Presented in no particular order, these are some of my most enjoyed watches of 2019. From drama to comedy to coming-of-age, there's something on this list for everyone!
John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch (Movie, Netflix)
This is easily one of the oddest yet most delightful movies I've ever watched. Following the stereotypical approach of ye olde PBS TV shows, comedian John Mulaney interacts with a diverse group of wildly talented children, intermingled with ridiculous songs and to-camera testimonials about what each actor's greatest fear is. Complete with a star-studded cast of guest appearances including Jake Gyllenhaal, Richard Kind, Natasha Lyonne, and Andre Deshields, if you want to be filled with joy, give this a watch.
When They See Us (Series, Netflix)
Directed by the incomparable Ava Duverney, When They See Us follows the tragic story of the Central Park Five. Duvernay's limited series displays impeccable attention to detail and stunning acting. Heartbreaking yet powerful, the show captures every nuance of the Five's convictions and perpetual fight for justice.
Knives Out (Movie, not yet released on streaming platforms)
Knives Out has everything a viewer can want from a murder mystery: an eccentric and ridiculously wealthy family, a mysterious private investigator, a realistic yet kind-hearted heroine, and Chris Evans brooding. There are genuinely unpredictable twists keeping you engaged at every turn and an excellent cast round out a thrilling viewing experience.
The Politician (Series, Netflix)
Truly one of the wildest and most unpredictable TV shows I've watched this year. Starring Broadway's Ben Platt, this gripping political drama centers around a high achieving high school student and his race for student body president as his means of getting into Harvard and eventually the Presidency of the United States. With incredibly well developed supporting characters and a fascinatingly dramatized look at the lives of ultra-rich teenagers, The Politician is the definitive political drama of Generation Z.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Movie, Netflix)
While not for the faint of heart, Bandersnatch viewers are able to make choices for young programmer Stefan Butler as he adapts a novel into a choose-your-own-adventure video game. This engaging format enables five different endings for the movie depending on what choices the audience makes throughout the experience. Although Bandersnatch was released on December 28th, 2018, I felt it's late release, and interactive format warranted its inclusion!
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Series, Disney+)
If you were a High School Musical lover, or have ever participated in theatre, you absolutely must watch this show. The series is not a continuation of where the original High School Musicals left off; it instead follows students at East High School's performing arts department putting on a production of High School Musical. Complete with stereotypical high school relationship drama and the quintessential experience of educational theatre, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a delightful celebration of friendship and arts education.
Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile (Movie, Netflix)
Speaking of High School Musical, Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy in this haunting tale of the serial killer as seen from his longtime girlfriend's perspective. Efron's performance is eerily charismatic yet stunningly sinister, drawing viewers into the twisted web of Bundy's crimes. If you are a true crime lover, this is a must-watch.
The Mandalorian (Series, Disney+)
If you are a Star Wars lover and haven't watched The Mandalorian yet you are missing out. Personally, this series is not my favorite Star Wars content I've watched in 2019, but I recommend it for the sheer mystery of "Mando" and the adorable, waddling Baby Yoda. There are heaps of engaging backstory and interesting details that fans will appreciate, making The Mandalorian a loveable addition to the Star Wars saga.
Fosse/Verdon (Series, Hulu)
This show is required viewing for any theatre lover. Follow the lives of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, the phenomenal leading cast of Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams marvel with their astounding performances. Complete with the drama of relationships, difficulties of mounting Broadway productions and movies, and hardships of mental illness, Fosse/Verdon is a stunning look at the reality of the revered stars' lives.
Blinded by the Light (Movie, not yet released on streaming platforms, can rent on Amazon Prime and iTunes store)
This was one of my favorite movies in 2019. Following a Pakistani teenager in 1987 England who falls in love with the music of Bruce Springsteen, Blinded by the Light is a beautiful look at the love families have for one another, and how art can transform lives. While grappling with the difficulties of racial prejudice, parental expectations, and teenage drama, Javeed finds himself impassioned and understood by Springsteen. This important movie deserves to be part of the regularly recognized coming-of-age movie cannon.