The year is coming to a close and 2019 was loaded with great movies.
Here are my Top-10 Favorite movies of 2019!
I have no doubt I loved this movie more than most. I think people went in expecting more of a technical, space-themed film and when it delivered a slow burning family drama set in space, it was a letdown. I thought it was a perfect blend of massive science-fiction epic with intimate human emotion. Brad Pitt was fantastic and brought more than enough layering to the role to invest in. The more this story explored his life, the more connected to him I was, and the more I understood why this mission was so important to him. The direction from James Gray was immaculate as was the cinematography. It results in a visually stunning movie in all the subtle ways you want. It was effectively tension filled when needed. It was emotionally touching as well. With enough unpredictably to be easily compelling.
I like this one the more I see it. It weaves a perfect blend of suspense, humor, dramatic intrigue, and unpredictability. The cast performances thrive with a natural chemistry as one family infests themselves into another. The story creates a looming tension and through the themes of class separation, the motivation of characters on both sides is explored. It captures the desperation of living in poverty and the vulnerability that comes from wealth. And being insulated to how others live and the desperation that can result from such. This was a subtly tense film as an innocent con slowly spirals out of control. And with the natural sense-of-humor in the writing, it makes the movie that much more engaging, thus making the suspense hit that much harder to stick with you after it’s over.
This movie didn’t get the notice it deserved. I think it was fantastic and led by amazing cast performances highlighted by Kelvin Harrison Jr. who was effortlessly precise in his portrayal of this young man you can never be certain of. Octavia Spencer was amazing was amazing as well with an emotionally charged performance. And with these characters that feel like they have more going on than what we see, it results in a compelling story. One that does a great job of creating an uneasy atmosphere, with uncertainly in many directions that equal high-levels of curiosity. Layers of the story reveal themselves with a perfect timing that keeps the engagement up because you’ll instinctively want to see the outcome for each of the characters, to see how their choices will come back to affect them.
What Jennifer Kent pulled off here was unrelenting and hits at the core of the viewer. It contains scenes that a difficult to see, yet they fuel the characters through the narrative. The horrific acts of violence are raw, but not glorified and it created an emotional connection to the main character that I haven’t felt in some time. The violence in this story wasn’t captured to inspire simple revenge, but more so to test the psychological foundation of the characters we follow. While not deterring from the things that took place during the time-period. The internal strength, moral growth, and acceptance between the characters was heartfelt and sincere. This made each scene throughout this path of vengeance through the countryside absolutely riveting with Aisling Franciosi’s performance being one of the years best.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
I liked this one much more than expected. I loved stepping back into 1969 Hollywood with these characters. I also loved how despite having a star-studded cast, Tarantino subtly made Hollywood, and the film-making business the focus. DiCaprio was fantastic as a fading actor who sees the business leaving him behind. Robbie was great as Tate and captured the bright-eyed perspective of Hollywood with a sea of possibilities. Pitt for me was the anchor of it all as he poured himself into the role of the mysterious but charming stuntman. The dialogue was witty, tightly-written, and the performances from this cast carried the show for me. I loved the chemistry between Pitt and DiCaprio, they sold themselves as buddies and the wild finale was simply amazing in all the Tarantino ways you would want it to be.
I had such a great time with this mystery. The ensemble cast was the perfect collection and with a smart, clever script from Rian Johnson everyone has their moment to let their personality shine. A good whodunit is not easy to pull off, but this was a great one. The layers of the crime are peeled back with a smooth balance among the cast really diving into the dynamics of this family in such a charming way. The variety to the humor was consistently witty. Charm and intrigue flows through the dialogue, the physical performances, and the timing of situations as the narrative progresses. The production design and direction create a warm atmosphere that easily invites the viewer into these eccentric lives. And with a fresh sense-of-humor and a plot that keeps you guessing, it was incredibly entertaining.
There have been a ton of war movies over the years, but none have been done quite like this one. The one seamless shot approach to the story was impressive from a technical aspect, and 100% emotionally gripping from a story telling one. It opens on these two soldiers and does not leave them for the run-time which creates intensity that hits hard because of its authenticity. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins created a visual masterpiece that drags the viewer into WWI with two young men who have no idea what lies ahead. It’s riveting to follow these men as they face perilous situations that test the human spirit and the will someone can have to survive. The dialogue is genuine, and it connects you with these characters to invest you in their journey. With visuals surrounding them that silently complete the story of this war.
With Scorsese directing De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino this was the perfect recipe for a gripping mob epic and I think that’s exactly what it delivered. I wanted to love this movie and I did. De Niro was fantastic in the lead as we explore many decades of his life. Pesci back on the big screen brought a smile to my face and seeing Pacino dive into the role of Hoffa was perfect casting. The chemistry between the actors was incredible. The dialogue was nicely timed and paced to capture interactions between the characters that ranged from heartfelt and dramatic, to comical and when needed, subtly but emotionally charged. Something any tense mob movie thrives from. Visually the de-aging process was nicely done, the production-design was detailed and immersive with doses of unrelenting violence to balance it all out.
This movie blew me away with how tension filled and unnerving it was. I felt constant anxiety as the story progressed and Sandler was amazing as this New York jeweler that’s always hustling for the next big score. Sandler to me disappeared into this role and captured the perfect high-strung personality of a con-man who is always dealing. Watching him balance so many movie parts of his life as it spirals out of control consumed my attention. You don’t know where it will go for him and it had me on edge completely engulfed in this grounded story free of theatrics. It’s grounded, layered, and unpredictable because of Sandler’s character being either fearless of oblivious to the ramifications of his actions. The direction was artistically stylish but subtle. The scoring added atmosphere to an already tense story, and I loved it.
Ford V. Ferrari
This film surprised me. I expected a well-made biopic with a collection of solid performances. But it delivered on nearly every facet of film-making. The writing was genuine and tailored perfectly to the personalities of the characters. Damon and Bale were both top-notch as was their chemistry. The supporting cast was phenomenal headed by Tracy Letts. The production-design and cinematography pulled me back into the era of racing with a string of adrenaline pumping sequences that capture the dangers and the thrills of the sport. But it was also about internal growth, friendship, the difficulties of building not only a car, but one that could race Le Mans. It also explores layers of business interference and it tops it all off with a crisp musical score and polished direction from Mangold.