End of year lists

The Emerging Artist and I are once again in Victoria for the New Year, and squeezing in our end-of-year lists.

Best Movies:

We saw about 50 movies this year. It’s an approximate figure because we don’t know if we should count the two we walked out of or the ones we watched on TV. We each gave every film a score out of 5. Four films scored the full 10. Here they are in random order (click on the images for my brief blog reviews):

We each chose one more to make five each:

Of documentaries seen in the cinema we agreed on a top four, all seen at the Sydney Film Festival:

A special award for earliest walk-out of a movie goes to Etan Cohen’s Holmes and Watson. Having seen less than a quarter of an hour of it, our only regret was not leaving earlier.

Theatre (best and worst):

We subscribed to Belvoir Street again and there wasn’t a single dud. As for naming a best, we couldn’t go past Counting and Cracking, written by S Shakthidharan and directed by Eamon Flack in a Sydney Town Hall transformed into a huge Indian fort set. I want to give a special mention for Biggest Disappointment to Paul Capsis reading Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis at the Old Fitz, directed by Dino Dimitriadis which was inexplicably beyond terrible (and cost $50 a seat).


The Emerging Artist read 35 books in hard copy and roughly 17 on her device. Of the hard copy books, 22 were by women. She has given me a list of her five best books in non-fiction and fiction categories, but couldn’t be induced to dictate any comments. Here they are then, non-fiction first, none of which I’ve read (yet), all of them with explanatory subtitles:

And the fiction (the last two with links to my blog posts, which don’t claim to represent the EA’s opinions):

As for me, I don’t know how to pick best books from my year. Reading À la recherche du temps perdu, the first two novels so far, has been a delight and a fascination. Moments from Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip keep surfacing vividly months after reading it. Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs knocked me back on my heels. Rebecca Huntley’s Quarterly Essay Australia Fair changed my understanding of the meaning of elections. Nadia Wheatley’s Her Mother’s Daughter and Fiona Wright’s The World Was Whole make me look at the people around me differently, with greater respect for their unseen struggles and heroism. I’ve read much wonderful poetry, and rediscovered brilliant books for very small children. I’ve done a quick gender breakdown in an earlier post (here).

And that’s it for 2019. Please feel free to name your own Bests in the comments, and may all my readers have a fire-free and climate-change-mitigating New Year!

8 responses to “End of year lists

  1. Gosh, I hope being in Victoria means somewhere out of harm’s way from the bushfire crisis…
    With all these out-of-control monster fires, today feels like Black Saturday all over again, the difference (I hope) being that there doesn’t seem to be the same loss of life.


    • Hi Lisa. We’re down at Aireys Inlet which so far feels safe as (I nearly said ‘houses’). We even had solid-sounding rain in the night, and my Sydney sensibilities are regularly shocked by the sight of people hosing their gardens. It’s like a different, kinder planet with a clear blue sky


      • Well that’s good, but make sure you have a bushfire plan anyway. Fire Authorities have assessed Aireys Inlet as having an EXTREME bushfire risk and the town was devastated in the 1983 fires. Download the Vic Emergency App for alerts (https://www.emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare/#understanding-warnings) and make sure you have a battery-operated radio and you can find your local ABC radio station even in poor visibility. Know where your place of last resort is and how to get there: https://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Community/Emergencies-and-safety/Bushfire-Places-of-Last-Resort.
        If you have to get out, remember you will be one of many trying to get out, and allow much more time than you think you will need to do it. Have sturdy clothing to wear to protect yourself from radiant heat and have lots of water on hand to prevent dehydration.
        This advice comes to you courtesy of the Dandenong CFA who educated me about risk management when I was in charge of Emergency Management at my former school. I was one of many who had *no idea* at all because I was “safe in Melbourne” and had unrealistic ideas about how emergency services could protect holidaymakers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lisa. We’re staying with survivors of the Ash Wednesday fires who are acutely aware of the need to be prepared. They actually have a bunker as an emergency resort and are constantly checking the app.


      • Phew… thanks for letting me know, I was very worried about you!


  2. Wow – so difficult.
    I loved Woman at war too but saw it in 2018, so can’t count it this year. I have 43 movies on my list for the year.
    These scored 10 for me: Honeyland, Biggest Little Farm & Parasite all from the Sydney Film Festival. Then hard to choose the next favourites – too many good movies, and I didn’t get to see most of those on your best lists. Try Burning, Ondog, The Final Quarter, Pain and glory, Jo Jo Rabbit.
    I have been lax this year but have enjoyed Olive Kitteridge (while waiting for Olive again to become available), The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie, The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins, The Only Story by Julian Barnes, The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Educated by Tara Westover.
    Beware of Pity, Counting and Cracking, Deer Woman (from Sydney Festival), Things I know to be true, Rise and fall of Little Voice.
    This is a good exercise in remembering!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Three overlaps in the movies, MA, and none in the books, though the EA nearly included The Erratics in her list. And your last two would easily have made a best five theatre list for
      me. I’d forgotten that I saw Little Voice this year. Happy New Year!


  3. kathyprokhovnik

    Great and inspiring list! Strangely I haven’t seen any of those films or read any of those books. Although I do have Dark Emu beside my bed. Best films both Korean – Parasite and Burning. Also The Farewell. And a friend gave me ‘Spoor’ by Agnieszki Holland which was riveting. I always forget with books, but I did discover Rachel Cusk’s trilogy this year which was a wonderful treat. I’ve retreated to comfort books in the last weeks (not sure if it’s my life or the world around me) and am re-reading the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache series. Stay safe where you are and in coming back to Sydney. Friends travelling up the Princes Highway are in tears just looking at what they’re travelling through.

    Liked by 1 person

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