Rewind 2019: Coming-of-age Drama ‘Little Women’ Tops List

The past year’s film viewing started with the comedy “The Upside” and ended 170 movies later with the pulse-pounding “Midnight Family,” a documentary about private ambulance workers in Mexico City. In between there were gems, both uncut and precious, and not from Disney or Marvel, which takes the year’s five top grossing movies: “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4,” “Captain Marvel” and “Frozen 2.” None of those titles make my list of favorites, though I have a soft spot for “Endgame.” My picks might not be cinematic masterpieces in the snobby auteur sense, but, boy, did they make me feel alive. Per usual, it was a challenge to come up with just 10 favorite films. This list changed daily, but since deadline is hovering, I’ll leave you with this lineup:

1. “LITTLE WOMEN”: Louisa May Alcott’s 150-year-old novel about four sisters coming-of-age in Civil War-era Massachusetts fit our modern sensibilities like a glove. In the hands of writer-director Greta Gerwig, it’s a perfect match of artist and material, all fortified by a stellar cast of Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. I’ve seen it twice, and the second viewing wrecked me more than the first. Alexandre Desplat’s evocative score is the cherry on top. (In theaters)

2. “ONCE UPON A TIME IN … HOLLYWOOD”: Quentin Tarantino films are so much fun to watch. And this one, his valentine to Tinseltown set against a revisionist take on the Manson Murders, is no exception. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt do their best work in years as fictional, fading movie star and his longtime stunt double. Margo Robbie adds a ghostly presence as doomed starlet Sharon Tate. What results is hilarious, gruesome and perfectly Tarantino. Anyone know where I can get a flamethrower? (Available on demand and all the streaming spots)

3. “THE IRISHMAN”: If you didn’t see this in theaters, then you really missed out. Martin Scorsese’s takes the gangster genre on a last hurrah with a dream cast of Robert Di Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel. It’s de riguer Scorsese, gripping, tense, violent, but it’s also something more: profound. This is the director, and cast, playing on the back nine of their careers and looking back through a lens clouded with regrets, the biggest being the daughter who will never come to visit. It’s an unexpected gut punch from a bunch of wise guys. (Netflix)

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