Updated: Mar 30, 2020
By Derek May:
It's been an interesting year for film. While IMDB lists a slight dropoff in releases from over 12,000 in 2018 to just under 11,000 this year, 2019 has conjured some of the biggest comic tentpoles in history alongside some truly beautiful and intimate indies. Netflix especially has established itself as a premiere player in the game, churning out a number of stories gracing the inevitable "Best of" lists across the Internet. And we here at Flapper Press are not immune, and thus we present to you our second annual Best & Worst Lists of the past year (click here for a look at last year's list).
As usual, I'll note an important disclaimer: as much I have tried, and have wanted to, I haven't been able to catch as much of the year's releases as I'd have liked. I've missed out on a few of the biggies, such as Parasite, Little Women, Cats, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Uncut Gems, 1917, Richard Jewell. Still others I didn't warm to nearly as much as other critics, it is a highly subjective game, after all.
Below you will find my top rankings for films deemed of special narrative and artistic excellence from the past year. Movies serve multiple purposes: sometimes just escapist delight, sometimes explorations of the darkest human condition.
But only the best are able to find that ever elusive balance between story and character, vision and execution, performance and engagement.
I'm confident any one of these fine works delivers the viewer the emotional satisfaction and cinematic wonder we love from our films.
And so without further ado . . .
1) Marriage Story
A moving and potent exploration of the reality of divorce when both parties start out amicably but slowly allow themselves to succumb to their internal and external demons. Raw and intense performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver prove their formidable chops. One of the most honest yet visceral portrayals of the end of a marriage but not the end of a relationship. Powerful stuff.
2) Ford v Ferrari
A story both classic and modern, reflecting themes of comradery, perseverance, and innovation while at its heart focusing on the personal triumphs and tragedies of two courageous men.
Director Ari Aster’s haunting dark folktale is a masterpiece of open-veined tension. A psychological dissection of tragedy and cult mentality, Florence Pugh’s gut-wrenching performance anchors one of the most original and skillfully executed horror films in years.