(Updated: January 21, 2020) Netflix is one of the best streaming services for us avid movie-geeks. And there are countless movies and TV shows to choose from. But fret not, we’re here to sort it all out for you. 2019 has been a great year, overall, for movies. Here are some of the best movies on Netflix 2019 has to offer for your viewing pleasure:
1. The Two Popes
Director: Fernando Meirelles
The nuanced drama offers deliberately fictionalized series of imagined conversations between Pope Benedict and his successor Cardinal Bergoglio. While Bergoglio represents the new age of liberalization, Pope Benedict stands for the church’s conservatism. They talk for hours and days, and eventually begin to see a common ground between them. The narrative isn’t rushed yet surprisingly funny for a film that features two supposedly serious, religious men. Two brilliant central performances (Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce) further add to the film.
2. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese paints a portrait of the troubled spirit of 1957 America. This sentiment is taken as a backdrop for the extravagantly joyous music that Bob Dylan performed in his Rolling Thunder Revue tour in the fall of that year. This is a pseudo-documentary comprising of both factual and fantastical elements that pour out the history of the turbulent American soul in vivid detail.
3. Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Noah Baumbach’s mature drama is an earnest look at the tough, transition phase after initiating the divorce. Impeccably performed by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story opens with the end of a marriage relationship. The couple Nicole and Charlie after their decision to separate, decide not to get lawyers. But their good intentions are thwarted when custody battle of their young son rises. Although Marriage Story deals with divorce, it isn’t a joyless or hopeless film. It takes a very honest look at married relationships, dismissing all the usual movie clichés.
4. The Irishman
Director: Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese’s highly anticipated Netflix original gangster epic thankfully lived up to its hype. This sweeping tale of infamous criminal figures hits on themes not usually encountered in gangster genre. Scorsese and Zaillian’scontemplative tone showcases the inviolable connection between crime and politics. They also subtly explore the burden of taking a darker path in life. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci’s fantastic performances definitely make this an unforgettable work in Scorsese’s oeuvre.
5. Article 15
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Article 15 is a bold, fearless attempt at depicting the grim reality of 21st century India. A fiercely intense and nuanced portrait of a country blinded by its prejudices and hypocritical leanings. It was a much needed film and so relevant for our times. The socio-political issues couldn’t get any closer to reality. So does the treatment to the film.
Article 15 is brutal and hard-hitting. The performances only add to it. Ayushmann Khurana‘s restrained act seethes with an unflinching resolve. Is there something you can’t do, Ayushmann Khurrana? Like 2018, this is your year! Sayani Gupta is a revelation. Zeeshan Ayyub’s is a brief but class act. The supporting cast rounds it out to perfection.
It’s the last on the list but one of the best films to have come out in the past few years. If there’s only one film you’re going to watch on this list, let it be this one!
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6. Grass is Greener
Director: Fab 5 Freddy
Grass is Greener is a bizarre but amazing film. It discusses the difficult relationship that cannabis has with the country of America. It is a documentary movie that consists of equal parts of comedy and history. The role of the infamous weed in providing inspiration for jazz and hip-hop, superimposed on the war on the plant provides an entirely new and interesting perspective.
7. Last Breath
Directors: Richard da Costa, Alex Parkinson
Last Breath is a gripping documentary inspired by an inspirational true story. It covers the impossible tale of a lone survivor. He is stranded at the bottom of the North Sea with only five minutes of oxygen left in his tank. Rescue is more than thirty minutes away. The emotional first-hand accounts provide a very authentic insight into the incident. This is a story of one man’s undying will and epic fight for survival.
8. The Highwaymen
Director: John Lee Hancock
The Highwaymen is a great thriller. It is very loosely based on the capture of notorious criminals, Bonnie and Clyde. The gritty cinematography is a treat to watch. The performance by the lead cast, Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, is the icing on the cake. Shot beautifully and executed immaculately, this movie definitely takes one of the top spots on my list.
9. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor
This is one of the most inspirational movies I’ve watched recently. It is extremely earnest in its portrayal of the real-world crises of global warming, climate change, famine, resource disparities and the irresponsible use of those resources. This movie was the directorial debut of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and his sincerity and care show through the movie.
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10. The Great Hack
Directors: Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer
Data is the new oil and data rights are human rights. In the age of big data and data mining, this stylishly made documentary on Netflix makes an opportune point — that data mining turns humans into commodities and helps change behaviours! But is it sincere, a clarion call to wake up, or as the Variety review calls it, ‘an intelligent but infuriating piece of liberal hand-wringing’?
While the unravelling of the CA scandal is remarkably captured, the narrative tends to exaggerate the dangers of open data and whips up the fear factor. Do check it out. (By Sanjay Trehan)
Director: Alex Lehmann
Paddleton is a beautiful film about friendship. It has its moments, most of which just felt very real. The story revolves around two neighbours who become good friends. This friendship then leads to an unexpectedly emotional journey when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The movie is sincere, has a lot of emotional depth and is marked by complex but authentic performances. Truly a soul-searching journey at its best.
12. Then Came You
Director: Peter Hutchings
If you liked The Fault In Our Stars, chances are, you’re going to like this one too. It is about the joint adventures of a terminally-ill teenager and a 19-year old hypochondriac. They help each other achieve what would never have been possible alone. What allows this movie to set itself apart is the heartfelt and brilliant performances by the actors. It makes the movie a work of art in its own league.
13. Sarvam Thaala Mayam
Director: Rajiv Menon
This is a movie centred around music and dreams. A young movie fanatic (just like us) is the son of a skilled mridangam craftsman. He is sent to deliver the instrument to a famous mridangam player, Vembu Iyer. The musician intrigues him to such an extent that he decides to become a musician himself. The movie is full of moments that will make you smile but this does not undermine the serious tone of the movie. Neither does the serious tone weight it down with serious subjects. The movie is a perfect harmony.
Director: Chris Smith
This movie is about a real-life fraud that was done on a grand scale. The FYRE music festival was a mega-disaster. The organizers tried to pull a music festival out of thin air. A movie that explores all the comical, astonishing and sad outcomes of the greatest party that never happened. The amazing direction and execution accurately capture the essence of the motivation behind the fraudulent acts while giving us an outlook on the consequences of such irresponsible deeds.
15. The Wolf’s Call
Director: Antonin Baudry
The Wolf’s Call is an amazing thriller that focuses on the dangers and implications of nuclear war. The story leans a bit towards the weird side as there is a man in a submarine who has an almost supernatural hearing. And he is the only thing that is standing between peaceful conflict resolution and all-out nuclear war. The tension in the scenes is infectious and has been captured with excellent detail.
This was my list of favourites on Netflix that came out in the year 2019. Some of them are pure entertainment, some will lead you to question the things around you and some will perhaps change you as a person. From soul-searching to adrenaline-pumping, this year has been full of movies with a lot of character that were made with a lot of honesty, sincerity and passion.
16. High Flying Bird
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh is back with this sports drama that’s sort of mix between Jerry Maguire‘s behind-the-scenes look at a player-manager relationship as well as the technical aspects we’ve come to see from Moneyball. For sports fans, this will be an interesting look at the life of an NBA star, as well as the life of a sports agent. With a documentary sort of vibe to it, Steven Soderbergh gives us a basketball movie without all the locker-room huddles and last-second shots. This is a basketball story without the highlight reel. Also, the whole movie was shot on an iPhone. A master at work.
What do you think? Which of these have you seen? And what did we miss? Tell us all in the comments below.
By Deepjoyti Roy, Arun Kumar
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