Limelight Magazine viewed 77 films theatrically in 2019. Of these films, 67 were first run, while the rest were retro screenings of horror classics such as Jaws and Halloween 2. While this decade contained some of the best films in cinematic history, 2019 had the most films that were consistently solid. As with any list, we have not screened every film released in 2019, including Stars Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Pain and Glory and 1917. We plan to see those films at the start of the new year.
In reflecting back on the highlights of 2019, these were our top 10 favorites followed by an honorable mention list. Rather than go into detail about each film, we’re only going to list them so you can discover these movies for yourself. (Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 31, 2019. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2019 in early 2020).
3. The Nightingale
5. Doctor Sleep
6. The Nighshifter
8. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
9. Uncut Gems
10. Happy Death Day 2U
Honorable Mentions (11-20)
11. Freaks 12. Glass 13. Richard Jewell 14. Little Women 15. Yesterday 16. Luce 17. Climax 18. Rust Creek 19. Knives Out 20. Bombshell
2019 was another great year for horror movies, capping off what is arguably the best decade for this genre in cinematic history. While there were a number of great films that could be classified as horror based on their content, such as Jennifer Kent’s sophomore feature The Nightingale and Jen McGowan’s Rust Creek, this list will only include those classified as horror films. 18 of these films we were fortunate enough to see theatrically with an audience, while the other three we had to either watch on physical media or streaming. Please note that this is not a “best of” list like other publications have done but rather a list of our 25 personal favorites. (As we always note when creating a list like this, we haven’t seen every horror film this year but these are our favorites as of today’s posting date).
Limelight Magazine viewed 83 films theatrically in 2018. This is the most films we’ve ever seen in a theater in any given year. Of these films, 74 were first run, while the rest were retro screenings of cult or modern horror classics such as It’s Alive and Ms. 45. It’s interesting to note that we viewed more female-directed features this year than at any other time. Films such as Blockers (Kay Cannon), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller), Leave No Trace (Debra Granik), The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan), The Ranger (Jenn Wexler), Revenge (Coralie Fargeat), Mary Queen of Scots (Josie Rourke) and You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay) all had females at the helm. Unfortunately, we have not seen Karen Kusuma’s The Destroyer because it was only screened in three theaters in Los Angeles and New York before the deadline for this article.
Other film highlights this year included a return to form for director Paul Schrader with First Reformed, film legends Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood giving their best performances in years in The Old Man and the Gun and The Mule respectively, and award buzz worthy documentaries (Free Solo and Will You Be My Neighbor?).
In reflecting back on the cinematic highlights of 2018, these were our top 10 favorites. Rather than go into detail about each film, we’re only going to list them so you can discover these movies for yourself. (Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 31, 2018. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2018 in early 2019).
During the month of October in 2017, Limelight Magazine counted down our favorite 31 horror movies since 2000. This year we decided to go back to the 1980’s which was the peak of the slasher film genre. While almost everyone knows the Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Child’s Play franchises, there were a number of slasher films that were released between 1980 and 1989 that have become neglected or overlooked. So, we decided to go through our extensive DVD and Blu-ray collection and feature a slasher film from this time period that we don’t hear a lot about anymore. While not all of these are great films, they are worth checking out if you are a fan of this horror sub genre.
It should be noted that we are referencing one obscure slasher movie per day alphabetically during October. We are only featuring those films we actually own. There are three letters of the alphabet (Q, Y & Z) where we don’t own a film title to match that letter. Please check back daily for the next featured film.
With the closing of the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe in Providence, R.I., after 42 years, we had planned to write an editorial about it. We have so many memories of going there. In fact, the past couple of years the owners really raised the bar with their programming. We also featured them in Limelight Magazine two years ago when the indie cinema celebrated their 40th anniversary. (Click HERE to read the story). However, we noticed a post on Sara Archambault’s Facebook page that expressed our thoughts exactly. Instead of rewriting essentially what she posted, we asked for her permission to share this on our page with our readers and she graciously accepted. So long, Cable Car Cinema and Cafe. You were a gem in the Providence community and a cultural institution!
To Whom It May Concern:
As a filmmaker, an arts sector worker, and a life-long RI resident (with about 20 years in Providence), I want to add a line to the recent debates about the closing of the Cable Car Cinema.
I am fortunate to work at a regional arts funding organization called the LEF Foundation. LEF supports documentary filmmakers who reside in New England but make films around the world. Each year, we gather a jury of film professionals from all over the country to make the grant decisions and in the last few years, we have moved these deliberations from where the foundation is centered, in Harvard Square, to Providence.
I helped to orchestrate this move. I have what is possibly an absurd amount of Providence Pride. I revel in showing off this city’s historic and crafty features. I love the people here; our DIY spirit; the fierce call to create and forge our own paths with nothing but some good ideas and a little sweat. You can see this manifested all over the city in myriad ways.
In the mornings, I walk the jury from where they stay at the Dean Hotel over to Small Point Café for breakfast. At the end of the day, I bring them out to see art or shop some craft stores after a hard day’s work.
Significantly, I always send this jury to the Cable Car, one of this city’s most important cultural institutions. This is a place dedicated to showing the best of independent film, and intentionally building community around cinema. After a day of watching emerging films in progress, it’s satisfying to send the jury to the “cinema with couches” to see what one of these films might look like when it reaches the big screen.
But this year was different.
I knew I was sending this group of film industry leaders to the Cable Car for the last time, and I was heartbroken.
But it’s not only the Cable Car closing that pains my heart. Walking down Westminster, the jury encountered closed storefronts on each block. Every new construction boasted signs for hotels or luxury apartments. But what is it that will draw people to our city? Or make them stay? I’m heartened by the cool little shops and restaurants I see sprouting up downtown, but I worry the new construction signals a stripping away of this city’s beating heart.
Why am I so worried? Until recently, the LEF Foundation was located in Harvard Square, where it had been since 1992. I witnessed the Square morph from a funky, eclectic space to a corporate white wash of familiar franchises. The building LEF was in for more than 25 years was sold and the rent doubled. Down the block the Brattle Theatre, an independent cinema, is a remnant of what the Square once was. It’s all the more treasured for this reason but it too has a wealthy landlord–Harvard University–and ongoing challenges remain.
What I saw happen in Harvard Square, I see happening here.
And so I ask: What do we value, Providence? What do we want this place to be?
Providence is well known around the world for its arts scene. The culture of this place is directly tied to its creative character. Anchors like AS220, Trinity Rep, and PPAC, helped spur this growth we see. Places like the Cable Car, Craftland, Thee Red Fez, the Columbus Theater, Haven Brothers, Armageddon Shop, the Dirt Palace, and Frog N Toad, to just mention a handful, are what give Providence its flavor. Our success as a place is, was and will always be tied to the fates of the determined artists, storytellers, and entrepreneurs who bring our city its cultural life.
RI artist Hilary Treadwell (now famous for her “Don’t Mess with RI Either” t-shirts) was quoted in local media when there was speculation that the Crook Point Bascule Bridge was to be taken down. She said, “The soul of a place is diminished when we dismantle its strange things.”
In our city’s pursuit of growth, I fear we may be dismantling our strange things. And it is, indeed, these same strange things that provide the bedrock to why people want to come here in the first place. What is the vision for nurturing and protecting the local while planning for this growth?
In the case of the Cable Car, it is important to note that one of the largest arts institutions in our city took a primary role in the elimination of one of the smallest. RISD receives tax benefits from our city. What is their commitment to being a community partner?
On the state level, instead of giant tax breaks for one or two large corporations, what about incentives for 40 small businesses? What can we do to help grow the Cable Cars – people committed to this city, with roots here – into mid-size or large businesses with more jobs? Where is that vision for advancement? Finally, how can the giant behemoths of the universities create meaningful partnerships with the business and cultural sector that service a more useful set of values than an asset on a spreadsheet?
What do we want to be, Providence?
I am inviting those of us who are so lucky to live in this wonderful little city to think creatively and challenge our leaders to think with us. Think of sitting on those comfy couches discovering a new movie or maybe going on a first date. What does Providence become without the Cable Cars?
I will mourn the loss of this theater for a long time. I wish the owners (my friends – full transparency) well and I hope they find it within them to recreate somewhere else in town.
Finally, I implore our city, state and institutional leaders, please don’t dismantle our strange things in the pursuit of profit and growth. They are the very pillars that hold us up. Including you.
Since we’ve seen all of the films released in 2017 that were nominated for “Best Picture” and “Best Director,” as well as all of the films in several of the other categories, Limelight Magazine has decided to offer our predictions in 12 of the 24 categories vying to win gold at this Sunday’s 90th annual Academy Awards. We don’t anticipate getting all of them right. (We may even get all of them wrong). But, we thought this would be fun and something different to do. Here are our predictions of who we think will win along with who could be a potential spoiler. Tune in Sunday at 8 PM on ABC to find out how we did.
(Please note that we only made predictions in those categories where we saw every film in contention).
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This is the most difficult category to predict because there isn’t a clear front runner. However, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri are our favorites to win. Get Out could surprise with an upset victory. I, Tonya was robbed of a nomination and should have been placed in contention.
Winner: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
2017 was the biggest year for horror movies in cinematic history. Every publication from The New York Times to Variety has written about the biggest box office year ever for this genre. While movies such as It, Get Out, Split, and Annabelle 2: Creation, dominated the headlines, they were just a handful of quality horror films released this year. In looking back on 2017, these were our top 20 favorite horror movies. (As we always note when creating a list like this, we haven’t seen every horror film this year but these are our favorites as of December 31, 2017).
3. The Blackcoat’s Daughter
4. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
5. Get Out
7. Happy Death Day
8. Killing Ground
9. The Void
10. Tragedy Girls
12. It Comes At Night
13. A Cure for Wellness
14. A Dark Song
16. Better Watch Out
17. Belko Experiment
18. Annabelle 2: Creation
19. Amityville: The Awakening
20. The Devil’s Candy
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