The Top 10 Movies of 2019

Sarah Posted by Sarah at December 13, 2019 14:58:45 December 13, 2019 14:58:45

This has been a great year for film, so I fully expect enthusiastic arguments for this or that film not on my list because it’s not possible to pick every film for a list that is meant to be finite. In a year with so many genuinely good movies, I would pick every movie if I could, but since I can’t, here is my top ten. These are the films I can’t stop thinking about, laughing with, and crying to. As always, this list is alphabetical, not ranked.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Marielle Heller’s Mr. Rogers movie is not a traditional biopic of Fred Rogers, but she perfectly captures what made Mr. Rogers special—his positive and transformative influence on the world around him. Told through the perspective of a cynical, bitter journalist, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is as much about Mr. Rogers as it is anger and forgiveness, and it is a perfect reminder that we are never too old for Mr. Rogers’ most important lessons.

Full review here.

A Hidden Life

A sweeping historical drama as concerned with the small rituals of daily life as it is the machinations of the Third Reich, A Hidden Life is Terrence Malick’s most perfect expression of beatific suffering yet. The story of Franz Jägerstätter is perfectly suited to Malick, being at the crossroads of a major historical event (World War II) and the mundanity of life. A Hidden Life is about the true cost of moral conviction, and also a reminder that Nazis have always been f-cking morons.

Full review here

Booksmart

A raucous, raunchy, gleeful coming of age story, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is a fresh take on the “one wild night” comedy. Simply by shifting the perspective to high school girls, Booksmart breathes life into the sub-genre of high school party comedy. This is a fun and funny film, but one that also embraces heartache and the cycle of angry-sad-devoted fighting and reconciling with a best friend. Booksmart is a jolt of pure cinematic joy.

I Lost My Body

A French animated film about a severed hand searching for its body, I Lost My Body is an exploration of yearning and loneliness told through a very macabre frame. Through the hand’s sense-memory, we see the life of Naoufel, a young man whose idyllic childhood is derailed, and whose life then takes another unexpected turn as he falls for the librarian Gabrielle. I Lost My Body is strange and horrifying in turns, but it is also beautiful and hopeful, and, ultimately, about moving on when life becomes something other than what we expect. 

Knives Out

There is no more fun film this year than Rian Johnson’s twisty, twisted murder mystery. As much a whodunit as a class parable, Knives Out features one of the best ensembles of the year, and also some of the best art direction of the year (I want to live in that house). Every element of this film is perfectly calibrated, from Daniel Craig’s ludicrous Southern accent to Chris Evans’ tatty sweater, which is such a perfectly WASP detail I could scream. Knives Out is an impeccably constructed, flawlessly executed mystery, and a pure joy to watch.

Full review here.   

Midsommar

The breakup movie of the year! It’s easy to get lost in the cult-horror trappings of Midsommar, but this is truly the story of how Dani got her groove back, and how cathartic it is for a woman to shed the weight of a mediocre man. There are many memorable images in Midsommar, from the divine to the grotesque to the supremely f-cked up, but no image is as indelible as Dani’s slow smile as she realizes that she is free of the tiny box her boyfriend’s unsympathetic and withholding “love” created around her. There is nothing more satisfying than the sight of Dani, bedecked in flowers and grinning ear-to-ear, as she revels in her freedom and the fullness of her own experience. This is the happiest of endings to Ari Aster’s twisted fairytale.

Full review here

Parasite

Bong Joon-ho has been playing with classism in his films all decade, and in Parasite he distills his theme into a brutal social satire. This is one of the weirdest, wildest films of the year, that embraces every genre from comedy to slasher horror. It’s impressive how weird Parasite gets, and how it just keeps getting weirder, and yet never loses it sharpness or its focus. This is a masterful work from a master filmmaker.

Full review here.

The Farewell

How much does a lie really matter? The Farewell is a portrait of a family in crisis, but it is a portrait in which everyone is in their Sunday best, smiling their widest, and absolutely not acknowledging the elephant in the room. Lulu Wang’s film explores the boundaries of filial piety, individualism, immigration, and how a well-meaning white lie can both bind and divide. The Farewell is as funny as it is moving—it’s a funny drama—and it is the most joyful celebration of family this year.

The Lighthouse

I still don’t know if I actually like this film? And I still don’t think it matters when a film is as unique and bold as The Lighthouse? Robert Eggers’ sophomore feature is certainly A Lot Of Choices Happening All At Once, and it is absolutely unforgettable no matter how you feel about it. Whether or not I like it is irrelevant when I can’t stop thinking about it—it exists on the fault line between brilliant and revolting. Whether it is good or horrible, and maybe someday I’ll make up my mind, The Lighthouse is indelible. 

Full review here

Us

Jordan Peele’s sophomore film is an impressive double act, a film that works completely differently before and after the first viewing. Anchored by Lupita Nyong’o’s tremendous dual performance, Us is a rare horror movie that is even better after you know the monster’s secrets. It’s also a sharp class satire and tense home invasion thriller. It’s amazing on how many levels Us works, and that it is completely effective on every one of them.

Full review here.

Runners-Up

Dolemite Is My Name
Hustlers
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Okay Movies Featuring Stellar Performances

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie – Bombshell 
Jodie Turner-Smith & Daniel Kaluuya – Queen & Slim
Keanu Reeves – Always Be My Maybe
Kristen Stewart – Charlie’s Angels
Paul Walter Hauser & Sam Rockwell – Richard Jewell

“Holy Sh-t They Pulled It Off” Movie of the Year

Avengers: Endgame

Technically Accomplished Film That Is Still Boring As F-ck To Watch

1917

Are You F-cking Kidding Me?

Serenity

Attached - Booksmart director Olivia Wilde at The Hollywood Reporter's Annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala with Kaitlyn Dever. 

Photos:
Erik Voake/ Rodin Eckenroth/ Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images

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