As we reach the midway point of the year, it seems like a good time to look back on some of the great movies we’ve gotten so far this year. There are still plenty more highly anticipated films to come in the second half of the year but there have been many standouts to have come out already.
There have been some big movies that have proven to be a hit with critics like Avengers: Endgame and John Wick 3, but those movies didn’t quite have the Rotten Tomatoes score to make the top 10. Instead, the best-reviewed movies of the first half of the year are made up of documentaries, foreign films and small indies worth seeking out. Here are the best movies of 2019 so far, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Hail Satan? (97%)
One of the most unique documentaries of the year is also being called one of the most entertaining movies of the year. The film takes a look at a group from The Satanic Temple, a religion that worships Satan. The film explores the origins of the religion, its modern members and their attempt to fight for their beliefs in America.
The documentary has been called a witty and intelligent look at a group many Americans might not know much about. It is a fresh and honest look at people who are often judged without people truly understanding what they stand for.
9 The Heiresses (97%)
Not too many films from Paraguay make a splash with western audiences, but The Heiresses has managed to receive a significant amount of attention, The tells the story of two women who, after decades of being together, are separated when financial problems lands one of them in prison. On her own, the quieter of the two, Chela, begins to come out of her shell and experience a new life for herself.
The small film has been called a quiet and intimate look at the kind of people we don't often see in films. Critics have pointed to the themes of class divides as particularly interesting.
8 Woman at War (97%)
Woman at War is another movie that seems to be perfectly suited for the times we are in. The Icelandic-Ukrainian film centers on a middle-aged woman who lives a secret life as a radical environmental activist. Her latest mission to sabotage an aluminum factory is complicated when she is approved to adopt a child.
Though dealing with very serious and relevant subject matter, the film has been celebrated for its unexpected light approach to the material. The humorous approach makes it an enjoyable watch without losing its importance.
7 Booksmart (97%)
Booksmart is probably the most widely seen movie on this list as it is becoming one of the highest grossing indies of 2019. The movie is the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as two top students who, on the eve of their high school graduation, decide to finally embrace their wild side.
The movie has been compared to such teen comedy classics as Superbad and regarded as a fast-paced and crowd-pleasing romp. Wilde's directing has been praised as well as the hilarious and heartwarming performances from the talented leads.
6 Rodents of Unusual Size (98%)
Though the film Rodents of Unusual Size was little-seen upon its release this year, many film fans will recognize its title from a favorite gag in The Princess Bride. Really, this is the perfect title for this strange documentary which follows residents of a small Louisiana fishing community that is being overrun by massive swamp rats.
It might seem like a strange basis for one of the year's most acclaimed movies, but critics agree that it is a completely unique film experience. They specifically point to the movie's surprising charm and timeliness in the strange tale.
5 3 Faces (98%)
Jafar Panahi is a pretty extraordinary filmmaker. The Iranian auteur has received widespread acclaim outside his home country, but he is currently serving a 20-year ban from filmmaking in Iran. He has managed to find a loophole in this ban by making quasi-documentary films such as the excellent This is Not a Film.
3 Faces is the fourth film Panahi has made under the ban in which he and Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari search for a young girl who has reached out to them for help. The film has been called another great achievement for Panahi and a thought-provoking examination of the struggles of Iranian women.
4 Ash Is Purest White (98%)
Ash is the Purest White is the latest film from Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke which gained buzz after screening at last year's Cannes Film Festival. The film is a genre-defying epic about a woman whose romance with a local gangster leads her down some unexpected paths which change her life from ever.
Critics were quick to point out that this film is not your typical gangster movie, but it rather a thoughtful and nuanced tragic love story. Nearly every critic agrees that the film is elevated by the stunning lead performance by Zhao Tao.
3 Apollo 11 (98%)
Last year we got the cinematic retelling of Neil Armstrong's journey to the moon in Damien Chazelle's underrated First Man. This year, we get an even closer look at the historic achievement in this astonishing documentary on the subject.
Apollo 11 uses real footage of the preparation and mission to land American astronauts on the moon in 1969. It's a story we all know, but the film received immense praise for capturing the spectacle and excitement of the event and managing to communicate its significance to the modern audience.
2 Amazing Grace (99%)
In 2018 the world lost Aretha Franklin, undoubtedly one of our greatest singers of all time. With her passing, the release of this never-before-seen footage is not only a reminder of her talent but a moving tribute to Franklin herself.
The film is a music documentary of Franklin's 1972 recording of her Amazing Grace album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The miraculously restored footage was hailed as a stunning document of Franklin's power as a singer and how her music touched people.
1 Knock Down The House (100%)
Knock Down the House is a Netflix documentary dealing directly with the political landscape of the day and those trying to change it from within. The film details four women -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin – as they campaign for Congress during the 2018 midterm elections.
Critics hailed the film as an inspiring tale of perseverance and determination that will connect with viewers regardless of their political beliefs. It is especially interesting to see Ocasio-Cortez's journey as she has since become a major voice in today's politics.