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MY TOP FILMS OF THE YEAR

People love lists because they stimulate discussion and debate. I don’t enjoy compiling them because they are so arbitrary, but who am I do sit out this year-end ritual? I can’t call this a “top ten” because I couldn’t winnow my choices down from thirteen. They are in no particular order except for Parasite, which remains my favorite this year.

As for documentaries, there are many I admired this year—One Child Nation, American Factory, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, Mike Wallace is Here, to name just a few—but the one that lingers in my mind more than any other is The Biggest Little Farm. It’s a must-see.

You can read my full reviews by clicking on the film titles below.

 

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Parasite – A thoroughly original and unpredictable blend of social satire and thriller from filmmaker Bong Joon Ho…a breathtaking movie

 

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1917 – The epitome of immersive filmmaking, as we travel alongside two British soldiers on a perilous journey behind enemy lines during World War One. A sensational collaboration between director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins

 

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Ad Astra – A cerebral space movie from the masterful James Gray. Brad Pitt has never been better, as an astronaut who accepts an assignment to find his father, who’s been missing in outer space for sixteen years.

 

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The Farewell – A fresh concept from writer-director Lulu Wang about an Asian-American woman (Awkwafina) who returns to her homeland and is caught in a delicate family dilemma

 

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The Irishman – Martin Scorsese and a can’t-miss cast (including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci) engage in a meticulous recreation of an era and gangster milieu the filmmaker knows well.

 

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Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi paints a vivid picture of life in Germany under Adolf Hitler through the eyes of a wide-eyed boy.

 

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Marriage Story – A wrenching drama about the dissolution of a marriage written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson head a superb ensemble.

 

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Dolemite is my Name – Eddie Murphy is on top of his game portraying underground comedian and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. This was a passion project for Murphy and writer-producers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski

 

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Toy Story 4 – Pixar proves that nothing is impossible—even making a third follow-up to their innovative 1995 feature and hitting a home run

 

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The Two Popes – Two of the world’s best actors (Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce) star in this alternately witty and sobering film written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Fernando Meirelles

 

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Matthew Rhys plays a cynical journalist who profiles television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks at his best) and learns that he is the Real Thing.

 

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Little Women – Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this exquisite adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book with Saoirse Ronan as Jo.

 

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Uncut Gems – Adam Sandler brings a strident, self-destructive New York wheeler-dealer to life in this compelling character study from the Safdie Brothers.

 

 

 

 

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Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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