2019 was a particularly undefinable film year. We watched remakes and reboots and sequels and original properties and Robert De Niro play a 35 year old. We watched some great films, some bad films, and some that were just m'eh. Let's get to it.
M'eh. It's a movie that isn't truly bad, it's not a lack of craft or technological expertise or whatever that makes it m'eh. The film just kind of sits there and everyone involved insists that it was an achievement but really, it's just kind of m'eh. It's the undercooked grilled cheese sandwich. The salad that is nothing but iceberg lettuce and too ripe cucumber. It's the store bought butter tarts. It's the movie that you have a hard time remembering by the time you hit the parking lot. In my oh, so humble opinion, 2019's most m'eh movie had to be the remake of The Lion King. By striving for realism, the movie ends up looking like a National Geographic film with a bunch of animals eating peanut butter. Great voice performances are wasted, technology is wasted. Every last bit of soul and fun is sucked out of the original to make something dull and lifeless. So, yeah. The Lion King. Not a lot of challengers for its crown this year.
The Inaugural Joker Award
This is for the film that thinks it's so, so, so much smarter than it really is. A film that is elevated from the dustbin of history by the power of one single performance. This is for the film that thought it was a good idea to berate the audience for not enjoying The Hangover sequels. And the winner of the Inaugural Joker Award is Joker. Replace Joaquin Phoenix and all you have is a forgettable 2 hours of first year philosophy blathering and weak Scorsese riffs.
The Laundromat and Glass are both contenders for the Absolute Worst of 2019. Both are massive disappointments. Dull and full of dull ideas. Both Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Soderbergh have a library that other filmmakers dream of. And this is what they do when they're given complete creative control? Glass, the follow-up to Unbreakable and Split, should have been great. Instead, it's just bad. And The Laundromat, a film about off-shore banking and horrible people with a cast of legends just comes off as a mediocre rip-off of The Big Short. Ugh.
The Absolute Worst
Polar is the absolute worst and should never be mentioned in polite conversation.
The Ridiculously Fun
There really is only one contender for this category. Shazam! truly is ridiculously fun. It's more fun than should be legally allowed. It's the family friendly Deadpool. It's not Shazam, it's Shazam!
The Best Superhero Movie
The best superhero movie I watched in 2019 was 2018's Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and I am still reeling from it. It's perfection. And I'm still kicking myself for being so late to the Spider-Verse party. But the best superhero movie of 2019? Avengers: Endgame without a doubt. Remove all the discussion of what Marvel Studios had achieved since they produced Iron Man - 23 interconnected movies with a common mythology, a franchise worth more than some countries gross domestic product. Instead, look at the story. Endgame is the culmination of a story that began in 2008 and it sticks the landing. That, that is impressive. And it's a great movie.
The Stuff I Never Wrote About But Should Have But Is Available On Netflix So Go Watch It
First up is Fyre, the Netflix documentary about the Fyre Festival and its colossal failure. Fyre isn't satisfied with telling the story of entitled rich kids and the mess and the cons and all of that. Fyre also takes the time to tell the story of the people in the Bahamas who were stiffed by the organizers. Another Netflix original, on the completely other end of the spectrum, is 6 Underground. It's Michael Bay with all the meddling studio suits and their notes removed from his life. This is pure Michael Bay and is probably as close to experiencing his unadulterated imagination as we can get without climbing inside of his brain. It's ridiculous and over the top and stuff blows up real good and it is amoral and you may need a shower afterwards but damn, it's a fun ride.
The Most Discussed
How weird is 2019? The thing I wrote with the most comments was about a 3 1/2 hour movie directed by a man at the tail end of his 70s, a film whose stars have an average age of 76 or so. A movie about an obscure union organizer and mob affiliate whose claims of villainy have been disputed by scholars, the FBI, and gangsters. Somehow The Irishman became the most discussed movie of 2019 in this parking spot on the internets. Why? Maybe some people just wanted to say something about this art they had just witnessed.
The Best of 2019
There is a lot of great stuff I got to write about this year. And thinking about it, these aren't some of my favourite films of the year - they're some of my favourite films of the decade. 2019 may have been a weird, weird year but damn it produced some great films.
Ad Astra has what may be the greatest opening of any film this year and one of the truly great Brad Pitt performances. It's flawed and stumbles a couple of times but damn, I love Ad Astra. Yes, Ford v Ferrari is a manly story full of manly men, but it is story telling of the highest level and is everything we want movies to be - exciting and heartbreaking and sad and fun and exhilarating. The Irishman is flawed and is missing that Scorsese energy but everyone that watches it wants to talk about it and that in itself is kind of wonderful.
But, for me, in my oh, so humble opinion, if we're going to talk about the absolute best of 2019, we have to talk about Us and Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. 5 months later and I still get manly tears when I talk about Once Upon a Time. Wish fulfilment and history revisionism and the other great Brad Pitt performance of 2019 and maybe the greatest performance of Leonardo DiCaprio's career and what feels meandering and aimless is actually pushing, pushing, pushing us towards the night of August 9th, 1969. Us is hands down the best thriller of the year that features the greatest performances of the year in Lupita Nyong'o's dual roles. Us may not make a lick of sense, but, really who cares. The great thrillers of the 70s never made a lick of sense either but we still love them.
So, yeah. The movies of 2019. What was your favourite, least favourite, etc. Comment below and always remember to be cool to each other.