25 Best Movie Performances of 2019
Call them the Butch and Sundance of Bendict Canyon (a movie that, not coincidentally, came out in 1969), call them the alt-universe Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds we deserve, call them the yin and the yang of late-stage studio system meltdown: just don’t call Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton over the hill. They’re not ready to go riding into that fake sunset just yet. Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie is a lot of things: an ode to a bygone era, a tribute to forgotten B-list actors and famous victims, an anxiety attack over the notions of aging and irrelevance, a chance to indulge in hippie cosplay and rewrite history with a happy ending. But at the center of it all is a buddy comedy, in which a TV star and his stuntman counsel each other, crack open beers, and have each other’s backs. It’s not a stretch to say that these roles play to Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio’s strengths as honest-to-God movie stars—the charm, the presence, the 1,000 watt grins—and challenges them as actors; neither is simply coasting by on old tricks and tics. It’s also not a stretch to say they each give career-best performances, or something damn close to them. DiCaprio’s trailer-trashing breakdown has already become justly celebrated, as has Pitt’s Spahn Ranch visit. But for our money, OUATIH is at its best when it’s just these two guys, shooting the shit and complimenting the other’s smooth leap.