Ah shit, here we go again. It’s time for another annual Top 10. And if you think I’ve learned to stop kicking the ever-loving shit out of myself over putting these things together in the years since I’ve started, then you, my friend, severely misunderstand chronic anxiety. Ten movies! Ten! Of all the movies that came out this year, from the whole damn world, streaming and theatrical, festival favorites and box office hits, we get just 10 spots to hone in on our favorites and reader, it’s as stressful as it is oh-so-satisfying to spread the love for the movies you adore. In fact, it’s only so stressful because there’s so much good to go around, which is a very fine problem to have indeed.
And 2019 was a very interesting year for movies, as most transitional years between decades tend to be. At the end of the 2010s, we saw certain trends continue — the rise of A24, the popularity of paranormal horror, the increased clout of streaming services, more diversity at the cinema, Disney’s box office dominance, to name a few. On the flip side, former decade trends a la mumblecore, Blumhouse’s box office-dominating horror hits, and non-MCU shared universes, for example, were all on the downturn this year.
Oh, and Disney bought Fox, an industry-shaking acquisition that will no doubt prove a formative factor in the movie landscape of the 2020s. On that note, the year no doubt glimpsed the arrival of new movie trends that will flourish in the next decade, and while we won’t be able to spot them until time has passed, I’m eager as heck to see what will ultimately stand out as the creative choices that define the decade to come.
But back to the year at hand. And the anxiety of these garsh-darn lists. So, ten spots, and they have to be ranked. Yikes. Ranking art is an inherently goofy endeavor and it haunts me every year. I always encourage people to ignore the rankings and picture the numbers as something silly instead. One year I said dancing monkeys, one year it was raging trash fires, and in keeping with the mood of 2019, let’s picture the numbers as amorphous blobs of existential dread. You get my drift. I may spend hours tormenting over the rankings, but reader, please don’t sweat it. I love all these movies and that’s the whole-ass point. Love ’em.
On that note, heck yeah this is a list of movies that I, Haleigh Amanda Foutch, personally love and adore. It’s in no way meant to represent the 10 “best” movies of the year. Last I checked, I was the only me (although it’s been a wild decade in technology, so who knows tbh) and I definitely have deadass weird taste in movies a lot of the time, so this probably won’t represent your Top 10. Isn’t that awesome! I’d love it if you’d share your Top 10 in the comments too! But please, keep it positive. I love movies and I love sharing that love of movies — I want to tuck you all gingerly into my fur coat J. Lo-style and celebrate cinema — so don’t kill the vibe. But the comments on last year’s piece were mostly from definitely not the same guy complaining that Bumblebee didn’t make the cut. So, you know, I guess that’s an option too.
As anyone working in media will tell you (repeatedly and at increasingly panicked volumes,) it’s impossible to see everything these days. There’s just too! much! content! With that in mind, here’s my annual List of Shame, aka the most notable movies I missed before writing this list: Ad Astra, Fast Color, Transit, Ash Is Purest White, Synonyms, The Souvenier, Agnes by Varda (missing this one in time for publishing hurts), Ford v. Ferrari, Just Mercy, Clemency, and Shadow. I confess and atone for my movie sins.
So without further ado, and my what ado I’ve made, here are my Top 10 movies of 2019. Be sure to check out the rest of our Best of 2019 coverage here.