Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein/Netflix, Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros., Disney/Marvel
“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” One of the most controversial and hotly-debated films of the year — Joker — is also the most popular entry amongst the Gadgets 360 staff, which is somewhat in keeping with the standalone DC film's unexpected $1 billion box office earnings. Speaking of films that earned a lot, the biggest movie of all time — Avengers: Endgame — is next up in terms of representation on the list below. On the other side of this extreme, some have picked films from Punjab, Syria, or Korea, and one that squarely belongs in the folk horror genre. And of course, a few out of Bollywood. With that, here are our favourite movies from 2019 — and in some cases, those we saw in 2019.
Aditya Shenoy: Article 15
I don't really watch a lot of movies and I've only watched one movie in a theatre this entire year. However, I do stream movies at home on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Article 15 was one such movie that I watched over a lazy Sunday evening. The movie does not have a fancy cast but the actors did complete justice to their respective roles. This movie circles around Article 15 of the Constitution of India which prohibits discrimination on basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. The movie can get a little uncomfortable, but it does a put a crucial point across.
Watch: Article 15
Akhil Arora: For Sama, Marriage Story, and Parasite
Given the brilliance and range on display this year, it's nigh impossible to pick favourites, let alone declare the ultimate one. All three are heart-wrenching, two of them will definitely make you cry, and one — I believe — is one of the most essential films of this decade. No, I'm not exaggerating.
The last of those applies to For Sama, a documentary from Syrian debutante Waad Al-Kateabh, who chose to stay back — even after she had a baby — as her country erupt in flames. Ward's continuous narration speaks directly to her daughter, and as she captures the horror around her caused by the sheer apathy of the powers that-be, it turns the film into a touching tale of motherhood and a showcase for the love people have for their homeland.
You'll also shed tears in Marriage Story — though the pathos is followed by catharsis, which real life has in short supply. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver deliver note-perfect performances as a couple with a young kid going through divorce, pulled between New York and Los Angeles. And that stands on a terrific foundation laid by writer-director Noah Baumbach, operating at the peak of his powers.
That leaves Parasite. A thriller in structure and black comedy in tone, it's about a poor family of four who ingratiate themselves into the lives of a much wealthier one, before running into something unexpected. Korean writer-director Bong Joon-ho layers in the class commentary, but he never takes his foot off the pedal. No wonder that it won the Palme d'Or, the top prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
You can now probably tell why I don't want to pick one between variety like that, but if someone were to put a gun to my head, I'd grit my teeth and go with the order I mentioned them in. I think.
Akshay Jadhav: Midsommar
After Hereditary — a brilliant horror movie released last year, and was written and directed by Ari Aster — this year I was really looking forward to his new movie, Midsommar. And it did not disappoint. On the surface, Midsommar is a story of a girl named Dani, who goes on a once in a lifetime Midsummer festival in a remote village in Sweden, to recover from the loss of her family members in a recent tragedy.
Just like Hereditary, it starts off with a pretty unsettling scene and thereafter takes a slow build-up to increasingly more unnerving and disturbing stuff which happens as the festival goes on. Even though it is supposed to be a horror film, it is shot in beautiful settings in broad daylight for most of the scenes, and it is a treat to look at because of the excellent cinematography of Pawel Pogorzelski.
So to sum up, this dread-soaked unsettling cinematic experience won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like watching unconventional unsettling horror movies without much of the cliched horror tropes, then you'll love this movie.
Ali Pardiwala: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
I'm a huge fan of Breaking Bad and everything associated to it (including the spinoff series Better Call Saul), so I was looking forward to El Camino. Although it didn't get rave reviews, I loved the movie for the positive closure of a major character of the show, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). The movie follows Jesse after he escapes in the Breaking Bad series finale, and shows how he coped with his confinement and subsequently left New Mexico for a better life.
The show is in typical Breaking Bad style, with slow, tense scenes, and a few standoffs that keep you on the edge of your seat. Plenty of key characters, including Walter White (Bryan Cranston) himself, also make guest appearances in the movie, adding to the charm of what I consider to be the true series finale of Breaking Bad.
Aman Rashid: Avengers: Endgame
I am a huge movie buff and almost every other week you can find me at the theatre catching the latest flick. For me, a good movie is all about entertainment. It can be Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood, commercial, art or any other form of cinema, all I want from it is to keep me hooked right till the end. So, a lot of good and interesting movies released this year, and one of those which I really liked was James Mangold's Ford vs. Ferrari. But if I had to pick my favourite movie of the year, well that has to be Marvel's Avengers: Endgame.
This movie is not just my favourite of the year but also one of my favourites of all time. In my opinion, it is perfect end to the journey which started a decade ago. And on top of everything, Avengers: Endgame was also approved by critics as well as the audiences, and currently this movie holds the record for the highest-grossing movie of all time with a worldwide gross of around $2.8 billion.
Watch: Avengers: Endgame
Gaurav Shukla: Knives Out, Joker, Avengers: Endgame, Ad Astra
I didn't watch many movies this year and it is kind of becoming a trend off late. I have started preferring TV series over movies. Given I watched very few movies, I won't be picking one particular favourite and will just mention some that I found to be good and worth the ticket price. Knives Out, Joker, Avengers: Endgame, and Ad Astra were the few those I liked. Rian Johnson's Knives Out is a murder mystery, whereas Todd Phillips' Joker looks at the origins of the eponymous DC supervillain. Russo brothers' Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of Marvel's massive Infinity Saga that started with Iron Man back in 2008 and James Gray's Ad Astra is a character study of an astronaut who goes looking for his missing father to the ends of our solar system.
Harpreet Singh: Marriage Story
I'm not really much of a movie guy anymore. I end up sleeping halfway through most of the movies (maybe I'm just getting too old). But every once in a while, I like to watch one, in parts. And this year, I randomly picked up Marriage Story on Netflix. I mean, who wouldn't? Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in a movie about a couple struggling through a coast-to-coast divorce? Bring it on!
The movie delivers. It's one of the rare movies that ends up depicting both sides of a divorce. Driver and Johansson have done an extraordinary job in the movie, possibly their most enjoyable performances ever. Marriage Story can make you laugh and cry at the same time. It's one of the rare movies that's worth keeping a DVD for. But then it's on Netflix, so you don't have to worry about it.
Watch: Marriage Story
Jagmeet Singh: Chal Mera Putt
While many of my colleagues have nominated English movies as their favourite movies of 2019, I'd like to mention a Punjabi movie titled Chal Mera Putt that I found worth watching this year. The comedy-drama movie directed by young director Janjot Singh stars Punjabi actors Amrinder Gill, Simi Chahal, Hardeep Gill, and Gurshabad alongside their Pakistani counterparts Iftikhar Thakur, Nasir Chinyoti, and Akram Udas. It portrays the hardships people often face while living in a foreign country. But what I noticed as the essence of the story was the harmony between the characters from India and Pakistan that existed and helped them survive in a city like Birmingham. All in all, the movie offers a complete entertainment package with sweet lessons for life and good comic timing in a running time of over two hours.
Watch: Chal Mera Putt
Jamshed Avari: The Spy Who Dumped Me
I haven't stepped foot in a cinema all year, and I continue to not really be bothered about watching major movies as soon as they're released. Most of my movie-watching happens in-flight and I go with anything that will help mindlessly pass the time. This year's big Marvel movies and a few others have served that purpose perfectly. Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Aquaman were obligatory, but there were also a few light comedies that kept me going. For my favourite, I'm going to go with an unusual pick — 2018's The Spy Who Dumped Me, which is about as mindless as movies can be, with a few well-deserved laugh-out-loud moments. The premise is completely absurd of course, but the cast, primarily Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon with a poker-faced Gillian Anderson for good measure, made it work.
Watch: The Spy Who Dumped Me
Nadeem Sarwar: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
John Wick 3: Parabellum is a blast from start to finish. No mind-bending surprises, no Easter eggs, no-world-building concerns, or any other stuff that would pit two cinephiles in a heated intellectual debate. John Wick 3: Parabellum is simply all about an angry John Wick shooting people, riding a horse on a crowded highway like a badass, and rocking slick suits that would put James Bond to shame. And oh, also look good while breaking limbs, stabbing goons, and blasting doors.
There is not much to discuss in terms of story here, but that is what makes John Wick 3: Parabellum a fun watch. Keanu Reeves superbly portrays the taciturn assassin who can single-handedly bring an entire gang down if some unfortunate punk touches his pet dog or car. But that still happens, and what follows afterwards is a man hell-bent on revenge, one who empties Glocks faster than the Punisher, knows more martial arts forms than a Ninja warrior, and still looks believable.
Prabhakar Thakur: Avengers: Endgame
From among nearly half a dozen movies that I watched in the theatres, I had the best experience while watching Avengers: Endgame. Like many other fans, I and my friends had huge expectations from the film and it totally lived up to the hype. I think this movie was not only watched by Marvel fans, but it also drew viewers who are new to the Avengers universe.
Watch: Avengers: Endgame
Pranay Parab: Andhadhun
I don't remember the last time I watched a film in a theatre, and I didn't watch any new film on streaming services in 2019. However, the best film I watched in 2019 is Andhadhun. It's a black comedy that keeps going from hilarious to gruesome. The story is pretty good and the performances excellent. It's one of the better movies to emerge from the Indian film industry and I'd recommend it to everyone.
Roydon Cerejo: Joker
Ever since the first trailer came out, I've been looking forward to this movie and boy, did it not disappoint. I'm a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix, so I figured even if the movie didn't live up to the hype, at least it would be worth watching his performance. Thankfully, the movie delivers in spades. The performance of all the supporting cast is superb, it's paced well, and the background score is epic. I liked the fact that this wasn't another typical ‘superhero' movie but at the same time, subtly reminded us that it was taking place in the same universe as the Batman. All-in-all, a class act and definitely a must-watch, if you haven't already.
Sandeep Kumar Sinha: Andhadhun
Black Comedy is a genre which has seen very few Bollywood releases in past decades. Andhadhun makes a remarkable impression. It leaves you with many questions and brings a smile to your face. Watch Andhadhun for Tabu and Ayushmann Khurrana.
Sumit Garg: Avengers: Endgame
I remember watching Avengers: Infinity War and the cliff-hanger ending it had. Since then, all I ever wanted to know was what happens next when many of the prominent superheroes had died. Well, I had to wait a year to get my answer, and I have to say what a fabulous culmination it was.
Avengers: Endgame is, without a doubt, my favourite movie of the year. And I am sure all the die-hard fans of the franchise can vouch for that. I feel it had every ingredient of a perfect movie that could have ever been made. And any words that I say about it aren't enough. Hats off to the team and to everyone who was associated with it.
Watch: Avengers: Endgame
Tasneem Akolawala: Joker
Very few movies have left a lasting impact this year, and amongst the few that I've watched, Joker just shines through. The movie is disturbingly beautiful, and Joaquin Phoenix is an impeccable actor. The grim nature of the movie doesn't let the overpowering sense of awe be diluted. It's an absolute must-watch. Sadly, the movie isn't on any streaming platforms yet.
Yousuf Jawed: Joker
So now, you've reached the last entry. For me, the first thing that comes to my mind when I reflect on 2019 and the movies I watched is Joker. A movie worth talking about because this movie was something new from the comics world. Joaquin Phoenix's acting blew my mind. The plot was deep rooted in anarchy, capitalism, and mental health. I liked the setting, where society has failed and an antihero such as Joker is hailed as the hero by everyone.