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    Top 10 Films of 2019 According to Renowned Film Critic Jan Wahl

    Jan Wahl

    Many of us here at the San Francisco Bay Times have long admired the work of film critic Jan Wahl. Honest, intelligent, and perceptive, she imbues all of her projects with integrity, humanity, and her trademark stylish chapeau flair. She is the ultimate ally of our community, having supported countless LGBTQ nonprofits, causes, and more over the years—always doing so with great passion and wholeheartedness.

    She grew up in West Los Angeles, where she was raised by auctioneer parents who used family dinnertime as an opportunity for critical thinking exercises, inspiring thoughtful assessment of everything from politics to the arts. Wahl is a fabulous auctioneer herself, having helped to raise countless dollars for various charities.

    The women in her family have been particularly strong. Wahl’s mother was a trailblazer in her industry, and her grandmother was the subject of the biography With a Pistol in One Pocket and a Doll in the Other by author Kay Goldman. It tells the 15-year-old married Santa Fe teen’s tales of survival.

    It perhaps then comes as little surprise that strong women are featured in some of Jan Wahl’s favorite films of 2019. She shared her Top 10 list when we recently spent time with this Emmy Award-winning director, documentarian, movie critic, journalist, teacher, and moxie-enthusiast extraordinaire.

    #10: Downton Abbey

    Wahl found it to be an “enjoyable escape.” Like the well-received PBS series, it is lavishly produced, with gorgeous costumes and sweeping landscapes.

    #9: Gay Chorus Deep South

    “It’s a beautiful, life-changing, and important film,” says Wahl, who has championed the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus from its earliest days in the city.

    #8: Little Women

    There have been numerous film portrayals of the Louisa May Alcott novel, and this one ranks as being one of the best. “Jo March has always been one of my role models,” Wahl says.

    #7: Jojo Rabbit

    Wahl believes that Writer/Director Taika Waititi merits an Academy Award for his work on the film.

    #6: The Peanut Butter Falcon

    “You want to go on the journey of this beautiful young man with Down syndrome who runs away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler.”

    #5: Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

    “This documentary provides a great deal of information about sound in movies and will change the way that you listen to films in future.”

    #4: Harriet

    “Harriet Tubman was a remarkable, brave woman,” Wahl says. She loved Janelle Monáe’s role as Marie Buchanon, believing the performance to be Academy Award-worthy. “Monáe is a radiant, charismatic presence in the film.”

    #3: Yesterday

    Wahl says the film is “wonderful, smart, and funny with imaginative writing.”

    #2: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    “This is not just a feel-good film about Mr. Rogers,” she says. “Tom Hanks is Oscar-worthy in this film that also features a great performance by Matthew Rhys as an investigative journalist reporting on Rogers.”

    #1: Bombshell

    The movie is appropriately named, as Wahl and numerous other critics have been blown away by the drama and its performances. “Everybody should see this film,” she says.

    Published on December 19, 2019