I feel like I’m asymptotically approaching my “Best of 2019” list. Which is good because I’m also asymptotically approaching having watched all of the films of 2019.
Let me explain: I still have to write this post. And then comes 2017 and 2018. I should probably also do a retrospective of my 2019 ‘Most Anticipated’, which I didn’t actually post here but did post on Facebook. And I could space my posts out more to give myself more time to finish up 2019 films, but my list of favorites is hovering around a nebulous nine, so it’s probably about time to throw in the towel. Even though there are a few films I feel a sneaking suspicion I would love, but that I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to see for another few months (Here’s looking at you, Bacurau). But it seems silly to push off my best of 2019 for months. Even posting it end of January-ish (which it looks like I will be doing) is a bit ridiculous.
And so far as asymptotically approaching having watched all of the 2019 films that I want to see, in the way of all things, necessary titles keep getting added to the list. Happily, my list of 32 remaining films to see has been whittled down to 24, but it’s still entirely possible there is something not on the list at all that I might consider the best film I’ve seen in my entire life. It’s thoughts like these that drive me (a completionist)(is that a word?) mad.
Anywho, 2016. A good year for films, a bad year for life in general.
In that vein, I’m choosing 12 favorites. As always, in no particular order.
- Rogue One: I liked this grimmer take on Star Wars. Was genuinely invested in the ‘group of misfits’ that got pulled together.
- Hacksaw Ridge: I don’t like Mel Gibson, but Andrew Garfield using a severed torso as a shield is always a fun time.
- Moana: All of this movie is perfect. Brave and Frozen get all of the credit for not having a main love interest, but I would pick Moana over either/both combined any day.
- Zootopia: Yes, some of the real-world parallels don’t really hold up but -fun fact- it’s a kids movie. The deeper meaning still gets to me and the fox is sexy.
- Your Name: I would have missed this if a new (at the time) friend hadn’t turned me onto it. Absolutely amazing anime. The director has a new 2019/2020 (depending on where you live) film, Weathering With You, which is (Grrr) on my need to watch list.
- The Handmaiden: “Erotic psychological thriller” from South Korea. Sinister, sumptuous, and splendid.
- Silence: A Scorsese passion project that is frankly a million times better than The Irishman. And not just because Adam Driver is in it. Perhaps in part because Adam Driver AND Andre Garfield are in it. But also because it is a hard-hitting, emotionally taxing, historical epic that’s just extremely well done.
- Hell or Highwater: The middle entry into the loose trilogy that also includes Sicario and Wind River. There’s a pair of brothers and they’re robbing banks. That is, until Jeff Bridges catches up with them. It features one of the Hollywood Chrises (the second best Chris, actually) but the real standout is Gil Birmingham as Jeff Bridges’ partner.
- Lion: Never Give Up is a great samba.
I mean, I’m not, it is a great samba, but the movie is beautiful. One of the few times I didn’t get mad at a film that relied really heavily on heartstring tugging.
- A Silent Voice: Another anime entry, this time one that abuts heavy topics like bullying, isolation, and suicide. A sweet story and I think I must have gotten invested, because I can remember yelling at the screen when I watched it.
- Kubo and the Two Strings: Laika deserves way more credit for their offerings. The house that brought you Coraline now presents Kubo and the Two Strings, a criminally underseen film. A fantasy featuring musical magic, origami, a legendary suit of armor, a quest, and evil spirit, and a friendly monkey and beetle. In other words, only the most necessary ingredients.
- Elle: A French thriller from Verhoeven in which the CEO of a video game company (the inimitable Isabelle Huppert) tries to discover the identity of the man who raped her. I appreciated this for being, not a portrayal of how women “react to rape” but a character study of the ways- both expected and unexpected- that rape effects one individual’s psyche, and how she moves forward (or not).
A striking 5/12 of these are animated, which is fun.
Honorable mentions: Deadpool, Nocturnal Animals, Train to Busan, The Founder, The Edge of 17, Jackie, Christine, My Life as a Zucchini.
Not yet seen: The Invisible Guest, Sing Street, Perfect Strangers, The Love Witch, The Salesman, Frantz, In This Corner of the World, Dancer.
There were some big films in 2016 that didn’t make it on to my favorites list or my recommendations. You may have heard of them: La La Land, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Manchester By the Sea. They’re all interesting films and I would be remiss if I didn’t give some explanation as to why they don’t figure here.
I just pooped out around the hype about La La Land. It’s a good film, but for me was much more about prettiness than substance, kind of like candy fluff.
Hidden Figures is a white savior movie.
Moonlight is beautiful visually and emotionally but exceedingly taxing and a bit slow.
I’ve seen Manchester by the Sea described as white people sadness porn and that really sums it up. Casey Affleck, also not my favorite Boston-area resident.