2019 was a big one. Not only did Martin Scorsese make his dunk on the MCU giants, stoking years worth of online discourse, and the R-rated flick made a splash to the tune of one billion dollars, the movies themselves were actually pretty great.
Indie darlings got their chance to shine with some stunning directorial debuts, there were new additions to the grandest blockbuster series in the world, including what could be its greatest hit ever, and world cinema made a splash at the Academy Awards with a vindicating win for Parasite making a case for Bong Joon-Ho as one of the industry’s greats.
Awards and statistics aside, though, 2019 was a bumper year, bringing films that serve as remarkable examples of their genre in most genres you can think of. And while there might have been some stinkers along the way (Tom Hooper, we’re sorry, we’re still not willing to forgive you for Cats), it was an exemplary year for cinema, and it will take a lot to the top. Here are our favourite films from 2019.
What are the best 2019 movies?
- Knives Out
- Avengers: Endgame
- Little Women
- Marriage Story
- Blinded By The Light
- Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
- Doctor Sleep
An easy choice, maybe, but Bong Joon-Ho’s greatest work (so far) is worth every word of praise and every award it got. Parasite is an air-tight and electric thriller that wraps up the nerve-wracking tension right until its final moments. Few films come under the near-perfect banner, but Parasite is the closest we’ve gotten since 2019.
There was no doubt that Rian Johnson could pull off another incredible story after his Star Wars debut in The Last Jedi. Still, his whodunnit Knives Out is a riveting cinematic experience.
Whodunnit? Best thriller movies
You’re made to have fun simply because everyone in the stacked cast is having the times of their lives throughout, and you’ll be caught on every hook as the story and suspects wind up to an explosive reveal. If you miss the good old days of Clue, this one’s for you, and with a sequel set on the isles of Greece currently in production, there’s no better time to catch up on this thriller movie masterpiece.
What is essentially the season finale of the most expensive TV series you’ve ever seen, Avengers: Endgame puts all of its cards on the table for the most fan-servicey, bombastic, and raucous comic book movie in recent memory.
Time heist! Best science fiction movies
Paying homage to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s history and delivering a satisfying end for some of its most beloved characters (whoops, spoilers!). Endgame gives Thanos the boot in a cinematic event that’s almost impossible to imagine unless you see it for yourself.
Greta Gerwig’s second film exceeds every expectation and creates the ultimate film form of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Little Women is a phenomenally endearing and loving ode to family, love, and following your heart.
Led by the phenomenal cast that truly embodies the March sisters, Little Women is a tender look at growing up under the thumb of the American Civil War that will endear you, break your heart, then endear you again in time for an ending that does Alcott proud. Perhaps Gerwig’s finest work so far, and the best adaptation of the novel by a country mile.
If anyone can translate the nuances and struggles of a crumbling marriage to film (given his track record, making the Criterion-approved The Squid and the Whale in 2005), it’s Noah Baumbach.
The film that earned Adam Driver a nomination for the best actor at the Oscars, Marriage Story, is a sobering and gut-wrenching peer into the lives of Charlie and Nicole. During the film the pair attempt to navigate a divorce, sandwiched between two intense lawyers, they struggle to keep their son Henry out of the crossfire. An emotionally testing film, Marriage Story’s tenderness makes it worth seeking out.
Blinded By The Light
The most underrated film on this list by a long way, Blinded By The Light, is a snapshot of adolescence in the face of Thatcherite Britain’s epidemic of anti-Pakistani racism. The serious nature of the story doesn’t make it a depressing watch, though – in fact, Blinded By The Light is an optimistic musical that emphasises capturing the chance of being everything you want to be, soundtracked by Bruce Springsteen’s best works.
Feel-good films: Best comedy movies
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the most romantic film of the 21st century, let alone 2019. Sciamma’s passionate powerhouse is led by Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel, who deliver stunning performances on the backdrop of the beautiful coast of France.
Much of Portrait’s beauty lies in its quietest moments, and the gorgeous magnetism between its two leads is something that has to be seen to be truly understood. It’s a film with a love that transcends any justice that the written word could do and is an immediate champion of LGBTQ+ cinema. If you’re looking for a romance movie, Sciamma’s will catch you hook, line and sinker.
If there was any film that we were sure didn’t need a sequel, it was Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – luckily, while Doctor Sleep borrows from the film’s most iconic moments in callbacks, it’s actually more of a sequel to Stephen King’s novel.
Redrum… Redrum! Best horror movies
Following an all-grown-up Danny Torrance wrestling with his own alcoholism, this trip back to the Overlook Hotel is masterfully directed by one of modern horror’s greatest voices (The Haunting of Hill House’s Mike Flanagan). It perfectly captures the chilling eeriness that King evokes in his novels. Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson’s performances are gripping, and by the time the credits roll, you’ll regret ever wondering if The Shining could be followed.
Perfecting the teen movie with ease and style, Olivia Wilde’s feature debut Booksmart is a delight from front to back. Carrying the film is the incredible chemistry between Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as Amy and Molly, two high school graduates-to-be in a desperate attempt to party enough to make up for their whole studious school experience.
The film is funny, charming and disarmingly sweet – and with Don’t Worry Darling set to be one of 2022’s delights, there’s no better time to catch up on Wilde’s work.
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