Bealsebub’s FAVORITE films of 2019
Updated: Jan 19, 2020
Where to begin... It's been a great year for films. I saw a lot and, even better, I ENJOYED a lot! I'm not doing a Top 10 this year. I have a Top FOUR and then every film after that is an uncategorized smorgasbord of cinematic joy from all walks of life.
Let's get to it.
This movie is my spirit animal. This is the kind of movie I yearn to make, see, support. It's a clever send up on class warfare that universally translates outward from its Korean setting into a macabre tale that anyone can relate to. It is perfect from end to end. Perfect.
2. Fast Color
2019 started off with some legitimate superhero-themed familial drama and no one knew it. A small budget and zero marketing doesn't prevent this from being an honest, grounded, emotional drama about 3 generations of black women reconnecting with one another and overcoming their shared trauma, all while being wrapped in the quieter conventions of a superhero movie. Getting a miniscule release just before Avengers: Endgame dropped, this was the summer's ultimate hors d'oeuvres.
It is now free to watch on Amazon Prime and you should head there before finishing this list of mine.
3. JoJo Rabbit
Funny, heartfelt, sad, and poignant as fuck; this movie surprised me more than any other this year. I expected a good time (viva la Taika!). I didn't expect to have the full emotional spectrum wash through me like a flood.
4. Knives Out
Smart, flawless, clever scriptwriting never looked so good. I love whodunnits but I've never seen one that tells you whodunnit early on, leaving you to then ask "whatisit"? This movie moves fast, never misses a beat, and ends with the greatest, socially relevant final frame of the year.
Okay... now for the rest of my favorites.
Seeing the trailer, I'd understand if this doesn't appeal to everyone. It almost didn't appeal to me until I saw the name "Laika" in the credits. That was the moment that I knew that this was going to be a must-see. I'm a sucker for stop-motion animation (Watch THIS! gem and see for yourself). Laika has already knocked it out of the park with ParaNorman and Kubo and the Two Strings, so, yes, I was absolutely going to see their new film about Bigfoot. I was not disappointed. You won't be either.
A revenge film, ala Taken, set in Vietnam and starring an ass-kicking mama bear that won't relent until she finds her abducted daughter. As far as action films goes, this was a treat.
If, for some reason, you missed this in theaters, you'll discover it on streaming or rental and you'll lament missing it in theaters. Hilarious, clever, cute, and proof of the value in seeing films from fresh points of view.
Chapter 3 circumvents Chapter 2's bland, over-stylized grandiosity and gets back down to the gritty, bloody, bullet-spattered streets of the franchise's adrenaline-fueled debut. Keanu is king.
Awkwafina shines in this family drama centered around a traditional Chinese family that opts to not tell an elder that she's dying. It has the most satisfying ending of the year.
This animated short wound up being one of the most successful crowd-funding campaigns ever and now it's potentially up for an Oscar. Short and sweet, Hair Love is further proof that we need as many diverse voices telling stories as humanly possible.
Watch Hair Love for free HERE.
Order the book for your family and kids HERE.
Fun and bold, this horror film committed a 110% to its premise and then pushed it even further over the edge in the finale. Loved every bloody frame.
Sporting the largest budget in China's history, this sci-fi blockbuster ran toe-to-toe with the best of Hollywood's big budget fair. It mixes just enough of the best parts of Armageddon and Sunshine to keep it familiar without losing what makes it unique. Playing now on Netflix. Have a blast!!
Speaking of American blockbusters; how about this beast that proves to be an emotionally fulfilling culmination of a decade's worth of stories. Marvel and the Russo Brothers not only made a lot of bold decisions in this wrap up, they committed to each and every one of them, rain or shine. For that, and for pulling it off, we should all be impressed.
Eddie Murphy is back (again?)!! I can't suggest this film (on Netflix!) enough. It's a pure representation of the magic and romance of Hollywood, a love letter that never gets bogged down with its own self-absorbed sense of entitlement. Filmmaking and movie watching is pure joy and it belongs to everyone.
This whole series was flawless. Innocent without being naive, willing to deal with dark and scary themes, full of growth and empathy; this is the kind of family film that used to get made all the time when I was young.
I totally missed this in the theater and I'll never forgive myself. The electric cast make a silly premise shine with warmth and humor that propels it beyond the trappings of its genre. I watched it on HBO. You can too! Charlize is queen.
Falling in love isn't easy for any of us. Banned in Kenya, one of many places on Earth where being gay is STILL illegal, this indie film about two teenage girls falling for one another under penalty of social and criminal repercussions is the first Kenyan film to premiere at Cannes. Rafiki is vibrantly colorful in every way a movie about love and heartbreak can be. Get your library cards out and watch this for free on Kanopy.
Another one that I missed in theaters. This is a joyful film about shit we all deal with on a daily basis: insecurities, narcissism, depression, and most of all, the ability to push beyond our limits and love ourselves. It's a perfect movie and it is free on Amazon Prime. Kick back and feel good going into the new year.
I have been waiting for this stripped-down survival horror thriller since its highly-lauded debut at Sundance 2019. It was worth the wait and it contains the single coolest reveal of the year. I don't want to spoil it. Get to Netflix and watch Kiersey Clemon shine ASAP.
I JUST saw this and... wow.
See it on the biggest screen you can immediately. What a great movie to end the year with... (Or start it with depending on when it gets released to your area.)
That's it. My favorite 20 films of 2019.
Movies I missed but still look forward to seeing:
How many of the movies on my list have you seen?
What films were your favorites?
Let me know in the comments below.
Happy 2020 (We hope...)