It seems like there hasn’t been a year this great for movies in such a long time. Quality film after quality film continue to release in theaters and there’s still several highly anticipated movies to be released this December. Over the past three weeks, I have seen four films that without a doubt will be among my favorite of 2019, all of which I would highly recommend you see as soon as you can.
Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is the most raw and realistic movie experience I’ve had all year. You’re placed into the shoes of to-be-divorced couple of Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and feel the impact of their split from minute one. This is a heart breaking film filled with intense emotional moments and conflicts that never felt outside of the realm of possibility. Noah Baumbach has always excelled as a writer of dialogue heavy scripts that feel grounded in reality, but this may be his best directorial effort to date. He gets career best performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, both of which I would be shocked if they weren’t both nominated for Academy Awards. This is definitely a film you need to be prepared for because of the emotional toll it takes on its viewer. “Marriage Story” is a must watch and is streaming on Netflix right now. Grade: A
I have been a huge fan of Rian Johnson throughout his entire career, even “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” But, “Knives Out” might be his best film to date. Everything about this film screams passion for murder mysteries of the past. From the lavish mansion setting, to the incredibly thorough production design, and a few over the top performances, this film is simply a blast to watch. The entire cast is fantastic, with Daniel Craig as southern master sleuth, Benoit Blanc, and Ana de Armas’s humble nurse, Marta, as the standouts. Every character feels fleshed out despite the story being primarily focused on Marta and her side of the story. With its effortless watchability, “Knives Out” is truly is a whodunit like I have never seen before. Grade: A
“Waves” totally blew my socks off. I saw this film without seeing any trailers and having no idea what the plot was or who was in it. All I knew was that this was Trey Edward Shultz’s follow-up to his brilliant horror/thriller “It Comes At Night,” and that I was pumped to see it. This movie is a blend of a frenetic, edge of your seat thriller and a cathartic, reflective drama. Both aspects of this movie are close to flawlessly executed. After such a tension filled first half, the change of pace can seem a bit jarring at first, but you instantly adjust to the direction the story is going. I want to be very cautious of spoilers because of how pleasantly surprised I was when viewing this movie. It recently expanded to more theaters this past weekend, and I highly recommend you see it. Grade: A
Shia LaBeouf’s return to the silver screen with his autobiography, “Honey Boy,” which he co-wrote is a staggering cinematic tale. He plays a version of his own father who coached a young Shia (in this film he’s named Otis, played by Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges) through his early years in show business with abuse and insults. LaBeouf is the best he’s ever been. He has class A chemistry with his young co-star, Noah Jupe, who also delivers a career best. Watching these two share the screen in a way that isn’t necessarily enjoyable because of how brutal LaBeouf’s character, James, is, but feels special because this is coming from LaBeouf’s childhood experience. It poses a lot of important questions regarding what role parents play in their children’s lives and how a child can deal with smothering abuse. It feels a bit too long for its mere 94 minute runtime, and I can’t see myself revisiting it anytime soon because of a few difficult scenes in terms of content, but I would certainly recommend you see “Honey Boy.” Grade: B+