Whether you prefer arthouse films or big Hollywood movies, it was a good year at the cinema.
Here’s what St. Joe Live thought were the best films of the year:
1“Eighth Grade” (drama/comedy) — Grade school is rough. In his debut film, comedian Bo Burnham wrote and directed a movie that leaves no stone unturned with uncomfortable, potentially life-altering moments from that awkward time. Newcomer Elsie Fisher brings so much humor and vulnerability to her character, a pimple-pocked, warm-hearted teenager in desperate need of friend. The film unflinchingly looks at the problems teens face in middle school and celebrates the small triumphs along the way. (Available on DVD and Blu-Ray)
2“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” (action/adventure) — Nine superhero movies were released in 2019. All featured a variety of approaches, from the big hits (“Avengers: Infinity War”) to social commentary (“Black Panther”) to goofy action flicks (“Aquaman,” “Deadpool 2,” “Ant-Man” and the Wasp”). But none could touch the visual craft, multi-universe storytelling and voice work of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.” It’s the most ambitious, creative superhero film since Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” and like that film it does just about everything right. (Currently in theaters)
3“Paddington 2” (drama/comedy) — Movies like the two “Paddington” films are rare. They’re visually stunning, caring, well acted and emotional without being cynical or reliant on a torrent of pop culture references. Improving on its already-excellent predecessor, “Paddington 2” is a funny, warm blanket of movie, with Hugh Grant giving one of the best performances of the year as a scenery-chewing villain. It’s so good that a dance sequence that plays during the credits is one of the best scenes of the year. (Available on DVD, Blu-Ray and on HBO)
4“Annihilation” (sci-fi/horror) — This sci-fi/horror film is not for everyone and it doesn’t want to be. As a theatrical experience, it was both a stunning and frightening one. A scene involving a skeleton bear was one of the scariest moments of year. (Available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Hulu)
5“Minding The Gap” (documentary) — Following a group of skateboarders, “Minding The Gap” watches a group of close-knit pals grow up and grow apart. Some have dreams of breaking out of their rut while others wallow in it with alcohol and drugs. You’re so connected with all of these guys that you can’t help but feel happy and destroyed when they achieve their goals and fail.
6“The Favourite” (drama/dark comedy) — This is a weird, prickly, historical period film about two women vying for the friendship of Queen Anne (a fantastic Olivia Colman). Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz play perfect enemies as they try to scheme each other out of the picture. It’s wonderfully snide.
7“Mission: Impossible — Fallout” (action) — The best modern action franchise hits a series high with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) facing a formidable opponent, August Walker (Henry Cavill). There are incredible action sequences, twists and Cavill’s great, “Justice League”-ruining mustache — what more could you want?
8“Incredibles 2” (action/adventure) — How many times in the past five years have we seen properties get proper sequels that weren’t worth the wait (“Dumb and Dumber To,” “Anchorman 2,” “Zoolander 2”)? “Incredibles 2” shows all of those how it’s done — improving on the original in every way and having even more to say about the genre it’s in.
9“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (documentary) — I sat in a theater full of cynical adults and cried for a solid hour watching this. While it wasn’t as deep as I had expected, it was so wonderfully crafted and exhibited a level of empathy and care that hits you right in the heart.
10“If Beale Street Could Talk” (drama) — Every frame of this movie could and should be placed on the walls of an art museum. Directed by Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), he shows why he’s such a stunning filmmaker during scene of a former prisoner describing his time behind bars and one between two warring families when a pregnancy is announced.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live