Lindsey's Top 10 of 2019


Written by Lindsey Cook

Oh, what a year! I've quite enjoyed a lot of the content that's come out of 2019, even if, on a broader level, the year has been a bit of a dumpster fire. Legacy series and film franchise concluded, new shows emerged, and we saw the rise of the most meme-able green critter since Dat Boi. So, not horrible. Here are my top 10 shows/movies/songs/moments/things.

10) J Lo's Entrance in Hustlers

Was there a better cinematic entrance in 2019? I think not. Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona waltzes onto the screen and proceeds to absolutely bring down the house, dancing to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. It’s sexy, it’s athletic as hell (girl is doing this at FIFTY and looking fantastic), and it sets the stage for J Lo to crush her whole performance in the movie. Runner-up moment: her telling Constance Wu to climb in her fur. Iconic.

9) Baby Yoda

I’m going to be honest with you: I like Star Wars just fine, but I am by no means obsessed with it. I enjoy the franchise but don’t spend too much time worrying about it. When The Mandolorian started airing on Disney+, I knew I wanted to check it out because people would be talking about it and having conversations that I wanted to join. I did not, however, realize that I would become enamored with an adorable little puppet. That’s right people, I’m talking about Baby Yoda.

Okay, technically “The Child” as they’re calling him officially, but y’all know who I’m talking about. Every moment he appears on screen, I smile. He is just too precious. He can be eating frogs, using The Force, wiggling his big old ears, or just staring at Mando. I love it all. Do I care about the plot of The Mandalorian? No! But would I give my life for Baby Yoda? Absolutely.

8) Lizzo

This SNL skit summarizes my feelings toward Lizzo quite well. Her songs are fun, catchy, and empowering. Who cares if some of them are years old at this point? 2019 was the year that Lizzo’s music entered the mainstream, but I’m going to be channeling her energy into 2020 and beyond.

7) Watchmen

I didn't think a superhero TV show would be one of the favorite things I watched all year, but leave it to Damon Lindelof (the creative force between one of my all-time favorites, The Leftovers) to make that the case.

The trick, of course, is that Watchmen isn't really a superhero story at all. There's only one Superman-esque individual, and more than that, this is a story about America, race, legacy, love, and many other things masquerading as a superhero show. The performances are phenomenal, with Regina King once again proving why she is one of my favorite actors, and the story is at once an elegant homage and thoughtful critique of the source material, the original Watchmen graphic novel.

In other words: come for the giant interdimensional squid, stay for the poignant look at race, heroism, and legacy in present-day America. 

6) Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend

Waiting 6 years for a new album from one of your favorite bands can be a surefire setup for disappointment, but Vampire Weekend’s fourth album proved to be worth the wait.

From the first time I heard lead single “Harmony Hall” I knew the album would be a treat. Because of the long wait between albums, Vampire Weekend gifted us 18 new songs (practically unheard of these days) with a mature, California-infused sound. “This Life”, “Hold You Now”, and “Bambina” are personal favorites, but I adore this album from beginning to end.

5) Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood

Who would have thought that in 2019 when the #MeToo movement is still a major talking point, the year in cinema would mostly comprise of themes along the lines of “The White American Male is a Dying Breed”. And yet...The Irishman, Ford v. Ferrari, and Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood all deal with the myth of the 20th century American Male. I’m kind of over it, to be honest, and hope 2020 sees more woman-centric narratives, but that doesn’t stop Quentin Tarantino’s latest to be one of my favorite movie-going experiences of the year.

I’m a sucker for movies about the movie business, or movies set in Los Angeles, or movies featuring a shirtless Brad Pitt, so Once Upon A Time is a triple threat. It perfectly captures the mesmerizing paradise that is LA, as well as the sinister forces hiding just beneath the surface, and how the world we know and love can change right before our eyes and we won’t notice it until it’s too late. More than that, it’s a sincere and often sweet look back at a bygone era with a rare romanticism from a director most known for his penchant for violence and f-bombs. There’s plenty of that to be had, too, but the relative restraint makes it one of Tarantino’s best.

4) "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

If you had told me at the start of this year that Billy Ray Cyrus would be featured on the biggest song of the year, I would have asked what drugs you were on. And we are. “Old Town Road” is weird, nonsensical, and odd, and it is also a total bop. It’s been a while since a song ruled the cultural conversation like this one did, and it was so fun to see this song grow exponentially each day. “Old Town Road” forever!

3) Fleabag

In an age of endless reboots and revivals, I admire shows that don't overstay their welcomes and generally applaud those efforts. Fleabag is the rare exception of a series I actually think is too short, because I would not mind living with these characters for years to come.

The brevity of the show is, of course, one of the reasons why it is so wonderful; the amount of story and emotion—and hilarity, too—that is packed into a series you could binge in its entirety on an LA to New York flight (and still have time to start another show) is unreal.

The second season also features one of the most beautiful love stories I've seen, and it fills my heart with both warmth and sadness thinking on it now. The show's ending will stick with you for a long time, in the best of ways. I hesitate to call anything "perfect" but Fleabag comes about as close as one can to perfection. 

2) Parasite

Since starting this site/newsletter earlier this year, I’ve made it my goal to stay informed on film and television news. Because of this, I dove headfirst into the world of “Film Twitter” which can be a sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, always interesting realm. I’ve learned a lot by following new voices, critics I admire, and so on, but I’ve also learned that “Film Twitter” can be an echo chamber of sorts, where criticisms are intensely overplayed and movies can be easily overhyped. Thanks to the 5-month window between Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite winning the Cannes Palme D’Or and the movie finally arriving in theaters, I feared that the massive praises of Parasite were overdoing it.

After watching this movie twice (the second time being just this weekend) I can now say this is not the case. Parasite was one of the most fascinating films I saw not just this year but this decade, challenging my perceptions about each character time and time again over the runtime. It is a knife-sharp satire, a brutal observation of modern capitalism, a masterclass in acting, and a truly shocking film that I am so thankful I knew next to nothing about going into it, aside from the fact that it was a Korean film that featured a fantastic house.

Do yourself a favor and watch this film as soon as you can, and don’t look up anything else beforehand!

1) Succession

If you can believe it, it wasn’t love at first sight for me when it came to Succession. In fact, it took me quite some time to get through season one of the HBO family drama, as the tone—teetering between self-serious drama and “rich people are assholes” satire—took some getting used to. But once I was in, I was in.

I feel equal parts affection and loathing for the Roy family, both wanting them to succeed despite their general awfulness and gleefully witnessing their failures. That's a hard balance to maintain, but Jesse Armstrong does so with ease. I adore the elaborate, increasingly over-the-top set pieces the characters find themselves in, surrounded by all the trappings of immense wealth but feeling empty and alone as ever, and the ever-changing dynamics between family members are fun to track. Oh, and the incredible one-liners and scathing insults are fun, too.

Watching Succession's second season week to week was some of the most fun I've had watching a series and engaging with fellow viewers in some time. It's ripe for both hilarious memes and honest analysis, which makes it the perfect show for 2019.

I'll see you in 2020, Roy family!


Some runners up: Barry, The Farewell, VEEP, Uncut Gems, GLOW, and Steve Harrington in a sailor outfit for the entire third season of Stranger Things