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Top 10 Movies of 2019 Review

It seems like every year goes faster than the last because, somehow, it's time to take a look at another year in film.

There were so many great movies this year. Some truly epic, original and daring pieces of work came out of 2019. Moviegoers everywhere should feel lucky having filmmakers who are still taking risks, challenging us, entertaining us and giving us movies that will linger for years to come. Just because we close the books on 2019 doesn't mean these movies go away.

As always, it's hard to decide what should be spotlighted in the Top 10 list. Before we get to that, a few honorable mentions: "Love, Antosha" was a beautiful look at the life of Anton Yelchin, who passed away far too soon, "Rocketman" was a fun, glitzy, sad but entertaining musical about Elton John and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" subverted expectations at almost every step. "Avengers: Endgame" became the highest grossing movie ever and was successful is wrapping up a decade-long saga. The "How to Train Your Dragon" series continues to be some of the most gorgeous animated films around and the third installment proved to be no different.

The movies have been good. Movies have always been good and they will continue to be good. So, without further ado, here are the 10 best movies of 2019:

10. American Woman

Sienna Miller gives the performance of a lifetime in Jake Scott's "American Woman." The movie centers on Debra (Miller), who is forced to raise her young grandson when her daughter goes missing. Debra doesn't give up hope her daughter will walk through the door one day. Miller's performance is a stripped-down, soul-bearing exploration of grief and finding a way to move with life when the unthinkable happens.

9.  Fast Color

Julia Hart's "Fast Color" is the great superhero movie of 2019. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a quiet, internalized performance as Ruth, who is forced to flee when people are after her to learn more about her superpowers. "Fast Color" is about the past and the present meshing together, all conveyed through Hart's sensitive direction and Mbatha-Raw's performance. Lorraine Toussaint delivers a strong supporting performance as Ruth's mother.

8. Honey Boy

It's a miracle "Honey Boy" works as well as it does. Shia LaBeouf wrote the movie, directed by Alma Har'el, when he was in rehab. The movie is essentially about LaBeouf's life growing up as a child actor, living in a crummy motel with his alcoholic father. The wonderful Noah Jupe plays Otis, the younger iteration of LaBeouf, and Lucas Hedges plays Otis when he is in his 20s, starring in a big action franchise. LaBeouf co-stars as his father, deliver a career-best performance. "Honey Boy" is a powerful piece of cinematic therapy and LaBeouf's screenplay sidesteps any chance of the movie feeling like a gimmick. He is exorcising the demons of his past and the movie feels like a cathartic exercise for the actor.

7. Parasite

There's no proper way to describe Bong Joon Ho's magnificent "Parasite," a startling achievement of craft and story. The South Korean hit has taken on a life of its own among filmgoers, who have sought the film out to experience the deafening festival buzz. Simply for its vision, Joon Ho's movie is a must see, as it tells a shocking and unpredictable story about the haves and have-nots.

6. The Irishman

Martin Scorsese's grand epic took years to get made, thanks to the much talked about de-aging technology. "The Irishman" spans decades, following Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he rises in the ranks of the mob family led by Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci, stunning, in his first performance in nine years). Al Pacino co-stars as Jimmy Hoffa, rounding out the large ensemble. "The Irishman" features plenty of violence but this is a melancholic tale about guilt and how a life was spent. The final moments are absolutely haunting.

5. Booksmart

Olivia Wilde's directorial debut is an absolute joy. "Booksmart" follows two friends (played by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) as they attempt to make up for four years of doing homework and studying by attending the last big party of their high school careers. The trajectory of "Booksmart" has been done many times before but the movie is hilarious, heartfelt and elevated by Wilde's decision to give agency to not just the lead characters but supporting ones. Everyone in the movie feels like a fully realized person.

4. The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers's "The Lighthouse" is another movie that defies explanation. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe star as lighthouse keepers, who are assigned to watch after a lighthouse for four weeks. Things get strange in the small, confined space - and then they get a bit stranger. "The Lighthouse" isn't about plot and is open for interpretation but is a visceral experience that must be seen.

3. Luce

The socially charged drama "Luce" is a movie that requires repeat viewings. Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as the title character, who faces a great deal of scrutiny from a suspicious teacher (Octavia Spencer). Naomi Watts and Tim Roth star as his adoptive parents, who must grapple with the fact their son might not be as perfect as they thought. Allegiances shift with each viewing of "Luce," but its lasting power is undeniable.

2. The Farewell

Lulu Wang's deeply moving and personal "The Farewell" stars Awkafina, in a major breakout dramatic role, as Billi, who has to travel to China and make sense of her family's decision to not tell her Nai Nai (Chines for grandma, played by Zhao Shuzhen) that she is dying. Awkafina is a revelation as Billi, mining deep within the character to find her uncertainty and discomfort among her own family. "The Farewell" is specific in its cultural depiction but features a universal message. Wang's beautiful direction and script will break your heart and put it back together. It did just that for me.

And the best film of 2019 is...

1. Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach's personal love story told through divorce is a startling balancing act. The movie is funny, gut-wrenching and ultimately hopeful in its depiction of a marriage ending. Adam Driver gives the performance of the year as Charlie. Scarlett Johansson has never been better as Nicole, who heads back to Los Angeles to continue her acting career, while Charlie opts to stay in New York to direct a play. In mix is their young son, and this only complicates their bi-coastal dissolution. "Marriage Story" is crafted to perfection but Baumbach's script is an even-handed tale of two people who still love each other even if they shouldn't be married. The movie shows the characters at their best and worst, ultimately making sense of why they can't stay married. The performances are lived-in, the cinematography and editing aid in telling the story and Randy 

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