2019 in Movies

These are reviews of movies that came out in 2019. I am not sure of the order of the Top 3, I’d have to watch them again to really decide.

1. Knives Out, directed by Rian Johnson (9/10)

A nearly flawless comedy mystery with a political edge. Read the review of Knives Out.

1. Workforce aka Mano de obra, directed by David Zonana (9/10)

This a very well-made, fascinating drama about manual labourers in Mexico City which threatens to become a thriller but consistently subverts your expectations and ends up having more in common with classical tragedy. It’s a debut, so I was very wary of choosing to see it, but this is a remarkably self-assured film. I strongly suggest you watch this fascinating, surprising and affecting film if you can find it. (I hope it gets a deal but, based upon the number of people in the audience, I’m not holding my breath.)

Read the review of Workforce.

3. Incitement, directed by Yaron Zilberman (9/10)

This is a nearly flawless dramatization of the radicalization of the man who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. It is apparently the first time a film has been made about the assassination, likely because of how raw the wound still is 25 years later. But I would say that this is absolutely the film to see about the event, as it is an excellent movie.

Read the review of Incitement.

4. 1917, directed by Sam Mendes (8/10)

An impressive film-making feat. Read the review of 1917.

5. Citizen K, directed by Alex Gibney (8/10)

A pretty great documentary about an oligarch who chose to cross Putin. Read the review of Citizen K.

6. The Domain aka A Herdade, directed by Tiago Guedes (7/10)

This absolutely gorgeous film is one of those epic films which attempts to tell the history of a place or country though the experiences of a family. It’s the kind of high concept we might associate with classic Hollywood. But it is not a classical film in terms of the content.

Read the review of The Domain.

7. Fyre, directed by Chris Smith (7/10)

This is a fascinating film about the disastrous Fyre Festival that we all heard about on social media. It’s a classic story of the problem with “fake it until you make it” mentality of entrepreneurship. If you’ve watched or read anything about fraud, you’ve probably heard this story before. But it’s also about the problems of social media and influencer marketing and the blurred lines between obvious advertising and supposedly real experiences. It’s worth watching.

Read the review of Fyre.

8. Heroic Losers aka La odisea de los giles, directed by Sebastián Borensztein (7/10)

This is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, heist comedy about a group of townspeople whose dreams of resurrecting their town’s granary are devastated by the “Corralito”, a reaction to a run on the banks during the Argentine Great Depression. It hits the standard heist movie beats, but it is refreshing both because of how funny it is and because of how amateurish everyone involved is.

Read the review of Heroic Losers.

9. Deadwood The Movie, directed by Daniel Minahan (6/10)

I love Deadwood. For much of the last fifteen years, I’d have insisted that Deadwood was the Second Greatest (dramatic, fictional) TV series of All Time. I regard it as sort of the Last Word in westerns. I have acted as an evangelist for the show, telling everyone I know about it and actually convincing some of those people to watch it (some of whom liked it almost as much as I did). To me, was far too under-known for how good it was and I tried to do my part to change that.

Because of the way the show ended, I was always interested in the idea of the follow up TV movies, though I was also skeptical given the nature of the show and the nature of the fan-demanded TV sequels. But I was very hopeful once the movie was finally announced, perhaps because, as I get older, I am more and more receptive to fan service and nostalgia.

Read the review of Deadwood The Movie.

10. Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria (6/10)

More style than substance. Read the review of Hustlers.

11. Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (6/10)

A necessary corrective but still an MCU movie. Read the review of Captain Marvel.

12. Ready or Not, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (6/10)

Good premise, not so great execution. Read the review of Ready or Not.

13. The Gentlemen, directed by Guy Ritchie (5/10)

Guy Ritchie tries to recapture the magic of his early movies and it sure feels like that’s what he’s trying to do. Read the review of The Gentlemen.

14. The Coldest Game, directed by Lukasz Komicki (5/10)

A confused spy film which is almost saved by its ending. Read the review of The Coldest Game.

15. Avengers: Endgame, directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (5/10)

How you feel about the conclusion to the MCU – sorry, this phase of the MCU – likely depends upon how you feel about the series as a whole, but also how you felt about Infinity War. If, like me, you felt like Infinity War was the first time the MCU movies really felt like they had actual stakes, then this movie might really piss you off. On the other hand, if you felt like Infinity War‘s death toll was some kind of great tragedy, you will probably like this movie. (Though, in that case, you likely saw this movie already.)

Read the review of Endgame. With hindsight, this feels kind.

16. The Laundromat, directed by Steven Soderbergh (4/10)

A mess. Read the review of The Laundromat.

17. Lyrebird, directed by Dan Friedkin (4/10)

Do you ever watch a film with high production values and, from the opening scenes, you’re thinking, ‘this is is not going to be good’? Well, Lyrebird is such a movie. It’s the kind of movie you spend wondering if it’s the director’s first film (it is) because nothing works like it’s supposed to.

Read the review of Lyrebird.