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  • Jose Guzman

My Top 5 Films of 2019 (So Far)

With every passing year, I decry the current state of cinema – hence a weekly blog about what you may have missed from the past. And yet, I still have enough hope to head to the movies whenever I can, and that hope is often rewarded.

Here is the best of what I seen so far in 2019:

1. Booksmart

Think Superbad, but with female leads... and LBGTQ friendly... and people of color... and more poignant... and funnier... on second thought... Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is an absolute gem about a pair of overachievers (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in star-making performances) looking for one last hurrah the night before graduation. I will not spoil any further surprises. See Booksmart ASAP.

2. John Wick 3: Parabellum

In the best action film since Mad Max: Fury Road, Keanu Reeves has plenty of tricks left up his sleeves as our titular hero trying to survive despite a worldwide contract on his head from the previous film. The usual smooth players like Ian McShane and Lance Reddick are joined by Anjelica Houston, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, and Halle Berry in a wonderfully fleshed-out world of assassins, codes, and non-stop superbly choreographed thrills.

3. Us

Despite a badly telegraphed “twist” ending, writer-director Jordan Peele continues to put his mark on the modern world of horror. Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke anchor Peele’s latest scare fest as parents trying to fight their own worst enemies: a family of doppelgangers. The first hour is near perfection and while the film sputters to the obvious finale it’s still hard to deny Peele’s ambitious brand of filmmaking.

4. Gloria Bell

If you didn’t already know it, Julianne Moore is one of the best actors around: period. If you need a refresher, please watch her own every scene in the realistically romantic Gloria Bell. As the title character, Moore inhabits the film’s faded Los Angeles landscape as a 50’s divorcee looking for love and enlightenment on any available dance club floor. The cast is uniformly excellent, but John Turturro is equally engaging as a potential knight in shining armor.

5. Captain Marvel

Another year, another Marvel Films breakthrough with filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck successfully bringing Carol Danvers to the screen in all of her colorful and empowering glory. Brie Larson is a revelation as the storied Navy test pilot turned intergalactic savior and Samuel L. Jackson enjoys his best and most layered turn as a younger Nick Fury along for the ride. The 90’s soundtrack was bit over the top for my taste but otherwise this is the kind of crowd pleasing and inspiring adventure I was I could have seen as a lad.

Still another six months and I’m sure there are more films left to entertain and possibly surprise me. Of note, I am still looking forward to:

Toy Story 4 (in theaters now)

Late Night (in theaters now)

Spider-Man: Far From Home (in theaters now)

The Kitchen (in theaters August 9th)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (in theaters December 20th)

Good luck to us all in our communal quest for further cinematic entertainment and illumination in 2019.

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