The 20 best movies of 2019
11 December 2019, 16:16 | Updated: 12 December 2019, 13:54
From Endgame to Hustlers and everything in between, here are the best films of 2019.
And just like that, a decade in TV and Film is over. The 2010s gave us so many memorable performances and some absolutely mind-blowing on-screen antics. But honestly? 2019 might have been one of the strongest years on the big screen (and the small screen).
From Lupita Nyong'o's terrifying turn as Red and Adelaide in Jordan Peele's Us and Jennifer Lopez's 3-minute pole dance in Hustlers, to Brad Pitt's Hawaiian shirt in Once Upon A Time... and Chris Evans' sweater in Knives Out, there's a lot to celebrate.
READ MORE: The 20 best TV shows of 2019
Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without one honourable mention before we get started. Bird Box, Netflix's juggernaut, dropped on December 26th which meant we never got to add it to our 2018 list. But here it is. Sandra Bullock's impact. Honestly.
Anyway, here are the 20 best films from the past 12 months, as voted for by the PopBuzz team.
20) Doctor Sleep
The Shining will always be a tough act to follow but Doctor Sleep does it almost perfectly. The sequel story is different enough that it never feels like a cheap imitation of the original, the acting is sublime and the plot will fuck you up for days like any good horror movie.
Rebecca Ferguson is the perfect villain but newcomer Kyliegh Curran steals the show. An award-worthy performance.
19) Marriage Story
If your favourite movie genre is 'messy divorces with screaming matches, lots of crying and potential for memes, then Marriage Story is the film for you.
Noah Baumbach's script doesn't really give you a chance to pick sides, which makes the whole situation even more heartbreaking. Scarlett Johansson's performance as Nicole is great but Driver's existence and Dern's ability to constantly deliver such delicious monologues are the easy standouts.
An R-rated movie about a comic-book clown would be one of the most lauded and talked-about movies of the year? Who could've guessed?! Joaquin Phoenix and The Hangover's Todd Phillips managed to conjure up movie magic – and a cool billion dollars – with this dark and artful meditation on mental health, social inequality and the power of dancing down some stairs.
Whether or not you loved this film as much as critics and audiences seemed to, you really can't argue that this film says a lot about society, and we really do live in a society.
17) Toy Story 4
Toy Story 4 came and did what it had to do. Writing the fourth movie in an animated franchise beloved by millions is no easy feat but Toy Story 4 actually brings new life to the Pixar saga. It rounds off stories that were left a little unclear in Toy Story 3, and brings back fan favourite characters. Basically, it's emotional af.
Bonus points for introducing us to Forky. A true icon.
16) Always Be My Maybe
Who'd have thought that one of cinema's greatest moments in 2019 would be Keanu Reeves slo-mo walking into a restaurant, wearing specs and blowing air kisses? Not me! But we're grateful nonetheless.
Starring Ali Wong and Randall Park (who also co-wrote the film with Michael Golamco), Always Be My Maybe is a refreshingly brilliant take on the bog-standard rom-com.
Following the critically-panned Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, we weren’t sure if we could handle another disappointing film about one of our queer musical icons. Thankfully, our fears were unwarranted as Rocketman turned out to be a triumph.
The film didn’t shy away from Elton John’s wild excesses (alcohol, cocaine, sex, shopping, amongst others) and Taron Egerton’s incredible performance as Elton was widely praised by fans and critics alike.
14) Someone Great
Soundtracked to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' and Lorde's 'Supercut', Someone Great pushes female friendship more than your usual meet-cute romance in that ol' familiar rom-com template.
The cameos from RuPaul, Jaboukie and Rosario Dawson are hilarious. Lakeith Stanfield and Gina Rodriguez are heartbreaking in their roles, with Brittany Snow providing some great comic relief. But it's DeWanda Wise's fresh take on the 'best friend' role that stands out the most.
13) Frozen 2
Frozen 2 brought back Elsa and Anna and honestly we couldn't be happier for it. The movie sees the sister duo embark on a brand new adventure, while also adding further depth to the mythology which inspired its predecessor.
The soundtrack may not slap quite as hard as the original but the story is beautiful. If this doesn't make you gently weep, you have no soul.
12) Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood
In his ninth directorial outing, Quentin Tarantino did what no one in Hollywood has ever been able to do before: bring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt together on-screen as best mates. The script and Tarantino's direction brought out some incredible performances from the two of them too.
While the film wasn't without controversy, Margot Robbie's thoughtful and respectful portrayal of the late Sharon Tate is easily one of the highlights. And, in true Tarantino bloody violence fashion, the final scene – which is twists the Tate-LaBianca murders on its head – is so sadistic that you don't quite know whether to laugh or look away in sheer horror.
11) Captain Marvel
Marvel's first female-led standalone solo movie came and it absolutely slayed. Highest-grossing female-led superhero film of all time? I SAID THANK YOU.
Brie Larson's performance as Carol Danvers was the perfect addition to the Marvel franchise and her chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson's de-aged Nick Fury cemented them as one of the best pairings in the MCU almost immediately. But the real stars of the show? Well, Maria and Monica Rambeau, for a start. And Goose the cat. Here's hoping we see more of them in the MCU soon.
Parasite is a South Korean black comedy thriller that follows the Kim family as they scheme together to become the employees of the much wealthier Park family – and it is absolutely fucking wild. There's good old fashioned framing, poisoning, blackmail, murder... but not without serious consequence.
Bong Joon-ho's Parasite will have you gripped from start to finish and it'll stay with you for a long, long time after.
Fans of Ari Aster's work had big expectations for the Hereditary follow-up and thankfully, they were not disappointed. Midsommar was just as horrifying, just as traumatic and just as fucked up as the 2018 horror film. And in place of Toni Collette's haunting screams are Florence Pugh's grief-drenched guttural sobs that will stick with you for... well, forever tbh.
The film cemented Aster as one of the best horror auteurs in the game and skyrocketed Pugh's star to new heights, giving her a year to remember. Pugh Hive, let me hear y'all scream.
Renée Zellweger has wowed us on screen for years but her performance in Judy is her best work yet. Not only does Renée somehow manage to capture all of Judy Garland's signature mannerisms, she also humanises her while never losing any of Judy's superstar qualities.
Whether you're obsessed with Judy or barely even know her, this is must-see cinema.
7) Spider-Man: Far From Home
Picking up shortly after the events of Endgame and the death of Tony Stark, Far From Home took Tom Holland's Peter Parker, a double-crossing Mysterio (played by bearded Jake Gyllenhaal), and all the twists, turns and gag-worthy energy that Homecoming had and put them another brilliant outing for Spider-Man.
Thankfully, we'll get to see Peter deal with the fallout of his big secret now that Disney and Sony have decided to call off the divorce. Everyone say, "thank you Tom Holland for getting drunk and crying on the phone to the Disney CEO!"
6) Ready Or Not
Ready Or Not was one of the most unexpected thrills of 2019. The longer the film goes on, and the more bloody Grace's wedding dress gets, the more your damn blood pressure rises. And Samara Weaving did all that while wearing a wedding dress... can you believe?!
It's hilarious, it's gory, it never takes itself too seriously. All in all, Ready Or Not taught us all some important and valuable life lessons: If you ever meet the in-laws, just make sure they a) do not live in a creepy mansion and b) they're not into any weird board game traditions.
5) Avengers: Endgame
Endgame was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest cinematic moments in the history of cinematic moments. The culmination of over 20 movies and countless characters that all intertwined within one complex timeline, Endgame showcased the cultural impact that the Marvel franchise has managed to achieve in just over 10 years...and they pulled it off spectacularly.
Placing Paul Rudd's Ant-Man in a prominent role was inspired and the scene where everyone comes through the portals and Captain America finally summons Mjölnir might be the greatest Marvel moment of all time. But you can't talk about Endgame without heaping the praise on Robert Downey Jr. His powerful and emotional final appearance as Tony Stark was truly the heart of this film and the entire franchise.
4) Knives Out
Let's get real, the mark of any truly great film is its ability to keep you so hooked, the need to pee doesn't cross your mind for well over 2 hours. Knives Out has that range. Rian Johnson's all-star cast and brilliant screenplay will have you on your toes from the very first scene. Just when you think you've cracked it, something you never saw coming smacks you right in the face. No extra frills, no fancy gags, just one brilliant and classic whodunnit.
Oh, and this film has Chris Evans being a sarcastic asshole, eating a whole packet of Lotus biscuits while wearing that knitted sweater. It's a yes from me.
Booksmart is – and I cannot stress this enough – perfect. An unapologetic, feminist, coming of age comedy...for the ages.
The premise is familiar (two girls who spent more time studying than partying use their last 24 hours before graduation to go wild) but Olivia Wilde's direction paired with Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever's genuine on-screen chemistry make it feel like a breath of the freshest air.
It's impossible to pick a highlight from this film but Billie Lourd's absolutely iconic portrayal of Gigi and the pairing of Noah Galvin and Austin Crute as dramatic kings George and Alan were all inspired. #BarTHelona
It's been 9 months and the underlying sense of terror that Us leaves you with when you leave the cinema still hasn't left most of us yet. Never will we be able to hear Luniz's 'I Got 5 On It' ever again without thinking of Lupita Nyong'o in a red jumpsuit, holding a pair of scissors and moving around the desks in an underground classroom like it's a damn chessboard.
While the two films exist in the Jordan Peele universe, the director's second act was never meant to be a direct follow up to Get Out in terms of racial commentary, however, it does still maintain a wider social commentary with its themes. It also leaves you with a similar sense of unease.
Everything from the screenplay, the cinematography and the performances from Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, are all flawless but Lupita's haunting performances as Adelaide and Red deserves every award possible.
Hustlers is the mother I never had. Hustlers is the sister everyone would want. Hustlers is the friend everyone deserves. I don't know a better movie.
A film that managed to bring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Julia Stiles, Cardi B, Lizzo and, for some reason, G-Eazy, together in such a short amount of time was always gonna be amazing... but little did we know, you know?
Based off a viral article from The Cut, Lorene Scafaria's screenplay (and direction) was immediately likened to Scorsese's Goodfellas by critics, and they were not wrong. The table at which the male-driven, mob boss, gangster, crime movies sit has been well and truly shaken.
Hustlers is funny, dangerous, empowering, and sexy as fuck. It's also unexpectedly gritty and, at times, absolutely heartbreaking, as well. Jennifer Lopez's performance as the Queenpin Ramona Vega will go down in history as one of the best entrances of all time and an unexpected triumph.
Dear filmmakers looking to release in 2020: If your motion picture does not include a scene where Jennifer Lopez pole dances to Fiona Apple's Criminal, please don't bother. Thanks - management.