They say 1939, 1976 and 1994 are the greatest years in history of film but 2019 is shaping up to be not only a rival of those years but might inevitably turn out to be better than the best year of all time.
We have almost two months left in 2019 and we still have yet to see “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “Knives Out,” Uncut Gems”, ” “Star Wars: The Last Skywalker” and a slew of other contenders. All of these films are supposed to be Oscar contenders.
But we’ve already seen some instant classics this year among the highest-grossing films. Here are the top seven movies of 2019 so far.
7) Avengers: Endgame
It’s officially the highest-grossing movie of all time and that should be enough reason why it made the list but “Avengers: Endgame” is a funny and surprisingly moving film.
If you haven’t seen it yet then you should probably keep scrolling.
Granted, it took twenty-one prior films in order to structure Tony Stark’s character arc but it was well worth it. One of the reasons why this movie sings isn’t the “Back to the Future 2” structure – going back through MCU to collect the infinity stones, albeit, it’s fun – it’s specifically because of Stark’s character arc.
Stark goes from being a loving family man but he’s also selfishly not willing to sacrifice that in order to bring back everybody they lost five years earlier. After figuring out time travel, he tells Captain America that he has to keep what he has “at all costs,” referring to his family.
But when he goes back in time, he has a moment with his biological father that says it all. He says to Tony, “the greater good has rarely outweighed my own self-interest.” A beat happens and then he reveals he hasn’t met his son yet (because Tony is still in the womb at this moment) and says, “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.”
Finally, the two exchanges between Dr. Strange and Tony Stark that completes the arc. Tony asks Dr. Strange “You said one out of fourteen million. Tell me this is the one.” Dr. Strange responds, “If I tell you it won’t happen.”
At the highest point in the climax, with nobody else to stop Thanos from snapping his fingers, Dr. Strange holds up the one finger signifying “you’re our only shot.” The look on Stark’s face says it all. He has to sacrifice what he needed to protect at all costs.
This is also why Dr. Strange gives Thanos the Reality stone in “Infinity War” to spare Tony’s life. It’s because five years from that moment, Tony will be the only person to save the universe from Thanos.
6) El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Yeah, it wasn’t released in theaters but who cares other than Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese?
Aaron Paul returned to reprise his infamous role as Jesse Pinkman in the follow up to the finale of inarguably one of the greatest television shows of all time, “Breaking Bad.”
There were cameos from a slew of the old cast including Bryan Cranston returning as Walter White. The lone scene between the two is important and unique because it shows them at their most vulnerable after they both nearly died from heat exhaustion after being stuck out in the desert cooking a huge batch of meth. But, oddly, they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum; Pinkman is ecstatic and White is contemplating existentialism.
In the end, we got the happy ending we all hoped for the drug-dealing murderer. When you root for an anti-hero like Jesse Pinkman then you know you did your job well as a writer.
5) Toy Story 4
The entire franchise deals with existentialism. These toys are simply trying to figure out their place in the universe. Headlined by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, there’s not a bad installment in the whole franchise.
“Toy Story 4” is a wonderland, a stunning collection of set pieces so lifelike you’d swear you’re watching a flesh and blood story take place. And it’s never a distraction.
The dazzling CGI allows you to fully invest in the story, the characters, which has always been the motivating structure in every Pixar movie. It’s Pixar’s modus operandi.
Watching the majestic pristine visuals, you can’t help but imagine how glorious Pixar movies will look in just a few years. No other animation studio and no animated movie can do quite what Pixar is able to do.
“Toy Story 4” wraps up the saga beautifully.
4) The Lighthouse
This film ponders what if David Lynch remade Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining?” With over a dozen references to Kubrick’s masterpiece, its slow pace drives to an explosive climax much like “The Shining.”
One of the things that makes Robert Egger’s tale of two polar opposite New England lighthouse keepers. This horror gem is about the inner and outer darkness of the setting and these characters’ aloofness but it’s Egger’s use of manipulating your senses that makes this film unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
It messes with your audio and visual at the same time. It’s the black and white, the foghorn, the accents all culminating to a point where you finally look up, you’ll think to yourself “how long have I been watching this?” It’s a surreal experience.
3) The Irishman
This is a movie that shouldn’t work but it really does. Let’s take some 70-year-old actors and then de-age them digitally? But Martin Scorsese makes it work.
It may be the perfect definition of an epic in cinema history. It takes place over many years with many eccentric characters with fully realized arcs.
It’s best not to spoil anything about this 210-minute masterpiece and it’s worth seeing on the big screen now, but it’ll be available on November 27th.
It’s being hailed as the best-reviewed film of the year. It currently has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes but Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” also won the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
This dark comedic thriller is about an poverty-stricken Korean family that infiltrates a wealthy elite family, but then everything is turned upside down one fateful evening after a bizarre event occurs. This is a film that just continues to evolve and mutate like some weird organism to a shocking finale.
This film is one of the craziest rides you’ll ever experience.
1) Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature might have lost to “Parasite” at the Cannes Film Festival but it is undeniably one of the director’s best works. The thing that’s so strange about “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is the lack of antagonism and plot structure, and how it works so unbelievably well.
It’s a buddy comedy foremost but it’s also a beautiful charming period piece about a narcissistic and desperate television actor and his stuntman who may or may not have gotten away with murdering his wife. Oh, and then there’s Sharon Tate and her clique.
The one reason why “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is the best film of the year is the overall theme that is prevalent in American society right now, which is perception versus reality. It’s the perception we have for people without even really knowing them that was the inspiration for Tarantino’s 1960’s Hollywood period piece. Tarantino was adamant about giving Sharon Tate more of a legacy than “Roman Polanski’s murdered wife.”
This list will probably evolve by the end of the year, but for now these are the best films of the year.