The Best Movies of 2019

Let’s face the facts: 2019 was a fantastic year for films. It was a wonderful time to be a moviegoer. From masterful mob epics to dark comic-book films, it offered a wide selection of movies for everyone. Due to the sheer number of films I saw this year, it was extremely difficult to pick ten that stood out. Nevertheless, listed below are my personal picks for the best movies of the year and why you should consider seeing them.

The Top 10 

     1.  Marriage Story

     Few films in 2019 affected me as profoundly as Marriage Story. Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama tore my heart out and shattered it into a million pieces. Realistic, insightful and deeply moving, it offers the most unforgettable depiction of divorce that I’ve ever seen. Writer/director Noah Baumbach observes the painful process of divorce in an empathetic and non-judgmental way. It’s elevated by two of the most powerful performances of the year from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Both actors excel as a couple caught in the midst of a breakup. Put simply, Marriage Story is a masterpiece. Divorce dramas tend to be depressing and are not meant for everyone. Nevertheless, this is an exceptional film that will resonate with moviegoers long after the credits roll.
 


2.  Parasite

    Perhaps, the most surprising movie of the year was Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. Dark, wickedly funny and utterly unpredictable, this social satire took audiences by surprise since it won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho has crafted a magnificent film about the gap between the rich and poor. The most jaw-dropping aspect of Parasite is its seamless balance of different tones. It’s a hilarious heist comedy, a nerve-wracking thriller and a horrific social commentary all wrapped into one beautiful package. It takes a fantastic filmmaker to pull off this feat, and Bong Joon Ho certainly proves that he is one. Like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, Parasiteis a sublime piece of filmmaking that demands to be seen. There is simply nothing else like it.
 
 
     3.  The Irishman
 
     Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese has long been fascinated with the lives of gangsters. His latest film The Irishman feels like the perfect culmination of his career that started with 1973’s Mean Streets. A somber, contemplative and masterful mob epic, it traces the tragic life of mob hitman Frank Sheeran. Scorsese uses the extended running time to examine the consequences of crime, passage of time and grief in a mobster’s life. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci deliver career-defining performances in the lead roles. There’s something truly awe-inspiring about watching a legendary filmmaker at the height of his talents working with his favorite actors. If The Irishmantruly is Scorsese’s farewell to the gangster genre, it’s one hell of a high note to go out on.


4.  Joker

Whoever came up with the idea to cast Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker is a genius. It is not easy to play the iconic supervillain, but Phoenix pulls it off effortlessly in Joker. Todd Phillips’ dark, twisted and undeniably unsettling origin story offers a fresh interpretation of the beloved character. Phoenix is phenomenal in the lead role, creating a complex portrait of the villain. It’s an astonishing performance from one of the finest actors working today. However, what makes Joker stand apart from other comic-book films is its topical message. It makes a powerful statement on mental illness and its growing presence in criminals. Joker is a timely film that transcends comic-book tropes to become a reflection on the world we live in today.

5.  Little Women

Ever since she burst onto the scene with Lady Bird two years ago, Greta Gerwig has proven herself to be a major female filmmaker. Gerwig follows up her directorial debut with Little Women, an astonishing adaptation of the beloved literary classic. It’s a funny, heartbreaking and uplifting film that offers the perfect example of how to adapt a literary classic to the big-screen. Using a finely tuned script and excellent ensemble cast, Gerwig breathes fresh life into a story as old as time. Led by the spectacular Saoirse Ronan, the entire cast is at the top of its game and devoted to telling the story. At a time when female-driven films are a rarity in Hollywood, it’s reassuring to be reminded that movies like Little Women are still getting made.



6.  Knives Out

 

If you’re in the mood for a gripping murder mystery, look no further than Knives Out. Rian Johnson’s clever, original and thrilling whodunit is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Using a sharp screenplay and star-studded cast, Johnson crafts an old-fashioned murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. The entire cast is at the top of its game and seems to be having a blast of fun. From the scene-stealing Daniel Craig to the loathsome Chris Evans, every actor gets the chance to shine and leave a lasting impression. Johnson utilizes the star-studded ensemble perfectly, creating a film full of delightful surprises. Knives Out is the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year, and a must-see for moviegoers that enjoy classic murder mysteries.

7.  Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is one of those filmmakers with an instantly recognizable style. You immediately know that you’re watching a Tarantino movie when there’s plenty of bloody violence, foul language and witty dialogue. With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, however, Tarantino has made his most restrained film to date. Tarantino’s ninth feature is a rousing love letter to 1960’s Los Angeles. It’s impeccably crafted on all fronts, featuring dazzling production values and incredible performances. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are excellent as a pair of struggling actors, creating a friendship for the ages. Although misunderstood upon release, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a classic that will come to be appreciated in the years to come.

8.  The Farewell

It is always hard to say goodbye to the ones you love, and Lulu Wang’s latest film The Farewell beautifully captures that feeling. A funny, insightful and poignant look at Chinese culture, it follows a family that grieves the inevitable death of its patriarch. With her second feature, Lulu Wang has crafted an intimate portrait of a Chinese family and its customs. It’s anchored by an award-worthy turn from Awkwafina, one of the finest Asian-American actresses working today. Although The Farewell focuses on a Chinese family, its message is universal. It is one of those rare films that will urge you to call up your grandmother no matter how old she may be.

9.  Ford v Ferrari

If you’re a car-racing enthusiast, there’s a good chance that you will love Ford v Ferrari. James Mangold’s latest film is a thrilling car-racing drama that delivers crowd-pleasing popcorn entertainment. With astounding visual effects, Mangold recreates the iconic 1966 Le Mans race. It’s fueled by fantastic performances from Christian Bale and Matt Damon, both of whom seem to be having a blast. Although Ford v Ferrari runs nearly two and a half hours long, it is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. It offers old-fashioned entertainment of the kind that Hollywood simply doesn’t make anymore.

10.  Toy Story 4

How do you conclude a 24 year-old franchise? It’s a seemingly impossible task, but Toy Story 4 pulls it off. Pixar’s latest film is a funny, heartfelt and poignant finale that brings the series to a satisfying conclusion. If it truly is the last time we see Woody and his friends on the big-screen, it’s a fitting farewell to the toys we’ve come to adore. 2019 couldn’t have ended on a higher note, especially for Toy Story fans.

Honorable Mentions: 
1917, Waves, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Jojo Rabbit, Blinded by the Light

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