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The 50 Best Movies I watched in 2019

2019 felt indescribably long. When I look back on the list of movies that made an impact on me in the last 365 days I am taken aback that some of these weren’t watched in 2018. My sense of time seems to be corroding to some degree, and I’m not sure how I feel about that happening. It’s strange, but living in 2019 was strange. There’s a a ghostly quality to the last few years, as if we’re on a sinking ship, while hoping we can patch one of the biggest holes in 2020. I don’t know how things are going to turn out, but cinema is my one constant, and in 2019 I watched more movies (401 if Letterboxd is to be believed) than I had in the previous four years. When I look at this list the biggest thing that pops out to me is how much I used the Criterion Channel streaming service, which both guided my viewing and gave me the opportunity to explore an under the radar director like Keisuke Kinoshita. Theresa Russell’s movies with Nicolas Roeg made a gigantic impact on me, and I think in Russell I’ve found a new actor to obsess over. I’m unsure if Bad Timing is actually the best movie I watched last year, but putting it anywhere but number one felt wrong, because Russell’s performance so grabbed ahold of my psyche that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the character since. Her turn as Marilyn Monroe in Insignificance created a similar effect. Naoko Yamada’s work with Kyoto Animation was also significant, with K-On! being like a life raft in dangerous waters. I so looked forward to returning to the mundane lives of those teenage protagonists in the Fall of the previous year. Jacques Tourneur, Powell and Pressburger and Amy Holden Jones were also dominant in my viewing patterns. This list is a reflection of everything that burrowed its way into my body and mind in 2019. I greatly admire all of these films. I am sure that 2020 will bring more.

1. Bad Timing (Nicolas Roeg, 1980)
2. K-ON! (Naoko Yamada and Kyoto Animation, 2009-2011)
3. School on Fire (Ringo Lam, 1988)
4. Funeral Parade of Roses (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969)
5. A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1944)
6. A Day in the Country (Jean Renoir, 1936)
7. Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)
8. Insignificance (Nicolas Roeg, 1985)
9. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
10. Anne of the Indies (Jacques Tourneur, 1951)
11. Stars in my Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1950)
12. The Adolescence of Utena (Kunihiko Ikuhara, 1999)
13. The Slumber Party Massacre and The Slumber Party Massacre II (Amy Holden Jones, 1983 and Deborah Brock, 1987)
14. The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974)
15. Blackout (David Lynch, 1993)
16. Somewhere in Dreamland (Dave Fleischer, 1936)
17. Puce Moment (Kenneth Anger, 1949)
18. Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (Mamoru Oshii, 1984)
19. Asparagus (Suzann Pitt, 1978)
20. Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946
21. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (Leslie Harris, 1992)
22. Body Snatchers (Abel Ferrara, 1993)
23. It’s Always Fair Weather (Stanley Donen, 1955)
24. Woman (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1948)
25. The City of the Living Dead (Lucio Fulci, 1980)
26. No Regrets For Our Youth (Akira Kurosawa, 1946)
27. Career Girls (Mike Leigh, 1997)
28. Death Dream (Bob Clark, 1974)
29. Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo, 1968)
30. Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964)
31. To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)
32. Love Letters (Amy Holden Jones, 1983)
33. For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989)
34. Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (Shusuke Kaneko, 1999)
35. Matango (Ishiro Honda, 1963)
36. The H-Man (Ishiro Honda, 1958)
37. On the Town (Stanley Donen, 1949)
38. Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
39. His Motorbike, Her Island (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1986)
40. Blacula (William Crain, 1972)
41. Full Contact (Ringo Lam, 1992)
42. Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore (Sarah Jacobson, 1996)
43. Girl Pack (Lisa Baumgardner, 1981)
44. The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Karel Zamen, 1962)
45. Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (Dave Fleischer, 1936)
46. A Silent Voice (Naoko Yamada, 2016)
47. So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis, 1946)
48. Night Nurse (William A. Wellman, 1931)
49. Sister Street Fighter (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1974)
50. Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933)
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