Best movies of 2019

This image released by Neon shows Woo-sik Choi, from left, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang and So-dam Park in a scene from “Parasite.” (Neon via AP)

Another year of movies is in the books and award season is underway.

So which movies should you make sure to catch before the Oscars?

Here are my favorites in order:


Best Movies of 2019

30. The Last Black Man in San Francisco” – Joe Talbot

Gentrification is poetically rendered in this thought-provoking indie starring Jimmie Fails as a man holding onto the home his grandfather built in a changing city.

29. “The Mustang” – Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre makes her directorial debut in this French/Belgian flick about a convict who joins Bruce Dern’s prison rehab program training wild mustangs.

28. “Us” – Jordan Peele

While the ambitious premise doesn’t live up to the Oscar-winning script of “Get Out,” Jordan Peele’s concept allows for a killer double performance by Lupita Nyong’o.

27. “Ready or Not” – Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

This horror comedy takes an absurd “hide and seek” premise and turns it into box-office gold with Samara Weaving playing the most kickass bloody bride since “Kill Bill.” 

26. “Knives Out” – Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson (“Looper”) delivers a star-studded romp that rises above the standard “Clue” whodunnit by revealing the culprit early on, then watching the aftermath.

25. “Toy Story 4” – Josh Cooley

Pixar’s fourth installment focuses more on Woody than Buzz Lightyear, while “Veep” alum Tony Hale steals the show as Forky hilariously sprinting toward the trash.

24. Always Be My Maybe” – Nahnatchka Khan

TV creator Nahnatcha Khan reunites with writer Ali Wong and actor Randal Park for this rom-com about childhood best friends who escape the “friend zone.”

23. “Judy” – Rupert Goold

While it would have been nice to see more chapters from Judy Garland’s fascinating life, Renee Zellweger earns Oscar buzz for portraying her tragic final weeks on tour.

22. “The Highwaymen” – John Lee Hancock

Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson shine as gruff Texas Rangers who track down Bonnie & Clyde in this throwback companion piece to Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic.

21. “Queen & Slim” – Melina Matsoukas

Lena Waithe (“Master of None”) sends Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie-Turner Smith on the lam after killing a police officer in self-defense during a racially charged traffic stop.

20. “Abominable” – Jill Culton

This Chinese-American animated gem by Pearl Studio adorably follows a young girl from Shanghai who helps a magical Yeti return to its family on Mount Everest.

19. “The Two Popes” – Fernando Meirelles 

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce shine as Pope Benedict and Pope Francis in this true story of Vatican transition directed by “City of God” filmmaker Fernando Meirelles.

18. “Rocketman” – Dexter Fletcher

A year after Rami Malek’s Oscar win as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Taylor Egerton dazzles as flamboyant showman Elton John in this toe-tapping biopic.

17. “Blinded By the Light” – Gurinder Chadha 

Gurinder Chada (“Bend it Like Beckham”) helms this delightful story of a British-Pakistani teen who finds his voice through the blue-collar lyrics of Bruce Springsteen.

16. “Yesterday” – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) craft this fantasy about a busker who is the only one in the world who remembers The Beatles.

15. “Avengers: Endgame” – Joe & Anthony Russo

After “Infinity War” delivered a shocking Thanos snap, “Endgame” wrapped a decade of Marvel flicks with the highest-grossing blockbuster of all time (unadjusted for inflation).

14. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” – Tyler Nilson

Zach Gottsagen plays a young man with Down Syndrome who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler, joining a drifter (Shia LaBeouf) for a Mark Twain journey down south.

13. “Waves” – Trey Edward Shults

Visionary director Trey Edward Shults captures life’s “ebbs and flows” as Sterling K. Brown fathers a Florida family of young stars in Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell.

12. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” – Marielle Heller

Tom Hanks zips up his sweater and tosses his sneaker as Mr. Rogers, winning over Matthew Rhys’ jaded journalist assigned to write a profile on the children’s TV host.

11. “The Irishman” – Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese provides a eulogy for his career of gangster pictures as a digitally de-aged Robert De Niro recounts the unsolved disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

10. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – Quentin Tarantino 

Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie star in this love note to ’60s Hollywood, as Quentin Tarantino reimagines Sharon Tate’s fate at the hands of the Mansons.

9. JoJo Rabbit” – Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) directs this black comedy about a boy in the Hitler Youth who learns his mom (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.

8. “Joker” – Todd Phillips

Joaquin Phoenix rivals Heath Ledger, playing his uncontrollable laughter as a heartbreaking medical condition in this “Taxi Driver,” “King of Comedy” origin story.

7. “The Farewell” – Lulu Wang

Awkwafina showed comedy chops in “Crazy Rich Asians,” but she shows a more introspective side in this true story of a family hiding grandma’s terminal diagnosis.

6. “Marriage Story” – Noah Baumbach

Not since Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage” have we witnessed such a painful divorce as this custody battle between Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.

5. “Little Women” – Greta Gerwig 

Greta Gerwig reunites with her “Lady Bird” star Saiorse Ronan for this lush update on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about sisters growing up in 1860s New England.

4. “Ford v. Ferrari” – James Mangold 

Matt Damon and Christian Bale shine as U.S. car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles in this true story of Ford challenging Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966.

3. “Harriet” – Kasi Lemmons

The year’s most inspirational movie is Kasi Lemmons’ overdue biopic on Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman, finally written by, directed by and starring black women.

2. “1917” – Sam Mendes

Inspired by his grandfather’s service in the WWI trenches, “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes masterfully films two soldiers’ mission to appear as one continuous take.

1. “Parasite” – Bong Joon-ho 

South Korean master Bong Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer”) juxtaposes two families of different economic means in this Cannes Palme d’Or winner that keeps us guessing.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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