topfilms2019

Endings. That’s what people are going to talk about when they talk about 2019. The end of a decade, yes; but also quite a lot of movies that feel like conclusions to both sagas and careers. The Marvel machine produced its biggest, loudest, longest, and in some ways most satisfying entry to date – the towering Avengers: Endgame. The enormous cast, the scale of the epic, and the sheer impossibility of ignoring it as a cultural event meant every other movie this year was just renting space on Kevin Feige’s turf.

That includes an entry into a saga with much deeper cinematic roots. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker blasted into theaters at the end of the year to be met with its inevitable mixed reactions. A story that started in 1977 wrapped up with the expected amount of fireworks, but its rocky pacing and wild narrative leaps left a lot of fans wanting.

Other stories, too, saw belated chapters being written. Doctor Sleep found new adventures for Danny Torrence of 1980’s The Shining; M. Night Shyamalan returned with Glass, the long-awaited sequel to his 2001 superhero original Unbreakable, as well as Split; Zombieland got a sequel, bringing the original cast back together after 10 years; and Toy Story 4 saw Woody and the gang in their first outing since 2010.

Then there were the movies that felt like swan songs from directors looking back on their careers. Martin Scorsese’s mournful The Irishman was chief among them, but there was also Pedro Almodovar’s autobiographical Pain and Glory, and Tarantino’s nostalgic Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Yet, in a world where at least four classic Disney movies were remade as “live-action” abominations this year alone, it’s not all death and re-animation (even if The Dead Don’t Die and Zombieland Double Tap prove to the absolutely zero people who were asking that, yes, zombies have been played out for a long time). Fresh voices continue to appear. This year alone we got second features from such promising up-and-comers as David Robert Mitchell (Under the Silver Lake), Jennifer Kent (The Nightingale), Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), Dan Gilroy (Velvet Buzzsaw), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Jordan Peele (Us), Riley Stearns (The Art of Self-Defense), and Ari Aster (Midsommar). Not to mention feature directorial debuts from Joe Talbot (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), and Brie Larson (Unicorn Store).

Sure, we’re swimming in more worthless Netflix Christmas movies than we know what to do with. But at the same time, Parasite¬†is a phenomenon and now a bona-fide Best Picture winner despite being a South Korean dark comedy with no stars. So you take the good with the bad, the new with the old.

And today, I give you my personal picks for my 10 favorite movies of 2019. Enjoy!

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top10_2018

2018 was a big year for me personally. In many ways it was the most significant of my life so far. In May I got engaged, and recorded the first full-length album with my band. In October, I got married. Went on my honeymoon. Navigated the first holiday season as a member of a new family. It was wonderful. It was also a lot.

With so many major life events demanding my time, energy, and focus, it’s only natural that the hobby of movie watching and reviewing fell by the wayside, at least somewhat. 2018 was the year in which MoviePass ran out of favor (and money) roughly a year after its historic price drop brought an unprecedented number of subscribers to the service. It was the year FilmStruck left us. So not only was my movie viewing down by sheer numbers, but the avenues by which to explore it were narrowing as well.

All this is to say that I didn’t see as many movies as usual in 2018, and as such I don’t feel that my annual top list is as meaningful is it might have been. I know there’s so much that I missed. And I know, therefore, that this list isn’t likely to turn anyone on to any small movies that flew under their radar. So I can’t help but feel my excitement about this annual effort isn’t what it usually is. That said, I can’t break with tradition; and my discussion of movies is always about what they mean to me and not about any supposed social import or insider clout. So it is without pretense or ego that I offer you the 10 movies I liked most from last year.

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