From a cinematic perspective, 2019 has seen an eclectic mix of well-received films from both up-and-coming directors and highly reputable names. Directors Robert Eggers, Jordan Peele, and Ari Aster continue to make a name for themselves in the horror genre for The Lighthouse, Us, and Midsommar, respectfully. Olivia Wilde had a very strong directional debut with Booksmart, and eager fans of the reputable and respected Quentin Tarantino got the release of his ninth feature film Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.
Performances have been strong with Joaquin Pheonix portraying the dark and mentally ill Arthur Fleck in Joker and both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson having gripping and mesmerizing interactions in The Lighthouse. As a whole, there were quite a few admirable films released in 2019 spread across the genres that are worth adding to the watchlist as the year comes to a close.
10. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
7. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
6. Ford vs. Ferrari
5. Avengers: Endgame
A very fitting conclusion to the monumental and widely successful Avengers series, Endgame has tremendous balance of getting iconic characters their screen time without possessing the feeling of there being too many cooks in the kitchen. The pacing is precise, with our iconic heroes we’ve followed for years getting proper closure with a very fitting writing direction. Endgame certainly does the series justice and is a proper sendoff with gripping action scenes backed by strong writing to make an emotional ride for the years of accumulation.
Director Bong Joon-ho has been building quite the resume for his films over the years, with Parasite being another strong addition. Widely praised by critics on multiple levels, what’s most admirable about Parasite is how it blurs the line of multiple genres to place itself in its own unique and uncategorized category. The film is chaotic yet cohesive, making the viewing experience a roller coaster ride filled with laughs, sympathy, fear, and suspense. It’s best to go into this one with as little prior knowledge as possible to fully immerse in the experience.
Best described as a female-driven Superbad, Booksmart is a crafty and personable portrayal of the end-of-an-era period of graduating high school. While the concept has been done multiple times, it’s often difficult to capture something special in the execution. Booksmart is a homerun in the sense of having likeable and memorable characters, realistic conflicts, and a storyline that’s centered around the anxieties that come right before a major transitional period.
2. The Lighthouse
Director Robert Eggers continues to build a reputation for his acute attention to detail and skillful cinematic eye in The Lighthouse. Every still frame is practically a photograph, with the lighting capturing every crows foot and skin crease during every one of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s tense and suspenseful conversations. While on the surface The Lighthouse is an unnerving and unsettling unravel of a filmed nightmare wrapped around sailor folklore, the film possesses many layers of the human condition, and how isolation and the need for companionship can weigh heavily on the psyche.
Joker is just as dark and twisted as one could have ever hoped for, with a tremendous performance from Joaquin Pheonix. The project was an interesting choice for director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Road Trip, Old School) who did extreme justice for the iconic DC villain. Being heavily influenced by the cult classic Taxi Driver, Joker dives into an origin story centered around mental illness as opposed to an accident involving chemical waste as the comics suggest, giving a very modern and updated approach to portray the memorable antagonist.