ComingSoon’s Top 10 Films of 2019!
ComingSoon.net is wrapping the year up with a list of our Top 10 Films of 2019, featuring managing editor Max Evry, associate editor Kylie Hemmert, and staff writers Grant Hermanns, Maggie Dela Paz, Jeff Ames and Josh Plainse. Check out all our lists now, and be sure to chime in with your own lists in the comments section below!
1) Knives Out – Rian Johnson crafts a killer mystery, while Daniel Craig reveals the incredible depth of his previously untapped comic ability. Another Swiss watch screenplay by one of our best working filmmakers.
2) Motherless Brooklyn – Edward Norton stars in and directs an old school noir with a labyrinthine plot that delivers dividends in an emotional finale.
3) Under the Silver Lake – This wildly misunderstood and hilarious neo noir satire stars Andrew Garfield as a repulsive LA hipster whose main detective ability is white privilege. No, you’re not supposed to like him, and that’s the point.
4) Parasite – The movie that’s as insightful about haves and have nots that Joker wishes it was. A very clever and ultimately heartbreaking look at a family trying to reach beyond their place in the world.
5) The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – Terry Gilliam’s three decade effort to bring his spin on Cervantes’ classic finally bore fruit. Although hampered by its budget, the director’s one-of-a-kind imagination never fails to inspire, as does Jonathan Pryce’s performance.
6) The Nightingale – The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent showed her versatility outside the horror genre with this weighty, unwavering story of revenge for a truly heinous crime in 19th century Tasmania. Aisling Franciosi is riveting in the lead role and Sam Claflin dares to be truly repugnant, but it’s Baykali Ganambarr as Aboriginal tracker Billy who is the heart of the film.
7) Climax – A film that almost demands to be seen in theaters, Gaspar Noé crafted an intense nonstop experience of a dance company drugged into literal oblivion. Sofia Boutella is sensational.
8) Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi created this relevant look at the final days of World War II in Germany, and the toll the Nazis took on their own people.
9) The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot – Don’t let the title fool you, this genre mashup is no B-movie. In fact, Sam Elliott is so dedicated to his role it’s kind of amazing he’s had so little awards attention. Robert D. Krzykowski crafted a truly epic film with reportedly less than a million dollars, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
10) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – This film stayed true to the spirit of the YA folklore collections while slyly crafting an original story around them that -like the books- never talks down to the young audience it was made for.
1) Joker – The compelling and controversial comic book origin story from Todd Phillips maintains a tricky balance between humanizing Arthur Fleck so you feel a little sorry for him, but not enough to where you can legitimately excuse or justify the majority of his horrific actions. Joaquin Phoenix’s gritty performance makes a lasting impact as Arthur descends into self-destruction and becomes the villain (and unreliable narrator) of his own story.
2) Rocketman – The multitalented Taron Egerton is electrifying in this imaginative fantastical docudrama musical that dives deep into Elton John’s complex, often dark, rise to the top that makes his life story all the more heartbreaking and inspiring.
3) IT Chapter Two – Besides a wonderful adult cast joining our favorite young Losers Club and featuring an even more hungry and arguably ruthless Pennywise, what makes the film such a fitting sequel isn’t the horror, but the focus on the bonds of friendship and the importance of found family united together.
4) Booksmart – Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are a perfect duo in Olivia Wilde’s high school movie that is clever, hilarious, vibrant, inclusive, heartwarming, and features a delightful scene-stealing Billie Lourd.
5) Endgame – Endings are hard, and considering the decades worth of story building before closing out the massive Infinity Stone saga and moving into a new phase for the MCU, the Russo brothers pulled off one hell of a feat and an epic battle we’ll never forget.
6) Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s delightful, funny, clever, and twisty whodunnit with a stellar cast and narrative was exactly the kind of fun we needed to close out the year.
7) Ready or Not – Samara Weaving is an absolute gem in this surprising horror-comedy that gives the scary movie crowd their own feel-good movie of the year — and one of the best, demented twist endings ever.
8) Midsommar – Ari Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary proved once again that Aster is one of the most original filmmakers around, not afraid to rely on the surreal and bizarre to amp up the horror without ever losing sight of the characters or the plot. Aster’s projects have a habit of guiding viewers through a visceral experience that will leave you thinking about the movie for days, and trust me, this one lingers.
9) Us – From the same mind that brought us the essential movie Get Out, Jordan Peele tackled another original horror tale combining social and political commentary with themes of family and duality and a stunning performance by Lupita Nyong’o.
10) Doctor Sleep – Rising master of horror Mike Flanagan brilliantly melded this movie as a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining film as well as an adaptation of Stephen King’s book in an unexpected and beautiful take on King’s classic story. Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, and Zahn McClarnon are wonderful in the film as Rebecca Ferguson gives the performance of her career playing one of the most captivating antagonists ever.
1) Knives Out – Rian Johnson proves that a killer ensemble and murder mystery can go hand in hand with this carefully crafted masterpiece led by the powerful Ana de Armas and hilarious drawling Daniel Craig.
2) Rocketman – Rather than a standard biopic of an iconic musician, Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John biopic sets itself apart from others in the genre, namely the recent Bohemian Rhapsody, with its stellar direction and visual effects, fantastical musical numbers and a breathtaking performance from Taron Egerton.
3) The Lighthouse – After conjuring up fear with The Witch, Robert Eggers revvs up the dread and awe in this psychological Lovecraftian thriller that features haunting direction and powerhouse performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.
4) Parasite – While typically known for adding his satirical voice to more large-scale epics, Bong Joon-Ho takes a more lowkey and realistic approach to telling a darkly comedic and chillingly real tale that is wildly original and unpredictable.
5) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino has delivered almost nothing but masterpieces throughout his career, and while his love letter to a forgotten Hollywood doesn’t reach the heights of some of his other efforts, it mostly succeeds thanks to the writer/director’s clear fondness for the time period, brilliant characters and stellar ensemble cast.
6) Ready or Not – Much like You’re Next six years ago, the horror-comedy genre saw another major reinvention with the outrageously funny and thrilling gorefest Ready or Not that keeps viewers on the edge of their seat from start to finish and features a wonderful performance from Samara Weaving.
7) Avengers: Endgame – After a decade of bringing various characters to life, Marvel Studios said goodbye to a few key players in its Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame. Acting as an exhilarating blockbuster, a moving sendoff for some heroes and even a rousing comedy, the box office smash was one of the highest-anticipated and celebrated of the year.
8) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – The Keanu Reeves-starring action franchise has been on a hot streak since its debut outing and found its most exhilarating and thrilling footing with this year’s third chapter, Parabellum. Tripling up on the hard-hitting action of the series and featuring Reeves’ most powerful performance yet as the titular gunman, the film marked itself as the best of the series and one of the best this year.
9) Doctor Sleep – Mike Flanagan has established himself as one of the best contemporary horror directors and showed his true storytelling talent with The Shining novel and film sequel Doctor Sleep. Featuring his rich and stylish direction, a captivating story and compelling performances from Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, it proved to be a worthy and faithful follow-up to both Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece and Stephen King’s iconic novel.
10) The Peanut Butter Falcon – This year has seen the resurgence of former Transformers star Shia LaBeouf and one of the richest and most heartwarming is the adventure dramedy The Peanut Butter Falcon. With a sweet-natured tone, warm direction, innocent humor and stellar performances from LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen, this Tom Sawyer-esque tale is a beautiful ode to an oft-unexplored area of America.
Maggie Dela Paz
1) Parasite – Bong Joon-Ho delivers yet again another brilliant and well-crafted story that portrays the differences of social classes in a smart and entertaining way that will leave you hook on every shot. Parasite has a lot of symbolisms in each of its scenes and they were beautifully captured and smartly-executed that the film easily fulfilled the messages that Bong wanted to convey to the audience.
2) Booksmart – The film is a fresh new take on the coming-of-age comedy that is reminiscent of iconic teen films such as: 1980s’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and 2000s’ Superbad which centers mainly on growing-up and friendship. However, Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut isn’t just your typical high school drama because this film perfectly represents the new generation and tells it in a good-natured humor that is witty, honest and isn’t offensive. In addition to its great story and diverse ensemble cast that blends well with each other, Booksmart’s cinematography was so modern and visually fun and colorful which really suited the storytelling.
3) The Farewell – The heart-warming film offers a closer and authentic look at the struggles of growing-up in two different cultures and how it clashes every time when you need to make a decision about something in your life. The Farewell also highlights Awkwafina’s versatility as an actress, revealing that her talents aren’t only limited to comedy films. The actress, who recently received her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, had proven that not only can she excel in light-hearted and fun scenes but she could also effectively command emotional and dramatic scenes.
4) Marriage Story – The film goes through the painful and heartbreaking process of divorce and how it will make you realize that sometimes love isn’t always enough. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s incredible and moving performances as Charlie and Nicole were what really made the film work. Scene after scene will inevitably make you sympathize and root for their characters by leaving you confused on whose side to take or whose side is the most reasonable one.
5) Peanut Butter Falcon – The chemistry between Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen throughout the film was remarkable. That’s why the friendship or the bond that their characters had formed, felt so honest and pure. If you want to watch something when you’re having a bad day, this would be the perfect feel-good movie for you because it will definitely leave you with positive feelings at the end of the film.
6) Extreme Job – Directed by Lee Byeong-Heon, the action-comedy film is currently the highest grossing and the second most-viewed film in South Korea. It follows the story of a failing detective team, who was given one last chance to redeem themselves and to prevent the impending disbandment of their Narcotics squad. Overall, Extreme Job is a really fun and entertaining film that is an instant hit due to its fast-paced scenes that are laced with wit and quirkiness. It most importantly featured a great main cast, who skillfully portrayed their characters’ different personalities and effectively showcased their squad’s strong teamwork that will definitely make you root for all of them from their first scene together up until their last.
7) Us – Coming off from the success of 2017’s Get Out, Jordan Peele creates another memorable horror thriller with Us which only further proves his brilliant talent and creativity as a storyteller. This film gives an in-depth look on the idea that our greatest enemy will always be ourselves. Lupita Nyong’o’s powerful performances as Adelaide and Red were truly remarkable. She absolutely had steal the show, especially on the big ending twist which will make you question everything you’ve learned from watching the film.
8) Crawl – This suspense thriller combines two conflicts: Man vs. Beast and Man vs. Nature which had brought the film’s stakes into a higher level. Director Alexandre Aja somehow made those two elements work really well with the storyline’s father and daughter drama. Crawl’s success also proves that you don’t always need to have a bigger budget to create action-packed and thrilling sequences.
9) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
10) Avengers: Endgame
1) The Irishman – Martin Scorsese’s quiet, evocative legacy project paints a gripping portrait of the mob; humanizes and even cares for the men behind such political figures as JFK and Jimmy Hoffa. Scorsese makes us sympathize with these wise guys even as they blow each other’s heads off. Robert DeNiro is sensational — that kid has a bright future in Hollywood.
2) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – If not for The Irishman, I would easily slot Quentin Tarantino’s equally evocative legacy-ish project in the top spot. Though QT’s trademarks are on full display, this definitely feels like the man pulling back on his sensibilities in favor of a film steeped in melancholy and hope.
3) Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s clever whodunnit delves deep into political allegory without sacrificing entertainment value. Come for Daniel Craig’s ludicrous southern accent, stay for the sharp commentary. Prepare to be delighted.
4) Joker – The year’s most surprising film, Joker supplied the award-worthy Joaquin Phoenix performance we all expected but usurped said expectations by delivering perhaps the best comic book film since The Dark Knight. Like its titular character, Todd Phillips’ crime drama is lean, mean, and crazy as Hell. Robert DeNiro is sensational — that kid has a bright future in Hollywood.
Note: this is where my list takes a turn. The remaining films are all good, but certainly not great — it’s hard for a father of two Frozen fan girls to see films like JoJo Rabbit.
5) John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum – John Wick 3 continues the Keanu Reeves-led revenge saga, except this time formulaic cracks begin to show. Oh sure, the stunts are wicked great and the fight choreography (that knife scene!) remains top notch. Except, where the first film saw Wick inflict his holy wrath solo, each subsequent film continues to pile on additional baggage characters who end up diminishing the boogeyman’s legacy.
6) Us – Jordan Peele’s clever follow up to Get Out runs out of story about midway through, but still manages to end on a truly haunting Hitchcockian note. Lupita Nyong’o runs away with the film in an utterly astounding performance that deserves more recognition than it has received.
7) Doctor Sleep – Speaking of thrillers … Doctor Sleep is perhaps the first film in a long time that truly startled me. Mike Flanagan does a fine job crafting a sequel to The Shining that honors Stephen King’s text as well as Stanley Kubrick’s cold-hearted classic film. Kyliegh Curran steals the show as Abra.
8) Ford v Ferrari – Like the cars zipping around the picture-esque country sides in James Mangold’s film, Ford v Ferrari is solid and sturdy, but far from exceptional. You watch it. Admire the craft and performances (particularly Christian Bale). Tip your hat and go home. Dare I say: old fashioned to a fault?
9) Ready or Not – Samara Weaving’s star-making turn rescues Ready or Not from the doldrums of typical slasher fare. An entertaining, bloody romp that does more with its premise than any of us had any right to expect.
10) Klaus – It’s weird that the best animated film of the year arrived on Netflix. Klaus is far from perfect, but in a year that saw another final Toy Story film, an underwhelming Frozen sequel, and far too many ho-hum animated fare in the vein of The Secret Life of Pets 2, not to mention that god-awful Lion King remake, Klaus stands out as something of a unique accomplishment. Its story feels fresh. The animation is glorious. Add in a voice cast that includes Jason Schwartzman (doing his best David Spade impersonation), Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons and Norm MacDonald and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious holiday treat.
1) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – A meticulous salud to all of the things that made Quentin Tarantino fall in love with filmmaking in the first place; arguably his best and most personal work to date.
2) Ford v Ferrari – James Mangold and company made the old school “dad genre” entertaining and relevant again. Led by some truly resonant performances and moments.
3) Avengers: Endgame – You can’t help but admire what Marvel has been able to accomplish with their culmination of 22 films; especially in the wake of The Rise of Skywalker’s supposed shortcomings, Kevin Feige, the Russos, Stephen McFeely, and Christopher Markus all look like a shiny new toy under the Christmas tree.
4) Knives Out – So Rian Johnson comes off of a huge franchise (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a film that many found to be a huge departure from your typical Star Wars mumbo jumbo, with this gem? A unique, hilarious, and satisfying whodunnit? I salute the man’s fortitude.
5) JoJo Rabbit – No one can beat Taika Waititi’s signature irreverence. JoJo Rabbit will be the first of many masterpieces to come from this quirky think tank in the coming years.
6) Uncut Gems – The Safdie brothers blended real-world basketball (events), high stakes gambling, weirdly psychedelic imagery, and a resurrecting performance by Adam Sandler in an entertaining, anxiety-inducing, and brutal film.
7) Ad Astra – Ad Astra could be written off as slow and unsatisfying but it’s the film’s subversion of space-opera expectations and poignant message that make it something to write home about (not to mention Brad Pitt’s subtle insecurities).
8) The Lighthouse – Crazy. Beautiful. Gripping. Awesome.
9) Marriage Story – The realest thing I’ve watched in quite some time…which has cemented my decision to stay single until the last possible sentence.
10) Dolemite Is My Name – Welcome back Eddie Murphy.