TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2019
As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to travel back and discuss what films made the biggest impact on audiences and critics this year. As I created this list, I had to ask myself, "Does the opinion of movie critics really impact the impression a film has on the everyday movie-goer? Perhaps in some cases it does but as you read my list of the TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2019, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below as to what movies most impacted you this year!
Already hailed as a masterpiece by many critics and easily one of the most talked about films of 2019. Whether you like this film or not, by the end of Ari Aster’s folk horror film, you will be asking yourself, “What did I just watch?” With a story that is told like what I can only image is like a psychedelic acid trip, Midsommar follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival and get roped in the clutches of a cult. While I do feel the running time of this film is completely intentional and unnecessary, Midsommar gets a lot of credit for taking a direction that is both unsettling and disturbing. Visually, Midsommar is one of the best films of the year and much of the madness that makes this film work on so many levels is the brilliant emotive performance from it’s leading actress, Florence Pugh.
Todd Phillips’ psychological thriller is a compelling origin story revolved around the DC Comics Anti-Hero and contains a large dose of inspiration from Martin Scorsese’s films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy through a dark and often brutal way of storytelling. The film isn’t about the thrills the Joker has wreaking havoc on Gotham City. Instead, we learn about Arthur Fleck, an emotionally unstable man who through disturbing human interaction slowly evolves into the Joker. Led by a brilliant performance by Joaquin Phoenix, this gritty story harkens back to a time when filmmaking was simpler but still left you with the intense fear of what our lead character is going to do next.
I was initially torn upon watching Jordan Peele’s second directorial film as I felt the overwhelming praise for Us before it was even released had somewhat tarnished my opinion of the film. People were already deeming it the scariest film of all time before it was even in theaters! While Us is in no way shape or form the scariest film of all time and while I still have major issues with its pacing and weak/dissatisfying conclusion, there is no denying that Jordan Peele has an eye for creating an unsettling atmosphere that really makes the audience think. Us is a very good film and definitely deserves to be highlighted for it’s writing, directing, and haunting performance from actress Lupita Nyong’o who creates an extremely fierce dual character.
Take the outrageous humor of 2007’s Superbad and the independent spirit of 2017’s Lady Bird and you get Booksmart. In Olivia Wide’s directorial debut, this coming-of-age comedy follows two high school girls who are best friends and are determinate to finally “live it up” the night before their graduation. Booksmart is not your typical teenage comedy film. It has a raunchiness that is completely original and doesn’t go overboard into just trying to be humorous.
Terminator: Dark Fate
In what was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise left a sour taste in many fans of the franchises' mouths, mostly for its series-defining plot twist in the first few minutes of the film. I said it before, and I will say it now – I just don’t get it. I think that the way James Cameron altered the story of a significant character in the franchise only enhanced the direction of where this film could go and what we get is a high-octane upgrade from the past few Terminator films. There is no way anyone could top The Terminator (1984) or T2: Judgement Day (1991) but Terminator: Dark Fate is easily the 3rd best film in the franchise.
Is there a more impactful Director today than the great Martin Scorsese? Short Answer… NO! Scorsese’s recent Netflix movie The Irishman has the brilliant crime story telling element that has now become essential in a Martin Scorsese film. Is there really much to say here to convince you that The Irishman is one of the best films of the year? Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci… Directed by Martin Scorsese. Aside from the obvious intrigues that will have you sitting on the couch watching this intelligent crime story, The Irishman is consistent in its tone and while it doesn’t have the heart-stomping action of Goodfellas, the message comes across throughout.
Ready or Not
This deranged black comedy takes the idea of welcoming your new in-laws to a whole new level! Ready or Not seemed to come and go when it was released in Theaters in August of 2019 and perhaps it’s because this film is not for everyone – Especially if gore is not your thing. Fortunately for me, I have a special place in my heart for horror films. But rather than putting such an easy label like “Horror” on Ready or Not, this film is so much more than that! Ready or Not is such an intelligent suspense thriller but doesn’t forget that it is a modern-day horror film and does not stray from it’s often unexpected yet ironic sense of humor. Not since the Kill Bill films have we seen a bride kick so much ass! If you are a fan of films that combine humor and horror and plot lines that on paper might not add up but work so well on the screen, check out Ready or Not!
THE BEST ACTING OF THE YEAR… PERIOD. This powerful piece about a couple’s early stages of divorce that leads to a high-octane battle of wills and emotions is Director Noah Baumbach’s best work to date. Baumbach, who also wrote the film was inspired by his real-life divorce to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. The 1979 drama Kramer vs. Kramer explored the struggles of divorce but what Marriage Story does is place two people who on the surface seem perfectly compatible and while both leading characters start off willing to compromise, we see a decent into anger and animosity between Charlie and Nicole. Marriage Story is not your typical melodrama. It is filled with immense passion, impactful moments, and I can not say it enough, incredible performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.
Take the intelligence of a British murder mystery, the satirical humor of Clue, and the witty repartee of a 1980’s Soap Opera and you get Rian Johnson’s murder mystery film Knives Out. Following the “whodunit” storyline that we have seen in previous murder mystery films, Knives Out has a much more refreshing take on the genre. We find out who we believe is the killer early on the film and what is so ironic is that we actually root for who we believe is the bad guy because the family in this film is so greedy and diabolical in their actions toward each other. With that perfect combination of mystery and humor, Knives Out is a film one can revisit even after we find out who did it. The Oscars needs to create an award for “Best Ensemble Cast” because Knives Out delivers a plethora of genius human interaction with actors like Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Daniel Craig, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, and Christopher Plummer… just to name a few.
Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood
I can’t help but feel like I chose my favorite film of 2019 the moment I heard 2 years ago about Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film revolving around one of the most publicized crimes in Hollywood. But it wasn’t until I was sitting in the theater watching this Hollywood tale unravel on the big screen that I was able to take in the genius that is Tarantino. Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood is Tarantino’s homage to 1960’s cinema and pulls in the many elements of a standard Tarantino film but also maintains a slow-paced decent into madness. The film follows the standard Tarantino format, being told from the point of view of several of it’s central characters all culminating to a finale that is completely unexpected and will have you cheering for more. With an incredible cast like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie, Tarantino recreates the golden age of cinema and the sixties’ infused themes of music, drugs, and elegance that makes Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood the most dazzling period piece of 2019 and one of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest works.
What are your favorites movies of 2019? Am I crazy to have some of these films in my list? Are there important films you think I missed? Let me know if the comments below! And don’t forget to subscribe to Somelikeithollywood.com and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.