Best of 2019 and the decade

What are the top films of this year and the 2010s?

George MacKay stars in Sam Mendes’ 1917, the best film of 2019. (image copyright Universal Pictures / Amblin Partners / DreamWorks)

Exclusive to MeierMovies, December 31, 2019

Creating a list of the best films of a given year before you’ve seen all the good films from that year is a silly exercise. A rush to judgment. A click-bait clinic.

But yet here I am again: putting out a list before I’ve caught up on all the end-of-the-year domestic releases, not to mention some of the best foreign-language and documentary films, many of which don’t get seen by American audiences (and even American critics) until well into the next year. So please take this top-20 list with a large salt lick. (And keep checking my big Yearly List, which I update constantly as I see new films.)

More set in stone, however, is my top 10 of the decade, which I’ve had a chance to mull over for nearly 10 years. I’m particularly proud of that list’s diversity, as it includes a documentary, two foreign-language offerings, a couple of animated films, a silent film, a couple of “art films” and even two films that appear to have been shot in a single take. It’s quite the eclectic group.

Before we look at the movie lists, let us recognize some of 2019’s best performances. In the lead-actor race, Adam Driver in Marriage Story wins in a photo finish over Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. For lead actress, I am sticking with my early selection of Julianne Moore in the disappointingly overlooked Gloria Bell. For supporting actor (if you can really call it a supporting performance), I recognize Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes. And for supporting actress (again, if it’s truly a supporting performance instead of a lead), I pick Adèle Haenel from Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).

Best of 2019 (so far)
1. 1917 – 4 ¾ stars
2. Ad Astra – 4 ½
3. Joker
4. Marriage Story
5. Toy Story 4
6. 63 Up  TV – 4 ¼
7. The Two Popes
8. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
9. Apollo 11
10. Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker
11. Ford v Ferrari – 4
12. Gloria Bell
13. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
14. Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) FL
15. Jojo Rabbit
16. Rocketman
17. Knives Out – 3 ¾
18. Parasite FL
19. Midsommar
20. The Farewell FL

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is the best film of the decade. (image copyright Syncopy / Warner Brothers)

Best of the Decade
1. Dunkirk – 5 stars
2. Hugo (3-D version)
3. Anna Karenina
4. Loving Vincent – 4 ¾
5. 1917
6. Toy Story 3 (3-D version)
7. The Artist SlWS *
8. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) *
9. The Act of Killing FL
10. Holy Motors FL

And just for fun, here are the four worst of the decade. (You can catch them playing in a cinema with an out-of-focus projector, broken seats, crackly speakers and sticky floors – in hell.)

4. Saving Christmas – 0 stars
3. Bad Black FL
2. Fateful Findings
1. Birdemic 2: The Resurrection

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