5. John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum
The third film in the “John Wick” series sees the legendary hitman fighting his way out of New York after a 14 million dollars price tag which is put on his head makes him the target of some of the most dangerous assassins around the world.
Stylish, action-packed and wildly entertaining, the “John Wick” movies have been some of our favorite action thrillers of the last years and this third and latest entry in the series didn’t disappoint us either. “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is exactly what fans demand from this franchise and delivers non-stop action, tightly choreographed scenes, impeccable camerawork, and another committed performance from Keanu Reeves.
One of the most controversial movies of the year, “Joker” did two impossible things: it became the first superhero movie to win the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and it brought us a new version of the emblematic villain that managed to live up to Heath Ledger’s iconic performance while at the same time being its own thing. Oh, and it also proved Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”) to be a competent filmmaker – even if taking inspiration from Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” when constructing the film’s narrative and visual style.
However, it’s Joaquin Phoenix’s transformative performance that raised the movie from good to great. Phoenix shined as Arthur Fleck, the mentally troubled party clown and aspiring stand-up comedian who succumbs to violence and embraces the Joker alter-ego. “Joker” turned out to be the best psychological thriller of the year and a bold and ambitious reinvention of the comic-book adapted movies. Lets just hope this won’t be the last DC movie to embrace this direction.
3. Knives Out
With an impressive ensemble cast that includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” was the best whodunit mystery-thriller film we’ve got in years and one of the most fun experiences we had at the theater in 2019.
Inspired by old murder-mystery tropes, the film begins with the untimely death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) just after his 85th birthday. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives at Thrombey’s estate to investigate Harlan’s dysfunctional family and devoted staff and has to sift through a web of red herrings and lies in order to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s death.
The film’s abundance of renowned actors and great performances is complemented by an excellently written script and a clever modern twist that turn it into one of the most entertaining experiences we’ve had at the cinema last year. While “Knives Out” is not the kind of movie to receive awards or to come up with groundbreaking filmmaking techniques, it is just perfect for what it sets out to do.
A perfect example of genre mixing, Bong Joon-ho’s highly acclaimed “Parasite” is a thriller, drama, comedy and social commentary film all at the same time. The film became an unexpected hit, grossing over 148.4$ million worldwide, and was also a critics and awards season favorite. Even more, Bong Joon-ho, whose previous works include “Memories of Murderer”, “Snowpiercer”, “The Host” or “Okja”, has earned the Palme d’Or award with this film, thus becoming the first Korean director to win the prestigious award.
The story in “Parasite” starts from a simple yet inventive premise: the Ki-taeks are a poor family of four who devises a plan to get work and tricks the Kims – a much wealthier family – into getting rid of their current servants and employing them by posing as unrelated, highly-skilled workers. But later in the film, they discover that the trick is on them and the Kims’ ex-employees had secrets of their own.
Bong Joon-ho broke the line between popcorn flick and arthouse movie. “Parasite” is a highly entertaining box-office hit, but at the same time a very serious piece of cinema and it never ceased to amaze us with its impressive cinematography, camerawork, clever script and underlying social commentary.
1. Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler has proved himself to be a good actor when in the hands of the right director (his work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” come to mind), but his role in The Safdie brothers’ movie is probably a career-high.
Here, Sandler gives one of the year’s best performances as Howard Ratner, a Jewish-American who owns a jewelry store in New York City and has an eccentric temperament. After getting in over his head with some money and jewelry loans and angering the people he works with, Howard finds himself in a hard to escape situation that seems to go from bad to worse.
Similar to their previous film “Good Time”, The Safdie Brothers’ new movie is yet another fast-paced, funny, entertaining and anxiety-inducing thriller that takes place over a short amount of time and grabs your attention from start to end. It is one of our favorites of the year and we will go as far as saying is the best film the two directors have made so far.