2019 is officially in the past and we are now in a new year. It’s crazy to realize that the 2010s are over. For the course of ten years, that was when my discovery of film criticism came about, and my recent accomplishment was finishing college. Also, it gave me the chance for me to make DC’s Take a reality and a step forward to what I want to do with a potential career. But it comes to one of my favorite things to do every year, which is compiling the list of my favorite movies of the year! To quote the awesome Keanu Reeves, “I love movies. Gosh, I love movies.”
Thinking back at what the year brought, I think it’s safe to say it started rocky, especially with a disappointing summer movie season that provided unnecessary sequels of unforgettable nature. But then the fall came around the corner, and it once again saved the rest of the year. Though I’m still upset that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker didn’t turn out to be amazing.
Turns out 2019 was a far better improvement over 2018 when there were a ton of great movies that came out. Because of how great this turned out to be, I handled a top 15 favorite movies of the year. Keep in mind that certain movies might be higher on other best lists, and the personal rankings of these are still great pieces of film, no matter where they stand.
Around this time of year is where I catch up on those I haven’t watched yet or haven’t come out in theaters. But like every year, there were a few I didn’t get the chance to see, including Waves, Queen & Slim, and Richard Jewell. In a year full of great blockbusters and smaller indies, these are the films I had the most enjoyment sitting through and leaving a lasting impression of me after it ended.
Honorable Mentions: Doctor Sleep, Hustlers, The Peanut Butter Falcon, The Farewell, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Long Shot, Shazam!, Ready or Not, Dolemite in My Name, Ford V Ferrari, Good Boys
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the top 15 best movies of 2019 (in my opinion, of course)…
15. ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ (Quentin Tarantino)
Tarantino makes movies for those who understand his style of storytelling. With that, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is him paying tribute to the Hollywood era of the 1960s. Still, after re-watching it for a second time, the only problem that kept it from being higher on this list is that it becomes a little slow around the second act. But besides that, the performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt kept it from failing upward, and you become fascinated in this alternate world where change is about to occur in the entertainment’s landscape with a great Tarantino screenplay that’s probably the funniest and production design that recreating the late 60s perfectly. I never understood why most people don’t like this, especially when the last 30 minutes are jaw-dropping.
14. ‘Rocketman’ (Dexter Fletcher)
Rocketman improved vastly upon viewing it for a second time. I thought it was good when I initially saw it, but now I think it’s great. Is it better than Bohemian Rhapsody? Yes, though I’m not hating. But it’s an entertaining biopic about Elton John that’s also a jukebox musical. Taron Egerton’s portrayal of the iconic singer hasn’t left my mind, its musical sequences have the same style of flair as seen in a Broadway show, and it proves that Dexter Fletcher and Egerton should collaborate more after this.
13. ‘Us’ (Jordan Peele)
If Jordan Peele helms original horror movies for the rest of his life, there would be no complaints. Us was the perfect follow-up after bringing out a classic like Get Out. The best horror film of the year is able to make its viewers think about if we have a certain dark side within ourselves. Having a story that’s intense and occasionally hilarious, there’s no reason to hate on such an entertaining movie with a creepy duel performance from Lupita Nyong’o.
12. ‘Toy Story 4’ (Josh Cooley)
It seems like Toy Story 4 was forgotten quickly after the summer, but how could it be when it was another great sequel in this wonderful animated franchise? Worrying that this fourth installment would be an easy cash grab, this was thankfully wasn’t from the beautiful animation, seeing classic characters and new on an exciting adventure, and still make audiences of all ages cry. While not my favorite, Toy Story 4 was a Pixar sequel that lives up to major expectations, thinking this was totally unnecessary and ended up being delightful.
11. ‘Parasite’ (Bong Joon-Ho)
Parasite might be much higher upon other people’s lists. Nonetheless, Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy-thriller about the lives of two Southern Korean families took me by surprise. I honestly wished I knew nothing about it before watching it, but I was taken back with a relevant and unpredictable story that goes places. Besides the fact Parasite has a lot to say about class in our society, the fabulous production design was a character of its own, a great ensemble is at hand, and the third act alone is still something I couldn’t get out of my mind after it was over.
10. ‘1917’ (Sam Mendes)
I had to hold off posting this list until I finally saw 1917, and it rightfully earned its place just by how thrilling of a war film this turned out to be. When you have a director like Sam Mendes tackle a tension-filled adventure with these two soldiers (George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman), and it’s all done in one continuous shot, the only way to describe the effort taken to this is impressive. While it doesn’t beat Dunkirk in my eyes, everything that Mendes tried to accomplish worked in spades with Roger Deakins’ gorgeous cinematography, exceptional action set pieces that made you feel immersed into this dangerous setting and a fascinating story about heroes trenching through difficult decisions to make it through everything standing between them.
9. ‘The Irishman’ (Martin Scorsese)
Was there any chance that a Martin Scorsese gangster flick that has legends like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci wouldn’t be other than fantastic? The Irishman might’ve been three and a half hours long, but it moves quickly when it’s carried through perfect editing, a tense screenplay by Steve Zaillian that follows the life of hitman Frank Sheeran, and it’s a sign that a director like Scorsese isn’t slowing down soon. But this didn’t feel like any of his other gangster flick, as it’s more of connecting to a story falling more on the themes of loyalty and how we perceive life on our own boundaries. Between this and Goodfellas, the latter is greater, but this is another win for the Oscar-winning director.
8. ‘Joker’ (Todd Phillips)
Everybody loves to hate on Joker now, and they understand nothing. I didn’t think we needed a standalone drama based on the classic comic book villain, but this proved me wrong. Todd Phillips immersed our minds into a man that sees the world getting worse and dipping into this sense of madness. Joaquin Phoenix puts out an unforgettable performance of a lifetime as Arthur Fleck/Joker in a movie that’s disturbing for sure, but it’s absolutely captivating nearly every minute with its grim portrayal of Gotham, beautiful cinematography, and a story that got under my skin and left me in a state of worrisome when I left the theater.
7. ‘Marriage Story’ (Noah Baumbach)
The subject of divorce is a difficult subject to talk about. Honestly, I even asked my mom about it a little over a month ago. But there’s this sense that it’s for the best for understandable reasons. There’s a lot to take away from Marriage Story, and writer/director Noah Baumbach examines what a realistic take on a failing marriage is like. Here is another Netflix original that provides flawless acting from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson (career-best for both of them) and a story nearly everybody can relate from seeing things from both perspectives. You’ll feel emotionally overwhelmed by one scene in particular, but that just shows how powerful and raw the acting truly is.
6. ‘Knives Out’ (Rian Johnson)
Knives Out prove wisely that Rian Johnson will do no wrong, period. It made this to be a modern-day whodunnit that’s unpredictable and fun for its entire two hours that was an homage to the classic mystery movies from before. Crafted by a fresh script and a memorable ensemble cast, including Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas giving their finest, it was absolutely phenomenal. This could do without a sequel if they pushed forward with it, but there’s so much they can do with the character of Benoit Blanc. The donut speech might be another reason I love it. I also did my job of recommending it to anybody just wanting to see something great.
5. ‘Blinded By the Light’ (Gurinder Chadha)
There’s always that one movie nobody saw each year, and 2019’s Blinded By The Light has proved to be very underrated. Seriously, this was that small summer indie that makes you feel inspired, especially from the character of Javed (Viveik Kalra) and his discovery for the music of Bruce Springsteen. This made me believe that chasing your dreams can become a reality, and hearing “Born to Run” will cause you to rock out and feel free from your worries. Want to relax with an uplifting coming-of-age drama that’s in the same style of Sing Street, here’s your chance.
4. ‘Little Women’ (Greta Gerwig)
Lady Bird made it on my best list when it came out in 2017, so it’s not a major shocker that another movie written and directed by Greta Gerwig made it on here when she’s 2 for 2. Knowing that Little Women was the last official movie I saw in the theater of the 2010s made for such a delightful time. This latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel put me in the right mood when everything surrounding it from the beautiful direction, a spectacular ensemble (Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh in particular), the cinematography, costume design, and score. As for someone who knew nothing about it walking in, I just loved it all the way through.
3. ‘Jojo Rabbit’ (Taika Waititi)
For a comedy with a comedic version of Adolf Hitler, Jojo Rabbit actually made it work in spades with no conflicts. Writer/director Taika Waititi makes you laugh at first and becomes unexpectedly deep and poignant for a film that takes place during one of the most troubling times in history. You’d be surprised by how it touches on how our own idealisms can change when we realize that everybody is still human despite what we tend to know about certain cultures. The performances are fantastic from breakout star Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo, Waititi, and Scarlett Johansson, and it ended up being heartwarming in the meantime. It also provided one of my favorite lines of the entire year, “We have to dance to show God we are grateful to be alive.”
2. ‘Booksmart’ (Olivia Wilde)
Booksmart reigns supreme as the funniest movie of the year. So, how come nobody saw it back in the summer? Poor marketing, probably. Destined to be the next high school classic, this was a great coming-of-age comedy that’s about on par with Superbad. You can’t ignore or hate on Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut when Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein have this unbelievable chemistry with each other as two best friends making their last night before graduation worth it. Hilarious for a believable story between these two friends, and it’s the kind of original movie that deserves more love. Billie Lourd as Gigi is everyone’s spirit animal.
1. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (Anthony and Joe Russo)
That’s right. A billion-dollar Marvel movie is higher than a Martin Scorsese movie. Getting over it quickly is the right thing to do. Avengers: Endgame was everything I wanted for what felt like a proper conclusion of the MCU that culminated for over a decade. If Infinity War was like the tastiest steak dinner, Endgame was the desert that’s all-around fulfilling, and where the last one felt like Thanos’ film, this time around it’s the Avengers in the forefront. Everything that the Russo brothers and the writers pulled off into this three-hour cinematic event that closes the “Infinity Saga” was something I never thought would come true. Our heroes are doing whatever it takes to undo the mistakes Thanos laid upon the universe, and with that, it takes risks to save everyone.
This is one of the few movies I saw twice in theaters (the second time in IMAX), and both times I cried tears of joy and sadness during the same moments. The third act battle alone still stands as one of the greatest moments in comic book movie history. Dare I say cinematic? They made this for fans who have been a part of the MCU since the beginning, including me. It was the finale that felt right where Game of Thrones (didn’t mind it) or The Rise of Skywalker (eh) might have lacked to certain people. Just the performance of Robert Downey Jr.’s as Tony Stark/Iron Man alone will be one to remember by.
Filled with tons of awesome moments of action, humor that sticks the landing, and having character arcs that ended in ways that felt earned in its three hours, these are the reasons Avengers: Endgame is not only my favorite in the entire MCU that will be tough to beat out but clearly the best movie I will remember having the most fun out of 2019. You can call me a fanboy, but I love this 3000.
Want to read more of my favorite movies from 2010 to 2018?
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2010
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2011
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2012
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2013
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2014
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2015
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
- Top 12 Best Movies of 2017
- Top 10 Best Movies of 2018