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Although I write mainly about tech and commerce, cinema is my first love.
I’ve been obsessed with films since I was six years old and watched Back To The Future. I used to constantly bug my father to take me to the movies and video store (remember those?). In fact, I begged him so much to rent Back To The Future, he ended up just buying it (and eventually the trilogy) for me on VHS.
These days, I try to make it to the theater at least three times a week — it’s an incredible experience. There’s nothing like sitting in a dark theater full of people and focusing all your attention on the big screen. It’s immersive and fills me with so much joy.
Last year, I watched 189 movies and this year, I’m at 106 and counting. I get that many people can’t make it to the theater because of time or expense. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out.
Here, in my expert opinion, are the best movies of 2019 (so far) that you can stream online, no theater necessary. So grab your popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy the ride.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on the extremely popular Japanese manga series, Alita: Battle Angel might seem over-the-top. But it’s one of the best examples of seamlessly blending special effects with actors and physical sets since Avatar came out in 2009. It’s no surprise that James Cameron has his fingerprints on both movies. Alita: Battle Angel is worth watching for its elaborate and heart-stopping Motorball scenes alone!
Watch it: Alita: Battle Angel, $13 to buy; $6 to rent, amazon.com
Amazing Grace is a Sydney Pollack film that follows Aretha Franklin during the live recording of her iconic 1972 gospel album of the same name. It’s full of rare footage that’s expertly put together to deliver an infectious film viewing experience. There was so much energy when I watched this in theaters — and seeing it at home is just as invigorating.
Watch it: Amazing Grace, $15 to buy; $6 to rent, amazon.com
Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film from Marvel, is an epic comic book movie 11 years in the making. It’s also the highest grossing movie of all time, beating out both Titanic and Avatar. Even if you’ve watched this film already, it’s worth a second, or third or fourth viewing. Seriously.
Watch it: Avengers: Endgame, $20 to buy; $6 to rent, amazon.com
If you’re in the mood for a comedy full of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll — as well as prestigious and well-considered works of American literature — The Beach Bum, directed by Harmony Korine, is for you. If nothing else, watch it for Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Moondog, a hedonistic poet and author struggling to write his next book, going in and out of rehab and trying to keep his family together.
Watch it: The Beach Bum, $8 to buy; $3 to rent, amazon.com
The story about the rise and fall of a ’90s punk band, Her Smell exceeds expectations with a fantastic performance by Elizabeth Moss as Becky Something, the band’s out-of-control lead singer. Writer and director Alex Ross Perry does a fine job taking the audience through the many ups and downs of stardom, drug addiction and redemption set in the loudest underground nightclubs New York City has to offer.
Watch it: Her Smell, $10 to buy; $1 to rent, amazon.com
High Life, French director Claire Denis’ English-language film debut, is set in the future and follows the day-to-day life of a group of criminals doing time in an outer-space prison. It examines Monte’s (Robert Pattinson) turnaround from hardened jailbird to gentle gardener, as he’s trapped on an endless journey in space.
Watch it: High Life, $15 to buy; $5 to rent, amazon.com
Non-Fiction is French director Olivier Assayas’ comedy about the daily lives and love affairs of a literary agent and his TV star wife. This movie delighted moviegoers at the 75th Venice International Film Festival in 2018. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen this year. Don’t miss it.
Watch it: Non-Fiction, $20 to buy; $6 to rent, amazon.com
Starring real-life mother and daughter Tilda Swinton and Honor Swinton Byrne, The Souvenir follows a mother and daughter’s relationship through the early ’80s in an upper middle class English city and countryside. Byrne shines as Julie, a young privileged film student coming to terms with her well-to-do and much older lover, played by Tom Burke, who is also unsupportive and emotionally abusive. The Souvenir is a triumph for writer/director Joanna Hogg in a slow burn of a movie that’s immensely rewarding.
Watch it: The Souvenir, $15 to buy; $5 to rent, amazon.com
If you’re open to a wild experience, Under the Silver Lake is a trip in more ways than one. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, this movie follows Sam (Andrew Garfield) through the bizarre world of hipster Los Angeles in a very funny and always absurd neo-noir mystery.
Watch it: Under the Silver Lake, $15 to buy; $5 to rent, amazon.com
Fair warning: This movie is scary! Us, writer/director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his breakout film Get Out, is a metaphor about how the issues that separate us as Americans just might be the same ones that keep us together as a country. This horror film trails a family spending time together at their summer home in Santa Cruz as the matriarch confronts her terrifying past.
Watch it: Us, $20 to buy; $6 to rent, amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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