The Best Films of 2019
The last year going to the movies was still an option, it was one hell of a year to do that. 2019 really shined with its original ideas and creativity in cinema, there were so many really great films that it was almost impossible to pick which ones were the best.
10. Avengers: Endgame
My expectations for Endgame were low after I felt its predecessor came short, but I was in for a surprise. Instead of the expected, action-focused film that you would have anticipated from perhaps the most expensive film ever made, Endgame actually takes so much time to delve into the characters and what they’re going through. At some point, you begin wondering if it isn’t actually a drama. I’m happy that the people dominating the film industry in the past decade didn’t mind to take a chance and make a film that is down to Earth, even touching, while still remaining loyal to their fans. No Easy task.
9. Ad Astra
Where are all the space films? When you think of all the possibilities it is surprising we get so little of them. Luckily for us, Brad Pitt and director James Gray came to cover some of those possibilities up.
The story itself, although taking place in the future, actually feels nostalgic of older films in his motives; It sees Pitt sent on a mission to contact his presumed-to-be-dead father on Neptune after mysterious surges appear there.
Part of what is so great about this film is how much of the action feels unique and refreshing. Originality has become scarce in action films, and whenever Ad Astra delivers, it is a great joy to watch.
8. The Lighthouse
Ok, here we go: the whole film is in black and white, on a tiny island with — you guessed it — a lighthouse and only its two keepers slowly falling into madness. Still with me? Good for you. The Lighthouse is a marvel of a film that grips you in until you’re going mad yourself. Everything here, from the aesthetics to the cinematography to the dialogue, is loyal to its captivating atmosphere.
There probably are no two better actors to portray the keepers than William Dafoe and Robert Pattison, who give tremendous performances here. The Lighthouse also shines through its script, that’s constructed in a way so brilliant that I haven’t seen anything close to it before.
7. Jojo Rabbit
A family film about a young nazi boy and his imaginary friend Hitler probably should never have existed, but we’re lucky someone was crazy enough to greenlight it.
The film doesn’t mask the horrible truth the surrounds it however, it tears it into an open wound, and perhaps it’s seeming cheerfulness is what makes it all the more devastating.
I didn’t want to see Jojo Rabbit at first, but when a trusted friend described it as the kind of film that “cracks you up laughing, then breaks your heart” I knew I had to, and can confirm that he was right.
6. Knives Out
This is where the list became really hard to write; In a normal year, any of these next films could have easily grabbed the first spot, but they’re up here because the films this year were just that good.
Knives Out is a who-done-it film by Brian Johnson where a crime novelist is found dead the morning after his 85 birthday party with his family. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) then inquires for the culprit in a family full of lies where everyone had a motive.
The movie plays like a tribute to Agatha Christie’s books with the mystery flare they are known for but sets its own unique tone. There are a ton of complex characters to meet and the story is so full of twists and revelations that every moment is a delight.
When you’re into films and seen so many of them, experiencing something entirely new pretty much never happens. But Midssomar, along with the movie in the first spot of this list, accomplishes just that.
Now look, this film is insane, horrific, and bizarre as hell. If you haven’t watched many films before or don’t have a particular liking to horror then you’re probably gonna hate it — you’re just not ready for it yet.
Midsommar follows a girl who’s recently gone through a horrendous trauma, on a trip with her boyfriend and his friends to a Midssoamr celebration in a local community in Sweden. The film is constructed like a bad drug’s trip and everything in it including the sound design, editing, and production design each serves this purpose in its own unique way.
The cinematography is wonderful, with shots often lingering and moving in a way that’s indifferent to the character’s actions which creates an ominous sense of dread.
We always knew we’d get one someday — a one-shot war film. There’s not one cut visible in 1917: from the moment its start to the moment it ends we’re always with the characters, experiencing what they experience in real-time.
It tells the story of two British soldiers in world war I, ordered to cross into enemy territory to deliver a message that could save 1,600 of their fellow comrades.
The pacing is fantastic and many of the action pieces are so well made that they feel like adrenaline shots. As for the tone, the feeling of heavy self-sacrifice floats around the entire time. The characters always feel like small pawns with a massive burden on their shoulders, never capable of determining their own future.
What can be said about Joker that wasn’t said already?
We pretty much have to make peace with the fact that comic book movies are not going anywhere anytime soon, but luckily some very talented people are interested in making them. Joker shows that you can really do anything with comic book characters and that their context isn’t a limitation, but a boost to get people watching: It’s not an action film, the humor is dark and all the dance pieces are making it feel like an art film — the stuff that usually makes a film go unnoticed (like the next title in this list) — and yet Joker managed to attract people in their masses. And not only that, it did that without compromising its creative output.
Joker affected many by bringing up buried feelings of anger at a world that doesn’t care about them and yet doesn’t know what they’re capable of. Call it dangerous or catharsis, it doesn’t matter. Because strong cinema means strong emotions, and Joker digs deep.
2. A Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Portrait of a Lady is simply magic. It’s like a spell happening right in front of your eyes. The way the sounds blend with the editing is nothing short of wizardry.
It’s a french historical art film which means it can feel slow, foreign, and pretentious for the casual viewer. But for those that come with an open mind, there’s something unreal to be felt here.
There’s a difference between a good movie and a movie that you liked — that affected you. You can appreciate a good movie but still not like it, which is why I personally find the second type much more interesting. When a movie affects you it lingers with you — shots from it run through your head for months, even years after you have last seen it. And that was the case for me with Portrait of a Lady.
In the end, a film is comprised of all the elements that make it what it is, and all those elements come together so beautifully in this film that it stays with you long after it’s ended.
If for some reason you haven’t seen it yet, please do. Saying even a word about what Parasite is about, might take away from the amazing experience that it is, which is why it would be a sin to do so.
Any genre you’ll try to categorize Parasite in will cause it injustice — it is its own thing. This film is a living proof of how great films can come from anywhere, and what treasures can be found if we look not only in Hollywood.
Parasite gives hope to cinema, it shows there’s still a lot of uncharted territory and a lot of place to grow. And personally, I can’t wait to see what more is to come.