This year has seen so many incredible films and here is my take on the top 10 of 2019.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…
Quentin Tarantino blessed us with his 9th feature film and we were here for it. With an All-Star cast, Tarantino wisps away to 60s Hollywood right at the end of the massively popular run of Westerns. This film is exactly what the title implies, a fairytale. We imagine what would happen in another scenario if the mason cultists murder was thwarted.
I have never in my life walked out of a theatre and been absolutely terrified of the sun. In the follow-up film to 2018’s Hereditary Ari Aster brings the suspenseful tale of love and unlove. What was presumably a “horror” film was quickly corrected as a melodramatic breakup story, with horror elements. Aster has such a unique vision, that brings an incredibly refreshing taste to Hollywood. Aster brings us to such high levels of uneasiness that we have never experienced in mainstream media. It’s honestly quite a miracle that this film was even brought to a nationwide major release. Thank you A24 pictures for continuing to believe in art.
- The Lighthouse
Another follow up from the 2015 film The VVitch, we begin to see how Eggers is a master storyteller of fables. Robert Eggers was daring enough to release a black and white, 35 mm film in 2019. The picture was shot in a nearly perfect square aspect ratio of 1.19:1 and I cannot imagine it any other way. This sets the tone of the film entirely, giving you a sense of claustrophobia. One of the most visually stunning movies of the year.
- The Farewell
There was a defining moment for me in this film where I knew it was something special. This line in which the uncle (Yongbo Jian) from China is talking to the very Americanized niece (Akwafina) and he says in Chinese.
“You know Billi. You need to understand something. You guys moved to a Western country a long time ago, so you’re no longer connected to the Eastern way of looking at things. In America, you think one’s life belongs to oneself. But that’s the difference between the East and the West. In the East, your life is part of a whole. Family. Society.”
Only a few films this year have been as genuine as The Farewell and that makes it such a beautiful experience.
- Little Women
This film was so magical. This was my first time watching any sort of rendition of this story by Author Louis May Alcott. Having been raised surrounded by women, these stories really touch my heart. I want nothing more than to let my younger sisters understand that being a woman is not limited to a wife, nor is a preconceived life in general. Greta Gerwig is an inspiration and making waves in the male-dominated film industry. Watch out, because she is just getting started.
- Marriage Story
Marriage Story made me feel something. Honestly, a lot of things make me feel things. I am sort of an emotional individual, sensitive to feelings and this film is so full of feelings. It is an emotional rollercoaster, from the first to the last moment. You root for them and then you want to intervene and tell Charlie how much of a conceited asshole he is. I felt some sort of nostalgia and while I was sitting in the theatre watching it, I could not put my finger on it. It was not until the credits started rolling that I could see why Randy freaking Newman. For me, the connection was Toy Story, despite being a film of heavy emotion content, it felt lighthearted at the same time and that is the work of Randy Newman.
No film garnered more hype in the film world this year than Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. I remember learning about this film when it made headlines by winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival. Not too long after Cannes, I learned that it had sold out every single possible showing in New York City on opening night in the U.S. and despite all the hype—it did not disappoint A complex and thought-provoking piece of art that delves right into many themes. However, this film is clearly about the war in class division. Not many films can convey their own message so bluntly and subtly in a perfect balance and Parasite seemingly does it so flawlessly. You root for the underdog, you feel bad for the unsuspecting and by the end of it all, you get your heart smashed into a million pieces. Absolutely sensational.
- Honey Boy
I remember sitting in the car at Sundance in Park City, waiting to go stand in the standby line for The Report and reading the Sundance program for 2019. I remember reading the plot summary for Honey Boy and just being so enthralled that Shia wrote a screenplay about his relationship with his father in which he was playing his father. I knew I had to watch it. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Honey Boy was a revelatory masterpiece into Shia’s life and his relationship with his father. It brought so much understanding and closure to those who have been following Shia’s downward spiral. Alma Ha’rel turned a diary into something we could feel and relate to.
- The Irishman
I am convinced that no one will be able to capture, portray and romanticize the life of a gangster better than Scorsese. Sitting at seeming sore-full three hours and thirty minutes, you ask yourself why the hell is it so long? But if you can sit through it all, you will be rewarded. Every minute is worth it, there is not a dull moment or scene that can be taken from this film. It echoes Scorsese’s previous work, such as Casino and Goodfellas. To me, it’s everything I would hope for in a film by Marty.
1. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Nothing came as close to touching my heart as The Last Black Man in San Francisco. I genuinely and whole heartedly proclaim with all my might that this was one of the best films of 2019. A story of homogenization and self identity. Jimmie Fails sets out to discover who he is. What does it mean to be black? or white? Do our ancestors determine our identity? Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot paint a beautiful picture of San Francisco and tell us the story of the declining population of African Americans in the city of San Francisco.