best movies of 2019 so far

Believe it or not, the surreal nightmare that is 2019 is half over. As we head into the latter half of the year, it’s time to look back at the 10 best movies of 2019 so far. This year was off to a slow start, and some of the films on my list aren’t even out yet – I was lucky enough to catch them at the Sundance Film Festival. There are also a handful of currently playing films I’ve heard great things about, but have yet to see – The Last Black Man in San FranciscoLong Day’s Journey into NightWild Rose. I’ll catch up with them before the year is out, but for now, here are the 10 movies that I enjoyed the most this year so far.

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Souvenir sequel

Robert Pattinson is a busy fellow. He’s shooting Christopher Nolan’s new thriller Tenet, and then he’s suiting up as the new Batman. As a result of this hectic work schedule, the actor has decided to drop out of yet another project he was attached to, albeit something on a much smaller scale: Joanna Hogg‘s The Souvenir sequel. The Souvenir sequel is expected to start shooting next month, and unfortunately, there was no way for Pattinson to remain in the film.

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The Souvenir review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. The Souvenir is in theaters today.)

Almost all narrative films follow the same structure. A clear beginning, middle and end. A main storyline involving main characters. A problem or situation that must be worked out or resolved. There are very few deviations of this format, for two distinct reasons. One is that we’re accustomed to it – it’s all we’ve ever known. The other is that it works – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So when a movie comes along that bucks the trend, shrugs off the norm, and unfolds in a different way, it can be quite jarring. Such is the case with Joanna Hogg’s transcendent The Souvenir. Hogg ignores a traditional narrative approach for a series of vignettes that make up a bigger picture. It works wonderfully – if you stick with it. But you need to prepare yourself for the long-haul.

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The Souvenir trailer

A relationship is pushed to the limits in Joanna Hogg‘s fascinating drama The SouvenirHonor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda Swinton) turns in a revelatory performance as a film student dealing with her unreliable boyfriend (Tom Burke) in the 1980s. This was one of the best films I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also a film that’s not going to be for everyone. Watch The Souvenir trailer below.

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