Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the 10 Best Films of 2019 So Far

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Photo Credit:Hollywood Reporter

THR reviewers’ favorite movies of the first six months of the year include Pixar’s latest, ‘Toy Story 4’; Scorsese’s new Dylan doc; Olivia Wilde’s hall-of-fame teen comedy ‘Booksmart’; and Colombian crime epic ‘Birds of Passage.’

‘Booksmart’
Annapurna Pictures
Olivia Wilde delivers a fantastic directorial debut with this hilarious, blazingly paced teen comedy. The story of overachieving high school besties (played by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) who embark on an epic night of bad behavior before graduation, the film is as raucous as 
Superbad
 — but with characters who are even more full of surprises
. — John DeFore
‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’
Peter Prato/A24
Joe Talbot’s artful, quietly funny debut joins the ranks of great San Francisco films with its original story of two black outcasts (Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors) navigating the city they grew up in, which has changed so dramatically. The movie powerfully ponders the question of whether you can find home again once you’ve lost it.
— Todd McCarthy
‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’
BFI London Film Festival
In this mesmerizing cinematic feat by young Chinese auteur Bi Gan, dreams, memory and an unsolved murder are all part of a forlorn film noir. If the first half captivates with its elusive narrative of doomed lovers, the second part, shot in one continuous 50-minute take, is an immersive, jaw-dropping plunge into melancholy and movie magic.
— J.M.
‘Non-Fiction’
Courtesy of Ad Vitam Distribution
Olivier Assayas’ witty, resonant, richly insightful comedy set in a Parisian publishing world gripped by change is further evidence of his gift for tackling grave subjects with the most ticklish of touches. Guillaume Canet stars as a conflicted editor, but a brilliant Juliette Binoche all but walks off with the film as his frustrated actress wife.
— Jon Frosch
‘Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese’
Courtesy of Netflix
Martin Scorsese has made masterful music docs over the years, but none as playful or inventive as this film about Bob Dylan’s wacky 1975 tour.

Full of eye-opening musical performances, it also sparkles with tongue-in-cheek humor and surprising fictional interviews interwoven with actual ones.
— Caryn James
‘Sorry Angel’
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
French filmmaker Christophe Honoré’s radiant and wrenching ’90s-set drama traces the intertwining lives of a writer with AIDS and a student in the heat of his queer awakening. It’s a vibrant, novelistic tale of love and friendship — and a perceptive, period-specific examination of gay male identity — luminously acted by leads Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamps.
— J.F.
‘The Souvenir’
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Honor Swinton Byrne (Tilda Swinton’s daughter) gives a richly layered turn as an aspiring filmmaker drawn to Tom Burke’s shifty stranger in Brit auteur Joanna Hogg’s piercing, deeply personal latest. The quiet Hitchcockian strains, sharp observations and effortlessly confident yet unshowy technique make it memorable.
— David Rooney
‘Toy Story 4′
Walt Disney Studios
In this wonderful fourth chapter in the Pixar franchise, Woody and Buzz Lightyear continue to face life post-Andy. New director Josh Cooley and voice cast additions like Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks — as well as a richer role for Annie Potts’ Bo Peep — help ensure the usual standard of wit, imagination and magic.
— T.M.
‘Us’
Claudette Barius/Universal Studios
Jordan Peele’s terrifying and ambitious thriller follows a vacationing family (led by a superb Lupita Nyong’o) stalked by malevolent doppelgangers. Offering twists and ironies and false endings galore — as well as a surprising number of laughs — the film packs a punch.
— J.D.
This story appears in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine,

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  • @oliviawilde Ok, Endgame is not part of this? And “Us” & “Toy Story” make it to the list, that’s not fair… ?
  • And even Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” is not good enough to make it to the list… ?