Jordan Peele had made one hell of a directorial debut with his 2017 horror satire, Get Out, so of course expectations were high for his followup movie, Us. Marketed as a home invasion thriller with a twist, the movie not only lived up to those expectations, it very well surpassed, thereby cementing his position as one of the very best horror filmmakers in the world today.
Fresh off the success of last year's billion-dollar-grossing Aquaman, the DCEU's Shazam is one of their only movies with an actual heart and soul. It works as a family comedy as much as it does a superhero origin story, which just goes to show what can be achieved when their primary concern isn't an overarching narrative and the worldbuilding required for that.
Event movies don't get much bigger than Avengers: Endgame, the followup to the MCU's immensely popular Avengers: Infinity War. Having the previous movie end the way it had pretty much guaranteed the new one would do one thing: get as many butts in theaters seats come opening weekend. And what an opening it was too, grossing over $1.2 billion worldwide in its first 5 days, before going on to become the highest grossing movie of all time.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Leave it to the geniuses at Marvel Studios to followup one of the year's biggest releases with a smaller-scale offering, and still make it feel just as essential. But that was precisely what they did with Spider-Man: Far From Home, a movie that offered fans of the MCU their first glimpses at a post-Endgame universe.
Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino remains one of the most talented filmmakers in Hollywood today. And for his ninth feature film, he'd decided to make a film that is as much about an era of filmmaking as it is about the events surrounding the Manson family murders. Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood is a love letter to the Golden Age of cinema, a movie that never ceases to be stunning to look at while paying respect to all that has come before.
Speaking of talented filmmakers, Bong Joon-ho might have already proven his flair for the craft with films like Snowpiercer and Okja. But with the release of Parasite, a comparatively down-to-Earth tale that is as much a black comedy as it is social commentary, he has shown his mastery of its finer details as well. The movie is so brilliant in its intensity, so beautiful in its execution, that you'd be hard pressed to find a finer example of what quality filmmaking entails in 2019. Okay. I'll stop gushing now.
The Clown Prince of Crime finally received an origin story worthy of his large-than-life personality this year in the form of Todd Philip's standalone DC movie, Joker. Joaquin Phoenix has given a career-defining performance that captured the tortured mind of the Batman villian like never before. The fact that the film is also beautifully shot only further elevates its status as one of the very best comic book-based movies ever made.
Martin Scorcese might have caught a bit of heat this year for remarks that made light of the effort that goes into the standard superhero movie, but none of that can detract from the fact that his latest film, The Irishman, is as brilliant as a gangster movie can get. The film is anchored by great performances from heavy hitters, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and the de-aging technology used to give credence to them as their younger selves simply needs to be seen.
Rian Johnson's Knives Out is about as far away from "a galaxy far, far away" as the director could possibly get, but yet the movie feels just as brilliant as his work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It is a classic whodunnit with modern sensibilities that features Daniel Craig as one of the most eccentric sleuths to grace the big screen in this day and age. But credit must also be given to the ensemble cast as a whole, and a script that moves at a steady pace while still allowing viewers to piece together all the clues.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The Skywalker Sage comes to a somewhat satisfying end in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth film in the highly-beloved franchise. I couldn't possibly have this list of favorite movies without including what was clearly my most anticipated one heading into the year. I've seen it twice already at the cinemas, and had my mind blown by what I saw on both occasions, despite the film's many problems. So that should tell you all you need to know about its inclusion on this list.
And the winner is...
I know I said I was done gushing about Parasite, but you'll have to indulge me for another minute here. This movie is bloody brilliant. Scratch that, the movie is about as bloody brilliant as bloody brilliant could get. No other movie had left me floored this past year the way I was after I first saw Parasite and the credits started rolling. It is a movie that says a lot in so little words, relying for the most part on its imagery to get its message across. And what breathtaking imagery it has too.
There is one particular shot that I keep going back to, of the youngest Kim daughter, perched on top of the toilet seat as she uses her bodyweight to hold back the flood waters threatening to gush out of its bowels. Everything from the way the scene was lit, to the framing of the shot, to the practical effects used, just echoes brilliance.
Okay. I'm done gushing for real now. Parasite is not only my favorite movie for 2019. It is also one of the decade's very best.