Best of 2019 | Staff Picks
Feb 20, 2020 by Nickelodeon Theatre on The Nickelodeon Blog
As promised, and better late than never, we’ve compiled a list of Nickelodeon Theatre and Indie Grits Labs staffer’s and board member’s favorite films shown at The Nick in 2019. Here is a wildly incomplete list of the films that moved us last year:
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, directed by Joe Talbot, is my favorite film from 2019. It beautifully explores themes of grace, love, longing, loss, and identity, among friends, and between a man and a house in San Francisco. The love between Jimmie and Mont is moving. Their exclusion from the beauty of their own community is awful.
Runner up: Cold War. Pawel Pawlikowski is a magician of restraint.
Assistant Director of Programming
I am torn between The Last Black Man in San Francisco and The Farewell. Both films feature a strong and loved cast and story of people of color. Representation on the screen is vital to the industry and to the Nick and will always be my first priority! I grew up in Toronto, a city similar to San Francisco, and was in the same situation as the two protagonists of Last Black Man were in – being pushed out of a city and neighbourhood that you love and the only real place you can call home. This film hit hard and made me realize that it was ok for me to leave a city I loved so much. In the end it allowed me to find love and a strong community here in Columbia!
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Usually I go out of my way to serve up the most obscure item of cinematic aracana I can deliver when asked about my favorite film, but in this case I go with the obvious: PARASITE. I was favorably prejudiced in its favor for many reasons, which I hasten to admit: I worked with the Korean Consulate to program a sidebar of Korean films for a fest in LA, back in the early aughts; I lived in Koreatown for ten years, back when it was uber-authentic and not “the hippest neighborhood in the U.S.”; and any film that deals with class divisions always gets my vote. What emerges as art is the seamless, utterly original melding of social satire with visual style; typically you get one or the other, not both. Parasite is a wonder–and not a small one.
Robert Eggers, Willem Dafoe, and Robert Pattinson are all inspiring to me as an artist — so naturally I was ecstatic for this film when I heard about the collab. Now I know what you’re thinking: what’s the hype about two men stranded on a remote island with a lighthouse set in the late 1800s? And it’s in black and white? Boring, right? WRONG! There are so many things to love about this film. It was mostly an artistic inspiration for me because the cinematography, use of 35mm b&w film in a square aspect ration, the editing, etc were all absolutely phenomenal. The character development really sat with me, to. I mean, are they sane? Insane? Who is to know? Does it even matter? What are those accents? And the dialogue that Dafoe And Pattinson perfected… they were both DIFFERENT and accurately portrayed from the period. And both are almost impossible to understand without subtitles (YES SIGN ME UP). I don’t think I’m selling this film well, am I? Anyway, I was deeply inspired by this film (visual art piece?) as both a visual artist and cinephile, and although I may be in the minority; my dedication to The Lighthouse and writer/director Robert Eggers remains intact.
Runner up: To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar!
(PS — if I were choosing from all films from 2019 in general, Midsommar was my favorite, but unfortunately we weren’t able to show this one at The Nick.)
The premise of The Farewell alone is enough to make you tear up, but the amount of care in how this story is handled easily makes it my favorite film of the year. The Farewell finds its footing simply in the fact that it’s based on a true story (and sometimes real is enough). These characters have such depth and are reminiscent of so many people in my own family and the experiences we’ve shared. The complexities of family and the struggles associated with losing a loved one are universal experiences.There is so much about this movie that feels familiar and relatable, but you won’t find yourself bored. Lulu Wang captures you with this story and is kind enough to give you some laughs along the way (because you will cry, periodt).
P.S. Nai Nai (played by Zhao Shuzhen) is a STAR and I REFUSE to let you say anything different.
Education Consultant at Gupta-Kagan, LLC
Another for The Farewell! This film explored so much – family and culture, how you truly express love, the strength of hope – and did so in a way that made me just want to never stop watching. The family makes a decision not to tell the matriarch that she’s dying, and the American granddaughter thinks that is downright mean to her grandmother – doesn’t she deserve to know the truth? But through this story, she discovers that wanting to tell is the selfish act – why not let her live the end of her life with joy and happiness? A complete flip, but the grandmother’s smiles and the granddaughter’s angst have stayed with me all year.
EFP Specialist, Producer, South Carolina Educational Television – Board Member
Parasite is the movie that I really enjoyed at The Nick this past year. Not only was it beautifully filmed; the story also illustrated the intricate differences between the lives of the “haves and have nots” but also how they exist together. The incredible plot twist waiting for us in the basement was very well down. The director, Bong Joon-ho, also made a great point :He said, “Once we get over having to read subtitles we open ourselves up to some incredible films.” The Nickelodeon is not afraid of subtitles, so the quality of films are amazing–and it’s one of the only places where we can enjoy this sort of film in Columbia.
Pain and Glory has the vibrant color palette and steady hand that you would expect from Almodóvar–without the (sometimes-over-the-top)experimentation. It works as a mostly linear narrative about a flawed human who savors memories and has the ability to share them as interesting stories. Banderas’ character in the film says that the best acting technique is not to cry but to show holding back the tears. He accomplishes this in what I think of as his best performance by finding the pain within the man on the brink of those tears. This is my favorite Almodóvar since All About My Mother.