Set in Harlem in the early 1970s, If Beale Street Could Talk is a story of family, hope, and despair. Released in 2018 and based on a book of the same title by famed author James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk reveals what we already knew: writer-director Barry Jenkins is a master of the craft.
Damien Chazelle’s third feature film, First Man, salutes the ingenuity and sacrifice necessary to launch rickety spacecrafts into the great unknown. The film spends its 141-minute runtime as a cross between a Neil Armstrong biopic and a recounting of the Apollo space program. Despite Chazelle’s technical mastery and the intrinsic allure of the subject matter, the film is unable to replicate the feelings that inspired a generation of scientists.
With 2017’s Get Out, comedian-turned-filmmaker Jordan Peele burst onto the scene in a full sprint. With just one film under his belt, Peele was already dubbed this generation’s Alfred Hitchcock, setting expectations unreasonably high for Us, Peele’s 2019 sophomoric follow-up. Although Us isn’t Peele’s second masterpiece in as many tries, the ponderous plot and themes may make Us, not Get Out, the longer standing fixture in the cultural conversation.
Marvel Studios released 20 movies before Captain Marvel, its first helmed by a solo woman, came to theaters. Semantics will say that women co-starred in Ant-Man and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly’s titular Wasp) and in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow), but the Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel is a new experience altogether (and a refreshing one, at that).
Based on a true story and a memoir of the same name, Can You Ever Forgive Me? follows Lee Israel, a biographer turned forger and her exploits across the collector book scene, in ‘90s New York City. One of the best films of 2018, Can You Ever Forgive Me? operates somewhere between a buddy comedy and Catch Me If You Can.
Ben is Back is a family drama, but more than that, it’s the scarcely seen mother-son relationship movie. Ben (Lucas Hedges) is a drug addict. His mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), loves him unconditionally and will do everything in her power to end Ben’s addiction to the substances that drive the two apart.
At the 2018 Oscars, a superhero movie was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor was awarded to a performer for lip-syncing Freddie Mercury songs, and Driving Miss Daisy defied the laws of time and space by winning Best Picture again. If 2019 is as anomalous as 2018, attempting to predict the field is a fool’s errand. In that case, let’s get silly with 25 of the most likely nominees of 2019.