Hello and Good Morning creative peeps! The best of 2019 is continuing in films. This year brought some great big-budget films, indie films, streaming films, all kinds of films.
I haven’t seen a whole lot of movies this year, but according to Zack Sharf of Indie Wire lots of critics have seen quite a lot of films and here are 50, yes 50 Best Movies of 2019…
Credit source: Indie Wire
The 50 Best Movies of 2019, According to 304 Film Critics
From “Parasite” to “Beanpole,” these are the 50 movies that ranked the highest in IndieWire’s 2019 critics poll.
by Zack Sharf
At the end of every year, IndieWire gathers together film critics from around the world and invites them to pick the best movies and performances of the last 12 months. This 2019 IndieWire Critics Poll included 304 movie critics, making it the largest year-end survey in the site’s history. IndieWire published the full critics poll earlier this week, but now we’re giving readers a bigger look at the Best Film category. The top 20 movies have already been revealed, but the full list below includes the 50 movies from 2019 that earned the most votes from film critics, ranked from the most voted to least vote.
Outside of this year’s Best Film race, IW Critics Poll winners included “Parasite” filmmaker Bong Joon Ho for Best Director and Best Screenplay, “Us” favorite Lupita Nyong’o for Best Actress, “Marriage Story” favorite Adam Driver for Best Actor, and more. Check out the full results of the 2019 IW Critics Survey here. The top 50 films as voted on by our pool of 304 film critics are listed below.
Bong Joon Ho’s family thriller capped off its triumphant 2019 by placing first on IndieWire’s Critics Poll. The movie world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it became the first South Korean film to win the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or. Since then, “Parasite” has become a box office sensation (over $20 million in the U.S. and over $100 million worldwide) and a top Oscar contender in categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, and more.
2. “The Irishman”
Martin Scorsese’s elegiac gangster epic “The Irishman” reunited him with “Goodfellas” stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and nearly missed out on the top spot on IndieWire’s Critics Poll. “The Irishman” has been a dominant force in the awards race, picking up Best Picture honors from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn also named “The Irishman” one of the top films of the year.
3. “Marriage Story”
Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” became a top Oscar contender when it debuted at the Venice Film Festival, and now it lands in the third position on IndieWire’s Critics Poll. Adam Driver has emerged as a top contender for the Best Actor Oscar, winning several critics group prizes in the category. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
4. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Hollywood dazzled critics this year and landed in the Top 5 of the IndieWire Critics Poll. Tarantino was named the National Board of Review’s best director, while the movie is one of the only titles this year to land nominations from every guild.
5. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” failed to earn the official French nomination for this year’s Best International Film Oscar despite earning vast critical acclaim, the Cannes prize for Best Screenplay, and landing at number five on IndieWire’s Critics Poll. France went with “Les Miserables” instead, which did land on the Oscars shortlist.
6. “Pain & Glory”
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn named Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory” the best movie of 2019, writing, “‘Pain and Glory’ has the emotional resonance of an artist coming to terms with the intimate nature of his work, and in the pantheon of the films-about-filmmaking genre, it’s a paragon of the form.” The film is expected to land Almodovar another Oscar nomination for Best International Feature. Antonio Banderas won Best Actor at Cannes.
7. “Uncut Gems”
The Safdie Brothers followed “Good Time” with arguably their best movie yet, the Adam Sandler-starring “Uncut Gems.” The movie won Sandler the Best Actor prize from the National Board of Review, making him a dark horse to land his first Oscar nomination. The Safdie Brothers were named the year’s best directors by the New York Film Critics circle, a deserving upset over heavyweight contenders like Scorsese, Tarantino, and Bong Joon Ho.
8. “The Souvenir”
Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” was for many critics the first masterpiece of 2019 when it debuted to universal acclaim at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, turning leads Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke into breakout stars. The film chronicles their doomed romance, but as Eric Kohn wrote in naming “The Souvenir” one of the year’s best films, “The movie is more than a teary breakup story. It charts a path to finding catharsis through creativity and reveals how some of the most awful experiences can engender great art.”
PHOTO: WARNER BROS.
“Joker” is the year’s most divisive studio movie, but enough critics liked the revisionist comic book drama for it to break into the Top 10 on the IndieWire Critics Poll. Joaquin Phoenix has been a top contender to earn a Best Actor nomination for his work in the title role, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion after picking up nominations from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
10. “Little Women”
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” has been dazzling film critics ever since it started screening in October, so it’s no surprise to see it land in the Top 10 of IndieWire’s Critics Poll. The film features one of the year’s best ensemble casts (that it got overlooked for the SAG Best Ensemble prize is one of awards season’s biggest shockers) and an ingenious script from Gerwig, which reorders the narrative of the eponymous novel to startlingly emotional effect.
11. “The Farewell”
Lulu Wang delivered a highlight of the Sundance Film Festival with “The Farewell,” which A24 opened to sizable box office numbers over the summer. After starting the year strong in 2019, “The Farewell” managed to sustain buzz over 12 months to land on countless lists of the year’s best movies. Whether or not Wang’s script or Awkwafina’s leading turn can break into the Oscar race remains to be seen, but “The Farewell” is without question one of the year’s critical favorites.
12. “Knives Out”
Rian Johnson followed “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” with an ingeniously structured murder mystery starring the likes of Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, and the up-and-coming favorite Ana de Armas. “Not since “Hamilton” has a juicy slice of entertainment been so openly determined to bridge the gap between old history and a new language,” wrote IndieWire’s David Ehrlich in his A- review.
PHOTO: MUSIC BOX FILMS
Christian Petzold’s time-warping romance mystery “Transit” arrived in theaters this March from Music Box Films over a year after it first debuted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival. The wait was worth it. In telling the story of a man who tries to flee his fascist country by impersonating a dead author, Petzold shows off some of the year’s most transfixing character and world-building skills. The film is bolstered by a breakout turn from Franz Rogowski, who could very well become the next Joaquin Phoenix.
14. “The Lighthouse”
Many cinephiles were awaiting the return of Robert Eggers, who became a household name in 2015 with his beloved horror film “The Witch.” Nearly four years later, Eggers returned with his black-and-white gem “The Lighthouse,” which left critics awestruck at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Bolstered by dangerously unhinged performances by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse” features such standout filmmaking craft that it’s no wonder it garnered enough votes to break the IndieWire Critics Poll top 20.
Jordan Peele followed “Get Out” with the more ambitious “Us,” which left audiences divided but impressed most film critics. At least everyone agrees on the show-stopping performance from Lupita Nyong’o, who effortlessly creates two original characters that compare and contrast with one another at every moment. Nyong’o has rightfully picked up several critics prizes for Best Actress and landed a SAG nomination.
PHOTO: FOX SEARCHLIGHT
16. “A Hidden Life”
Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” failed to make an impression when it opened this month at the box office (bad news for Fox Searchlight, which paid $14 million to purchase the movie), but it managed to move enough film critics land in the Top 20 of IndieWire’s Critics Poll. Most critics agree “A Hidden Life” marks Malick’s best directorial effort since the release of his magnum opus, “The Tree of Life.”
17. “Ad Astra”
Brad Pitt is currently the Oscar frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor thanks to his turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” but critics haven’t forgotten the actor also delivered career-best work this year in “Ad Astra.” James Gray’s existential character study subverts Pitt’s movie star image to powerfully soulful effect.
18. “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”
Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is memorable for its staggering 55-minute 3D long take, a sequence that’s been dazzling film critics since the movie debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Kino Lorber brought the drama to U.S. theaters this year and critics continued to champion Bi’s vision. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn named the film one of the best of 2019, adding, “This is the kind of original cinema so worthy of celebration that it really ought to be smuggled to unsuspecting viewers if that’s what it takes for them to take note.”
Mati Diop’s “Atlantics” won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and was selected to represent Senegal in the Oscar race for Best International Feature Film. The movie made the official Oscars shortlist this month. Diop made history at Cannes by becoming the first black woman to direct a film featured In Competition at the festival.
20. “High Life”
Claire Denis’ unclassifiable space drama opened in April and left such an impression on film critics around the world that it managed to hang on in the conversation and land in the number 20 spot on IndieWire’s Critics Poll. Robert Pattinson’s 2019 included the buzzy “Lighthouse” (see above), but his wounded and vulnerable work in “High Life” was the high point of his year.
Sam Mendes’ “1917” was one of the final movies of 2019 to screen for film critics, but when it did it earned some of the loudest acclaims of the year. The movie fell just outside of the IndieWire Critics Poll’s top 20. Mendes’ World War I drama is shot by famed cinematographer Roger Deakins and is edited together by “Dunkirk” virtuoso Lee Smith to look as if the entire runtime is one continuous shot. Many critics agree “1917” is one of the major filmmaking achievements of 2019.
22. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
Joe Talbot’s feature directorial debut “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” was for many critics the highlight of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The movie won Talbot the Best Directing prize, plus a Special Jury Prize for Creative Collaboration.
PHOTO: KIMBERLEY FRENCH
23. “Jojo Rabbit”
“Jojo Rabbit” surprised the industry by winning the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival despite earning a divisive critical reaction. The TIFF win turned “Jojo Rabbit” into a top Oscar contender, and clearly, enough critics enjoyed Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire for it to land awfully close to the IndieWire Critics Poll Top 20.
PHOTO: FILM LINC
24. “An Elephant Sitting Still”
Twenty-nine-year-old filmmaker Hu Bo took his own life after finishing his debut film, “An Elephant Standing Still,” but this four-hour masterpiece that he left behind will resonate for ages. Loosely adapted from one of the two controversial novels Hu wrote before his death, “An Elephant Sitting Still” unfolds like a frozen cross between Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” and Jia Zhangke’s “A Touch of Sin.”
How do you follow one of the most beloved horror debuts in recent memory? If you’re “Hereditary” director Ari Aster, you make a breakup movie from hell dipped in fairy tale mythology and sprinkled over disorienting black humor. “Midsommar” became a critical favorite when A24 opened it in theaters this summer and turned Florence Pugh into one of the best actresses of her generation.
26. “Ash Is Purest White”
After world premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Jia Zhangke’s “Ash Is Purest White” finally opened in the U.S. this year to remind everyone domestically why Zhao Tao is one of the greatest actresses in the world. It’s a sprawling crime epic that often feels like a mega-mix of Jia’s greatest hits, refreshed by Zhao Tao’s commanding leading performance.
27. “Apollo 11”
“Apollo 11” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and became a no-brainer as a heavyweight contender for the Best Documentary Oscar. The film brilliantly weaves together never-before-seen archival footage of NASA’s moon mission to take moviegoers behind the scenes in a profoundly intimate way. IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called the film “one giant leap forward for film preservation.”
PHOTO: KINO LORBER
Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms” world premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival this year and went on to be named one of IndieWire’s top 100 films of the decade. “A singular misadventure about the violence of trying to supplant oneself with another, Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms” is an astonishing, maddening, brilliant, hilarious, obstinate, and altogether essential film,” writes IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF A24
Trey Edward Shults followed up “Krisha” and “It Comes at Night” with a remarkable operatic tale of a domestic life caving in with “Waves,” starring breakout performances from Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell. While the movie risks smothering the heart of its drama in all the vigorous camera movements and noise, the sheer sensory overload often leads to astonishing bursts of emotional sophistication.
“Honeyland” has become the rare non-fiction feature to make two Oscar shortlists: Best Documentary and Best International Film. Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s documentary is a bitter and mesmerically beautiful film that focuses on a single beekeeper as though our collective future hinges on the fragile relationship between her and her hives.
THE REST OF THE BEST
31. “Her Smell”
33. “The Image Book”
35. “Dolemite is My Name”
36. “The Nightingale”
37. “Under The Silver Lake”
39. “Toy Story 4”
40. “La flor”
41. “Honey Boy”
42. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
43. “Avengers: Endgame”
44. “I Lost My Body”
46. “Birds of Passage”
49. “Give Me Liberty”
Great list isn’t it? On to the next best of 2019.
Featured image: Indie Wire