantino has spent much of his career trying to emulate, and an acknowledgement that change is both inevitable and not necessarily bad. At the very least, our reaction to a shirtless Brad Pitt remains unchanging. 

There’s of course a real sense of tension to the entire affair, even as the feature sprawls out into a richly shot 1960s tribute. It’s impossible to go into the cinema not knowing the fate that befell the real Sharon Tate and her friends at the hands of Charles Manson’s followers in 1969. But luckily, like Inglourious Basterds before it, the flick turns real-life horror into an alternative history, a “modern fairy tale”. 

Joining Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood in The Music’s picks for 2019 are a whole suite of commercial releases across very different genres, like the latest antihero comic book flick, Joker, starring an extremely thin Joaquin Phoenix. The Hollywood flicks are joined by one critic’s darling, Sydney Film Prize winner Parasite, a searing representation of income inequality by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho. 

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In the blockbuster stakes there are the latest in two action-packed franchises starring extremely handsome men, Avengers: Endgame and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. Then there are two horror flicks, the disturbing Midsommar and Jordan Peele’s Us, the follow-up to his Oscar-winning debut, Get Out. Heartwarmers round out the category in the form of a new benchmark for teen movies for and about young women, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, unexpected tear-jerker Toy Story 4, and dazzling Elton John biopic Rocketman.

The Top Ten

1. Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood
2. Joker
3. Avengers: Endgame
4. Parasite
5. Midsommar
6. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
7. Booksmart
8. Us
9. Toy Story 4
10. Rocketman 

Past Winners

2018: Black Panther 
2017: Blade Runner 2049
2016: Deadpool
2015: Mad Max: Fury Road
2014: The Grand Budapest Hotel
2013: Gravity
2012: The Dark Knight Rises
2011: Drive
2010: Inception