5. Invisible Life
Based on Martha Bathala’s novel “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão”, this Brazilian melodrama is one of the most moving pictures of 2019. Set in the 1950s Rio De Janeiro, the film tells the story of two sisters who get separated for a long time, not knowing anything about each other, yet never losing the hope of a miraculous reunion.
With lush, color-soaked cinematography, well-written dialogues , great performances from its entire cast, and a heartbreaking ending, Karim Aïnouz’s “Invisible Life” is one of the best movies to come out of Brazil in a long time. However, despite winning the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film was overlooked by major audiences. If you’re a fan of Sirkian melodramas, make sure to check this out on Amazon Prime.
4. The Last Black Man In San Francisco
Joe Talbot’s debut film amazed us with its jaw-dropping cinematography, camera work, and a soundtrack that is hard not to fall in love with. The film follows Jimmie Fails (played by Jimmie Fails), a young Afro-American who dreams of reclaiming a Victorian house that was once owned by his grandfather. Along with his best friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), Jimmy starts refurbishing the house despite the owners’ complaints, hoping that one day it will become his own home.
With many memorable scenes, likable characters, and a very original script, this was one of the biggest surprises of 2019. And while it is uneven and its first half is much better than its second, “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” contains some of the best film moments we’ve seen all year and is the kind of movie where the visuals and atmosphere are so good that they make the plot flaws less disturbing. This is a must-watch for every film lover.
Ari Aster blew us away with his 2018 horror drama “Hereditary”, a film that set him up as one of the most promising emerging directors and received widespread acclaim as a masterpiece of the genre. Coming up with a second film that lived up to the mastery of his debut was a hard job, but “Midsommar” proved that he was far from a one-hit-wonder movie director and received widespread acclaim for its ambitious subject and excellent craftsmanship.
Inspired by Robin Hardy’s “The Wicker Man” (1973) and the ancient Pagan rituals of the Midsummer festival, the film follows a group of college students who attend a Swedish summer festival that turns into a daymare. From its very start, which features one of the main characters going through a traumatizing event, “Midsommar” establishes itself as one of the most unsettling movies of the year and for its remaining runtime, it only gets more and more disturbing. It is a memorable film and, while less affecting than “Hereditary”, it is bigger in scope and shows even more prowess from director Ari Aster.
2. For Sama
The best 2019 documentary streaming on Amazon Prime, “For Sama” documents life under siege in Aleppo during the ongoing Syrian civil war, as seen by then 26-year-old filmmaker Waad al-Kateab.
Intended as a love letter for her to-be-born daughter Sama, the film is an intimate, harrowing, and very raw depiction of al-Kateab’s experience amid the war. Many of the images that al-Kateab manages to capture are extremely difficult to watch. Parents see their children dying, hospitals are bombed, people are being dragged out of piles of debris. War is a terrible thing and, as gruesome as some of the things depicted in this documentary are, for those of us who have never experienced something similar, the images can feel almost surreal. “For Sama” is heartbreaking, revolting, and a very powerful film, yet for most of us the tragedy that Syrian people went through these past years still remains unfathomable.
1. The Lighthouse
Robert Eggers’ second film “The Lighthouse” revolves around two lighthouse keepers from the 1890s (Robert Pattinson and William Dafoe) who live alone on a remote island. When after a storm they find themselves stuck together in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by alcohol, pouring rain, screeching seagulls and mysterious appearances, the two men slowly start to lose their sanity.
Similar to Kubrick’s “The Shining”, this is a slow-burn cabin fever type of horror film. Instead of the all-too-familiar jumpscares and gore, “The Lighthouse” builds its atmosphere of dread with a maddening soundtrack, menacing visuals, indecipherable mythos, and last but not least, the two ferocious performances from Pattinson and Dafoe.
“The Lighthouse” is also one of last year’s best-looking films. An ode to the cinema of the 1930s, the film was shot on black and white 35mm film in the nearly square Academy aspect ratio and it looks as if it was filmed in the early days of cinema by pioneers such as Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst. The unique cinematography combined with the powerhouse performances from its two leads and the masterful direction and hallucinatory script from Eggers place “The Lighthouse” as the best 2019 film you can stream on Amazon Prime.