2019 was a fantastic year for all types of movies, we got the biggest of blockbusters with Avengers: Endgame, one of the most original movies in recent years with Knives Out, a groundbreaking indie with Parasite and a comedy like no other with The Lighthouse. That was a joke, don’t curse me. I waited this long because I wanted to watch a lot of movies that hadn’t come out yet. Every year I try to watch as many movies as I can. In 2018 I watched 36 and in 2019 I watched 45 so I’m really proud of that. Seeing a variety of movies really helped make this list quite versatile.
My ranking of these top ten movies will not be ranked based on which movies I thought had the best quality only. These ten movies are ranked by several factors namely rewatchability, entertainment value, how long it stuck with me and whether or not it made me look at something in a different light. With that being said let’s get straight into the honourable mentions.
15. Avengers: Endgame
13: Steven Universe: The Movie
12: Doctor Sleep
Olivia Wilde crafted a relatable, emotionally-rich and hilarious coming-of-age movie for the modern teen with Booksmart. Graduation is a crazy time for teens. It’s the time where we say goodbye to people we have seen every day for the past couple of years. It’s the time where we reflect on our lives and think about what we have accomplished and look to the future and with that the inevitable change. This movie is remarkable, honestly. There are so many things about high school or teens that the movie just nails. With just a few scenes we can already see that friendly almost familial community between the classmates or a great teacher-student bond. Even how it depicts the “party-going” teens as fun and wild but also show that they’re actually smart and do get good grades as well. I actually found myself in the exact same situation to Molly where I thought the opposite too. Wilde takes advantage of so many cinematic tools which isn’t really common for this type of movie but Booksmart has an artistic approach to it, from long shots, great cinematography, use of other mediums, using colour to its advantage. You can tell Wilde was passionate about this movie and it’s that passion from her, the talent of the cast and crew and all the love they poured into Booksmart which makes it a modern classic.
9. How To Train Your Dragon:
The Hidden World
With The Hidden World, Dean DeBlois has crafted a near-perfect trilogy for the ages. While it may be the weakest in the trilogy, The Hidden World concludes this stunning trilogy to an emotional, powerful close giving us one of cinema’s best duos in recent years. I saw this movie four times in the cinema. I teared up each time. The fact that this entire trilogy treats both Hiccup and Toothless as equals rather than pet and owner make this farewell particularly realistic and even more so heartbreaking. This movie is the result of a planned trilogy. Each movie builds on the themes of friendship, love, family and finding your purpose and this movie ties all of those themes in an epilogue which will make the toughest of people go for the tissues. The animation is stunning, the musical score is criminally underrated. In a year full of farewells and goodbyes in cinema, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was the one that impacted me the most. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough.
The horror genre has been reborn over the past couple years with movies which push the boundaries for audiences. Jordan Peele contributes to this with not only with Get Out but with Us which I would say is one of the most interactive horror movies I’ve ever seen. Peele finds a way to tell a cohesive story but at the same time, he leaves enough out that the audience can theorize on and discuss afterwards. The intense atmosphere never clashes with the genuinely funny humour, in fact, they contrast each other quite well bringing a much-needed balance. The iconic concepts he brings to the table make this movie feel like it’s destined to become a horror classic in the future. From the chilling costumes and fantastic script to the unnerving score and masterful performances, Us is a lingering experience which actually doesn’t stop once the credits roll but instead it keeps going with the conversations it’s guaranteed to spark.
Rocketman is a symphony of the human experience thanks not only to the amazing cast but also the metaphorical and extravagant musical numbers. Taron Egerton gives his best performance yet as Elton John and the supporting cast is also amazing particularly Jamie Bell who shares some insane chemistry with Egerton. The music despite having come out decades ago was introduced to me through this movie and I love them. It may have come out last May but I already have some nostalgia for this movie. I have a ton of great memories attached to the songs and this movie so in that regard, I have a soft spot for it. That being said even if that wasn’t the case, the movie is still amazing. It means a lot to me beyond that element. To most people, this will be a movie about Elton’s life, which it is but to me, Rocketman is a movie about self-acceptance and self-care, it’s a celebration of our extravagant selves and for that reason, this movie stuck with me.
6. Little Women
Little Women is one of those rare movies which has everything going for it, the director, the amazing ensemble cast, the cinematography, the musical score, everything. Greta Gerwig does a fantastic job with this movie. You’ve heard this from other reviews I’m sure but I can’t not mention it. The way she uses colour and atmosphere to differentiate between the past and present is brilliant. The past uses these warm reds and yellows presenting a cosy and inviting atmosphere and the present uses sharp colours like blues and whites creating a cold and melancholic atmosphere. That being said every shot of this movie looks like a postcard brought to life. The sets and clothes and visuals really immersed me in that world. However, my one flaw with the movie is how the story is told. It’s incredibly confusing at times, so much so that it took me out of it which is a shame because the scenes are great, everything is great but they were placed in such a bizarre order, I don’t know why they chose that route. Other than that I love this movie, it’s incredibly emotional and inspirational and has one of the most satisfying endings of the year.
5. The Lighthouse
From just the opening scene, The Lighthouse immerses you in the unsettling and eerie atmosphere which gradually gets more and more tense and claustrophobic till it ends and you’re left with a final shot which will stick with you for an uncomfortable amount of time. While I love this movie, I think the right word for me to use is that I truly appreciate a movie like this. This movie is bizarre in the best way possible, it’s disturbing in every way and it’s also surprisingly funny. The performances from Dafoe and Pattinson are stellar, they both deserved some Oscar love. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this movie other than that. The feelings it evokes are inexplicable because I’ve never seen anything like it and I am so, so glad that it exists.
4. Marriage Story
I saw Marriage Story in early December and while I enjoyed it a lot I didn’t know how to really describe it, I didn’t even review the movie. Weeks after I’ve been getting the urge to watch it again and I thought to myself out of all the movies I’ve watched these past couple months, why Marriage Story? It’s a great movie but not exactly the most rewatchable in the sense that you have to be in the right mood for it. I watched a clip from the ending of the movie which led me to watch a ton more clips and I finally noticed why. What Noah Baumbach accomplishes with Marriage Story is remarkable. He portrays human interaction in such a genuine and realistic way that it’s almost a special effect. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are spectacular, particularly Driver who delivers my favourite performance of the year. The standout argument scene is amazing but my favourite scene is near the end when he reads a letter. The way the emotions cross his face as he is reading this letter and seeing him try to compose himself, it made me cry harder than any other movie this year. Marriage Story is a heartbreaking look at romance and the way it portrays the human psyche is fascinating to observe. The performances are amazing and it has my favourite script of the year, not to mention one of the best endings of the year.
I know that for some reason, it’s become really popular to hate on this movie but I genuinely think this movie is great. Is it better than the movies below it on the list? Not all of them, no. However, the experience I had watching this movie along with the impressive reputation it’s built, it makes me love the movie even more. I’ve been wanting a comic-book movie done in this style for the longest time and I got it. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing, so much so that if somehow I got a chance to meet him I would be scared. The aggressive nature this movie has regarding politics and how society works is sewn brilliantly with Arthur. The final thirty minutes or so are cinematic brilliance in my opinion. The tension, the music, the performances and an instantly iconic pay-off I can watch and never get bored of. This is a comic-book movie with exciting ideas, it has a much different voice but it’s one that audiences want more of.
2. Knives Out
I knew this would be one of my favourite movies of the year while watching it because I was already seeing myself rewatching this every fall with my family. I wouldn’t even call this the second-best movie of this year, I would actually tie it with my number one pick. This movie is insanely good, it has quite possibly the best ensemble cast I’ve ever seen. Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Daniel Craig and Chris Evans in one movie? It literally can’t get better than that. Actually, it can because Ana DeArmas is in it and has one of the best roles of the year. I can’t wait to see more of her in the future. I don’t know how he did it but Rian Johnson managed to create a fresh, exciting and get this, unpredictable murder mystery which kept me scratching my head till the eventual reveal. On top of that, he puts a layer of social commentary which gives the movie one of the best final shots of a movie I’ve ever seen and an ending which will make you cheer and gasp at the same time. It’s amazing, I can’t recommend it enough. One of the best movies I’ve seen in years.
At one point in the third act of Parasite, my mouth fell open and it stayed that way long enough where it started to hurt but I couldn’t help it because it was genuinely shocking. Rarely do I ever think a film is perfect, in fact, the one other movie which I think is flawless in my eyes is La La Land, but Parasite now joins that elite group in my head as a flawless masterpiece. There isn’t a shot, line or scene wasted in this movie, it’s all relevant and it comes full-circle by the end. The movie presents its voice on social class in such a brilliant way, it finds a way to talk about it in a way which balances realism, dark humour and downright genius. It even has it’s thrilling moments which are genuinely intense and unpredictable not to mention the most terrifying shot of the year which sent chills down my spine the second it came. The performances are great, the direction is masterful and how it tackles social class especially in South Korea with a contrasting scene which really makes you look at things differently. No one is innocent, every character has their faults and does something not so wise, no matter their status. Parasite is truly a perfect movie and it is, in my opinion, the best movie of 2019.
Overall I thought 2019 was a fantastic year for movies, I do wish some of the more major companies released more original content but other than that, I’d say it was just as great a year for movies as 2017 was. I hope you enjoyed my ranking and with that being said let’s look forward to a new year of movies with 2020!