Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.
2019 was an interesting year in film to say the least. This year brought movies that broke records at the box office and some that horribly flopped. Not just that, but the end of the 2010s also ended a lot of franchises. Fox's X-Men ended, the new Star Wars trilogy concluded, and the MCU wrapped up its Infinity saga. Unfortunately, many of these big blockbusters ended up being disappointments in terms of overall quality. However, the end of this year brought almost an overcrowding of excellent films that certainly started up conversations. That being said, here are my personal 10 favorite films that I saw in 2019.
- Spiderman: Far From Home
- How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
- The Farewell
- The Peanut Butter Falcon
- Fighting With My Family
- Jojo Rabbit
- Ready Or Not
- Knives Out
- Uncut Gems
- Ford V. Ferrari
10. The Lighthouse
What a weird movie this was. This film features two characters who become marooned on a lonely island with nothing else to do but tend to a lighthouse. It follows these characters as they slowly start to lose their sanity as they are on this island for longer and longer. Robert Eggers shoots this film beautifully that captures the claustrophobia of their situation and their spiral into insanity. The choice to make it black and white really helps to capture the bleakness of the island. The music as well adds to the overall distorted and bizarre atmosphere. However, the film is anchored by fantastic performances from both Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe which should be getting more attention. The dialogue that they share is crazy and weird, but extremely captivating. It is unclear whether they are truly best friends or worst enemies. I can't recommend this movie to everyone as it isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy crazy, suspense/horror movies that almost trigger an acid trip, then check this out.
1917 is a technical marvel to say the least. It is the most immersed I have been in a war movie since Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. The way it looks as though it is a single tracking shot does not feel like a cheap gimmick. Sam Mendes uses it brilliantly to surround you in the horrors of war as you follow the main character through the fields of World War I. You feel the exhaustion, claustrophobia, and horror that he often feels. There is barely any time to rest as he has to get to his destination on time while being chased by German forces or running through collapsing buildings. It is also paired with beautiful cinematography from the legendary Roger Deakins. While it is not the most fun movie, it is an absolute experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
8. John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum
There is no active action franchise in Hollywood right now that constructs action sequences better than this franchise. Every set piece is unique, intense, and immensely entertaining. They're brutal and adrenaline-fueled sequences that allow the viewer to be sucked into this world. The stunts are fantastic as well as the hand to hand combat. It is so refreshing to see an action franchise that doesn't rely on shaky cams. The film dives even further into the assassin world, setting up a cool world with interesting rules and characters. While Keanu Reeves isn't the best actor, he fits this role perfectly as he fully commits to this role through his stunts, one-liners, and rawness. This is action at its finest and I can't wait to see John Wick deliver numerous headshots in his next film.
7. Toy Story 4
What a nice surprise this movie is. I am someone who did not want this movie at all. Toy Story 3 is not only my favorite of the franchise, it is my favorite Pixar movie period. I thought it ended perfectly and handled themes such as growing up and moving on in a way that spoke to both children and adults. When they announced Toy Story 4, I thought it was completely unnecessary and worried that it might ruin a perfect ending. Surely enough, Pixar proved me wrong again. Is it as good as Toy Story 3? no, but it continues Woody's arc in a very natural way and still manages to provide important lessons that can teach all ages. It also brings in new, likable characters, such as Forky, and Duke Kaboom (perfectly voiced by Keanu Reeves), but the highlight of the film is Bunny and Duckie, two new characters voiced by comedic duo Key & Peele. They stole the show and had me laughing pretty hard. This movie is basically dessert. While I didn't necessarily need it, I'm happy that it's here and it is really delightful.
6. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Tarantino serves up another fresh plate of historical fiction, but this time it is Hollywood in the late 60's. The movie follows Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt as they live their lives during this era. Dicaprio is an actor who is beginning to worry about becoming a has-been, while Pitt is Dicaprio's longtime stunt man. The chemistry between these two is the highlight of this movie. While both give fantastic performances, Pitt almost outshines Dicaprio with his performance. It helps when Tarantino provides an awesome screenplay and awesome direction that make this movie particularly captivating, especially, with how the film handles Sharon Tate played by Margot Robbie. This is a much more restrained film from Tarantino as it doesn't contain much violence. It is a clear love letter to this era and really sticks with that as we follow the characters around Hollywood. It's not Tarantino's best film, but it is a lot of fun and really ends with a bang.
5. The Irishman
Martin Scorsese is back to his gangster roots and has brought in an all-star ensemble of Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro, as well as many other stars who are scattered throughout. Scorsese isn't one to shy away from length and this movie kicks in at a whopping 3 hours an 30 minutes. It may feel long at times, but for the most part, I was riveted. The three main leads all put on fantastic performances that really make it feel like an old gangster classic. For me, Pacino stole the show as loud-mouthed, unfiltered Jimmy Hoffa. However, it is also great to see Pesci back in action after a long time hiatus and his performance shows how talented he is. What surprised me about this movie is that it seems like Scorsese's perspective on the gangster lifestyle has changed. The film really looks at past actions in terms of regret and remorse, instead of the glamour of the gangster life. The film sticks with De Niro and you see him as he gets older and starts to reminisce and realize that the gangster life wasn't a life he was truly proud of. The third act is rather haunting and left me thinking about it for a while, which is what good filmmakers should strive to give their audience.
When it comes to villains, the Joker has always been my favorite. He is sinister, but finds humor in the chaos he creates. He is a product of the environment around him who always thinks he is in the right about society. It is hard to compare Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight to this version brought to life by Joaquin Phoenix as they are both very different interpretations. Phoenix is unbelievable in this role as he slowly descends into madness and becomes the villain. He starts out optimistic but the constant beating he takes from society turns him into the Joker. He does a great job at making his character likable, which causes us to almost pity his character as we know what he becomes. The film does not condone his actions, but it makes the audience understand how someone in his situation might snap and do what he does. Todd Philips does a great job at allowing us to get into his head through intense moments that are disturbing and sometimes shocking. It is a very different comic book movie, but it is one that will stick with you for a while.
3. Marriage Story
Noah Baumbach provides a really in-depth and emotional look into a couple's divorce and the proceedings of that divorce. It really shows the difficulty of divorce through the legal proceedings, especially when there is a kid involved. This film is heartbreaking at times as both of these characters are very likable, but often do bad things to one another as they try to resolve their divorce. Adam Driver and Scarlet Johansson provide two of the best performances of the year with powerful and raw emotions. Laura Dern also plays a divorce lawyer who is pretty despicable as she tries to win the case. It is really a look at two people who don't want to hurt each other, but also want to do what they feel is best for themselves and for their kid. It is heartbreaking at times, but there is also a layer of beauty that Baumbach creates with the way he tells the story.
2. Avengers: Endgame
This is the movie that I have been waiting for for a long time and it delivered. While not as strong as Infinity War, it is still an amazing wrap up for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's sage. I still remember watching the first Iron Man in 2008 and loving it, however, I would have never expected it would lead to this. If you had told me that it would lead to a battle where Spiderman carries the infinity gauntlet that was thrown by Black Panther through an army led by Thanos while Captain America battles aliens with Thor's hammer, I would have called you a liar but here we are. It was so fun catching all the little references to past movies, but the fan service never felt forced. Every second felt deserved as it wraps up storylines set up by 21 previous movies. It smartly focuses on the original Avengers, which includes Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, and gives them great character moments that show how far their characters have really come. Also, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is probably the greatest casting of all time. It is a great way to end certain character's journeys, but it still sets up a promising future for the MCU.
I was expecting Avengers: Endgame to be #1 until I saw this movie. This movie blew me away. The premise revolves around a family who is struggling financially. When the son gets a job tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family, he manages to trick the family into hiring his family and his family starts to infest the lives of the upper class. This film is a mix of almost every genre. It's dramatic, funny, frightening, suspenseful, and upsetting all in one package. The way this movie evolves is captivating as we witness the differences between the two classes and how something, such as rain, can be viewed drastically by each class. One family find the rain beautiful while another family faces an environmental disaster as their home is flooded. The ending to this film is haunting and is one of the most shocking endings I've seen in a while. It pays off what this movie has been building in a brutal and disturbing way. It is in a foreign language, which may turn off some people who don't want to read, but it is deserving of being watched by everyone.
John Plocar from Weatherford on January 13, 2020:
Pretty terrific picks, I definitely dug all of these flicks when I saw them =D
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 13, 2020:
The only film I've seen from this list is The Irishman. I really enjoyed watching it too.