As 2019 winds down, people are beginning to reflect on the year’s highlights. Even former President Barack Obama.
After announcing plans to share lists of pop culture moments that “made the last year a little brighter,” the 44th president shared a list Sunday of his 18 favorite movies of the year, which included documentaries, international titles and awards season contenders.
Obama’s complete list of favorite movies from 2019:
- “American Factory”: The first Netflix documentary from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions, about culture clashes and union struggles in a Chinese billionaire’s Dayton, Ohio, glass factory.
- “Amazing Grace”: The documentary about Aretha Franklin, shot in 1972 and assembled decades later, tells the story of the young singer recording the top-selling live gospel album in history.
- “Apollo 11”: Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary shed new light on the trip that first put humans on the moon with never-before-seen footage and archived audio recordings.
- “Ash is Purest White”: The Chinese drama tells a complicated love story over decades in a changing country.
- “Atlantics”: Netflix’s French drama follows a love story between a young woman and a construction worker lost at sea.
- “Birds of Passage:” The Colombian drama follows an indigenous family’s struggle amid war and drug trafficking.
- “Booksmart”: Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut delivered a rowdy and hilarious coming-of-age snapshot of two bookish teenage girls (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) partying the night before their high school graduation.
- “Diane”: Mary Kay Place stars in the drama’s titular role as a woman who faces internal struggles while putting everyone else in her life first.
- “The Farewell”: “Crazy Rich Asians” breakout Awkwafina takes the lead as a Chinese-American woman who flies across the world to be with her dying grandmother, who has not been told she has terminal cancer.
- “Ford v Ferrari”: Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in a retro underdog story about 1960s designers fighting to build a groundbreaking race car.
- “The Irishman”: Martin Scorsese makes his Netflix debut with a 3½-hour gangster epic featuring an all-star cast, including Robert De Niro, Jo Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano and Jesse Plemons.
- “Just Mercy”: Michael B. Jordan plays a self-described “real-life superhero” in the legal drama about attorney Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative to help death-row inmates.
- “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”: The Sundance Film Festival favorite tackles gentrification through the eyes of a young man and his best friend (Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors).
- “Little Women”: Director Greta Gerwig brings a modern ending to Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel in a new adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet and Laura Dern.
- “Marriage Story”: Noah Baumbach’s Netflix divorce drama centers on Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.
- “Parasite”: South Korean writer/director Bong Joon-ho takes viewers through a dark comedic tale of morality between two very different families.
- “The Souvenir”: The British drama about a film student who falls in love with an older man stars real-life mother-daughter duo Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton.
- “Transit”: The German drama follows a man who flees Nazi-occupied France using the identity of a deceased author.
Obama also shared three television shows from 2019 “that I considered as powerful as movies”:
- “Fleabag: Season 2”: Phoebe Waller-Bridge returns with a new Amazon installment about her fourth wall-breaking protagonist doing better than before, until she falls in love with a profane Catholic priest.
- “Unbelievable”: Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning article, the Netflix series tells the story of two female detectives who bring a rape victim’s attacker to justice years later.
- “Watchmen”: HBO’s loose adaptation of a superhero graphic novel, starring Regina King, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons and Tim Blake.
Previously: Barack Obama reveals his favorite books, films and songs of 2018 from ‘Black Panther’ to Cardi B
“Booksmart” director Wilde expressed shock at getting a presidential shoutout Sunday, tweeting “OH MY GOD” along with a GIF of Feldstein’s character showing a similar emotion.
The official account for “Parasite” tweeted a simple “Thank you.”
Obama also announced plans to release a list of his favorite music of the year.
On Saturday, he shared his 19 favorite books, which includes works like Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror,” Jenny Odell’s “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” and Sally Rooney’s “Normal People.”
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY.
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