The year 2019 was a really terrible year for movies, in my opinion. There wasn’t a single movie that I saw that matches my number 3 movie of last year, let alone anything matching my top 2. I’m not sure why it happened that way, but it did. Hopefully it’s not an indicator of a larger trend.
However, there were some good movies that I did enjoy, albeit not any perfect ones.
I’ve always loved this character and this particular telling of his origin story in the comics. It was brought to life splendidly and surprised me how enjoyable it was. There were two weaknesses, however. The disparity in temperament in child Billy vs adult superhero Billy was a bit jarring, despite both performances being great in their own right. The other weakness was that I thought the film could have been better edited. An apt comparison is that while I think Captain Marvel is among the weaker Marvel films, its editing it
objectively better than that in Shazam!
Easily my most anticipated film of the summer, I did really enjoy myself with this Beatles film. It’s quite sharp at times and, like most of Richard Curtis’ films, very charming. It’s not as satisfying as it could have been, but I think that’s because of it being a big studio picture at Universal. They made a film that is pleasing to everyone, yet in doing so made it a movie that will top no one’s lists (and honestly I’m probably the only one who has it on their top 10 of the year list).
An immensely satisfying film despite its significant flaws, Harriet smartly relies on the story it’s telling and its lead to carry it. The main conflict of the purely evil slave owners against the main character doesn’t work except in pushing the story forward. Honestly, the film’s second act is the most satisfying and worthwhile.
7. AVENGERS: ENDGAME
I can hear the reaction of my best friend now: “Dan! How could this movie be so far down your list?!” While Endgame is easily the biggest cinematic achievement of the year (and possibly even the decade or of all time), I still don’t think that it’s as good as Infinity War or even the first Avengers as a piece of cinema. It’s brilliant, but not perfect.
6. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
I had so much fun watching this movie. It’s the best live-action Spider-man film ever and is the only film to successfully showcase the brilliance of Spidey’s abilities. It has the best action set pieces of the year and is just a great little film on its own.
5. THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART
This is probably the only top ten list out there that has Lego Movie 2 on it, but I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved this movie. I actually think that although it isn’t as funny as the first one, it is a better crafted story. It’s a shame more people didn’t see it.
4. AD ASTRA
I was warned that Ad Astra was a bit cerebral and too slow for some, so it’s possible that affected my experience going in, which ended up as one of my favorite experiences in the theater this year. It’s a film about over-zealotry overtaking our priorities. I guess some consider it to be an anti-religion movie, but I think it’s an anti-zealotry story.
3. FORD VS FERRARI
I do think that this is my favorite Christian Bale performance that he’s ever done. I was thoroughly immersed in this story and his and Matt Damon’s performances. If I were giving out awards for the year, Bale would get Best Actor in a Leading Performance. I didn’t like the last ten minutes of the movie, but the rest of it was so good that I can overlook that. Its recreation of racing via sound design is absolutely breathtaking.
2. A HIDDEN LIFE
The trailer for this film is beautiful but smacks of pretension to the extreme. I’m happy to report that the film itself is much more subtle and is endlessly moving. It is a VERY Christian film. This gets my vote for both the best score of the year and the best cinematography of the year.
1. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
I don’t care for Bruce Springsteen’s music, but this story utilizes it very effectively and almost made me a believer in the Boss. Most Hollywood films utilize the “kid knows best” trope, where it always ends up that the kid doesn’t grow so much as the parents who learn from the kid. This film kind of does the opposite, or at least meets it halfway where a person can still respect their cultural traditions while still carving out their own path in the world. I was deeply moved by this story, which is why it’s my favorite of the year.