Best Movies of 2019 So Far: Peter Travers' List - Rolling Stone
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The Best Movies of 2019 So Far

Peter Travers on the halfway-point highlights of the year — from ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to ‘Us’

At the half way point, 2019 is definitely having its moments without yet producing a game-changer to raise the stakes on what movies can do. (Sorry, Avengers: Endgame — you’re Marvel-ous, but you’re no Black Panther.) Still, the news isn’t all dire. The performances of Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Andre Holland (High Flying Bird) and Honor Swinton Byrne (The Souvenir) definitely deserve attention, awards-wise and otherwise. And if there are better music docs coming this year than the gems on Aretha Franklin (Amazing Grace) and Bob Dylan (Rolling Thunder Revue) than we’re all in for another golden age. Indeed, there were glimpses of glory to savor amid the avalanche of reboots Hollywood tried to bury us under. Here, in alphabetical order, is my list of the far-from-unlucky 13 films that rank as the best of 2019 so far.

The Souvenir

A24

‘The Souvenir’

Talk about polarizing. Some hate on The Souvenir, unable to keep up as writer-director Joanna Hogg scatters her memories as a fledgling London filmmaker in the 1980s. Others get blissfully lost as the protagonist (a revelatory Honor Swinton Byrne) pushes past the wrong man (Tom Burke) and her own insecurities to come up with a version of herself she can live with. It’s a life-changing challenge — and 100 percent pure cinema.

Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong’o) and Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) in Us, written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong’o) and Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) in Us, written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Universal Pictures

‘Us’

I first saw Jordan Peele’s second horror movie at SXSW in March, and it’s still messing with my head. Lupita Nyong’o, in one of the great performances in horror-movie history, plays Adelaide, wife to Gabe (Winston Duke) and mother of their two kids. On a beach vacation, the family are confronted by zombified doubles who threaten to take over their lives. Adelaide seems to know more than she’s letting on, which leads to a climax that will keep you arguing into your nightmares. Peele is a master at subverting genre so that the unthinkable becomes uncannily real.

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