2019 was a very special year for me. I tried a new deodorant scent. I got some new pairs of shoes. I tasted Chipotle’s carne asada. I had a kid. I went to Arizona. I also saw a bunch of movies! Several of which seemed to feature evil clowns. BAD BOY CLOWNS ARE SO HOT RIGHT NOW.
Anyway, here are all the movies I still managed to see this year despite inviting a tiny, pooping human to aggressively move in with my wife and I; put into five super-detailed and well-thought-out levels of quality.
Top Level – The Cream of the Crop
Midsommar – This movie is not for everybody, and I understand that. Especially if you don’t like long, slow-moving, super weird movies. BUT I DO. I was still randomly thinking about this film for months after I saw it the first time, and that’s got to count for something (I’ve since watched it two more times at home). Plus, now I can add Sweden to the list of places I’m scared to visit; right in between Mississippi and that Great Clips that smells like toilet water.
The Lighthouse – I think a lot of movies try to do “crazy” and never fully get there. I was genuinely amazed at the insanity of this film. Loved it. It’s a “what the hell did I just watch?” in the best way possible. I left the theater a little speechless by what I had just witnessed, and also really wanting to take a shower.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – I’m a Tarantino fanboy, but that’s only because I think his movies have SOLE. HA! (no wait, don’t go!) I think this was the only movie this year that I saw twice in theaters. The first time I watched it I was like, “Oh, that was pretty good, that was way different than what I was expecting.” Then the second time I watched it I was like “Damn, this film is pretty darn great, and I’d probably put it in Tarantino’s top 5.” This movie also gives the Academy more reason than ever to create the long-absent Best Supporting Dog category.
Fyre / Fyre Fraud – Haha, remember the Fyre Festival? Those two documentaries that came out in January had me fully engrossed with everything about Billy and his weird scam venture(s). Much like Blackfish and LA92, I love it when good documentaries send me down an obsessive path of information consumption on the internet afterwards.
Parasite – I think, again, a good measuring tool for how much a movie deserves to be in the top level is how much I think about it in the weeks and months that follow. And I’m definitely still thinking about all the creepy, weird people in this movie.
Uncut Gems – A great, energetic, stressful film that shows how scary gambling addictions are. Not a dull moment. It’s amazing what Adam Sandler can do when he’s not just phoning it in with his friends and cramming fast food product placement down our throats. I think it hasn’t been since Happy Gilmore that I’ve declared the Sandman to be in one of the best movies of the year.
2nd Level – Pretty good, would recommend
Avengers: Endgame – Ya know, it’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, but it really is a well-made conclusion to a giant saga of movies. It was a better ending than Game of Thrones, AM I RIGHT?!?!?!?! Remember when that was a big thing earlier this year??!? Haha, 2019, you were such a year.
Crawl – I assumed a movie about basement alligators would be terrible, but I was fully invested in this thing from start to finish. And at a brisk 87 minutes? That’s just being straight-up nice to the audience. Thank you, whoever directed Crawl.
Joker – It’s a good homage to Taxi Driver and King of Comedy (so basically, Scorsese), but it just doesn’t have as much to say as the films that inspired it. It’s still super entertaining, though. I like to think it’s about the creation of the first Juggalo. Birth of a Ninja? Side note: What’s the deal with Joaquin Phoenix’s back and shoulder bones?
Us – This was one of those pretty good movies that begs for a second viewing (to put all the pieces together, and go “OHHHHH”), but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m busy, shut up, leave me alone! Also, casting Tim Heidecker in a supporting role was just a fantastic choice. I give it four bags of popcorn and two sodas.
The Amazing Jonathan Documentary – This doc starts off as a dive into the life of a dying magician, then rapidly spirals into something that I don’t really want to give away. It got to the point where I legitimately didn’t know if what I was watching was real or if it was fake. If it’s genuinely real, then this is an hilariously crazy story. If it’s fake, then it’s one of the most brilliantly executed fake documentaries that I’ve ever seen.
Rocketman – If you want me to be honest, I saw this movie while “not of clear mind”, and all I can say is that it was extremely fun and colorful. I don’t remember much of what happened in it plot-wise, though. SAT-UR-DAY! SAT-UR-DAY!
Ready or Not – This reminded me of the kind of crappy horror movies that I used to like when I was in my early 20s, and to give me that spark again, even if it was just fleeting, well… thank you.
The Current War – Way more fast paced and entertaining than I thought it would be. I won’t spoil who wins the war of optimal electric current if you don’t know your history, but it does hammer home that Thomas Edison created motion pictures; meaning he’s technically responsible for creating Bratz: The Movie, From Justin to Kelly, and Larry the Cable Guy’s Delta Farce. So we should all remember that about his legacy. New movie idea: scientists fighting over the patents for early 90s Nickelodeon products. “Plutty will never stay as dry as my alternating sand powder, plus mine is cheaper and more effective!” “Squand is but a pipe dream, Dr. Gakenstein, and the public will never accept it!”
The Farewell – Didn’t land as emotionally impactful as I wanted it to, but it’s such a nice little movie, with a good message and compelling characters that it was hard for me not to like it.
It: Chapter 2 – Not quite as good as the first one, but also not as bad as 99% of other alien clown monster movies on the market.
El Camino – It destroyed the brilliant final shot of Jesse in the original series, but it’s too hard not to enjoy what Vince Gilligan does in this television universe. I still randomly think about Jesse’s commentary on pineapples from time to time.
Doctor Sleep – I went in not expecting much from it, but I thought it actually really enriched the story of the original Shining, and made it feel more complete. It’s long, for sure, but it’s entertaining enough to not feel excruciating. It does get a little too cutesy at the end; distractingly so. Overall, I’d rate it 8 stupid top hats out of 10.
Ford v Ferrari – I don’t know much about old timey cars (now, if you want to talk mid-range Hyundais…), but this movie made sense to me even if I didn’t always know what they were talking about (what is that, a six-barrel holley carb?) . I think there’s a place in the world for this kind of generic, entertaining film that doesn’t make you think very much, as long as it’s done well. At the very least, this made me want to crank my 2010 Elantra to 7000 RPM and see how quickly it catches on fire.
Knives Out – I normally don’t solve mystery movies as I’m watching them; I like to just go along for the ride. But my hunch as to what was happening in this was almost correct in my head. I was like 75% correct in my guess. That usually doesn’t happen, so much so that I was expecting another twist at the end to validate this movie as being smarter than me. Or maybe I wanted another twist just because it was such a fun movie that I wanted it to keep going? That’s the real mystery.
Marriage Story – What a well-executed downer. There were great heartbreaking moments that reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, showing the chaos of a failing relationship in motion. The only other Noah Baumbach movie I really like is The Squid and the Whale, another movie about divorce. The Baum knows how to write hella good divorce movies, dawg. The main thing holding me back from liking this movie more were the forced cutesy joke moments that Baumbach definitely thought were funnier than they actually were. If smarmy Brooklynites make your skin crawl; avoid this movie.
Dolemite is My Name – This basically seemed just like another Disaster Artist, which is fine by me. Eddie Murphy is great, but Wesley Snipes kills it.
The Report – This felt like this generation’s All the President’s Men, and also a total slam on the importance of Zero Dark Thirty. How often do you get to see a movie directly put another movie ON BLAST? However, as much as I thought The Report was very good, it left me with no desire to want to watch it a second time; leading me to believe it was probably just more of a really interesting story than it was an amazing film.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The first part of the movie was very rushed and clunky, and but there’s a certain scene (can’t spoil it) where it all starts to slow down and focus more, and that’s when I thought it got good through the end. Since we live in an anti-spoiler world, where people who see things when they actually come out are punished for wanting to talk about it because of the dragging-their-feet nature of others… in the most generic way possible I will say that overall; it’s pretty fun and I (mostly) liked how they closed out the trilogy. However, some characters get much better arcs than others. And a lot of choices (that I also can’t spoil) are just kinda half-assed, and are there to attempt to please everybody; while actually not really fully pleasing anybody. Say what you will about Rian Johnson’s Star Wars movie; at the very least, he actually committed to his ideas. Bottom line: Despite its faults (which all Star Wars movies have), it has plenty of fun Star Wars stuff in it. And isn’t that what matters most*?
*to everybody except toxic Star Wars internet jerks
3rd Level – It’s like OK, I guess, maybe, but whatever
Spider-Man: Far From Home – The first half really tested my patience. I shouldn’t actively be thinking about how a Spider-Man movie is dragging while I’m watching it. Maybe Spider-Man should leave the Marvel Cinem- haha, I’m kidding, just do better next time.
Brightburn – Half good idea, half very dumb execution. I wanted to like this more, but I have to be honest with the four people who will read this list. It’s just ok.
Captain Marvel – A bottom-5 MCU movie in terms of being memorable in any way, but it stayed on brand, and that made it not terrible. It was great as a set-up to the character who did the important thing for 5 minutes at the end of the other movie.
Aladdin – This was a live action remake of that other movie that I saw before. It suuuuuure was. Before you ask, no, I didn’t bother seeing the Lion King remake. And I’m sure it’s just as tremendously “OK” as this one was.
Shazam! – Ya know, I kind of liked it until it turned into a Power Rangers movie at the end. Count me out for the sequel if it’s going to be about the wisecrackin’ teenage Shazam team.
Hellboy – I went in with the lowest of expectations and I ended up thinking it was alright. I’d watch this again in the background on HBO if the opportunity arises.
Jojo Rabbit – Great beginning, and a pretty good ending; but the middle has some major pacing issues and hits some lulls. It didn’t feel all that focused. The jokes were funny (especially when imaginary Hitler shows up, or anything Jojo’s pudgy friend said), but the humor felt too spaced out. Meanwhile, some of the big emotional moments were really good, and other fell flat. I was hoping for a New Zealand version of a Wes Anderson movie and it only kind of delivered on that.
Long Shot – A perfectly enjoyable and watchable movie that is in no way memorable beyond the night that you watch it.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters – The monster scenes were great. It’s just all the completely bland, cliche expository scenes around them that brought this down. You want to show me a YouTube compilation of just all the monster scenes? I’M THERE.
Climax – It’s about what you’d expect from a French art film showing the horror of a nightmarish non-consensual drug trip at a dance troupe practice session (what?). I mean, I enjoyed it for its ambitiousness. But at the same time… I was extremely close to not putting it on this list at all because I almost forgot that I saw it.
Toy Story 4 – Listen Pixar, you shouldn’t have had that string of really good movies that made everybody cry, because now it’s expected of you; and I didn’t cry here. This was more Toy Story 2 than Toy Story 3; which is to say it’s good, but not quite the punch to the gut that I need to remember that I’m not dead inside.
Hustlers – Tried to cover too much, too quickly; like a stripper pole oiler on their first day.
Child’s Play – I actually thought the malfunctioning robot Chucky was a good idea for remaking this, because at least it was trying something different from the original. But it was still just a so-so horror movie in the end. Is Aubrey Plaza already at the “mom” stage of her acting career?
Between Two Ferns: The Movie – This had some decent laughs, but I couldn’t remember them when I was writing this. I’ll just trust my brain that I thought this movie was ok.
Yesterday – The Beatles disappearing for no reason was a dumb concept, on par with most terrible body-switching comedies, but that didn’t stop it from being well-meaning and fairly enjoyable. It constantly tried to come up with valid reasons for existing, I’ll give it that.
Hobbs & Shaw – I guess it’s not the movie’s fault, but I started it way too late at night one night, and fell asleep and woke up several times. What I remember watching seemed about par for the course though. This is what my movie reviewing has come to, now.
The Irishman – I didn’t love it. Felt like watered-down Scorsese. There were many scenes I greatly enjoyed, but I can barely even remember all the fluff around those scenes. And I have no desire to sit down for 3 and 1/2 hours to give it another chance anytime soon. If Marty made this as a more focused movie in the early 90s, it probably would have been amazing.
Queen & Slim – This was allllllllll over the place. It had a strong start, and then it made many, many weird choices. Throughout much of the film I had no concept of time or place, and never even felt like they were in danger. I liked a bunch of what it had to say, but shouldn’t a cross-country fugitive manhunt movie have more momentum than this…? It starts and stops every other scene.
Black Christmas – It works as an entertaining PG-13 horror film, but it’s definitely going to be 100% forgotten about in a month. Is this the first MeToo horror film? The saddest realization I had about this movie was that I guarantee there’s a bunch of knobs who watched this and probably thought the women were the villains.
4th Level – Pretty bad, sure, but could be worse
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – I’ll save it from the bottom level because it probably had 5 minutes of interesting stuff in it. But the bloated expository garbage around those moments were just awful. “You don’t read the book… the book reads you” is one of the worst lines that someone ever got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to write.
Wrinkles the Clown – I guess it had an ok twist at the end, but overall this felt like it was stretching 10 minutes of material over 90. It tried to do something cool with its structure, but I was getting bored by the time it started to pay off. How many random ADHD kids do you need to interview for one documentary?
Stuber – “Driver wouldn’t stop talking, and told many bad jokes. Took too long to get me to the destination. But I could tell that he was trying to make me happy. 2 out of 5 stars.”
BOTTOM Level – Multi-Million Dollar Dumpster Sludge
X-Men: Dark Phoenix – This was extremely not good and kind of hard to watch. None of the actors seem to want to be there (spoiler alert: a very famous actor has their character die in the first 40 minutes, probably at their request). It was almost completely devoid of humor. Sophie Turner miiiiiight be bad at acting? MCU, good luck with this stuff.
Escape Room – I feel bad that so many people worked hard for months on this movie. Except the screenwriter. They probably wrote the entire thing on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Glass – I watched this on an airplane, and it was so boring. I had nothing else downloaded, so I had to wrestle with the idea of possibly just turning it off and putting my head down instead of watching it. I made it until about 15 minutes were left in the movie and the “please put away your laptops” alert came on, and then I never even finished the movie when I got home. I have no idea how it ends. Was there a Shyamalan twist? I bet there was. I don’t really care.
Have a very happy 2020 everybody! In honor of the Year of the Evil Clown, dust off your best hatchetman party gear for New Year’s Eve. Or may I suggest one of the many dumb hats from Doctor Sleep? Either are strong choices to ride into the new year.