Top 10 2019

by | May 27, 2020 | 0 comments

2019 has been an incredible year for film, with so many great and distinct voices so that it has made the rounding of a top 10 a nightmare for most critics. As such it felt unfair to only do 10 films here, as many would have been top 3 in any other year of the decade; thus we have expanded our list to 15 as well as some honorable mentions.

It should also be noted that it feels incredibly unfair to rank films or even compare their “quality,” even though I am critic and people look to such a contrast and comparison in reviews and grades, they are done so more for clarity and views rather than in an honest qualification of a film. Art is something that is different and experienced individually by everyone, and as such this is a simple personal view and attempt at providing some recommendable watched when one has leisure time. Here are our picks for the best films of 2019:

Honorable Mentions:


Dolemite is My Name

While at War

Toy Story 4

Dark Waters

Gloria Bell


15. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Tarantino’s 9th film proves to be a very different turn for the filmmaker. There is a clear reflection on violence in media and film as well as a change in mood and tone towards a soft and carefree pace as we are plunged into an intriguing characterization of 1960s Los Angeles.


14. Uncut Gems

This newest entry from the Safdie brothers proves to be another loud and assaulting film, whose chaos and adrenaline blast you through the runtime. However, such overwhelming sound, color, and plot is done so with an expert balance that keeps viewers in the loop, while amazed that the ship hasn’t crashed. An unrecognizable Adam Sandler delivers his best performance ever, as a man way in over his head.


13. The Souvenir

Joanna Hogg takes on a semi autobiographic exploration in this film as a young woman finding her roots as a filmmaker. The film on paper would seemingly have been a typical indie flick with sprinkled romance, but Hogg’s style and seeming fly-on-the-wall cinematography and editing deliver an experience where one feels they are truly looking at the private lives of people. Quiet yet powerful performances from Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke anchor the film’s emotional heft.


12. Knives Out

Rian Johnson has always been a director to play with genre, and he does so here while also delivering one of the most original who-dunnit mysteries in over a decade. The stellar cast and the subtle yet effective political messages are able to capture viewers and lecture and entertain them at the same time.


11. Ford vs. Ferrari

Who would have thought that a racing movie could be such a graceful character study. James Mangold’s latest film not only wows in its practical effects, but is also a careful look at male relationships and how they revolve around a necessity of dignity. Mangold carefully balances emotional displays with the frustrations of corporatism and scarce yet explosively thrilling racing sequences.


10. Joker

This is probably one of the most divisive films of the year as well as the decade. Many claimed to have been left indifferent by the film, other’s claim that it is too derivative of Scorsese and other greats, and others still claim that it prompts violence. However, Todd Phillips’ film must be regarded as an exploration of the emasculated and ignored populace. That section of humanity that is raring its head in rage after feeling shoved aside by the elites in recent elections. The film is an exploration of the descent that a human being can take when he or she has been completely broken. The backdrop of the comic-book world serves only as a marketing sell, as Joaquin Phoenix delivers a jaw-dropping performance as the central crumbling man.


9. The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers’ sophomore outing proves to find a balance between pretentiousness, comedy, and philosophy. The stylistic choices of shooting the film with a limited cast, using old English, as well as old filming equipment delivers truly unique visuals, which make this an original cinematic experience. The two performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe contrast and compliment each other gracefully, as Eggers explores how two sturdy men can slowly be stirred into madness when put in such isolation.


8. The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s latest is almost an instant classic, with his return to the gangster genre proving to be an excuse to bring about a cast of some of the greatest living actors: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and a stellar quiet Joe Pesci. The film’s long runtime is not a burden, as it is used to look at the entire life of one man, his seeming lack of guilt and regret, and his pointless utility for someone else’s aims. The crime epic will be one to remember.


7. Honey Boy

Alma Har’el and Shia LaBeouf’s collaboration proves to be one of the most sentimental and psychologically deep films of the year. The analysis of LaBeouf’s own life as a child actor proves to be jarring as well as cathartic for those of us who are too quick to judge public figures and others in general. The desperation for love and connection, perfectly encapsulated by performers Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges, is completely heart-wrenching, as we see a young boy slowly lose his confidence in humanity.


6. Waves

While I initially thought of this film as a bit messy with its transitions, its impact and climax have lingered with me long after I left the theater. Waves not only brings about an appealing and immersive visual style, but its story of the darkness and struggles of adolescents today is incredibly poignant. It’s two halves are able to show us the two contrasts that teenagers have today, and how they are both equally difficult to traverse when one is alone.


5. Pain and Glory

Almodovar’s latest film proves to be his most different and distinct as he takes a look back at his own legacy and filmography in a semi auto-biographical film that seeks to contrast his previous styles and themes of desire and passion. Antonio Banderas delivers an incredibly calculated and subtle performance that proves to be a bit meta as well as alarmingly effective at transferring reserved emotions to viewers. The film’s exploration of how our past and its inhabitants help fuel us into tomorrow is a comforting as well as inspiring message.


4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

This beautiful romance from French director Celine Sciamma is a testament to the power that acting and directing can have on viewers without any necessity of music. The exploration of a restrained love as well as a beautiful representation of falling in love, transcends any expectations or reservations towards the film. The powerful writing and restrained narrative gush forth a tantalizing film that will have one stomach in a knot of longing to be back with these characters.


3. 1917

Sam Mendes’ post-James Bond film is an absolutely haunting and technically immersive experience that truly brings about the horrors of war as well as the admirable determination of human beings. The film is not only a technical and narrative marvel in its cohesion and clarity, but an emotionally impactful one too that will feel tragic as well as hypnotic for years to come.


2. Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi evidences his courage as a filmmaker by choosing to make a satire about Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust. Only a minute balance could have made this film work, and Waititi achieves it, delivering one of the sweetest and funniest films of the year. His fabulous work with child actors (specifically an outstanding Roman Griffin Davis) is able to simplify the seeming complex populist ideologies into childish rants (if only some world leaders would see this film). Jojo Rabbit also delivers one of Scarlett Johansson’s best performances in years.



1. Parasite

Bong joon-ho’s Palme D’Or winner is a film that seems to elude a description or categorization. Each scene could easily be the crown jewel of any other film. The Korean director’s portrayal of the class divides and struggles is done so in an almost fable-like approach that also has the film flit in and out of every genre: horror, comedy, drama, satire, and more. The narrative proves to be unpredictable and twisting at every turn, and yet every decision feels like a perfect fit and natural choice in the overall arc. Parasite is a truly exciting cinematic experience, whose entertainment, cultural, and cinematic value makes it the best film of the year.

What were your top films of 2019? Comment below

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