The Best Movies of 2019 – GQ

Marvel movies—and the discourse around them—have a way of sucking up all the oxygen in a room (some superpower). But when you get past those radioactive takes, what you’ll see of 2019 is a year in cinema (yes, actual cinema) that was altogether high-flying. Whether it was the memeified horror of Us, the seductive star power of Hustlers, or the exuberant mystery of Knives Out, there were a lot of big, fun, bonafide movie-going events . And that’s to say nothing of all the movies that were breathtakingly intimate (The Farewell, Marriage Story), relentlessly incisive (Parasite, Dark Waters), and sublimely weird (High Life, Midsommar). The best movies of 2019 were a fitting way to round out a precarious decade—for film and the world alike. These movies exhaled some of the strange brew of surreality, horror, and perpetual tension. But they also, occasionally, were a necessary inhaler: a true reprieve from all the toxic air.

a group of men and women in suits at a candy  ice cream counter looking concerned
The IrishmanEverett Collection / Netflix

The Irishman

Here are some things The Irishman is. It’s Martin Scorsese’s apology for decades of ultra-brutal, machismo-drunk movies. It’s a coda to all of those films, a melancholy, meandering capper to a half-century of American violence that is, in parts, even more brutal than his earlier work. It’s a breathtaking showcase for the return of Joe Pesci, inverting (burying?) the FUNNY HOW? shtick that made him a legend in the first place. It’s a disquieting vehicle for CGI de-aging technology, which can make Robert De Niro look like an allegedly 35-year-old mob hitman named Frank Sheeran, but cannot make him walk like one. It’s home to one of the funniest scenes of Al Pacino’s career. It’s a movie about how, after Kennedy got shot, men started wearing shorts, unions exploded, and everything went to hell. It’s a Netflix production, which I feel weird about. It is also, finally, a film of indisputably perfect length. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. —Sam Schube, senior editor

Matthew McConaughey in a floral shirt and a captain's hat and Snoop Dogg in sunglasses with a blue ocean and city...
The Beach BumEverett Collection / Neon

The Beach Bum

Harmony Korine at his most… well… harmonious. The Beach Bum’s tone feels incongruous with the real world of 2019, but a little escapism never hurt anyone. Korine and Matthew McConaughey take what should be a frivolous side character in his other movies and puts Moon Dog (yes, real name) center stage. Beset with tragedy, poverty, and addiction, Moon Dog always has an answer, or at least some kind of stoner koan to keep him going. “I’m quite certain the universe is conspiring to give me a good time,” he says near the film’s end, having lost just about everything.—Tom Philip, GQ contributor

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