In 2019, I challenged myself to watch 52 movies in 52 weeks. After watching each film — mostly via streaming — and analyzing them, I scored each film based on a series of criteria including how captivating, rewatchable, and technically impressive (cinematography, editing, musical composition) they were. I enjoyed most of them (28 of them I rated 3.5/5 stars or higher), tolerated a few, and did not like a couple. Without further ado, here are some of my favorites:
Best Horror: Hereditary (Amazon Prime) – Ari Aster’s Hereditary is a masterclass in Horror. It manages to defy expectations and is consistently unpredictable. Although it takes a while to pick up, once it does, it’s impossible to look away from. And the film’s ability to build tension without relying on cheap jump scares is beyond impressive. There’s so much to love about this movie: the meticulous foreshadowing, the intriguing revelations, the beautiful cinematography, the award-winning acting performances; There were so many layers to it that I didn’t realize until days afterward, and months later, I’m still impressed by Aster’s ability to take so many complex and far-fetched concepts and somehow turn it into a coherent story that certainly warrants a rewatch.
Best Comedy: Booksmart (Hulu) – Watching Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time. It captures everything great about coming-of-age high school dramas and romcoms but does so without overusing cliched tropes or stereotypes. The protagonists’ friendship was so well-written; the genuinely hilarious character dynamics and great timing made every joke land. The entertaining story, multidimensional characters, the killer soundtrack — rarely do I see a movie that lives up to the hype. Though intentionally absurd at times, it had realistic conflicts and emotional moments that made this feel like so much more than a comedy. It’s one of those movies that feels instantly like a classic.
Best Science Fiction: Arrival – Like Hereditary, Dennis Villeneuve’s Arrival, requires some degree of patience, but it’s so worth it. This film is more than just visually impressive; it’s deep, and it evaluates what it means to be human in a way that all great science fiction does. It’s thought-provoking and thematically dense, which leads to some initial confusion, but once the twists unfold and the pieces fall into place, it’s incredible. Amy Adams’ performance in this is Oscar-worthy, and so was the haunting score and beautiful cinematography. There’s not much more to say — it’s one of those movies that are nearly impossible to talk about without spoiling it — but even as a non-sci fi fan, I can’t recommend this enough.
Other favorites: You Were Never Really Here (Thriller), Casting Jonbenet or Minding The Gap (Documentary), Her (Romance), Joker (Drama), and We The Animals (Coming of Age).
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