The best and worst movies of 2019
Another year has come and gone, and I spent a lot of it watching movies. Shocking . . . I know. Some were amazing, and some had me thinking of the time I am going to want back when I am on my death bed.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first.
The 10 Worst Movies of 2019
10. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
I saw this movie so you didn’t have to! Putting big monsters on the big screen can be enjoyable if done right . . . this wasn’t.
David Harbour should have fired his agent for this one! In a year of sequels and reboots this was one that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
8. Where’d You Go Bernadette?
After seeing this, I don’t care!
Director Richard Linklater and star Cate Blanchett are extremely talented. Sometimes you have an off project!
7. The Intruder
Deon Taylor directed this movie. If you want to see all of his films in a few minutes, just watch the trailers. The entire story is in there. Every. Single. Movie.
I liked this movie the first time I saw it and it was called ‘Pearl Harbor’.
5. Black Christmas
This movie started well and then it turned. Turned into a piece of garbage.
The trailer looked fun. The movie was not.
3. Miss Bala
Your friend gets kidnapped so realistically that means you join the cartel. This film is so nonsensical.
Wait . . . how do my single friends put it? . . . yes, I remember . . . Swipe left!
2. The Sun is Also a Star
A.K.A. your time is precious so don’t waste it on this. I’m not cynical and I don’t mind romantic films but don’t make them this stupid.
The worst movie of the year is . . . .
I took a bullet for you all in seeing this. This film about abortion was the reason why Cineplex had to increase security at its theatres during the films opening. The controversy got me into the theatre but I wasn’t subjected to a movie that leaves you thinking. It was propaganda on the highest of levels. The movie basically said ‘If you believe in abortion you are the devil and you are going to hell, if you don’t then you are ok’. It’s a shame that there are filmmakers who have challenges with distribution while this film saw the light of day.
The movie should present both sides and allow people to make a choice. That would suggest good filmmaking. There was nothing about this time sucker that suggested good filmmaking.
Photo credit: Cindicom
Before we get to my Top 10 here are some honourable mentions
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Not Tarantino’s bet but a sharp reminder that he is one of the best.
Very powerful performances by Adam Driver and Scarlet Johansson — because it felt real.
A good old fashioned whodunnit.
I’m Going to Break Your Heart
I’m not obligated to mention this because it’s Canadian. I’m obligated to mention it because it’s good!
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Thank you Vince Gilligan!
The Top Movies of 2019
In 2018 director Ari Aster gave us Hereditary a film that many felt was such a great movie. I didn’t agree. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t get the hype. This year he followed up with Midsommar and I loved it. It’s a unique horror film. A group of friends travel to Sweden to a mid-summer festival. While I may have ‘missed the boat’ on Hereditary I am a willing passenger on MIdsommar.
9. The Farewell
Awkwafina has been on quite a run lately with titles such as Crazy Rich Asians and Oceans Eight but it’s her performance in The Farewell that is generating Oscar buzz. This sweet movie about a family discovering that their grandmother has a short time to live and not letting the grandmother know is a very sweet piece of cinema. It pulls on so many heart strings. It’s funny, it’s poignant. And in a year of entertaining films it stood out.
8. The Irishman
The anticipation of this film for me was the reunion of Pacino and DeNiro. I was mistaken. This movie is really about the friendship of Scorsese and DeNiro as this was clearly their film. Scorsese reminds us that he is one of the best filmmakers alive with this saga.
Trey Edward Shults essentially wrote and directed two movies in one with Waves and both are powerful. This film that deals with family dynamics has been a festival darling and is one of the best this year. You know a movie is amazing when Sterling K. Brown is in it., delivers a fantastic performance…and his isn’t even the best one in the film. I’m looking at you Taylor Russell!
6. Jojo Rabbit
Some love it, some not so much. I think it’s a fun, intelligent look at a terrible time in history. This film was awarded the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival. I wouldn’t have gone that far but it was one of the better ones at TIFF. Taika Waititi wrote and directed a fine film that I truly enjoyed.
5. John Wick 3
I don’t know if Keanu Reeves was made for John Wick or the other way around, but it fits perfectly. Amazing action from beginning to end!
4. The Report
Adam Driver and Annette Bening both shine in this film as they deliver fantastic performances in this film about the CIA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation program.
3. American Son
Kerry Washington delivering some of her finest work in this film. Based on the Broadway play of the same name and including the entire cast from the show, this film plays out in one room; A Florida police station waiting room as estranged parents (Washington and Steven Pasquale) are there in the middle of the night trying to get some answers to what happened to their son. This dialogue driven film would make Aaron Sorkin proud as it touches on so many timely and relevant subjects.
At the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival there was something off about Joaquin Phoenix as he promoted The Sisters Brothers. He wasn’t talkative or outgoing. He was physically there but not emotionally. We would later find out it was because he was preparing for Joker. The preparation worked. Kudos to Phoenix and director Todd Phillips for taking a character with violent tendencies and humanizing him. Forget the comparisons to Heath Ledger and enjoy this film was for what it was . . . absolutely brilliant.
Ok, for the first time in putting this list together I have a tie for number one and since it’s my list I can do that. There were two movies that overwhelmed me this year and I want to acknowledge them both as my favourite film of 2019.
Avengers: End Game
To sum up Avengers: End Game as just a superhero or comic book movie is close minded. This was a master class in cinema. Yes Scorsese, I said it, CINEMA. First of all, this was the most anticipated film of the year and In a year that included a Star Wars movie, that is huge. Before we even get to the film itself let’s talk about the trailers. Nothing was given away but a lot of anticipation was created. Theories of what was going to happen flocked the online community.
When the film released it was an event. You know it’s a big deal when people are saying ‘I haven’t seen it yet, don’t tell me anything!’
For the film itself, there was so much to cover and cover they did. The movie was three-hours long but never felt like it as it played out perfectly. I’ve said it before and I will repeat, if you haven’t seen the other Marvel films you can’t just go and see this one. This film was a true love letter to fans who had invested 10 years of their life into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You had nods and winks to the other films, character conflicts were resolved, and it left it open for future projects. And the credit scene was the equivalent of a curtain call at a Broadway Show. The Russo brothers, who directed it, Kevin Feige who produced it, and the cast and crew deserve so much credit for making not only my co-favourite film of the year but they put Hollywood on notice that when you want to end a series, this is how you perfectly land the plane.
Photo credit: Disney
I feel like the car was bugged. There we were on the way to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and we were discussing that movies this past year all seemed to be sequels and remakes. Some were good as the previously mentioned Avengers: End Game, but did we need Dumbo? Or Hellboy? Where is the originality? Enter: Parasite. Parasite was the first film I saw at TIFF and easily the best. Writer and director Bong Joon Ho has crafted a masterpiece in filmmaking. The film about an extremely poor family that infiltrates an extremely wealthy family was not only original but dazzling. There are so many wonderful subtleties in this film. When he is shooting the poor family, the shots are usually close in and tight. When he is shooting the rich family, the shots are usually wider. Nothing is wasted in this film. Not even the rain. Yes the rain is its own character in this film. Cinematography, sound, score, acting, this film has it all and uses it all so incredibly effectively.
You can see in several aspects of the film that the director was influenced by Kubrick and Hitchcock. A subtle not here and there, nothing overpowering.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this film is the grip it has on you. After seeing it, even several times, I find myself drawn to this and constantly analyzing and dissecting it.
This is a film that deserves your attention. It is pure genius. I know there are people who are put off by the fact that it is subtitled but if you can read this you’ll be fine.
Photo credit: TIFF