2019 was a good year at the movies. Sure, 2019 brought us a handful of movies that I’ll surely revisit in the near future, but I honestly feel like it was a letdown year. But still, there were some great movies that came out in 2019. We experienced movies that acted like love letters to Hollywood. We experienced movies from a streaming service that turned in arguably more quality movies than any movie studio (their quantity also outweighed everyone else). We experienced movies that made Film Twitter mad. And finally, we experienced more movies that created all sorts of emotions, which continued to help us, the moviegoers, escape reality. These experiences are a part of why we love movies so much, and that is why we should always talk about the best of the best every year. Talk about the ones that deserve the attention. Ones that you may have not heard about that absolutely deserve your time (and money).
Honorable Mentions: The Irishman, The King, Marriage Story, Apollo 11, Ford v Ferrari
10. The Two Popes
Netflix had a banner year with their original movies, including The Irishman, The King, and Marriage Story. While all those are great and are honorable mentions in this article, to me the best movie from Netflix last year was The Two Popes. Featuring awards-worthy performances from both Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, this story of transition of power within the Catholic Church is one of the best movies centered around religion in God knows how long. And thanks to arguably the best screenplay of the year, it is also one of the best movies about coming together despite different viewpoints.
9. Knives Out
I haven’t demanded many sequels/spin-offs in recent years, but after seeing Knives Out, I need more features centered around Daniel Craig’s Detective Blanc. Thankfully it’s happening, courtesy of twriter/director Rian Johnson!
“Nothing brings family together like murder or fortune, right? Just in time for the holidays, Knives Out is exactly the type of after dinner affair you want to attend. An all-star cast featuring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis (just to name a few)? A murder mystery that’s not only clever, but also relevant? I mean, seriously. What’s not appealing about this original movie from writer and director Rian Johnson? From the start, Knives Out is endlessly entertaining, and by movie’s end, you’ll be asking yourself if you’ve had a more fun time at the movies this year.” Read the full review HERE.
The first must-see movie of the year stayed with us long after its release in March thanks to every aspect of this movie. And in this critic’s opinion, it features the best female performance of the year in Lupita Nyong’o’s dual role. Her performance(s) alone helps drive Us.
“With the bar being set very high thanks to his previous movie, the expectations for Us were somewhat unprecedented. But thanks to confident direction and another knockout script that presents new ideas, horrors, humor, and great character development, Peele has struck gold once again. Us is the year’s first memorable movie; it’s a horror movie that will require multiple viewings to appreciate its brilliance in showing us new horrors that won’t soon leave the minds of those that step into Peele’s new story.” Read the full review HERE.
I’m not a big Elton John fan, but I absolutely loved Rocketman. Dexter Fletcher’s musical extravaganza about the rise of one of the greatest musicians of all time features the year’s best acting performance thanks to Taron Egerton. Doing it all, from singing and dancing to the beat of Elton’s most famous tunes, Egerton gives his all here. It’s a shame he didn’t get more awards love from voters.
Over a billion dollars at the box office. The biggest R-rated movie of all-time. 11 Oscar nominations. Did anyone expect all three of those? Nope. Not a soul. But it happened and it’s not entirely surprising once you witness the birth of one of the most famous comic book villains ever made in this adaptation.
“But against all odds, Joker defies expectations and is one of the most memorable comic book adaptations in recent memory, thanks to a powerhouse performance from Joaquin Phoenix and confident direction from Phillips.” Read the full review HERE.
5. Ad Astra
The Brad Pitt performance everyone’s talking about right now is his role in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. And while it’s certainly a great performance, his best performance of the year came in the stellar, investing space odyssey Ad Astra. Bucking the big studio, sci-fi trend, Ad Astra is a beautiful blend of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now that moves along quite nicely from earth to its final destination.
4. Doctor Sleep
The biggest surprise of 2019 might go to Doctor Sleep. While there was not much hesitation, thanks to director Mike Flanagan being brought on, it’s just very surprising just how good Doctor Sleep is and how much it rivals its predecessor, The Shining. I can’t wait to revisit Doctor Sleep next week when it is accompanied by a Director’s Cut.
“While Kubrick’s The Shining is undoubtedly an all-timer for movie buffs (this guy included), there is no balanced dichotomy of good versus evil in the 1980 movie. But in Doctor Sleep, it is ever-so present in showing what people like Danny can do with their power, using it for either good or in horrifyingly evil ways. And ultimately, I think that’s what makes this movie shine as a whole, by giving its audiences glimmers of hope. (I also think that’s why Stephen King gave his seal of approval to this adaptation.) While scares in Doctor Sleep are not that frequent, it is time we dismiss the notion that every horror movie should generate scares of any kind and at all times. Of course, changes from King’s novel abound here–just like any of his other adaptations–but they all work well in this cohesive story that is both satisfying to its mastermind storyteller and its master filmmaker of the 1980 adaptation. Flanagan balances everything near-perfectly in Doctor Sleep, which is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made and one that will leave its viewers unsettled with demons from their past.” Read the full review HERE.
One of the best dark comedies ever made lives up to the hype and more. A foreign film that hooks you right from the start, this offering from Bong Joon-ho builds to one of the best climaxes executed in ages. The less you know about Parasite’s brilliant (and universal) story, the better.
2. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
There is so much to love about Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie. The cast is exceptional. The production design is top notch. And the story is endlessly entertaining from start to finish. In terms of replay value, this is one of the few movies you could watch again and again or on an endless loop. Of course, it has all the qualities of a Tarantino movie: great humor, attention to detail, and short bursts of very, very violent outcomes. If Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood truly is Tarantino’s next to last movie, then it is certainly one of the two or three best movies he’s ever made.
Sure to be remembered for years to come, 1917 checks all the boxes for why it deserves a place in cinematic history. Everything about this movie represents some of the best work you will find in any category or area of what goes into the filmmaking process this year. And when it all comes together in this movie, it makes for something truly special: the best movie of the year.
“1917 is without a doubt one of the best war movies ever made. Is it an easy experience? Absolutely not. In fact, some viewers will be relieved once the credits roll. But what Mendes has orchestrated here is nothing short of exceptional. Feats like this are why we go to the movies and why movies like 1917 will be remembered for years to come. Every aspect of this movie, from the directing to the cinematography, acting, score and everything else is Grade-A level work and must be experienced to the fullest in theater. But be prepared. You might want to bring a heart rate monitor just in case.” Read the full review HERE.