A bold, electrifying, and unforgettable film that knows how risky it is, but is never afraid to take chances. The direction of the musical numbers, the production design, and the attention to emotional detail blows you away at every turn. If I had my way, Taron Egerton would be winning an Academy Award.
2. Jojo Rabbit
The perfect antidote for the year we’ve all had. A reminder that kindness and decency can prevail if we all let it. A high-wire walk of tone and atmosphere that never loses sight of precisely what it wants to say.
This is the kind of film I wish I could see for the first time again. Juggles so much tonally and manages to make every aspect feel completely realized. Cho Yeo-jeong deserves an Oscar nomination. Many of the cast members here do, but will likely be overlooked.
4. Ready or Not
The great horror comedy movie is finally back from the dead. A satire about class warfare and a startling indictment of the one-percent. It’s also just a ton of fun, and this is a year where fun is more important than the Oscar bait. A joyously bizarre crowd-pleaser that embraces every weird twist and turn.
5. Marriage Story
Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver career-best performances in one of the very best Noah Baumbach films. This is a film where every supporting character is perfectly cast, and the actor is given long, unbroken takes to really let a monologue land. It will be shown in a lot of acting classes.
6. Knives Out
An ideal companion piece to Ready or Not, this is also a twisty comedy-thriller about class warfare that embraces and pulls off every jarring left-turn. It’s elevated by an expertly chosen ensemble, Daniel Craig having more fun in a lead role than he has in years, and a true star-turn from Ana de Armas.
An empowering and morally ambiguous take on Goodfellas, where the gangsters are strippers who steal from the rich and keep it from themselves. Jennifer Lopez turns in her best performance since the mid-1990s and deserves award recognition.
8. Brittany Runs a Marathon
A comedic drama of redemption that feels deeply personal, and never takes the easy way out. The script is sharp and unsentimental. There are big, broad laughs and earned tears. Jillian Bell delivers one of the most exceptional performances of the year.
A breathtakingly visceral experience and a remarkable technical achievement. Haunting, emotionally devastating, expertly acted, with some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. I’m not usually a fan of war movies, and this one does everything in a way that feels thrillingly alive.
The kind of fast, intelligent, delightful, and old-fashioned screwball comedy that we don’t see as much as we should anymore. At the same time, it’s a coming-of-age movie that has a lot of progressive and insightful things to say about the world around it.
Honorable Mentions, or 11-20:
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Happy Death Day 2U