We are entering the last months of the year and it feels like the right time to start digging for hidden gems and find out what highly-rated movies flew under our radar in these past 10 months.
Cutting it short, here are ten 2019 movies we liked and we are (almost) sure you’ve missed. Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought about them.
10. The Whistlers
“The Whistlers” (originally “La Gomera”) is a Romanian crime film directed by Corneliu Porumboiu which competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was also selected as the Romanian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
The film stars Vlad Ivanov as Cristi, a corrupt Romanian police officer who is given the mission to help wealthy smuggler Zsolt escape from prison. In order to do so, Cristi travels to the Spanish island of La Gomera where he learns and old whistle language known as “el silbo”. With the knowledge of this whistling language, Cristi will be able to exchange secret information with his accomplices while planning Zsolt’s breakout.
Although the film’s plot is a little muddled and somewhat hard to follow, “The Whistlers” impressed us with its unique atmosphere, dry humour, bold cinematography, memorable characters and, last but not least, the best usage of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” in a movie scene ever. There is something about this kind of European thrillers that American movies never manage to replicate and while this is not Porumboiu’s best film at all, it is certainly an interesting new direction for the Romanian cinematography.
This HBO film was directed by Pippa Bianco and stars Rhianne Barreto as Mandy, a 16-year-old girl who, after discovering a disturbing viral video of her being taken advantage of by boys from her high school on a night she does not remember, has to find out what happened and how to deal with the consequences.
In terms of filmmaking, this is not a groundbreaking movie, but we were really impressed with its strong message about a highly topical subject and the great performances, especially Rhianne Barreto’s, who managed to make her character feel very real.
Directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, “Non-Fiction” (or “Doubles vies” in its original title) is a comedy starring Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet as a married couple who are having affairs. Canet plays literary editor Alain, who hires a young woman called Laure with whom she ends up sleeping with. Alain’s wife Selena is an actress and she is having an affair with a writer whose book Alain rejected.
“Non-Fiction” is Assayas’ first movie in French in a while, after directing the great “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper”. This movie is very different from the aforementioned films, and while we don’t think it was up to par with them, we appreciated the fresh direction Assayas has taken and the characters’ clever dialogues and witty humour.
“Non-Fiction” might not be among Assayas’ best work, but it is still a nice addition to his catalogue and you should definitely check it out if you’ve already seen and liked his better films.
Released by HBO and Channel 4, this already-forgotten television movie explores the events that led to the contested 2016 UK European Union membership referendum. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as political strategist Dominic Cummings, one of the central figures behind Brexit who worked as the campaign director of “Vote Leave” between 2015 and 2016.
While Cumberbatch gives a brilliant performance and shows once again what a versatile actor he is, there are more reasons to watch this film. “Brexit” does a great job at offering insights into how Brexit came to be and also manages to be fast-paced, entertaining and not feel like a history lesson. For those living inside the UK, the film might not be as interesting, but for those who are not as familiar with the UK’s leaving of the EU, this is really eye-opening and it might remind them of the political scene in their own country.
“Crawl” was directed by Alexandra Aja and stars Kaya Scodelario as Haley Keller, a young student and professional swimmer who, along with her father and their dog, gets trapped in an alligator-infested basement during a Category 5 hurricane.
When “Crawl” was announced, everyone dismissed it as another subpar disaster film that ripped off “Jaws”. The film looked like one more bad entry in the list of movies featuring killer alligators/crocodiles/piranhas or whatever shark substitute. But to everyone’s surprise, it turned out that “Crawl” was pretty good, at least for what it wanted to be.
Of course, this is far from a masterpiece or anything original, but for a B-movie about people getting eaten by alligators during a Florida hurricane, it does a great job. The acting is fine, the camerawork is surprisingly competent, the jumpscares are good and not too many and for its 87 minutes length it is thrilling enough to keep you entertained.