A list of 10 recommended movies from the year 2019.
The cinematic year 2019 gifted us a bounty of audacious films. From crowd pleasing blockbusters to boundary pushing epics, there has been something for everyone. The new streaming services are revolutionizing the way we watch movies. Audiences are now, pampered with visual spectacles and diversity of storytelling. Here’s my 10 favorite movies of 2019:
Number 10 – 6 Underground (Director – Michael Bay)
If you are a fan of Michael Bay, then this stylish and pure action adrenaline movie is just custom made for fueling your guilty pleasure. The movie is a loud, shiny action-packed blockbuster. Providing two hours of pointless fun. (I really liked the song “I wish that I was bulletproof” ) An interesting take on the genre, this beautifully gory action-packed film visually pleases the action buffs while still being as funny, sarcastic and exciting. A vigilante squad which takes out evil dictators of the world and kicks the shit out of them in a bad-ass way.
Number 9 – Love, Death & Robots : Sonnie’s Edge (Directors – Dave Wilson, Gabriele Pennacchioli)
“Sonnie’s Edge” is an episode from the series “Love, Death & Robots”. This short story absolutely did not shy away from gore, featuring brutal death matches between bio-beasts (that are controlled by humans). Although it’s a part of TV series and just around 18 minutes in duration. In that much time, “Sonnies’s Edge” provides galore of fun, awesome graphics, gore, science fiction and surprises. All of that combined with a genuinely surprising ending that I don’t think I could’ve guessed. It was a massive amount of story packed into a short amount of time, without any pacing issues whatsoever. The animation was best-in-class perfect, tense and visceral. A must watch for everyone who appreciates creativity.
Number 8 – Alita: Battle Angel (Director: Robert Rodriguez)
Robert Rodriguez brings his own fun-loving, action-fueled touch to the adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s popular manga, “Battle Angel Alita”. Co-writer/co-producer James Cameron provides a riveting, high-energy origin story for the title character. A clever combination of cutting-edge performance-capture technology, CGI, VFX and 3D film making. The movie is suitably thrilling. Even if the story gets bogged down in parts, but there are enough visual pleasures on screen to keep you interested. Somehow different story-lines get interconnected, which adds to the clunkiness of the script, but it never gets boring. An action sequence is always just a few minutes away. “Alita: Battle Angel” is a convoluted sci-fi epic that greedily expects a sequel.
Number 7 – Polar (Director: Jonas Åkerlund)
Based on the graphic novel “Polar: Came from the Cold”, “Polar” is all about Duncan Vizla a.k.a. “The Black Kaiser,”, who is just about to retire from his career, as the world’s most skilled and deadly international assassin. The visual style of the movie depicts the 90s wild and outlandish comic book style. The action is brutal. There is no shortage of creativity used in portraying all the deaths. “Polar” isn’t perfect, the acting outside the main two is weak and the script isn’t much. But what it lacks, it makes up for in style and action. Additionally, a great performance from Mads Mikkelsen. That makes “Polar” a must watch for any action fans out there. He’s dry and formidable and badass. His performance is superb. In the film you’ll see lots of color, hear lots of dialogue, and experience very little in the way of nuance. The action is always well choreographed and never feels overly enhanced or repetitive. “Polar” is a film that’s unrelentingly and unapologetic-ally brutal and wears such credentials with pride.
Number 6 – Jojo Rabbit (Director: Taika Waititi)
A coming-of-age comedy about Nazis, with a goofy comic sensibility. The movie is an adaptation of the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens. “Jojo Rabbit” follows the misadventures of a ten-year old boy, Jojo. The plot is set in the fading days of World War II Germany. The movie employs humor and absurdity together with the occasional dark gut-punch. A Nazi comedy or an ‘anti-hate satire’ that is witty, playful and always lucidly well-intention-ed. Without resorting to graphic imagery or replicating the sadism of its villains, the movie paints a credible, if unabashedly cartoonish, picture of the workings of an evil system. The audience is taken on a journey that is sometimes hilarious and often very dark. It bravely sets out to satirize political fanaticism and the cult of personality that surrounded Hitler. It’s not easy to handle such a sensitive subject in a rather light and comedic way. The film has the perfect mix of smart and silly comedy. The interactions between Jojo and the imaginary Adolf Hitler are hilarious and a perfect balance between comedy and drama. There are plenty of hilarious and funny moments as well as emotional and heartfelt one. “Jo Jo Rabbit” is a simplistic but powerful satire.
Number 5 – First Love (Hatsukoi – original title) (Director: Takashi Miike)
“First Love” is a crime thriller from a master of the genre, Takashi Miike. The movie has a tight course of events and is spiked with a few surprises. A tentative romance between two damaged souls (A boxer with no fear of death and a girl sold into prostitution) in the context of an all-out war between Yakuza, Chinese and Police. A mass of mayhem orchestrated in a classic style with violence, pace, panache and energy. The humor is taken to the limit and the film is infused with hilarious pranks. The plot uses violent and dark contexts to satirize the society, leavening its acts of brutality with a soupcon of gallows humor. The entire final act is legendary, bringing together all the different stories in a perfectly chaotic fashion. And the boundless universe of crime is enriched with guns, swords and punches delivering the satirical mockery of the mob world. It’s a film that is a must-see for all cinephiles.
Number 4 – Joker (Director: Todd Phillips)
This is a disturbing film, a journey into the heart of a damaged man’s psychosis. Joker wouldn’t exist without Phoenix. Joker’s success is down to Joaquin Phoenix’s dedicated, uncompromising performance. He’s practically in every frame and is the magnet holding all the disparate parts together. The film is visually stunning. It may be the first comic book movie to play as a character drama instead of as an action film or adventure. Set in a crime-stricken, rat-infested Gotham City in the 80s, the film functions as an origin story of one of Batman’s craziest and nastiest enemies. The violence, however, is designed to shock and upset. It’s not there to quench an audience’s blood-lust or satiate the desire to see bad characters get their comeuppance. The movie depicts a legendary comic book villain as a mentally unhinged loner. A story of how far a man is willing to go when he sees the injustice all around him.
Number 3 – Parasite (Gisaengchung – original title) (Director: Bong Joon Ho)
“Parasite” is unquestionably one of the best films of the year. “A comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains.” – the amount of conflict, drama and tension derived from a narrative with no clear heroes and villains is staggering. An original dark comedy that relentlessly represents the dynamics of inequality, but drawing away from the judgement of individual characters, leaving it to viewers to make sense of it. The comedy, whether it’s dark humor or of the stupid kind, it is always effective. The pacing is flawless and the cinematography is breathtaking. The film surprises with its narrative twists and turns, making the overall trajectory unexpected.
Number 2 – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Director: Quentin Tarantino)
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is a wackily obsessive, hybrid- western-action comedy, set in the late 60s. Full of brilliant moments, great performances, and a sense of retro Hollywood infused with a mix of nostalgia and realism. DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, a TV cowboy star at the beginning of a career decline. Pitt is Cliff Booth, Rick’s affable, wild-card and longtime stuntman, who still has some moves in him. Tarantino’s inherent sardonic humor colors much of the film, albeit often with great subtlety. Brad Pitt’s charismatic performance as stuntman Cliff Booth is the biggest highlight for me. The first two hour of the movie is all enjoyable, the last 45 minutes!!! fasten your seat-belts because classic Tarantino kicks in. That’s legendary.
Number 1 – The Irishman (Director: Martin Scorsese)
“The Irishman” is narratively complex, visually arresting and dryly funny biography of Frank Sheeran, a World War II combat veteran who became a Mafia hit-man and then a union leader. Based on Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses”. “The Irishman” is an elegiac tale of violence, betrayal and loss. The mood may be gloomy, but the movie never slides into catatonic solemnity. The story is intricate and engrossing from start to finish, a thread of dark humor running through the film leavens the grimmer elements. An absorbing story of a man who has lost his soul in the name of loyalty and gratitude. Though long and slow, “The Irishman” is a consistently absorbing drama about one man’s life in crime. Ultimately—as the decades change, his friends die off, and our protagonist surrenders to the cruelties of age—the film has something rather poignant to say about loyalty. The cast is vintage. As charismatic as he used to be, Robert De Niro’s performance as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran is utterly convincing and pure masterclass. Joe Pesci knocks it out of the park as Russell Bufalino. Magnetic to say the least, Pesci’s performance is cold, deadly quiet and unsettling. Al Pacino steals the show in the role of the fiery, arrogant and outrageous Jimmy Hoffa, Pacino gives a charming, memorable and uncanny performance, and delivers most of the film’s humor.