Best Movies of 2019

10. US

Jordan Peele | 116 mins | Horror/Mystery/Thriller
Lupita Nyong'o | Winston Duke | Elisabeth Moss | Tim Heidecker

“If he hadn’t already made Get Out, this could easily be Jordan Peele’s masterwork; the kind of movie whose meta winks and jump scares are mere pretext for all the brilliant ideas and allusions crammed inside his magpie mind. His creeping doppelganger tale extends the idea of upstairs-downstairs to a sort of peak metaphysical horror, but Us is also so much more: Canny class commentary, trenchant family drama, surreal comedy, and not least, a showcase for Luniz’s 1995 new jack anthem “I Got 5 on It.”” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly


Lulu Wang | 100 mins | Comedy/Drama
Shuzhen Zhao | Awkwafina | X Mayo | Hong Lu

“No other film this year has presented an emotional tightrope on the level of writer-director Lulu Wang’s autobiographical film that centers on a hilarious hoax wedding in China amid the terminal diagnosis of a family matriarch (Zhao Shuzhen). The filmmaker’s deeply personal story evoking a time in her life when she felt like an outsider in her native country beautifully expounds on the immigrant experience in an effervescent tale of tragedy, love, and bewilderment. Through Wang’s mournful stand-in (a wonderful Awkwafina), the filmmaker compassionately examines her family’s tradition of keeping Nai Nai’s (Shuzhen) impending death a secret, even from her. The relatives pretend to be gathering at her home to celebrate faux nuptials instead, as Billi’s American sensibilities leave her feeling conflicted and alone. The Farewell isn’t about determining who’s right and wrong—though its protagonist initially tries to convince her family to tell Nai Nai—it’s about understanding our individual love languages and appreciating our cultural nuances, despite our own proclivities.” – Candice Frederick, Harper’s Bazaar


Céline Sciamma | 122 mins | Drama/Romance
Noémie Merlant | Adèle Haenel | Luàna Bajrami | Valeria Golino

“Since I first saw Céline Sciamma’s exquisitely tailored film in Cannes, I’ve been obsessed with its colors, its oranges and its blues, the way the movie achieves such saturated lushness while still telling a story that is pretty bleak in all its consideration of history. A ravishing romance that doubles as a lament for the inner lives of centuries of women muted by a world ordered by men, Portrait of a Lady on Fire has a beguiling sureness of inquiry, a sharp sense of purpose. Sciamma gradually lets that piercing insight melt into something gushingly big-hearted by the close, illustrating an indelible connection shared by two passionate women who can’t help but tear at their corseting. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel are the year’s sexiest, most soulful pairing, curious and questioning and vibrantly centered in their want. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is sad, because most queer stories were sad until so very recently. But Sciamma teases out the fine and tiny joys of a love whose name can’t be spoken. This affair had no language to define itself in 18th-century France, maybe. But it had breath. Portrait of a Lady on Fire heaves with that glorious exhalation.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


Rian Johnson | 130 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama
Daniel Craig | Chris Evans | Ana de Armas | Jamie Lee Curtis

“A throwback, I presume? Not exactly. Rian Johnson’s formalist homage-deconstruction of Agatha Christie whodunits has a tone unlike anything I’ve seen lately: wry, zesty, and relentless. It is one of the year’s pure moviegoing joys, right down to its immensely satisfying ending and pitch-perfect needle drop. Knives Out has been lauded for its class-conscious satire, but instead of a single message, I found a comic writer tossing poison-tipped blades in every direction: at alt-right trolls, at Instagram influencers, at true crime obsessives, and even at brilliant detectives profiled in The New Yorker. Johnson has convened a true rogues’ gallery of contemporary culture—Captain America, Laurie Strode, James Bond, Yoda, Darius from Atlanta, the star of 13 Reasons Why, and Sonny Crockett—and set them at each other’s throats for two hours. What could be a better metaphor for cultural consumption in 2019 than that?” – Sean Fennessey, The Ringer


Greta Gerwig | 134 mins | Drama/Romance
Saoirse Ronan | Emma Watson | Timothée Chalamet | Florence Pugh

“It’s been said that every generation gets the “Little Women” adaptation it needs. Greta Gerwig has given viewers a lush, rambunctious, free-spirited rendition that features a note-perfect cast (Saoirse Ronan as Jo; Florence Pugh as Amy; Laura Dern as Marmee and a tartly fabulous Meryl Streep as Aunt March) and a judicious balance of cozy period touches and themes that speak to our times. Toggling back and forth across seven years, Gerwig accentuates the economic forces that shaped her heroines’ lives, whether in the form of “marrying up,” making their own money, or making do with what they had. The result is a vibrant portrayal of historical custom, but also the paradoxes that condition the eternal search for self.” – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post


Bennie Safdie and Josh Safdie | 135 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama
Adam Sandler | Julia Fox | Kevin Garnett | The Weeknd

“Josh and Benny Safdie’s Diamond District drama serves up the sensation of being a gambling addict so forcefully that I wanted to run through the streets after seeing it, so amped was I from the secondhand highs it offered. Uncut Gems starts with an accident at an Ethiopian opal mine and emerges not long after out of its main character’s colon, tying globalist sins directly into Howard Ratner’s (Adam Sandler) instinctual pursuit of the trappings of class-climbing success. Howard has his wife (Idina Menzel) and kids ensconced in a McMansion on Long Island, and his mistress (Julia Fox) in a Manhattan condo, and he’s leveraged to the hilt and doesn’t seem to care. The truth is that it’s the wheeling and dealing that he loves, the constant betting big on a score that could make or break him, the pushing of social situations until they devolve into yelling. The Safdies have an affection for a particularly New York brand of street-level chaos, and Uncut Gems is their purest distillation of that so far, a film that huffs the dying fumes of capitalism — and man, what a rush.” – Alison Willmore, Vulture


Noah Baumbach | 136 mins | Comedy/Drama/Romance
Adam Driver | Scarlett Johansson | Laura Dern | Alan Alda

“In Noah Baumbach’s most complete picture to date, the stalwart indie filmmaker combines the vivid slice-of-life vignettes of Frances Ha with the unflinching self-examination of The Squid And The Whale. He also tells a rich and provocative story, about two basically decent people who suffer mightily once they turn their irreconcilable differences over to the rough justice of family court. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson—joined by an all-star cast of supporting players—are at their best, bringing such nuance to their characters that the audience can see both why this couple fell in love and why they have to split. But Marriage Story is really Baumbach’s show, as he takes what he’s learned from Brian De Palma and The New Yorker short stories, breaking the arc of a messy divorce down to a series of riveting set pieces.” – Noel Murray, AV Club


Martin Scorsese | 209 mins | Biography/Crime/Drama
Robert De Niro | Al Pacino | Joe Pesci | Harvey Keitel

“Martin Scorsese, 77, and still America’s greatest living filmmaker, shook up the year by claiming Marvel movies aren’t cinema. “What’s not there is revelation, mystery, or genuine emotional danger,” claimed the director, who supplies all that and more in what is not just the best film of 2019 but also an incendiary, indelible summation of a landmark career. The film reunites Scorsese with his peerless acting muses Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci nearly 25 years after they made Casino. It also brings in a live-wire Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters leader who De Niro’s hit man, Frank Sheeran, is ordered to kill. A digital de-aging process allows the actors to play younger as the film spans decades of American history. But it’s not violence that brings them down — it’s debilitating age. That searing note of poetic justice makes The Irishman unique among Scor­sese’s Mob films, from Goodfellas to The Departed, and earns a place in the cinematic canon.” – Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times


Quentin Tarantino | 161 mins | Comedy/Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio | Brad Pitt | Margot Robbie | Emile Hirsch

“In this gorgeously meandering farrago, two aging, increasingly irrelevant white males from ’50s cowboy TV recover their mojo enough to defend themselves against dirty hippie girls and thereby save a blonde, pregnant movie princess from being butchered. On paper it sounds a tad … reactionary. But Quentin Tarantino’s tenth film — starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt — is more wistful pipe dream than manifesto. Above all, it’s a fetishistic collage of ’60s bric-a-brac that transcends its inspirations, building to a denouement at once euphoric and heartbreaking. Once again, Tarantino has created a unique frame in which to examine (or maybe just to live inside) the movie world that, for better or worse, shaped him.” –David Edelstein, Vulture


Bong Joon Ho | 132 mins | Comedy/Drama/Thriller
Kang-ho Song | Sun-kyun Lee | Yeo-jeong Jo | Woo-sik Choi

“With all the buzz surrounding this movie once it hit theaters back in the fall, I was glad to experience it having read very little about the plot. That made this a roller coaster of a theatrical experience, especially since the movie isn’t so easily defined in one particular genre, fluctuating from an amusing family heist to a grim thriller and a poignant commentary on class. Full of suspense, horror, comedy, chills, and plenty of shocking twists, there’s no movie out there like Parasite. Director Bong Joon-ho lifts up the poor, knocks down the rich, but ultimately takes blender to everyone to show that we’re all animals willing to do whatever we have to in order to keep what we have or get something more, even if it means defying others of the same satisfaction. It’s brutal in its scathing commentary on the dark side of our ambitions, and even though the escalation of the film’s thrills feel like they could only exist on the big screen, the sentiment of what happens on the screen is very much present in our everyday lives.” – Ethan Anderton, SlashFilm

Full Top 50:

2Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood469804.054%11%1553155%13%
3The Irishman442544.051%8%1512054%8%
4Marriage Story401304.846%4%1241444%6%
5Uncut Gems332464.539%7%1041637%7%
6Little Women (2019)258195.030%3%88331%1%
7Knives Out248175.929%2%54319%1%
8Portrait of a Lady on Fire226244.727%4%831230%5%
9The Farewell21046.124%1%74126%0%
11Pain and Glory173135.520%2%66723%3%
14The Lighthouse15195.718%1%40314%1%
17Avengers: Endgame14195.416%1%33112%0%
18Jojo Rabbit140115.116%2%37413%2%
19The Souvenir13965.616%1%63222%1%
20Ad Astra12846.415%1%45216%1%
22The Last Black Man in San Francisco11275.713%1%37313%1%
23High Life9786.111%1%36213%1%
24A Hidden Life9185.511%1%32311%1%
26Ford v Ferrari8536.410%0%2419%0%
28Dolemite Is My Name7816.79%0%27010%0%
29A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood7625.99%0%27110%0%
31Ash Is Purest White7246.08%1%28110%0%
32Her Smell6535.38%0%27110%0%
33Apollo 116016.37%0%2208%0%
34Long Day's Journey Into Night5815.67%0%1917%0%
37Toy Story 45406.66%0%1305%0%
38Under the Silver Lake4926.06%0%2117%0%
39Honey Boy4807.06%0%1104%0%
40An Elephant Sitting Still4735.15%0%1616%0%
41The Nightingale4735.45%0%1917%0%
42John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum4306.15%0%602%0%
44The Peanut Butter Falcon4026.95%0%803%0%
45American Factory3527.44%0%1515%0%
47Doctor Sleep3306.74%0%702%0%
48Richard Jewell3216.84%0%1104%0%
49La Flor3263.94%1%1234%1%
50Birds of Passage3035.73%0%823%1%

Lists Included 867 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 281

R Rank
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists

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