We’re getting closer to the end of 2019, and that means the year-end lists delivering what critics think are the best movies of the year are starting to arrive. It’s a little early, especially since some of the movies appearing on lists haven’t hit theaters yet, but many critics have seen those movies in advance thanks to deadlines for voting bodies to determine their awards nominations. That brings us to film critic David Ehrlich‘s traditional video countdown of the Top 25 Movies of 2019. Did any of your favorites make the cut? Find out below.
David Ehrlich is a film critic at IndieWire, and what’s great about his countdowns is that they often call attention to some films you’ve probably never heard of. Even as someone who follows film closely year in and year out, there were a couple titles on this list that had yet to come across my desk in any capacity. That’s why it’s always good to listen to someone with a much different perspective on film. You may discover something new that you otherwise might never have watched.
Since attentions spans are short and some may not be able to watch the full video, here’s the full list of titles:
Portrait of the Lady on Fire Parasite Little Women Ad Astra The Farewell The Souvenir Uncut Gems Synonyms Her Smell Knives Out The Irishman Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Pain & Glory Midsommar High Life Varda by Agnès Diamantino Transit Atlantics A Hidden Life I Lost My Body The Beach Bum The Hottest August Us Hustlers
However, if you’re more of a mainstream moviegoer and your time is limited, you may have your patience tried by some of these arthouse titles. Of course, there are still plenty of mainstream movies on here the Ehrlich enjoyed as well, such as Little Women, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Us, and even Hustlers, which has been ending up on several year-end lists, and should be sought out when it’s available to rent starting tomorrow, December 10.
Unfortunately, some of these movies you might have to wait until they get a wide release in the United States next year. But there are a handful that will be arriving in theaters later this month, such as Uncut Gems and Little Women. Meanwhile, you can currently catch Midsommar, Her Smell, The Farewell, The Beach Bum, Us, The Irishman and High Life from the comfort of your home.
For a more detailed focus on each of these movies by way of the memorable moments featured in the video above, check out David Ehrlich’s full countdown list over at IndieWire. You can check out some of his lists from the past few years over here.
A few weeks back, Chappelle Show co-creator Neal Brennan tweeted, “The fact that critics write, 'Best of 2019' and not 'My Favorites of 2019' is wild.”
I initially reacted negatively, overcome by the idea that in the year 2019, any person could be confused by the idea that an arts review is subjective. While I suspect this question comes from a long line of flawed “critics only exist to tear things down” thinking, as if our goal in writing about the arts is for people to stop making art because, grr, we hate art!, and not to participate in an artistic form of our own that we enjoy, I admit Brennan made me reconsider the kind of headline we reflexively stick on our requisite year-end lists. If you missed it, you can read Uproxx's Best of 2019 movies list here.
Why do we say “the best” instead of “my favorite?” There are plenty of answers. The most basic and pragmatic is that newspaper writing best practices have long all but banned any use of the first person. Such that using “my” in a headline in any form would be a nonstarter with 95% of editors. And anyway, one might argue, “my” would be redundant, as any review is automatically assumed to be subjective, with the opinion coming from the writer. Why say “my favorite” when that's already obvious?
That being said, I suspect the preference for “the best” over “my favorite” comes in part from a notion that people won't read an opinion unless it comes with the sheen of authoritativeness. This isn't AO Scott's favorites, who the hell is that? This is the NEW YORK TIMES and their OFFICIAL LIST of GOOD THINGS, that is CORRECT because they are EXPERTS. There's also the question of whether a reasonably intelligent person being able to understand that opinions are subjective excuses the relative untruth of writing “the best.” Just because things have been done a certain way doesn't make that way the best.
Anyway, something to think about. All I can say is, I don't particular care whether anyone thinks I'm an “expert” as long as they read what I'm writing. Ideally, I'm just a guy whose opinion you enjoy reading, regardless of whether you agree. That's how I've always felt about my favorite critics and there are pieces of criticism that have stuck with me over the years as much as any work of fiction has. At the risk of stating the obvious, there's no such thing as an “expert” movie watcher. If that's the myth you need in order to read my reviews, I can play along, but the only type of expert I truly aspire to be is opinion-haver.
So here they are, the best movies of 2019, as determined by rigorous experimentation and a proprietary blend of unique genius. If you need, go ahead and picture me pouring...
While we’re all sitting around daydreaming about an alternate reality in which the coronavirus doesn’t exist, it may be interesting to mix it up for a second and try to envision a world in which Samuel “Screech” Powers – the scrawny, Lisa Turtle-obsessed goofball on Saved by the Bell – was played by late night talk show host and comedian Stephen Colbert instead of actor Dustin Diamond. Colbert says he auditioned for the role of Screech in the 1980s and was rejected for a pretty humorous reason. Watch him tell the story below.
Stephen Colbert Saved by the Bell Audition Story
Around the 3:00 mark in this video, The Late Show guest Ryan Reynolds makes a joke about Saved by the Bell, sparking Colbert’s memory about the time he tried out for the role of Screech and didn’t get it.
“I auditioned for Saved by the Bell!” he exclaims. “That was my first professional audition. 1986? [Editor’s note: this must have been when they were auditioning Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was eventually reworked into the hit show Saved by the Bell.] They came to Chicago. I was a student at Northwestern University, and I don’t know, somebody had seen me do something, somebody had scouted me at school. I got called down to a casting agent on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I walk in, they hand me the thing, and I was auditioning for the part of – was the character’s name Screech?”
Reynolds bursts into laughter and thinks Colbert is messing with him, but the late night host swears it’s real. “I’m not joking!” he continues. “I auditioned for this part of Screech, and let me tell you how big I was. Imagine how that character ended up in broadcast. I did my audition, and they said to me, ‘There’s a term you’re going to need to know about as a professional. It’s called over the top. You just went over the top. Don’t do that anymore.’ And I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics that Dustin Diamond brought to that part.”
Saved by the Bell was a massive show for a certain generation, and its actors – Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, etc. – will always be remembered first and foremost for the characters they played on that show, regardless of whatever else they’ve done in their careers. Imagining Colbert playing the wacky, ineffectual Screech is sorta blowing my mind right now, and needless to say, I think everyone on Earth is glad he didn’t land that role. Except for maybe Dustin Diamond, who may have been better off in life if he didn’t get the job, either. To avoid a depressing rabbit hole, it’s probably best not to look into what became of him after that show went off the air.