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.
Parasite – A thoroughly original and unpredictable blend of social satire and thriller from filmmaker Bong Joon Ho…a breathtaking movie
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
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.
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
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.
Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi paints a vivid picture of life in Germany under Adolf Hitler through the eyes of a wide-eyed boy.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Little Women – Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this exquisite adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book with Saoirse Ronan as Jo.
Uncut Gems – Adam Sandler brings a strident, self-destructive New York wheeler-dealer to life in this compelling character study from the Safdie Brothers.