Lists · Movies

The 25 Best Movies of 2019 So Far

We round out our mid-year assessment of the pop culture landscape with a list of the movies we’ve loved, so far.
Best Movies Mid
By  · Published on July 1st, 2019

20. Climax


Climax, the latest film from notorious provocateur Gaspar Noé, is a whirlwind of dance, in your face music and nauseating camera work, making it perhaps the most Gaspar Noé film yet. Few directors tap into the deepest, darkest corners of human nature like him (for better or for worse) and Climax takes that idea to its absolute extremes.

After an astonishing opening performance, shot in a glorious single take, a French dance troupe led by Sofia Boutella’s Selva slowly realize that they’ve all been spiked. Fights quickly break out over who did it, but the real horrors are still to come. More so than Noé’s other films, Climax’s success hangs on its star, and Boutella is more than up to the task, giving one of the most demented performances you’re likely to see this year. Her physicality, from the dancing to an unforgettable sequence where she appears to exercise a demon, is a remarkable achievement, showing the actress truly letting go and giving all of herself to the role. The film is designed to test the patience, and the stomachs, of even the most devout Noé fans, but those who stick with it will have an experience they won’t soon shake off. (Hayden Cornmell)

19. Hagazussa


Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse is a forbidding forest of a film. It has a magic about it that entices you off the beaten path, luring you to a darker place with a lovingly framed high alpine, groggy cello drone, and the promise that things aren’t quite what the seem. Hagazussa (an old high-german word for “witch”) is the debut of Berlin-based writer-director Lukas Feigelfeld; in fact, it’s a polished version of his film school graduation project. Mark my words Hagazussa is going to be Feigelfeld’s Beyond the Black Rainbow. That a crowd-funded Austrian-German genre film is on this list should tip you off: he’s one to watch.

Set in Austria in the 1400s, Hagazussa tells of Albrun (Aleksandra Cwen), a goat-herder who lives alone in the mountains with her infant daughter. Alburn’s way of life is secluded. She says her baby has no father. She spends too much time alone in the forest. She is the kind of woman the 15th-century brands a witch. Sure enough, Albrun is the subject of abuse from the nearby villagers; mistreated for her strangeness and the threat that strangeness presents. What follows is a pressure cooker of isolation, superstition, and psychosis on a traumatized mind. An empathetic investigation into how the 15th century twisted certain souls into losing themselves and committing the most heinous acts. This is the slow burn your grandpappy warned you about. The kind where you don’t realize what hot water you’re in until it’s too late. (Meg Shields)

18. High Flying Bird

High Flying Bird

High Flying Bird is a cerebral late capitalist puzzle that enacts the liberation sociology of the vitally important Dr. Harry Edwards, the seminal scholar known for his revolutionary critiques of the modern sporting world as the economic product of an oppressive history of whiteness. It’s the story of NBA agent Ray Burke (Andre Holland) reclaiming black agency in more ways than one. Playwright turned screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and director Steven Soderbergh know how to spin us around in circles as much as they know how to deliver a sobering, resounding sense of narrative power.

So few films could dream of being this smart, engaging, and serious about a topic–serious enough to incite the sociological framework of one of the few academics who is as much a practitioner of his philosophies as he is a master communicator of them. This is insurgent cinema, and it must be seen at least twice to be grasped even on a surface level. (Luke Hicks)

17. I Am Mother

I Am Mother

It’s clear that humanity lives in fear that our robotic creations will rise up and slaughter us like chattel. This is well-trodden ground in the sci-fi genre including classics like I, Robot, Terminator, The Matrix, and many more. Netflix’s new sci-fi original I Am Mother, directed by Grant Sputore, shows another side to the robopocalypse: what if the robots were instead nurturing humanity through the end of the world in order to give our species a fresh start?

The first of this new generation is Daughter, played by Clara Rugaard, and she is raised by Mother, a robot determined to reboot the human race. Mother is a completely practical creation played by Luke Hawker and voiced by Rose Byrne. Their renaissance is interrupted when Hilary Swank arrives; her very existence drives a wedge between Mother and Daughter as truths become suspect and intentions are made murky. This character-driven piece is a welcome addition to the robopocalypse sub-genre of science fiction. (Sam Olthof)

16. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Extremely Wicked

The world sure as hell did not need another Ted Bundy movie. The attempt to understand the intelligence and psychology of such a creature is a compelling but fruitless task. Try all we might, we’ll probably never understand the birth of a sociopathic mind. The brilliance of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is how it takes advantage of Zac Efron’s undeniable charisma and uses it to heighten our empathy towards Lily Collins’ tormented single mother.

This tale does not belong to Ted Bundy; it belongs to Liz Kendall. Joe Berlinger directs our voyeurism away from the true crime atrocities and into the home where this monster hid. Don’t imagine the gory details of Bundy’s crimes. Instead, imagine what the revelation of those crimes would do to those that knew him and that loved him. We would let Efron into our hearts, and we would let Bundy in as well. In focusing on the destruction of Kendall’s world, Berlinger returns the narrative to the victims and removes the pulp appeal of the maniac. (Brad Gullickson)

Next Page

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Related Topics:

An author similar to Hydra. Its articles have many authors. It has many heads. Please don’t cut off any of its heads, we’re trying to work here.