My 10 Favorite Films of the Year

What an incredible year of film it has been! I hope you all have enjoyed the recent breaks and gatherings this holiday season. As the year comes to a close, I’d like to share with you my favorite films of 2019. These are the films that I personally found myself enjoying the most this past year and that have remained in my thoughts well after the end credits. I have not seen every film released in 2019, and needless to say, there may be some other great and enjoyable films I have yet to see that I look forward to discovering in the days and months ahead. I highly recommend you consider these films in your own time, and may you all have a wonderful and Happy New Year!

– Tyler Pacholski, Creator/Head Writer


[The following films are ordered by their release date]

Shazam!

Release Date: April 5, 2019

Fun, witty, and surprisingly dark at times, Shazam! is a heartwarming and thrilling superhero romp of a film. Dare I say, a new Christmas classic.


Avengers: Endgame

Release Date: April 26, 2019

An exhilarating spectacle and fitting end to an era of incredible MCU storytelling. Avengers: Endgame is an epic of scale and scope in each and every way.


Toy Story 4

Release Date: June 21, 2019

Toy Story 4 is a gem of a film that marks the end and beginning of relationships both old and new in true Toy Story fashion. Keep your Kleenex box near, tears are guaranteed to abound.


Midsommar

Release Date: July 3, 2019

A hypnotic, daytime haunt that is in equal parts a breakup movie as it is an engrossing look at family and cultural relativism. Having seen both the theatrical and director’s cut, Midsommar cast its spell with a most disturbing and dreadful fright.


The Farewell

Release Date: August 9, 2019

Both laugh-out-loud funny and balling-your-eyes-out crying, The Farewell is a poignant and amusing look at a family both different and similar to us all.


The Peanut Butter Falcon

Release Date: August 23, 2019

A tale of triumph and brotherly love, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a sweet and darling film that left a lasting smile on my face from beginning to end.


Joker

Release Date: October 4, 2019

Brutal and visceral in its content and presentation, Joker is a masterful character piece and commentary that is sure enough to burn the most sturdy of facades down and piss on its ashes. With a tour de force turn from Joaquin Phoenix, expect a slew of award nominations (and wins) in the coming months.


The Irishman

Release Date: November 27, 2019

A class act of filmmaking and acting that harkens back to the epic gangster films of the 1970s, The Irishman succeeds in both its patient and pressing telling of events behind the scenes in one of history’s most notorious and unsolved disappearances.


Parasite

Release Date: November 8, 2019

One of the best films of the year, Parasite is a most wicked ride crafted by stunning writing, taut direction, and a stellar ensemble of actors. If there ever is a sure winner for a film in a best feature category, this is the one to beat.


Knives Out

Release Date: November 27, 2019

Devilish and delightful, Knives Out is a film that relishes in its subversive take on the whodonit genre and wins with its wry wit and charm.

Honorable Mentions: It: Chapter Two, Doctor Sleep, John Wick 3: Parabellum, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Review – The Farewell

Tzi Ma, Awkwafina, and Diana Lin et al. in The Farewell

Release Date: July 12, 2019

Director: Lulu Wang

Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Shuzhen Zhao


The opening title card of the film begins with a simple phrase: Based on an actual lie. Most movies based on true events normally open with a precursor indicating such, and Lulu Wang’s The Farewell is everything but a lie. With an incredible ensemble cast portraying real life characters in real life dilemmas in both bold and nuanced ways, The Farewell delightfully succeeds in drawing out real life in the most sheer and intimate of ways.

In a revelatory role to be remembered come Oscar season, Awkwafina stars in this family drama as Billi, the sole granddaughter of Nai Nai (portrayed in grand measure by Shuzhen Zhao), coming at odds with culture, personal conviction, and family obligation. Throughout the film, we see her struggle regarding whether to disclose to or withhold information from Nai Nai on her dire prognosis. Family members who have agreed to withhold telling Nai Nai her fate work together to make sure any leak of truth is quickly accounted for and patched up with swift and plausible explanation. Understandably, as suggested by one of the family members early on in the film, when a person has cancer, they die: not by mere physical action, but in spirit as well. The family decides to hold off from telling the truth to avoid snuffing out what may remain of Nai Nai’s hope for life. Instead, a set up is put into play affording the family to gather together for a final time under the pretense that a marriage is to be had.

The Farewell is a film that flourishes with richly written characters and succeeds on its performances from everyone involved. With great care and attention to detail and a poised outlook that is kind, funny, forgiving, and cathartic, The Farewell joins the ranks of classic families seeking to understand life’s more challenging servings. With a simplistic yet intimate approach to the technical, the film radiates with color and rich textures that illuminate and breathe life into the action. Still wide shots of streets, shops, and rooms allow for action and human drama to fill the space with great emotional impact. With it all said and done, we become a part of the family as we spend our time watching and observing in moments seemingly mundane.

My personal experience watching this movie brought my own attention to family; I imagine a movie like this will no doubt do the same for others. I can recall both fond and sobering memories of my own grandparents, particularly my late grandfather. This past February, he passed away and I was present with him during his final moments. While watching the film, memories brought me back to being in a 92 Dodge Caravan looking out through large windows as my family and I approached or left his home. There he would be standing behind a great big metal gate with a menthol cigarette dangling from his mouth, pinched between lips as he would work on the lock and linked chain. Like it was yesterday, I can see him waving us goodbye on our way back home or waiting to greet us. I miss those moments, and like these moments, our sense of being present becomes heightened and more meaningful when taken into thoughtful consideration.

The Farewell is a masterpiece. Incredibly thoughtful, heartfelt, and wildly funny, and with enough force to move you to tears whether sad or brimming from laughter, it will remind you to make the most of any moment count with those you love.

Rating: 4/4 Stars