The last year of the teens is over, and we welcome the new Roaring Twenties (can we get that going again, sans the crippling economic depression I hope). That means another year in the movies has also ended, and it has been a massive year for cinema, so let’s recap my ranking of all the movies I saw this year.
If a movie is not on the list then I didn’t see it. 1917 I will see, but due to it being so late and not wanting to sit on this list for no reason it will not be on this list or the 2020 list (though it could I guess. More will be discussed in the review proper.)
The One That Doesn’t Count: I “saw” Aladdin 2019 in bits and pieces while watching and playing with my niece. It was constantly on in the background (she’s four, so of course) and I probably saw all of it. I just did not devote my time or attention enough to really give it a ranking. From what I saw it had a real good energy, vibrant color pallet, and okay acting. Will Smith was fine, Naomi Scott was good, everyone else did their job.
The Bad: Not going to have a good time.
46. Ma: This probably isn’t “the worst” movie I saw this year. I was just having none of its garbage. Just imagine making a stalker movie where you know everything about the stalker, sympathize with the stalker, and the stalker’s big revenge is sowing someone’s lips together as their big show of fear. It’s not scary, predictable, boring, and totally inconsistent.
45. Dark Phoenix: This probably is the worst movie I saw this year. Fox Studio and Simon Kinsberg’s big goodbye to the X-Men and Mutants is to do the Dark Phoenix Saga again, but badly, again. It’s cheap, it’s poorly acted. Both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and phoning it in on a rotary phone. The rest of the cast is just wooden and flat. Then on top of that they decide the action climax to be in cheap CG train cars, and legit end the whole universe by copying Dark Knight Rises of all things.
44. Cats: Just barely losing to Dark Phoenix. It is the worst way to make the film. The cat designs were bad, the songs, music, choreography, and vocals were all weak, and Ian McKellan drank water out of a bowl like a cat even as he looked like human was the worst. It also feels like it was Tim Hooper’s vision. I don’t know if that’s better or worst, but he stayed committed to his film crime.
43. Isn’t It Romantic: A rom-com that tries to deconstruct romantic comedies by being both not romantic and not funny. Its concept of a girl who doesn’t like rom-com films ending up in one is neat for a hot second until you realize all of its jokes and criticism are shallow, and the big revelation of the film was done better of the four seasons and 62 episodes of the actually romantic and comedic musical series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (you should all watch).
42. The Great Hack: This Netflix documentary had everything going in its favor. It had a good premise, good production values, and a good hook only to completely squander it to nothing by the end. It presumably follows how the company Cambridge Analytica won the election for Donald Trump by abusing Facebook. Only it quickly becomes unfocused, over uses its graphics, and just generally loses the plot. I already hate Facebook. It’s not telling me anything I didn’t already agree with and I somehow came away against what the movie stood for.
41. Hellboy: Rebooting Hellboy as a scary R-rated affair is a great idea. It is too bad that they wasted it by trying to make it both a new origin, and a sequel to the last movies. David Harbour was strong casting choice and did well enough, but the script and supporting cast does not support him on his journey.
40. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile: I feel bad for Zac Effron. He’s a good actor who can never get to be in a good movie. This continue that pattern. Zac Effron was a great Ted Bundy. He was at both times charming, believable, intimidating, and scary he just never got a chance to shine and make the movie his own. He was bogged down by the most boring retelling of the Ted Bundy story.
39. Secret Life of Pets 2: It’s fine enough children’s movie fair. Some good jokes and bits, but mostly totally forgettable. It did not thoroughly waste it’s potential like EWSEV and Hellboy. There were zero expectations and it met the concrete.
37. Velvet Buzzsaw: The last of the bad movies. It has a good concept for a horror film, art becomes the murder weapon and attacks the people of the art world. It fails by having all the characters be either too weird, or stiffly acted to be relatable and care about. It does have some inventive kills.
The Ehh: Probably not going to have a good time, but it might hit you.
36. The Kitchen: A female empowerment crime movie about the relatives of mafiosos taking over the family to make an actual difference is neat. It just does not all come together by the end. It does not make clear how their better than the men before them, and its finale is obvious and not executed well.
35. 6 Underground: Michael Bay releases a beautiful fever dream that you probably will not remember except for a few really out there and funny on purpose scenes. Michael Bay was close to something, he just needs to clean his style up.
34. Joker: We live in a society, just not the one Joker wants to say we live in. It is a beautifully shot and well acted film that has nothing new to say, and gives those who want to actively hate and hurt others an easy mantra to repeat and make them feel smart and clever. The fact people see others hurting each other for no reason and call it cinema is evidence enough. It was not “society” that failed Arthur Flick it was the government, mental health professionals, and his mother.
33. Batman: Hush (ugh I hate the double colon): This is the animated film adaption of the commercial darling Batman: Hush by Joeph Loeb and Jim Lee. It’s hard to break it to you now, but that story is very pretty and has tons of iconic looks and panels, but the story is pants. This film has none of the style the comic did. They make the story better by actually making it a Riddler story, but so much of it needs reworking to even make sense. This does make Arthur Flick look like an interesting Joker.
32. Murder Mystery: If you haven’t been able to tell murder mysteries are an important genre (to me, I mean my first post was about a comic murder mystery). This one is not bad. It’s not great, it is a classic Adam Sandler movie after all. But it works well enough, and the mystery holds up. What holds it back is how annoying many of the characters are, and how contrived the not murder plot stuff is.
31. Good Boys: It’s funny enough. It makes a lot of old, wrote gross-out humor funny by having middle schoolers do it. It’s themes of growing up is okay (not as good as another movie on this list), and it shines in terms of openness. If the youth of America really are this courteous about kissing parties that’s okay. That’s valid.
The Decent: Going to have a fine enough time, but not remember you watched it.
30. LEGO Movie Part 2: You forgot this movie came out this year. It was a big letdown compared to the greatness of the original. They had no real great ideas other than what growing up is like, and how to work with others. Bucking the idea of being “edgy” to be cool is a good idea. It just has too much live action that does not work, and time travel somehow…
28/29Fyre Festival: The Biggest Party that Never Was & Fyre Fraud: Two documentaries about the Fyre Festival scandal in the same year, and came out so close together is weird. The only thing that would have been weirder is if based on a true story drama came out too. They’re both interesting for different reasons. Fyre Festivals: the one with the long name does a good job of showing where everything went in the micro while Fyre Fraud showed the macro impact of the marketing on the attendees. These were also the base for this section. They are really watchable and entertaining, but not great in any way. (Side note: I’m going to a big musical festival in May, should I be worried?)
27. Zombieland: Double Tap (curse you double colons, you strike again!): Another sequel to a great film that is weaker than the original. This one has more style and some more interesting ideas than you’d think, but still is not as satisfying as it could be.
26. Triple Frontier: This is a real dad movie. Old ragged soldiers on a mission that goes wrong. A good setup that starts to drag itself out until the third act where it picks up again and goes to some interesting places.
25. Justice League vs The Fatal 5: This is about as weird as two Fyre fest documentaries coming out in the same year. This is a sequel to the perfect (it is perfect considering where the DCEU went) DCAU. It follows some members of the justice league go head to head against some Legion of Superhero villains. It is made for no one, but is made so well that it’s hard to ignore. If you want a DCAU sequel but not bring back the fan favorite characters like Hawkgirl, Jon Stewart, or Martian Manhunter (you knew Kevin Conroy would return) it misses the point. It introduces Miss Martian to this universe and isn’t as good as Young Justice, and Jessica Cruz – Green Lantern which is actually cool and interesting. It also focuses a lot on the legion characters that come. It should be appreciated that they’re trying to tell a story. This just doesn’t feel like one that should be told when there has been such a giant gap. It’s a long episode of the show, but not a great one of those.
24. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…: Quinten Tarantino is a true auteur in all the good ways, but in all the bad ways as well. This is one of his worst films. He seems to just want to play in his favorite spaces and tell an okay story with a fun ending over some of his more plot a theme driven works.
23. Ad Astra: Brad Pitt getting lost in space is fun. This is a very mellow, contemplative piece. That is valid and necessary. It is beautifully shot and presented with some strong social commentary, but with an ending that does not totally come together.
22. Captain Marvel: This is probably one of the most forgettable MCU films, and weakest stand alone MCU film in a long time (that’s not cause it has a girl who does punching on men it it). It does not feel necessary to tell. It is cool seeing a young Fury get to where he ends up. Brie Larson does a fine job of making her a new spunky star. It just has to balance a lot and doesn’t do enough to sell me on why we needed to see this story. If you are introducing us to a new hero they should know who they are (amnesia is not a character arc).
The Good: You’ll enjoy yourself and have a good time, but they could be better.
21. Terminator Dark Fate: This was a big surprise! It is a great action film. It’s got some fun, inventive fight scenes, is important to the T2 story and builds on that in interesting ways. The new characters are good enough (I’d say we will see in a sequel, but that won’t happen). The biggest issue is how the new Skynet (it’s got some generic name I can’t remember) just creates copies of the terminator machine designs and has the same idea to stop th eventual human resistance.
20. Bombshell: A great film about woman coming together to stop men who abuse their power. It’s pointed, its sharp, its unfocused, and doesn’t use its time well, but even with that it is still something that can move you.
19. Jojo Rabbit: A kid and his zanny imaginary friend Adolf Hitler… (Hey Taika real talk, Nazi’s are coming back, are you sure about this….). Boy was he sure about it. There should have been no fear when the guy who decided to make a Thor movie about immigration would have a hard take on Nazism. What was most surprising was how much of a substantial movie it was. He knows how to get across real human drama, make you care for these characters, and also be hysterically funny. Sam Rockwell as a disgraced commander is both touching and hilarious. Someone finally realized how to utilize Rebel Wilson well, and prove that Scarlett Johansson can act and be incredibly endearing.
18. The Boy Who Would Be King: Is it possible to be surprised at the beginning of the year, cause this movie did it. This is one of the best adaptations of the Arthurian legend with really good kid actors, a strong newcomer Angus Imrie as young Merlin, and an amazing ending that any kid in the target demographic would love (arming up a whole school of kids to fight evil, what 10 year old wouldn’t want to do that?). It also has much to say on the impact of the stories we tell our children.
17. John Wick 3: John Wick as a series is well made, acted, has an interesting world of assassins, but just is not that impressive, except for it being completely original. The attack dog-shootout is a really impressive and an instantly iconic action scene. This is probably the best one, but the ending is just a big gun fight. It’s not easy to film, sure, but have you seen The Raid 2? This is no, The Raid 2. Every action movie of this kind, realistic but heightened in some way needs to be compared to the brutal, incredibly choreographed, and well edited The Raid 2.
16. Jumanji: The Next Level: Not as good as its predecessor, but barley. It’s full of great jokes, lines, has a really strong sense of adventure, and genuinely great characters to empathize with. If the sequel to this is as good it’ll be one of the best trilogies ever made.
The Best: The Must-See movies this year.
15. Marriage Story: If you don’t want to watch a zanny Nazi comedy film (I don’t blame you) you should watch this great drama to prove that Scarlett Johansson is a fantastic actor (I am hype for Black Widow!). Everyone brings their A-game to this production (Is Adam Driver this good in Girls?), and would say is the best Netflix Original Film (I did not see The Irishman). It’s detailed, brings up amazing questions about the divorce system we have, shows everyone involved as real people with strengths and weaknesses, and even has a fairly satisfying ending.
14. Dr. Sleep: The Shining by Stanley Kubrick is not good. It’s slow, plotting, dull, pretentious, and not scary. This movie is none of those. It is terrifying, the acting is stellar, all the characters are well rounded, the story is gripping (if a little slow at first because the point of where it is all going is unclear), and most of all it feels necessary for this to be happening to Danny. It fills out the world. In every way The Shining zigged down this zaggs up.
13. Promare: This was a Fathom release of the anime studio Trigger’s theatrical debut. If you watched Gurren Lagaan, or KIll la Kill and liked it you will love this. It is one of the best looking animated films ever. It follows a group of firefighters who literally fight fires with guns because the fire is demonic, sure, very anime (wait, there is an anime/manga from the creator of Souls Eater. I’m definitely doing something on that). The action, art and character design is stellar, its plot is predictable but absolutely bananas in the details (yeah the villain is super obvious, but wow none of the details are).
12. Detective Pikachu: Pokemon is a phenomenon. They’ve had dozens of films in Japan. There was always talk about doing one in America. There was always doubt it would happen, and even more doubt it would be any good. Boy, it’s real real good. It steals from Who Framed Roger Rabbit (but if you steal, steal from the best) to introduce us to this completely original city, with a great story (and a sequel to Pokemon: The First Movie somehow). Justice Smith is a good lead, Ryan Reynolds shines as Pikachu, and the effects never lag, look out of place, or compromise the incredible creatures on display. If there are any flaws (and there are) the love interest is not great, and the villain is obvious even if the plan is not.
11. Batman vs The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: There needs to be a dozen more of these films. The creators love both properties. The turtles play well off the Bat-family, the villain plot is standard but gives amazing fights. Snake Joker is just so cool. Batman is so earnest it hurts This is just so much fun, has such a good energy, and everyone should watch it (Also Rachel Bloom as Batgirl is amazing).
10. Toy Story 4: An unnecessary sequel with some worrying trailers laid way to a strong conclusion and actual ending for Woody and Buzz. It’s biggest strength is kicking the formula of Toy Story 2 and 3 (open on action scene, check in on Andy, a toy got misplaced and needs saving leading to them getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t get them, a toy has to rescue the others, Buzz gets a sort of reset, a warm and open fatherly figure that is the villain. Which one did I just describe?) in order to move our characters forward, present a new and interesting aspect to the Toy Story universe in the idea of lost toys finding homes, and that not every toy means the same thing to the same child. Not as good an ending as Toy Story 3, but substantial and strong.
9. Ready or Not: This is this year’s Overlord. Did you see Overlord? You should see Overlord. Similarly to this movie it takes a schlocky premise and turn it into a fully realized story. In this movie’s case it asks what would happen if modern rich people tried to reenact The Most Dangerous Game against the best movie protagonist in 2019 (Samar Weaving as Grace). Everyone brings their a-game to this production, and it shows all over. Scary, funny, dramatic, and charming in all the right ways.
8. Spider – Man: Far From Home: A good sequel for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man after Homecoming, and good epilogue to the Infinity Saga. Peter really comes into his own as he grows and deals with the impact of the new world. It’s funny, dramatic, dynamic, action packed, and a really Mysterio story!
7. Avengers Endgame: The end of an era for so many. A love letter to the fans who have been around since Iron Man, a bloated necessity, and the best ending battle scene of all time. It may not love comics as much as it loves the universe it built, and it works ( worst Karen Gillan performance of the year, she’s still the best in Jumanji).
6. Star Wars IX: Rise of Skywalker: This is immediately the best of the Skywalker saga. It feels like an extension of all the previous films, and an actual adventure with so much new stuff that it is a lot. It does stumble hard in places, but with so much going on it is easy to move past it.
5. Godzilla: King of Monsters: Have you seen this movie. You need too. It bucks all the complaints the previous film had to be a total monster movie smackdown only the biggest and best CGI and love of Godzilla can do. Second best Godzilla film ever (Shin Godzilla beats all).
4. Shazam!: Easily the best DCEU movie? Hard to say. But it loves the source material, loves the characters, is about heroism and family in great ways. Got a great reveal at the end. Easily one of the best Christmas movies of all time!
3. Knives Out: It’s already been established the love of a good murder mystery in here, and in my content in general. This one sells it all. It has great, well developed (if a little thin) characters, good twists and turns, engaging mystery narrative, beautifully shot, and is just overall a strong film.It does not utilize all of its characters to the fullest, but for the story it’s telling it is just killer (ha! Pun).
2. Alita: Battle Angel: I described this as the best (actual) movie this year. It is a film completely in love with everything in this world. It is well developed, with an interesting history, visually stunning world, district and strong characters, heartbreaking drama, and also completely silly. It is close to perfection. It falls with a weak love interest and not incredible ending, but everything to get there is magnificent.
1. Dragon Ball Super – Brolly: Everyone loves Dragon Ball. This movie loves Dragon Ball more than anything else. Since the first new movie, Battle of the Gods, a couple years ago the world is back on fire for it. Both of the previous films were good, but they were building to this (I have not watched Super. I’ll wait till the SEASON box sets come out so I can watch it in English). It is a great character arc for both Goku and Brolly as they deal with the changing world after the end of Super and explore that as they battle each other. It also ties into Ressurection F and make it feel like a sequel in so many ways. Its beautiful, action filled, hysterical, and the perfect end and strong beginning to whatever is to come.