SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — 2019 was a fantastic year for film– perhaps the best of the decade. Because of the inordinate amount of praise-worthy movies released this year, this will be a top fifteen list instead of top ten. This is of course an opinion-piece, and if you haven’t seen any of the following movies, I encourage you to check them out.
15. Toy Story 4
Pixar keeps stepping their game up with every picture they release. The story, while not necessary, is quite charming, and the animation/camera direction is like nothing an animated film has ever seen before.
14. The Art of Self Defense
Awkward, hilarious, this Riley Stearns movie is the most exciting dark comedy to come out in years. Jesse Eisenberg delivers a new spin on a familiar character that will have you rolling.
13. Knives Out
Rian Johnson hits his first renaissance in this delightfully funny whodunnit picture that rewards repeat viewings.
Todd Phillips finally comes into his own. As a character study and Scorsese-homage, this movie succeeds brilliantly. Joaquin Phoenix gives a performance of marvel that will surely change the landscape of screen-acting forever.
11. Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is an exciting piece of memorabilia to (arguably) the greatest era of 20th century American cinema.
Ari Aster’s brilliant second feature subverts expectations in delivering the decade’s greatest breakup story– accompanied by his signature, crisp cinematography.
9. Little Women
Greta Gerwig’s stellar ensemble piece offers endless entertainment in a fresh reimagining of this age-old story. Performances from Soirse Ronan and Florence Pugh make this feel-good movie a dominating force in the Oscar race.
8. The Irishman
An epic for the ages, Scorsese’s return to the mob milieu is a compelling tale of American history with an untouchable cast. Joe Pesci commands the screen effortlessly in a career-best performance.
7. The Farewell
A heart-breaking international piece by Lulu Wang. Awkwafina continues to prove her chops in this beautiful dichotomy of Western and Eastern culture.
6. The Lighthouse
Robert Eggers’ new movie is the most original to hit theaters in years. The unique visual storytelling opens up the spotlight for Willem Dafoe in a role he was born to play.
5. Uncut Gems
The Safdie Brothers do it again in a magnificent follow-up to Good Time. The exceptionally written script is nerve crushing and fast-paced. Adam Sandler surprises audiences again with some of the greatest acting of 2019. It is a right crime that Uncut Gems received no Oscar recognition.
4. Marriage Story
Noah Baumbach graces the home-theater with Netflix’s compelling, realism masterpiece. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give two of the most complex screen performances ever.
Gaspar Noe extrapolates on the French extremist movement, bringing it to a tipping point in the most intense movie experience of the year. The intricate choreography is executed with an unmatched mastery that makes the film completely unforgettable.
2. An Elephant Sitting Still
Released in the US in 2019, the late Hu Bo’s overwhelmingly grey epic pulls you into a severe, depressed world that tugs on every bit of emotion as the character’s stories unfold. The influence and supervision of Bela Tarr is unmissable in the many bravura long-takes throughout.
Bong Joon-ho’s newest picture is one of the most carefully crafted films of the decade. The writing, editing, cinematography, and acting are all astounding. Parasite is a masterpiece. If you watch any film released in 2019, this is the one to see.
What do you think? Let me know if you agree with my picks in the comment section below.