The past year was a notable one in the world of cinema, seeing an assortment of genres delivering high quality work. With 2019 having come to an end let’s take a look back at the best movies of the year!
10) The Report (3.5 Stars)
The Report is an engrossing fact-based drama about a recent moment in the United States’ history. Senate Staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is tasked by his boss, Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation program. Adam Driver is good, bringing an intellectual and subdued persona to the character. The screenplay is the true winner, as it effectively guides the viewer through a journey that involves an over-abundance of information. With solid pacing and excellent use of flashback, the story is able to engage without being bogged down by the details. The supporting performances are somewhat lacking, and the runtime could have been shortened. Nonetheless, this is a highly interesting premise that succeeds in delivering its intended informational experience.
9) Joker (3.5 Stars)
Give Joaquin Phoenix the Academy Award for Best Lead Actor now! Check out the link below for a full review.
8) Alita: Battle Angel (3.5 Stars)
Alita: Battle Angel a thrilling action flick that conveys dystopian world building at its best. The story is set in 2563, centering around a memory wiped cyborg named Alita (Rosa Salazar), who is discovered and reactivated by Dr. Ido (Christolph Waltz). Salazar is compelling in the lead role, but the strength of the film is in its visuals and world building. The screenplay does a great job introducing this previously unknown setting in a solidly paced manner, while also keeping certain facets shrouded in mystery. The supporting cast doesn’t offer much and some of the plot points don’t land, but the top-notch action scenes overcome these faults. The cinematography is incredibly well-done, providing one of the most memorable action sequences of the year. It’s an introductory tale that excites and intrigues, leaving the audience wanting more.
7) Little Women (3.5 Stars)
Little Women is a great literary adaptation focusing on Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her three sisters, Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlan). Together they grow up in 1860’s Massachusetts striving to live life on their own terms. The film is expertly crafted with detailed production designs, a smart script, and strong performances by everyone involved. Writer/Director Greta Gerwig tells two parallel stories in congruent fashion, chronicling the lives of these four individuals at distinct points in their lives. Her ability to sync these storylines for increased dramatic effect, as well as evoke what feels like authentic sibling interactions between the actresses during scenes of conversation heighten the overall experience. Saoirse Ronan delivers the strongest performance, as she is magnificent in her portrayal of the independent and passionate Jo March. Timothée Chalamet and Florence Pugh are equally impressive in their own right, providing great character portrayals and establishing delightful chemistry with Ronan. The storyline lags at times and the ending underwhelms, but overall this is a well-done period piece that showcases some of the most talented young actors and actresses working today.
6) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (3.5 Stars)
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are at the top of their game! Check out the link below for a full review.
5) John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum (3.5 Stars)
The John Wick franchise supplies some of the best action witnessed in recent memory, and John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum continues this trend with another fast paced, action packed outing. Picking up immediately following the events of John Wick: Chapter 2, John (Keanu Reeves) is on the run after being excommunicated from the international guild of assassins. Keanu Reeves carries the load with another impressive physical performance as the titular hit man. Halle Berry shines as well as an alley of Wick, doing the most with the disappointingly little screen time she is provided. The greatest strength of the film though is not in the colorful performances, but in the expertly crafted action scenes. The story falters during the back half, but the fight choreography and set pieces remain strong throughout, providing a highly entertaining watch, even if it isn’t the best of the series.
4) Ford V Ferrari (4 Stars)
Christian Bale is the best actor working today! Check out the link below for a full review.
3) Spider-Man: Far from Home (4 Stars)
Spider-Man: Far from Home is a thrilling entry into the superhero genre, offering the best depiction yet of what a Spider-Man movie can be on the big screen. The story kicks off immediately following the events of Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is gearing up for a class trip through Europe where he hopes to spend more time with MJ (Zendaya). Unfortunately, new threats emerge that impede his plan, as Spider-Man’s assistance is called upon by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). The story blends action, comedy, and romance to create an exciting superhero film that doubles as a splendid high school romance. The story’s strongest moments are often the quietest ones, during which Peter and MJ’s relationship continues to develop. Tom Holland has emphatically proven he is the perfect Peter Parker, exuding the youthful enthusiasm and quick-witted dialogue that are synonymous with the character. Zendaya continues to be great, making MJ her own with a wholly unique take on the character, while Jake Gyllenhaal provides a stellar performance in his own right. The script isn’t void of silly moments and some of the action scenes suffer from quick cut editing, but in the end, Spider-Man: Far from Home is a wonderfully entertaining watch with impressive visuals and an incredible ending.
2) Marriage Story (4.5 Stars)
Marriage Story possesses acting of the highest order. It follows Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlet Johansson) as they go through the tumultuous ordeal that is getting divorced. Scarlet Johansson owns the film with the performance of her career, as well as the best acting done by an actress this year. She delivers one monologue in particular early in the film that is so enthralling it would not be surprising to see it again as she is accepting the Academy Award for Best Lead Actress this upcoming Oscar season. These accolades in no way diminish the rest of the cast, who are all wonderful. Adam Driver, Alan Alda, Laura Dern, and Julie Hagerty each have their own moments to shine, enhancing the quality of the story as every person is performing at their best. The screenplay contains sharp dialogue, lending to entertaining yet genuine character interactions. Some of the editing comes off frantic, but this is a minor criticism. Overall, this is a film that created wholly fleshed out characters that engages throughout with an emotional story, filled with ups and downs, much like life.
1) The Avengers: Endgame (4.5 Stars)
As the culmination of a story that spanned 21 films, The Avengers: Endgame came with a level of anticipation that was sky high. It could be surmised that there was no possible way the movie would meet expectations, but it somehow did. The story picks up immediately following the events of The Avengers: Infinity War. The fallen heroes are struggling after suffering a monumental defeat at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin), but are planning a counter attack of their own in an attempt to undo the damage done by the infinity stones. Possessing an impressive blend of action, humor, call backs to past films, and a whole lot of heart, this is one of the most entertaining films you’ll ever see. The battles scenes are incredibly well choreographed, and a great screenplay delivers thrilling journeys for all the characters involved, as well as Marvel’s typical witty dialogue. Every character has their moment, aside from the creative choices for one hero in particular which disappoint. If Infinity War belongs to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Thanos, then Endgame without a doubt belongs to Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). Robert Downey Jr in particular gives it his all, with a powerhouse performance that carries the story from beginning to end. This is a film that spans 3 hours and 1 minute, yet leaves the audience wanting more, a testament to the pure enjoyment and thrills delivered in this emotional finale to the Infinity Saga.
Bonus- With the decade coming to a close as well, here is a quick rundown of my top movies of the decade. Enjoy!
1) A Quiet Place (2018)
2) Whiplash (2014)
3) Inception (2010)
4) Short Term 12 (2013)
5) The Social Network (2010)
6) Arrival (2016)
7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
8) Creed (2015)
9) Source Code (2011)
10) The Martian (2015)
11) Prisoners (2013)
12) The Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
13) Brooklyn (2015)
14) Gravity (2013)
15) Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)