It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!
There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.
The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.
Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch
The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil
Them That Follow
Tigers Are Not Afraid
The Two Popes
Portrait of the Lady on Fire
Just Missed the Lists
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It Chapter Two
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The Wandering Earth
Surprises of the Year
Look, Disney live-action remakes are happening, and will continue, let’s get over it. Okay, now let’s talk a little about Aladdin. I don’t have an immediate connection to Aladdin like many others do, so the movie was already very lukewarm for me. That said, the movie wasn’t that bad. Will Smith as the new Genie wasn’t too bad, and Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine had some pretty great chemistry together. Aladdin was a pretty much a great family movie, and you can’t go wrong with that.
Blinded by the Light
I didn’t think I was going to watch Blinded by the Light, mainly because I didn’t think I’d connect to it because I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. The great thing is, you didn’t need to be. That to me, made me a fan.
I was admittedly not on board with Crawl when I first read about it and saw the trailer. I gave it chance, and I’m glad I did, because instead of a pretty much a forgettable, cheesy movie; we got a damn solid thriller with Kaya Scodelario easily putting the movie on her shoulders.
El Chicano is mostly likely going to be one of the handful of movies that people didn’t even know came out in 2019. Produced by Joe Carnahan, the movie followed L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez, who is assigned a career-making case that he finds out has connections to his brother’s supposed suicide, and a turf war between two rival gangs that promises city-wide chaos. He then dons the masked street legend El Chicano to take the streets back. It’s a pretty solid indie action movie that touches on family, “superheroes” and culture.
This is the closest thing I think we’ll ever get to knowing how the mind of Michael Bay really works, without the worry of a PG-13 rating, and worrying about damaging a franchise name (Transformers). 6 Underground is a bit of a mess, but damn is it an entertaining mess.
Alita: Battle Angel
A lot, and I mean A LOT, of people had things to say about Alita: Battle Angel even before it came out and the reaction after the film came out was even more. It was a rather ambitious approach and take on the manga adaptation, that may not have totally worked for producer James Cameron – this being a passion project of his – and director Robert Rodriguez. While the movie loses some steam by the end, it was rather entertaining throughout.
Documentaries rarely make it to my end of the year list, and some of that is mainly because I don’t really watch too many, I forget I watched them, or don’t watch any at all. That said, Apollo 11 stuck with me. The Apollo missions are historic in every way, but seeing this on the big screen, was one of my favorite experiences in a theater this year.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba together on screen in the Fast & Furious universe? Dumb fun action sequences? What more did you want!?
Fighting with My Family
Based on the life of former WWE superstar Paige, Fighting with My Family followed Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) who dreams of being in the WWE with her brother Zak (Jack Lowden), but when they only accept her, it sets a rift between them and pushes Saraya to her limit. The film itself was also based on the documentary of the same name, which followed the Knight family, who run a wrestling promotion in the native England. Pugh totally carries the film on her shoulders, with great supporting performances by Lowden, Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan and Nick Frost and Lena Headey as Saraya’s parents. The only thing that irked me a bit was knowing they didn’t really touch on a lot of stuff that Saraya actually went through in her time in WWE, but whatever.
Ford v Ferrari
One of the great things about Ford v Ferrari is that you didn’t need to be a gear-head to love/like the film. Mainly because the movie was much more about the friendly relationship between Carol Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) trying to beat the odds of beating Ferrari at Le Mans, a 24-hour race. Damon and Bale were fantastic together, that its hard to believe it took this long in their careers to work together.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Parabellum continued the world building of this hitman world, and even did some globe-trotting. Giving us more characters, more obstacles and more headshots than we can count; and I’m not losing any interest whatsoever.
Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire followed Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy in the Hitler Youth, who finds out his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home; all while he talks to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself). Waititi’s humor may not be for everyone, but his humor here with the seriousness – and it does get serious – of the real setting of WWII, Jojo Rabbit was definitely an experience.
I’m going to admit something I probably shouldn’t; I’ve never read Little Women. I knew what the book was about, but just never got around to reading it. That said, I was looking forward to the movie, mainly because of the cast and that Greta Gerwig was writing/directing. Thankfully, it didn’t really matter if I had read the book, because the casts’ chemistry and Gerwig’s direction was great to watch.
Queen & Slim
I really didn’t know what to expect from Queen & Slim, and that was probably the best thing to feel going into the movie. A simple date night gone wrong, with the added racial themes and tone, and you have really one of the best films of the year.
As a director, Clint Eastwood is pretty hit-or-miss. Recently he’s been on a miss or misstep category, but Richard Jewell has put him back in the hit category. Based on the true story of Richard Jewell, the hero that saved lives during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but was labeled a villain by the FBI and the media. Honestly, the driving force behind the film is the terrific performance by Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell.
I was not onboard the Shazam! train whatsoever, but damn did I have a great time watching it. It was perfect, and some things were a little mishandled, but the cast is what really kept this movie together.
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Drama after the film came out aside, Far from Home was a nice follow-up to Homecoming. While the ramifications of Avenges: Endgame were there, admittedly used as almost a crutch, Far from Home continued the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Plus, the Mysterio illusion scene is worth the price of admission alone.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
A nice coming of age tale that follows Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a professional wrestler come true. Along his adventure he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is running away from his own troubles and later convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak’s social worker, to join them. It’s a also a nice “road trip” moving with everyone putting on great performances, especially Gottsagen (who really has Down Syndrome), who honestly steals the show.
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
This is one I didn’t really know anything about until it came out. It follows an ex-cop turned militia man (the underrated, James Badge Dale), who is placed in charge to investigate the shooting at a cop’s funeral that leads to someone in his own militia. The film is extremely tense from start to finish, with everyone in the cast giving it their all, but make no mistake this is Dale’s show, with the only other person I want to point out is Happy Anderson, who plays Morris, in a long, drawn-out scene between the two early in the film. Definitely try to check this out.
Toy Story 4
Cash-grab or not, Toy Story 4 still tugged on the heartstrings the only way Disney and Pixar know how to do nowadays.
Other Notable Movies: Notre Dame, Happy Death Day 2U, Brittany Runs a Marathon, La Llorona, Pain & Glory, Little Monsters, One Take of the Dead
Best/Favorite Movies of the Year
Look, I’ve been invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like many others, since it started. Endgame was the culmination of everything since the very first Iron Man. If you didn’t like it, that’s fine too. But as a nerd, seeing the final battle on the big screen, with all those characters, MY GOD!
The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde followed two top academic students and best friends (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who, on the eve of graduating high school, realize that being top of their class didn’t really mean too much as the people that partied also got into good schools. So, for one wild night, they go on the search for the big party of the night. There is a lot more to the basic premise of the movie, a lot of which you should go in without knowing. That said, Booksmart is hands down one of the best movies of the year.
If you’re my age, or around my age, you grew up with Pokemon, and you may or may not have loved it. I loved it. I was hesitant about a CGI/Live-Action movie because of how the CG Pokemon would look, but they were damn impressive, a little more furry than I thought, but impressive nonetheless. Plus, I want a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu following me around now.
Dolemite Is My Name
Eddie Murphy is back! Playing real-life comic Rudy Ray Moore in what it took to make Moore’s iconic and classic Blaxploitation film. The whole cast is fantastic and Murphy is back to fine form towing the line from funny to dramatic.
Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out was probably, for me, one of the most entertaining films and film-watching experiences, of the year. Down from the cast to Johnson’s directing and taking his own twist on the genre.
The second feature by Hereditary director Ari Aster, Midsommar is an even bigger and longer slow-burn of a movie that is both disturbing, and beautiful to look at it. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple on the ropes, who go to Sweden with two others to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival, where things go very, very wrong. The less you know the better, but again, it’s a slow-burn movie that goes somewhere I didn’t see it going.
Bong Hive! That’s it. That’s my description of why it’s here.
Ready or Not
I really loved Ready or Not. There wasn’t too much I can even say that I disliked, so yeah it was going to be put in this section. The movie followed Grace (Samara Weaving), who just married into the Le Domas family, but before she can really become family she must survive the night of a deadly game of Hide and Seek. The movie was treated like a horror comedy, and it felt just like that but without getting into the campy side of things. The cast is fantastic in the roles they play, to the point you can almost tell they were given the okay to just let loose as much as possible.
Based on an actual lie that writer/director Lulu Wang is apparently still upholding, a Chinese family discovers that their grandmother has a short time to live, so they fake a wedding to gather before she dies. The movie is absurd in a good way, and when it’s not being darkly funny, its borderline tugging on your heartstrings. It also, probably, changed a lot of opinions on Awkwafina – like myself – who only saw her as a comedy act.
Jordan Peele’s second directorial feature was every bit as great as his first, Get Out. While Us goes more into the horror genre, it still plays with social commentary that had everyone talking. Plus, we got to see everyone in the cast play two very different versions of themselves, so yeah.
That’s it folks. It was definitely an interesting year for movies, films and everything in-between. What were your favorite, enjoyable, liked and best movies/films of the year? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Undecided? Nevertheless, here’s to another great and awesome year of movies and films.