the lighthouse press photo

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson deliver unforgettable performances in Robert Eggers' "The Lighthouse."

While Finals Week is upon us, there have been plenty of great films this year to catch up on and get distracted with. Here's Limelights picks for the best films of 2019. 

“Knives Out”

Take an all-star cast and place them in an Agatha Christie novel, and you’ll have “Knives Out”— an instant classic in every sense. An artistic family-thriller released just in time for the holidays, “Knives Out” is a chilling mystery following the extended family of a praised horror novelist, who dies of suspicious circumstances during a family gathering. Each member of the family adds their own layer of charm and convolution to the mystery as it unfolds, folds back up and unfolds again. Ana De Armas delivers a phenomenal performance as the deceased author’s unsuspecting nurse, and Chris Evans surprises with the antithesis to his famously genuine personality, playing a conniving and cynical estranged grandson intent on getting his fair share of the family-drama-spotlight. Amidst the thick red herrings and Daniel Craig’s stone-cold stare as the case’s lead detective, family banter and light wit keep the film quick, dry and engaging. A murder-mystery complete with breathtaking scenery and creative cinematography, “Knives Out” is a refreshing take on the tried-and-true whodunit — or is it a whodunit at all?

“Us”

Jordan Peele is famously known for his ambiguous artistry, and his award-winning thriller "Us" is no exception. The movie is about a family of four that goes on a vacation to their beach house. The night of their arrival, they are greeted by masked strangers holding scissors who attack them in their home in a fight for their lives. They soon come to find out that the masked strangers are their doppelgängers and they’re connected in the most bizarre way. Jordan Peele’s cryptic and unconventional style throughout "Us" has positioned it as one of the best movies of the year.

“Midsommar”

Ari Aster's "Midsommar" is 2019's best horror film. The use of continuous camera shots, as opposed to the commonly used cut-shots in other horror movies, adds a building sense of tension throughout the entire film. While this isn't Florence Pugh's breakout role in a movie, her convincing and disturbing display of pure shock and grief is as memorable in both the best and worst ways.

“Yesterday”

Following the story of a struggling singer-songwriter, Jack Malik, who finds himself living in a world where no one knows of the Beatles and makes it big by claiming their songs as his own, “Yesterday” is one of the most heartwarming and beloved romantic comedies of the year.

Generating $151.3 million at the box office after releasing in June, the film received overall positive reviews from critics, who chalked it up to be an easygoing, feel-good storyline with an interesting spin on a Beatles tribute. “Yesterday” also featured several big celebrity names accompanying Himesh Patel’s debut, with Kate McKinnon, Lily James and Ed Sheeran.

“Pokemon: Detective Pikachu”

First of all, Ryan Reynolds. Enough said. There has never been a movie where Ryan Reynolds was anything but the best fit for his role, and "Pokémon: Detective Pikachu" was no exception. His sarcastic wit and humor brought the fuzzball that was Pikachu to life in the most perfect way. Regarding the Pokémon themselves, the animators behind this movie did an amazing job creating life-like creatures without turning this family film into a horror flick. While this movie was clearly intended for fans of the Pokémon franchise, the creators did an exquisite job making the movie approachable for all viewers, with enough inside jokes to appease the devotees. "Pokémon: Detective Pikachu" was by far the best movie from this past year.

"The Lighthouse"

Whether or not one appreciates or considers Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” to be a “good movie,” it’s not a movie viewers can easily forget. It follows the descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers. It’s artsy and ambiguous without crossing into muddled pretentiousness, despite being infinitely open-ended. It’s disturbing and tension-filled, but wants you to smile at it. It offers two career performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe — the kind you can’t imagine any other actor pulling off.

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