Best Movies of 2019

       Everybody Knows

Hollywood once led the world in glamorous melodramas, but these days the splashiest ones come from abroad. Take Everybody Knows, a platinum-level soap opera by Iranian Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi. Penélope Cruz plays Laura, a Spaniard who lives in Argentina with her husband, Alejandro (Latin American superstar Ricardo Darín). As the story begins, she and their kids arrive for a wedding in her old hometown, where she meets her ex-lover, Paco (Javier Bardem), a now-married bull of a man who owns the winery that once belonged to Laura’s clan. Everything is going splendidly until, during the wedding party, Laura’s daughter, Irene (Carla Campra), is kidnapped. As he showed in A Separation, Farhadi is expert at making family dramas unfold like thrillers. Winning hot-blooded performances from a terrific cast—Cruz, Bardem, and Darín all brim with passion—this supremely sensitive director keeps you asking: Is something true just because      everybody assumes it is? —John Powers

      Miss Bala

Image result for     Miss Bala

In Miss Bala, Catherine Hardwicke’s English-language retooling of the great 2011 Mexican film, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez plays Gloria, an American who travels to Tijuana to help her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) compete in the Miss Baja contest. But things go terribly wrong and Gloria finds herself in the clutches of Lino (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a charismatically capricious crime boss. Though the balas (bullets) keep flying, the heart of this movie isn’t violence, but the likable Gloria’s fear and horror—and how she overcomes them in order to survive. Hardwicke has a knack for capturing the emotion of extreme situations. —John Powers

Gloria Bell

It’s a sad reality that as some women get older, they can feel less visible in the world—particularly in the movies. The protagonist of Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell is a bracing exception. Set in L.A., this finely etched character study stars Julianne Moore as the titular heroine, a 50-something divorcée who spends her days working in an insurance office and her nights at the disco looking for love. She thinks she may have found it in Arnold (John Turturro), who woos her with an ardor that’s warm if a tad needy. In remaking his 2013 Chilean film, Lelio (who won last year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A Fantastic Woman) pays loving attention to the details of Gloria’s life and absolutely nails the big scenes. Tender but unsentimental, Gloria Bell is a showcase for Moore’s brilliance, which lets us see every inner flicker of a lonely but indomitable woman who keeps stepping onto the dance floor. —John Powers

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