2019 will be regarded as a banner year of great films. In reality the best films will have unfamiliar titles while the known titles will be what advertising has decreed.

The whole act of making lists serves as an inventory of coolness. These are the coolest films I saw this year – they must be because here they are on the list, right? Truth be told – if everyone liked the same film it would be a boring world.

Best Films

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)

The Irishman (Netflix)

Marriage Story (Netflix)

Dragged Across Concrete (Summit Entertainment)

Greener Grass (IFC)

Motherless Brooklyn (Warner Bros.)

Under the Silver Lake (A24)

The Lighthouse (A24)

Uncut Gems (A24)

Yesterday (Universal)

Best Foreign Film

The Painted Bird (Czech Republic)

Parasite (South Korea)

Portrait of A Lady on Fire (France)

Les Miserables (France)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (China)

Pain & Glory (Spain)

Better Days (China)

Corpus Christi (Polish)

Beanpole (Russia)

Non-Fiction (France)

Best Documentary

Cold Case Hammarskjold

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound



The Spy Behind Home Plate

For Sama

Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Mike Wallace is Here

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache

Framing John DeLorean

Best Animated

I Lost My Body

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

Multiple commercial movies didn’t make this list but were worthy due to standouts in acting or extraordinary technical effects. “1917” certainly qualifies as a must-see for many factors the least of which is that the film seems to unwind in a single take.

Films as disparate as Bombshell,” “Knives Out,” “Joker” and “Little Women” display top-notch production values, riveting acting not to mention strategic release dates.

Yet we’re not doing a top-ten-percent of the year; we’re doing a top ten.

At the end of the day there are two domestic films that time will glance at with approval: “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood.” Everything else will eventually fade into cult obscurity. Foreign films like “The Painted Bird,” and “Parasite” will form their own fan clubs.

And it’s on to next year at the cinema.