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2019 was a very good year for movies. Many of the critically acclaimed ones received award season recognition, but even more beloved movies were snubbed. 2019 had such an eclectic list of enjoyable movies that it is understandable that some of them didn’t get the praise that they deserved. The best thing about the internet, besides all the information it provides, is that it makes it so easy to rent movies online.
Some of us remember the good old days of Blockbuster. We used to have to wait days, sometimes weeks to rent the movies that we wanted if it wasn’t in stock. Films being release online makes things so much easier: one click and a credit card, and instantly you can catch up on all those vital movies you missed.
Here’s a few of these movies, and how to rent them now that you have a little more free time.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe co-star in The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is the second feature film by The Witch director Robert Eggers. The Lighthouse is a film that doesn’t neatly fit into any movie genre. At its surface, the film follows two men tasked with watching a lighthouse only to engage in a battle against the elements, their mental stability, and each other.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s intricate, complex performances are what elevate The Lighthouse to such an insane, but thrilling ride. The Lighthouse gives you bizarre scenes, stunning visuals, and plenty of suspense. It’s a film that leaves a memorable impression.
Ready Or Not
In Ready or Not, Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) marry as Alex’s estranged family watches. You know something weird is going on, but not quite what. Later, it’s revealed that they’re all anticipating their traditional family game. In the Le Domas family, when a member gets married, that new bride or groom must draw a game at random for the entire family to play. The games range from Monopoly to Charades. However, all the games aren’t innocent and family friendly. There is one dreaded Hide-N-Seek card. Unfortunately, Grace draws the dreaded card.
Ready or Not is a horror comedy. The entire film has plenty of action, shocking moments, and a lot of humor. It’ll have you laughing hysterically from start to finish. Ready or Not does a great job of fleshing out its characters as well, the entire Le Domas family is extremely unlikable, except maybe one character, so when the movie reaches its conclusion, it feels earned.
Midsommar starts with Christian (Jack Reynor) complaining about his girlfriend Dani (Florence Pugh) and considering ending things with her before his trip to Sweden. Then an unexpected tragedy strikes and instead of breaking up with Dani, he invites her to his trip. Dani, Christian, and a group of friends go to their Swedish friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren)’s midsummer celebration with his ancestral commune.
With only two feature films, Midsommar and Hereditary, Ari Aster is quickly establishing himself as a master of horror films. Midsommar is mentally exhausting and disturbing, but it’s so good. I don’t want to say too much to spoil it for you, but if you like horror films, relationship dramas, and have a hatred for bears, then Midsommar is just the movie you need to ruin your sleep.
Rent it Here: Amazon
Adam Sandler gives one of his best performances as Howard Ratner, a jeweler and gambler in Uncut Gems. Howard owes a lot of money to various degrees of scary people. He believes he just needs one big win and all his troubles go away. Howard constantly puts himself in risky situations with the hope that it’ll all work out.
Uncut Gems gives you a major case of anxiety as you follow Howard make one bad decision after another. It’s a rollercoaster ride as you go from being so happy for him to wanting to strangle him for taking unnecessary risks. Only an actor like Adam Sandler could work in this role. He gives Howard a sly charm that makes you root for him, even when he frustrates you.
In 2019, The Babadook director Jennifer Kent brought us The Nightingale, an equally horrifying movie about the monstrous pain that people inflict on each other. Clare (Aisling Franciosi) is a young Irish girl known as the Nightingale by British officers because of her beautiful singing voice. She is a convict near the end of her servitude sentence. Clare wants the freedom to leave with her husband and newborn. Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) is obsessed with controlling her, so he refuses to let her go. One night, during a violent encounter, Clare’s family is taken away from her by Hawkins and his men.
Clare embarks on a revenge quest with aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr). The Nightingale is a very violent film with sexual assault and gruesome acts of violence. The Nightingale is an intense journey, but worth every step. You empathize with Clare, you adore the bond between Billy and her, and you definitely despise Hawkins. The entire cast and movie deserved more attention during awards season. It’s a shame this movie was so ignored by the Academy. The Nightingale is a movie that emotionally tackles you while shining a bright light on the historical mistreatment of minorities by British colonizers in the 1800s. The Nightingale is a powerful movie that deserves your attention.
Queen And Slim
Emmy winner Lena Waithe wrote the script for Queen and Slim, a movie about Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya), a couple who have a not-so great first date. The date wasn’t going well to start, but then they’re drawn into a police confrontation that turns deadly. The pair become fugitives and folk heroes for the oppressed black youth.
Many have compared the movie to a modern-day Underground Railroad saga, and a black Bonnie and Clyde story. However, Queen and Slim is a beautiful love story that also has a somber tone, because you know that it could only end one or two ways, and the happy ending doesn’t realistically seem possible.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a friendship story about an unlikely pair played by Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf. Zack Gottsagen plays Zac, a man with Down Syndrome who escapes an assisted living facility to have an adventure. On the road, he meets Tyler played by Shia LaBeouf. Dakota Johnson plays the social worker, Eleanor, trying to find Zak.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a sweet drama about the power of friendship, challenging oneself in terms of limits and beliefs. It’s a character driven drama with a tender approach to its storyline, the atmosphere, and its main character. The Peanut Butter Falcon is a genuine, heartwarming drama that’s void of showy-ness.
The Farewell stars Awkwafina and is about a Chinese-American family who decide to keep the grandmother of the family in the dark about her fatal illness. Awkwafina’s character Billi feels especially conflicted about this secret because of her close bond with her grandmother.
The Farewell deals with a very real and heartbreaking topic, but it manages to squeeze a lot of humor out of the situation. Awkwafina has a star-making role in this film, and rightfully won the Golden Globe for her performance. The Farewell effectively blends comedy and drama in a way that makes you empathize with the character and laugh with them as well. It’s a celebration film as much as it is a goodbye one.
Ewan McGregor stars in The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep takes place decades after the events of the original film and book. Dan (Ewan McGregor) is now an adult who suppresses his shining powers with alcohol. He sobers up and a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) uses her shining power to communicate with Dan. She wants his help to stop a cult that feeds off children with psychic powers.
Doctor Sleep grabs you from the first scene and keeps your interest all the way to the final credit. It’s a story of a man plagued by various forms of demons, some of his own making, others from his past, and many very real monsters. It expands the world created in The Shining and pays homage to it as well. Even if you no nothing about The Shining, Doctor Strange is just a fascinating horror thriller, especially for the layers it creates without being overpowering with details.
Fast Color feels like a superhero origin story. It’s about a woman named Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who has seizures that create earthquakes. Ruth returns home to her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and a daughter that she abandoned, Lila (Saniyya Sidney). Both Bo and Lila have the same power to telekinetically break and reassemble objects. Bo and Lila try to teach Ruth how to control her powers, while a scientist who wants to experiment on her is tracking her.
Fast Color feels like a generational fable. It’s the story of multiple generations of women and girls who have been gifted with these powers. The powers tie into their heritage, being, and culture. Many superhero origin stories rely on big explosions and huge action scenes, this is a more character driven movie that leaves a lot of breadcrumbs for an extended universe, which I would love to see one day.
This film is only available for purchase on Amazon without a Prime subscription. Buy it here (currently $4.99)
For this list, I tried to focus on a few lesser known great movies to rent. However, critically acclaimed and box office favorites like The Joker, Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, Ford V. Ferrari, and Knives Out are all also available to rent.
The movies on this list will keep you busy for the next few months, so make sure to stock up on popcorn and other snacks.