Great 2019 Movies

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8 Great 2019 Movies You Might Have Missed

One could go on forever about how film fans, or fans of most anything, only have a certain amount of time in which they can actually actively consume what they desire to, however that feels unnecessary, so… here are eight films from 2019 that are pretty great that you should consider seeing! No special emphasis on the order here, the movies generally vary in quality just as much as they do in running time, but there are eight films on here well worth viewing no matter which way you look at it… unless it’s a disturbingly cynical way, in which case… you can’t be helped!

 

1. Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello)

One of the most visually stunning films of recent memory, Pietro Marcello’s brilliant adaptation of Jack London’s book of the same name is one of the best films of the year, as well as one of the most overlooked (for now – hopefully that can change when it becomes more accessible).

Following the titular Martin Eden as he navigates his life without an education, looking to win over the love of Chiara Francini and become a writer during tough socio-political times within Italy. It’s mostly focused on the link between artist and culture, and it is really quite unforgiving in its vision of said connection, but it is also such a brilliant film formally, even if it would benefit from taking more risks, visually.

 

2. Mister America (Eric Notarnicola)

Any fan of the On Cinema At The Cinema series will likely already be aware of this film’s existence, but for those who aren’t acquainted with the series or the film, watch both! On Cinema is a hybrid of media, starting off as a podcast before becoming a tv show, then another tv show, even including one episode over five hours in length detailing a trial one of the characters is involved in, and now even including a movie, too!

The show features Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington as they discuss movies, usually in pairs, with each other and… life gets in the way… but as a work of comedy, both the show and the film are some of the most ambitious, unique comedy that there is, somewhere between the likes of Nathan For You and… an epic detailing seemingly endless events, creating the true feeling of a life lived in. It’s bizarre, to say the least, but it is every bit as strange as it is funny, if not funnier.

The film follows Tim Heidecker as he tries to win himself an election, but of course, his plans make things quite difficult. The film hasn’t been out for too long, and only one more series of the show has been released since, so a quick watcher could still easily catch-up within a month or so!

 

3. Domino (Brian De-Palma)

De-Palma’s latest seemed to be stuck in development hell, but it seems we got lucky (as did De-Palma himself) and Domino finally came out. And yes, before we dare go any further, it is more aligned with De-Palma’s most recent output… this isn’t a film to watch expecting anything quite like Scarface, but still, it is great.

Domino follows a police officer from Copenhagen who, after having his partner murdered by a member of ISIS, tries to stop a CIA agent who is now using the captured ISIS member to bait more members into capture so that he can enact his revenge… although, as many of you will know, it’s quite pointless to describe the plot of a De-Palma film and much more important to focus on the visual storytelling involved, because he is a visual master that no other director really compares to (aside from Hitchcock, who of course is De-Palma’s most transparent influence), and in Domino his visual storytelling is still stunning, but more importantly his political aiming pays off beautifully even if it isn’t the main focus of the film. De-Palma spent much of the 2010s experimenting with ways to tie the political and his style of filmmaking together, and it seems that with Domino he has come closer to his goal than ever before.

 

4. Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach)

Ken Loach is a personal favourite, so perhaps there is a slight bias here, but Sorry We Missed You was not only one of the most necessary films of 2019, but also one of the most touching and powerful. The film tells the story of a family of four – mother, father, teenage son and younger daughter – who find themselves financially (and as a consequence, mentally and even physically) decaying and declining due to the false promise of freedom in a new job as a ‘freelance’ delivery driver.

Of course, coming from Loach, the form is really quite simple and the focus is almost entirely on the dynamics from character to character, from their different stories linking in the middle, and also from their relationship to the current political landscape in the United Kingdom as well as their relationship to Newcastle, as the place that they live in. It’s a tough film to watch, as many of Loach’s films are due to their focus on the harsh realities of life for the British working man, but it is redeeming both in its poignant messages and its honesty, as well as in its emotional reach. It’s great to see Loach operating at the top of his game, with some of the most realistic character in film in a little while.

10 Great 2019 Movies That Didn’t Receive A Single Oscar Nomination

This year there were very many great films nominated in key Academy Awards categories; films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, Parasite, Marriage Story, and The Irishman are deserving of their nominations and should be recognized for their merit. However, as is perusal, the nominations tended to be dominated by major studio films, with many smaller independent films being completely shut out. This year’s list of nominees also proved that the Academy has retained their long standing bias against “genre” films, as many horror, action, and broad comedy films were among those snubbed.

While some films such as Knives Out, The Two Popes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Pain and Glory missed out on Best Picture recognition but received other nominations, some films went home completely empty handed. Years from now, film fans will look back upon these films and wonder why the Oscars would have ignored them. Here are ten great 2019 films that received zero Oscar nominations.

 

10. John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum

John Wick franchise should prove that the Academy Awards are long overdue a category for Best Stunt Coordination. It is strange that the Oscars still fail to recognize the hard work done by stunt artists, and in many ways the John Wick franchise has helped to shed light on the craft itself, as the entire trilogy has been directed by former stuntman Chad Stahelski. The term “gung fu” is often most closely associated with the John Wick films, and it’s clear that they’ve had a significant impact on modern action cinema.

Beyond the proposed category of Best Stunt Coordination, John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum also deserved to be considered in existing categories. In particular, the film should’ve been nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, as its sound design is incredibly unique and makes for an interesting mix of realism and pulpiness. The third John Wick is also one of the most beautifully shot and energetic films of the year, and could easily have been recognized for Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.

 

9. Under the Silver Lake

One of the most peculiar films of 2019, Under the Silver Lake has already gained an attentive cult following, as many film fans have been obsessed with deciphering its hidden meanings and layers of symbolism. It’s the type of film that is rarely recognized directly after its release, but it has inspired so much discourse that it feels like a worthy contender for Best Original Screenplay; it’s undoubtedly one of the most original films of the year. While the Best Actor field may have been too competitive for Andrew Garfield’s eccentric lead performance to get in, it would’ve been nice to see Riley Keough nominated for her supporting role as the enigmatic Sarah.

On a more technical level, Under the Silver Lake is one of the most complex films of the last few years, with many locations that include hidden details that some viewers might not notice until their third or fourth rewatch. The locations and scenarios that Garfield’s character finds himself in are often quite unique, and the film deserved to be recognized for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, and particularly Best Makeup and Hairstyling for the incredible scene with the Songwriter.

 

8. Us

When Get Out stormed the box office and received four Oscar nominations (including a win for Best Original Screenplay), many saw it as the emergence of a new awards favorite in Jordan Peele and a rare example of the Oscars reversing their long standing bias against horror films. Unfortunately, these trends did not continue, as Peele’s next feature Us was completely shut out. The haunting score from Mike Gioulakis was certainly worthy of a nomination for Best Original Score, as was the film’s unique designs for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

However, the most noticeable snub for Us was for Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Actress role. It’s not the type of performance that the Oscars usually recognize, but Nyong’o’s dual roles as a mother hell bent on protecting her children and a dark doppelganger is undoubtedly one of the greatest transformations of last year. Nyong’o’s performance is extremely emotional, as her character must hide and later confront her childhood trauma, but it also required a great deal of physicality and vocal alterations that were certainly very challenging.

 

7. Uncut Gems

The Safdie Brothers may not seem like traditional awards contenders, as their subversive and dark films don’t feel like they are in the Academy’s wheelhouse, but they nonetheless made one of the best films of last year and deserve recognition. Uncut Gems is 135 minutes of pure anxiety, and it’s a testament to the sheer bravery and craft of the Safdies that the film is able to keep escalating. It would be hard to think of another film more worthy of nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, or Best Sound Mixing.

However, the most notable snub remains Adam Sandler’s tour de force leading performance. Sandler has proven in films like Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories that he can handle dramatic roles, but as Howard Ratner he has completely transformed his image and turned into a scheming, salacious con man who nonetheless is able to win over the audience. In many ways it’s the next step in the type of man child roles that Sandler typically plays, and it’s unfortunate that the Oscars ignored this unforgettable cinematic character.

 

6. Dolemite Is My Name

One of the biggest headlines on the morning of nominations was that Netflix received more nominations than any other studio, gaining significant recognition for films such as The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes. However, Netflix’s powerhouse comedy Dolemite Is My Name was completely shut out, which is surprising given the amount of love for Ruth Carter’s costume design.

In the tradition of films like Ed Wood or The Disaster Artist, Dolemite Is My Name is a charming true story about a real filmmaker who dreamed big and cultivated his own audience. It’s one of the funniest screenplays of the year, and the scene stealing supporting performances from Wesley Snipes and Da’Vine Joy Randolph both could’ve easily snagged a nomination. Of course, nothing in the film would have worked if it wasn’t for Eddie Murphy’s amazing comeback role, and in a year filled with so many dramatic performances, it would’ve been nice to see Murphy’s hilarious turn sneak into the Best Actor race.

10 Great 2019 Movies You May Not Have Seen

2019 is officially over and now we’re in 2020, a whole new year and a whole lot more to look forward to. 2019 saw a lot of major events happening in the film business. At the moment I’m writing this eight films have grossed over a billion dollars (6 of which being Disney), streaming services like Netflix have been taking over with astonishing works like “The Irishman” – proving that even the old masters are delving into this new breed of filmmaking, and foreign cinema is making major headlines here in the States with films like “Parasite” achieving blockbuster status of success. So, needless to say, there’s a lot of big stuff to see from this year.

But there are thousands of films released every year and there’s no way we can see all of them even if we tried. So, with this list I hope to showcase some overlooked or unknown gems that were hidden away through all the massive stuff going on. Here are 10 Great 2019 Films You May Have Missed, and feel free to announce more that aren’t mentioned here.

 

1. Apollo 11

apollo-11-buzz-aldrin-1969-courtesy-of-neon-cnn-films

“Apollo 11” is the kind of film that illustrates why documentaries are made. There’s no talking heads or any narrator tracking through every moment telling what’s happening. It’s a feeling of watching the monumental space odyssey that occurred 50 years ago as if it’s happening in real time right now. It’s comprised of thousands upon thousands of hours of archival footage and audio recording from the mission in 1969 and that’s all we need. No explanation is necessary for the wonder and awe that this spectacle achieves.

Even though this is clearly a documentary it feels as though you’re watching a work of fiction play out. The footage and audio we’re seeing and hearing is more than enough provide us what we need to know to understand what’s happening. The footage shows a lot of the mundane routines these astronauts went through that we would take for granted, but watching it makes us realize how crucial every step along the way was to making that one giant leap for mankind.

 

2. An Elephant Sitting Still

There’s a tragic story to be told with this film. It was written and directed by Hu Bo and based off his own novel “Huge Crack”, during the production there was (shall we say) much disagreement between Bo and the producers, and unfortunately this proved to be the first and final film of Bo’s career. Shortly after filming was completed, Hu Bo committed suicide at the age of 29. Afterwards, the film was made in the vision he intended it to be.

A near 4 hour journey through contemporary China, following a multitude of stories and characters in the city of Manzhouli. Manzhouli is a largely industrialized city on the border of Russia and soon becomes a point of obsession for the people we follow in this endeavor. The film tracks through just one day in these lives, from morning till dawn, and how the environment they’re living in is pushing them to where they’re going. The world they live in is one of bleak isolation. The town they’re in is overcast with dark clouds, drowning out any color and life out of every single moment.

In Manzhouli, this city is the busiest land of import in China with railways transporting goods and services all the time. The lifeblood of this area is moving in and out all the time, and their residents are suffering for it. Despite the sound of drudgery, Bo’s film has a beat of humanity and hope within it. These people are people after all, they search for something to let them escape what’s happening. And by the end, it seems like they can finally move and breathe.

 

3. Ash is Purest White

“Ash is Purest White” tells a romance spread over several years that takes turns and chances. From 2001 to 2017, we watch as criminals and innocents are united in a mess of a relationship that’s unshakable. Bin is a criminal gangster but is strangely everything that makes a man, loyal, resourceful, and intelligent. His girlfriend, Qiao, is likewise everything in return to him despite his getting into trouble. She’s willing to take a pinch for him when he’s caught, even if it means that years of their lives will be lost it still means that after some time they will be together. The surroundings they live in is troublesome, crime and surprises are living on every street corner and only serve to entrap them in a world of violence and gang warfare even more.

If you’ve seen director, Zhangke Jia’s previous films like “A Touch of Sin” or “Mountains May Depart” then you’ll get a similar telling of anthology style stories here. As is expected, it’s shot and lit with a wondrous sense of luminosity. China is a very mysterious place and the area they’re in has a new spin every step of the way, keeping us in mystery. Just another great to add to Zhangke’s filmography.

 

4. Birds of Passage

The Birds of Passage by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego

“Birds of Passage” is roughly based on true story. Structuring itself on anthology storytelling where the film is divided into four chapter, each running roughly 30 minutes – not to mention a short epilogue. It tracks events throughout the 1960’s – 1980’s as regions in Columbia were working in drug smuggling. Material like this has made for numerous drug subject stories to be told, many of which inspired by the events of Pablo Escobar. But directors Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego don’t fall into the norms of drug cartel sensationalism but rather focus on the harrowing tales of damage these regimes brought upon the tribes and people who’ve been victims of them.

This is a film far more concerned with culture than it is gun shootouts and drug addiction. The actors and crew are made mostly of people from this region, creating an authentic recreation of their customs. At times it feels like a documentary of their tribes and people. This follows in the tradition we see in the world far too much where ethics disappear due to wealth and power, and this film is a great evolution in this tale we know all too well.

 

5. Giant Little Ones

“Giant Little Ones” works in different ways as it goes through its run time. The beginning stages of the film are a sort of music video style, the songs playing are strumming us along with the events that are occurring. The beginning act shows us the routines of a small group of friends in high school as they’re dating, partying, and enjoying the company of one another.

The main character we follow, Franky (Josh Wiggins), is nice enough but even so we can tell there’s something not quite right. When he’s with his girlfriend, Priscilla (Hailey Kittle), and he ‘confesses his love’ it doesn’t feel genuine, you can tell there’s an insincerity to his claims. He seems more comfortable with his childhood best friend, Ballas (Darren Mann), but that soon turns into something that wasn’t intended to happen.

I won’t go further than that, but needless to say a gap is made between Franky and everyone else because of a lie that’s told due to so many characters wanting to distance themselves from their feelings. It’s not until Frankie’s dad, Ray (Kyle MacLachlan), that everything is brought home. How people deny things to themselves and need to confront who they truly are to make peace.

10 Great 2019 Movies You May Have Missed

2019 has been a great epilogue to this decade of movies, and as a result of the many great films released this year, some have fallen through the cracks and gone overlooked. There are many reasons why a film is overlooked- poor marketing campaigns, small budgets, middling reviews, disinterested audiences, and competition from other popular films are all frequent causes, and there’s no easy way of discerning which films will be considered underrated in the years to come.

As the year concludes, many of the same films will begin to populate top ten lists and award conversation, so it’s worth branching out and giving a second shot to the stories that didn’t get their fair share of attention upon their initial release. These films represent many different genres, styles of filmmaking, and themes, but they are similar in that they haven’t quite found the audience they deserve. Here are the top ten most overlooked movies of 2019.

 

10. The Current War

The journey to get The Current War to theaters was a tumultuous one; initially screened as an incomplete version at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, The Current War was beset with negative reviews that soiled its awards chances, and the collapse of The Weinstein Company prevented the film from every getting a release.

However, two years after its debut, The Current War was released in its intended fashion, with director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon regaining final cut privilege from the distributors and reediting the film with new reshoots and a trimmed runtime. The result is a thrilling depiction of the lives and conflicts between inventors Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), and Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult).

Gomez-Rejon is an energetic storyteller, and his infusion of modern energy into this period piece makes the conflicts between characters come to life; as much as these three men were innovators, they were also celebrities of their time, and Gomez-Rejon is keen to show how they used media campaigns and corporate politics to outdo each other.

Each actor is perfect for their role; Cumberbatch excels as a tortured genius with an ego complex, Shannon is terrific as a shrewd businessman and family man, and Hoult steals the film as an inventor more focused on creating than profiting. It’s a rousing historical tale that suffered from its botched release and challenging road to distribution, and is certainly worth checking out.

 

9. Queen & Slim

While some predicted that the provocative story and relevant themes of Queen & Slim would make it a major topic of conversation, the film was mostly buried upon its release and failed to start the shockwaves it intended to create. It’s a shame, because Queen & Slim is an exhilarating film that turns the traditional road chase movie on its head; after they are confronted and accidentally kill a police officer, Queen (Jodi Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) run from authorities and unexpectedly create a media circus that establishes them as icons.

Kaluuya has proven to be a talented leading man in films like Get Out and Sicario, and here he once again proves that he can be a charismatic and can get the audience on his side. This is a breakout role for Turner-Smith, who delivers a pensive and austere performance, and as the character of Queen is placed in increasingly dire situations, the hard shell around her life and history begins to come down.

This is an impressive debut for director Melina Matsoukas, who is able to depict the reality of police brutality with unflinching specificity, yet also celebrate underrepresented communities as her characters engage in various escapades throughout their journey.

 

8. Triple Frontier

A throwback to high concept action thrillers of the 1990s, Triple Frontier is the type of star-studded “dad movie” that is rarely made by studios anymore. The story is simple and effective; veterans Redfly (Ben Affleck), Pope (Oscar Isaac), Ironhead (Charlie Hunnam), Benny (Garret Hedlund), and Catfish (Pedro Pascal) have all felt disenfranchised and abandoned by the country they serve, and decide to take on a daring mission to rob a sinister crime lord in the South American jungle. What puts Triple Frontier on a higher level than other films in this genre is the impressive craftsmanship from director J.C. Chandor, who captures a grim realism within the set pieces and asks genuinely introspective questions about these characters and their motivations.

The film was co-written by The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal, who once again shows his ability to capture realistic military dialogue, and even though the premise is lifted from similar action films, the anxieties these characters face feel real. It is in no way a toothless film, and is able to surprise with its sharp transitions from fragmented character drama to breathless action thriller, and eventually to a grim survival story. Between its exhilarating heist sequence and surprisingly heartfelt final moments, Triple Frontier is a terrific throwback to a different era of action cinema.

 

7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Despite debuting to universally positive reviews, The Last Black Man in San Francisco ultimately got overshadowed by higher profile releases from A24 and has failed to make a major dent in this year’s awards races. It’s unfortunate, because it is one of the most beautifully shot films of the year, and does a great job at capturing the history and texture of San Francisco. Jimmie Fails reflects to a stranger complaining about the city on a bus that they “don’t get to hate it unless you love it,” and it’s clear from the patient storytelling that writer/director Joe Talbot has a great love for this city and its people.

Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors give great performances as one of the year’s best onscreen duos, and for a film with a loose narrative structure that often follows extended side stories, it is essential to have strong characters at its center. Centered around Jimmie’s attempts to reclaim his family home, the film has a lot to say about the importance of reclaiming one’s history and defining one’s family legacy. Introspective and artful, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is easily a film that could be analyzed to death for its rich thematic subtext, but it also can be appreciated for its deeply emotional story.

 

6. The King

Lost in the shuffle among higher profile releases from Netflix, The King is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations of the decade, and combines elements of the Henriad plays to tell a complete story of Henry V (Timothee Chalamet) as he ascends to the throne and becomes a part of the endless cycle of death and destruction. What The King never loses sight of is the twisted coming of age story at the center of the Henriad epics; Henry is a character who is taken advantage of by insidious political agents, and his desire to not become his father is challenged once he finds himself at the center of a war with France.

Chalamet has established himself as one of the finest young actors of his generation, and he delivers a gripping performance as an inexperienced leader wrestling with the pressures of command. The excellent score from Nicholas Britell gives a haunting sensibility to the story, particularly in the scenes of Henry’s coronation, and director David Michod depicts the medieval action with both visceral gore and a keen sense of strategy. Capturing the vast scope of medieval politics and the haunting story of generational violence all at once, The King was sorely underappreciated for its interesting approach to such legendary source material.