Eight films have crossed the $1 billion mark in 2019, but most of them were Disney. Scorsese released a movie through Netflix, his only stipulation being that we not watch it on our phones in the breakroom at lunchtime. Multiple superhero universes have reached a sort of conclusion, though some were more satisfying than others.
But you know what’s really great about 2019? People can complain so much about an animated character following a movie trailer that the studio takes time and money to go back to fix it. How many more people will now go see a movie that looks twenty years out of date because of this change? And what does that mean for cinema, if anything? What sort of power do we hold?
Probably not that much, but more conversation about the best films can only lead to positives for the industry. There’s the chance someone may discover a film they haven’t seen, or help with choosing something out of the ever-growing collections of content. That’s why I believe in top 10 lists, and now present my own Top 10 of 2019.
Honorable Mention: The Mountain
The Mountain only misses out because it’s on the border of being a 2019 movie. Rick Alverson makes strange films, and this one is a beautiful work of weirdness. It follows Tye Sheridan as he works for Jeff Goldblum’s character, the doctor that invented the lobotomy. A lot of important dialogue is heard as if the audience were just barely in earshot, while the camera and editing tell the bulk of the “story”. At the core are questions about human nature told through bleak expressionism and vague allusions to myth.
Recommended for you: The Mountain (2019) Snapshot Review
This is number ten on my list because everyone’s heard of it. The sole non-Disney property to cross $1 billion is everything I want from a mainline studio film with a proper budget. They can afford great actors, and have the ability to get capable directors. Todd Phillips and his crew constructed a dreary, gritty world that incorporated primary colors to denote its protagonist’s mood and mental state without feeling out of place. The lighting, music and action each have their own memorable moments. Not even the people who disliked the film can say a bad thing about Joaquin Phoenix as an actor. I’m only picking one superhero movie, so I’ll take the theme park ride that borrowed from Chaplin and Scorsese.
9. Greener Grass
I can’t gush about Greener Grass enough. This surreal comedy follows two moms as they live their bizarre lives in an upscale American neighborhood. The silly take on suburban life begins when Jill gives Lisa her baby, and before you know it you’re learning about the pioneers and wondering if you need to give pool water another chance. The jokes run deep into the costuming, production design and editing, something only achieved by the best comedy has to offer. Directors Jocelyn Deboer and Dawn Luebbe are a duo to look out for in the future.
Recommended for you: “I’m A Weirdo Builder” – Costume Designer Lauren Oppelt In Conversation
8. Jojo Rabbit
The premise of Jojo Rabbit is so blunt that it requires the right person to handle it – there’s so much more to it than a little fascist boy that has Hitler as an imaginary friend. Taika Waititi points out the absurdity of white nationalist propaganda, and he mocks fascists by cleverly paralleling them with children and childishness. He creates a relationship between a mother and son that feels real and heartwarming despite their obvious conflicts, and there’s a storybook quality to the images that evokes a less intense Wes Anderson. What’s most striking are the attempts to show a glimmer of good in those around us that may have fallen into a mindset of supporting bad ideas. Neighbors, friends and family can believe stupid things without being evil themselves, and the relationship at the center of the film – Jojo and Elsa’s friendship – shows that empathy and communication with those around us can go a long way.
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