Greetings again from the darkness. For 2019, I reviewed 259 new releases (this includes 4 film festivals), and to put it bluntly, this was a terrific movie year filled with quality movies that entertained and educated. Below you will find my Top 11 movies of the year along with a link to the reviews. As an added bonus (and at no extra cost), I’ve included some additional recommendations by genre.
Disney continues its pursuit of world dominance by controlling about one-third of the year’s box office. The studio/conglomerate also produced 6 movies that grossed over $1 billion, and will likely add a 7th with STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I have nothing against blockbuster movies, but I always encourage folks to seek out the indie sleepers. There are so many exciting new filmmakers creating projects that are interesting and unique.
Just a reminder that this list recaps my personal favorites of the year, and is not intended as a prediction of the Academy Awards. I hope you’ll find at least a few worth watching!
Martin Scorcese’s latest masterpiece is available on Netflix. It’s three-and-a-half hours of cinematic bliss for movie lovers who appreciate terrific acting, technical expertise, and exceptional storytelling. It tells the (somewhat) true story of mob hitman Frank Sheeran, and his relationship with Jimmy Hoffa. The film also features the return of Joe Pesci, who delivers the most understated performance of his career. It’s unfortunate that so few had the chance to see this one in a theatre.
A searing look at what happens when a love story goes bad and divorce morphs into war. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson capture the essence of two people whose lives drifted from their singular path. Filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical film packs an emotional wallop.
A youngster having Adolph Hitler as his imaginary friend made writer-director-actor Taika Waititi’s brilliant film one of the more divisive films of the year. How dare he? In actuality, it’s a tender story of that young man, his brave mother, and a hidden Jewish girl … and how the combination leads to better understanding of just how similar we all are in our distaste for hatred.
ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth and evidently penultimate feature film is his tribute to the town and industry he so adores. He upset some people (doesn’t he always) with his twist on history, while in fact, he exposed the fine line between reality and fiction. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie lead an impressive cast in one of QT’s finest.
Oscar winning director Sam Mendes and Oscar winning cinematographer Roger Deakins collaborated to deliver a start-to-finish World War I thriller that appears to be filmed in one shot and in real time. It’s a unique viewing experience, and anyone interested is encouraged to catch it at the theatre for full impact.
PAIN AND GLORY
Another semi-autobiographical story – this one from Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, who examines the process of looking back on life. We see how life and art, and past and present, can converge as one questions their own choices.
This talented and deep ensemble cast was responsible for one of the most fun to watch movies of the year. James Bond (Daniel Craig) with a southern drawl is not to be missed. It’s a wild ride as the murder mystery is solved within the walls of a dark mansion.
Yes, it’s yet another semi-autobiographical film – this time from filmmaker Lulu Wang. Rising star Awkwafina helps bridge cultures and family dynamics in a way that is both heart-warming and comical.
In what I believe is the 8th film version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Greta Gerwig proves her LADY BIRD was no fluke, as she adds a contemporary tone to the classic tale of the Marsh sisters.
TOY STORY 4
25 years ago, Pixar introduced us to Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang. We know and love these characters. Is it sad to say goodbye? Well, yes it is … but this saga ends with a terrific final chapter.
In a year that featured several bizarre films, this one from South Korea’s Bong Joon Ho is truly one of the strangest. Is it comedy? Is it horror? Yes it is.
http://redcarpetcrash.com/movie-review-parasite/ (review by Russell Whitehouse)
Thanks to cable and streaming, it’s usually pretty easy to track down some really interesting movies that you might have missed throughout the year. Here are few others to catch up on:
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME
FORD V FERRARI
READY OR NOT
A HIDDEN LIFE
THE TWO POPES
ONE CHILD NATION
DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER ME
THE SOUVENIR (UK)
See you at the movies!