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Halfway Mark: Best of 2019 (Thus Far) 

by Nathaniel R

Let's wrap up the midyear review now with a general overview and behind the scenes beauty. Please don't consider this list 'official' awards since the back half of the year is usually more impressive than the first half due to annoying Oscar-focused distribution patterns. The point, nevertheless, is an important one: we should always be appreciating art and keeping lists so we don't forget delights that opened in non-awards season months like most awards voters do. 


Disclaimer: I have not personally seen The Souvenir and Sorry Angel yet but since both won strong reviews and/or were beloved by people I trust, I'll get to them as soon as I have the opportunity. They are the two films I most regret missing from the first half... but no one can see everything (over 300 movies have already been released in 2019).

Okay let's get deep dive movie-nerdy with 6 favourite achievements in multiple categories. To qualify for these group honors (such as they are at this point) a film had to open between January 1st and June 28th (so the three unreleased films above won't be mentioned...but we wanted to tip our hats once at least so you can watch out for them). Ready? Here we go...







  • Avengers Endgame (Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeeley based on the comic book characters)
  • Charlie Says (Guinever Turner based on "The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten" by Karlene Faith and "The Family" by Ed Sanders)
  • Gloria Bell (Alice Johnson Boher based on the film by Sebastián Lelio)
  • Toy Story 4 (Andrew Stanton & Stephanie Folsom based on the Pixar characters)
  • Transit (Christian Petzoldt based on the novel by Anna Seghers)
  • The White Crow (David Hare based on "Rudolf Nureyev: The Life" by Julie Kavanaugh)






















  • "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" - Rocketman
    TRIVIA: Elton John is already an Oscar winner due to The Lion King but strangely that film was his only Oscar moment despite writing songs semi-frequently for films. 
  • "Glasgow" - Wild Rose
    TRIVIA: This great closing performance song was co-written by the Oscar-winning actress Mary Steenburgen so if it's Oscar nominated -- and it certainly could be if the music branch is paying attention (I know that's a big if), she'll finally snag a second nomination 39 years after her win.]
  • "Summer Song" - Yesterday 

If anyone has suggestions of a site that tracks original songs throughout the year, please share. It's so hard to follow what songs are specifically written for films. It will be getting more difficult, moving forward, as well since as of last season the Academy is no longer releasing the long eligibility list (which generally was 50-80 songs long) and is now only publicly announcing the 15 finalists before nominations. We prefer to know what's actually eligible/original and make our own decisions rather than to rely on the whims of the often confounding music branch and what they randomly got behind as "best".

Why did we list only three songs when we did six for the other categories?

It's because the pickings are so slim. Toy Story 4 ("Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy"),  Aladdin ("Speechless"), Missing Link ("Do-Dilly-Do (A Friend Like You)", Shaft ("Too Much Shaft"), are the only other original songs we know of at this point. But even accounting for the dearth of contenders as of yet the word "best" feels inappropriate to imply to those ones. There must be more than seven songs at this point. Anyone? Anyone?



Tell us your favourite accomplishments from 2019 thus far, won't you? 


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Reader Comments (15)

So much I haven't seen yet, but:
5 films stand out:
Ash Is Purest White
Long Day's Journey into Night

And 2 documentaries: Amazing Grace, Leaving Neverland

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I liked Us, Alita Battle Angel, Us, Toy Story 4, Rocketman and The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Have not seen that many films, however.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMark F.

I would personally throw I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away from Toy Story 4 in the song category, but maybe only because it plays behind my favorite scene of the entire film (Forky's montage of attempting to trash himself)

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

The four films that stood out to me are Her Smell, Woman at War, Us, and Transit. The best documentary I saw was Leaving Neverland.

I still have to see quite a few films including The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Toy Story 4, and Amazing Grace.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I do NOT get your love for Rocketman. It was poorly written, directed and acted.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

The worst movie this year was replicas as far as the first 6 months, Hollywood is having a diverse year. Wait for Marie heller and Kasi Lemmons to be nominated for a beautiful day in the neighborhood and Harriet. 842 have been inducted into The academy most of them wil be women

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Faye. I agree.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRay

Is “Wildflowers” (written by Carly Rae Jepsen and Jack Antonoff) performed by Elle Fanning for TEEN SPIRIT eligible?

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

"Us" really sticks in the memory. I was slightly underwhelmed at it, but I want to revisit it - and the things it shows up for here are definitely deserved.

I love that still from "Late Night" - Mindy Kaling on Emma Thompson's shoulder - I like to think of it as Thompson giving her blessing to Kaling. I've been a Thompson fan for 20+ years, and anything she does is gold.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Us and Rocketman are way over praised. Us is better thanks to Lupita buy boy oh boy, the plot holes and general inconsistencies storywise drag it down.

Having said that, I would consider Us for production design also. And (not a popular choice) XMen Phoenix for score (it has such a beautiful score for such a train wreck of a movie).

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

There have been some good original songs this year. Particularly, "I Punched Keanu Reeves" from Always Be My Maybe and "Breathe" from Her Smell

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew St.Clair

Why no mention of Mustang?

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Pete - -because i haven't seen it yet. The four key movies i missed in the first six months (according to various takes here in the comments and around the web) were MUSTANG, SOUVENIR, HER SMELL, and SORRY ANGEL. So i shall have to catch up with them.

July 4, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I thought Us had some of the worst writing I'd seen in a long time. :/ great acting, cinematography, and scoring tho.

July 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I didn't like the coda in Late Night, just too breezy and obvious, tho breezy enough that I didn't get angry. Unnecessary song (and bad) and the Mindy Kaling fallback.

But damn good film anyway, with a stop-the-presses performance from one of our great actors.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

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