From 'Booksmart' to 'Room'
Given that the way we watch movies has changed, friends will often ask me what I recommend that they can stream at home. I received one such request earlier this week, and since we’re in the theatrical doldrums of January, it seems like a good time to share these.
Some of my favorite movies of 2019 are available now, as well as some other gems I hyped when they were out in theaters.
Well, this is an easy place to start, since my favorite movie of 2019 has already made its way to Hulu. Olivia Wilde’s smart and hilarious take on the high school party movie is a feel-good gem on every level, and stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are just the tip of an all-around excellent cast.
“The Art of Self-Defense”
Oh, look, another movie from my 2019 Top 20! Jesse Eisenberg stars in a pitch-black comedy that skewers toxic masculinity and feels destined for cult status.
“The Beach Bum”
Oddball director Harmony Korine (“Spring Breakers”) teamed up with a perfectly cast Matthew McConaughey in this laid-back comedy about a famous poet living his best life by drifting through it. Sit back and enjoy the vibe.
Ari Aster’s atmospheric creeper was a solid hit for indie distributor A24, but if you missed it in theaters or just want to see it again, here’s an uneasy way to spend 2-½ hours. Oh, and unlike another movie on streaming, “The Irishman,” this one needs to be watched in a single sitting to capture the real feeling.
If you’ve already seen “Midsommar,” this one would make a perfectly nightmarish double-feature. Just be very warned that Gaspar Noe movies are not for everyone.
Talk about, uh, good timing. Josh and Benny Safdie’s latest, the unbearable tense “Uncut Gems,” is one of last year’s best films (and Adam Sandler was absolutely robbed not getting an Oscar nod), but their first movie is almost as good. And if for some reason you don’t think Robert Pattinson has the chops to play Batman, watch this.
Joanna Hogg’s story of a young woman finding her autonomy in the midst of a toxic relationship features a stunning lead performance by Honor Swinton Byrne, who is joined by her real-life mother, Tilda Swinton.
And here’s another of my No. 1 movie picks (this one from 2018). Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age comedy captures modern adolescence in all it’s awkward glory, thanks to Elsie Fisher’s breakout lead performance.
Netflix continues to shift to its own production with Oscar nominees like “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” and its selection of recent outside movies seems to get more and more thin, but you can revisit a Best Picture winner that’s better than any of this year’s nominees.
“The Spectacular Now”
My love of A24 Films is well know (especially to my editor), but one of the studio's first movies remains one of its most underseen. Young Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are superb.
Now that Brie Larson is a certified box-office star after “Captain Marvel,” it’s a good chance to make sure you’ve seen her Oscar-winning turn in this emotional ride of a film.