Favorite Films of 2019 (+TV)


It's that time of the year again. Here will be my picks for my favorite films, or those I find notable in some way, plus some shows that were available on streaming that I also think are worth a watch.

As this is ongoing for now, the films will be out of order but their current ranking will be listed.

Some reviews will be long, others short, I'm kind of all over the place, but you can always refer to this if you're looking for something to watch! I have far too much time on my hand and have seen quite a lot, so hopefully there will be some discoveries.

Recent Viewings (rewatches noted with an *)
It: Chapter 2- (1/4)
Ready or Not- (2.5/4)
Queen of Hearts- (3.5/4)

Parasite- (4/4)

Tell Me Who I Am
Score: 3.5/4

Current Ranking: #12

Another documentary that's best to go into completely blind. A story of such sorrow, horrific betrayal, and heartbreak so cathartic in its presentation. Two twins, one who lost his memory as a teenager, and the other put in an extraordinarily difficult position of holding onto secrets if only for his brothers sake and happiness. What is eventually revealed is earth shattering, revealing that sometimes monsters can be those that are supposed to be protecting us. The comparison of the two brothers, one wide-eyed, gentle, and innocent, the other weathered, worn out, and tortured by lifelong traumas is absolutely haunting. Like other such documentaries Abducted in Plain Sight, Mommy Dead & Dearest, Dear Zachary, and Finding Neverland, Tell Me Who I Am is hard to take, and sometimes harder to stomach, but also an important tale of fact being more harrowing than fiction, poetically told, and finally overwhelmingly moving in the end. An essential documentary of the year. (Netflix)

Lords of Chaos
Rating: R (strong graphic violence, disturbing behavior, grisly images, strong language, sexuality, nudity, and drug content)
Score: 3/4

Current Ranking: #16

Jonas Akerland's uncompromising direction guides Lords of Chaos, based on the true story of the rise of Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, and the egos and jealousies that would eventually lead to shocking acts of senseless violence. I'm not entirely familiar with this scene at all, and only vaguely in the know of what really went on, but if it is anywhere close to what is portrayed in this film, it's absolutely senseless and unsettling. Violence rarely makes me flinch anymore in cinema, but the way it is presented in this film is unflinching and uncompromising in the extreme. One scene even had me looking away and physically cringing, but I appreciated the honesty in which it is handled, not glamorizing it, but showing that there was nothing "badass" about the chaos and destruction these young men carried out both on each other and themselves. It's genuinely jaw-dropping at times. Rory Culkin is great as Euronymous, while Jack Kilmer leaves a heartbreaking impression. But it is Emory Cohen as the thoroughly despicable and insufferable Varg that steals the show. Lords of Chaos may not be ideal viewing for the faint of heart, and is slightly overlong, but as a peak into hell on earth it is unforgettable.

Her Smell
Rating: R (strong language, some violent behavior, and drug use)
Score: 3.5/4

Current Ranking: #9

Alex Ross Perry's (Queen of Earth, Listen Up Philip) Her Smell is like John Cassavettes by way of Gaspar Noe. A punk rock odyssey told in 5 extended acts, and dominated by a ferocious, scenery (and human) devouring performance by Elisabeth Moss that's a force of nature. As assaulting as the film is on the senses-- the first hour is filled with one meltdown and confrontation after the next, each one worse than the last -- Moss makes it impossible to look away and anchors the proceedings with her raw abilities. Also helping is Perry's command of his craft, the dirty/glittery cinematography, the camera always in motion, involving the viewer intimately with the chaotic goings on. The sound design, a cacophony of muffled screams and noises constantly humming in the background, and the quick escalation of moments that feel they can go from 0-100 at any moment is both exhilarating and exhausting, but worth it. It's only later in the film, when suddenly we are dropped into something serene, and for once quiet, even the silence is deafening. Her Smell may not seem all too original on paper, as we've seen stories like this many times before, but its powerful, overwhelming execution, and Elisabeth Moss' pure electricity, makes Her Smell stand out from the rest, and the abuse worth it in the end.

Rated: R (disturbing violent content, drug use, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language throughout)
Score: 3.5/4
Current Ranking: 7

A return to form for Gaspar Noe after the dull affair that was Love, while also being his most restrained and accessible film he’s made. Even so, this is still a nihilistic freak out, even at times blatantly obvious in the way its trying to provoke the audience. But compared to his other films, this is relatively tame. As in there are no 10 minute rape scenes or 3D cum shots to be found. That is not to say it is an easy experience, it’s overwhelming and assaulting, but also something like chaotic poetry. The fact this was filmed in 15 days, based on a 5 page script, with untrained/unknown actors (save for Sofia Boutella), and mostly improvised makes Climax something of a cinematic miracle. It’s practically seamless. Noe has crafted yet another gorgeously insane nightmare. We follow several characters as they lose their minds to lsd and wander endless corridors, and through the masterful Benoit Debie’s mesmerizing lens we are thrown upside down and feel just as insane and excited and scared as they do. Noe smartly doesn’t reveal the hallucinations being seen, instead relying on suggestion and the performances of his actors, and it’s wildy effective. And for untrained actors, every one of them sells the harrowing situation unfolding before their eyes, and act almost too well in portraying their doomed highs. Speaking of dance, Climax opens with a bravura piece of cinematic catharsis with an exciting dance routine all done in a single take, with the opening credits finally appearing about 20 minutes into the film. From there on out Noe drops you straight into the black abyss of human behavior. A microcosm of how easily a society can turn on each other and themselves. An expertly conducted orchestration of sustained tension and dread. But most of all it is a visceral and highly original work of pure cinema. It wont convert any non-Noe-fans, but for the rest of us this is the best film he’s made since Enter The Void.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I think Tell Me Who I Am is the best of the four and Climax is the worst, but I agree with much of what you say in your well-expressed posts. The only one of the first four that could make my top 20 is Tell Me Who I Am.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
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I think Tell Me Who I Am is the best of the four and Climax is the worst, but I agree with much of what you say in your well-expressed posts. The only one of the first four that could make my top 20 is Tell Me Who I Am.

Thank you for the feedback! I agree that Tell Me Who I Am is the most important and edifying of the four. Everyone should watch it, it's earth shattering but so moving and hopeful. Especially the ending which is like getting hit by a train. But I still loved Her Smell and Climax, Lords of Chaos is the least essential, one I'll probably never watch again, but still worth seeing.

Tell Me Who I Am was very disturbing. Definitely their’s was the mother from hell.
I’m here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. That’s why I’m here now.

The Irishman
Current Ranking: #3

After a decade being stranded in development hell, with a massive budget that could finally relieve me of my long overdue college debt and make my car brand new, The Irishman has finally arrived and not only lives up to the hype, but at times surpassing it. Unlike similar great directors who emerged in the 70s, like Coppola, DePalma, Lucas, sometimes Spielberg, Scorsese has never lost grip on his master craftsmanship and near-flawless storytelling. The Irishman is no exception, and even ranks near the top alongside his greatest films. It's on the same caliber as Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull, and The King of Comedy. It might just be the richest of them all and the heaviest thematically. It's nearly three and half hours long, and there's not a moment that seems unnecessary or uninteresting. It's so absorbing that the length is hardly even felt. The real mvp is Scorcese's go to editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who practically demands every award she can possibly receive. This must have been a daunting project to take on, but the resaults are extraordinary. Steve Zaillain's screenplay is note-perfect as well, with some brilliant dialogue, and characters that are uncommonly fleshed out. And finally, the performances. Seeing DeNiro, Pacino, and especially Pesci on screen together is electrifying. DeNiro is beautifully nuanced and back in top form, the best he has been in a very long time. Al Pacino is a force of nature, he has the flashiest role but he doesn't devour the scenery, he's in full control, while being somehow heartbreaking in the second half. Then there is Joe Pesci, unlike his performances in Casino and Goodfellas, he is effectively reserved but deeply chilling and sinister in a way we haven't seen from him before. Rarely would I label a film as an "instant classic", but The Irishman is pretty much exactly that.

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood

Score: 4/4

Current Ranking: #5

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lives up to its title, it's Tarantino's fairy tale vision of an era and industry long since passed. It's also the most haunting and melancholic film he's made to date.It is the only film of the director's that could be considered haunting. With his trademark historical revisionism, as hopeful and happy as the ending seems, knowing what truly happened makes it unexpectedly tragic. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt create the most genuine bromance through their effortless chemistry, a dynamic that is always engaging and casual. Though Margot Robbie has limited screen time and even less dialogue, she turns out to be the heart and soul of the picture. Her presence permeates every scene, and it's obvious the careful way Tarantino pays loving tribute to the late, angelic, Sharon Tate, instead of exploiting her for shock value. Leisurely paced and less explosive compared to what the auteur is known for. Instead, the viewer is asked to luxuriate in the meticulous period detail and let the intoxicating atmosphere take hold. Though when the bursts of violence do arrive, they are so pointedly satisfying, cathartic, and hysterical, not to mention completely earned. Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood may be the filmmakers second to last film, but it goes to show that the master is still just as invigorating as he's always been, and has yet to disappoint.And there are feet, lots of feet.

Professional writer
Thank you so much for sharing your opinions. I will definitely watch these movies and shows!

In my opinion, the best film of 2019 is "Jocker" obviously. It is emotionally hard, but still fantastic!

Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Romance/Drama/Period Piece
Score: 3.5/4
Current Ranking: 10

Tasteful, poetic, tragically romantic, exciting in the quietest of ways. Portrait of a Lady on Fire slowly sneaks up on you as it washes over you entirely. It's love is not explicit, but more passionate and trembling with what is held back. Watching these women barely holding back falling over the edge in love is both comforting and heartbreaking. The final moments are pitch perfect, and the two central performances are magic. A new classic of queer cinema. Ravishing.