The Best Movies of 2019: ‘Marriage Story’, ‘Uncut Gems’, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and More

It may have been the year that Disney dominated cinemas but 2019 was so much more than the sum of Mickey’s parts. The year brought us an array of new cinema classics that will stand forever as a testament to the variety of fimmakers and films that made 2019 such a banner year for cinephiles. As we move into 2020, we take a look back at the films that defined the year and, with any luck, set the tone for the films to come.

1917

This single shot epic from director Sam Mendes brings The Great War to vivid life in stunning fashion. Like all great war stories, it reminds us that beneath the darkness and the carnage lies the raw kernel of man’s capacity for hope, for love, and for fellowship.

Read our original review here.

Jojo Rabbit

Leave it to Taika Waititi to turn the Hitler Youth into a heartwarming and poignant coming of age story. In equal measures hilarious and affecting, Jojo Rabbit is satire at its most cunning, showing us just how an entire country can be turned against a culture and become a nation of murderous thugs bent on world domination. In a decade where it was easy to think that satire is dead, Waititi reminds us that it is still as effective as ever.

Read our original review here.

Knives Out

From Breaking Bad to Star Wars, writer/director Rian Johnson has put an indelible stamp on pop culture. With Knives Out, he takes his stunning eye for detail and ear for dialogue and updates the classic whodunnit formula. Packed with a stellar cast of all-stars, he turned the long-languishing genre into a whirlwind of labyrinthine twists and turns and made one of the most entertaining movies in years.

Read our original review here.

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s emotional portrayal of divorce—which at least superficially mirrors his own experiences—is a stunning tale of love’s death and the emotional turmoil which surrounds it. Featuring career best performances from Scarlett Johannsson and Adam Driver, Baumbach proves once again that Netflix releases movies every bit as glorious as those you’d see in the theater.

Read our original review here.

Midsommar

The sophomore effort from director Ari Aster proves that last year’s Hereditary was no mere fluke. If his previous film was a family drama disguised as a horror, Midsommar is a break-up drama (every bit as intense as Marriage Story) set within the world of pagan cults. With an awards-worthy performance from actress Florence Pugh, Midsommar is elevated horror at its best and establishes Aster as one of the most intriguing directors working today.

Read our original review here.

The Farewell

This touching film about family and identity was one of the most emotional surprises of the year. Writer/director Lulu Wang’s simple narrative quickly becomes a heartfelt exploration of life and death thanks, in part, to performances from Awkwafina and Shuzhen Zhao. Packed with emotion, The Farewell leaves you affected long after the credits roll.

Read our original review here.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

This debut film from Joe Talbot serves as a remarkable exploration of the idea that home is where the heart is. Set amidst the background of a gentrified San Francisco, Talbot introduces us to two unforgettable characters who attempt to reclaim what was lost to them as their world changed dramatically. A marvel of cinematic poetry, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a powerful ode to home and self.

Read our original review here.

The Lighthouse

It’s been three years since Robert Eggers stunned the horror world with his debut masterpiece, The Witch. How do you follow that up except with the most insane film in recent memory? The Lighthouse is a claustrophobic nightmare of psychosis and rage that builds into one of the most memorable climaxes in recent history. That it also features two fantastic performances from Robert Pattinson and Willen Dafoe is simply the icing on this horrific cake.

Read our original review here.

Uncut Gems

Audacious, bold, and unrelenting, the writing/directing team of the Safdie Brothers made the year’s best throwback to the Scorsese movies of old with Uncut Gems. Thinking too hard about this movie irritates my ulcers, which is a shame because I can’t stop thinking about this movie. Frenetic intensity, along with a jaw-dropping turn from Adam Sandler, pushes this movie to the bloody edge of the audience’s capacity for tension and, then, just beyond. Absolutely stunning.

Read our original review here.

Us

Jordan Peele’s move from comedy to horror was already well-established with 2017’s Get Out, but just in case you had any lingering doubts about his skills as both a filmmaker and a weaver of terror, he delivered Us. All at once a meditation on identity and the world in which we exist, Us showed us a raw glimpse at our basest instincts and what a world where those instincts ruled might look like. Horrific, often hilarious, and always thought-provoking, Us was a visual feast and poetic statement that forced us to look deep inside ourselves and wonder who we really are.

Read our original review here.

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