My TOP 10 Movies of 2019
After ten years and twenty-three films, Endgame finally arrived and somehow closed out the Infinity Saga with one of its strongest entries. Every hero is given their time to shine and in the case of some, given their proper send off every bit worthy of the legacy created by each character over a decade of epic heroism. This is how you do a franchise right.
Biopics can end up as either film royalty or an embarrassing misfire that will endure if for no other reason than its failure is significant enough to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Gotti comes to mind as a recent blunder (that’s putting it nicely). Ford v Ferrari hits all the right notes, shifts at all the right moments replete with award worthy performances from its cast. The story is fascinating, the characters complex and interesting. The visuals showcase both tenderness and visceral racing thrills all worthy of the men and women who lived through this very real American fairytale.
It’s that rare franchise where each adventure is not only great but arguably every entry is better than its predecessor. After realizing what they had with John Wick, a franchise of epic, coherently shot action sequences was unfurled. Now with the third film, Parabellum (Latin for “prepare for war”) brings the most intense and inventive action scenes led with absolute mastery by the movie kung-fu king, Keanu Reeves. It’s safe to say the “Keanussance” is alive and well with no signs of slowing. Here’s to Chapter 4, may it be every bit as epic as the previous three.
Without question the feel-good movie of 2019, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a story of friendship and adventure not to be missed. Shia LaBeouf turns in his most tender, heartfelt performance to date. Newcomer and film lead, Zack Gottsagen delivers a raw, emotional, and hilarious performance as a young man destined to realize his dreams at any cost. With the help of LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson, Zack becomes the greatest version of himself while helping him achieve a dream he didn’t know he had, to become part of a family, however dysfunctional it may be.
6. Uncut Gems
“And the Oscar goes to… Adam Sandler?!” You may hear this impossible sentence come February. Uncut Gems proves for any doubters that Sandler is the real deal. He carries this frenetic thriller with complete confidence, displaying a kind of bravado we’ve never seen from him before. With his supporting cast, many of which are new to acting, they keep this chaos in the realm of reality, no matter how scary it may be. Featuring one of the most shocking endings of 2019, Uncut Gems is the Safdie Bros. proving their names will be around for a long time to come.
At one time seen as a major risk and possible major box office bomb, Joker was the surprise hit of the decade. Featuring a hard R rating, Joaquin Phoenix delivers the most heartbreaking, terrifyingly unhinged performance since Ledger donned the clown makeup back in 2008 when he won for Best Supporting Actor. Could there be a win in Phoenix’s future for the same character? I’d bet money on it. Joker is a sad, horrifying experience that leaves you feeling knotted with discomfort and does so on purpose. You’re meant to feel this one, and not for reasons of goodness and purity.
4. Knives Out
If you skipped this because of your misplaced feelings toward The Last Jedi, just know, not that you care, I hate you. If you know Rian Johnson’s other projects like Looper and Brick you will know he is a talented creator meant for original content. With Knives Out he proves this point yet again delivering one of the most original and fun films of the year. A top-notch cast delivers their lines with an unyielding kind of glee, savoring every moment they have on screen. The whodunnit is alive and well with Knives Out and proves that however scarce they may seem, original ideas still exist.
World War I and cinema haven’t really been given their proper time together, with the majority of war related stories given to WWII. I think in many cases WWII is seen as more romantic, as a more cinematic setting with heroism at every turn. WWI however is seen as a much more grimy, arduous tale more consumed by horror than anything else; less inspiration, more tragedy and loss. 1917 proves this notion wrong, in every way possible. This is as cinematic as they come, featuring a story that is so harrowing it rarely lets up creating a constant unease for us as the audience who are thrown into the trenches so completely, it’s as if we’ve been given a rifle and orders to kill the enemy. Roger Deakins and Sam Mendes create the illusion of a one take story that has to be seen on the biggest screen possible, if it is to be believed. When you do, hold on tight.
Quentin Tarantino has created one of the most talked about, most revered films of the year. Is anyone really surprised at this point in his stellar, legendary career? Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is pure Tarantino DNA emitting a kind of confidence only seen in the most lasting films created by the most talented behind and in front of the camera. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt lead a phenomenal cast playing as characters as interesting as any come before in a Tarantino written screenplay. It meanders with purpose and finishes with a heavy heaping of tenacity that is guaranteed to please Tarantino’s most avid fans, myself included.
1. The Irishman
I waited and waited, for five years, with bated breath and finally I, we can say we’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s most recent masterpiece, The Irishman. Running at a hefty three and a half hours, The Irishman earns every minute of its daunting runtime featuring heavy but relatable themes of aging and regret and the unforgiving nature of losing those around you. As brutal a life as these men once lived (a mob life is not for the faint hearted), their most formidable adversary is time itself. It is poignant and absolutely brilliant with performances long to be remembered. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and that’s the main three. The complete cast is a force all its own with actors doing what they do best knowing they will live forever in a Scorsese epic. For over three hours this story of gangsters turned old men left me completely transfixed. For five years I waited and now I can say it was well worth the wait. Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker and with The Irishman he reaffirms his place on my list as the best to ever do it. The Irishman is my favorite film of 2019, without question.
For fun or lack thereof, my Top 10 Worst Films of 2019
This is a big theme for 2019, potential not living up to the hype, not even close. Great premise, execution seriously lacking.
Instead of giving us Hellboy 3 from del Toro, which we all voiced we wanted and did so for years, they rebooted, retooled, re… somethinged this character into one of nonsensical mediocrity. What an embarrassment for everyone involved. I feel violated having seen this pile. Let us forget the details, not the violation itself. History must not repeat.
I might get shit for this one but the hype for this sequel was near fever pitch and from the beginning I never understood why. But I was willing to give it a chance with an open mind. Well, it did exactly what I thought, it became a mindless, visually muddled mess with two dimensional characters lacking any semblance of intelligence, even as scientists. I was bored outta my gourd.
I just couldn’t hang in there. I’m all for stylized violence but this movie was as silly and dumb as I’ve seen in a long time. And as I discovered creating this list, it’s forgettable. For good reason, I think, a silver lining if I ever saw one. Leave this one in 2019.
6. The Curse of La Llorona
The director of this mess took over for James Wan on The Conjuring 3; I have no faith for the future of The Conjuring. This is the classic horror violation, replete with empty jump scares. The characters? Stupid. The story? Interesting but ultimately generic horror dreck. I cannot condone this kind of sad excuse for horror in the midst of a horror renaissance.
5. The Goldfinch
If there was an award for biggest blunder of 2019, The Goldfinch would probably win. Roger Deakins is the cinematographer, John Crowley (Brooklyn) is the director. It stars Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Sarah Paulson. What in the hell went so wrong? How in the hell? Such talent on both sides of the camera from a novel revered by any who reads it and this is the result? Put this down as the biggest mystery of 2019 as well as one of the worst.
How did this come together? What a joke. Is it so bad that it’s on purpose? I can’t tell. The cast is tremendous but deliver pure hilarity and I suspect not on purpose. The story is so ridiculous featuring a finale so bizarre it almost demands some respect for the sheer audacity of the attempt. This is one I heard so much about I had to see it to believe it and I’ll tell you, I’m still not sure what the hell was intended here. I’m not going to ask questions, I don’t want to further my pain.
3. 3 From Hell
I’m not a Rob Zombie fan. Sue me. It’s typical Zombie fodder, showcasing B grade performances meant to emulate a style so loved by Zombie. His movies create the same feelings for me everytime leaving me to consider suicide. Just kidding, but it’s bad. Bad. I can’t recommend almost anything else enough. Ultimately I just didn’t give a shit but I don’t think I was meant to not being a fan of the zombie man. A big eh for me.
It looked like shit. It was shit. Will Smith is the genie but no amount of enthusiasm can negate such incompetence in nearly every regard. A boring husk of an animated classic destined for the bargain bin. I was bored into a coma for two hours. I almost fell asleep while typing this.
All we’ve had to endure from this franchise and they give us the worst for last. What an insult to any and all involved. Plagued by indecisions and reshoots, Dark Phoenix falls short in every way imaginable. The greatest thing this movie did was end the nonsense forever. Goodbye to this nightmare, may MARVEL revive this series with the love and care it deserves. Also, I feel so bad for the cast, they did what they could. What a big turd.
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