The most glamorous, albeit yearly controversial, Academy Awards are upon us. The best part of the Oscar nominations? Brad Pitt will finally win his first Oscar. I am shaking.
What came as a total shock was director Todd Phillips’ Joker leading with 11 nominations, including best picture, best director, and best actor for Joaquin Phoenix. Look, Joker was good, but best picture? Come on. Phoenix deserves to win, but ELEVEN nominations?? Renee Zellweger is poised to win best actress for her role in Judy, a movie nobody saw, and Laura Dern will rightfully win best-supporting actress in Marriage Story.
The one thing I’m unsure of is which route Academy voters will take in regard to best picture. USA Today passionately defends all nine contenders, but I honestly can’t choose one to win. My thoughts are that it will boil down to Once Upon a Time and 1917.
Here’s my top 10 list of my personal favorite movies from 2019.
10. Little Women
Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet.
Plot: Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.
Review: Charming AF and soul candy are some of my favorite takeaways from the Internet to describe this movie, but while I prefer the 1994 version of this film (pls don’t hate me), this adaptation is still pretty solid.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren
Plot: A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Review: I don’t know what I expected from this movie, but now I feel like I have a solid grasp on what director Ari Aster has to offer. And, honestly, you should too if you plan on seeing this.
8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Plot: A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
Review: Filled with plenty of homages, Tarantino-isms, and countless feet shots (a little excessive…you’ve been warned), this is definitely a movie not to be missed. Is it one of his best or in my top 5 of his films? No. Don’t go into this film expecting to see a “Tarantino flick”, because, for the most part, it’s not. It’s a different piece of art, which may or may not bode well with Tarantino lovers, but I won’t spoil the plot.
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo
Plot: All unemployed, Ki-taek and his family take peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks, as they ingratiate themselves into their lives and get entangled in an unexpected incident.
Review: An exceptionally wild and surprising ride. I went into this movie blind and with no expectations and was floored! Can’t wait to see more from Bong Joon Ho!
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz
Plot: In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.
Review: There’s a lot of mixed emotions surrounding this movie, but whatever your feelings are, Joker’s arthouse superhero movie vibe has carved a new path for the superhero genre and how these films can potentially look in the future. Does anyone know where I can find Joaquin Phoenix? I’d like to deliver his Oscar personally.
5. Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Julia Greer
Plot: Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.
Review: I am truly wrecked, I am unwell, and I’m calling the 1-800-Academy-Awards hotline immediately. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship and lost themselves in their partner will truly relate to Marriage Story.
4. The Farewell
Director: Lulu Wang
Cast: Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo
Plot: A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.
Review: A little indie movie that’s based on an “actual lie” surprisingly gave me more feels than I ever expected. But, its impacts isn’t so little. Grab your tissues; we’re all going to be crying with this one.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays
Plot: April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.
Review: The hard-hitting, nerve-killing technical achievement that is 1917 offers a look at the trench warfare from WWI in an all too realistic ride. I personally cannot wait to see what’s next for actor George MacKay!
2. Knives Out
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Plot: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.
Review: This movie surprised the hell out of me. I had zero desire to see it (despite it having then arguably best cast of the year), but I’m really glad I did!!
1. Jojo Rabbit
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson
Plot: A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
Review: If you want to see the best movie of 2019, look no further. Jojo Rabbit is officially on my Oscar watch-list. And, yes. It’s possible to make a good comedy about Hitler. I love you, Taika! You’ve done it again!
What were your favorite movies of 2019? Did the Oscars get it right or so wrong?