Rudie’s Top Ten of 2019
From Escape Room to Little Women, 2019 has been a wonderful year in movies that was full of highs and lows. While I didn’t get to the movies a lot this year, due to a career shift, I enjoyed most of my time at the theater. Hopefully, this list will show that I still have some taste left.
Here are my favorite movies of 2019:
Although Jordan Peele found his cinematic voice with Get Out, the director deepened and refined it with Us, which follows a family going to their beach house for summer vacation where they discover their past catching up to them. Yes, Us isn’t as clean as Get Out, but its shagginess is what I like about the movie. It’s easy to like a movie like Get Out because it almost tells you how you should feel about racism and privilege, while Us grapples with its themes, as it leaves the audience to form their own opinions and thoughts.
Plus, Lupita Nyong’o has never been better in a dual role as Adelaide and her counterpart, Red.
9. AVENGERS: ENDGAME
Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame had a lot of balls in the air, while directors Anthony and Joe Russo expertly juggled various entertainment elements to bring a satisfying conclusion: Infinity War, Iron Man, Phase Three (mostly), Captain America, and 11 years of filmmaking. Overall, this three-hour movie is just as exciting on the first view as it is on the fourth or fifth. It might not be the most high-brow movie of 2019, but, damn, is it thrilling!
8. THE LIGHTHOUSE
Nobody told me that The Lighthouse was a comedy! You see the director Robert Eggers (who directed The VVitch) and you see the black & white and you see the 1.19:1 aspect ratio and you think the movie is some sort of artsy, fartsy movie and… well, maybe you’re right. The Lighthouse is artsy and it is fartsy. My mistake.
7. THE IRISHMAN
Three-and-a-half hours later, I was still awake and still very much into this movie when I watched it in one of the worst movie theaters in New York City. Martin Scorsese has a real command of his story and actors, while I was fully engaged, despite the movie’s late night showtime. I got out of the movie theater at 1:30am and I wanted to watch the movie again!
6. UNCUT GEMS
The Safdie Brothers deep dive into the mainstream is one hell of an experience. Not only does Adam Sandler have a career defining performance as a gambler and jewelry store owner, Uncut Gems effectively delivers the highs and lows of what it’s like to gamble your life away.
5. ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
Every movie fan and cinephile always look forward to a new Quentin Tarantino movie for its clever storytelling, outstanding performances, intense moments between characters, and outrageous violent turns. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood has all of these elements, but with a few added ingredients, it actually has a lot of heart and optimism. Even though she’s not the central character, Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is the key to the movie and blazing goodtime ending.
4. THE FAREWELL
Lulu Wang’s sophomore effort is one of the best depictions of the dual Asian-American identity I’ve dealt with my entire life (as a fellow Asian-American). Your identity of the self as an American comes into direct conflict with your identity of your family as an Asian. I’ve never watched a film that successfully navigates both sides as The Farewell in a loving and touching way.
3. THE SOUVENIR
The Souvenir is a brilliant coming-of-age film that follows a young woman dealing with your life’s pursuit of filmmaking, while also trying to come to terms with your dipshit junkie boyfriend during the ‘80s. This film shows that it’s OK to ditch shitty people in your life if they’re bringing up down, while it’s not your job to save them. This is a lesson that everyone should learn at a young age.
2. HIGH LIFE
High Life features Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André “3000” Benjamin, a space prison, and constant masturbation… in space. Oh yeah, and it’s directed by Claire Denis in her English-language debut. What’s there not to like?!
Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is the height of genre filmmaking with a story with a lot of unexpected twist-and-turns, complicated set of characters, and a bloody good finale that has been building since the movie’s opening frame. While many are applauding Parasite’s (literal) upstairs/downstairs socioeconomics, I love this movie’s sense of rhythm and pace, in terms of editing and sheer storytelling.