Jojo Rabbit, an adaptation of Christine Leunens’s book, Caging Skies, is the newest work from writer-director Taika Waititi. A toothless satire that struggles to spit venom at its totalitarian state subject, Jojo Rabbit is the first miss for Waititi.
The Lighthouse—emphatically the best movie of the year featuring cabin fever, a delirious Willem Dafoe, and human-mermaid coitus—is writer-director Robert Eggers’s first film since 2016’s The Witch. Co-written with Eggers’s brother Max, The Lighthouse is a flawed-but-memorable follow-up to a horror genre masterpiece.
In May, Parasite unanimously and deservedly took home the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The 2019 Palme d’Or winner, a tour de force from writer-director Bong Joon-ho, could rightfully find itself in the conversation for the top prize at 92nd Academy Awards. Although no foreign-language film has ever won Best Picture and no South Korean film has ever been nominated in any category, Parasite would be worthy of the historical distinction.
Six years after the finale of Breaking Bad aired on AMC, series creator Vince Gilligan returned to one of the franchise’s lead characters with a feature-length film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, to firmly conclude this portion of the Breaking Bad story. (This shouldn’t be confused with lead character Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), however, whose story is continued in AMC’s Better Call Saul.) Gilligan’s successfully returned to his signature story with Saul Goodman, but couldn’t generate the same results with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).
Director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman return to the It franchise to invite us back to Derry, Maine. That damned clown is at it again. Only, this time, like a car ride to a new place, it (no pun intended) isn’t as scary or interesting on the second go around.
The ink isn’t yet dry on the art that will frame the Great Recession. The few films that have been made around the defining event of the ‘00s each focus on a different subject; The Big Short shines a light on those who made out like bandits, The Wolf of Wall Street points the blame directly at its titular location, and Sorry to Bother You interrogates the human motivation behind greed. Hustlers, the newest addition to 2008 financial crisis’ wall of shame, is a street-level perspective of the working-class victims who could no longer afford to play it straight.
Writer-director James Gray follows up his criminally-underrated The Lost City of Z with a film that may just top it. Ad Astra sends Brad Pitt hurtling through space, interspersing peerless set pieces with character study, introspection, and societal commentary. No 2019 film has aspired to such awe-inspiring heights. No film in years has aspired to such heights and surpassed them.
With movie studios scrambling to produce (and re-produce) recognizable intellectual property, famed author Stephen King and his work are in high demand. Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer were brought on to adapt Pet Sematary, a 1983 King novel of the same name. The novel’s second adaptation in 30 years, the studio should’ve followed the book’s choice wisdom: sometimes dead is better.
If aliens came to Earth demanding to see the art that best represents us as a species, I would advocate for The Shawshank Redemption as the single film that embodies everything it is to be human. 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption is a tale of hope and despair, purity and corruption, and, perhaps most of all, victory and defeat.
Pulp Fiction defined careers, a genre, and an era. With a plot that balanced three intertwining narratives more successfully than any film before or since, its praise is well warranted. Director Quentin Tarantino broke onto the film scene with 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, but Pulp Fiction, released two years later, got Hollywood’s attention like a shot of adrenaline to the heart.