This past year may not have been the biggest year in film, but it still managed to produce some great pictures and maybe even a few classics. Of course there are the early year festival films that win all the awards that no one has ever heard of. Then there are the mainstream blockbusters that all the critics love to pan for daring to be fun. Yet in spite of what may have been a forgettable year of film, there are still some jewels definitely worth seeing. From fun family movies for the kids, to movies you definitely should not let the kids watch, here are the top 10 best movies from 2019.
10. Frozen 2
Four years after the release of the film that reinvigorated the Disney franchise, the highly anticipated sequel dropped. The original voice cast returns to reprise their respective roles and provide the best family film of the year. There’s a reason Frozen has been one of the most successful Disney franchises ever and Frozen 2 doesn’t disappoint. It is afterall, a sequel, so it doesn’t do much to completely blow us away, but for what it needed to do, it does very well.
Just a few years ago we thought nothing could get more pathetic than those who spent their Valentine’s Day weekend going to see Deadpool instead of taking their significant other to see 50 Shades of Gray. Enter, Todd Philip’s Joker. While it ended up being more of a cult classic among virgins and burnouts, mad at the world for making them outcasts unable to get ahead in life (or get a date), the movie is actually quite appealing in its visuals. It has a lot of emotion and paints a very dark and depressing picture of human existence. In a world where the whole ‘sympathetic villain’ trope has become popular (Maleficent, Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake etc.) Joker fits right in.
8. The Lion King
After the recent critical bombings of Aladin, Beauty and the Beast, and whatever that Nutcracker movie was, it seemed the sun was setting on the Disney live action universe. While many were deeply disappointed in the Lion King for not looking like the cartoon (who knew that lion’s with black manes don’t exist), from a cinematic perspective, Lion King was by far more of the most visually pleasing movies this past year, possibly the past decade.
7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Following the critical acclaim of the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, A Beautiful Day is based on the profile of Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) written in Esquire Magazine by Tom Junod. The movie weaves together a powerful narrative of an unlikely friendship between the ever so joyful (sometimes to the point of being insufferably obnoxious) Mr. Rogers and a dour journalist who makes Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge look like the happiest man alive. The film is also notable as it casts Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, making Hanks the first and only ever person to portray both Walt Disney and Fred Rogers in film.
6. Toy Story 4
The fourth installment of the popular Pixar franchise had high expectations and more than exceeded all of them. Taking place immediately after the events in Toy Story 3, Woody and the toys are now under new ownership after Andy donated them prior to leaving for college. The movie hits on all cylinders and is replete with nostalgia as well as introducing new elements such as the character Forky who, as his name suggests, is literally a plastic spork. What’s not to love?
Horror movies rarely receive critical acclaim. Yet every now and then the critics let up on their ego and admit that a horror flick was actually good. Midsommar follows in the footsteps of The Wicker Man as a pagan cult horror movie. A group of teens travel to Sweden and find themselves caught up in a deranged commune. The film currently has a solid 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and proves that a movie can still be terrifying in broad daylight.
4. The Irishman
For those who found the Godfather too short and Scarface too soft, The Irishman takes it up to a 12 with a three and a half hour long mob movie starring Joe Pesci, Al Pachino, and Robert DeNiro, otherwise known as the trinity of mob movies. The film follows Frank Sheeran as he recounts his time as a hitman for the mafia and his eventual involvement with union boss Jimmy Hoffa. The movie has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is nominated for 5 awards at the 77th Golden Globes including best motion picture for a drama.
3. Avengers Endgame
Given the way Martin Scorsese recently opined on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we had to rank Endgame over The Irishman. Endgame was everything it promised to be. A thrilling conclusion to Infinity War and, as the meme goes, ‘the most ambitious crossover’ of the year. It was highly acclaimed for its action sequences and visual effects, which the MCU has come to be known for (can’t quite say the same for the DCEU).
The follow up to Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking film Get Out is arguably even better than the first. While his Peele’s debut picture dealt with issues surrounding race, the black identity, and served largely as a condemnation of white liberals in society, Peele’s second outing broadens the topic, dealing with a national identity crisis. The political undertones (more like overtones) are inescapable as Peel’s movie overtly hits back on the idea of ‘American exceptionalism’ and shows how that often is used to conceal huge blemishes on the country’s history. As a psychological horror film as well as a comedy that more than lives up to the reputation of Peele’s previous work.
In a nutshell, Hustlers is pure fun. Arguably the most enjoyable film of the year, Hustlers gives audiences an unadulterated joy while simultaneously serving a harsh kick of reality. The movie chronicles the journey of two strippers who fall on hard times after the Great Recession. Upon returning to their night club careers, they begin a scheme of luring in rich white men to then steal their credit card numbers. It then weaves a touching narrative on the realities of our economy and the plight of many. That, matched with an all star cast of Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and Cardi B, provides endless fun for viewers. You can’t knock the hustle.