The 10 Best Films of 2019 (so far)
The first quarter of 2019 would be remembered for the phenomenal business of Marvel superhero movie Avengers: Endgame and the madness surrounding it that qualified it as the movie event of the decade. The hysteria was unprecedented just like the box office figures of Avengers: Endgame. But the films that I really loved are small budget films that left a mark one way or the other. Here is the list of the Best movies of 2019 (so far) that I loved. The list will be constantly updated. In case you have missed our annual list of the best movies of 2018, please find it here.
10. STYX | Wolfgang Fischer | Drama
Styx takes J C Chandor’s survival drama ‘All is Lost’ starring Robert Redford and taxes it with the moral dilemma and physical jeopardy. STYX, the mythological river that separates the living from the dead, studies the indifference of a member from the privileged society encountered with a sinking boat of refugees. Faced with a moral quandary after the authorities asked not to intervene in the matter, the only character played by Susanne Wolff finds it hard to oblige the order.
9. High Flying Birds | Steven Soderbergh | Sports Drama
After being fired from ‘Money Ball’, which was a back office sports drama, Steven Soderbergh directs a micro-budget Netflix film on iPhone.High Flying Bird is a taut, chilling film that moves at a breakneck pace, giving no breathing room to catch up with the unravelling layers and connects them in its bigger scheme. After a lockout between the NBA and the athletes, the other sort of the game is played off the field, in its full swing, that puts the mechanics of player management on display.
High Flying Bird is available on Netflix.
8. To Let | Chezhiyan | Drama
To Let us available on Amazon Prime.
7. Sonchiriya | Abhishek Chaubey | Western Drama
Even at times, Abhishek Chaubey’s films feel more observational of the indigenous environment and characters inhibiting them, the emotional undercurrent of his films are universal. On the surface, Sonchirya is about dacoits on the run from the police of Chambal who won’t budge until they have cleaned the town. If you probe deeper into the subject matter, the underlying subtext is cruel and universal; the deliverance for the sin we commit, the toxic masculinity & patriarchy plaguing the families and the shifting moral dilemma in the face of crisis. The poetic and often dreary, Sonchiriya is an existential dacoit drama that succeeds much more than what it sets to achieve.
Sonchiriya is available on Zee5.
6. Arctic | Joe Penna | Survival Drama
The chilling cinematography of Arctic would freeze your balls instil dread of ever trekking in the polar region. Watching Mads Mikkelsen taking a pernicious trek in a vast unknown and unforgiving terrain is equally heartbreaking and breathtaking. His stoic face expresses every inch of his frustration and anguish in the almost wordless film. He has given one of the best, if not the best, performances of his career.
5. Us | Jordan Peele | Horror
Jordan Peele’s US is terrifying, disorienting and chilling in equal measures. The narration is inventive and often hilarious even though it slacks a little in the middle. Peele deftly utilizes the anticipation and time to build the tension, and lands us in the middle of a psychological war between “Us”, fighting our own demons, that opens the wicked and immoral pages of tethering the soul. The metaphors are in abundance and they are up for grabs to stake the claim. Peele packs the ideas of American dreams, living and horror of living in the matrix.
4. Paddleton | Alexandre Lehmann | Drama
The sophomore feature film of cinematographer turned director, Alexandre Lehmann’s “Paddleton” is brimming with bittersweet and poignant moments and deadpan conversations that carry existential philosophy, seen through the lens of pessimism. Like Blue Jay, Paddleton is a two handler, about Michael (Duplass) and his neighbour Andy (Romano), who lives above him in a shabby pea-size apartment. Read the complete review of the film here.
Paddleton is available on Netflix.
3. Soni | Ivan Ayr | Drama
Ivan Ayr doesn’t resort to sensationalism and theatrics to address the plaguing issues ranging from gender prejudice, sexual harassment to the power distribution on different strata that manipulates the law. Keeping the women police officers at the vantage point, he captures the helplessness of women in the Indian society within the law and outside of it and reflects the gender disparity and prejudices within the family of female cops. The understated and nuanced writing coupled with a sharp camera work and bravado performances by both the leads, Soni [available on Netflix] is one of the best films of 2019 produced at the shoestring budget.
2. Stan & Ollie | Jon S. Baird | Drama
In one of the most heart-breaking scenes, Stan and Ollie indulge in a war of words while the people at the party observe their altercation from a distance. At the end of it, an old man laughs on it and asks his wife surprisingly if it was supposed to be funny. It’s ironic and heart-wrenching. It gives profound insight into the understanding of humans; first, how people around perceived Stan and Ollie, almost unadulterated comic due without any scratch of the very feelings that make us human, as an iconic without the troubles that surround normal beings; second, we get to see Stan and Ollie without inhibitions and facade, a flawed humans trying to salvage their friendship. ‘Stan and Ollie’ pick the most crucial chapter from the lives of the most iconic and revered comedy, and makes it a charming but often soul-stirring tale of friendship that suffered a blow when Hardy shot the infamous ‘elephant movie’ Zenobia in 1939 without Laurel.
1. I Was at Home, But | Angela Schanelec | Surreal
Undoubtedly, the best film of 2019 (so far) and the most divisive it would prove. Schanelec, often referred to as Berliner Schule auteur, discards the traditional narrative structure and typical character sketch, and merely use them as a secondary tool to makes us observe and experience at the moment which is ever changing.
“I Was at Home, But” is a sombre mood piece puzzle that calls for complete submission into its spiritual arc that often communicates through the cold but moving poetic visuals and strong subtext probing deep into the psychology of the characters. Read the complete review of the film from the Berlin Film Festival.