Our favorite films of 2019

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“Midsommar”

Fans familiar with Aster’s previous equally disturbing and beautiful debut “Hereditary” will be right at home with “Midsommar,” with its use of absolutely gorgeous cinematography and color palette combined with some of the most unsettling and horrific scenes of a film in this past decade. A relaxing trip to a remote and beautiful Swedish village gone horribly wrong, “Midsommar” delights in forcing its audience to watch as each of its central characters are tortured by both past and present demons, taking the form of a murderous pagan cult. Florence Pugh and Jack Reyonor, who portray the two leads Dani and Christian, respectively, are able to ground this otherworldly horror with brilliant acting that makes the disturbing visual images all the more harrowing. Those who enjoy having their stomaches churned with fear and eyes pleased with masterful cinematography will be right at home in this especially unique take on the horror genre. – Luke Spicer

“Us”

Jordan Peele’s sophomore feature provides audiences with a horrific and ambiguous piece of contemporary art. The film’s plot is simple, but allows audiences to take different avenues in understanding its deeper meaning. Peele takes the best cinematic features of “Get Out” and blends in new elements that only add to the suspense of his work. The soundtrack and characters are intriguing to the very end, and the film relies on the most fundamental pieces of good storytelling.

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Adelaide and Red, is brilliant and her doppelganger performance is one that will go down in the history of the horror genre. Peele has opened the door for mainstream horror to not exclusively revolve around jump-scares and poor acting. Instead, he properly shows that horror may be a contemporary mode of portraying reality and the terror that exists in society today. – Korbin Breeden

“Booksmart”

Olivia Wilde’s energetic directorial debut capitalizes on the strong chemistry of Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever to deliver one of the funniest films in recent memory. The movie focuses on its core duo, the obsessively academic Amy and Molly, as they navigate the night before high school graduation in an adventure that recalls –– and dare I say improves upon –– 2007’s “Superbad.” The leads are spectacularly funny, and every secondary character could be a candidate for scene-stealer of the year. This is the first movie that genuinely makes me miss high school. – Wesley Stenzel

“Avengers: Endgame”

The dreaded Thanos once claimed that “reality is often disappointing,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth in “Avengers: Endgame.” The Russo Brothers crafted a masterful conclusion to Marvel’s Infinity Saga by finding ways to highlight the best and the worst qualities of the original Avengers team and showing why they are heroes worth rooting for, which is no small task.

“Infinity War” gave fans what they’ve always wanted: the entire Greek pantheon of superheroes, lined up and ready to fight. “Endgame” had half the crew to work with, and skillfully utilized its three-hour runtime to unpack what made them capable of saving their fallen friends. It’s a miracle that in the eleven years since “Iron Man,” Robert Downey Jr. and company still haven’t missed a beat. – Craig Odenwald