2019 is nearly over everyone!! This year Disney officially made Sigourney Weaver a Disney Princess by acquiring all of 21th Century Fox’s assets in their age-long conquest to conquer the concept of entertainment. We saw more de-aging technology being used than ever before, and everyone in every make-up department is going “Oh dear God we’re doomed!”. This is also the year when Brits across the land rejoiced when Olivia Coleman finally won an Oscar and it was declared by The Queen herself that every 24th February, we shall celebrate Olivia Coleman Day by eating little Olivia Coleman cookies whilst shouting “THANK YOU GOD!” at the top of our lungs. (I may have overexaggerated a few things)
Alas, we must bid a fond farewell to 2019 and a whole decade for that matter and move on to 2020 where Brexit might yet happen (who saw that coming). But before we that, it is customary to summarise cinema in 2019 in a nutshell by way of careful categorization. So, shall we jump into it? I think we shall.
- Please don’t get mad if you see a film that isn’t mentioned or is mentioned which you disagree with, these are my own personal opinions. If you are a said person who may not share my views, I welcome you to tell me where I went wrong in the comments below.
- I have not seen all the films in 2019! I know shocker, but there are some films that I have missed for various reasons such as not released in the UK yet or general busyness.
- These lists and the films in them are in accordance with their UK release date so you may see films that may have released last year in the US but released this year in the UK.
TOP 5 SURPRISING FILMS OF 2019
5 – SHAZAM!
I really thought I was the wrong demographic for Shazam! from the moment I saw that flossing bit in the trailer. But no, it turned out to be exactly what the DCEU was lacking, something that was funny, relaxing and downright entertaining to watch with Zackery Levi delivering a champagne performance. It’s also a film that keeps making the future of the DCEU a curious interest.
4 – FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY
Coming into this film having been on what seemed to be a lifelong hiatus on anything WWE, Fighting with My Family offered tense drama whilst also having the comedic charm of Stephen Merchant at the wheel. It was an underdog story with an interesting family dynamic and conflicts that get you completely invested from the word go. Also, Nick Frost gives one of his funniest performances to date which is an instant seal of approval.
3 – BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
I’ll be honest here, I thought Blinded by the Light wouldn’t amount to anything other than being a hard ti breaker question in a pub quiz. However, this film is the reason I now hear Bruce Springsteen music in every shop I wander in. It may be a little too similar to Bend it Like Beckham but Blinded by the Light encompasses the absolute euphoria of inspiration. I would say that my version would replace The Boss with the Lemmy from Motorhead. (why did he have to go?)
2 – INSTANT FAMILY
Oh, how I was dreading this film when I went to see it. Instant Family looked like the kind of film that would end up in the bargain bin of an HMV a month after it’s Blu ray release. However, this film had a surprising amount of depth and you know what if I saw it on Netflix after a bad day I’d probably watch it. While the film needed a lot more commitment to various elements, the fact it got a 5/10 rather than a prejudged 2/10 is a fantastic achievement in itself.
1 – POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
If you know me personally would you expect anything else? The film I was most looking forward to this year and in fact my whole life, the film that would either sink or swim and it turned out to be the most wonderful feeling in a cinema I had this year. As a fan, I’ve deliberated if our world and the Pokémon world could mix well together but held back because it felt too complicated to answer. The filmmakers of Pokémon Detective Pikachu went “nope, it’s a simple as just mashing them together” and it was glorious to see.
TOP 5 DISAPPOINTING FILMS OF 2019
5 – TRIPLE FRONTIER
As my first Netflix original, I would review Triple Frontier has a tall order to fulfill and for a while, I was really enjoying it. It has tense action that used the motivation of wealth to make its characters interesting. However, in the second half of the film, the filmmakers decided to scrap the good action for a grinding walk through South America. This makes the film much blurrier as we don’t know who characters are even are now. It was like delivering a Ming vase only to drop it at the place you were delivering it to.
4 – YESTERDAY
I never thought I would ever be disappointed by a Danny Boyle film but Yesterday just felt too small for its boots. The premise alone, while brilliant, raises a whole lot of questions and while it tried its best to answer them, it didn’t answer enough. Its greatest asset is also it’s downfall. To be fair you get a decent performance from Ed Sheeran as himself and you get decent Beatles nostalgia so not all is lost.
3 – THE CURRENT WAR
It’s not The Current War’s fault that it’s so disappointing. In 2017 this film was gunning for some Oscar nominations with its star-studded cast, however, the film was forced into development hell once the Weinstein scandal made headlines everywhere. It is reported that Weinstein had an active influence over the film, particularly in the editing department where the film suffers the most as it is very shoddy and doesn’t fully push the race against the clock narrative.
2 – THE LION KING
IT’S THE SAME FILM! I don’t think that point can be said any more than it has done. I think The Lion King demonstrates just how disgusting Disney has gotten with their live-action remakes. While everyone can agree the animation (not live-action) was out of this world it is a double-edged sword as the animals are about as stone-faced as a… well stone.
1 – IT CHAPTER TWO
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. What a fall from grace It Chapter Two has had. After the monumental success of Chapter one, the perfect platform had been built for this film to become a success, unlike anything we had seen in the horror genre. What happened instead was a story that just couldn’t live up to its predecessor with uninspired attempts at scares and a story that was already all over the place with a grueling runtime that lacks reason or purpose. Not even fantastic performances from Bill Skarsgård or Bill Hader of all people can stop It Chapter Two from sinking into obscurity.
TOP 5 BEST FILMS OF 2019
TOY STORY 4
A film that managed to quash the rumors of being a cash grab with an entertaining story and the same tug at the heartstrings we’ve come to expect.
Jordan Peele continues to evolve as a filmmaker with a film that I felt had well-crafted horror that didn’t need much support from the social commentary we’ve quickly associated Jordan Peele with.
The ultimate Scorsese epic that managed to bring Joe Pesci out of retirement. This was to put it simply a Scorsese fan’s wet dream filled with talent we most associate him with, themes we associate him with. You may have well called this film Scorsese in a Nutshell.
Now for the official list:
5 – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
I almost, ALMOST paired Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood with The Irishman because they were both epics that were handled by two of the best people working in cinema to date. However, the thing that tipped the balance towards Tarantino was the handling of the runtime. On individual successes, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood was a perfect love letter to a prosperous, changing era with one of the best casting list in the history of cinema. If what Tarantino preaches is true then this will be the second to last film he directs. Please stay Quentin, we beg of you.
4 – SORRY, WE MISSED YOU
I can’t not give heaps of recognition whenever Ken Loach releases a new film. I’m the first in the cinema and the last one to leave every time. Sorry, We Missed You offers a voice to the voiceless in the UK that creates a unique feeling that you can’t find anywhere else other than a Ken Loach film. I used the term “fictionalized truth” in my review and that is a perfect summation of Sorry, We Missed You because every way the story unfolds, you can imagine somewhere, something similar this is happening to someone else.
3 – JOKER
This is a controversial choice for third because I imagine Joker will be at the top of most people’s lists when it comes to the best film of the year. I think down the years Joker will follow the footsteps of The Dark Knight and people will respect it even more than we do now. I respect Joker for taking the character in a direction that outlines a societal problem with a great understanding. I respect Joaquin Phoenix for an unforgettable performance, and I respect it for achieving all of this as the original goal. The reason it’s not number 1 is that I’m more intrigued by the discussions about Joker rather than Joker itself. Nevertheless, this is a special film.
2 – GREEN BOOK
Yes, this film came out in the US in 2018, but it was released in February of this year in the UK so I’m including it on this list. This is actually a rare time when I actually agree with The Academy on Best Picture. Green Book is such a pleasant film to sit through because of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen’s impeccable chemistry. I would be so delighted if this was the film that could reignite the road film genre because Green Book gives me hope for all those genres seemingly lost to the times.
1 – MIDSOMMAR
After Hereditary people shot up out of their seats for Ari Aster realizing that this new, unknown director could become something very exciting. Midsommar is quite simply a creative masterpiece and the ultimate break up film, although I’m not sure about its choice for a date night film. The imagery, the surrealist movement of the camera, the respect towards the horror genre make Midsommar an intense experience. To put it simply, there is a new master of horror, and he’s only done two films. The anticipation for his next project is immense.
TOP 5 WORST FILMS OF 2019
Before I get into my top 5 worst films of 2019 give me a second…
Cats is a bad film.
Final Result: 1/10 – Dreadful
Ok, let’s move on.
There was great chemistry between Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani, however, the material didn’t really bring out the best in both. There was uninspiring action and very awkward comedic dialogue. Essentially 1 out of 3 things correct in a buddy action-comedy.
Is Tim Burton OK? It’s as though Disney is holding him hostage from his own unique vision. Dumbo was full of wooden acting and botched moments that we remember from the original animated version. My mind went wild with what a Tim Burton “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence would look like, turns out to be the blandest attempt ever.
I realize that by the time the credits rolled on Dark Phoenix, I had had enough of X-Men (until their introduction to the MCU). This was so uneventful with an anticlimactic ending that makes it seem like the people behind the X-Men franchise still have complete confidence, but who are they kidding, I can see right through the rouse.
5 – MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
When you have to start a sequel by explaining the events of the first film didn’t matter, you should probably rethink your writing. That’s How Maleficent: Mistress of Evil starts and it’s all downhill from there. The tone is all over the place going from cutesy, fairytale whim that gets more and more darker with every scene, the CGI is painful on the eyes and characters so clichéd and boring you’ll be wishing for a sleeping curse on you.
4 – THE GOLDFINCH
“Hey here’s a Pulitzer prize-winning novel, that’ll be good source material for a film.” Nope, not in the case of The Goldfinch. There are plenty of scenes in The Goldfinch you could have easily cut because they don’t lead towards anything or progress any character relationships, it just creates a story that runs at a snail’s pace. Everyone on this project should slap themselves on the wrist for something so dreary. (Roger Deakins, you get a pass, keep doing what you’re doing).
3 – HELLBOY
Talk about taming a film to its bare minimum. Hellboy is supposed to be the heavy metal of the comic book world and it’s clear from watching a film there’s some creative wrestling going on between the filmmakers and studios. This is once again another example of a big studio luring a hungry director with a big opportunity, hoping that he behaves like a good little boy.
2 – MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
If Men in Black: International was a person, it’d be the guy who thinks he’s is and looks cool but in reality, it’s all a façade to mask his insecurities. This film captured none of the cool, swagger the 1997 Men in Black had with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. What it does instead is turn coolness into arrogance because it think it can profit of Chris Hemsworth’s likeability. The story made no sense, every scene felt like they made it up on the day of shooting and there were two sub-antagonists who made me cringe because of their obvious real-life professions as hip-hop dancers too obvious. Someone get me a neuralyzer quick!
1 – CATS
And there we have it, 2019 is done and this decade is done. Before I go, I’d like to leave a list of my 5 most anticipated films of 2020, and they are…
5 – Soul
4 – A Quiet Place: Part II
3 – Halloween Kills
2 – Last Night in Soho
1 – Tenet
As always thanks to you, yes you. I’m honored that I can present my thoughts and opinions to you and also honored that you took the time to read them. Thank you.
Right then, onwards to 2020!