Top 20 movies of 2019

Its that time of year where we gather all the films we’ve seen throughout 2019 and make a list of our personal favorites. Again, this is my own list, and I know we’ll have slightly or entirely different lists. In rare instances, we will have some similarities, and that’s entirely fine. If you’re following me on Twitter, you already know my bottom 10 of my top 20 list. My 20-11 is as follows;

 

20. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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19. Avengers: Endgame

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18. Hotel Mumbai

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17. Midsommar

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16. Shazam

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15. Knock Down the House

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14. All is True

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13. Maiden

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12. Tigers are not Afraid

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11. Joker

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Now time for my Top 10 films of 2019. Some honorable mentions

  • The Art of Self Defense
  • Apollo 11
  • Honey Boy
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Booksmart
  • Fighting with my Family
  • Pain and Glory
  • Downton Abbey

 

10. The Mustang – A moving film of an inmate who enters a rehabilitation program where they train wild horses. The parallels between Roman and the horse are impeccable. Along with the beautiful scenery and an award-worthy performance from Matthias Schoenaerts, “The Mustang” showcases how a rehabilitation program can positively influence an inmate.

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9. Echo in the Canyon – This documentary focuses on four rock groups from the late 1960s; The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, and The Buffalo Springfield. Laurel Canyon is an area in Hollywood Hills where many musicians resided (particularly these four bands). I was amused watching several rock legends being interviewed and recalling good old times. If you’re a fan of music (mainly from the late 60s), this is a documentary I highly recommend watching. Hint….its currently on Netflix.

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8. Rocketman – This semi auto-biographical musical about Sir Elton John manages to successfully utilize magical elements to its favor. Egerton gives his best performance yet accompanied by a tremendous supporting cast. This film doesn’t shy away from Elton John’s sexual orientation nor his substance abuse. Telling the story of a man who’s had a difficult life, yet he is still standing. If you recollect in the movie where he performs in the troubadour right after the performance, Elton John is invited to Mama Cass’s party, which is in Laurel Canyon, where my previous entry takes place. See what I did there?

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7. Knives Out – This well-done whodunit murder mystery film from Rian Johnson gives the audience a different look to discovering who’s the murderer in this movie. Beautifully shot with gorgeous production design and some great custom designs, this film will stay with you mainly for the two central performances from Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig. This film has my favorite cast ensemble. The movie doesn’t shy away from current political and social issues. All I’ll say is that the last shot meant a great deal to me. I need that mug!!!

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6. The Farewell – Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” is one of the most touching, relatable and heartwarming films of 2019. When the matriarch of the family is diagnosed with cancer, the family decides to keep the information from her. The different ideologies (west v east) and cultural beliefs all come into play throughout the film. I was reminded of my mother (who I lost a few yrs ago) and was a sobbing mess when the credits began scrolling. Whether or not the family made the right decision, you’re taken back with the information given to the audience at the end. “The Farewell” will leave you with the urge to call your grandparents (or even parents) to simply tell them you love them. BTW don’t go into this film with an empty stomach.

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5. The Peanut Butter Falcon – The sweetest film of 2019 with great performances from Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and the breakthrough performance from Zack Gottsagen. One of the few movies where a disabled actor is the protagonist of the story, and his disability drives the narrative. Zak and Taylor are my favorite onscreen duos, and their friendship is one for admiration. Again, I’m slightly biased because I’m a wrestling fan, and seeing the hardcore legend make a cameo was fun to watch. The most overused quote I’ve been using comes from this film……wait for it…..What’s rule #1?

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4. Blinded by the Light – By now, you must see a pattern with films about musicians and how they appeal to me. This film is the most relatable film of 2019 (for me), and it flows perfectly with Bruce Springsteen’s music. A movie about Javed, a young Pakistani teen, whose life changes when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. This film doesn’t shy away from the racial turmoil and economic difficulties this family faces. Music can influence lives, and this film smartly mixes musical video elements along with some of the lyrics to showcase it. The speech given towards the end of this film is moving and inspirational. What I took from this film is to never be afraid to work hard and becoming successful, but don’t let success push away your loved ones, in other words, don’t get blinded by the light.

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3. Jojo Rabbit – A movie that had the ingredients to be a bad film, but Waititi manages to pour in the right amount of each ingredient to make it an enjoyable, heartbreaking, and memorable movie. “Jojo Rabbit” started as a funny movie with Waititi’s portrayal of a childlike Hitler. But slowly evolved into a serious and moving film that broke my heart. I fell in love with Yorki, and I was amazed by how a movie about a sensitive period in history could be entertaining. Johansson gives my favorite supporting performance of 2019 in this film as the mother of Jojo. This movie relies heavily on the two main young actors, Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie, who are both brilliant and give some of the best performances of 2019. This film has the most shocking scene of the year. I walked out of this movie with hope, the movie ends with a beautiful and hopeful message. I’ll paraphrase what Waititi said in an interview “it’s unbelievable that in 2019 we need a film like Jojo Rabbit to tell society that it’s not ok to be a Nazi”.

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2. 1917 – I went into this film thinking it will make my top 10 list. I had no idea it will climb up to this position until the end credits began, and I found myself exhausted. This film starts with two characters who are assigned to deliver a message to the other front. Soon enough, those two characters become three, and to those who saw the film, you may be asking when in the movie does this happen. It occurs the moment these two characters start their journey, and the film somehow makes you feel like the third companion. The cinematography is masterful, and whenever I thought I’d seen it all here comes Roger Deakins to prove me otherwise. This film is shot in one single shot! (or so it appears to be a single shot). This leads to the phenomenal performances by every person that made an appearance in this film. I was blown away to even think about the tough task it must have been to act in this entire film. The sound and score were perfections making me jolt several times in the theater. This film doesn’t shy away from showing the gruesome and realistic consequences of war. ‘1917″ is a film that accomplishes every single technical achievement possible, and its impact will stay with you for days. Oh, and if you’re going to watch this film, try your very best to watch it in a theater. This is a film that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

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1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire – This is the most feminist film of 2019. Directed by a woman, written by a woman, the cinematography is done by a woman, custom-designed by a woman, and starring women.  This film is a masterpiece! We follow a painter who is hired to do a wedding portrait of the daughter of a countess.  This film is shot beautifully with breathtaking scenery and vibrant colors. Many of the scenes from this film can easily be screensavers or even a portrait itself. The acting from the leading women is superb; they both express an array of emotions with their facial expressions and eyes. The custom design is gorgeous, and production design is nicely done that it easily engrosses you into their world. Every single detail about this film is perfect. The relationship between these two women evolves into a romantic one, and by this time, you’re invested in their characters, and although you know how this story will end, due to the era, you can’t help but root for them. The housemaid comes into the picture and must deal with a situation that some may find controversial. I was in awed watching this film and loved seeing women learn and expand their knowledge about art, painting, music, literary (poetry, stories). The last twenty minutes are some of the most memorable endings of any movie I’ve ever seen. After seeing this film, number 28 has a different significance. I believe this film will have a wider release in February, and if you do get the opportunity to see, please do. This film lit a fire inside me that will burn for a very long time.

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