The Favourite

The Favourite, Watershed's top selling film in 2019

Top 10 sellers of 2019

Posted on Fri 10 Jan 2020

Farewell 2019, hello 2020. As we embark on a new decade, we thought we’d take a few moments to take a look back at the past year and share our top 10 cinema hits of 2019.

2019 was quite a year. We announced our exciting capital plans including Cinema 4. We launched Rife’s first book (Rife: Twenty-One Stories From Britain’s Youth), introduced Relaxed Screenings, celebrated and enjoyed the fourth year of Cinema Rediscovered and joined the network of cultural organisations who have declared a Climate Emergency. That’s just a little taster!

More than 150,000 of you came to our cinema screens to enjoy the best independent and world cinema. But which film was the most popular with our audiences in 2019? Your favourite Watershed title was… The Favourite.

Yorgos Lanthimos (coincidentally, his earlier film, The Lobster, was our most popular film in 2015 – us Bristol lot clearly love dark humour) returned to cinema screens in January 2019 with his absurdly entertaining farce, which eventually went on to land lead actress Olivia Colman with both a Golden Globe and an Oscar® for her performance.

Here’s the full list of the 2019 favourites:

  1. The Favourite (dir: Yorgos Lanthimos)
  2. Bait (dir: Mark Jenkin)
  3. Booksmart (dir: Olivia Wilde)
  4. Green Book (dir: Peter Farrelly)
  5. Pain and Glory (dir: Pedro Almodovar)
  6. The Irishman (dir: Martin Scorsese)
  7. Colette (dir: Wash Westmoreland)
  8. Sorry We Missed You (dir: Ken Loach)
  9. If Beale Street Could Talk (dir: Barry Jenkins)
  10. The Day Shall Come (dir: Chris Morris)

In response to the list, Mark Cosgrove, our Cinema Curator, said:

“Yorgos Lanthimos’s delicious rewriting of the costume drama rulebook The Favourite started the year with a bang and delivered not only one of 2019 finest films but also our top box-office hit.

“It is great to see that Olivia Wilde’s hilarious teen-comedy-with-serious-female attitude Booksmart is one of our most popular titles as well as the beautifully cinematic If Beale Street Could Talk, Berry Jenkins’ follow to his groundbreaking success Moonlight. And, of course, great to see the old guard of Scorsese, Almodovar and Loach making films of intense passion, tenderness and emotion which connected with Watershed audiences.  

"However, the film story of 2019 is most definitely Bait. This Cornwall-made, Bristol-produced film illustrated to the max the old film industry adage ‘no-one knows anything’. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February receiving a 5* review from Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian which started a chain-reaction of interest in the film which opened at in the UK, and Watershed, in late August.

"Full disclosure: I know the film’s Bristol producers Kate Byers and Linn Waite. I felt I had to be honest with Kate and Linn and say to them that as much as I loved Bait it would be opening in our small screen - this was after all a black and white, academy ratio, low-budget film verging on the experimental - and that success would be that it might play in a bigger screen and we might, just might, show it for a second week.

"Once Bait went on sale we quickly moved it into Cinema 1 and played it for 8 weeks - one of the longest runs we have had for a film. It is just shy of 6,000 admissions at Watershed, has taken over £500K at the UK box-office and now been nominated for not only Debut Feature but also Best British Film at the BAFTAs. 

"Bait is a brilliant example of what makes the film business so exciting; a film can come from the margins - geographically and aesthetically - and connect with audiences.”

You can hear Mark, plus Cinema Producers Thea Berry and Tara Judah, talk more about 2019 in film (including the ones that got away) in the December Podcast.

What’s in store for the new decade in film? Some major award contenders – including 1917, Uncut Gems, The Lighthouse and Palme d’or winner Parasite – to name a few. The Oscar® nominations are announced this Saturday – 13 Jan – but what matters the most to us here at Watershed is how all of our audiences respond to them.

So you tell us – what are you most looking forward to in 2020 in the cinema? What do you think of 2019’s top 10? Are there any that didn’t get the attention they deserved? Please share your thoughts below.

Thank you for spending some of 2019 with us. Whether you’ve been coming for the past decade (or the past three!) or you’ve just discovered us, it means a lot. Here’s to more films, more food, more drinks, more events, more celebration and coming together in this new decade.