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The Best Films of the Year So Far

All of these films first screened theatrically in Chicago in the first half of 2019. I’ve linked to my original reviews where applicable and offer new thoughts on my favorite film of the year (which I haven’t written about elsewhere). Enjoy.

20. Hail Satan? (Lane, USA)
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“With unfettered access to the leaders of the group’s various nationwide chapters, including charismatic church founder Lucien Greaves, director Penny Lane crafts a deceptively simple work of political commentary that ultimately sympathizes with the Satanists as a group of merry pranksters who see their movement as a counterbalance to the repressiveness of other organized religions.” My review at Time Out Chicago here.

19. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Talbot, USA)
the-last-black-man-in-san-francisco.w700.h467

18. Infinite Football (Porumboiu, Romania)
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17. Her Smell (Perry, USA)
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16. 3 Faces (Panahi, Iran)
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15. The Nightingale (Kent, Australia)
THE-NIGHTINGALE

14. Asako I & II (Hamaguchi, Japan)
Asako-III_2


13. Saint Frances (Thompson, USA)
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“This female-centric character study, which is shot through with compassion, insight and originality, speaks to our cultural moment in a way that other recent American movies do not.” My review for Time Out Chicago here.

12. The Wild Pear Tree (Ceylan, Turkey)
under-the-pear-tree-cannes

10. (tie) Hotel By the River/Grass (Hong, S. Korea)gangbyun_hotel

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9. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Ross, USA)Hale-County-This-Morning-This-Evening-1600x900-c-default

8. Pasolini (Ferrara, Italy/USA) – Screens at the Siskel Center from 6/21-6/27.
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7. Black Mother (Allah, USA/Jamaica)
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“As in the films of Pedro Costa, (Khalik) Allah gives a voice to the voiceless while solidifying his own unique cinematic language.” My review at Time Out Chicago here.

6. CoinCoin and the Extra-Humans (Dumont, France)
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5. The Souvenir (Hogg, UK)
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4. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi, China)
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3. High Life (Denis, France/Germany)
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2. The Image Book (Godard, France/Switzerland)
the-image-book-1600x900-c-defaultIn spite of what some of his detractors think, Godard still believes in the elemental power of cinema, which is why the mesmerizing IMAGE BOOK is a more accessible work than even many of its champions would have you believe.” My review at Cine-File Chicago here.

1. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (Scorsese, USA)
rollingthunderMartin Scorsese revisits one of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated tours, 1975’s Rolling Thunder Revue, repurposing footage from the Bard of Minnesota’s own wild, self-directed 1978 film Renaldo & Clara and turning it into a fantasia about, in poet Anne Waldman’s words, “America’s search for redemption” (most evident in the scenes involving Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and the Tuscarora Indian Reservation). An overwhelming sensorial and emotional experience and, for my money, Scorsese’s best film of the 21st century. Also, no offense, but if you felt “duped” by the (hilarious) fictional elements in this, you are an idiot.

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

One response to “The Best Films of the Year So Far

  • John Charet

    Great post 🙂 I am intrigued by these choices 🙂 I would have added Jordan Peele’s Us on there, but then again, I do not know what you thought of the film 🙂 I personally loved it and felt that it not only equalled Get Out, but also surpassed it 🙂 Speaking of Rolling Thunder Revue, do you now think that it tops Shutter Island as his best film of the decade. I have since grown to love Shutter Island to the point where I now consider it to be my number 4 favorite Scorsese – though after seeing Rolling Thunder Revue, it will probably go to number six or something (No Direction Home is at number 5). Are you excited to see Scorsese’s Netflix feature film coming out at the end of the year entitled The Irishman? 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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