Films in 2019: December

Happy New Year! And new decade! It’s amazing to think that we’re now in the ’20s… the 2020s, that is. I’m excited to see what the next year and decade have in store, especially on the cinema front. But before pushing ahead to 2020, there’s still one month left from 2019 to look back on. While I watched a bunch of movies in December, the past month almost feels like a blur to me, as it seemed to go by much faster than previous months. For one thing, the week before Christmas while visiting family, I marathoned all the Star Wars movies in the Skywalker saga back-to-back before seeing the final film in theaters. While I, unfortunately, didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve loved to, my other trips to the theater over the holiday week were much better, which included finally seeing one of my all-time favorite films on the big screen, It’s a Wonderful Life (and on Christmas Eve no less, so keeping with my annual tradition!). Also throughout the month, I caught up with a few other 2019 releases I missed at other points of the year (which will continue into January as awards season ramps up). But before fully diving into more movie discoveries, I’ll be putting together my year in film roundup in the coming days. Until then, let’s take a look at what I watched in the last month of 2019.

New-to-Me: 38

Re-Watched: 11

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 2
  • 1930s – 8
  • 1940s – 2
  • 1950s – 1
  • 1960s – 2
  • 1970s – 1
  • 1980s – 2
  • 1990s – 4
  • 2000s – 3
  • 2010s – 13

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Elizabeth (1998)
  2. Front Page Woman (1935)
  3. One Night of Love (1934)
  4. In Old Arizona (1928)
  5. Blondie Johnson (1933)
  6. Tess (1979)
  7. Silence (2016)
  8. Under the Silver Lake (2018)
  9. While We’re Young (2014)
  10. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
  11. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
  12. Wendy and Lucy (2008)
  13. The Squid and the Whale (2005)
  14. The Souvenir (2019)
  15. The Spectacular Now (2013)
  16. The Holly and the Ivy (1952)
  17. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
  18. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
  19. Cash on Demand (1962)
  20. Smarty (1934)
  21. Metropolitan (1990)
  22. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
  23. Little Women (2019)
  24. Uncut Gems (2019)
  25. Barcelona (1994)
  26. The Two Popes (2019)
  27. Persepolis (2007)
  28. Atlantics (2019)
  29. Transit (2018)
  30. Hell’s House (1932)
  31. Kid Galahad (1937)
  32. Black Legion (1937)
  33. Repeat Performance (1947)
  34. The Letter (1929)
  35. The Maltese Falcon (1931)
  36. Gaslight (1940)
  37. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
  38. The Last Days of Disco (1998)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

Little Women (2019)

Little Women (2019), directed by Greta Gerwig

The moment this latest adaptation of Little Women was announced, I knew I would love it because of all the talent involved, starting with Greta Gerwig, who just came off the success of the wonderful Lady Bird. I could go on about how near perfect the whole cast is, but I’ll just highlight Saoirse Ronan as Jo and Florence Pugh as Amy, who both give incredible, award-worthy performances as the story goes back and forth through their childhood and their adulthood. I also really enjoyed Gerwig’s fresh take on telling this familiar story in a non-linear fashion, as it really emphasizes how the March sisters grow up and come of age.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems (2019), directed by Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie

Uncut Gems is a non-stop, crazy thrill ride as it follows New York City jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) and all the high-stakes bets he makes throughout the running time. Just yesterday I saw a quote from IndieWire saying this is basically Mean Streets meets Preston Sturges, and I think that perfectly captures the energy of this movie (which credits Martin Scorsese as an executive producer). It’s also fun seeing Sandler in a different sort of element outside his usual comedies, and here he gives one of the best performances of the year, and probably of his own career too. After seeing this and enjoying Good Time a couple months ago, I’ll definitely be curious to see more films from the Safdie brothers in the future.

The Last Days of Disco (1998)

The Last Days of Disco (1998), directed by Whit Stillman

In the last couple weeks of December, I finally got around to watching Whit Stillman’s trilogy of films following a sort of comedy of manners with young Americans: Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco. The latter was the very last film I watched in 2019 and the 2010s as a whole, and it ended up being a pretty great way to end my movie year, as the characters navigate the changing culture in the early ’80s. Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale have great, natural chemistry as a pair of young women trying to make their way in New York City, as the end of the disco era still lingers on. This film was just a joy for me to watch throughout, from all the disco songs to a hilarious conversation about Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, and to one of the best movie endings I’ve seen recently.

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