Andrew Buckner’s 75 Favorite Films of 2019

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note: All films included in this list are based on a 2019 U.S. release date.

1. Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

2. They Shall Not Grow Old
Director: Peter Jackson.

3. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Director: Joe Talbot.

4. The Irishman
Director: Martin Scorsese.

5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Director: Marielle Heller.

6. Doctor Sleep
Director: Michael Flanagan.

7. Memory: The Origins of Alien
Director: Alexandre O. Phillipe.

8. The Image Book
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

9. Never Look Away
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

10. Ad Astra
Director: James Gray

11. Us
Director: Jordan Peele.

12. Hail Satan?
Director: Penny Lane

13. Apollo 11
Director: Todd Douglas Miller.

14. Non-Fiction
Director: Olivier Assayas.

15. Birds of Passage
Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra.

16. Climax
Director: Gaspar Noe.

17. Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
Director: Barry Avrich.

18. High Life
Director: Claire Denis.

19. American Factory
Directors: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar.

20. One Child Nation
Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang.

21. The Souvenir
Director: Joanna Hogg.

22. The Farewell
Director: Lulu Wang.

23. The Nightingale
Director: Jennifer Kent.

24. Dolemite is My Name
Director: Craig Brewer

25. Cold Case Hammarskjold
Director: Mads Brugger.

26. We Believe in Dinosaurs
Directors: Monica Long Ross, Clayton Brown.

27. Meeting Gorbachev
Directors: Werner Herzog, Andre Singer.

28. Transit
Director: Christian Petzold.

29. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor

30. Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Directors: David Amito, Michael Laicini.

31. Luz
Director: Tilman Singer.

32. Bliss
Director: Joe Begos.

33. The Dead Don’t Die
Director: Jim Jarmusch.

34. Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster.

35. Velvet Buzzsaw
Director: Dan Gilroy.

36. Shadow
Director: Yimou Zhang.

37. Aniara
Directors: Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja.

38. Booksmart
Director: Olivia Wilde.

39. Empathy, Inc.
Director: Yedidya Gorsetman.

40. The Nightshifter
Director: Dennison Ramalho.

41. The Head Hunter
Director: Jordan Downey.

42. Knock Down the House
Director: Rachel Lears.

43. Harriet
Director: Kasi Lemmons

44. Her Smell
Director: Alex Ross Perry.

45. Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken
Director: Morgan Spurlock.

46. Art of the Dead
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky.

47. Tennessee Gothic
Director: Jeff Wedding.

48. The Mustang
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.

49. Little Woods
Director: Nia DaCosta.

50. Tolkien
Director: Dome Karukoski.

51. Knife+Heart
Director: Yann Gonzalez.

52. 10/31 Part 2
Directors: Breet DeJager, Zane Hershberger, Jennifer Nangle, Tory van Buskirk, Stephen Wolfe.

53. Vault
Director: Tom DeNucci.

54. In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natali.

55. 3 from Hell
Director: Rob Zombie.

56. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Director: Andre Ovredal.

57. It Chapter Two
Director: Andy Muschietti.

58. The Prodigy
Director: Nicholas McCarthy.

59. Charlie Says
Director: Mary Harron.

60. Child’s Play
Director: Lars Klevberg.

61. Depraved
Director: Larry Fessenden.

62. I Trapped the Devil
Director: Josh Lobo.

63. Hagazussa
Director: Lukas Feigelfeld.

64. The Wind
Director: Emma Tammi.

65. Rust Creek
Director: Jen McGowan.

66. The Girl on the Third Floor
Director: Travis Stevens.

67. Satanic Panic
Director: Chelsea Stardust.

68. The Furies
Director: Tony D’Aquino.

69. Crawl
Director: Alexandre Aja.

70. Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler.

71. The Peanut Butter Falcon
Directors: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz.

72. Glass
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.

73. The Beach Bum
Director: Harmony Korine.

74. The Lake Vampire
Director: Carl Zitelmann.

75. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
Director: Henry Dunham.

 

The Fifty-Five Greatest Films of the 2010s

By Andrew Buckner

The 2010s have been a terrific decade for films of all genres. Blockbusters. Award-winning dramas and critically acclaimed documentaries. Thought-provoking and spine-tingling horror films. They can all be found here in my list of the fifty-five greatest films from 2010-2019.

55. Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019)
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe.

54. Bridge of Spies (2015)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

53. Blue Valentine (2010)
Director: Derek Cianfrance.

52. Pasolini (2014)
Director: Abel Ferrara.

51. Drive (2011)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn.

50. Shame (2011)
Director: Steve McQueen.

49. Cosmopolis (2012)
Director: David Cronenberg.

48. Love (2015)
Director: Gaspar Noe.

47. Long Night in a Dead City (2017)
Director: Richard Griffin.

46. The Neon Demon (2016)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

45. Annihilation (2018)
Director: Alex Garland.

44. The Witch (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers.

43. The Babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent

42. Bodied (2017)
Director: Joseph Kahn.

41. Super 8 (2011)
Director: J.J. Abrams.

40. Ad Astra (2019)
Director: James Gray.

39. The Handmaiden (2016)
Director: Chan-wook Park.

38. The Post (2017)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

37. Crimson Peak (2015)
Director: Guillermo del Toro.

36. The Hateful Eight (2015)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

35. Capernaum (2018)
Director: Nadine Labaki.

34. Filmworker (2017)
Director: Tony Zierra.

33. Us (2019)
Director: Jordan Peele.

32. The House That Jack Built (2018)
Director: Lars von Trier.

31. Boyhood (2014)
Director: Richard Linklater.

30. The Black Swan (2010)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

29. The Artist (2011)
Director: Michel Hazanavicius.

28. The King’s Speech (2010)
Director: Tom Hooper.

27. Moonlight (2016)
Director: Barry Jenkins.

26. Django Unchained (2012)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

25. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino.

24. Lincoln (2012)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

23. The Image Book (2019)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

22. Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)
Director: Michael Moore.

21. The Master (2012)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.

20. Selma (2014)
Director: Ava DuVernay.

19. Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood (2019)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

18. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Director: Tomas Alfredson.

17. Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan.

16.The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Director: Martin Scorsese.

15. mother! (2017)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

14. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

13. They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Director: Peter Jackson

12. Amour (2012)
Director: Michael Haneke.

11. Roma (2018)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron.

10. A Ghost Story (2017)
Director: David Lowery.

9. A Separation (2011)
Director: Asghar Farhadi.

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.

7. The Revenant (2015)
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu.

6. Silence (2016)
Director: Martin Scorsese.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

4. Life Itself (2014)
Director: Steve James.

3. Nightcrawler (2014)
Director: Dan Gilroy.

2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Director: Steve McQueen.

1. The Tree of Life (2011)
Director: Terrence Malick.

The Hateful Eight- (Movie Review)

 

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Quentin Tarantino remains one of the most brilliant storytellers of our time. This is especially true with his eighth film, The Hateful Eight. His unbridled passion for his craft, the saga he is weaving and the respect for the patience, maturity and intelligence of his audience is ever-present here. It also gives him a pulpit to take uncountable risks. For example, Tarantino fills our ears with his endlessly engaging, beautifully written and snappy, often oddly poetic, dialogue. In this duration there is not a single shot fired, rarely an instant of action in its most accepted respect, until one hundred and one minutes in. Despite this, the threat of violence is always present. This adds various layers of gradually building intrigue and suspense to the banter. The set-up becomes akin to a bomb that we know will explode at any moment. The question is simply when this will occur. Such provides further proof that his Best Original Screenplay win for Django Unchained in 2012 was certainly merited. This makes the proceedings unfold in the manner of a great novel: confident, bold and meticulously mounted. It is also further testament to how well-orchestrated Tarantino’s writing, direction and narrative remain throughout.

Such a large portion of the runtime, dictated on-screen as the first three ‘chapters’, gets us to intimately know the motivations, the backstory and singular personages of each individual. Few directors could pull off the feat of entertaining us as much with mere speech, especially when most features are content to give audiences exactly what they expect as soon as they sit down in the theater, in such grand fashion. It all leads to a twist-filled, irony laced and inevitably brutal succession of segments which pose well over the last hour of the endeavor. This climactic bit is just as amusing as what came before it for wholly new reasons.

There is not a moment in its one hundred and sixty-seven minutes (with the exclusive 70 millimeter roadside shows running one hundred and eighty-seven minutes and including a musical overture and intermission to add to its wonderfully vintage impression) where we are not purely entertained. Whether this arises from Robert Richardson’s gorgeous cinematography (which takes full advantage of the natural beauty of the many moments illustrating snowfall to alluring effect), Fred Raskin’s proficient editing or Ennio Morricone’s appropriately tense and haunting score this attribute is undeniable. But, the trait that lingers with the audience the longest is the vividly developed, darkly charismatic, compulsively watchable characters themselves. These title individuals are all despicable in their own right. There is no false advertising here. Despite this, the performances are all so incredible (Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, Kurt Russell as the bounty hunter, John Ruth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the prisoner, Daisy Domergue, are especially astonishing) that we find ourselves enraptured, even caring, for at least a handful of these brash beings in some way. These personalities, as well as the piece itself, is sheer Tarantino. These elements provide further proof that he is a maestro performing at the height of his talent.

Another successful endeavor in risk- taking unveiled here is setting approximately 4/5 of this three hour epic inside the cramped confines of Minnie’s Habadashery. At first glance the setting seems quaint and sparse. It would give even the most imaginative of directors little to do after the hour and a half marker. This is when most productions, particularly the plethora of low budget horror exertions which take place in a single setting, would gracefully bow out. Yet, with Tarantino at the wheel the movie is far from long enough. Here he spins and erects one fresh idea after another. This is done to keep our interest continually blooming to new peaks. Most astonishingly, he finds ways to build up tension from everyday elements. Often this manifests itself in the form of a chair or a cup.

As this small setting becomes the stage for this post- Civil-War narrative, we find the eight assembling in this claustrophobic expanse after a fantastically done and riveting half hour long sequence exhibiting travel via stagecoach. This early bit immediately captures our attention. Moreover, it also sets the tone for the dialogue heavy emphasis of much of the picture.

Afterwards we find Ruth, alongside Warren, continuing his mission to bring Domergue to Red Rock’s hangman, who happens to be on the premises in the form of Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), is thrown off course by the wintry weather and the stay. The slimy self-proclaimed sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who we also meet during this aforementioned opening segment, finds himself in the same situation. Here we meet Bob (Damien Bichir), who claims to be watching the place for Minnie. We are also introduced to the confederate general Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern) and the “cowboy” Joe Gage (Michael Madsen). Soon secrets are revealed, prejudices rise and these individuals turn on one another.

Tarantino adds elements of mystery, action, bloodshed, dismemberment and drama to this far from traditional take on the western. It makes this genre stew all the more varied, unpredictable and savory as we watch it unravel. The secondary cast, mostly seen in flashback, of Sweet Dave (Gene Jones), the unusually upbeat Six-Horse Judy (Zoe Bell), and Jody (Channing Tatum) all add to this blend. This is done with tremendously rich performances. Furthermore, it is enhanced with characters that are all much their own entity.

The Hateful Eight is pure genius. It is a movie for movie lovers made by a man whose admiration for this particular venue pulsates through its every tremendously realized frame. Many may be put off by the effort’s almost blasé attitude toward contemporary ideologies of pace, characterization and its sheer length. But, this is what makes Tarantino and his compositions, especially this one, so special. When you purchase a ticket to a Tarantino feature it is the unknown, not the mechanisms of a mainstream product, which make his work a continual marvel; a vigorous breath of innovative fresh air to sit through. It is also the necessary reminder we all need of why so many have such an endlessly admiration and fascination with this particular creative form. Moreover, it recalls a motion picture’s ability to transport its audience to another time and place and to be enraptured in a great, well-told account. This is another sign of Tarantino as a true artist. The fact that reviews of this misunderstood masterpiece have been so largely divided only confirm this. Give Tarantino the Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture awards immediately. He sure has earned it. This is cinema at its finest.