Arts & Culture

The Best Movies of 2019 (So Far)

There's more to come but each of these films is a pleasure (and possibly a masterpiece).
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These are the must-see films to check off your list before the end of the year.

Greta


This thriller, directed and co-written by Neil Jordan, puts international treasure Isabelle Huppert to fine use as a woman who develops an unexpected and dangerous attachment to a young friend (Chloë Grace Moretz). It's unexpected, more than a bit campy, and undeniably frightening.

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Everybody Knows


Real-life married couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem star in this thriller from Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi that follows a woman (Cruz) who returns to her Spanish hometown only to have her teenage daughter go missing. It's a twisted, dark movie with white-knuckle moments and knockout performances from its leads.

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Us


It might be too early to say whether Lupita Nyong'o will earn an Oscar nomination for her double role in this horror mega-hit from director Jordan Peele, but there's no doubt that her performance—as a woman trying to protect her family when the world seems to be coming to an end—is one of the year's most impressive. Co-stars, including Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss, give impressive performances in the frightening, delightful movie as well.

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Booksmart


Olivia Wilde's directorial debut managed to take all of the things that have made the one-wild-night teen movie genre great since the beginning of time—best friends, raucous parties, first loves, raunchy humor—and not only master them, but do so in a way that felt smart, modern, and fresh. It also didn't hurt that her cast—including Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Lisa Kudrow, and Diana Silvers—was the year's funniest. Expect to be hearing about Booksmart for the rest of this year and beyond.

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Rocketman


We haven't loved every big rock 'n' roll biopic that's been released in recent years (cough cough), but Dexter Fletcher's Rocketman—which tells a slightly fantastical, deliciously musical version of Elton John's life story with Taron Egerton in the lead role—was an absolute pleasure. It tells the tale of John's wild ride from nerdy English kid to drug-addled superstar (and beyond) with a sense of humor, a strong visual point of view, and some first-rate dance numbers.

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Late Night


Mindy Kaling wrote and starred in this smart comedy about a TV talk show legend (Emma Thompson) who's attempting to extend her professional expiration date and also perhaps expand her emotional IQ. It's sharp and stylish, and delivers thoughtful cultural critique without missing a chance to be very, very funny.

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Never Look Away


Is the latest from director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck really a three-hour, German-language look at the life of an artist (inspired by Gerhard Richter) who grew up under Nazi rule? You bet. But it's also a visually stunning, entirely enchanting exploration of love, passion, and what it means to bring beauty into the world.

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The Souvenir


To call this movie from British director Joanna Hogg an early 1980s love story feels like we're underselling it. Yes, it's the story of a young woman (a fantastic Honor Swinton Byrne) and her relationship—in this case with an addict and liar played by Tom Burke), but it's also about art, friendship, the lies we tell our families, and what it means to know yourself. It's exceedingly reassuring to know a sequel is already in the works.

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Transit


Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer star in Christian Petzold's film about a man trying to escape an occupied France, who begins traveling with the papers of a dead man—and finds himself tangled up with his wife as well. It's a thoughtful, tricky, and thrilling example of masterful storytelling, where nothing is quite what it seems and what feels familiar might be the most dangerous thing of all.

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Avengers: Endgame


Sure, this final film in the Avengers series is a big-budget, over-the-top popcorn movie designed to lure us into cool movie theaters on hot summer days. But it's also a charming, bright, and satisfying addition to the Marvel universe that not only ties up loose ends from the series—which has spanned more than a decade—but offers some truly impressive new moments as well. Is it high art? Debatable. But for pure movie magic, Endgame might be the year's film to beat.

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Her Smell


Elisabeth Moss is no stranger to bestowing incredible depth upon characters who, in lesser hands, might not receive it. Her skills are at their peak in Her Smell, director Alex Ross Perry's frank, unforgiving film about a rock star who is consumed by the struggle between art and excess. It's hard to watch Moss's Becky Something spiral out of control and lose her grip on not only her talent, but her family, friends, and career. But it's an undeniable pleasure to watch another collaboration between Perry and Moss, whose work together always offers illuminating and intriguing observations about humanity.

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*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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