FROM SCHEMING STRIPPERS TO FRACTURED FAMILIES — THESE ARE THE TOP 10 FILMS OF 2019

Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig and new faces star in Eli Glasner's picks of the year's best movies

From "Joker" to "Avengers," 2019 delivered a lot of big movies. But the best ones were often smaller productions that didn't dominate the movieplex.

Devious murder mysteries. Scheming strippers fleecing their Wall Street clients. Cross-cultural connections and class warfare writ large. Those are just some of the themes projected on the big screen in 2019.

Behind the scenes, it was a year of disruption in the film industry. But, as is often the case in times of change, great stories emerge. Hereare my picks for the best of 2019:

10. Knives Out

A look at a scene from director Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. (Courtesy of TIFF)

There is much to admire with director Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out — Daniel Craig’s bourbon-soaked accent, Chris Evans’s devilish turn (and, yes, the sweaters are glorious). But Knives Out saves its sharpest point for the politics of this family in mourning.

9. Hustlers 

Jennifer Lopez, left, and Constance Wu star in Hustlers. (Elevation Pictures/STXfilms)

Yes, watching Jennifer Lopez prowl the nightclub for her next catch gives a giddy thrill, but what’s been overlooked in the award season race is Constance Wu as the conscience of this Wall Street morality tale. There’s a sweetness to the dancer who just wants to support her grandma and go shopping. Stepping in after Martin Scorsese passed on the project, writer and director Lorene Scafaria brings the story to life with style, swagger and the cameo of the year.

8. Motherless Brooklyn

A love letter to New York City and a portrait of power run amok, Motherless Brooklyn is an intoxicating mix of music and mood that begins as a detective story. Writer and director Ed Norton stars as the underestimated hero, Lionel, wrestling with his tics brought on by Tourette syndrome.

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