Top Films of 2019 So Far

This is the first time I feel that I’ve really kept up with new films, and yet, I still retain a nagging sense of being behind. Some of the films I’ve missed this year also seem to be the ones I think I would enjoy the most: Cristina Gallego’s and Ciro Guerra’s Birds of Passage, Mani Haghighi’s Pig, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, and Christian Petzold’s Transit, to name a few. Surprisingly, however, this was also a year in which big-name directors I love, released films that I didn’t very much care for: Claire Denis’ High Life, Jordan Peele’s Us, Harmony Korine’s Beach Bum, and Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. Of course, opinions change. I recall not being impressed by Black Mother, but in discussing it afterwards with a friend, I found myself talking about what I did enjoy and being unable to stop thinking about the film. On a similar note, splitting films into a “good” “bad” dichotomy is not only boring but produces little discussion.  Even the films that I was not a fan of, I at least found interesting and/or engaging on an aesthetic or intellectual level. With that said, onto the list. In alphabetical order:

3 Faces, Jafar Panahi
An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo
Asako I & II, Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke
Black Mother, Khalik Allah
Grass / Hotel by the River, Hong Sang-soo
Her Smell, Alex Ross Perry
High Flying Bird, Steven Soderbergh
The Competition, Claire Simon
The Gospel of Eureka, Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher
The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard

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