3. Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
Recommended for you: Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019) Review
Anyone watching Hollywood can feel the depth of Tarantino’s knowledge of and passion for this era of media history. The world was changing in 1969, but he manages to perfectly encapsulate the nostalgia for the 60s through immersive period music, costumes and set design. This atmospheric quality really sets Hollywood apart from his other work. Tarantino shows how important film is in reflecting the changes in reality through Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie’s characters, and celebrates the badass movie heroes of the past with Brad Pitt’s. It may be overly self-indulgent, but there’s too much quality and purpose for even its harshest critic to completely dislike it.
Recommended for you: Parasite (2019) Review
These last two are ultimately products of taste.
Parasite is brilliant, and could easily be at the top of this list. It follows a lower class family in South Korea as they con their way into the employ of a wealthy family. The main family’s perceptions of themselves and others are put on full display and challenged, and we’re all along for the wild ride. The film masterfully blends tension and comedy in perfect doses; silly actions aren’t wildly unrealistic, and there are some thoroughly depressing moments that show the absurdity of existence itself. If you’re only watching one 2019 film and you prefer a more traditional narrative experience, this is the one you should pick.
1. The Lighthouse
Recommended for you: The Lighthouse (2019) Review
Those who prefer a strange, more abstract movie experience have to see The Lighthouse. The veneer of modern cinema is stripped away and Robert Eggers tells a story through harsh lighting, a contentious relationship and mythic imagery. The narrative is sparse and the pacing is purposefully obtuse to help the audience feel like they’re losing their minds right alongside the protagonist. There’s no definitive interpretation for what the film is or means as the allusions to different legends and works of art intertwine, giving room for the audience to determine what should be taken away from it. The film’s final moments are striking, but hands down the coolest of the year. Horror has come a long way as a genre, and The Lighthouse is the onscreen peak of Lovecraftian weirdness.