2019年10月24日 星期四

Some Other Movies From 2019

The Oscars have come and gone.  The winners were:

Best Picture: Parasite
Best Director: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

And for further context, the Golden Globe winners were:

Best Motion Picture: 1917
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Drama - Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Drama - Actress: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - Actor: Taron Egerton, Rocketman
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy - Actress: Awkwafina, The Farewell
Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture - Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture - Actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Best Director: Sam Mendes, 1917

And for still further context, the nominees for the Golden Raspberries (Razzies) are:

Worst Picture: Cats, The Fanatic, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, A Madea Family Funeral and Rambo: Last Blood
Worst Director: Fred Durst, The Fanatic, James Franco, Zeroville, Adrian Grunberg, Rambo: Last Blood, Tom Hooper, Cats, Neil Marshall, Hellboy
Worst Actor: James Franco, Zeroville, David Harbour, Hellboy, Matthew McConaughey, Serenity, Sylvester Stallone, Rambo: Last Blood, John Travolta, The Fanatic
Worst Actress: Hilary Duff, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Anne Hathaway, The Hustle and Serenity, Francesca Hayward, Cats, Tyler Perry, A Madea Family Funeral, Rebel Wilson The Hustle

...and if you want my opinion on all of the above, I agreed with the Oscars this year.  The Golden Globes also made sense.  The British Academy Film Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for the most part concurred with the Oscars and the Golden Globes.  The Golden Raspberries?  I'd give Worst Picture to The Haunting of Sharon Tate, haven't seen Zeroville so no comment on Worst Director, I'd give Worst Actor to Matthew McConaughey and Worst Actress to Hilary Duff.

For another perspective on the the films of 2019 I recommend checking out both the winners and nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards.  There are some seriously overlooked movies there.


Some Good Ones

Escape Room.  The hot actress from Daredevil and some other people get trapped in a series of puzzle rooms.  A lot like the Saw movies without as much gore, but the way the rooms work is somewhat interesting.

Rust Creek.  A woman survives alone in the woods after two men attack her.  It's NOT awesome, but fairly watchable as these things go.

American Hangman.  Also not a great movie, but Donald Sutherland's in it and the film makes a few interesting points.  Why the "American" though?  Why not just call it "Hangman?"

A Dog's Way Home.  Family-friendly movie that manages to check off all the boxes.  This movie's weak point is the cgi cougar.  I get that filming an actual cougar would have been tricky, but it looks super fake.

The Upside.  Kevin Hart takes a job as a nurse working for the paraplegic Bryan Cranston.  Definitely the best movie of this month.

Glass.  M. Night Shyamalan is a lot like Quentin Tarantino for mein that his movies are usually exercises in style over substance.  This movie also has enormous plot holes.  Even so, the leads all give great performances.

Close.  Noomi Rapace stars as a personal security expert in the Middle East.  It's a solid action movie with some interesting twists.

Some Bad Ones

Replicas.  Wow this movie is so, so bad.  The science is nonsense and the plot gets more and more retarded as the minutes tick by.  Not sure why Keanu Reeves elected to star in this one.  Maybe his agent was on vacation.

The Final Wish.  Aladdin - but as a horror movie!  And yes that's just as bad as it sounds.

The Kid Who Would Be King.  Family-friendly movie centered around the legend of Camelot.  It doesn't seem to know who its audience is.

So Bad It's Good

Serenity.  As in The Beach Bum (see below), Matthew McConaughey plays a thoroughly unlikable person who does questionable things.  The plot of this movie is so amazingly contrived, the villain is so laughably evil, the telepathy subplot is so ridiculous, and the sex scene between McConaughey and Anne Hathaway is one of the cringiest things I've seen in a while.


Some Good Ones

Velvet Buzzsaw.  Subtle horror movie and less than subtle critique of the art world.  Jake Gyllenhaal is characteristically great, and I also liked Toni Colette as his friend/adversary.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.  Not as funny as the first but still good.

What Men Want.  Not nearly as good as What Women Want but alright as these "representational" movies go.  This said, Taraji P. Henson is WAY better in The Best of Enemies (below), and it also compares unfavorably to Little (also below).

Cold Pursuit.  Like a lot of people, I saw the trailer and thought "The Grey without the wolves," but as it turns out this is one of Liam Neeson's better movies.  It has a great, dark sense of humor and the script was well written.

The Prodigy.  Completely forgettable but it had potential.  A killer possesses a young boy.

Fighting With My Family.  My favorite of this month's movies.  I was ready to dismiss it as an advertisement for the WWE, but actually found myself tearing up at the ending.  Give it a chance.  You won't regret it.

Some Bad Ones

Miss Bala.  A Mexican-American woman gets kidnapped by a cartel in Mexico and is forced to join a beauty pageant.  It starts out good, but the script lacks focus.  I have no doubt that Gina Rodriguez is way better than this movie.

High Flying Bird.  Lord this movie is preachy.  Steven Soderbergh directed this look at race and politics in the NBA.  Even the most fanatical NBA fan will find it excruciating.

Isn't It Romantic.  There's nothing is quite as bad as a comedy that fails to be funny.  Rebel Wilson gives it her all, but the chuckles are few and far between.

Alita: Battle Angel.  Saw it in the theater.  Just go watch the anime.  

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.  I've never liked these movies, so it was no surprise I didn't like this one too.

So Bad It's Good

Happy Death Day 2 U.  A horror version of Groundhog Day, or Edge of Tomorrow, or whatever movie you'd like to pick wherein someone is obliged to repeat the same day over and over.  The use and abuse of scientific concepts in this movie made me smile.


Some Good Ones

Greta.  It doesn't quite stick the landing. but it'll remind you why people liked Neil Jordan, Chloe Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert in the first place.  Has some great scenes.

Triple Frontier.  I was surprised by how good this movie was.  Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, and several other ex-mercenaries try to rob a cartel boss in South America.  One of the best action movies of 2019.

Five Feet Apart.  Yeah it's silly, yeah it's predictable, but it's cute in the way all rom-coms should be.  Those put off by the subject matter (terminal illness) should give it a try.

The Highwaymen.  Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson try to catch Bonnie and Clyde in the midst of the Depression.  It drags toward the end but the first half is good.

Never Grow Old.  One of the best Westerns I've seen in a long time.  Emile Hirsch reminds you why he was so good in Into the Wild and John Cusack is great as the villain.  It's a very dark, brooding movie along the lines of Unforgiven.

Triple Threat.  It's silly fun.  Seeing the guy from Ong Bak and the guy from The Raid in the same movie is delightful.  The plot?  Eh, don't bother, but there are some good fight scenes.

Us.  I think Jordan Peele is overrated and this movie did nothing to change my mind.  This aside, it has an interesting premise and I think it will be remembered as one of the best horror (?) movies of the year.

Hotel Mumbai.  A lot of critics dismissed this Australian-Indian movie as exploitation.  It's definitely too long for its own britches but it does manage to build up a lot of tension.

The Dirt.  The story of Motley Crue.  A new documentary on the band would have been better, but it works well enough.  Gotta love how Grunge looms over the last half hour of this movie.

Some Bad Ones

Captain Marvel.  In my opinion the worst Marvel movie.  Brie Larson remains lifeless throughout, and I wouldn't be able to explain the plot if you put a gun to my head.  It's pure filler and nothing more.

The Kid.  Yawn.  Billy the Kid in a movie.  Again.  As much as I like Dane DeHaan and Ethan Hawke this movie was really dumb.

Wonder Park.  Family-friendly movie about a girl who creates/imagines an amusement park after the death of her mother.  This one borrows a lot from Up.  I fell asleep about thirty minutes in.

Captive State.  Political commentary masquerading as science fiction.  They Live it ain't.

The Aftermath.  God this movie is predictable.  The minute Keira Knightley meets the handsome German dude you just know they're going to end up banging each other.

Dumbo.  I tried.  I failed.

The Beach Bum.  I suppose you could view this movie as a "celebration of life" but Matthew McConaghey is so thoroughly irritating in it that the only thing I wanted to celebrate were the end credits.

So Bad It's Good

Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral.  Believe it or not, this is the first of Tyler Perry's movies I've seen.  It is so, so bad.  Kind of hypnotically bad.


Unplanned.  Anti-abortion diatribe.  You know you're in trouble when the credits list off family contributions that funded the film.



Her Smell.  Fame is a helluva drug.  I've had some experience with it via a somewhat famous relative, and I think I know enough about it to know I don't want it for myself.  Great in small doses, but poisonous in larger amounts.

Her Smell is the story of a girl rock band and their fall from grace.  The star of this movie, Elisabeth Moss, probably deserves an Oscar.  The sound design is also excellent.

Some Good Ones

Shazam!.  It's brainless fun.  I never bothered to see it a second time though.

The Best of Enemies.  It starts out well, stumbles near the middle, and picks itself up nicely near the end.  I'll watch Sam Rockwell in anything, and Taraji P. Henson is much better used in this movie.  I'm getting tired of movies/books about the Civil Rights Movement, but the relationship between Rockwell's and Henson's characters is genuinely touching.

Little.  Like What Men Want above, this is a retread with the main character's race and gender changed.  Tom Hanks was miles away from this movie, but it has a light touch and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Avengers: Endgame.  Not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, but considered as the culmination of TEN YEARS' worth of movies it's an unqualified success.  We've all seen it, so I won't bore you with the details.

The Wind.  Settlers in the Old West encounter a malevolent presence.  It starts out good but seems to lose its way halfway through.  I liked it, but concentrating on the dynamic between the two couples would have made for a better movie.

Fast Color.  A toned-down version of the X-men.  The lead actress almost holds it together, but the "abilities" they go on about could have been explained better.  The ending is also hard to buy into.

Body at Brighton Rock.  Surprisingly effective movie with some subtle nods to Italian Giallo.  It seems like some kind of 80s teen comedy throwback in the beginning, but after the body is discovered it manages genuine creepiness without resorting to gore.

I Trapped the Devil.  Less a horror movie than a meditation on the nature of evil.  SLOW, but if you're looking for something atmospheric you'll probably like it.

Penguins.  Disney documentary about - you guessed it - penguins.  Many, many animals were harmed in the making of this film.  But hey, everybody likes penguins, right?

Some Bad Ones

Pet Sematary.  As a fan of the original I was extremely disappointed.  It tries to surprise you with a certain death, but none of the characters act with any kind of rationality.

High Life.  EXTREMELY arty, extremely low budget science fiction movie about a group of prisoners trying to do... something with black holes.  Ex-vampire and future Batman Robert Pattinson stars.  Don't bother.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate.  Hilary Duff's vanity project, based on the famous murders.  Not only is it terribly written, terribly acted and terribly directed, but it's also in extremely bad taste.

The SilenceA Quiet Place ripoff starring Stanley Tucci.  If the monsters are blind and stupid, are they really such a threat to humanity?

Hellboy.  B movie from beginning to end.  Milla Jovovich in any movie is a big warning sign for me.

The Curse of La Llorona.  It LOOKS good but it made me sleepy.  Wikipedia says it's supposed to tie in with The Conjuring films, but I had no idea.

So Bad It's Good

After.  This movie clearly wasn't made for dudes like me, but it did have me laughing.  It's an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, complete with brooding British hottie and his daddy issues.  The girl's mom and would-be-ex-boyfriend are completely psycho.


I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu.  The original was NOT good.  Aside from a general fear of rape I don't understand why people keep reviving this franchise.  The actress from the original returns for this foray into cheap exploitation, and like the rednecks involved it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  Hard pass.

Breakthrough.  CHRIST wants you to see this movie - I'm not exactly sure why.  Something something about an adopted kid almost dying.  I didn't make it to the almost dying part.  Once I hit the part with Topher Grace addressing the congregation I had to abort mission.  Get it?  "Mission?"



Poms.  Loved this movie.  Diane Keaton, one of my favorite actresses and a certifiable national treasure stars in it, and this story of a seniors' cheerleading squad is sure to leave a smile on your face.  Keaton, by the way, is also in The Tomorrow Man (below).  This film would make a good double feature with 2011's Valley of the Sun.

Parasite.  South Korean film about a family falling prey to another family of con artists.  It's a masterful film, and when I think of 2019's "Best Picture" it's a toss up between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and this movie.  For a Japanese equivalent consult Akira Kurosawa's High and Low.  For an American/Western equivalent consult The House of Sand and Fog.

Some Good Ones

Brightburn.  Evil Superboy, if Superboy was from a planet of wasp-like aliens.  It's not terrible, but it definitely squandered a great premise.  There's some good gore in it.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  After the physical and emotional onslaught that was Avengers: Endgame, this was the monster movie I needed.  People who complained about the plot failed to register the fact that it's a monster movie.  The spectacle of giant monsters stomping cities was the entire point.

The Tomorrow Man.  John Lithgow stars as an aging survivalist who finds love in small town U.S.A.  A good movie that doesn't overstate itself.

Ma.  Easily one of the best horror movies of 2019.  Octavia Spencer and Juliette Lewis are both great in it, and even if it's on the slow side it's still excellent.

The Intruder.  Rich couple from the city buy a house from a creepy dude in the country.  It's the premise behind Pet Sematary (above) and it's also the premise behind The Intruder.  Dennis Quaid is creepy throughout, and yeah, although formulaic, it's still better than Pet Sematary.

Always Be My Maybe.  OK, the part with Keanu Reeves is embarrassing, but the rest of this movie is solid.  The children of Asian immigrants find love despite different attitudes toward success.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.  Zac Efron does a good psychopath.  My only reservation about this Ted Bundy biopic is its length.  The courtroom scenes really are a lot longer than they need to be.

The Perfection.  Shades of Weinstein.  Or is it Epstein?  Whichever "stein" it is, it's weird and I like weird.  It's not without a certain affectation (the scenes where time reverses itself are more distracting than explanatory), but yeah, it's a good horror movie.

Tolkien.  Unpopular Opinion: the Lord of the Rings movies were massively overrated.  To make matters worse, much of what one sees in the latter parts of the trilogy were additions by the screenwriters.  The books, taken in their original form, were never going to work as movies.  But I think this movie, about Tolkien's early years, works a lot better.  In it Tolkien definitely receives the Hollywood treatment, but it's still entertaining.

Booksmart.  Basically a gender-swapped version of Superbad.  Don't let this description put you off the movie though.  It's really funny. 

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum.  "And the Oscar for longest, most laboriously choreographed fight scene goes to..."  It's silly fun.  I'd watch the next one.

The Professor.  Ivy league professor Johnny Depp shapes young minds and faces his own mortality.  It'll remind you of a lot of other, better movies (and books), but it's not bad.

The Professor and the Madman.  I gotta be honest and say my mind wandered.  It could be the beer I was drinking, or it could be the movie itself.  Mel Gibson stars as a Scotsman trying to write the Oxford English Dictionary, with Sean Penn as an American who assists him.  I think I might try to watch it again sometime.  It might have been the beer.

A Dog's Journey.  Hey it's Dennis Quaid again, last seen in The Intruder (above).  A dog gets reincarnated, heartstrings are plucked, and dogs are generally appreciated.  It's the sequel to A Dog's Purpose

...and I'd like to think the next entry in this series will take a sharp left turn and venture into horror.  I'm thinking A Dog's Centipede: Final Sequence.  Remember "3 Hund" from the first movie?  In this way the two franchises could be combined into a "Human Centipede/Dog's Journey Cinematic Universe," or HCDJCU for short.

The Sun is also a Star.  The son of Korean immigrants and the daughter of Jamaican immigrants find love in New York.  It's incredibly heavy-handed and contrived, but charming nonetheless.

Some Bad Ones

Rocketman.  I know a lot of people loved it.  I'm also an Elton John fan.  But I'm just not into musicals.  Sorry?

Long Shot.  Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen star in this unfunny comedy.  It's in a long tradition of comedies featuring hot women who can act and comedians who want you to think they can.  How is it this movie has an 81% CinemaScore and The Tomorrow Man (above) only has a 46%?

Pokemon Detective Pikachu.  I am so totally not the intended audience for this movie.  No surprise I didn't like it.  It gets more interesting after Ryan Reynolds/Pikachu shows up, but yeah, not my thing.

A Souvenir.  Very British and very boring.  I got about 20 minutes in and had to quit.  Critics loved it, however.


The Hustle.  Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway star as con artists.  Painfully unfunny.



Shaft.  As much as I enjoyed Evil White Boy Christian Bale this is SO much better than the last one.  Tim Story, who has a much lighter touch than John "Let's Meditate on Race Relations" Singleton, is a much better choice for director.  On top of all that this movie is consistently funny, and Sam Jackson has all the best lines.  I really hope they make a sequel.

Some Good Ones

The Last Black Man in San Francisco.  Two friends from the other side of town squat in a house near the Golden Gate Bridge.  It's heavy-handed but very atmospheric.

Change Land.  Seth Green directed, wrote and starred in this movie about two friends on vacation in Thailand.  It's an absorbing and understated movie.  I wouldn't mind watching it again.

Plus One.  Hey, it's Jack Quaid, son of Dennis!  You'll want to dismiss this as a rom-com, and yeah, this story of college friends who attend weddings together is a foregone conclusion, but the leads are adorable and it's genuinely funny.

Murder Mystery.  YES it's an Adam Sandler movie, but look at the supporting cast.  Nothing mindblowingly original in this one, but it's pretty funny.

Some Bad Ones

Dark Phoenix.  Fox's X-Men franchise goes down in both literal, metaphorical, and computer-generated flames.  It's SO bad.  Is The New Mutants even going to appear in theaters after this debacle?

Men in Black: International.  One of the most forgettable movies I've seen in a while.  I just finished watching it and I'd be at pains to tell you what it was about.  Never been a big fan of this franchise, but the third entry is still the best.

Yesterday.  A musician wakes up to find himself living in a world where no one's ever heard of the Beatles.  It starts out cute, but this movie strains its own credibility.  There's the musician and his "manager," who in real life would have slept with each other in the first thirty minutes, and then there's the entire history of Western pop music, which would have collapsed in upon itself without the Beatles.

Annabelle Comes Home.  Speaking as someone who enjoyed The Conjuring 1 and 2, this movie is amazingly boring.  Even compared to the Child's Play reboot (below), which came out the same time, it suffers by comparison.

Being Frank.  A son discovers that his father has a secret.  The performances are good, but the script/story is a problem.  This story tries to walk a difficult line between funny and tragic, all the while sacrificing the viewer's suspension of disbelief to do so.


The Dead Don't Die.  Jim Jarmusch's take on zombie apocalypse.  As much as I liked Ghost Dog, I'd have to say this movie is a real bore.  Got through about twenty minutes and had to turn it off.

Killers Anonymous.  Some nonsense about a group of assassins.  I just couldn't get into it.  As with The Dead Don't Die I got about twenty minutes in and had to abort mission.


Toy Story 4.  I've never understood the appeal of these movies.  I guess you could say I'm a member of the wrong generation, but naw, I've liked plenty of the other kid-friendly cgi spectacles both before and after the Toy Story franchise.  Maybe it's because I find the idea of living toys kind of... creepy?

Ophelia.  My first thought was no way, they were not trying to create a Shakespeare Cinematic Universe (SCU) with the girl from Star Wars.  But yeah, it's Hollywood, and yeah, they did.  I'm sure Shakespeare rolls over in his grave every time someone watches this.

So Bad It's Good

Child's Play.  The one thing you should know about this movie is that IT'S ALL VIETNAM'S FAULT.  If the dude at the factory had just kept Chucky's "violence inhibitor" in place all the bloodshed could have been avoided.  I mean, what the fuck Vietnam?  The rest of this movie knows it's terrible and may even be proud of the fact.  Give it a spin.  You might find yourself liking it.



Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  The story of two friends around the time of the Manson Family murders.  It's much better than Tarantino's last film, which for me was the equivalent of watching paint dry, and it's also much, much better than The Haunting of Sharon Tate, which was also released this year.  The ending turns history - and Hollywood - on its head in brilliant fashion.

Some Good Ones

Spider-Man: Far From Home.  The plot doesn't make a great deal of sense but it's endearing in a goofy way.  For me Zendaya was the highlight of the movie.

Midsommar.  I can't say it works as a horror movie, but as a drama it succeeds.  It hints at a lot of things it never follows up on.  I freaking loved Hereditary by the way.

Crawl.  A father and his daughter trapped under a house, during a hurricane, with crocodiles.  Every time I see director Alexandre Aja's name in movie credits I think two things: 1) The Hills Have Eyes reboot was awesome, and 2) He was heavily involved in The Pyramid, which was terrible.  Luckily for me Crawl is one of his good movies.  And hey!  There's (Canada's) Barry Pepper!  Been a while since I've seen him in a good movie!  Good job, Barry Pepper!

Stuber.  An Uber driver and a cop join forces to fight crime.  It's completely derivative but surprisingly funny.  Dave Bautista is much better in this movie than in Escape Plan: The Extractors (below).

Point Blank.  This movie can't decide if it's a lighthearted, Midnight Run kind of thing or a gritty police drama.  80s music?  Fun!  Dudes abusing pregnant women?  Not fun!  Even so, Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo are both good in it and I've seen much worse examples of whatever genre this is.

The Farewell 別告訴她.  A Chinese woman living in New York returns to China to visit her ailing grandmother.  Chinese is obviously Awkwafina's second language, but she's a surprisingly good actress.

The Lion King.  Disney continues to update its back catalog.  This "live action" version follows the same story beats as the cartoon.  If you're a kid you'll like it.  If you're not you probably won't.

Skin.  A white supremacist tries to escape the movement.  Skin reminded me of two others movies: Manchester by the Sea and Imperium.  The former because it's centered around a man trying to make things right after making a terrible mistake; the latter because of the white supremacy theme.  I didn't like Skin as much as those two earlier films - mostly because the protagonist isn't as sympathetic - but it's still well put together.

Some Bad Ones

Escape Plan: The Extractors.  Kind of a lower-budget, Chinese-American version of The Expendables.  Sylvester Stallone stars as a man searching for a Chinese heiress, with Dave Bautista as his sidekick.  I haven't seen the other movies in this series, and also have no intention of doing so.

Darlin'.  "Feral" has been done much better in other movies.  In Darlin' a feral girl is taken in by the church.  No tension is generated, and the characters are completely uninteresting.  It might have been better if they'd upped the gore quotient, but no, they didn't do that.

The Red Sea Diving Resort.  It's hard not to compare this movie to Argo and The Red Sea Diving Resort suffers by the comparison.  None of the characters are adequately developed, and it can't quite decide if it's going for action or drama.



The Operative.  A woman with a mysterious past is sent to spy on Iran.  Leads Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman are convincing throughout and the screenplay was well written.

Brittany Runs a Marathon.  A young woman learns how to take control of her life through running.  This movie had me tearing up near the end.  I could totally watch it again.

Some Good Ones

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.  Leave your brain elsewhere.  Have a few beers.  Maybe invite a friend over and make some popcorn.  In that context Hobbs & Shaw is a pleasant experience.

The Kitchen.  After several gangsters go to prison their wives take over the family business.  I liked it, but: 1) it never really establishes why the wives are better at running the gang, and 2) wears out its welcome toward the end.  It's unfavorably compared to Widows, which I haven't seen, so maybe I'll be revising my opinion later.

The Peanut Butter Falcon.  A bit too long for its own good, but this story of a man with Down's syndrome who crosses paths with a man on the run is well acted and hits all the right notes.  It wouldn't surprise me if Shia Labeouf won an Oscar one day.

Light of My Life.  A father and his daughter try to survive after a plague kills most of the world's women.  Casey Affleck stars in, wrote and directed this one, and while it's good I can't say it offers anything that Children of Men and The Road haven't done already.

After the Wedding.  An American woman strikes a devil's bargain to acquire money for a school in India.  The excellent Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore star.  My only complaint about it is that it's a little to easy to anticipate what's coming.

Gwen.  A Welsh family contends with an ambitious quarry owner.  It'll remind you of The Witch.  The cinematography is beautiful, but damn this movie's depressing.

The Angry Birds Movie 2.  Surprisingly funny.  I haven't seen the first one, so not able to compare the two.

Ready or Not.  A newly married bride finds herself participating in a twisted game of hide and seek.  I'm not sure if it works as well as the more straightforward Would You Rather, but the actress who plays the bride is excellent.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette.  A family copes with a mother's depression.  It's not bad, but its backstory gets in the way of the larger story its trying to tell.  The character Cate Blanchett plays reminds me a lot of my mother.

Good Boys.  If Booksmart is Superbad with girls, Good Boys is Superbad with sixth-graders.  I'd be at a loss to say which is the funnier comedy of 2019, but they're both very good.

Burn.  Things take a turn for the weird after a desperate man arrives at a gas station.  The first half of this movie is awesome, though it wears out its welcome in the second half.  A great effort by a first time director.

Official Secrets.  Kiera Knightley stars as an intelligence analyst tryingt o keep Britain out of the Gulf War.  It's ok, but you'd be better served by Oliver Stone's Snowden.

Some Bad Ones

A Score to Settle.  Not bad maybe, but definitely not good.  Nicolas Cage stars as a man out for revenge.  Some of the most cliche dialogue you'll ever hear, and you'll see the plot twist coming from a mile away.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold.  Yeah, the actress who plays Dora is super cute, but who is this movie for?  Given that anyone interested in the cartoon wouldn't be older than five, why put Dora in high school?

The Art of Racing in the Rain.  A movie narrated by a dog that's somehow not for children.  And why the fuck would a dog care about car racing anyway?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  Supposedly for "younger horror enthusiasts," but how many of those younger horror enthusiasts would have the patience for this movie?  It's really, really boring.

Angel Has Fallen.  Gerard Butler stars as a secret serviceman charged with attempted assassination of the President.  It's a story that tells itself in the first half.  The second half is little more than random bits of violence.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged.  Four shapely young women find themselves pursued through an underwater Mayan city by blind sharks.  At several points this movie flirts with "so bad it's good" status, but at other points it's a real chore to get through.  The star of this movie is Sylvester Stallone's daughter.

Blinded by the Light.  I fucking hate Bruce Springsteen.  Absolutely cannot stand him.  So this story of a Pakistani boy in England who develops a love for the Boss was completely lost on me.  And oh, those scenes where the students engage in rebellious acts to the tune of songs like "Born to Run" and "The River?"  Nausea.  Pure nausea.

The Fanatic.  John Travolta stars as an autistic (?) man stalking a celebrity.  Say what you will about Travolta - he's certainly been in some bad movies - but for every three bad movies there's one that's actually good.  I'm on the fence about this one.  Travolta is good (if slightly over the top) in it, and the story's somewhat novel, but the ending falls flat.  This is a film aiming for that Taxi Driver vibe, but it somehow fails to reach that goal.

Don't Let Go.  A voice from the past helps a detective solve a murder case.  The police procedural parts of this movie are pure nonsense, but the real problem is that it's just not interesting.

Overcomer.  Sitcom-quality Christian movie about a coach rediscovering his spirituality.  In this movie's defense it's less amateurish than other Christian movies I've seen this year.

Jacob's Ladder.  Not sure what the point of this movie is.  If you've seen the original you'll see the plot twist coming, and if you haven't this remake makes it even easier to anticipate.  All this film really does is add more gore to the mix.



The Goldfinch.  A young boy bonds with a painting after the tragic death of his mother.  It requires a fair bit of concentration, but if you can calm yourself down enough for it it's very good.  This said, critics despised this movie, calling it as "lifeless" and "boring."  I loved it though.

The Sound of Silence.  Peter Sarsgaard stars as a man who "tunes" apartments.  It's a cool idea, and Sarsgaard is riveting throughout.

Hustlers.  The role Jennifer Lopez was born to play?  Quite possibly.  Constance Wu is also great as her partner in crime.  Yes, strip clubs are depressing places, and this movie doesn't shy away from that.

Judy.  The life and times of Judy Garland.  Renee Zellweger's been nominated for an Oscar for this one, and I think she deserves it.

Some Good Ones

It: Chapter Two.  Pennywise the clown returns to small town Maine to scare the fuck out of people.  It's not as good as the first and the ending is something of a foregone conclusion, but it does generate some scares.

Running with the Devil.  Nicolas Cage stars in this look at the cocaine trade.  The first have is well-paced and well-written, even if the movie loses steam toward the end.  Oh and look!  It's Canadian Barry Pepper!

Bloodline.  Seann William Scott!  Remember him?  The guy from American Pie.  No, not that one.  The other guy, Stiffler.  In Bloodline Scott stars as a full time high school guidance counselor and part time psychopath.  He's good in the lead, even if there's not quite enough to keep this movie going.

The Laundromat.  Steven Soderbergh-directed movie about international finance.  Meryl Streep is great in it, but it's extremely heavy-handed and the "comeuppance" received by Oldman and Banderas' characters doesn't justify the runtime.

Some Bad Ones

Ad Astra.  Pretentious space opera along the lines of High Life (above).  Brad Pitt tries to rescue his dad from madness and along the way physical laws are broken.  Just go see First Man.  It's way better.

Fractured.  Hey, it's Sam "Avatar" Worthington!  Haven't seen him in a while!  He's actually quite good in this movie, but this story of a man searching for his wife and daughter overstays its welcome.  Cutting thirty minutes off it would have worked wonders.

Prey.  I fail to understand how someone's dad getting stabbed to death by carjackers equals being sent to a Survivor-style camp in Malaysia.  I also fail to understand how any group in Malaysia - public or private - would be party to dumping rich Americans on uninhabited islands in that country.  Whatever.  You know that island's not really uninhabited, right?

So Bad It's Good

Rambo: Last Blood.  A better title would have been Rambo: Build the Wall.  At this point it's obvious that Stallone has completely lost touch with what made the character great in the first place, and in this installment he broods around and exacts vengeance - all without any police officers on either side of the border lifting a finger.  The violence in the second half is so over the top (get it?  get it?) that I couldn't help but laugh.



Joker.  Joaquin Phoenix, what can I say?  One of our time's great actors.  Director Todd Philipps also rises to the occasion, and even if it resembles films like Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy it also brings something new to the table.

The Kill Team.  A soldier learns the price of killing.  There have been a ton of great war movies, but I'd gladly add this one to the pile.

The Lighthouse.  Two men try not to kill each other and/or go insane while tending a lighthouse.  It's satisfyingly atmospheric even if I had to take a break halfway through.  It deserves the good reviews it's received.

The Current War.  George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison contend over the matter of direct current vs. alternating current.  The cinematography might be the best of 2019, and Michael Shannon is, as usual, awesome.

Some Good Ones

Low Tide.  A band of teenage burglars come across a bag of gold coins.  Very well put together movie.

Dolemite is My Name.  It took me quite a while to realize that 1) Rudy Ray Moore was an actual person, and 2) I'd already seen Dolemite years before.  In my opinion the only problem with this movie was the way it was marketed: they were trying to sell it as a comedy when it's really more of a drama.  Approach it as a drama and you'll enjoy it, approach it as a comedy and you'll be disappointed.

Little Monsters.  A zombie apocalypse almost ruins a kindergarten field trip.  It's not bad, but it could have been funnier.

Jojo Rabbit.  A little German boy learns how to be - or how not to be - a good Nazi.  I didn't find this movie as funny as I thought I would, but it's built on an interesting premise.

The King.  Never mind the fact that 15th century English would sound like gibberish to us, the way people in this movie talk is still chock full of anachronisms.  "A prized scalp?"  "Fucking?"  This aside, it's appropriately grave and there are some nice period details.

Countdown.  A new app tells people when they're going to die.  The first 3/4 of this movie is entertaining, but it could've done without the Catholicism.  It also gets a little retarded toward the end.

Wounds.  Armie Hammer stars as a bartender who picks up the wrong cell phone.  Definitely one of the best horror movies of 2019.  The only reason I don't put it in the "Excellent" category is that it gets a bit stage-y at times.

Some Bad Ones

In the Tall Grass.  Several people find themselves trapped in a field.  Thing is the story is kind of cool, and the first half is pretty good.  The second half, however, is a problem.  The characters make some inexplicable choices and it tries too hard to be arty.

Gemini Man.  A movie full of wtf moments if there ever was one.  Will Smith's conversations with himself grow steadily more embarrassing as the movie progresses.

Wrinkles the Clown.  Horror "documentary" about a clown that scares kids for money.  It's driven by a very thin premise and gets boring fast.

Zombieland: Double Tap.  People crack lame jokes and shoot zombies.  It tries hard to be funny but isn't.  You know what this movie needed?  Ryan Reynolds!

The Gallows: Act II.  Two sisters are terrorized by a haunted play.  This movie's very boring, even if the twist at the end is better than it ought to be.

Black and Blue.  Police drama that desperately wants to be Training Day... or End of Watch... or Colors... or any number of other, better cop films that straddle the racial divide.  Naomie Harris is such a great actress that she almost holds this thing together, but despite her best intentions it has plot holes big enough to drive a police cruiser through.


El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.  I never understood the craze for the TV show.  After trying to watch the movie I still don't understand it.  I got about halfway through and had to turn it off.



Motherless Brooklyn.  Noir film directed by, written by and starring Edward Norton.  Definitely on the slow side, but it builds to a satisfying conclusion without stretching its credibility.

Ford Vs. Ferrari.  This movie's like a well-oiled machine.  Both Bale and Damon are great in it.

A Good One?  You Be the Judge...

Terminator: Dark Fate.  Con(s): It's a far cry from T2.  But of course it is.  That movie was lightning in a bottle.  How could they copy that?  How could they do it again?  Pro(s): It's great to see Linda Hamilton, and this is a solid action movie.

Some Good Ones

The Irishman.  Another Scorsese masterpiece?  Not quite.  The de-aging of the stars was unnecessary, and parts of this movie find the director treading familiar waters.  It's undeniably good, but skipping the first hour makes for a much better viewing experience.

Doctor Sleep.  If you want to enjoy this movie this first thing you need to do is put The Shining out of you mind.  Easier said than done I know.  Horror movies are 90% atmosphere, and The Shining had crazy amounts of atmosphere.  This said, this movie suffers from two flaws, which are: 1) the actress playing the villain can't maintain the kind of presence demanded by the role, and 2) this sequel alludes too closely to its predecessor.  Doctor Sleep isn't bad, but no (of course!), it's not the The Shining.

Marriage Story.  Kind of like a latter day, less bitter version of Scenes from a Marriage.  Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver star.  Johansson and Driver are good in the lead roles, but the supporting characters get all the best lines.

Honey Boy.  Shia LaBeouf wrote and stars in this movie about his father.  This and The Peanut Butter Falcon (above) were his two films of 2019, and although I think he's better in that movie this one is good, too.  LaBeouf is at a lower point in his career right now, but he's an unquestionably talented actor and I'm sure we'll hear from him again.

Klaus.  Animated movie about the origin of Santa Claus.  It's about as derivative as you'd expect, but of course it's for kids so that's no surprise.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Pro: that sequence between Mr. Rogers pulling out the puppets and the journalist's "waking up in the castle" is excellent.  Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys are also great in the lead roles.  Con: the premise is a little too obvious, too on the nose for me.  I liked it, but something about this movie doesn't quite feel... earned?

Waves.  A family experiences a crisis.  It's a well written, well directed, well acted movie marred by some overly artistic cinematography.  The moments where the camera rotates 360 degrees and the weird prism effects were particularly irritating.

The Good Liar.  Ian McKellan and Helen Mirren star in this movie about a con artist courting a widow.  It's well acted, but parts of the story are very implausible.

21 Bridges.  Chadwick Boseman stars as a detective hunting a fugitive.  From a police procedural standpoint this movie's on par with the Die Hard franchise, but Boseman remains an actor good enough to keep the whole thing chugging along.

Dark Waters.  Mark Ruffalo stars as an attorney defending a West Virginia farmer against Dupont Chemical.  Long before the MCU, moody, Southern, conspiracy-centric movies like this were Mark Ruffalo's speciality, and he's on firm footing here.  The weird thing about Dark Waters is Anne Hathaway, who vanishes into the woodwork as Ruffalo's wife.

The Report.  Adam Driver stars in this look at the CIA's interrogation program post-9/11.  It's on the slow side but worth watching.

Some Bad Ones

Harriet.  The life and times of Harriet Tubman.  This movie couldn't be more melodramatic if it tried.

Midway.  Warning Sign: when the heroes in your big, dramatic war movie were all playing villains in last year's big movies.  And how did they manage to make Pearl Harbor seem boring?  Quite an achievement when you think about it.  The 70s version of this same story is no masterpiece, but somehow this version manages to be even worse.

Not My Thing

Knives Out.  Daniel Craig leads an impressive cast in this murder mystery.  Trouble is that I'm just not into murder mysteries.  It's certainly a well put-together movie, but yeah, just not into murder mysteries.


Playing with Fire.  Unfunny comedy about California firemen starring John Cena.  I only got about ten minutes in.  That was enough for me.

Last Christmas.  Part rom-com, part love letter to George Michael.  The characters are so deliberately quirky that my mind was wandering within the first ten minutes.  Keep trying, Emilia Clarke.



A Million Little Pieces.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as an addict going through rehab.  My mom has gone through this, and yeah, it felt very real to me.  The few critics that saw this movie weren't fond of it, but I thought it was great.

Uncut Gems.  Adam Sandler plays a jeweler with a gambling addiction.  None of the characters in this movie are likable, but the story is engaging and Sandler is terrific in the lead role.

Just Mercy.  Michael B. Jordan stars as a defense attorney, with Jamie Foxx as a convict on death row.  It's a very moving film that isn't afraid to examine the meaning of justice from several different angles.

1917.  Beautifully photographed movie about two British soldiers sent behind enemy lines.  Those expecting Hacksaw Ridge or Saving Private Ryan will want to calm themselves down for this one.  Just the same it's excellent.

Bombshell.  What a wonderfully subversive movie.  Take Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie and put them right in the middle of Fox News.  What have you got?  A movie that says a lot about America - both bad and good.  For me "best movie of 2019" is a close race between Bombshell and Her Smell, but yeah, this movie is definitely great.

Some Good Ones

Jumanji: the Next Level.  Pretty much as advertised.  Our heroes go into a video game (again), funny stuff happens, and various animals cause mischief.  Oh, and Karen Gillan is fine.

Richard Jewell.  A security guard is accused of terrorism.  It's not as engrossing as The Mule, Clint Eastwood's previous film, but it's good in an understated way.

Little Women.  Good, but despite its length it rushes certain things.  It also had a lot to build on.  There's a play, several movie versions, several TV versions and even an opera.  One of the best movies of 2019?  I wouldn't say so.  Again it's good, but not that good.

6 Underground.  Cartoonish action movie in which Ryan Reynolds leads a squad of mercenaries.  Certain plot elements are pretty fucking silly, but it's an enjoyable couple of hours for those willing to turn their brain off.

Some Bad Ones

The Aeronauts.  Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star as a couple of people in a hot air balloon.  Just go read/watch Around the World in 80 Days in one of its many iterations.  This movie adds little to that formula.

Togo.  I suppose if you wanted a kinder, gentler version of Willem Defoe's character in The Lighthouse you could watch Togo.  This Disney movie about sled dogs is beautifully photographed, but it's completely boring and completely predictable.  Hasn't Disney done this kind of film several times already?


Playmobil: The Movie.  I thought this might be like The Lego Movie.  You know, funny and sarcastic.  Turns out it's Disney-style musical.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  I'm so done with Star Wars.  I have no doubt this movie is better than The Last Jedi but I still have no desire to see it.

Cats.  I tried.  I was figuring on "So Bad It's Good" status, but the minute the cats showed up I got a bad case of the heebie jeebies.  This is one creepy looking movie.

Related Entries:

Superhero Movies From October 2018 Onward (9)
The Other Movie Oscars: The Late 1970s
Some Other Movies From 1978
Some Other Movies From 1976

NOTE: Sorry about the colors.  I was trying to color code for Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated movies, but Blogger's HTML Wizard took exception to this type of of chromatic exceptionalism.  The result is that some movies are highlighted in the wrong color, and others are highlighted in more than one.