Best Movies of 2019 (So Far)

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We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-point lists will include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2018 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2019, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2018 Movies of 2019, which includes those films from last year (and one from 45 years ago) that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list. I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2018, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And there’s a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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The Best Movies of 2019 (So Far)

1. A Home with a View (Herman Yau)
2. Lynch: A History (David Shields)
3. The Rolling Thunder Revue (Martin Scorsese)
4. Deadwood: The Movie (Daniel Minahan)
5. The New King of Comedy (Stephen Chow & Herman Yau)
6. The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch)
7. Furie (Lê Văn Kiệt)
8. Avengers: Endgame (Anthony & Joe Russo)
9. Booksmart (Olivia Wilde)
10. Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping)
11. White Snake (Amp Wong & Ji Zhao)
12. Missbehavior (Pang Ho-cheung)*
13. Pegasus (Han Han)
14. The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo)
15. Triple Threat (Jess V. Johnson)
16. Us (Jordan Peele)

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The Best 2018 Movies of 2019 (So Far)

1. Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)
2. Asako I & II (Ryusuke Hamguchi)
3. Grass (Hong Sangsoo)
4. The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu, 1973)
5. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan)
6. Transit (Christian Petzold)
7. Non-Fiction (Olivier Assayas)
8. The Crossing (Bai Xue)
9. Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige, 2017)*
10. Suburban Birds (Qiu Sheng)
11. The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins)
12. The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard)
13. An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo)
14. Hotel by the River (Hong Sangsoo)
15. Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt)
16. Shadow (Zhang Yimou)

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The Best Unreleased Films of 2018 (So Far)

1. The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack)
2. Hidden Man (Jiang Wen)
3. Little Forest (Yim Soonrye)
4. Blue (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
5. No. 1 Chung Ying Street (Derek Chiu)
6. Chinese Portrait (Wang Xiaoshuai)
7. Tourism (Daisuke Miyazaki)
8. La cartographe (Nathan Douglas)
9. Veslemøy’s Song (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
10. Norman Norman (Sophy Romvari)
11. Shoot the Moon Right Between the Eyes (Graham Carter)
12. Dead Pigs (Cathy Yan)
13. A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua)
14. Girls Always Happy (Yang Mingming)
15. House of Hummingbird (Kim Bora)
16. Song Lang (Leon Le)

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2019 Discoveries (So Far)

1. Chan is Missing (Wayne Wang, 1982)
2. Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937)
3. Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985)
4. War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1966)
5. Taxi Hunter (Herman Yau, 1993)
6. Suzhou River (Lou Ye, 2000)
7. Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1987)
8. The Untold Story (Herman Yau, 1993)
9. From Beijing with Love (Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-chi, 1994)
10. Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige, 1984)
11. Cry Me a River (Jia Zhangke, 2008)
12. Duel to the Death (Ching Siu-tung, 1983)
13. The Horse Thief (Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1986)
14. Legend of the Stardust Brothers (Makoto Tezuka, 1985)
15. Useless (Jia Zhangke, 2007)
16. Troublesome Night 3 (Herman Yau, 1998)
17. The Mindscape of Alan Moore Dez Vylenz, 2003)
18. Captain America: Winter Soldier (Joe & Anthony Russo, 2014)
19. Xiao Shan Going Home (Jia Zhangke, 1995)
20. Howard the Duck (Willard Huyck, 1986)
21. Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou, 1990)
22. Maximum Risk (Ringo Lam, 1996)
23. Springtime in a Small Town (Tian Zhuangzhuang, 2002)
24. Dong (Jia Zhangke, 2006)
25. Three Sad Tigers (Raúl Ruiz, 1968)
26. Breakin’ (Joel Silberg, 1984)

 

*According to Mike D’Angelo’s list, neither Missbehavior nor Legend of the Demon Cat played in New York in 2019, but they did play in other North American cities, including Seattle, and so I’m considering them to exist.

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This Week in Rankings

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Since the last Rankings update, I watched all of Jia Zhangke’s movies in order, and then all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in order, and then watched some more Jia Zhangke movies. I watched a bunch of other stuff too. I wrote about Jia at Mubi, and again about his use of music in his films at the VIFF blog, in the lead up to a lecture on his films I did in Vancouver. I also appeared on the Film Stage podcast to talk about Jia’s Ash is Purest White.

Also at Mubi I wrote about this year’s crop of Lunar New Year films, the rerelease of King Hu’s The Fate of Lee Khan, and Yuen Woo-ping’s Master Z. At InReview Online I wrote about the documentary Father, and at Seattle Screen Scene I reviewed: Ramen ShopWar and PeaceTriple Threat, What is Democracy?FurieCaptain Marvel, Legend of the Demon CatMissbehavior, and Hotel by the River.

Awards season passed by as well. I handed out the 2018 Endy Awards and revised a bunch of older awards and added new ones for the years 1979-1987.

If you like what I do here or at Seattle Screen SceneThe Chinese Cinema, or anywhere else, please consider donating at my kofi page. Every little bit helps.

These are the movies I’ve watched or rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

War and Peace (Sergey Bondarchuk) – 9, 1966
The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu) – 5, 1973
Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet) – 35, 1974
Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple) – 1, 1976
Excalibur (John Boorman) – 4, 1981

The Thing (John Carpenter) – 6, 1982
Breakin’ (Joel Silberg) – 47, 1984
Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman) – 4, 1985
Platoon (Oliver Stone) – 11, 1986
Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch) – 28, 1986

Tragic Hero (Taylor Wong) – 54, 1987
Heathers (Michael Lehmann) – 13, 1988
Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou & Yang Fenliang) – 31, 1990
Fight Back to School (Gordon Chan) – 23, 1991
Fist of Fury 1991 (Cho Chung-sing) – 59, 1991

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola) – 7, 1992
From Beijing with Love (Stephen Chow & lee Lik-chi) – 19, 1994
Love on Delivery (Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-chi) – 39, 1994
Xiao Shan Going Home (Jia Zhangke) – 48, 1995
Scream (Wes Craven) – 18, 1996

The God of Cookery (Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-chi) – 20, 1996
Xiao Wu (Jia Zhangke) – 4, 1997
The King of Comedy (Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-chi) – 9, 1999
Office Space (Mike Judge) – 11, 1999
Platform (Jia Zhangke) – 2, 2000

In Public (Jia Zhangke) – 41, 2001
The Condition of Dogs (Jia Zhangke) – 58, 2001
Unknown Pleasures (Jia Zhangke) – 5, 2002
The World (Jia Zhangke) – 7, 2004
War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg) – 11, 2005

Still Life (Jia Zhangke) – 5, 2006
Dong (Jia Zhangke) – 29, 2006
Useless (Jia Zhangke) – 23, 2007
24 City (Jia Zhangke) – 7, 2008
Cry My a River (Jia Zhangke) – 16, 2008

Iron Man (Jon Favreau) – 39, 2008
Ip Man (Wilson Yip) – 49, 2008
The Incredible Hulk (Louis Letterier) – 56, 2008
The Clone Wars (Dave Filoni) – 59, 2008
Let the Bullets Fly (Jiang Wen) – 4, 2010

The Legend is Born: Ip Man (Herman Yau) – 21, 2010
I Wish I Knew (Jia Zhangke) – 22, 2010
Ip Man 2 (Wilson Yip) – 53, 2010
Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau) – 67, 2010
Thor (Kenneth Branagh) – 39, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston) – 45, 2011
The Avengers (Joss Whedon) – 53, 2012
The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-wai) – 1, 2013
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke) – 2, 2013
Ip Man: The Final Fight (Herman Yau) – 21, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Shane Black) – 43, 2013
Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor) – 73, 2013
Gone with the Bullets (Jiang Wen) – 18, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn) – 55, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Joe & Anthony Russo) – 63, 2014

Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (Walter Salles) – 84, 2014
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke) – 4, 2015
Jupiter Ascending (Lilly & Lana Wachowski) – 22, 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon) – 75, 2015
Ant-Man (Peyton Reed) – 92, 2015

Ip Man 3 (Wilson Yip) – 110, 2015
The Hedonists (Jia Zhangke) – 12, 2016
Mrs. K (Ho Yuhang) – 65, 2016
Captain America: Civil War (Joe & Anthony Russo) – 72, 2016
Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson) – 111, 2016

Thor: Ragnorak (Taika Waititi) – 40, 2017
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts) – 49, 2017
Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige) – 54, 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 (James Gunn) – 57, 2017
Father (Yang Li-chou) – 100, 2017

Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke) – 1, 2018
Blackkklansman (Spike Lee) – 4, 2018
Hidden Man (Jiang Wen) – 38, 2018
Hotel by the River (Hong Sangsoo) – 39, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War (Joe & Anthony Russo) – 44, 2018
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) – 48, 2018

An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo) – 58, 2018
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping) – 72, 2018
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed) – 76, 2018
What is Democracy? (Astra Taylor) – 90, 2018
Projet Gutenberg (Felix Chong) – 117, 2018
Mary Queen of Scots (Josie Rourke) – 120, 2018

The New King of Comedy (Stephen Chow) – 1, 2019
Avengers: Endgame (Joe & Anthony Russo) – 2, 2019
Us (Jordan Peele) – 3, 2019
Missbehavior (Pang Ho-cheung) – 4, 2019
Furie (Lê Văn Kiệt) – 5, 2019

Pegasus (Han Han) – 6, 2019
Triple Threat (Jesse V. Johnson) – 7, 2019
Captain Marvel (Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden) – 8, 2019
The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo) – 9, 2019
Integrity (Alan Mak) – 10, 2019
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (Zhang Dapeng) – 11, 2019

Predictions for the 91st Annual Academy Awards

These are my Oscar predictions. During the ceremony Sunday night, as I’ve done for the past couple of years, I’ll be live-tweeting the winners of the 2018 Endy Awards, the nominees for which can be found here. Follow along on twitter @TheEndofCinema.

BEST PICTURE

Black Panther
Blackkklansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

BEST DIRECTOR

Spike Lee, Blackkklansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Adam McKay, Vice

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

BEST ACTRESS

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Vice
Marina De Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book
Roma
Vice

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
BlacKkKlansman
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
Roma
A Star Is Born

BEST FILM EDITING

BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Vice

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“All The Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

BEST SOUND EDITING

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

BEST SOUND MIXING

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star Is Born

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
RBG

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Capernaum
Cold War
Never Look Away
Roma
Shoplifters

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Detainment
Fauve
Marguerite
Mother
Skin

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends