January 02, 2020

Our picks for the best films of 2019

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1. Uncut Gems: Josh and Benny Safdie really get a kick out of ratcheting up our blood pressures, and they do it a million times over with this white-knuckle, ticking-clock thriller that places the unbearable weight of one man's increasingly bad decisions squarely on our shoulders. In one of their wildest gambits, the Safdies have cast Adam Sandler as their tragic hero, and he reminds you how great he can be when he actually tries. His Howard Ratner is a Long Island jeweler and compulsive gambler who's always in the process of making just one more bet to get himself out of the red, and he's the kind of weirdly charismatic stooge who's either the dumbest guy on the planet or a stealth genius. Hilariously tense and exquisitely structured, Uncut Gems harkens back to the down-and-dirty filmmaking of the 1970s, with overlapping dialogue and restless cinematography and a bustling cast of two-timers and petty crooks played by a mix of amateurs and old pros. It's exhilarating and horrifying in equal measure, and features some of the most electric, unpredictable filmmaking of the year.