It has to be said, 2019 sucked horribly in just about every way possible, with one glaring exception. It has been an amazing year for film. Moreover, it has been an amazing decade for film.
I’m genuinely beside myself with how many great movies have been released as of late. I dare say I can’t think of a better year for film since 2006, when No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood were released in the same year. Prior to that I might have to go all the way back to 1975 when Jaws and One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest both graced the big screen.
But even those years seem to only rival the quality we’ve gotten in 2019. Having said that, I’m looking back at my twelve favorite films of 2019 and ranking them as best I can. Twelve and not ten because it was such a great year for film, I don’t think I could restrict it to ten.
12. Child’s Play
This is a weird one because initially I had no desire to see the remake of Child’s Play.
For one thing, I don’t even like the originals that much. They’re okay, but they’ve never really been my bag. The premise never enthralled me.
Furthermore, the trailer for this looked generic as hell. Lastly, it’s not that I have a problem with Mark Hamill doing the voice of Chucky. Praise be unto his name. But if there’s one aspect of the originals I like, it’s Brad Dourif’s voice acting. For that matter, Dourif is one of my favorite actors period. You replace him with anyone and I’m going to have problems.
Despite all this, I came walking out of the theater with a huge smile on my face after watching the 2019 remake of Child’s Play.
I had some complaints. For one, I think Hamill was underused. For another, it’s weird to me that Chucky doesn’t even have a soul. But that’s the premise of this entirely new take on Chucky and I have to say, ultimately, it worked. It was hilarious, fun, and even a little bit scary for half a minute.
Final Score: 7.5/10
11. 3 From Hell
I’m a bit sad this isn’t higher up. Alas, this is one of those movies I like less and less the further away I get from it. When I first saw it, I loved it, but at this point I only like it a lot. It’s not a total misstep, it’s just nowhere near the level of The Devil’s Rejects. Still, there are some great sequences here, and Sheri Moon Zombie really kicked up her acting chops in 3 From Hell. I love the melding of Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses aesthetics, and the inclusion of Pancho Moler was the best part of the film.
Final Score: 8.0/10
Coming in at number ten: Not a horror movie.
Well, I said my favorite movies of 2019, not my favorite horror movies of 2019. In any case, Elton John dresses as The Devil at one point in Rocketman, so that basically makes this a horror movie, right?
I may be biased, as I’m a huge Elton John fan, but I fucking love this movie. The decision to make this a musical is, for me, is what sets it apart from other rock biopics. I feel like I’d have enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody more if this had been the route its filmmakers had taken. That said, I’m glad they didn’t, because I’m a bigger Elton John fan than I am a Queen fan, and Rocketman would have seemed tired if I’d just seen its formula in another movie.
Final score: 8.3/10
9. Doctor Sleep
Here’s the thing, The Shining is one of my all-time favorite movies. Ever. Period. End of fucking discussion. Don’t tell me it’s not as good as the book, because I already know it’s not as good as the book. It’s better. I realize Stephen King had his problems with it but I love every moment of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, from start to finish. And in the interest of full disclosure, I love Stephen King as well.
When I saw the trailer for Doctor Sleep, I was genuinely impressed by how amazing this movie looked. Recreating some of Kubrick’s iconic shots was a ballsy move, but in the end it’s that very gumption that makes the movie stand out from most sequels released decades after a predecessor.
Final score: 8.5/10
Initially, I didn’t like Us as much as I liked Get Out. After watching Jordan Peele’s second attempt at a social/political horror film three more times since its release, I have to say, I think I like it more than Get Out. Us has a more surreal feel than Get Out. It’s speaks on issues of poverty and class and tells a unique story that is oddly reminiscent of Twin Peaks.
Final Score: 8.5/10
7. Dolemite is my Name
I haven’t seen Eddie Murphy in an R-rated horror movie since 1999’s Life. Admittedly, I may be a little biased on this one because I’ve been awaiting Murphy’s return to raunchy comedy for twenty fucking years. I’m glad to say, Dolemite Is My Name, was the perfect movie to Mark such a return.
Now it may sound strange coming from a horror fan, but I truly believe comedy is the most difficult genre to write effectively. It relies so much on timing. That’s why, when I see a good comedy, it often gets a little more praise from me than other films. It’s rare that I like comedies, but when I do, I really fucking like them. Dolemite succeeds in being equal parts laugh-out-loud-funny and heartfelt. It also boasts an incredible acting performance from Murphy, so if you haven’t watched Dolemite is My Name yet, you really should get on that.
Final Score: 8.5/10
6. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Somehow, and I’m still not sure why, this movie was controversial. It wasn’t the first time a movie has shown Charles Manson or the Manson family. It wasn’t even the tenth time a movie has shown that. It wasn’t the first time a popular female actress didn’t have a ton of spoken dialogue in a movie. Furthermore, compared to most of the movies on this list, it wasn’t even particularly violent.
What Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is, is hilarious, suspenseful, beautiful shot, perfectly acted, and one of the best times a person could have had at the movie theater in 2019.
Final Score: 9/10
This movie was also controversial, but I do understand why in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Joker has inspired or will inspire any mass shootings, and even if it does, the perpetrator was just as likely to have been pushed over the edge by some other piece of media. So I’m still in the camp that believes Joker is a good movie. But I understand why it was so controversial.
Be that as it may, Joker was absolutely beautiful and as close to an art house film as we’ve ever seen breach the billion dollar box office threshold. For my money, film doesn’t get much more stunning than the moment Arthur Fleck slow dances alone in the bathroom after wasting a couple of rich boys on the subway.
Final Score: 9/10
4. The Nightingale
Okay, the title of “Most Fucked Up Movie Of The Year” goes to The Nightingale. Hands down. It’s not even close. The Nightingale is one of the most upsetting pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen, but sweet fucking Christ it’s amazing. It’s not only amazing, but I dare say it’s one of the most important films of the year too. It deals with a period in history most people are unfamiliar with called The Black War. It was an extremely dark period in Tasmania involving English colonization.
Watch this movie, but tread lightly.
Final Score: 9.5/10
3. The Irishman
This is an insane thing to say, for me, but I do believe this is my favorite Martin Scorsese movie ever made. It beats Goodfellas and Raging Bull, which is saying a lot for me. Joe Pesci defying our expectations by keeping things restrained was a pleasant surprise and Al Pacnino is just perfect as Jimmy Hoffa.
Final Score: 10/10
2. The Lighthouse
At this point, every movie going forward with is a 10/10 for me. My top three consists of only movies I found to be perfect and the ranking might be a bit arbitrary. Still, I think I enjoyed The Lighthouse slightly more than The Irishman if for no other reason than it might be the single beast usage of black and white cinematography in history. And if you know me at all, you know I’m all about the monochrome.
Final Score: 10/10
Once again, I’m biased. This is a film about a toxic relationship and a girl’s journey to escape that relationship. When this came out I was on a similar journey. Stuck in a bad relationship with someone I cared a lot about and didn’t want to split from. This movie put a lot of things into perspective for me. For that, I owe Ari Aster my eternal gratitude.
Final Score 10/10