Over the course of 2019, a plethora of groundbreaking, original, and entertaining films were released and some of them go down as some of the most influential or memorable in recent years. With the amount of people involved in these movies, it is only right to honor the movies and performers responsible for these great movie moments. Starting off this list will be the top 10 movies of the year.
Freaks, Always Be My Maybe, Shazam!, The Two Popes, The Nightingale
All of these movies were fantastic in their own right and just missed the cusp of making the list. Anyone watching these movies should be able to feel the impact of these movies after a single watch and I highly recommend all of them.
You can’t say enough great things about Parasite. Between its ability to overcome its language barrier as well as describe complex and intricate levels of society with a balance of empathy and relevancy, Parasite is the type of movie I can see myself picking up in five and finding even more things to enjoy about it and Bong’s vision is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen in a movie.
- Just Mercy
I can’t think of too many movies that have somehow managed to stab my heart while also uplifting it, but Just Mercy takes a subject I’m passionate about and frames it in a way that I’ve been waiting years for a movie to do. Combined with one of the best performances of Foxx’s career, Just Mercy speaks to all of our souls and pleas to us at a basic level to always try and do the right thing even when it’s difficult.
You can’t have a best of 2019 list without the best performance of 2019, and Phoenix was able to take a character that we’ve seen done many times before and make it feel fresh. Shifting the focus of Joker away from the comic book background and setting the mood as more of a psychological thriller was one of the best decisions of the year and allowed the movie to stand out for what it truly is.
- Ad Astra
Ending the decade with one of the most impressive sci-fi movies of all time is a bold idea, but that didn’t stop James Gray from creating one of the largest universes with the feeling of emptiness we’ve ever seen. Just like if Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey had a baby, Ad Astra takes the best technical and character elements from both movies and makes a world that modern audiences can easily digest and understand.
- John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum
Keanu just can’t be stopped. There used to be a time when making fun of Keanu was the hip thing to do, but that time is long gone. Beautifully choreographed and continuing the rich history of the first two elements while also introducing phenomenal new characters, John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum exceeded every expectation I had for it and made me incredibly eager to see what’s coming up in the next movie.
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
When judging a movie’s quality, one of things we need to look at is the ability to accomplish what it sets out to be. With A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood we get a movie that exists solely to be a benevolent presence and show what true love and kindness can do for people, and through Heller’s direction and Hanks’ performance, we end up with a movie that checks off every box it goes after.
I’m not joking around when I say that 1917 could go down as one of the best war movies of all time. It certainly stands out with the more recent releases and has the technology available to reasonably pit it against some of the older movies. Gripping, powerful, and emotionally invested, 1917 is a movie that you dream about making as a director and will be studied and analyzed long after it’s done showing in theaters.
I never thought having a horror director taking charge of a drama would work out, but it ended up creating one of the best movies of the year. In hindsight, Shults’ background in horror helped him depict the horrors that people face in the real world, but his sensitivity and humanity shine through the script and the performances that help make Waves a movie that is as touching as it is terrifying.
- Avengers: Endgame
The biggest movie of the year just so happened to be one of the best of the year. I can’t think of too many times I’ve seen a movie that immerses audiences the way that Avengers: Endgame did, but after all the time and money spent in the MCU, the conclusion many of these characters were given was more than appropriate and satisfying to everyone involved.
- The Art of Self-Defense
This may not be the most conventional choice for the best movie of the year, but hear me out for a second. What movie can tackle deep-seated social issues with the level of true humor found in The Art of Self-Defense? I can’t think of a movie that I laughed at harder this year but at the same time that I took valuable lessons from in the way I did from this movie, and because of that it’s more than deserving of the top spot of 2019.
Best Actors of the Year
This will be a list not of individual performances, but the choice to be involved in multiple projects that I enjoyed this year and the scale at which these people were involved in. While some of the performances in this list are some of the best of the year, this is more a celebration of multiple works than one spectacular performance in each film.
- Lucas Hedges- Honey Boy and Waves
You have no idea how happy I am to put Hedges on this year’s list. Between showing the long-term damage of childhood trauma in Honey Boy and helping carry the second half of Waves, Hedges used 2019 to prove why he’s one of my favorite young actors and one day he’ll have the trophies to back up what we’ve seen from him over his short career so far.
- Mark Ruffalo- Avengers: Endgame and Dark Waters
Whether he’s saving the universe from Thanos or saving farmers from contaminated drinking water, Ruffalo cemented himself as one of the greatest heroes of the year. From the war room in Avengers: Endgame and the courtroom in Dark Waters, 2020 will mark an interesting point in Ruffalo’s career with the MCU going in a new direction, but I think his dramatic work will guide him to where he needs to go.
- Mark Strong- Shazam! and 1917
Now here we have a very unique pairing for Strong. He starts off as the villain in Shazam! and ends it playing a pivotal allied role in 1917, not too many people can say they had that type of range this year. The DCEU needed a fun villain for the movie and while 1917 isn’t known for its performances, Strong kept the movie aligned and allowed the leads to do their job in an already claustrophobic environment.
- Chris Evans- Avengers: Endgame and Knives Out
Well, the biggest movie of the year and one of the most original. How did Evans end up in these two very different movies? While capping off his MCU era in Avengers: Endgame was already impressive enough, by switching into the heel character of Knives Out, we see that Evans has a bright future outside of Marvel and I can’t wait to see what he does next
- Tom Hanks- Toy Story 4 and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
America’s Dad is back at it again. Not only did he reprise one of his most famous characters in Toy Story 4, but he fulfilled the dreams of many by nailing a performance as the nicest human being to ever exist in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’m glad to see such a wonderful man back at the top of the world and if 2020 is any indication, it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
Best Actresses of the Year
- Kaitlyn Dever- Booksmart and Them That Follow
I guess there’s some overlap between living in an Appalachian cult and navigating life after high school, but Dever managed to absolutely captivate audiences with both of her roles. Whether this is working with her best friend to go to a party in Booksmart or watching the horrors of religion in Them That Follow, we watched Dever truly come into her own this year and become one of the best young actresses available.
- Florence Pugh- Fighting with my Family, Midsommar, Little Women
Speaking of young talented actresses, 2019 was the year Pugh became a household name. Starting as a wrestler with a dream in Fighting with my Family, continuing as a grief-stricken girl on a vacation from hell in Midsommar, and finally ending the year as a talented painter in a loving family in Little Women, Pugh showed the world what she is capable of and ended with the first of what should be many Academy Award nominations of her career.
- Lisa Kudrow- Longshot, Booksmart
Ok everyone, it’s time for a laugh. One of the reasons I created these categories was to acknowledge the work that actors do in smaller roles. With Kudrow acting as a comic relief role in both Longshot and Booksmart, we immediately get a shift in tone and get a unique style of comedy compared to the rest of the plot and there aren’t too many actresses better than Kudrow at accomplishing this.
- Brie Larson- Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Just Mercy
Being the new face of the MCU must be awesome. Between her introductory solo movie Captain Marvel and her contributions in Avengers: Endgame, Larson has emerged as an elite superhero to match her phenomenal dramatic background. Combined with her supporting performance in Just Mercy, Larson could easily end up on this list for the next five years at this pace, but she lost the top spot to our year’s only repeat appearance.
- Scarlett Johannson- Avengers: Endgame, Jojo Rabbit
Welcome back ScarJo. Moving up from last year’s number four spot all the way to the top, there aren’t too many higher profile actresses in Hollywood that can take this spot from her. Once again reprising the Black Widow role in Avengers: Endgame and a phenomenal supporting role in Jojo Rabbit that earned her one of her two Academy Award nominations this year, Johannson has no reason to slow down anytime soon and will absolutely be known as one of the most prolific actresses of the era when everything is said and done.
So, there you have it. These were the movies and people responsible for making 2019 such a great year for movies. Hopefully 2020 will bring us just as many successful projects and performances as 2019 did.