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The Top Films You Need to See this November

The top films to see in November 2019

What are the best new movies to see this November? Our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares her list of the top films you need to see this November 2019. 

November 2019 is jam-packed with great movies

If you’ve yet to finish watching the incredible collection of films released last month, you had better act quickly, because November brings many more highly anticipated pictures to the big screen. By this point in the year, everyone is talking about the upcoming award ceremonies. And most of 2019’s biggest films are available now or coming out in the sixty days.

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Out now are The Irishman (Martin Scorsese’s 3.5 hour epic that is also available on Netflix), Harriet (a biopic of Harriet Tubman from Kasi Lemmons), and Terminator: Dark Fate.

best new movies November

Some of the best new movies in November 2019: Cynthia Ervino in Harriet. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features.

Before the end of the month we will have: Marriage Story, Honey Boy, Last Christmas, Ford v Ferrari, Charlie’s Angels, Waves, and The Report.

best new movies November

Some of the best new movies in November 2019: Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/Netflix.

Plus Frozen II, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Dark Waters, Knives Out, Queen & Slim. And many other excellent films.

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the top films you need to see in November 2019

It is a golden month for cinema, and if the above list overwhelms you, we don’t want to add to the problem. However, there are six more movie that you should make time for, even in an already-crammed viewing queue.

1. Paradise Hills

Directed by: Alice Waddington. Written by: Brian DeLeeuw and Nacho Vigalondo. Starring: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Eiza González and Milla Jovovich.

You might remember the first movie that scared you as a child. Not a horror movie, but a fantasy or science fiction film that felt so novel, so otherworldly, that it haunted you for months after you saw it. This is the emotion that Paradise Hills elicits: of being a new citizen in the world of fantastical cinema. And experiencing it with the awe that only a blank canvas can allow.

The top films to see in November 2019: Paradise Hills.

It is a dystopian story in the same vein as the young adult novels of the early 2000’s. A group of girls are sent to a correctional finishing school on a remote island, where they are trained to become better versions of themselves. Except over time, the girls discover that everything is, as you might expect, not as it seems. And there is actually something far more sinister happening.

The movie is campy and exaggerated and enjoyable, and it employs nostalgia in a way that is the opposite of the way many current reboots and sequels do. As opposed to giving you more of the thing you already love, and hoping that you will feel the same way you once did about it, this film gives you something new. In order to take you back to how it felt when you watched a new genre for the very first time.

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2. Greener Grass

Directed by: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. Written by: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. Starring: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland and D’Arcy Carden.

There is a narrative in Greener Grass, an absurdist, visually stimulating comedy about life in an alternative universe. In this case, it’s a twisted suburb and the people who dwell there. The plot is entertaining in its own right. The main character, Jill, gives her baby to her friend Lisa (a move that is somehow both accepted and not accepted within their upended social norms) and then watches as her life slowly unravels.

The top films to see in November 2019: Greener Grass.

But unlike in most films, the plot here feels more like a device by which the film can feed you, the viewer, the amazing and hilarious details of the world these characters inhabit. Children become golden retrievers. People eat food off the restaurant floor. Everyone wears braces on their teeth. Each cliche about suburban life is carefully subverted and mocked to the point of hilarity, and there are enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep you entertained.  And yet in spite of all of the ridiculousness, Jill’s real and growing despair resonates, creating a space in which you are forced to consider the clash between the amusing absurd, and the wish that someone would sit down and take this character’s emotions seriously.

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3. Synonyms

Directed by: Nadav Lapid. Written by: Nadav Lapid and Haim Lapid. Starring: Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire, Louise Chevillotte.

Recipient of this year’s Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Synonyms is the story of a troubled young man, Yoav. He flees to Paris from Israel, where he is found naked in a bathtub by Emile and Caroline, a young couple who then become his friends and benefactors.

The top films to see in November 2019

The top films to see in November 2019: Synonyms.

The movie feels like a party to which only the most interesting and individualistic elements have been invited, so much so that it becomes impossible not to occasionally lean back from the film and notice the fact that you are noticing them. In a less artful film, this would slow down the rhythm of the story and strip it of its emotional heft. But Synonyms manages to fly by and stay engaging – you will find yourself surprised at the end that two hours have passed.

Much of this is due to its protagonist, whose jagged behavior sets the terms by which the film operates. Said behavior includes, but is not limited to, causing a stir at the French embassy; acting erratically toward all of the people with whom he comes into contact; and frequently quoting the Iliad . There are many scenes that, even with the safe distance of the screen between you, are likely to bring you discomfort. If this were not a movie, it would be an immersive art installation. But as a film it is wonderfully fresh, taking a political point of view and using it as a basis upon which to build one of the most original, evocative, watchable characters of the year.  

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4. Frankie

Directed by: Ira Sachs. Written by: Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias. Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Jérémie Renier, Pascal Greggory, Vinette Robinson, Ariyon Bakare, Carloto Cotta, Sennia Nanua and Greg Kinnear.

Everything is a lot right now, and Frankie is the opposite of all that: a dramatic story, with its emotional frequency dialed all the way down. It is a story that we have all seen before – a woman receives a terminal diagnosis, and gathers her friends and family together for a final goodbye weekend in Portugal.

The top films to see in November 2019: Frankie.

In this case, the woman is a fictional famous actress (played by Huppert). Her friends are other fictional Hollywood industry players, and her family is complicated. She’s hoping that they will all forge connections with one another before her death. And yet, where other films of a similar plot are shout-y, tearful and full of chaotic energy, Frankie is muted and meditative. Even in scenes where revelations are made, everybody under-reacts. The film feels spacious, like it is giving both its characters and the audience the gift of a quiet place to process their feelings and to contemplate and prepare for what is to come.

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5. Queen of Hearts

Directed by: May el-Toukhy. Written by: May el-Toukhy and Maren Louise Käehne. Starring: Trine Dryholm, Gustav Lindh and Magnus Krepper.

It is difficult to describe a film that is as deceptive, dark and hard to watch as Queen of Hearts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film that is Denmark’s submission for this year’s Academy Awards. Queen of Hearts focuses on Anne, a middle-aged woman who is a wife, mother, and a lawyer who represents victims of sexual assault. By all expectations, she would be the film’s heroine.

The best new movies November: Dronningen/Queen of Hearts. Photo Credit: ROLF KONOW.

But as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that she is instead its villain: seducing her 17-year-old stepson, and using her knowledge of the legal system to malicious and calculated consequences. The film moves from infuriating to devastating once its initial premise is set up. If you think you are able to stomach two hours behind the eyes of a perpetrator, just be warned: it is a ride with no relief. And absolutely worth the watch.

6. Burning Cane

Directed by: Phillip Youmans. Written by: Phillip Youmans. Starring: Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, and Braelyn Kelly.

It is impossible to discuss this award-winning film without noting, first, that its writer and director is only 19 years old. But if you see this artistic, laborious effort without knowing that, you would never have any idea.

The best new movies in November 2019: Burning Cane.

It is the story of three people living in a rural community in Louisiana: Helen, her son Daniel, and her Reverend, who has recently been widowed. Rather than a traditional narrative with a beginning and an end, this movie feels like impressionistic view of an honest, holds-nothing-back look into these characters’ internal worlds. The two men are struggling with alcoholism, and Helen is trying to keep them both in check, while also looking after her grandson, the wide-eyed Jeremiah.

The film is beautiful in the way that poems are beautiful, with striking imagery that pushes you to take a closer look at the people you are observing. The word ‘astonishing’ is the only one really appropriate for such a mesmerizing debut. If you missed its brief appearance in theaters, it is now available on Netflix.

the top films you need to see in November 2019

That’s it – our picks for the best new movies in November 2019. Enjoy! What’s at the top of your list this month?

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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