Film 2019

Marriage Story

In 2019, most of my film watching took place from the comfort of my own sofa. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as Netflix has really stepped it up.

As usual, I’ve ordered all of my year’s viewings based on my enjoyment of the films.

There is still a week left of 2019, so expect updates to this list until 11:59pm on December 31st as I cram in a few last films.

Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham’s directorial debut took a year to get to the UK after it screened in America in 2018. It’s rare a film deserves each one of its accolades, and more, but this one does. A beautiful portrait of that awkward age of transition between child and teenager. So cringey to watch, but so wonderful. One of the best films on adolescence that I’ve ever seen.

The Two Popes – ACTING! What a stylishly made film with fantastic performances! Such a refreshing take on the papacy!

Marriage Story – I love a good Noah Baumbach film, but especially one that features Adam Driver on fine form.

Rocketman – While it goes on a bit and seems to have more endings than Lord of the Rings, I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed Rocketman. I was also surprised that it was a proper musical rather than an Elton John biopic. By using Elton John songs to tell the story of his life, it sets itself apart from the hundreds of other mediocre musician stories that are coming down the factory line (I’m looking at you Bohemian Rhapsody). And Taron Egerton as Elton John schools actors on how to play a well-known personality. So much fun, so sad, so good.

Toy Story 4 – It should really be called Toy Story Forky. I was very skeptical about another Toy Story in the works, as the third was such a perfect conclusion. But somehow Pixar have done it again with another lovely story that will likely (?) be the last for Woody, Buzz and the gang.

Dolemite Is My Name – Eddie Murphy is back! Great stuff!

Booksmart – A fun high school drama about graduating without regrets. With an excellent female friendship at its core and a fresh sense of humour!

Gloria Bell – I had some initial doubt that an English remake of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s film Gloria by Lelio himself would serve a purpose. But by casting Julianne Moore in the titular role and moving the setting to America, a fresh take on the story comes naturally. And Moore heightens everything in another ridiculously wonderful performance.

The Irishman – I actually preferred watching this film in instalments rather than in one go. While it’s high on my list of this year’s films, it’s really the acting that propelled it here for me. Joe Pesci in particular.

The Farewell – A family story with a cultural perspective, The Farewell shows that Awkwafina has some serious acting chops as well as impeccable comedic talent.

The Kindergarten Teacher – A commentary on the modern devaluation of intellect, wrapped up in the midlife crisis of a woman who desperately wants to make a difference in the cultural realm. So fresh and so good!

A Private War – The Marie Colvin biopic is wonderfully made, with a fantastic performance by Rosamund Pike!

Greta – High camp thriller starring Isabelle Huppert – need I say more?

Boy Erased – A very moving film on gay conversion therapy, with a strong central performance from the ever-wonderful Lucas Hedges.

Joker – I don’t agree with the “masterpiece” reviews as I feel some of the choices really cheapen the film’s narrative. But it’s an undeniably bold performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

Jumanji: The Next Level – Lighter on actual jokes than the first Jumanji reboot, but a body swap comedy featuring Danny DeVito is a gold mine! The performances are HILARIOUS.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A mediocre ending to what felt like 3 separate movies rather than a trilogy! The Force Awakens had so much potential, and here we are.

I Lost My Body – This French animation isn’t the most powerful story, but there’s something hypnotic in its ambient beauty.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – More like a few episodes of Breaking Bad stitched together, here is the true finale of the series that we didn’t know we needed.

Aladdin – I can’t believe I really liked this film. I think the goodwill I feel for the original animated classic is a powerful thing. But also, I just had a great time watching this version! And everyone could SING! Like, actually sing (AND dance) while starring in a modern musical! This should NOT be a novelty, but it is.

Isn’t It Romantic – Rebel Wilson and a Hemsworth brother star in this parody on the romcom. Very fun!

Between Two Ferns: The Movie – So silly, so fun.

Little Monsters – This Australian zom-com is good, but Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad really elevate the material!

Captain Marvel – Another generic Marvel movie. Does the trick.

Ben Is Back – Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts act their hearts out in this mother-son drama about the opioid crisis.

The Mule – I’m pretty sure Clint Eastwood has lost his mind? What 90-year-old character is THIS baller???

Velvet Buzzsaw – This high camp satire on high art features another bizarre performance by Jake Gyllenhaal – an actor, who like James McAvoy, seems to thrive on the absurd.

Triple Frontier – Big budgets and bros come to Netflix.

Avengers Endgame – I guess the only way to find this film a brilliant success is if you’re really into the MCU. But being a casual fan of the Marvel films – emphasis on ‘casual’, de-emphasis on ‘fan’ – then it’s just an ok, but really very long film. Don’t mind the plot holes.

Glass – M. Night Shyamalaan concludes his random Unbreakable trilogy with this dud. But James McAvoy still steals the show with an outrageous performance!

Late Night – I LOVE Emma Thompson and she’s great in this film. But Mindy Kaling’s writing has always felt flat to me – always talking about breaking the mould rather than actively doing it.

The Front Runner – I wanted to like this much more than I did.

The Laundromat – A weak film by Steven Soderbergh about the Panama Papers. Even Meryl can’t save it from bad directorial choices.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile – Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is an interesting watch, but this movie is mediocre.

Wine Country – I expect more from Amy Poehler and co.

Dragged Across Concrete – Mel Gibson needs to stop being hired. I can’t tell if this film was so clever in its commentary, or just so actually racist and misogynist. Ugh.

Mid90s – Jonah Hill’s directorial debut felt so try-hard, it was painful to watch.

Knock Down the House – Finally something inspiring about American politics. But I barely remember watching this film.

Hotel Mumbai – Well made action, depressing, possibly glorifies terrorism????

Always Be My Maybe – A bog standard rom-com… these characters should NOT have ended up together! The entire film was just about saved thanks to a small role by Keanu Reeves and all of his scenes being hilarious.

Dumbo – This was not a great movie. But I did love that it reunited Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito in a Tim Burton film!

High Flying Bird – This Steven Soderbergh Netflix drama about the basketball world has huge critical acclaim, but I just found it dull.

Unicorn Store – While I like Brie Larson, I strongly dislike her film directing. Not a fan of this movie AT ALL.

The King – Unwatchable garbage nonsense.

Corporate Animals – This was a very bad indie comedy from the writer of Peep Show. A few laughs were had, but it was otherwise quite a painful watch.

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