It all comes down to this. The best movies of 2019. The final year of the decade the was the 2010’s and it sure was a good one. 2019 was an incredibly strong year for cinema and one that we should all be happy about. Like most years, we had our duds and disappointments, but we also had plenty of surprises and some truly great films from some of the best filmmakers working today. I saw 191 films in 2019, a few less than 2018, but still a great amount. I was able to see all kinds of movies from all over the from all different genres and budget sizes. I do wish I saw more documentaries, though, but hey, I am only human.
So without further ado, here are my picks for the best movies of 2019.
[In Alphabetical Order]
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
- Tom Hanks becomes Mr. Rogers is Marielle Heller’s delightful film.
- Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is one of the best high school comedies of the 2000’s and features break out turns from Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever.
- The finale is M. Night Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy is a somber look at how broken people use their trauma to become super.
- Greta Gerwig gave us a whimsical, unconventional adaptation of the classic story.
- Noah Baumbach’s best film to date features awards-worthy performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a coupe who’s divorce proceedings get uglier than they expect.
- A tightly wound political thriller featuring terrific performances from Adam Driver and Annette Bening.
- Joanna Hogg’s experimental, powerful look at trauma and memory.
TOY STORY 4
- Woody, Buzz, and the gang came back for a fourth chapter that is just as sweet, funny, and heart-breaking as the previous three.
- A sprawling, emotional, intense look at family, toxic masculinity, guilt, and moving on from loss. It’s writer/director Trey Edward Shults boldest film to date.
And now, my top ten films of 2019.
TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018
10 – AD ASTRA (James Gray)
- James Gray is one of our most under-appreciated directors working today. Ad Astra is proof of his talent and shows how Gray can give us large-scale movies with personal stories. Ad Astra stars Brad Pitt as astronaut Roy McBride, who is sent on a mission across the solar system to find his father, who went missing 30 years ago and is now threatening the universe. Featuring some of the best visual effects of the year, a heart-wrenching story, and a great subdued Brad Pitt performance, Ad Astra is a jaw-dropping sins-of-our-father movie.
9 – KNIVES OUT (Rian Johnson)
- Rian Johnson reinvented the whodunit genre with Knives Out. Boasting an all-star cast, led by a never-better Daniel Craig and the breakout performance of the year from Ana de Armas, Knives Out isn’t your classic murder mystery, but one that changes directions so much, your head will be spinning. Thanks to Johnson’s whip-smart screenplay and outstanding direction, Knives Out was the most fun I had at the movies in 2019 and a movie that only gets better the more you watch it.
8 – MIDSOMMAR (Ari Aster)
- Writer/director Ari Aster’s follow-up to his 2018 horror masterpiece Hereditary is one of the most shocking and exhausting experiences I had at the movies in 2019. Florence Pugh solidified her leading-lady status as Dani, a girl stuck in a bad relationship who experiences horrible events at a mid-summer festival in Sweden that help her come realize her relationship isn’t everything it seems. A great looking movie in terms of costumes, production design, and cinematography, yet a horrifying movie in some of the grisly events that take place, Midsommar is one of the most haunting break-up movies ever made and solidifies Aster as the next great horror director.
7 – FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold)
- Ford v Ferrari is a classic American sports underdog story. A movie that bleeds red, white, and blue and will have you wanting to stand up in your chair and cheer, “AMERICA!” Director James Mangold has made a wildly entertaining, rousing racing movie that features stellar direction, excellent performances from Matt Damon, Christian Bale, and Tracy Letts, who gives the best speech in the movie, and edge-of-your-seat races to give us one of the most exciting and charming movies of the year.
6 – THE FAREWELL (Lulu Wang)
- The Farewell is as beautiful as movies got in 2019. This a sweet, emotional story about a Chinese family who discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies. Writer/director Lulu Wang takes us deep in to Chinese culture, showing us how the Chinese view death versus American culture. It’s a movie about the love of family and celebrating life. This is a movie that melts my heart every time I watch it. Hug your grandma!
5 – PARASITE (Bong Joon-Ho)
- Parasite is a movie that I did not see coming. Nothing about this movie is conventional and you can’t predict a thing about it. This a smart, funny, eerie, sad look at class disparity in South Korea and it’s a stunning film in every way. From the production design, to the performances, to the twists, to the shocking ending and heart-breaking final scene, Parasite is an astounding achievement from the great Bong Joon-Ho.
4 – ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD (Quentin Tarantino)
- After stumbling with The Hateful Eight, writer/director Quentin Tarantino came back strong in 2019 with Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, his funniest and most personal film to date. This Hollywood fairy tale looks at a washed-up actor (Leonardo DiCaprio, a marvelous turn) and his stunt-double/friend (Oscar-bound Brad Pitt) as they make their way through Hollywood in 1969. Gorgeous sets and costumes coupled with pitch-perfect Tarantino dialog immerse you in the era. This is a funny, fun, beautiful look at finding your purpose again even when you think you don’t have it anymore.
3 – UNCUT GEMS (Josh and Benny Safdie)
- Uncut Gems is a movie that will have your heart racing from minute. A look at a degenerate gambling New York jeweler (Adam Sandler) who can’t catch a break has never been this riveting. Casting Sandler was the best casting of the year, as Sandler gives the best performance of his career and of any lead actor in 2019. The Safdie’s also get unexpectedly great turns from up-and-comer Julia Fox and future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Uncut Gems has a pulse and a feeling unlike any movie of 2019. An anxiety-inducing hell of a man who continues to dig himself further and further down until he is on his last rope. Josh and Benny Safdie are two of the most exciting filmmakers working today and Uncut Gems is their best film to date.
2 – AVENGERS: ENDGAME (Anthony and Joe Russo)
- Avengers: Endgame is the most epic finale we have ever seen. This was eleven years and twenty-plus movies in the making and Anthony and Joe Russo ended it perfectly. Sure, there are going to be other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Avengers: Endgame ended the Tony Stark/Steve Rogers/Infinity saga and it was a glorious way to go out. Seeing every single Avenger on screen fighting Thanos and his army might be the single greatest cinematic moment of the decade. And like all great MCU movies, Avengers: Endgame is exciting and endlessly entertaining, yet this one is elevated to greatness due to its heart and the love that we have for these characters that we have grown with over the last decade.
1 – THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese)
- The Irishman is Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus. A three-and-a-half-hour crime epic about a man reflecting on his life, the decisions he’s made, and regret and sadness he lives with. It’s masterful work from the 77-year-old director and some of the best direction of his career, full of technical wonder, tons of emotion, and amazing performances. Robert De Niro leads the incredible ensemble, with Al Pacino and Joe Pesci giving awards-worthy performances. These men haven’t been this good since the 90’s and it’s amazing to see how great they still are. The Irishman is a movie about living with your past and living with the decisions you have made, something Scorsese is battling with here as a director who has made his name in the gangster genre for nearly fifty years. This is another Scorsese masterpiece and the best movie of 2019.
Follow Kevflix on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, and on Facebook by searching Kevflix.