THE BEST MOVIES OF 2019 (so far)
From festival favorites at Sundance and SXSW to theatrical thrillers from Marvel and more, these are the movies that have stood out thus far in 2019.
The Art of Self-Defense
After a brutal mugging, a man takes up karate to learn how to better defend himself. Riley Stearns directs Jesse Eisenberg in this dry wine of a comedy that premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Probably the most deadpan movie you will see all year.
AtZ Scores: Art - 8; Alina - 7
Big Time Adolescence
A suburban teenager (American Vandal’s Griffin Gluck) becomes friends with his older sister’s ex-boyfriend (Pete Davidson) and picks up destructive habits in this Sundance-approved coming-of-age comedy written and directed by Jason Orley. The hilarious movie features a breakout role for SNL star Davidson, as the cool, surrogate older brother to Gluck’s Mo, introducing him to a world of booze, drugs and women.
AtZ Scores: Art - 8; Alina - 8; Zach - 8; Chase - 8
Brittany Runs a Marathon
Living in New York and unhappy with her life, Brittany (Jillian Bell) decides to get in shape and run the NYC Marathon. Written and directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo, Brittany Runs a Marathon is a funny, inspiring story with one of the best endings of 2019. Amazon acquired the movie after its Sundance premiere and will release the film in August 2019.
Listen to Art admit this was the only movie that made him cry at Sundance in the Let Me Explain Sundance 2019 recap: here
AtZ Scores: Art - 8; Alina - 9; Zach - 9; Chase - 3.5
A Chinese family reunites after learning that their grandmother has a short time left to live, but decide not to inform the grandmother that she is sick. Family drama is balanced with character comedy in this wonderful Sundance hit directed by Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina.
AtZ Scores - Arturo - 8; Alina - 9; Zach - 9
The Garden Left Behind
An audience award winner at SXSW, The Garden Left Behind follows a young transwoman named Tina, and how she navigates her transition alongside her grandmother Eliana, both of whom are undocumented immigrants living in New York City
ATZ Scores - Art - 8; Alina - 8
Max, Lucas and Thor and best friends in sixth grade who ditch school for an epic adventure involving a lost drone, stolen drugs, and a boy-girl kissing party. Produced by Seth Rogen from a screenplay by Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg (The Office, Bad Teacher) and directed by Stupnitsky, Good Boys premiered at this year’s SXSW.
AtZ Scores: Art - 10; Alina - 10
A thoroughly bizarre satire of suburbia and conformity, Greener Grass is a highly stylized, highly mannered and highly uncomfortable comedy in the mold of a John Waters or Yorgos Lanthimos film. Co-written and co-directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, this delightfully weird feature was acquired by IFC Midnight for distribution.
AtZ Scores: Art - 10; Alina - 9; Zach - 8; Chase - 9; Fernando - 7
Written by Shia LaBeouf and based on his own life as a child star, Honey Boy tells the story of Otis (Lucas Hedges), an actor sent to rehab who confronts the difficult childhood he experienced as a teenager (Noah Jupe) growing up with his erratic father (Shia LaBeouf). A surprisingly thoughtful and well-acted drama directed by Alma Har’el. Amazon bought the film although no release date has been announced.
Listen to Art explain why Alma Har’el was the right choice to direct this movie in the Let Me Explain Sundance 2019 recap video: here
AtZ Scores: Art - 8; Alina - 9; Zach - 6; Chase - 7; Fernando - 8
When a kindergarten class trip is interrupted by a zombie invasion, it’s up to their teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o) to fend off the attack while keeping the kids safe. The hilarious comedy horror film, written and directed by Abe Forsythe, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and was acquired by Neon Films & Hulu for release later in 2019.
Listen to Art explain why the movie is actually a love letter from a father to his son in the Let Me Explain Sundance 2019 recap: here
AtZ Scores: Art - 9; Alina - 8
A married couple with an adopted son have their picture perfect lives shaken up after an alarming accusation from one of their son’s teachers. From director Julius Onah, Luce is a smart, twisty social thriller that keeps its audience guessing until the very end. The dynamic cast is lead by Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth and Kelvin Harrison Jr. Neon Film is releasing Luce on August 2nd.
AtZ Scores: Art - 10; Alina - 9; Zach - 8; Chase - 6; Fernando - 7
A visceral, raw revenge thriller set in 19th century Tasmania, The Nightingale is filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s highly anticipated follow-up to The Babadook. Centered on a horrific act of violence, this film is not for the squeamish, as several audiences members couldn’t make it through its Sundance screenings. IFC Films picked up The Nightingale and will release it on August 2nd, 2019.
Listen to Art talk about what happened in his audience during THAT scene in the Let Me Explain Sundance 2019 recap: here
AtZ Scores: Art - 9; Alina - 8; Zach - 6; Chase - 9; Fernando - 7
Queen of Hearts
A woman risks her family and career after entering into a relationship with her stepson. Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance 2019, May el-Toukhy’s film is a stunning drama that keeps you guessing.
AtZ Scores: Art - 9; Alina 9
The Peanut Butter Falcon
A young man with Down’s Syndrome runs away from his care home to fulfill his dream of becoming a wrestler and crosses paths with a small time crook on the run. Tyler Wilson & Mike Schwartz co-write & co-direct this heartfelt adventure film that debuted at South by Southwest. The Peanut Butter Falcon stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal and Yelawolf.
AtZ Scores: Art - 10; Alina - 9
Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary
What begins as a documentary profiling the ailing performer The Amazing Johnathan morphs into an unexpected deconstruction of documentary filmmaking as filmmaker Benjamin Berman struggles to identify what is truth and what is fiction. Hulu acquired this hilarious documentary after its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and will release it on August 16th.
AtZ Scores: Art - 10; Alina - 9; Zach 8; Chase - 9; Fernando - 7
Who Let the Dogs Out?
The Baha Men became ubiquitous for their smash hit “Who Let the Dogs Out,” but the new Who Let the Dogs Out? documentary seeks to show that the song is far more than a kitschy, one hit wonder. From the song’s peculiar origin story, to the song’s complicated copyright situation, this SXSW-premiered documentary is a surprisingly fascinating exploration into the question that’s dogged us all: who, in fact, let the dogs out?
AtZ Scores: Art - 8; Alina - 8
Yes, God, Yes
An innocent Catholic teenager discovers masturbating and a whole lot more thanks to some help from AOL Instant Messenger. The directorial debut of Obvious Child co-writer Karen Maine, this raunchy comedy debuted at SXSW.
AtZ Scores: Art - 7; Alina 9