Movies That Blew Us Away In 2019

15 minute read

By Riley Jones (@moviemanjones)

Even though we have yet to see Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker, seeing as it’s almost the end of the year, we wanted to take some time to highlight a few of the most memorable movies of 2019. From the third chapter of the action-packed John Wick franchise to Quentin Tarantino‘s star-studded ninth film (his words not ours), this truly has been a tremendous year for cinema.

With that in mind, here is our list of 20 unforgettable movies that blew us away in 2019, ranked in descending order. Enjoy!

20. Alita: Battle Angel

The 2019 cyberpunk sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Robert Rodriguez (Mexico Trilogy) and co-produced by James Cameron, tells the story of an abandoned cyborg named Alita, who awakens – with help from the compassionate Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) – to find herself in a new body with no memory of her past or the world she lives in. The film is based on the popular ’90s Japanese manga series Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro, a nine-volume series that ran between 1990-1995.

Since the film’s release, Alita has grossed an impressive $404.9 million worldwide, making it one of the ten highest-grossing films of 2019 (so far) and Rodriguez’s largest-grossing of his career. The film was praised for its outstanding action scenes and breathtaking visual effects but received criticism for a screenplay that felt a little too convoluted at times. Although a sequel has yet to be announced, both Cameron and Rodriquez have revealed their desire to create multiple sequels.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

19. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Many fans, including myself, have long believed that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 was unquestionably the greatest Spider-Man movie ever, but after watching Jon Watts’ Far From Home more times than I’d like to admit, there is no doubt in my mind that the director’s sequel is the greatest Spider-Man movie of all time! Watts did an outstanding job building off of the emotional conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, while also creativity setting the stage for Marvel Studios’ next phase.

Even though Jake Gyllenhaal stole the spotlight from time-to-time, Tom Holland was once again, tremendous. Say what you will about Tobey Macguire and Andrew Garfield, Holland is and forever will be, the best Spidey (and this coming from an ’80s kid). He’s the perfect combination of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man and in our opinion, the gap is only getting bigger. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Mysterio was everything we could have hoped for and more, so much so that we believe it cements Quentin Beck/Mysterio as one of the best on-screen superhero villains to date.

Source: Screenshot via Sony Pictures

18. Crawl

Released in the summer of 2019, Crawl is a thrilling and action-packed disaster film about a young woman who attempts to save her father from their Florida home during a Category 5 hurricane. As the storm worsens and the water levels rise, the rescue mission goes awry when a swarm of alligators cut off their only exit, trapping them as the house continues to flood. The film primarily stars Kaya Scodelario as Haley Keller and Barry Pepper as her father, Dave.

Alexandre Aja’s film might not be everyone, but if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat survival flick, we’d highly recommend giving Crawl a chance. It’s no Jaws, but the story is entertaining and Scodelario’s performance was superb. The talented young actress is best known for playing Teresa in the Maze Runner film franchise.

Source: Screenshot via Paramount Pictures

17. Fast Color

Even though Martin Scorsese might not care for them, superhero movies are as much of a part of cinema as any other genre. The popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has shed some much need light on some smaller budget superhero-inspired indies from being made and Julia Hart’s Fast Color is the perfect example. The film tells the mysterious story of Ruth, a woman with supernatural powers on the run from the government who returns to her childhood home for safety. While there Ruth attempts to mend her broken relationship with her mother and daughter and learns to channel her true potential.

Guru Mbatha-Raw’s performance as Ruth, The superhero drama also stars David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint, Christopher Denham, and Saniyya Sidney.

Source: Screenshot via Codeblack Films

16. Brightburn

As a fan of superhero movies, the thought of watching an alternate and darker version of Superman’s origin story was incredibly intriguing and we can confidently say that Brightburn didn’t disappoint. Directed by newcomer David Yarovesky and penned by Brian and Mark Gunn, the movie tells a terrifying story of a young alien who crashlands on Earth and is raised by a loving couple, played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. As the child, played by Jackson A. Dunn, becomes aware of his true identity and superpowers, rather than use them for good like Superman, he decides to take out his anger on his town and the people closest to him, leaving a bloody path of destruction in his wake.

Despite many criticizing the film for leaving the door open for a sequel and story failing to reach its full potential, we felt Brightburn should be applauded for taking the superhero genre in a new and much-needed direction. Banks was great as usual, but it was Dunn’s disturbing portrayal of Brandon Breyer/Brightburn and the mystery surrounding his arrival that’ll keep you glued to your seat.

Source: Screenshot via Sony Pictures Releasing

15. Us

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards for his psychological horror film, Get Out. Two years later, the former Mad TV cast member returned with Us, a second, more ambitious horror film primarily starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex. Haunted by a traumatic experience from her past, Adelaide and her family return to a beachfront home she grew up at. Shortly after their arrival, four masked strangers show up and her family must fight to stay alive. The entire cast was spot on, but it was Nyong’o’s breakout performance as Adelaide that stood out, playing the role of both the protagonist and antagonist.

Even though we didn’t enjoy Us as much as we did Get Out, the thrillingly entertaining film kept us guessing from start to finish and is without a doubt one of the best films of 2019. It further demonstrated that Peele not only understands horror but is willing to take risks and innovate a genre desperate for fresh faces and ideas. The film was a box office success, grossing $255.1 million against a budget of $20 million.

Source: Screenshot via Universal Pictures

14. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is one of the best movies of 2019, but it might also be the best John Wick film to date. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, also known as the High Table, a $14 million bounty placed is on John Wick’s head. Without the protection of the criminal organization’s services, Wick must fight to stay alive as the world’s most dangerous and merciless assassins descend upon New York to collect the bounty.

After the first two films, it felt like Keanu Reeves’ days of playing the legendary hitmen might be over, but he returned with a bang and came through with one of his best performances yet. The movie brought back Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick, and introduced newcomers Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Asia Kate Dillon, and Mark Dacascos. Chapter 3 -Parabellum was a box office hit, grossing $323 million and becoming the highest-grossing film of the John Wick franchise (in only 10 days). A fourth movie is scheduled to be released in May 2021.

Source: Screenshot via Lionsgate

13. Booksmart

Booksmart is a hilarious coming-of-age comedy about two girls, who on the eve of graduating high school, realize that all they’ve spent too much time studying and not enough time having fun. On a mission to let loose and party for the first time in years, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) plan to cram four years of missed opportunity into one epic and chaotic night. The fresh new comedy also stars Jesica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis.

Booksmart might look and feel like Superbad, but Olivia Wilde’s feature directional debut maintains a hilarious originality throughout. The film’s modern and female-driven coming-of-age storyline was well crafted and for that Wilde delivers a lot of praise. The same can be said about the breakout performances from Feldstein and Dever. The chemistry the two leads shared felt so honest and genuine that it elevated the film. This will undoubtedly put both actresses on the map.

Source: Screenshot via United Artists Releasing

12. Midsommar

Directed by Ari Aster, Midsommar is a folk horror film about a couple, played by Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor, who travel to Sweden with a few friends to partake in a fabled midsummer festival that only occurs once every ninety years. The trip begins normal, but soon takes a strange turn and the group finds themselves trapped in a twisted competition by a pagan cult.

Aster was the talk of the town after the commercial success of Hereditary in 2018, and Midsommar will only further the young director’s rise among Hollywood’s best and he’s only getting started. Midsommar might not be for everyone, but if you’re a enjoy horror genre we highly recommend watching this well-written, yet unsettling film. Florence Pugh shined as the emotional traumatized Dani Ardor and if you’re a fan of the MCU, you’ll happy to know the talented young actress will star alongside Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming Black Widow movie, which hits Disney+ in 2020.

Source: Screenshot via A24

11. The Peanut Butter Falcon

In our opinion, The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of the best movies of 2019, and even though it didn’t receive the same widespread theatrical run as a majority of the other films listed, after watching the feel-good adventure starring Shia LeBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and Zack Gottsagen, we couldn’t help but include it. Written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the heartfelt story of a young Down syndrome boy who runs away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of attending the professional wrestling school and meeting his idol, ‘The Salt Water Redneck.’ Along the way, he befriends a small-time outlaw searching for a sense of purpose and the two develop a compelling bond.

The genuine chemistry between LeBeouf and Gottsagen was magnificent and both actors deserve a great deal of praise for their performances. LeBeouf reminded us of just how great of an actor he truly is and we eagerly await his next role. Gottsagen’s performance, in particular, will undoubtedly open the doors for others with disabilities in the future.

Source: Screenshot via Roadside Attractions

10. Toy Story 4

For those familiar with the film series, Toy Story 4 picks up shortly after the conclusion of the third film. The story follows Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang as they adjust to life without Andy. Joined by Forky, a new toy Bonnie’s created using a spork, a pipe cleaner, some googly eyes, and some clay, the gang embarks on an exciting new adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.

Source: Screenshot via Walt Disney Studios

9. Knives Out

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out is an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery about a renowned crime novelist named Harlan Thrombey who is killed by a member of his own family following his 85th birthday. With everyone in Thrombey’s dysfunctional family a suspect, detective Benoit Blanc is called to investigate the murder and uncover which member of Harlan’s family or staff is responsible for his untimely demise.

Johnson’s film features the star-studded cast of Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out is a witty, supremely clever, and brilliantly written murder mystery that unlike 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, has a much better pay off and makes much better use of its all-star ensemble. Considering all the negativity and hate Johnson received following Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we’re happy to see the talent writer/director is back at the top of his game. If you’re a fan of the genre and/or movies in general, Knives Out is a must-watch.

Source: Screenshot via Lionsgate

8. Jojo Rabbit

Written and directed by Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit is a satirical black comedy about a lonely ten-year-old German boy named Jojo who begins to questions his beliefs with help from his imaginary friend, an idiotic version of Adolf Hitler, after discovering his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic. The World War II satire stars Roman Griffen as Jojo, Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa, Rebel Wilson as Frau Rahm, Stephen Merchant as Captain Deertz, Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf, Scarlet Johansson as Rosie, and last but not least, Waititi as Adolf Hitler.

We’d like to give a special big shout-out to newcomers Davis and Archie Yates, both of whom were exceptional and deserve a lot of praise for their breakout performances. Jojo Rabbit might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who enjoy Waititi’s quirky sense of humor and storytelling, we highly suggest this hilariously smart and satirical film. 

Source: Screenshot via Fox Searchlight Pictures

7. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the director’s ninth film and generally considered his ode to the seventies. The star-studded cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino. Set in Los Angeles during 1969, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood pays tribute to Hollywood’s golden age, following multiple storylines but primarily focusing on actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), a faded TV Western star and his best friend and longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt), both struggling to find meaningful work in a Hollywood that appears to have outgrown them. Dalton also happens to be the neighbor of famous couple Sharon Tate (Robbie) and Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha).

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most beloved filmmakers in the world, so it should come as no surprise that his most recent film has already grossed $363 million worldwide. DiCaprio and Pitt were outstanding as usual and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if they both received Oscar nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards. If you’re a fan of Tarantino or just movies in general, we have a feeling you’ll enjoy this provocative and well-crafted film.

Source: Screenshot via Sony Pictures Releasing

6. Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame could easily have been ranked No. 1 on this list, but if we’re being honest, many of the films we listed couldn’ve been. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. As the culmination of a 22-film story spanning over eleven years, Endgame achieved a feat so truly mindblowing it’ll likely never be repeated. The film had so many highlights it’s not practical to list them all, but as a comic book fan witnessing Profesor Hulk for the first time, the all-female Avengers scene, and Captain America wielding Mjolnir, was a dream come true. Next to maybe only the first Iron Man, Endgame it is without a doubt Marvel’s most important film to date. From the gut-wrenching opening scene to the emotionally rewarding conclusion, the Russo brothers delivered in every way imaginable.

The events of Infinity War left us all shocked and to be honest, slightly confused, but the Russo brothers had a plan and Endgame certainly brings it home. They did a magnificent job concluding a story and without hindering the flow, paid homage to each of the original six Avengers while simultaneously opening the door to new heroes and future of the MCU. We now know everything Marvel Studios has planned for the next 2-3 years and if the conclusion of Spider-Man: Far From Home taught us anything, the MCU family is about to get a lot bigger.

Source: Screenshot via Marvel Studios

5. High Life

Directed by French filmmaker Claire Denis, High Life is space drama that tells the story of a Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his daughter, the lone survivors of a dangerous deep space mission into the outer reaches of the galaxy. Prior to having the child, Monte was a member of a group of prisoners sent on spaceship towards a black hole to collect scientific experiments, but when all the inmates on the ship mysteriously vanish, Monte is left to raise Willow, who he was forced to have against his will, on his own and in complete isolation. As the story progresses, Monet and Willow must rely on each other to survive the black hole their ship is slowly drifting towards. The thought-provoking prison thriller truly is one of the most ambitious and entertaining movies of the year. Even though the film was initially released overseas in 2018, we decided to add it to the list because it didn’t receive a theatrical release in North America until April 2019.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, High Life is a gorgeously shot and thrilling story about love and survival, and while we understand it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, if you’re a fan of science fiction we’d highly recommend it checking it out. We’d also like to point out that Robert Pattinson was tremendous in the film, delivering one of his most impressive performances of his career. Now more than ever, we’re convinced the talented English actor was the right choice to play Batman in Matt Reeves’ upcoming film.

Source: Screenshot via A24

4. Joker

Joker is perhaps one of the most polarizing films in recent memory, dividing both fans and critics across the globe. Todd Phillips’ film tells the tragic story of Arthur Fleck, a failed comic who gradually goes mad after being abandoned and tormented by society his entire life. Whether or not the film is depicting the origin of the Joker or simply acting as the inspiration for the true Clown Prince of Crime isn’t overly significant. The film showed us the birth of Batman’s greatest nemesis in a way we’ve never seen before, and even if Fleck is just the blueprint, and the real Joker is taking notes,

The film was incredible and Phillips deserves a great deal of praise, but it was Joaquin Phoenix’s unforgettable and Oscar-worthy performance that steered the ship. We’re used to seeing Phoenix go all out for roles, but the physical transformation he made to become Fleck was incredible. From losing 50-60 pounds to developing one of the most haunting laughs we’ve ever heard, it’s a shame we won’t get to watch the further evolution of the character, that is unless Phillips changes his mind. We can only hope.

Source: Screenshot via Warner Bros. Pictures

3. The Irishman

Marvel criticism aside, Scorsese is unquestionably one of the greatest directors of all time and his latest gangster drama only furthers his legacy. The Irishman follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a veteran turned hitman who gets involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), his crime family, and the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 novel I Heard You Paint Houses, Scorsese’s latest film is so heartbreaking and compellingly entertaining that roughly three-hour runtime will still leave you wanting more.

After being unofficially retired for years, the one and only Joe Pesci’s agreed to return after reportedly being persuaded by both Scorsese and De Niro for several months. The three iconic actors above are joined by Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel. The entire cast was incredible, but it was Pacino, Pesci, and most of all, De Niro, that stole the show.

The Irishman isn’t just one of the best movies of 2019, it’s one of the best of the decade and despite it streaming on Netflix on November 27th, we highly recommend seeing it in theatres, it’s just that good.

Source: Screenshot via Netflix

2. Parasite

Bong Joon-ho’s latest film has been gaining a great deal of popularity over the past few months and after finally getting a chance to see the thrilling dark comedy, we fully understand why. The brilliantly written film tells the story of Kim Ki-teak, a young and unemployed man from a poor family who begins to tutoring the daughter of a wealthy family, the Parks. This unlikely union leads to Kim’s family ingratiating themselves into the lives of the Park family and forming a symbolic relationship between Kims and Parks. This is until a parasitic interloper threatens the fragile ecosystem of the two families has created.

Source: Screenshot via CJ Entertainment

1. The Lighthouse

Directed by Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse is set on a desolate island during the 1980s, where a gnarly old sea dog named Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and his new assistant Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) tend to a lighthouse for several weeks while attempting to maintain their sanity during a storm on the remote and mysterious island.

As you might expect, Dafoe was outstanding, delivering one of the best performances of his career, but it was Pattinson’s portrayal of Winslow that blew us away and much like Owen Gleiberman of Variety said, Pattinson’s performance was “the most ferocious acting of [his] career.” I think it goes without saying, but Pattinson is quickly becoming one of the best and most versatile actors in Hollywood, so if you’re weary of his Batman casting, don’t be.

After universal acclaim, The Lighthouse has received thus far, and the critical and commercial success of 2015’s supernatural horror The Witch, we expect big things from Eggers in the future.

Source: Screenshot Focus Features/A24

Riley Jones (@moviemanjones)


Riley is the Managing Editor of Goliath. When he's not at the movie theatre or binging some new tv series, he likes to spend his time shooting hoops and play MTG. He doesn't like 'Breaking Bad,' loves 'The Simpsons,' hates mayonnaise, and has been repping the Toronto Raptors since '95. Follow him on IG and Twitter @moviemanjones.