10) The Lighthouse
What did I just watch? That’s how most of us felt leaving Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse. A bewitching journey of two men losing their minds at (what else?) a lighthouse, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe shower us with the intensity of their performances, while Eggers drenches us with memorable images. The two men belly bumping in a drunken rage; waves pounding against the coast; black and white tracking shots through rocky landscapes. The crazier stuff shouldn’t be spoiled here. Just know that it’s madness seen in a whole new light.
9) The Irishman
There’s been a lot of discussion over the past couple months about whether Marvel movies are actually movies. I say they are. But when you compare them to Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus, they definitely don’t look like good movies. This is an elegy to the gangster genre he created, one of regret and remorse. Yet it feels remarkably alive. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino light up the screen. As usual with Scorsese, people get whacked, cars explode and dialogue about stupid things like hot dogs are riveting. It’s a shame most people will watch it at home or on their phones, since it’s the biggest, grandest, most movie-like movie of 2019.
The term “Hitchcockian” gets thrown around a lot when describing thrillers. Julius Onah earns the description though in his high school puzzle play. Luce, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. in the breakout performance of the year, is everything his family and school want him to be: A great athlete, a straight-A student and a role model. That all changes when he hands in a paper on violent revolutions though that spirals his life out of control. His teacher gives him an F. But I give the film an A for its unparalleled suspense, unrivaled intensity and the way it never reveals the truth. Is there anything better than a mystery that keeps you guessing?
7) Little Women
We don’t deserve Greta Gerwig. Her movies are so pure, so innocent and so full of life that you leave them excited for whatever comes next in your own. This one draws its youthful energy from the cast. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen play the little women of the title, and their performances touch you in a big way. Every embrace is felt. Every autumn setting feels lived in, the same way they did in Louisa Ma Alcott’s original novel. Everyone should see it.
I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun at the theater. As witty as the two “nerds” at its center, Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart is everything you want a high school comedy to be. No bullies. No stereotypes. Just two girls partying it up on their last night of senior year. Wilde takes us from uber to uber, party to party, and the best part about it is: no hangover. Just the high that comes with leaving a hilarious comedy.