The Class of 2019: My Favorite Movies

Class of 2019 1


“How does he do it?” asked no one. According to my painstaking records, I’ve maintained roughly the same pace in watching movies that were new to me during the last twelve months as I had for each of the two previous years. (Around 350 — pretty strenuous.) I did this despite spending four and a half months at the beginning of 2019 mostly revisiting my favorites from the current decade. It would seem that I filled every last moment of spare time on a movie. Having a looming deadline (the end of said decade) coming up certainly spurred me on to seeing more things, and the recent vintage of many of the films below speaks to that effort. On top of that, let’s not forget the 200-plus cartoons I watched earlier this year. All told, it’s a little ridiculous. But I can’t say it hasn’t been rewarding as well. The 87 feature films listed below are the biggest “class” of new favorites since I started blogging.

Class of 2019 2

Ride Lonesome

A year can feel like an incredibly long time. Looking at a list of movies viewed during that period, whether it’s from June to June or January to December, I almost doubt the usefulness of lumping it all together as a single experience. A year ago, I was still happily using MoviePass. In my “class of 2018” post, I mentioned “the company’s teetering business model,” and indeed, two or three months later, the other shoe dropped. MoviePass was no longer a reliable service, so I canceled. Soon after, I joined the AMC program and have been happy with it ever since. (I’m an hour’s drive away from a big multiplex with 3D and IMAX and recliners, and there’s a smaller AMC theater close by as well.) Besides the theater, I had the usual methods of home viewing — my own disc-and-digital collection and Netflix, both streaming and DVDs. For one week in July, I also had the privilege of brigadooning FilmStruck before that priceless service folded, a free trial that brought me a couple Derek Jarman films, Grey Gardens, and a high-definition copy of Daisies (a film I’d previously seen only in crummy quality via YouTube). During the late summer and early fall, I caught up with five films each by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Douglas Sirk, two of the biggest canonical blind spots I still had at the time. October 2018 seemed like a good time to see all the Halloween movies. Finally, I rejoined MUBI late in the year, seizing a pretty good deal by paying for a year in advance. That fact likewise provided incentive for me to catch a few more movies whenever possible.

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Me and You and Everyone We Know

As I wrote in January, I was able to see all eight Best Picture nominees from this year’s Academy Awards in theaters before the nominations were announced. I’m still pleased with this dubious personal accomplishment, in spite of everything. When it comes to the ultimate winners, I’m less enthusiastic, of course. Green Book‘s ultimate victory surprised me in the same way that The King’s Speech surprised me eight years ago. In each case, I was able to identify the movie, based solely on its trailer, as the kind of waterlogged Oscar bait that would automatically secure a nomination. But that the Academy would go all the way and give both of them the biggest award when they were both up against plainly more galvanizing films? I’m still scratching my head and should probably seek help. In any case, those results are rightly forgettable, the experience of watching the ceremony always falls short of my hopes, and there are many better ways of appreciating cinema, even though I shouldn’t begrudge people who can discern historical interest from these things.

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Who Killed Captain Alex?

One of those (better?) ways is by putting on my own silly little ceremony. Here’s the class of 2019 — bearing in mind that I already have five favorite movies from 2019 that, as per my usual practice, will be part of the class of 2020. The list is as strange and varied an assortment as ever. I’m proud of my evolving taste, though there are still times I feel like an intermediate cinephile. That is to say, I can appreciate rigorous French auteurs like Claire Denis and Robert Bresson, but only when they make genre films, and vice versa. Then again, I was overjoyed and relieved that I had such a good time with Wavelength, despite it also being seen via an inferior YouTube upload. Additionally, I had a great time with such genre movies as Enter the DragonGilda and Wayne’s World. There are exceptions to every rule.

Title Director Year
All the Light in the Sky Joe Swanberg 2012
Almayer’s Folly Chantal Akerman 2011
Apres mai Olivier Assayas 2012
Baahubali: The Beginning S.S. Rajamouli 2015
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Joel Coen & Ethan Coen 2018
Belladonna of Sadness Eiichi Yamamoto 1973
Blindspotting Carlos López Estrada 2018
Bound Lilly Wachowski & Lana Wachowski 1996
The Bridges of Madison County Clint Eastwood 1995
Burning Lee Chang-dong 2018
Céline and Julie Go Boating Jacques Rivette 1974
Clouds of Sils Maria Olivier Assayas 2014
Cold War Pawel Pawlikowski 2018
The Day After Hong Sang-soo 2017
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai 2011
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 Johnnie To 2014
El Dorado Howard Hawks 1966
Enough Said Nicole Holofcener 2013
Enter the Dragon Robert Clouse 1973
Excalibur John Boorman 1981
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Russ Meyer 1965
The Favourite Yorgos Lanthimos 2018
First Man Damien Chazelle 2018
First Reformed Paul Schrader 2017
Gilda Charles Vidor 1946
Hale County This Morning, This Evening RaMell Ross 2018
The Handmaiden Park Chan-wook 2016
Happy as Lazzaro Alice Rohrwacher 2018
The Hawks and the Sparrows Pier Paolo Pasolini 1966
Her Smell Alex Ross Perry 2018
High Life Claire Denis 2018
The Holy Mountain Alejandro Jodorowsky 1973
Imitation of Life Douglas Sirk 1959
Jacquot de Nantes Agnès Varda 1991
Jubilee Derek Jarman 1978
Kaili Blues Bi Gan 2015
The Last Picture Show Peter Bogdanovich 1971
Leave No Trace Debra Granik 2018
Let the Corpses Tan Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani 2017
The Lobster Yorgos Lanthimos 2015
Long Day’s Journey Into Night Bi Gan 2018
Lourdes Jessica Hausner 2009
Magnificent Obsession Douglas Sirk 1954
Malcolm X Arnold Perl 1972
A Man Escaped Robert Bresson 1956
Me and You and Everyone We Know Miranda July 2005
Minding the Gap Bing Liu 2018
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Brad Bird 2011
Mustang Deniz Gamze Ergüven 2015
Nocturama Bertrand Bonello 2016
On the Town Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly 1949
Orlando Sally Potter 1992
Paddington Paul King 2014
Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Mary Ellen Bute 1965
Personal Shopper Olivier Assayas 2016
Petulia Richard Lester 1968
Phoenix Christian Petzold 2014
Private Life Tamara Jenkins 2018
Ride Lonesome Budd Boetticher 1959
Rio Lobo Howard Hawks 1970
Roma Alfonso Cuarón 2018
The Ruling Class Peter Medak 1972
Shirkers Sandi Tan 2018
Sicario Denis Villeneuve 2015
The Slumber Party Massacre Amy Holden Jones 1982
Slums of Beverly Hills Tamara Jenkins 1998
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman 2018
Starlet Sean Baker 2012
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani 2013
Support the Girls Andrew Bujalski 2018
The Tale Jennifer Fox 2018
Teorema Pier Paolo Pasolini 1968
Train to Busan Yeon Sang-ho 2016
Two for the Road Stanley Donen 1967
Unsane Steven Soderbergh 2018
Wavelength Michael Snow 1967
Wayne’s World Penelope Spheeris 1992
Who Killed Captain Alex? Nabwana I.G.G. 2010
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Sion Sono 2013
Wife! Be Like a Rose! Mikio Naruse 1935
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Frank Tashlin 1957
Winter’s Bone Debra Granik 2010
Wise Blood John Huston 1979
The Wonders Alice Rohrwacher 2014
Written on the Wind Douglas Sirk 1956
Your Name Makoto Shinkai 2016
Zama Lucrecia Martel 2017

And just like last year, here’s my top ten:

10. The Ruling Class
9. Jacquot de Nantes
8. Let the Corpses Tan
7. High Life
6. First Reformed
5. Two for the Road
4. Imitation of Life
3. Leave No Trace
2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
1. Petulia

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