So I’ve now run out of films to review and might not be able to review any for quite a while. So to make up for it I’m going to be doing other blogs to fill in the time. This is a blog that was half-written but never posted as I realised it would be a bit weird to post a blog about the best films of 2019 in March of 2020, it felt a bit late. It felt like a shame as some of the films deserved me gushing over how brilliant they are, so now’s the time. Simple enough, I just needed to complete the half-written blog and post, easy. Well, it would have been if I didn’t delete the original like a fucking dumbass. So keep in mind a lot of this is based on films I haven’t seen for over half a year.
I thought this would be fun. It looked fun, and it had a short run time, which for a film like this is usually an indicator that it will move at breakneck pace. The opening scene is a discussion between the killers, and it’s dull. The actual plot doesn’t kick off until way too far into it. Nowhere near as fun as it should be.
It Chapter Two
Far far too long, not enough Pennywise, and it had too many flashbacks of characters we knew were going to survive. It’s a shame as I genuinely love the first one, and I thought I enjoyed this. But the more distance I have from this film, the more the flaws are apparent.
I sent the trailer for this to someone I used to work with, that’s how much faith I had in this film. That faith was totally misguided. This film just did not work. The story was boring, it was too in debt to the Superman mythos to stand out on its own, and it wasted a brilliant premise. On the plus side I’m interested to see what happens next.
The trailer made it look better than it was. The issue is that it was building towards something we knew was happening. We were waiting for something to happen and to see how it would develop, instead what we were waiting for turned out to be the end. It would be like if Halloween only featured Michael Myers in the last 20 minutes.
“It’s a werewolf movie set during ancient Roman times, this is going to be great”. Spoilers; it was not great. Yeah, you’re going to be seeing this film getting mentioned a lot in this blog, and there’s a reason for it.
I don’t really like country music, but I loved it in this. “Three chords and the truth” is how the character describes it, and when she sings, you believe it. I’ve watched the film once, about a year ago, and I still find myself occasionally singing the main song from it.
Almost entirely because of the really good remix of I Got 5 On It. Although the use of Les Fleurs was damn near perfect.
It’s a shit load of Elton John songs, so of course it’s going be good. Taron Egerton is REALLY good at capturing his voice.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
This film should have more uncanny valley moments than it does. Plus the visual world-building is a sight to behold.
It’s not easy to do a film about Elton John. You need to make it look flamboyant without being distracting. This film manages it. It turns out Dexter Fletcher is really good at this, genuinely wouldn’t have guessed.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Yes, I didn’t like the film, but the look was perfect. It genuinely felt like it was from a different time. The atmosphere it created was near perfect.
The world design for this was picture perfect. This is a gotham that NEEDS Batman. This isn’t a neon-dreamspace you can sell with McDonalds toys. This isn’t “avoid the bad areas”, EVERYWHERE is a bad area with a few exceptions of where the rich live.
Purely for the number of times I watched this film and thought “that would make a cool poster”, it also has one of my favourite closing shots of all time.
Toy Story 4
There were a few moments here where I thought “hmm, they look slightly plastic” and then realised that the characters are plastic, they’re toys. I was so taken in by the animation that I occasionally forgot that. Plus they made rain look real, which is REALLY hard to pull off in this kind of animation.
John Wick 3
The action scenes in these are usually the highlight of the year in terms of how well designed they are, this was no exception. The choreography is again great, and the world they take place in really suits it. The colours, the set design, the cinematography, all of it adds up to some superb visuals.
The colour schemes, the visual foreshadowing, all of it was just so damn magnificent.
Normally “a good looking film” means it’s visually busy and crammed with intricate details, this is the opposite. The use of space (lol, pun) in this film is masterful. It genuinely confused me how this film didn’t do better. You watch this and you really feel his isolation. Everything seems so empty and hopeless. I love it.
Almost entirely for the woeful CGI in one of the final scenes. I’ve genuinely seen better in PS2 games.
The make up in one moment of this was AMAZING. They genuinely made it look like the actress had been savaged by a werewolf, the scars looked real and they looked aged. If this was just a “worst make-up” award this film wouldn’t be listed at all. But this is “worst looking” in general, so that’s make-up, visual effects, directorial choices, and editing. It’s that last one where this REALLY fails. There are scenes where it cuts to a character every time they speak, no matter how short what they say is. That line about the bad editing for Bohemian Rhapsody? It could easily be used here, except I don’t want to find an example of it, lest I accidentally watch a single second of this turgid piece of crap ever again.
No, this did not look worse than the others in this list. But I believe it’s a worthy winner because a film with a budget this big should not have CGI as ropey as this. It’s shameful how bad it was at times. It sucks but expectations to have to be taken into account for things like this. If you went to an open mic comedy night and one of the comedians there stumbled over their words and had to rely on notes, you’d still find them funny. If, however, you paid through the nose for a gig at Wembley Stadium and the comedian did that, you’d consider it money wasted. That’s why even though it’s not the worst, it “wins” the worst.
Rocketman: Taron Egerton
He didn’t really look like him, but his performance completely encapsulated the character.
Wild Rose: Jessie Buckley
The whole film is anchored on her performance, and she carries it expertly. It helps that she has a good singing voice, but her non-singing vocal performance is also to be commended. Her emotions and worries are there for us all to see, as is the characters attempts to hide them.
Joker: Joaquin Phoenix
What can I say about this performance that hasn’t been said already? Absolutely nothing considering how much the awards wanked over it. There’s a reason for it though; his performance is utterly compelling.
IT Chapter Two: Bill Hader
I was genuinely surprised by how great his performance is in this. He’s sharing the screen with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Skarsgard. His performance outshines all of them. It is mostly comedic but the emotion he gives it really elevates it.
Us: Lupita Nyong’o
Everyone in this plays their dual roles perfectly, but Lupita carries it off best (with Winston Duke as a very close second). It’s not just her movements and vocals that show the difference between the two, the way she holds herself is different too. You can have pictures of the two of them sitting in a chair and figure out which one is which.
It’s hard to narrow it down to a single performance in this, they were all so bad. Such a talented cast too, starring the writer/director, the editor…..okay I see what they did. Even as a film student I wouldn’t have pulled that shit, I got actual actors (and paid them in cake), so there’s no excuse for a feature film aiming at cinema release to pull this shi.
Hellboy: Sasha Lane
A bad accent can make you forget everything else about a performance. Does anybody remember Dick Van Dyke’s mannerisms from Mary Poppins? Or how he carried himself? No, because they were too distracted by the terrible accent. It’s similar here, it’s distractingly bad. At times it wanders into slightly Australian via New York. It was directed by someone who’s directed a few episodes of Game Of Thrones, so he MUST have been able to recommend an actual English actor. It was being filmed in the UK, so it’s not as though “oh, well it will be easier to get an American performer”. I’m not saying you have to be English to play an English character, but if you’re not then you have to put at least some effort into convincing us you are, and she doesn’t.
Killer Kate: Alexandra Feld
No matter how good she was, it would not have saved this movie; but it might have made it slightly watchable if her performance was tolerable. The trouble is that it is so wooden I don’t even have the energy to make an immature erection joke at the word “wood”. It reminds me of me when I try to act, not believable and with zero emotion. It’s so bad I’m convinced it’s a parody. I felt kind of nervous about writing this in case it seemed like bullying. But it is SO bad. I have no idea how she passed the audition, but the fact she was married to the writer/director must have had a hand in it (but for his sake I hope he got more than a hand out of it).
Ben Is Back: Holly Burns-Beeby (played by Julia Roberts)
Over the last few years I’ve really started to GET Julia Roberts. I think it’s because of how great she was in the supremely underrated Secret In Their Eyes and Money Monster. She’s picking really interesting characters lately, and this one is no exception. A mother who has to stand by her drug-addicted son. Her character is one borne of frustration, anger, and love. The moment where she yells at the Alzheimer-riddled doctor who was responsible for her sons’ addiction is brilliant to see and really highlights the role of prescription drugs in drug addiction.
Happy Death Day 2 U: Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Roth)
She is a big part of why this film works. She is so…human. Even her stupid decisions are ones which you understand her reasons for making. Her growth over the two films are a sight to behold. This is the best example of that character though. Underneath all the bluster and confidence is someone who is still haunted by her mothers death. When she has to make the decision about going back to her own reality and abandoning her mum in the present multiverse, you truly feel her pain.
The Day Shall Come: Moses Al Shabaz (played by Marchant Davis)
This is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. You are rooting for this character throughout the film, so when the inevitable happens it just breaks you. His motivations are clear, his relationships with the other characters make sense, and his actions always make sense. Every single decision he makes is based on a weird kind of logic. This is one of the few films where I wanted a happy ending, yes it would have felt unnatural, but damn this guy deserved a break.
Good Boys: All of them
I’ve said it before and I will say it again; these characters were so smartly written. They’re in that awkward age where you start making sex jokes, but you have no idea what sex is. It’s a tricky line to walk, if you write them as too young they seem like idiots, but if you write them as too old it seems unrealistic. This strikes the perfect balance between the two and is all the better for it.
Knives Out: Marta Cabrera (Played by Ana De Armas)
Her character would be quite easy to dislike if she was badly written. Thankfully the script injects her with just enough warmth that you are rooting for her throughout the film. Her character, more than any other in this list, is helped by the other characters reactions to her. Every time one of the family members talks to her they say “I wanted you at the funeral, but other people objected”, every single one. Plus, every time they mention where she’s from they say a different country, indicating that they don’t actually pay much attention to her. It’s almost as though they don’t see her as a nurse (and certainly not as a close family friend, no matter what they say), and instead see her as “the help” for the family. This is best showcased in a scene where a character is mid-conversation with her and hands her his empty plate, as if to say “go take that out for me”. The best part about these moments? They’re easily missed. They don’t have attention drawn to them, not explicitly mentioned, no reaction shots, nothing.
I Don’t Get It
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile
I just didn’t vibe with this. Part of it may have been because I was watching it on a laptop, which is never a good way to watch a movie and always requires a film to work hard to overcome it (so far the best example of a film doing it is The Last Word). I get some people would like this, but for me it was just a bit dull. I was never invested in the story or the characters. It spent a lot of time treating the audience like they didn’t know that Ted Bundy was a serial killer, and I don’t really get why.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
It seemed like almost everybody loved this film, except for me and about 2 people I know. I just found it lacking any form of coherent structure or purpose. So much of it felt like it was just padding, like it didn’t justify it’s own existence.
I saw quite a few good reviews for this, oddly enough praising the things I didn’t like about it; how the characters were dumb and some bits didn’t make sense. Why are these seen as good things?
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie. But for it to get THAT many Academy Award nominations? No, just no.
If Beale Street Could Talk
I wanted to like this film, it seems very important and with a story that needs to be told. I just felt it wasn’t told in an effective way. For two reasons: the narration and the length. Some scenes had a natural ending point, and then decided to continue on for a few minutes long. The narration didn’t really add anything a lot of the time and it felt like it assumed the audience were dumb.
The rest of the film was nice, but the way these scenes were set up…I loved it. Was so well done, and you could easily follow the action because of how well directed it was.
Avengers: On Your Left
Yes this film was all over the place, yes it closed off many other potential films which would have been interesting. But that moment, where everyone we love from the franchise starts making their return? Very satisfying.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio Acting
Okay that’s not exactly what happens. But there’s a moment in this film where DiCaprio’s character forgets his lines. But then gives a superb performance motivated by his own fear. It’s an incredibly powerful moment full of nuance and unsaid character motivations.
Spiderman Far From Home: Post-Credits
The scene which changed the arc going forward, and is without a doubt one of the most important post-credits scenes in the MCU. Not only is JK Simmons in this franchise, but Peter Parker’s identity has been revealed. A great double whammy and a genuine shock.
When you realise what’s actually happening, and how widespread it is. I distinctly remember thinking “you magnificent bastard”. It was set up SO well and was an incredibly satisfying reveal.
Knives Out: Ending
Truth is, there are so many perfect moments in this that it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to narrow it down to one then it would be this bit. The first reveal is incredibly satisfying and goes against all your expectations, but the ending for this is sooo well done. The genuine reveal leading up to it is superbly written, and the closing shot might just be one of the most simplistically brilliant that I’ve ever seen.
Childs Play: the ending
Okay, not the very end. But once everyone was locked in the toy store the carnage felt incredibly subdued, it should have been bigger. It felt like the whole film was building to this scene and it felt really neutered.
Stuber/Good Boys: fight scenes
I’m counting these as one because they do the same thing, and it has the same effect on both films. They’re fight scenes which just break up the momentum of the film, not only that but there are things done in the film which would kill someone if they actually happened. So when they’re just shaken off in this it reminds you that you’re watching a film.
I Love My Mum – Fake Cancer
Right near the end the mother character admits that she faked having cancer because she didn’t want her son to leave. Now already she was unlikeable, but that pushed her into being hateable and ruined any dynamic the two of them had.
Escape Room – The Opening
There were a lot of options from this film. I was tempted to go with the cliche “rich people are placing bets” ending. Instead, I went with this because it showed a character alive, then spent 80% of the film catching up to that moment, so any scenes where that character nearly died were devoid of any tension.
The Wolf – The Opening
5 seconds. That’s all it took for me to go from “this film is going to be amazing” to “this will be a steaming pile of shit won’t it?”. That’s a record (Hellboy came close with the narration though). Too much happened offscreen, the acting was bad, and the editing was woeful. Kind of like the film itself tbh.
This is your typical British film, which means it’s incredibly heartwarming. Yes, you’ve seen it before, but it knows the best way to engage emotionally with you, and you’ll have to have a heart of stone to not feel affected by it.
Ben Is Back
This has a different kind of beauty, the beauty of love that a family has for each other. A love that involves you hating each other occasionally when they deserve it. But this means that when the sweet moments do hit, they hit a lot harder than they would otherwise.
This film is incredibly sweet in a way I didn’t expect. It really showcases that awkward age where you’re not mature enough to be a teen, but you’re not a kid. It’s a weird time in life and it’s refreshing to see a film approach it so honestly whilst talking about male friendships during that stage in life.
Stan And Ollie
A tale of friendship, of loss, and of age. It’s helped by the performances, but the film, in general, is just so touching that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. This was one of the first films I saw in 2019, so it set a kind of high bar for the rest of the year.
This film shows the power of music, how it can change peoples lives and how much of themselves people put into their art. incredibly powerful and a real surprise highlight of the year.
Yes it could have gone further, but there were quite a lot of moments in this which did make me wince. Plus the scene where the guy in the costume sprayed blood all over a group of kids was disgustingly brilliant
For one moment and one moment only; someone’s finger being chopped off with a cookie cutter. Came out of nowhere and you REALLY felt it.
IT: Chapter 2
This film had many flaws. But it was visually well done, and some of the gore was incredible. This is mainly here for one other moment: the homophobic beating at the start. It’s…..it’s ugly.
If Beale Street Could Talk
The racism inherent in the American law system is disgusting, and this film highlights it incredibly well. To the point where you yourself feel beaten and trapped by the end of the film.
The Day Shall Come
The film alone is depressing, but when you read up on it and read the cases it’s based on, it becomes even more so. This is a film which should light a revolutionary fire underneath you, but because everything is so bleak and depressing at the end it just makes you wonder what’s the point; the system will win and will rig the game to keep certain people down, and it’s all legal. We’re fucked as a species.
This film lost me in the opening scene. It was trying so damn hard to be mature that it came off as childish. I’d have loved this if I was a 14-year-old boy, but when I was 14 I also thought that one day I’d be happy, so I was fucking idiot back then. It also features some of the most embarrassing CGI I’ve ever seen.
“surely this can’t be as bad as everybody says?” It can, and don’t call me Shirley (I make the most original jokes). A film so bad it taints the X-Men franchise (and this was a franchise that survived Last Stand and Origins). I think that’s the worst thing about it, it takes all the goodwill built up by Logan and flushes it down the toilet, and then blocks the toilet and makes you unblock it by hand, leaving you holding shit and shit-water and wondering what the point is.
I can’t remember the plot of this film, and I don’t think the people who made it can either. It was apparently mostly improvised, and it shows. The scenes don’t move forward, don’t serve the overarching narrative, it was like watching someone’s holiday videos.
I’ve said a lot of bad things about this movie, and will continue to say more, and for a good reason; it’s awful. It starts off with a way-too-long scene of the killers just sitting around talking in a manner which isn’t consistent with their later characterisation (and we don’t see them again until the 40 minute mark. We then cut to boring family drama for about 30 minutes before the horror starts. It’s not even good family drama which lets us enjoy the characters, so many of the scenes are not needed; I would love the makers of this film to explain the purpose of a 2-minute scene where characters flip through television channels. The entire film is full of moments like that, scenes which don’t advance the plot, aren’t scary, aren’t funny, and don’t tell us anything about the characters. Essentially, they’re worthless
Obviously, this was going to win. I maintain this will remain the worst film I ever see at the cinema in my entire life. This wouldn’t even get a passing grade at a film school. I saw it for free and still want my money back. The acting, the script, the fact that they couldn’t afford tracks so every time that characters spoke they had to stand completely still even when they were supposed to be moving quickly to escape something. I forgive every bad word I’ve said about any film, because this film is the one that truly deserves my vitriol.
Academy Award nominations for Bohemian Rhapsody: 5. Academy Award nominations for this: 1. That should not be the case. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did better. It suited the artist better, it had a more unique visual look, it was more honest about the subject etc. Whilst we’re on the subject, how in the blue holy hell fuck did Bohemian Rhapsody win “best editing”. Look at it! That scene’s got so many cuts it’s being used to execute people in China. The Bohemian Rhapsody finale was about the performance, the finale of this was more focused on the personal. You learn a lot more about Elton John through this than you ever did about Mercury in the Bo-Ho. Also, it reminded me of how many great songs Elton John has done.
Toy Story 4
I can’t think of another franchise which has maintained this high level of quality four movies in. By this point of a franchise, the quality has got so bad that the next movie is a soft reboot. This continues the high benchmark that the first three have set. I’ve been nervous about the quality of these films every single time I’ve been to watch one, and every time I’ve been shown to be a fool (I’m used to that though). Normally Toy Story films wait until near the end to hit you with emotions, this goes the Up method of teabagging you with its emotional balls right off the bat.
Films like this just highlight how stupid the Academy are for ignoring horror films so much. This film is a visual and thematic masterpiece. Is it as good as Get Out? It’s hard to tell, this had higher expectations thrust upon it because of Get Out, and the fact that it managed to not be hated despite that points to how strong a film this is.
I think this was the last film I saw of the year, and it seemed like 2019 saved the best for last. Warning, you will see a lot of mentions for this film in this blog. So if you didn’t like it, prepare for a lecture on why whilst opinions are subjective and as such can’t be right or wrong, yours is still wrong. A near perfect film that I REALLY struggled to find negatives with. Every so often I remember a moment from this film and think ‘damn that was impressive”