Favorites of 2019: Zachary Zahos

January 3, 2020 - 10:08am
Posted by Jim Healy


Zachary Zahos is a Programmer and Project Assistant for the UW Cinematheque and Wisconsin Film Festival. He is also a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Communication Arts at UW Madison.

My favorite new films to play Madison in 2019 are as follows:

1. THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese)

2. STYX (Wolfgang Fischer)

3. THE IMAGE BOOK (Jean-Luc Godard)

4. UNCUT GEMS (Josh and Benny Safdie) 

5. OUR TIME (Carlos Reygadas)

6. KNOT/NOT (Larry Gottheim)

7. THE IMAGE YOU MISSED (Dónal Foreman)

8. US (Jordan Peele) 

9. PAIN AND GLORY (Pedro Almodóvar)

10. LOS REYES (Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut)

Honorary mention to Zia Anger’s MY FIRST FILM, performed at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on October 23, 2019.

Of the hundreds of older films I watched for the first time this year, these ten sit at the top of the pack:

1. BLACK IS … BLACK AIN'T (Marlon Riggs, 1994)

2. BARN RUSHES (Larry Gottheim, 1971)

3. THE GIRL IN THE RUMOR (Mikio Naruse, 1935)

4. WHEN TOMORROW COMES (John M. Stahl, 1939)

5. ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)

6. THE HOUSE IS BLACK (Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)

7. LA RELIGIEUSE (Jacques Rivette, 1966)

8. SNOW-WHITE (Dave Fleischer, 1933)

9. FORTINI/CANI (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1976)

10. LAUGHTER IN HELL (Edward L. Cahn, 1932)

Finally, my favorite cinema of the decade (2010-2019), with the caveat that there is so much I want to revisit and far more I have yet to see. The director of the decade is Hong Sang-soo, who made so many great films I am capping this at one title per director—lest this list be overwhelmed with Hong's output. I present this list of 30 titles alphabetically, with asterisks next to my five absolute favorites:

88:88 (Isiah Medina, 2015)

AT BERKELEY (Frederick Wiseman, 2013)*

AVATAR FLIGHT OF PASSAGE (Disney Imagineering, Lightstorm Entertainment, and Weta Digital, 2017)

BELMONTE (Federico Veiroj, 2018)

CERTIFIED COPY (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)*

COMPUTER CHESS (Andrew Bujalski, 2013)

THE DAY HE ARRIVES (Hong Sang-soo, 2011)*

DEAD SOULS (Wang Bing, 2018)


HORSE MONEY (Pedro Costa, 2014)

THE HUMAN SURGE (Eduardo Williams, 2016)

THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

JAUJA (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)

THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Claude Lanzmann, 2013)

LEVIATHAN (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 2012)

MARGARET (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

NO HOME MOVIE (Chantal Akerman, 2015)

O.J. MADE IN AMERICA (Ezra Edelman, 2016)

SIERANEVADA (Cristi Puiu, 2016)

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY (Catherine Breillat, 2010)*

STAYING VERTICAL (Alain Guiraudie, 2016)


TABU (Miguel Gomes, 2012)

THINGS TO COME (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick, 2011)

THE TRIAL (Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington, and Eric Notarnicola, 2017)

TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (David Lynch, 2017)*

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT (Dan Sallitt, 2012)

WESTERN (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)