by Abb Jones
2019 was a surprisingly good year for quality movies – 17 theatrical releases received a grade of A+ or A by The Reelness. (Not too shabby, Hollywood.) Among those making our top 10: films about real life events, a couple of comedies, a couple of inspiring documentaries, and even a Marvel movie. At the very bottom of our list, following our #1 film of 2019, are our honorable mentions – films that all earned an A grade and very easily could have made our Top 10 list. To read the full review, just click on the film titles for any of the films listed below.
This riveting action saga stars Dev Patel as one of the employees who helped guide hundreds of guests to safety during the deadly, four-day terrorist siege of Mumbai’s famed Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008. While the film’s intense realism and pulse-pounding tension at times makes it hard to watch, it is an exceptionally well-done reminder of how a single act of terrorism can forever change people’s lives.
This inspirational documentary, with its gorgeous visuals of barnyard critters co-existing in harmony, chronicles an eight year journey to create a self-sustained organic farm north of Los Angeles. It is a hopeful, life affirming tearjerker – proof that with creative problem solving, everything and everyone has a place in the world. Go ahead, try not to cry, we dare you.
Reunion films of popular TV series all too often end up being a disappointment, but not so with this big screen follow-up to the wildly popular TV series about a family of British aristocrats and servants, set at the start of this century. Julian Fellowes’ film remains faithful to the series while adding some fun new twists to delight its enormous fan base. The film’s ending will fill your heart with joy.
When a couple of nerdy high school girls decide to cap four years of responsibility with a final night of letting loose, unexpected hilarity follows in Olivia Wilde’s lovable directorial debut. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are sheer perfection, supported by an equally fantastic and extremely funny supporting cast. The film’s messages – about enduring friendships and that those different from us become more relatable and likable once you take the time to get to know them – are terrific.
Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the story of American race car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles, who teamed up in 1966 to build a revolutionary race car for Ford to challenge Ferrari’s dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race. It is a fun, fast-paced, fuel injected biopic showcasing a full range of emotions. Hey, this one surprised us with how good it is.
A young black couple’s awkward first date turns into a life as fugitives on the run following a deadly encounter with a racist cop. This much edgier mash-up of the classics Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma and Louise features knockout performances from newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, right up to the pulse-pounding finale.
This is the deeply disturbing, true story of the lawyer who took on DuPont’s decades-long chemical contamination of thousands of people in and around Parkersburg, West Virginia. Done in the vein of other muckraking dramas like Silkwood and Erin Brockovich, this story is even more sinister and far-reaching since the cancer-causing chemical it is about is now present in nearly EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANET.
The long-awaited, epic finale to Avengers: Infinity War has our PTSD-suffering surviving superheroes of the “snapture” working to undo Thanos’ dirty work and bring their loved ones back to the present. It is a cleverly-constructed story that is masterclass in comic book superhero storytelling, with lots of heart and humor, as well as clever flashbacks to several of the prior 21 Marvel films. An instant classic.
The 1969 Moon landing is the greatest technological achievement in history. This documentary features meticulously restored, archival footage of the event, creating the most immersive experience yet for viewers. There is no narration as director Todd Douglas Miller takes us on this mesmerizing time capsule as a first person experience of one of our civilization’s proudest moments. You will feel like you have been to the moon and back.
Taika Waititi’s WWII anti-hate satire is the story of a lonely German boy whose desire to become a Nazi is turned upside-down when he discovers that his mom (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in the attic of their home. As JoJo confides in his imaginary friend, a goofy version of Adolf Hitler played to perfection by Waititi, JoJo gets to know and like his secret houseguest, in the process learning how to think for himself. It is a wonderfully subversive, hilarious and heartwarming story, with an outstanding ensemble cast – by far, the best film of 2019.
2019 Honorable Mentions:
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Toy Story 4
Blinded By The Light
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
Now that you’ve seen the best that 2019 had to offer, check out The Reelness 10 Worst Movies of 2019.