While much of the world eagerly awaits the upcoming Oscar nominations, former president Barack Obama decided to give “breaking the Internet” a go by releasing a list of his favorite movies (and a few TV shows) from 2019.

Obama tweeted the short list Sunday, quickly drawing online praise. His picks – which include the lauded “Apollo 11,” a documentary about the moon landing with archival and previously unreleased footage; “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s 3 1/2 hour mafia epic; and “Little Women,” Greta Gerwig’s decidedly more feminist take on the classic tale – would fit well within any critic’s list.

Left, Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino and Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” Niko Tavernise / NETFLIX

“American Factory,” a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the workers in a former General Motors plant in a Dayton, Ohio, suburb during its transformation into a factory for the Chinese company Fuyao, also made the list. It was the first release by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, as he noted in his tweet.

Notably absent was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time. . . in Hollywood,” a rumination on 1960s Hollywood set against the backdrop of the real-life Manson family murders (with a history-rewriting twist characteristic of the director). While that was the most celebrated movie to not appear on his list, Todd Phillips’s deeply divisive “Joker” and Sam Mendes’s “1917,” a World War I movie edited to have the appearance of being filmed in one take, were the two other notable Oscar contenders that didn’t make the cut.


This image released by A24 films shows Zhao Shuzhen, left, and Awkwafina in a scene from “The Farewell.” Casi Moss/A24 via AP

Less notably absent was “Cats.”

His list included a few surprises, as well. For example, the German-language film “Transit,” a movie that transposes a 1940s novel about a refugee hoping to flee Nazi-occupied France into the present day without changing the story, received glowing reviews but didn’t end up on many critics’ end-of-the-year lists. The same goes for “Diane,” a quiet indie character study that starred Mary Kay Place as the titular character who spends her days helping others while fighting an internal battle. (This may be because it technically debuted at the Tribeca Film Fest in 2018 but was released to the general public earlier this year.)

His list of television shows was far more brief and more in line with popular critical thinking. It included just three shows: BBC’S “Fleabag” (Season 2), Netflix’s “Unbelievable” and HBO’s “Watchmen.” The inclusion of “Fleabag” tickled many Twitter users, as one episode of the show features creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character conducting a sex act while watching the former president gives a speech on her laptop.


This image released by HBO shows Regina King in a scene from “Watchmen.” Mark Hill/HBO via AP

Obama, who has always shown an interest in pop culture, began his now-annual tradition of sharing his favorite film, television, literature and music from the past year when he was in the White House. On Saturday, he tweeted out a list of his favorite books of 2019.

Here’s the full list:


“American Factory”

“Amazing Grace”

“Apollo 11”

“Ash Is Purest White”


“Birds of Passage”



“The Farewell”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“The Irishman”

“Just Mercy”

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

“Little Women”

“Marriage Story”


“The Souvenir”



“Fleabag: Season 2”




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