2019 was a great year for movie lovers and us. We got a lot of great films and masterpieces especially nearing the end of 2019 and also decades. And yes, times just keep up. We can’t go with the flow and neither can I, make a crappy list about my best movies from this decade. I made a list of the best movies from this decade and didn’t choose to make a list of good films this year. Do you know why? Because I haven’t watched a lot of films this year. With the cinema in my place that limits the movies, it’s hard to go with it. Not to mention, I didn’t follow the trend of mainstream films especially Marvel because of the time and busyness I had.
And yes, this year, I just spent a lot of time watching festival films, classic films, arthouse films, and so on. So, if only your favorite films don’t come in, I’m sorry. And if you still insist on the lists, you can just leave it to you. Keep in mind, as a lot of people make lists like this, this is a subjective list. And also, I don’t want to make lists according to the year. I want to make it random, based on my perspective and experience, and just want to recall what I, or maybe you, just got for this year and this decade.
Looking back at Adam Sandler again on screen with his serious acting made it the tensest viewing experience this year I have ever seen. Safdie brothers put Sandler as a jewelry seller who beat anything in his life. He risked everything to get the gems he was betting on to get double money on his beat. However, as he went in, he became so obsessed that even small steps made him always fail.
I have only known Safdie brothers since their work in “Good Time” with the same premise as “Uncut Gems” as well. But, I prefer this movie to “Good Time” because of, well, I prefer this. Since “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems”, a lot of people consider Safdie brothers just made a new genre. And yes, this movie has a lot of panic attacks and it feels like that. At the end of the movie, you know what you just get. And you can no longer forget how it feels to enjoy that nerve ending.
- Cold War (2018)
With “Ida”, Pawel Pawlikowski recalls a star-crossed lovers story in the form of a tragedy black-and-white drama. It’s about a musician who falls in love with a singer-dancer he practices. They meet and fall in love. But, they have to go through so many obstacles is the situation at the time. They had to deal with war and not to mention, the ideology and politics at that time. I miss films like this, reminding me of films like “Casablanca”, “Life Is Beautiful”, and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And this is my first movie experience recall when I first watched these films. It’s claustrophobic, so powerful with its cinematography, and has a lot of emotion. Though, I can’t compare it to “Ida” as well because I didn’t watch it yet so I’m sorry.
I don’t know but I’m sure this list would be filled with modern films in the black and white format. So please, don’t call me a hipster. Speaking about hipsters, Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” is a true one of the best coming-of-age movies in this decade. Yeah, the list goes on and on. We got “Booksmart” with this year, “Call Me By Your Name” and “Moonlight” as both modern queer cinema and one of my favorite movies at the year, “Boyhood” with incredible production, more and more. Because of this film as well, I knew Greta Gerwig better before she became a director.
I chose this film because of the powerful yet realistic presentation of how you are at a dead-end, have to find a way out, and can’t. Around Paris along with the charismatic Frances, while dancing on the streets, this movie is just so charming in all the way. It makes me see how life and personal experience can shine through into a moving picture. And yeah, black and white format. And David Bowie as well.
Speaking about Greta Gerwig, and a coming-of-age movie as well, my next movie is “Lady Bird”. Yeah, you called this overrated, dull, monotonous, unoriginal, etc, etc. But, I appreciated this movie because of how Greta Gerwig reflected her auto-biographical in this movie. She put Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird who wants to look good but not really. What she only wanted was to want to go to the university he wanted to see. But, as soon as that ending appears, man, it’s just so tear-jerking. With all of the actors put a great performance in each of them, this movie suddenly became a classic put on the big screen. It’s one of those movies that can have an impact on filmmaking especially its theme. This movie creates itself.
There is a laugh, dancing, enjoying your life, happiness, dramatic, emotional, sadness, everything. This is one of those movies that makes me love the director, Xavier Dolan. With so realistic performance, especially Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon, it’s about a mother who is trying to take care of her son whose a disorder. This movie, my God, makes me happy, laughing, and so on. And if you are curious, just look at that aspect ratio. If you consider this is just another indie crap movie that seems pretentious, you have to experience it. And if you don’t want to watch it, after all, there is Oasis’ ” Wonderwall “in this movie. So, go watch it!
In the same year together with “Mommy”, there was “Nightcrawler”. Speaking about this movie, we get a lot of great character and psychological movie studies. There are “Drive“, “You Were Never Really Here“, and I know, I should mention “Joker” too. But, “Nightcrawler” at the same time it’s a great satire movie. Dan Gilroy turns Jake Gyllenhaal into a sociopathic who just wants to get a piece of great events for his frame. It’s a “manipulates” but so complex. Either you find Bloom is the bad guy, you know the reason. Trying to research and analyze these characters has patience. It’s become one of my favorite anti-hero films in this decade.
Yeah, this list can be filled with A24 films. So, beware. Anyway, this, again, an autobiographical film about the director herself, Joanna Hogg. It’s a movie that has all kinds of elements. There is romance, with a wrenching performance by Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne, about chasing dreams and dealing with other problems. It’s hard to believe this movie is inspired by the real story of the director’s personal experience. For me, it’s so hard to believe until now. But, I can conclude this is a movie about toxic people whom toxic people would love. Maybe, I don’t know. Regardless, this is another unique coming-of-age story as well.
Okay, enough with coming-of-age films. I want to go with action films first. “The Raid” by Gareth Evans is one of the best experiences I have ever seen in this decade. I’m also hard to believe if this came from Indonesia too but I don’t want to feel narcissistic at first. Anyway, these are one of those examples of how to direct an action film. You have a great choreography, with brutally intense action sequences. With “The Raid 2”, everything turns into one place to become wider. It’s so well-shot, well-choreographed, and films that are also influential in the future, especially with its genre. It’s the same with “John Wick” and please, don’t attack me because I haven’t watched all the series of “John Wick”.
If only comic book adaptation films like this film, I might find it easier to keep up with current trends. I always love Spider-Man as a kid to teen. And until I grow up, maybe it’s really hard for me to watch films like this anymore. It feels like I’m not into it like people who only watch films like this. But, I was surprised when this movie wasn’t well-known in my place because it’s just an animated feature movie. You know, think animation is the same as children is weird. But, just astonishing to see films like this on-screen. Just amazing. With great scripts, memorable characters, funny jokes, specific details, that glitch effect, just… yeah, I freaking love this movie.
- La La Land (2016)
This movie is the primary example of one of those films which instantly becomes a direct classic. Chazelle magically turns a world that is more modern, more contemporary, and more retro. He puts Ryan Gosling, a jazz pianist, and Emma Stone, a struggling actress, into a couple. This is also one of those films where at first, I don’t understand why. But, as long as I rewatched again, I know why. And yeah, people just keep bragging about this movie why it didn’t win Best Picture. I think “Moonlight” and “La La Land” are both great at least it comes for me. But, with well-executed performance and choreography, great production, this movie reminds me of musical films like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Sound of Music”
With “Dogtooth” which is probably one of the disturbing movies that get chill every time I remember the ending, I immediately fell in love with Yorgos Lanthimos’ works. This movie initially slapped me with a lie if I watched a biography. And well, it’s still biography… on acid. Saying this is a biopic was very difficult especially when this is also a historical period movie. But, to see Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz trying to fight over Olivia Colman’s heart, you just want to see this movie. And don’t start with the absurd but memorable scenes in this film. The weirdest dancing scene, the fat naked guy who looks like James Corden, feminism on crack, the kick in the balls, all the bunnies, everything. Just don’t start with those.
Probably, you love this movie because you can see Scarlett Johansson being naked on screen in front of you. But, not for me, sort of. Jonathan Glazer directs Johansson as an unknown creature who drives a van through Glasgow, Scotland. She disguised herself as a sexy girl to attract strangers, and yes strangers, repeat and repeat. I miss films like this also, like most of Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, or even Andrei Tarkovsky did. For me, this is one of the eerie experiences I’ve ever felt for this movie. It’s cold, full of curiosity, and full of philosophy as well.
I can guarantee if, in the next 10 years, people will come back with this film, try to analyze it, and argue with each other because of differences in interpretation. That the beautiful things become a moviegoer. You have an opinion but your opinion isn’t wrong either. You have many reasons why you love this or that movie and vice versa. And don’t forget that sick yet hypnotic score by Mica Levi. I would look cool listening to the score while walking in public and watching people as I learn about humans. But, it’s real-life so maybe it looks ridiculous.
I forgot a little about this film and so do most people. Edgar Wright is one director who is still easy and becomes one of the unique directors who ever live now on Hollywood. Surprisingly, with a ridiculous plot and didn’t make any sense, I don’t know why I put this movie. It’s even better than “Ready Player One“. I also like this film and remind me of the days with my NES. The CGI, the visual, the rhythm like most of Edgar Wright does in all of his movies. The dynamism on every level is plain fantastic. It combines all together why we watch movies. Because it’s fun, exciting, and of course, you want to run away from reality. All of the references, the pixel theme of Universal Picture, so many things to talk about.
With “Hereditary” and “Midsommar”, Ari Aster redefined what real horror films are mostly out of touch. He proved that shaky cam and jumpscare are not the most important part of a horror movie. He also proved that horror is very diverse. And the most important thing is, horror doesn’t have to be set at night or in a dark place. I put this film in the same position because I found it hard to decide. However, simply, I think I talk a lot about Ari Aster and these two works. So, there are no such things I want to talk about regardless he is one of the best directors for this decade.
I just like a loser to put this movie because there are cats on it. But, it’s ridiculous despite the fact, that’s one reason. Coen brothers are one of my favorite directors who ever live. I love all of their work most notable such as “Barton Fink“, “A Serious Man“, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?“, “No Country for Old Men”, and so on. And yeah, for women, you like this film just because you want to see Oscar Isaac and his acoustic guitar sing a folk song about depression and often carry cats wherever he goes.
But, that is not the reason why I adore this movie compared to all Coen brothers’ works. This movie is one of the best representations of “that’s life”. This is also not the first time the Coen brothers have made a film about the validity and randomness of life. “A Serious Man” is one of them and they portrayed life as random as this reality. But, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is very serious than that. It’s a slice of life movie about a musician who is trying his best in his life and career. But, in short, it’s everything for me and for real.
- The Act of Killing (2012)
I always avoid a documentary. Maybe because it’s boring but because it’s hard for me to be included in the same medium as movies in general. I also avoided it because it’s so manipulative and exploitative with the theme especially when you don’t know what you’re trying to say in your documentary. I remember how I first watched “The Act of Killing” and I remember how the experience of watching this film feels. What’s more, as an Indonesian who quite experiences these things in this movie, this documentary is just so important to everyone.
Plus, you have to appreciate Joshua Oppenheimer for bringing together those responsible for genocide in the 60s. He must deceive and frame these people in order not to deliberately exploit these people in re-creating the genocide in film form. The horror, dude. The horror. He also must be careful so that their intentions weren’t known by these people. In “The Act of Killing”, most of the crew fear what will happen to them. So, some of them also have to use pseudonyms so they can easily get rid of their tracks. And yes, it works even after those films. Joshua Oppenheimer is one of the most wanted fugitives in Indonesia. Just watch this movie if you haven’t watched it at all.
It was very well heard when Denis Villeneuve wanted to make a sequel from the original spectacular science fiction of “Blade Runner“, I’m just like “why do you do this?”. And yeah, I was wrong. It’s short to say this one of the best science fiction from this decade. For me, it’s because of the best composition and cinematography by Roger Deakins. Still, this movie brings a philosophical element about humans and android especially this movie fails at the box office. Yeah, because people just want to see Ryan Gosling. It’s simple. I’m talking about “Blade Runner” and this movie also when it comes to sci-fi, just like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and I bring this Kubrick one more on this list. But, I think, I talk too much and always look forward to waiting for Villeneuve’s “Dune” next year.
- The Lighthouse (2019) & Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Again, I can’t decide with both of these movies. I’m not the type of person who can choose quickly. But, it feels like I have to put the Céline Sciamma one as well. First, Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” is suddenly a masterpiece for me. I want to go back to this movie later in the next few years because there are a lot of things to say about it. No matter where you sit, this movie has various interpretations for several people. And again, black and white format but with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. I can’t wait for the Oscar.
Second, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is one of those films and one of the reasons why I love cinema. It’s a movie that left you speechless like “The Lighthouse”. Everything about this movie is like painting slowly painted in one frame to another, just like the story. But, man, that ending at the end of the movie. It reminds me back when I first saw “Call Me By Your Name”. Without words, this is probably one of the best movies in 2019 too. And this year, we got “Parasite“, “Knives Out”, “Ford v Ferrari“, “A Hidden Life”, “Jojo Rabbit”, “Marriage Story“, “Ad Astra“, “Atlantics”, and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”.
And I’m still getting mad about why this movie didn’t win Best Picture. Still get me mad until this day. At least Alfonso Cuarón got Best Cinematography but it didn’t change the fact that this movie didn’t win Best Picture. Anyway, enough with a complaint. Anyway, I love this movie. I don’t know, this kind of piece I like is more than any of the movies I watched. It’s a slice of life movie that wasn’t like anything. And yeah, I had enough to only accept the fact that this movie earns 10 Oscar nominations. You can’t just believe those!
My God, “The Tree of Life” is probably my personal favorite for this decade. Yeah, this movie got a lot of controversial. Some people hated this movie and some people adore this movie a lot, like me. It’s a movie that has everything. It’s so personal, has a spectacular composition by Emmanuel Lubezki, the philosophical story, religious element, and relatable approach. I know, Terrence Malick became a joke in decades and this year apart from me desperately waiting for “A Hidden Life” if only aired in my place. But, this is the language of the film, despite the CGI dinosaurs that seem out of place, becoming one of the best from this decade. It’s like a mother of movies, like the theme that tries to find the existence of God. It’s like watching “Interstellar” but not science fiction.
And that’s all my list and personal yet favorite movies from this decade. I know besides I like Christopher Nolan, I don’t even know why I didn’t include “Dunkirk” or even freaking “Inception”. I also did not include “The Master”, one of my favorites from PTA after “There Will Be Blood”, “Magnolia“, and “Boogie Nights“. With this year, we got plenty of great films at the end of the year. And yeah, where is “Birdman” and “The Revenant”? Where is this movie or that movie? Just like I first said, it’s just my subjective and taste of movies. So, yeah… you know.
With the end of this decade too, I hope 2020 will be filled with original films, not mainstream films that we often see. I also want to see more arthouse and indie films. Yeah, you know me. With this new year, we close it with many films. There is romance, thriller, comedy, horror, drama, and a variety of themes. With this end of this year, I hope everything will go well. So, enjoy your vacation, enjoy your new year, enjoy everything, and most importantly, enjoy many films as much as possible.