Wicked Mike's 100 Best Movies of 2019

by wickedmikehampton | created - 1 month ago | updated - 2 days ago | Public

The spin of the earth and rise of the moon can always be counted upon but the only contribution humankind makes towards reassurance is good movies. Although there were too few quality action and adventures, dramas ensured 2019 was another amazing year!

I begin with actors that delivered double delights.

Admittedly, I never expected Adam Driver to become a star but he's regularly chosen projects that beome unlikely hits. He follows the quality of 'Paterson' with 'Marriage Story' and 'The Report'. Unfortunately, his third movie of the year, 'The Dead Don't Die', was average.

Brad Pitt was reliable in 'Ad Astra' and indispensable in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'.

Willem Dafoe skipped his usual solid work on the sidelines to shine in 'Togo' and 'The Lighthouse', respectively a Walt Disney treat versus visceral darkness.

Male actors may have been more successful but it's the ladies who most win and tear my heart.

I was especially pleased with Aisling Franciosi ('The Nightingale'), Naomi Watts ('Luce'), Jodie Turner-Smith ('Queen & Slim'), Scarlett Johannson ('Marriage Story'), Penélope Cruz ('Everybody Knows'), and the shared effort of Vasilisa Perelygina and Viktoria Miroshnichenko ('Beanpole was remarkably their first movie).

Johansson also appeared in 'Avengers: Endgame' and was support in 'Jojo Rabbit'. Penelope Cruz was support in 'Pain and Glory'.

Asghar Farhadi, one of Iran's best directors and writers, previously birthed monster dramas such as 'The Past' and 'About Elly'. 'Everybody Knows' was more complex than his usual storyline, and with extra dialogue. It may have taken me longer to find a viewer's rhythm but, at conclusion, it was as good as anything else he's done... and Cruz was terrific. I prefer her as a natural Spaniard than as an exotic foreigner in an American movie.

The female team that resulted in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' deserves applause. It was elegant and profound.

There's no love story like 'Beanpole', a post-war drama about psychologically damaged women desperately seeking for love.

Rene Zellweger gave her career high performance as Judy Garland but my favourite of 2019 was Joaquin Phoenix as the 'Joker' tortured by the weight of this unfair world. The new Avenger's may have been as perfect as a sci-fi-action-fantasy can be yet 'The Joker' will become more memorable because it was more human than superhero, something we can relate to rather than the fantasy we can never be.

Overall, I think foreign films (or, to be more precise, non-English language movies), will make the longest lasting impressions. The lack of big budgets has ensured a culture of characters to believe in and identify with. They're also more poetic e.g. "He was the loneliest man death had ever seen" is a line from director Pedro Almodovar's 'Pain and Glory'.

Whereas France and Germany have been the leaders, there were several movie magic moments in 2019 that equalled their best. Almodovar wasn't the only icon returning with a winner. Yimou Zhang delivered 'Shadow' as a worthy follow-on to 'Hero', 'House of Flying Daggers' and 'Curse of the Golden Glower'. And Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave us 'The Wild Pear Tree', his next best after 'Winter Sleep'.

'An Elephant Sitting Still' is the most underrated movie of the year. Artsy-fartsy critics raving about it means that the mass public will never know it. After all, it's a 3hr50min slow moving, Chinese epic about depression. In a world of super heroes and Instagram, patience is considered handicap. Thankfully, there's real life sadness and irony. It was the only movie by Bo Hu, the director and writer. He killed himself afterwards, ensuring his suicide 'letter' becomes a cult classic.

Documentaries continue to be exceptional. 'For Sama' and 'Honeyland' made me, for a moment, feel as if I were lost in war and poverty. 'American Factory' emphasised culture differences to extreme - there's no right or wrong, just the awkward fact that Westerners and Asians are unable to understand each other. 'Edge of Democracy' not only educated but disturbed me. 'The Cave' ripped my guts out. All hail its power for making me cry.

The intimate one-shot '1917' was my biggest movie of the year but, out of all 100 listed here, 'Queen & Slim' is most likely to become cult classic.

Note: I spent most of 2019 alone, from writing a book and blogging, to fighting politicians and a hunger strike. That time alone wasn't loneliness. I reflected on my existence, and every night watched one or two movies. Screen stories were my only friends and lovers, their company looked forward to from the time I awoke. Even then, I could never watch everything so I'll add and reorder as they stream online or make the big screen in my country. Any movie ranked after 100 below is still to be rated and considered.

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1. The Cave (I) (2019)

PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, War

83 Metascore

Amidst air strikes and bombings, a group of female doctors in Ghouta, Syria struggle with systemic sexism while trying to care for the injured using limited resources.

Director: Feras Fayyad | Stars: Amani Ballour, Salim Namour

Votes: 1,440

2. 1917 (2019)

R | 119 min | Drama, War

78 Metascore

April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth

Votes: 197,139

3. Marriage Story (2019)

R | 137 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

93 Metascore

Noah Baumbach's incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Director: Noah Baumbach | Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Julia Greer, Azhy Robertson

Votes: 178,755

4. An Elephant Sitting Still (2018)

230 min | Drama

86 Metascore

Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.

Director: Bo Hu | Stars: Yu Zhang, Yuchang Peng, Uvin Wang, Congxi Li

Votes: 3,544 | Gross: $0.03M

5. Hotel Mumbai (2018)

R | 123 min | Action, Drama, History

62 Metascore

The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.

Director: Anthony Maras | Stars: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher

Votes: 41,366 | Gross: $9.65M

6. The Edge of Democracy (2019)

TV-14 | 121 min | Documentary, History

81 Metascore

Political documentary and personal memoir collide in this exploration into the complex truth behind the unraveling of two Brazilian presidencies.

Director: Petra Costa | Stars: Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, Sergio Moro

Votes: 11,162

7. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

R | 122 min | Drama, Romance

95 Metascore

On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

Director: Céline Sciamma | Stars: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

Votes: 17,849

8. I Lost My Body (2019)

TV-MA | 81 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

80 Metascore

A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again.

Director: Jérémy Clapin | Stars: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d'Assumçao, Alfonso Arfi

Votes: 16,779

9. For Sama (2019)

TV-PG | 96 min | Documentary, War

89 Metascore

FOR SAMA is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war.

Directors: Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts | Stars: Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Khateab, Sama Al-Khateab

Votes: 4,443 | Gross: $0.03M

10. Beanpole (2019)

130 min | Drama, War

85 Metascore

1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.

Director: Kantemir Balagov | Stars: Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Andrey Bykov, Igor Shirokov

Votes: 3,701

11. Queen Marie of Romania (2019)

110 min | Drama

Devastated by the First World War and plunged into political controversy, Romania's every hope accompanies its queen on her mission to Paris to lobby for international recognition of its great unification at the 1919 peace talks.

Directors: Alexis Cahill, Brigitte Drodtloff | Stars: Roxana Lupu, Daniel Plier, Richard Elfyn, Patrick Drury

Votes: 1,002

12. Luce (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama

72 Metascore

A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.

Director: Julius Onah | Stars: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Votes: 5,784 | Gross: $1.78M

13. Monos (2019)

R | 102 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

78 Metascore

On a remote mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow.

Director: Alejandro Landes | Stars: Sofia Buenaventura, Julián Giraldo, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón

Votes: 7,029

14. Queen & Slim (2019)

R | 132 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

74 Metascore

A couple's first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.

Director: Melina Matsoukas | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny

Votes: 9,166

15. Cold Case Hammarskjöld (2019)

Not Rated | 128 min | Documentary, Animation, History

76 Metascore

Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld. As their investigation closes in, they discover a... See full summary »

Director: Mads Brügger | Stars: Mads Brügger, Clarinah Mfengu, Saphir Wenzi Mabanza, U Thant

Votes: 1,420 | Gross: $0.09M

16. One Child Nation (2019)

R | 88 min | Documentary, History

85 Metascore

After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China's one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang | Stars: Nanfu Wang, Zaodi Wang, Zhimei Wang, Tunde Wang

Votes: 2,759 | Gross: $0.18M

17. The Wild Pear Tree (2018)

188 min | Drama

86 Metascore

An unpublished writer returns to his hometown after graduating, where he seeks sponsors to publish his book while dealing with his father's deteriorating indulgence into gambling.

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Stars: Dogu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yildirimlar, Hazar Ergüçlü

Votes: 15,340 | Gross: $0.03M

18. The Nightingale (I) (2018)

R | 136 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

77 Metascore

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Director: Jennifer Kent | Stars: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Michael Sheasby, Claire Jones

Votes: 11,867 | Gross: $0.39M

19. Dogman (2018)

Not Rated | 103 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

71 Metascore

A timid dog groomer living in a poor suburb sells cocaine on the side and stays out of trouble, while trying to deal with his unstable, violent acquaintance who is a menace to the whole neighborhood.

Director: Matteo Garrone | Stars: Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano, Adamo Dionisi

Votes: 18,259 | Gross: $0.15M

20. Maiden (2018)

PG | 97 min | Documentary, Sport

82 Metascore

The story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

Director: Alex Holmes | Stars: Frank Bough, John Chittenden, Bruno Du Bois, Pat Edwards

Votes: 1,159 | Gross: $3.01M

21. Ready or Not (I) (2019)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

64 Metascore

A bride's wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett | Stars: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O'Brien, Henry Czerny

Votes: 65,508 | Gross: $26.74M

22. Little Women (2019)

PG | 135 min | Drama, Romance

91 Metascore

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

Director: Greta Gerwig | Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen

Votes: 64,553

23. Midsommar (2019)

R | 148 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

72 Metascore

A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper

Votes: 120,132 | Gross: $27.33M

24. Knives Out (2019)

PG-13 | 131 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

82 Metascore

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis

Votes: 192,064

25. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Biography, Drama

81 Metascore

American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car for Ford in order to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Director: James Mangold | Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe

Votes: 150,869

26. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019)

TV-MA | 88 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

In 2016, USA Gymnastics was rocked by the revelation that national team doctor Larry Nassar had been abusing young athletes for decades. Tribeca alum Erin Lee Carr's unflinching documentary... See full summary »

Director: Erin Lee Carr | Stars: Rosemarie Aquilina, Aimee Boorman, Nadia Comaneci, Rachael Denhollander

Votes: 1,539

27. The Farewell (I) (2019)

PG | 100 min | Comedy, Drama

89 Metascore

A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.

Director: Lulu Wang | Stars: Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo, Hong Lu

Votes: 30,850 | Gross: $16.88M

28. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

83 Metascore

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity whilst living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman, Logan Hawkes

Votes: 76,703 | Gross: $0.43M

29. Joker (2019)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

59 Metascore

In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.

Director: Todd Phillips | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Votes: 692,887 | Gross: $192.73M

30. Burning (2018)

Not Rated | 148 min | Drama, Mystery

90 Metascore

Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood, who asks him to look after her cat while she's on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.

Director: Chang-dong Lee | Stars: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim

Votes: 35,435 | Gross: $0.72M

31. Everybody Knows (2018)

R | 133 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

68 Metascore

Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister's wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.

Director: Asghar Farhadi | Stars: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández

Votes: 24,369 | Gross: $2.66M

32. Diego Maradona (2019)

TV-14 | 130 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

78 Metascore

Constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, this documentary centers on the career of celebrated football player Diego Armando Maradona, who played for S.S.C. Napoli in the 1980s.

Director: Asif Kapadia | Stars: Pelé, Diego Armando Maradona, Claudia Villafañe, Dalma Maradona

Votes: 5,948

33. A Hidden Life (2019)

PG-13 | 174 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

78 Metascore

The Austrian Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Karin Neuhäuser

Votes: 6,365

34. Where's My Roy Cohn? (2019)

PG-13 | 97 min | Documentary

70 Metascore

Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues - from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump.

Director: Matt Tyrnauer | Stars: Roy M. Cohn, Ken Auletta, Marie Brenner, Robert Cohen

Votes: 481

35. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

R | 161 min | Comedy, Drama

83 Metascore

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch

Votes: 394,567 | Gross: $135.37M

36. Happy as Lazzaro (2018)

PG-13 | 128 min | Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

An unceasingly kind Italian peasant and his family are blatantly exploited by a tobacco baroness.

Director: Alice Rohrwacher | Stars: Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Alba Rohrwacher, Luca Chikovani

Votes: 11,141

37. Cold War (2018)

R | 89 min | Drama, History, Music

90 Metascore

In the 1950s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski | Stars: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza

Votes: 41,163 | Gross: $4.57M

38. Sea of Shadows (2019)

PG-13 | 105 min | Documentary, Crime, History

72 Metascore

The vaquita, the world's smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the "cocaine ... See full summary »

Directors: Richard Ladkani, Sean Bogle, Matthew Podolsky | Stars: Romel Eduardo Ledezma Abaroa, Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, Hector Capetillo, Andrea Crosta

Votes: 310

39. The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

PG | 91 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

Documentarian John Chester and his wife Molly work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles.

Director: John Chester | Stars: John Chester, Molly Chester, Matthew Pilachowski

Votes: 3,173 | Gross: $4.37M

40. Mike Wallace Is Here (2019)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary, Biography

73 Metascore

A look at the career of 60 Minutes (1968) newsman, Mike Wallace.

Director: Avi Belkin | Stars: Mike Wallace, Spiro Agnew, Jonathan Alter, Yasir Arafat

Votes: 365 | Gross: $0.27M

41. High Flying Bird (2019)

TV-MA | 90 min | Drama, Sport

78 Metascore

During a pro basketball lockout, a sports agent pitches a rookie basketball client on an intriguing and controversial business proposition.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: André Holland, Melvin Gregg, Eddie Tavares, Farah Bala

Votes: 6,371

42. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

PG-13 | 181 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

78 Metascore

After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos' actions and restore balance to the universe.

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth

Votes: 672,266 | Gross: $858.37M

43. Downton Abbey (2019)

PG | 122 min | Drama, Romance

64 Metascore

The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early twentieth century.

Director: Michael Engler | Stars: Tuppence Middleton, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Maggie Smith

Votes: 27,878 | Gross: $31.03M

44. Crawl (2019)

R | 87 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson

Votes: 46,427 | Gross: $39.01M

45. Capernaum (2018)

R | 126 min | Drama