Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. We’re just about done with another year, but more importantly, we’re getting close to a new decade filled with movies and a bunch of other cool stuff we’ll be getting pretty soon. Before we get the 2020s started, it’s time for me to present my top ten favorite films of 2019. As always, this is my personal list of films that I thought were amazing or inspiring or thought-provoking or all of the above. This is not a professional top ten list, this is my own top ten list, so feel free to agree or disagree with my choices. Before I start, I would like to take a moment to apologize to you fellow readers for not checking out all of the other great movies that are out this year before I made this list, like “Parasite” and “Harriet”. I heard a lot of fantastic things about them, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find the right time to see them. I’m only human, you know. Now then, without further ado, let’s count down the winners.
Coming in at the top spot is a film that reimagines 1960s Hollywood in Quentin Tarantino’s own image. The result is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, a sharp and delightfully appealing piece of cinema that pays tribute to the film business from the 60s and has fun with it. Even though its runtime and pacing are my main reasons why it’s higher on my list, I still find it to be a great trip back in time thanks to its cast, the production design, and Tarantino’s filmmaking skills. A must-see for Tarantino fans and people who appreciate the film industry.
There comes a time during the Christmas season when a family sits down together and watches a beloved holiday classic, whether it’s “Elf”, “The Polar Express”, or even “A Christmas Carol” (any version will do). This year, we got a new Christmas-themed film courtesy of Netflix, and based on what I saw, it deserves to be the next holiday tradition. “Klaus” is a beautiful and heartwarming original film that honors the legend of Santa Claus and Christmas in its own way. The story can come off as formulaic at times, but Sergio Pablos, the man behind the “Despicable Me” franchise and a former character designer for Disney, was able to make the formula endearing and, more importantly, clever. I thought the characters were likable, the humor was highly enjoyable, and the animation. My goodness, the animation. It proved that 2D animation can still make a comeback in the near future. Here’s hoping that more animated films like this will follow suit.
This is another film that showcases Shia LaBeouf’s comeback in the best way. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a simple modern-day Mark Twain tale that has a near-perfect blend of thoughtfulness, charm, and humor. The cast was great, particularly LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen, the direction was really good, the characters were lovable, and the story was effectively simplistic and cute. If you’re in a mood for a light-hearted film that doesn’t have any dark or depressing moments, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” has you covered.
What happens when you combine the gripping race sequences with the dramatized matchup between the two motor companies? You get “Ford v Ferrari”, a highly engaging and well-acted drama from “Logan” director James Mangold that nails the importance of the event and the intensity of the 24 Hours of Le Mans event. Ranging from the chemistry between Matt Damon and Christian Bale to Mangold’s direction, the film made its way past the finish line without running out of gas. It’s also one of the best films to watch with the best sound system. Just saying.
The superhero genre just went dark back in October when DC released a stand-alone film centering on Batman’s greatest enemy. Despite the controversy aimed towards it for its violence and its mixed reviews, it became a box office success, it earned several award nominations, and it earned the number six spot in my list. The film I’m talking about is “Joker”, a realistic and haunting take on the villain’s origin story. Rather than taking inspiration from the comics, the film’s director Todd Phillips took inspiration from some of Martin Scorsese’s films like “Taxi Driver” and mold them into a tale about a mentally unstable man who’s broken down by the negative influence of society. It’s a well-crafted and disturbingly stunning film that combines social commentary with a character-driven story. Joaquin Phoenix was incredible as Arthur Fleck, Phillips’ direction was marvelous, and the musical score was irresistible. A great way to show that superhero films are more than just people with superpowers saving the world.
If you’re going to make a film about a broken marriage, make it a great one. “Marriage Story” did just that. Noah Baumbach, the writer and director of the film, has created an incredible and emotional film that represents the frustrations of an upcoming divorce. Thanks to its cast, Baumbach’s script, and a beautiful score by Randy Newman, the film is a frustrating, yet satisfying, real-life experience from start to finish.
While everyone is busy being terrified by the character designs in “Cats”, I was busy recovering from the most terrifying film of the year. When it comes to getting underneath my skin, no film has done it better than “The Lighthouse”, a brilliantly-shot and horrifying psychological film that represents Robert Eggers’ art of horror filmmaking. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson were great together as the two lighthouse keepers, the psychological elements were really nerve-wrecking, and the technical aspects were a sight to behold. This is one film I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Hey, look at that. Another Shia LaBeouf film has made it into my list. “Honey Boy” is a form of cinematic therapy that’s not only gorgeous and poetic, but also emotional and meaningful. It’s a film about coming to terms with your past and learning to forgive those who gave you a rough time. From its talented cast to its screenplay, the film not only showcases those themes wonderfully, but it also proves that LaBeouf is both a talented actor and an inspiring writer.
Last year, Hollywood reintroduced us to Fred Rogers with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, a splendid documentary that reminds us of his kindness and how it affected the world. This year, Marielle Heller successfully continues the legacy with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, a kindhearted and passionate drama that honors Rogers’ spirit and the importance of forgiveness and understanding. Tom Hanks was brilliant as Fred Rogers, Matthew Rhys was great as the journalist who interviewed Rogers, the story had the right mixture of heart and serene, and the score was light-hearted and upbeat. This is another film that we all need in this day and age when people are constantly being stubborn to each other as well as others who don’t deserve this type of negativity. Make love, not hate.
I have to admit, thinking about my number one pick for the year was quite a challenge for me. In fact, it’s more challenging than last year and the year before that and the year before that. I’ve seen plenty of films in 2019 that were not only well-made, but were also filled with some moments that made my theatrical experiences unforgettable. After some careful consideration, I finally decided on a film that I believe works as both an unforgettable experience and an emotional cinematic journey, and that film, without a doubt, is…
That’s right, everyone, I have another superhero film as my top favorite film of the year, and not just any superhero film, oh no. It’s an event that concludes the 22-film story arc that began with “Iron Man” back in 2008. “Avengers: Endgame” is a groundbreaking and emotionally satisfying experience that flawlessly combines the breathtaking visuals and action with a deeply effective high-stakes plot. I saw this film in a packed theater during opening night, and it was quite possibly the best theatrical experience I ever had in my entire lifetime. Not only were they well-behaved, but they also laughed and cheered at the scenes that deserved those reactions, including the final battle. I too joined in on the fun, and it was awesome. The film was able to meet my personal expectations despite its three-hour runtime. The cast was great, the characters were great, the action was great, the story was great. Heck, even the finale was great. Everything about “Endgame” is perfect in my eyes. This is not only one of my favorite superhero films ever, but also my personal favorite film of 2019.
There you have it. Those are my personal picks of the best films of 2019. As always, feel free to agree or disagree with my list because at the end of the day, we all have different opinions on the films we watched. That’s what makes the world go round. Stay tuned for my picks of the worst films of 2019.