(UPDATED 2/16/2020 to include other movies I got to see)
I have not seen all of the film’s this past year, in fact I review the least amount of movies this year than I did in the past 3 years. Just given how busy and crazy my schedule has been, I haven’t gotten the chance to see some of the smaller quieter films that are receiving a lot of buzz. Nonetheless, I have compiled a list that I am more than happy with for this year and it proved that 2019 was an excellent year for movies!
If you want more detailed thoughts on each of these films, I included my reviews on them so you can see how I felt when I first watched them. Also just because a movie got a high score did not necessarily equate it to a higher or lower position on this list. It’s all subjective and it’s hard to compare such starkly different movies to one another.
Either way, let’s get into the best films of the year!!
10. Marriage Story
While not the most uplifting film of the year, Marriage Story nonetheless manages to tell a story so deep and personal that it feels like we are spying on actual people. The performances are the most raw I have seen this year, and it features one of the most heartbreaking and supremely acted scenes of the past decade. You really get to see both sides of the love failing and never feel like you are rooting for one party to win over another. You are with them in this struggle, allowing yourself to feel all of the emotions they do throughout their story of love coming apart.
Jordan Peele’s sophomore outing did not disappoint, with an emphasis on moving away from social commentary and into a full blown horror realm. Horror films are very hit or miss, but Us benefits from an original story/villain and a supreme direction to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The movie certainly is bolstered by the discussion that can be had about being forgotten and the implications of how we view ourselves, but even without that layer Us just works at keeping you invested and scared consistently throughout its run-time.
The DC universe of films really had not found its stride in being so dark and gloomy, but it manages to finally find the right balance with Shazam! This film not only has the mystical and darker elements of the DC films, it also is one of the funniest movies of the year thanks to Zachary Levi’s childlike charm and charisma. The film has more to say this time around about the importance of family and what it can look like and even delves deeper into its villain in terms of parenting. I knew I would like this movie, but coming out of it I really loved it with all the heart, humor, and action it packed into its story! If you skipped out on this one in theaters, DEFINITELY check it out now!
7. Knives Out
Murder mystery films are a fun gimmick that hasn’t been as much often due to their predictability and lack of fun after one watch. However, Rian Johnson surprises once again by subverting our expectations and giving as a murder mystery that is not only intriguing but down right hilarious as well. Filled to the brim with excellent performances, Knives Out manages to breathe new life into the genre and keep you guessing until the very end. More than that, it changes the way you process a murder mystery film and makes it so that you’re guessing about how everything wraps up until the very end. Johnson once again has delivered a film that takes our initial thoughts about a film and flips it, providing a whole new story and originality that makes this film so fun!
6. The Irishman
Martin Scorsese easily is one of the best directors of all time and his return to crime film’s did not disappoint. This film not only features great performances and characters from Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, it provides one of the most engaging and fulfilling narratives of the year. Even with a three and a half hour run time, The Irishman keeps things well paced and never makes you feel bored or tired. In fact, you feel like you have gone through a whole lifetime by the time the film reaches its conclusion causing you to look introspectively at the choices you have made and the implications they have. This is a film that is truly reflective and evokes a strong nostalgic sense for your life that most films cannot accomplish.
Expertly filmed by Sam Mendes and gorgeously shot by Roger Deacons, this war film is unlike any other and fully gives an experience that will be talked about for years. The use of filming entirely in one shot engages you into the action and makes you feel like your along for the journey. The action is tense and exciting and there is never a moment where you feel truly safe from all of the action. This film gave audiences a great shot in arm at the end of the year and solidified itself as one of the greatest war movies of all time.
4. Toy Story 4
We thought the series had ended back in 2010 with an excellent conclusion and emotional punch that left everyone in puddles. But Pixar has done it once again and delivered an excellent epilogue to such a beloved franchise that I found to be the best of the four! Toy Story 4 tackles the themes of self-actualization and what our purpose in life should be through the perspective of Woody and delved deep into what we truly want in life. Out of all of the films in 2019, this one managed to be the deepest look at who we are as humans and what we strive for out of life. Not to mention that this features some of the most iconic new characters in the form of Keanu Reeves, Ducky and Bunny, and many more. Even now, I still think of this film and the impact it has had on my view on life and I can’t praise this entry more highly for how well balanced it tackled everything a movie needs to have.
A lot of people found this film controversial and dangerous, and while I can certainly see that argument it didn’t stop me from loving this movie for everything it accomplishes. It manages to be a deep character study of a man with a mental illness and show just how somebody could snap to become and iconic Batman villain. It doesn’t even feel like a comic book movie, and the perspective we see the film through Arthur’s eyes adds an element of disorientation that you would never get out of a normal movie. This all couldn’t work without the Oscar worthy performance in Joaquin Phoenix, who makes the film be haunting yet empathetic toward the character’s situation. It also allows for such a legacy in debate of the film in the different takes you can have on the narrative, making this a masterpiece that will be discussed in film for the next few decades. \
Parasite is a film so deep and riddled with complexities that its hard to think that any movie could top its thought provoking messages. It’s a film that sneaks up on you and demands that you pay attention to all the moving pieces but never lets up on its pacing and intrigue throughout. The movie has so much to say about class structure, who an enemy is, and the things that drive us in life that it’s impossible to fathom how a 2 hour and 15 minute movie could cover so much and still leave me wanting more. Parasite escalated cinema to a new standard and showed that Bong-Joon-Ho is a force to be reckoned with.
1. Avengers: Endgame
I watched this film 6 times over the past year, and it still never fails to evoke goosebumps, cheers, and tears each time I view it. The MCU has all been building towards this conclusion and it did not disappoint in any sense. It featured one of the best comeback stories, a celebration of its 10 year legacy, oodles of fan service that feel truly earned, and a strong conclusion to some of the most iconic characters of the superhero genre. This movie had everything for me, and I could not be happier with how everything turned out. It may be cheap to have the biggest movie of the year as my favorite film, but honestly it had everything I wanted and exceeded all of my expectations! It’s a film that will live on and be remembered for decades to come and provide ample amounts of entertainment and satisfaction.