Best and Worst of 2019

We are here again. Seemingly so soon, too.

I remember having great enthusiasm for this year, or certainly compared to 2018’s film roster, but now that we have reached the end of 2019 it is sad to admit that there have been a lot of disappointment in the last twelve months. Of course, like all of these particular posts, what follows is my opinions laid into an easy to read / easy to criticise list of good and bad.

If you are a Disney fan, you might want to brace yourself. Turns out making the most money in the year than any other studio doesn’t mean anything if all you produce is subpar at best.

Top 10 Theatre Releases 2019:

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1. Green Book
Released in late January, the reign of comedy director Peter Farrelly’s powerhouse drama was never threatened. One of two films given a five star rating on Cinema Cocoa, this film has everything. Following two men on a road trip, two completely different personalities who hate each other, slowly learning they might not be so different after all. It is funny, it is moving, it has heart, it is gripping, and it is perfect.
Read the Review here

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2. Joker
From the moment its trailer began earlier this year, Joker had our attention. What transpired was a harrowing, uncomfortable deep-dive into one of comic’s most warped and dangerous minds. All within the framework of modern social and economic disasters and issues we battle with every day. Joker isn’t just a film so brutal in its depiction of us, as human beings who let other human beings be left behind… but it one of the most visceral and genre-breaking comic book movies ever conceived.
Read the Review here

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3. Le Mans ’66 (Ford Vs Ferrari)
Passion and vision win over corporate ideals, every time. Le Mans ’66 is a superbly constructed sports film following Ford Motors entry into the famous motorsport competition dominated by Ferrari. With great attention to details, performances, and a 100% use of real race cars during the action sequences, as a fan of this sort of sport, there was so much to love about this film.
Read the Review here

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4. Us
Horror films are tedious to me these days, but every once and a while, someone like Jordan Peele comes along and makes an inventive, crazy and self-aware monster like Us. With fantastic and layered performances from everyone, especially Lupita Nyong’o, depicting a mentally fractured individual in both desperation and strength, and a warped animalistic insanity. With the spectrum of hokum that is Hollywood horror (from Hereditary to The Nun) it is great to see someone doing it right.
Read the Review here

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5. Rocketman
The fact that this is as high on the list is a testimony in of itself. First, I only went to see this out of obligation to the website; I had no particular interest in Elton John, and I don’t like musicals. Imagine my horror when I realised it was a musical. But damn, if this film didn’t sweep me away with its unique style and editing; allowing for full music numbers and dance routines to become scene transitions or even represent time passing. Awesome acting from everyone.
Read the Review here

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6. Vice
Perhaps not the greatest movie on this list (and its predecessor The Big Short is more genuine) but it is hard to deny that Vice is monstrously vile and difficult to watch enough that it is intensely memorable. Politically-driven movies (especially at such a media-fuelled, politically-divisive time as ours) will not sit well with everyone, but to understand some more of the truths around these events, and to see quite how selfish and self-centred politicians can be… It turns the stomach. At times cartoonishly, but the performances are excellent here.
Read the Review here

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7. IT: Chapter Two
The first film was an absolute powerhouse, and following up on it was no easy task. Chapter Two acquits itself perfectly in service of its better half by bringing closure for the characters and continuing the horror of Pennywise the Clown. With some great, sometimes too-accurate actors playing the adult versions of the kids, and Bill Skarsgård just being a total delight as Pennywise. Beautiful, eerie visuals, as well as unique and unsettling scene transitions and directorial style, I would happily rewatch both of these again!
Read the Review here

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8. Fyre
A Netflix original sneaking into the top ten. I didn’t know what to expect, having no prior knowledge of the Fyre Festival, but wow did I not expect to be so lack-jawed for the majority of this experience. A documentary about one of the worst open-air festival organisations in history, covered by many people from the centre of the event, the film uncovers perfectly how deceitful people can be, but also how gullible and susceptible the public really are. Fascinating.
Read the Review here 

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9. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
If you told the teenage version of me that not only would I go see a Pokémon film in cinemas, but I would also rate it in my top 10 for that year… I would have actually laughed in your face. But I must admit, Nintendo’s major step into a wider film demographic could not have gone better; it is quirky, bright (but also surprisingly dark) and so very adorable at times, that it really is a delight. Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith are excellent.
Read the Review here

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10. Avengers – Endgame
Yes. I put Detective Pikachu above this.
The Marvel/Disney machine has been immense and incredible to behold in its relative consistency at producing good products for an extremely wide audience. Avengers: Endgame is a colossal moment in the genre’s lifespan and will be a milestone for historians looking back. It is a film where our cast and crew get to indulge a little, after the superior Avengers: Infinity War, with some silliness and hamminess. It isn’t without its severity or passion, of course, and these moments are performed beautifully.
Read the Review here

All the other films, that didn’t quite make it into the top (or bottom) ten, in descending order!

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Stan & Ollie
The Good Liar
The Irishman
Mary Queen of Scots
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Shazam!
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Brightburn
How to Train Your Dragon 3
Ad Astra
Toy Story 4
Captain Marvel
Alita: Battle Angel
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker
The Dead Don’t Die
Gemini Man
The Lego Movie 2
Pet Sematary
Frozen II
The Lion King (2019)
Tolkien

Now for the bottom ten! In ascending order of badness.
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10. Missing Link
Much like I do with Disney, I treat Laika Studios with a heavier hand than with others. Because I know they are capable of great things. Laika Studios have created many of the best and most beautiful kids animated movies in recent years that are being criminally underappreciated by the public. However… films like Missing Link are nothing but a detriment to the studio’s good name. Get your act together, Laika.
Read the Review here

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9. Fast & Furious: Hobbs and Shaw
Do I need to explain myself? I guess I do…
This has to be one of the stupidest films I’ve had to witness, with one of the stupidest concepts in recent memory: UK and USA secret organisations team up by pairing together two men who hate each other (as in, tried to kill each other) to stop a cyborg terrorist. All in the universe of people pimping cars. There are a couple of fun moments towards the end, if you can get that far.
Read the Review here

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8. Men in Black: International
Men in Black should be one of the easiest franchises to expand, it really should. But, Sony being Sony, they screwed it up. Not only did they manage to deprive Tessa Thompson and Liam Hemsworth of any chemistry at all, but they also wrote a conspiracy storyline that was so transparently obvious from the start that the film sags into a boring, broiling mess of CGI distractions. We can scratch this franchise off the “hopefuls” list.
Read the Review here

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7. Terminator – Dark Fate
The people who say: “This is the best one since T2”, need to stop and admit that this franchise is clearly not designed to continue beyond 1991’s Terminator 2. If Dark Fate is supposedly the best shot we had at writing something new, even bringing back Linda Hamilton for it, well I am sorry but it is time to put this series to bed. Once again, the studio that brought us Terminator Genisys tries to retcon superior movies with exactly the same storyline only worse and without anything new.
New Terminator looked cool, and MacKenzie Davis was decent. That’s about it.
Read the Review here

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6. Aladdin
Oh dear, here we go. (You may notice that the live action Lion King narrowly escaped the bottom 10.)
The bafflingly Guy Ritchie directed Aladdin live action remake is so unnecessary that it becomes painfully obvious that we have to suffer through all of Disney’s back catalogue. The already capable Princess Jasmine has new empowering songs which take place inside her head and thus have no bearing on any other character, the magic carpet ride looks worse than it did animated, and Jafar’s terrible rulership feels like a minor inconvenience. Plus, no one can inhabit Disney’s Genie after Robin Williams.
Just stop, Disney. Please.
Read the Review here

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5. Dumbo
A sixty-minute pre-war animation about a flying elephant gets blown out of proportion as a two hour event, and what do they have to add? Nothing. The film’s idea of escalating drama is to have a different actor see Dumbo fly each time. Surely, after seeing the wonder of an elephant flying nine times, the audience will find it as equally magical the tenth or eleventh time, right?
What a tedious and pointless experience. At least Danny DeVito is having a laugh.
Read the Review here

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4. Crawl
Hey, wait a minute. This isn’t a Disney movie.
I had surprisingly high hopes for Crawl, a silly premise but potentially scary with some clever visuals, perhaps. However when the human stupidity factor was set to eleven from the opening, I knew I was in for a disappointment.
If you aren’t cheering for the alligators by the third act of this void of intelligence, then you really aren’t enjoying it at all are you?
Read the Review here

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3. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Good to see you again, Disney.
A sequel to a live-action butchering of a Disney legacy character that I happen to hold very close to my heart, this film actually managed to double-down on the butchery. Not only lying again in the trailer, and having Maleficent as a comedic, doting mother hen with superhero powers, or even further ruining the machinations and themes of the original further, but it even fails to follow its own predecessor!
Just stop, Disney. Please, stop. She’s already dead.
Read the Review here

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2. X-Men – Dark Phoenix
With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox and the X-Men franchise set to be rebooted into the MCU during Dark Phoenix’s production, it was doomed on arrival. Even without Disney buying the property, the Dark Phoenix story has already been botched once, so audiences weren’t exactly excited. It is a shame they just didn’t bother releasing it.
With a massively convoluted plot, the characters are many and themes are lost, becoming a shambolic mess without weight or significance.
Read the Review here

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1. Hellboy (2019)
What a gigantic pile of complete garbage this was.
Apart from the odd visual design, and David Harbour’s casting, everything here is a noisy, panic-inducing mess that absolutely does not need to be seen. This film never stops for a breath; it must have action, it must forsake basic filmmaking principles (like pacing, or establishing shots, or scene progression) so it can have more action scenes. Yet, none of those scenes feel related to each other.
Just watch the Guillermo Del Toro films, for goodness sake.
Read the Review here

And that is it for 2019!
I am sorry if I missed any of your favourites, and perhaps that is why I am so underwhelmed by this year’s run of films. Either that or expectations were too high going into it.

2020 could be interesting. It could also be full of duds as well. But one thing is for sure: we have no Star Wars films to contend with.

For our Marvel slate: the curious Black Widow entry and The Eternals could soar or sour. We also have two from outside of Disney and Marvel: Mobius the Living Vampire, as well as Venom 2. Both extremely important for Sony’s bid at competing against the now ponderous MCU.
DC has a couple of heavy-hitters: Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey, possibly the end of the “Snyder-era” movies, what with Joker being such a massive success.

There’s a lot of oddballs that we just have to wait and see how they turn out. Ghostbusters: Afterlife, another remake of The Grudge, Godzilla Vs King Kong, Top Gun: Maverick, Bill and Ted: Face the Music.

Personally, Denis Villeneuve directing a remake of Dune is the most fascinating prospect, as well as Disney’s original and animated film Raya and the Last Dragon.

Luckily, we only have one Disney live action remake to contend with, Mulan, and we all can see how disastrous the Sonic movie truly is!

It is a year of unknowns! 20/20 is not the case with the new year.

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