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2019 Staff Picks: Movies

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • John Wick: Chapter 3, Parabellum

    2019

    I have loved this series since the first John Wick. The action is ratcheted up in each new installment, and it is just so much fun to watch. Watch for Keanu fighting bad guys on motorcycles while he rides a horse or watch for my favorite scene, the fight in the New York Public Library. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Shazam!

    2019

    I have been a fan of Zachary Levi since the TV show Chuck, so I was super geeked to see him on the big screen. This role is made for his goofball charm and it was nice to see DC finally make a lighthearted superhero film. Touching, funny, and goofy, this movie was a joy to watch. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • The Farewell

    2019

    Filmmaker Lulu Wang based the screenplay on an actual family lie involving her beloved grandmother. When Nai Nai gets a serious medical diagnosis, everyone decides to travel from the U.S. to China as a farewell. Following tradition, they lie about her diagnosis and say they are there to celebrate a wedding. While you might think that this is a very depressing movie, it does not come off that way; it has a lot of joy and celebration of life. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Blinded by the Light

    2019

    Inspired by true events, set in 1987 Great Britain, this movie follows Javad, a British Pakistani Muslim, who discovers Bruce Springsteen's music and finds that he strongly identifies with the songs. Even if you know little or nothing about Springsteen, filmmaker Gurinder Chadha does a wonderful job illustrating the lyrics and connecting them to Javad. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Yesterday

    2019

    Imagine, if you can, a life without the Beatles. A struggling musician is seemingly the only person who remembers them after a freak accident. He puts this to good use in a suddenly successful career, but ultimately has to reckon with what he really cares about. As Beatles fans, and who isn’t, we found this movie fun and uplifting. Recommended by Terry and Luba.

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  • Isn't It Romantic

    2019

    Interesting rom com that makes fun of romantic comedies. Even more than that, it turns the concept of rom coms inside out. Rebel Wilson is highly entertaining, as usual. But, she's not too over the top here, which allows this one to maintain just the write note of fun and frolic. Recommended by Cecilia.

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  • The Biggest Little Farm

    2019

    What do you get when a filmmaker becomes a farmer, apprenticed to a visionary? A truly moving, gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and illuminating documentary. It started as a promise made to their cherished rescue dog, Todd--they would never leave Todd behind. However, the Chesters found themselves facing eviction from their Santa Monica apartment because Todd barked non-stop while they were at work. They decided the time was right to pursue their dream to own a self-sustaining farm; yet they knew next to nothing about farming. Recommended by Lukie and Sharon.

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  • Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Blu-ray)

    2019

    Ronstadt, who retired in 2011 because Parkinson's disease made it impossible for her to sing, narrates this biographical doc. There is much archival footage as well as current interviews from music industry folks and friends. It is good to see Ronstadt getting her due via film, a reminder of what a trailblazer she was and of her powerful, stunning voice. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Honeyland

    2019

    From North Macedonia, this gorgeously filmed doc is about a female beekeeper who lives in a remote, abandoned village and follows the family tradition of wild beekeeping. She takes half the honey to live on and sell in the city (a four-hour journey each way) and leaves half for the bees. Threats to the balance of nature and her livelihood emerge when a nomadic family moves next door and greed becomes a factor. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Free Solo

    2019

    I alternated between freaking out that the climber was going to die and yelling at him for trying something so risky. This documentary about rock climbing had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Recommended by Denise.

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  • Vice

    2019

    Wonderful acting, bitingly funny, but also rage inducing. Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Downton Abbey (DVD)

    2019

    Downton returns with a blast in this feature continuation of the Crawleys and their servants. This time, a royal visit looms and causes havoc both upstairs and down. Someone called this movie "fan service" like it's a bad thing. We loved it because it is fan service! Lush sets, gorgeous costumes, and a wonderful story. This was time well spent with favorite characters from one of our favorite shows. Recommended by Allyson and Cecilia.

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  • The Mustang

    2019

    A volatile man recently released from solitary confinement ends up in a rehabilitation program that matches incarcerated men with wild mustangs, training them for auction. In her directorial debut, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre based this film on a real program in Carson City, Nevada, and uses men who participated in the program in supporting roles. Horses and redemption, this gem flew under the radar. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • On the Basis of Sex

    2019

    A wonderful and heartwarming movie. The conflict between sticking to your job's demands versus sticking up for your community is all too common! The film does a great job at portraying this struggle and how it looks to cross that line. Recommended by Monica.

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  • The Favourite

    2019

    I can be sniffy about historical dramas, but I had no trouble getting in the spirit of this visually arresting and politically astute take on the reign of England’s Queen Anne. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Wild Rose

    2019

    The story and the actors shine in this road-to-stardom movie. Jessie Buckley's character is flawed, tough, and determined, and her voice is beautiful! I'm looking forward to seeing her in Chernobyl. Recommended by Lukie.

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  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    2019

    This is one of those works of art that feels personal and necessary to the artists involved (friends since childhood), both in the subject matter and the way that the story is told, blending styles in a poetic whole. Just lovely. Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Fast Color

    2019

    Filmmaker Julia Hart and her three leads deliver a powerful narrative about female empowerment. There is an amazing pivotal scene, a showdown between male officials and the women they want to control; this is why I seek out independent movies. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Shoplifters

    2019

    A poor but loving family of petty criminals, moral complexity, a slow reveal, and a heartbreaking ending give this one huge impact. Kore-eda is becoming one of my favorite directors. Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Everybody Knows

    2019

    A Spanish language psychological thriller/drama from one of my favorite directors, two-time Oscar winner, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. Penelope Cruz plays Laura (Javier Bardem, Cruz's husband in real life costars, and they show much on-screen chemistry). She returns to her home village outside Madrid with her daughter and son for a family wedding. The joyous occasion takes a dark turn when one of the family becomes a victim of an abduction, and what everyone thinks they know becomes key. Recommended by Sharon.

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