And today is the day! Only 1 month late (and change).But I’ve been scrambling to catch up on as many 2019 releases as I can- and I’m ready to admit that at this point the payoff is decreasing.
I’m picking 8 favorites because there is an immense tier of excellent runner ups and I can’t choose.
- 1917: It’s a fairly traditional war film shot to appear as though it were one or two long takes. The cinematography is beautiful, it’s fun to see the cameo Brits (Benedict Cumberbatch, the Hot Priest/Moriarty, and Mark Strong, among others), the characters feel real and sympathetic, and the stakes are high.
- Parasite: Absolutely and delightfully twisted, intricately layered, and a masterpiece. Here’s a really excellent reading of some of the film’s themes.
- Jojo Rabbit: An enthusiastic Nazi youth has an imaginary best friend. The imaginary best friend is Hitler. And then his world gets turned upside down when he discovers that his mother is sheltering a Jewish girl in their home. And I literally can’t think of any director who could pull this off except Taika Waititi. I think my mouth was gaping open like a fish the full first five minutes.
- Ford v Ferrari/Le Mans 66: I’m hearing this described as a “Dad movie”, maybe because it’s ostensibly about cars? But the deeper story is about people’s willingness to put everything on the line- to fight hard- to do the thing they love. Christian Bale is always excellent. Matt Damon is also excellent this time. And this movie kind of broke my heart. It was really rude of it and I had to call my Mom for a good vent afterward.
- Knives Out: Rian Johnson’s whole thing seems to be turning classic genre structures on their head- this time he’s taking on the whodunnit with the help of an expert cast, all of whom seem to be having a fabulous time (especially Daniel Craig and his extremely theatrical Southern accent). Chris Evans (the ultimate Hollywood Chris) wears comfy sweaters.
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire: Once again, we come to my happy place with and erotically loaded costume drama. A young painter is hired to create the wedding portrait of a young woman… but in secret, because the woman doesn’t want to be painted, much less married. Guys, it’s so so good. Watch it.
- Us: I think I may be one of the few who likes Jordan Peele’s (admittedly convoluted) second entry better than his first (Get Out). The soundtrack stuck with me, there are so many ways to read it, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke kill, the child actors are great- it’s a rewarding watch on every level. If my problem with Get Out was that everything felt too bluntly metaphorical, Us’ ambiguity does it for me. And because I’m extra, here’s my favorite interpretation video.
- I Lost My Body: Okay, here me out. It’s animated. And it’s about a decapitated hand traversing Paris in search of it’s lost body. The hand even gets in a fight with the Metro rats. It’s haunting and moving and even- dare I say it- romantic.
Honorable Mentions: Uncut Gems (Amazing but WAY TOO stressful for me), Ready Or Not (fun fluff horror), Fighting With My Family (heartwarming underdog female wrestling story with Florence Pugh), Rocketman (should have been nominated for best costumes at the VERY LEAST), Klaus, The Art of Self Defense, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Women, The Irishman, The Lighthouse (This is where I draw my weirdness line), Marriage Story, Bombshell, Midsommar (really tough when you’re a follow up to Hereditary), Just Mercy, The Two Popes, Hustlers, Frozen 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Judy, Waves, Peanutbutter Falcon, Togo, Dolemite is My Name, Honey Boy, The Farewell, Brittany Runs a Marathon (I couldn’t finish because I found the exercise/body image focus triggering), Wild Rose.
I have not yet seen: Pain & Glory, Midnight Family, Ash is Purest White, Queen & Slim, Tigers Are Not Afraid, Bacurau, One Cut of the Dead, First Love, The Souvenir, La Llorona (The one NOT in The Conjuring universe), End of the Century, An American Factory, The Vast of Night, The Blonde One, Shadow, Belle Epoque, The Mustang, The Platform, Clemency, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Little Monsters, Atlantics, And Then We Danced, Les Miserables, Weathering With You.
I tried guys!