2019 was a great year for movies. Not even just sequels and remakes either! There were some honest to goodness original films and some of them were ones people actually went and saw. Crazy right? I mean people mostly went to the remakes and sequels since Disney movies made…11 BILLION DOLLARS?! Well, I mean at least we got some very good original films that showed that there are still stories to tell.
The Mouse House tried to overshadow everyone this year, but the good ones really stuck out. Ready or Not some excellent movies came to the cinemas in 2019. It was almost a competition not unlike Ford v Ferrari. People need to Jojo Rabbit to the theater not to miss out on Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood like experiences. Also John Wick 3: Parabellum, that one doesn’t lend itself to anything.
My honorable mentions above are all movies that I had a blast watching or made me feel something. When movies can make you feel something or think about them for days after the fact they’ve done their job. My Top 5 all did that in some way to me. Whether it be despair, joy, fun, humor, or heart they all brought something to the table that set them apart for me. A few of them are Oscar contenders, the majority are not, but these 5 are the ones that stuck with me the most.
Bong Joon-Ho is a director who makes movies I love. He also makes movies that have themes that will stick with you far after the movie has ended. Those themes will usually simultaneously make you feel like crap and love the movie. Walking out of Snowpiercer was the most I had been affected by a movie in some time and Parasite was the exact same way.
I knew the synopsis of Parasite going into it. A poor family systematically integrates themselves into a wealthy family by acquiring jobs as tutors, a driver, and a caretaker. What it turned out to be was so much more than that. It was a clever and oftentimes funny examination of the class difference and how it affects each side. It gets much darker than that, but saying anything more will give away some of the more interesting aspects that are best experienced for ones’ own self.
Someone brought up to me that there is no villain in Parasite, only people and that’s true. All the characters are looking out for themselves. No one actively tries to antagonize one another and when some goals are threatened they react in ways that are true to their characters. The look of the movie is gorgeous, the journey these characters go through is unique, and the director may have topped himself again with this film. It didn’t win the Palme d’Or for nothing.
Alita is a fun movie. The dialogue can be hammy and the plot veers all over the place, but wow is it still fun. Alita, as portrayed by Rosa Salazar, was such a strong character and a flat out badass at times. She is an innocent thrown into a world where her past will make her a bright light of hope in all the crime and grime of Iron City. The CGI is fantastic. Alita looks like she belongs in this world and the fact that the Iron City set was real adds so much depth to the world.
This was a passion project for James Cameron. I’m assuming if you are reading this you know who he is. If you do, how good is T2? If you don’t, the Titanic guy. He fell into love with the manga the film is based on and spent years trying to make his movie version. Then he made Avatar and that is his life for the next 10 years. One of my favorite directors, Robert Rodriguez, then stepped in, took the film, and ran with it. He’s usually known for his down to earth movie approach but you wouldn’t know it when watching this movie. The action is the highlight of the movie with the rollerball set pieces being fast and exciting while a barroom brawl goes from great to meaningful when Alita stands up to one of the villains and states “I do not stand by in the presence of evil.” I get chills every single time.
Alita is the type of movie that deserves a sequel to better expand and explore the world created in the first movie. Its modest box office might not be a great sign regarding that but maybe some executive will be as taken as I was by this world and Alita as a character and greenlight a sequel. Not everything works here with a groan-worthy love story in this, but when it hits it really hits. I will recommend Alita: Battle Angel to anyone willing to listen…that means YOU!
3. Knives Out
The murder mystery is something that I haven’t seen much these days. An original murder mystery is even rarer. Rian Johnson is no stranger to mysteries with his first feature, Brick, being a noir mystery. This one takes a much lighter touch with it. This is a genuinely funny movie where you at times laughing with and then at characters. There are a few jokes that don’t quite land but the quick pace will distract from that.
The characters are funny and mostly awful people. The whole Thrombey clan seems to have bred out to be selfish jerks with some racist undertones. This makes it all the more fun when they are upended by certain events. Everyone in the cast seems to be having fun with it and that transfers to the experience.
What a twist!
The twists are some that people can see coming, but the way they are done is what sets them apart. The writing is clever and the reveals are earned. It contains one of the few moments that completely blindsided me with how they did the reveal and that was just one of the reasons that I came out of this movie wanting to find a friend and bring them to this movie immediately.
This was easily my pick for the most underrated movie of the year. I love this movie. This movie is pure and joyful. In my review of this movie, I noted that this “might be one of the most heartwarming films I’ve seen in a long time” and it applies as much now as it did when I wrote that. It contains everything I want to see in a film that I pop in for the feel-goods.
Shia LaBeouf shows more range than I had seen from him before and its a career-best. Zack Gottsagen carries the other part of the film with the heart his character displays. It is two people bonding over hardships and optimism. This film reminds of when you would take adventures as a kid and feeling of doing something dangerous, but as long as you had a friend beside you then it would be fine. The dream that Zak has takes them on this Mark Twain of a tale through the South and it is all one charming package delivered to you in film form.
I caught this in theaters and have watched it quite a few times since. Showing it to any friend who would humor me enough to give it a view. This is the movie I won’t shut up about to people. I will talk anyone’s ear off who allows me to when they ask me to recommend a movie.
Finally is the movie that, while not the BEST movie, is likely the most pleasing and satisfying movie experience of the year for me. It’s also a Disney sequel, but what are you gonna do? They can’t all be original films. What can I saw about Endgame that hasn’t been covered a hundred times before? The lead up to the movie was massive and something like this crescendo to the Infinity Saga had never been done before. It took 21 movies before this to get here and it was, mostly, everything I had hoped for to Cap the journey of some of Marvel’s best-known avengers.
This might not be as tight as Infinity War was but it hits all the points that you as an audience member wanted. I was a little let down that Infinity War focused so much on characters that weren’t Captain America but wow did they address that gripe in Endgame. It was the last hurrah of most of the original movie Avengers‘ team and they gave them a fitting send-off.
The last 30 minutes of this movie had the biggest smile plastered across my face in the theater. When Cap picks up Thor’s hammer and fights Thanos 1-on-1? I was a kid making my action figures fight again. The rest of the film skips in between previous stories with little nods and winks that please but that last battle is something they will have to find something bigger than an infinity gauntlet to top.