It’s the final month of the year, and what better way to usher in the new one with incredible movies? As we anxiously await for awards season, December gave us a hell of a number of films to appreciate. From the hauntingly beautiful showcase of two women falling in love to the anxiety-inducing appeal of betting against the odds, it’s been an exceptional month for great storytelling. So, let’s get to it!
Director: Chinonye Chukwu
Starring: Alfre Woodard & Aldis Hodge
Cinematographer: Eric Branco
Release Date: December 27, 2019 (limited)
Official synopsis via IMDb: Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.
Clemency had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the Grand Jury prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. And it’s no wonder because Chukwu’s script and directorial debut is a gut-wrenching look inside death row executions. Also, the film comes with once-in-a-lifetime acting from veteran Alfre Woodard, where she gives a performance that feels like essential viewing. Simply put, don’t let Clemency escape your radar because it’s one of the most underrated gems of 2019.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet
Cinematographer: Yorick Le Saux
Release Date: December 25, 2019
Official synopsis via IMDb: Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Little Women may have been adapted in Hollywood more times than anyone cares to admit, but Gerwig’s adaptation is a good addition to that long list. With exceptional acting from Hollywood’s leading young stars and a script that tugs at your heart in more ways than one, it’s certainly worth seeing in theaters and one of the best of December. Don’t be too surprised if it picks up multiple awards this season.
Director: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, etc.
Cinematographer: Darius Khondji
Release Date: December 25, 2019
Official synopsis via IMDb: A charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.
The Safdie brothers made one of the most talked-about films of December 2019. After viewing Uncut Gems twice, it’s no wonder. It’s thrilling, anxiety-inducing and chaotic. But above all, it’s one of the best films of the year! Not only that, Adam Sandler proves once again that he not only loves acting, he’s great at it. See it in theaters as soon as possible, but don’t forget your “chill pill.” 😉
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel
Cinematographer: Claire Mathon
Release Date: December 6, 2019 (limited)
Official synopsis via IMDb: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is the best movie of 2019 and one of the best movies of the decade. Need I say more? No. But I’ll say this: prepare yourself to fall in love with Sciamma’s feature during its wide release on February 14, 2020!
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays, and Colin Firth
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins
Release Date: December 25, 2019 (limited)
Official synopsis via IMDb: Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier’s brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.
Films centered around War are always hit or miss with me. There’s never really any in between. But thanks to Sam Mendes, 1917 is one I’m proud to recommend. The acting and cinematography are among some of the best of the year. So do yourself a favor and rush to the theater to witness it on January 10th!
Thanks for tuning in to another month of our Best Movies countdown. Tweet us @ PopCultureRevs and tell us which films made your best of December list!