2019 Movies: Best of the Year.

My top ten list of best movies from 2019 from Letterboxd. Yes, I know it’s June of 2021 so this list is a year-and-a-half late but here it is. The list also includes twelve movies, which is not ten, but whatever.

‎2019, a list of films by chatchaat • Letterboxd

2019 was a top heavy year for movies. Meaning many great or really good movies, many bad movies, and few in the ‘not great but watchable’ category. My Letterboxd list has twenty-four movies rated at 2/5 stars or below yet only twelve rated at 4/5 or better.

My pick for best of the year is Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s ode to the Hollywood and Los Angeles of his childhood. This a true masterpiece of movie making. I realize Parasite won Best Picture but I think it’s just a little overrated. Good not great and the message people take from it is wrong in my opinion.

2019 also features many truly awful movies from a lot of really famous people. I’ll get to those in another post.

A caveat to this list is that I did not see Uncut Gems or JoJo Rabbit. Adam Sandler is possiblly tops on my list of actors to avoid and after what Taika Watiti did to Thor in Thor: Ragnarok I will never watch anything he either stars in or directs. Both of those movies got great acclaim so take this list with a grain of salt I suppose.

Phenomenal in every way. It’s only flaw is that is not long enough. Even at 2:40 it isn’t long enough for my liking. And that’s figuring in that the main plot of the movie does not begin until almost two hours into it.

I’m not a fan of QT in general. The last movie of his I saw in a theater was Jackie Brown, which I both hated and was bored by. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction I saw in the theaters and while Dogs is ok at moments, and Pulp has two scenes I really love (the ‘Say what again’ part of the breakfast scene and Christopher Walken telling the childhood Bruce Willis character about his death in Vietnam) I found both to have too much nonsense dialogue. Hateful 8 is just a bad movie and I have never sat through Inglourious Bastards, though the pub scene I enjoyed. Prior to OUATIH my favorite Tarantino movie was True Romance, which he wrote but was directed by Tony Scott. True Romance is on my all time top ten favorite movies list. So in 2018 when previews started to drop I was undecided as to see this or not. I honestly thought it looked kinda dumb. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio mug for the cameras while pretending to be guys from the sixties.

I did decide to see this and by Christmas had seen it maybe ten times in theaters (I was even fooled into seeing the “extended” cut that showed up in October). From the opening ding of the Sony chime and the crackling of the old school style film I was hooked. Instantly. The mood, the atmosphere, the costumes, the music, the sets, the acting, the nostalgia for a time I did not exist in…everything about this movie I loved. Pitt is great. DiCaprio is great. Al Pacino, Julia Butters, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant are all great. Pitt as Cliff Booth is so cool his negative qualities, of which there are many, wouldn’t want to stop me or you from hanging out with him. This is possible Pitts best work. Dicaprio is terrific in a role that has him play three different characters. He deserved a best actor Oscar for this more than Revenant in my opinion.

I left the theater so happy and excited that I almost got in my car and drove to California.

A perfect movie. The acting, the dialogue, the story, the mystery, the direction, the set design, pacing, everything. Just a perfect movie. Rian Johnson got royally screwed out of the best original screenplay Oscar. And best director if Tarantino wasn’t going to win it. Craig’s accent was so good, whatever he was going for. He can be such a great actor outside of the Bond films, which are bad and he’s bad in. Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Ana De Armas, Lakeith Stanfield and down the line every role was perfectly cast. The mystery was not easy to figure out, at least not for me.
About halfway through Little Women the March girls are playing dress up in the attic and I thought to my, “I’m a middle-aged man. Is this movie for me? Should I really be watching it.” I love the book and that’s why I was there. And I left the theater happy I went. I also left the theater thinking the best actress Oscar was Saoirse Ronan’s to lose she is so good and the movie is hers. She drives it, pushes it, pulls it, etc. The time jumps didn’t confuse me, as some complained, and Greta Gerwig’s direction and screenplay adaptation are tremendous. Can’t say if her adaptation is better than Waititi’s is for JoJo Rabbit, but it’s Oscar worthy (Gerwig was nominated for directing and writing Lady Bird as well. I prefer Little Women). An odd thing is that although I loved this movie the first time I saw it I haven’t been able to watch it since.
Much better than it got credit for, and definitely deserving more than the 68% it has on Rotten Tomatoes. Ultimately the movie accomplished nothing. Fox News still exists. And while some of the real people featured in the movie are gone from the channel Fox News continues to spew out lies and anti-democracy baloney twenty-fours hours a day. Charlize Theron proves that without a doubt she is the best actor going today. Her transformation into Megyn Kelly is so complete it’s hard to distinguish her from the real thing. Not just the makeup and prosthetics but the voice, the way she walked and sat and held herself…she’s a dead-on ringer for Kelly. The acting is good all around. Like with Allied in 2016 I can’t understand why Bombshell didn’t get more praise. My only problem with the movie is the Kate McKinnon character. Was she based on a real person? Does the movie really need a subplot of a liberal democrat lesbian to act as a guide? This whole story line felt out of place.
Another underrated movie and Eastwood’s best since Gran Torino. Eastwood’s practice of doing the minimum amount of takes possible doesn’t hurt him here as a great cast know what do when the director says “Action” (although I’ve heard Eastwood doesn’t say “Action” just whispers something like “Whenever your ready”). Not saying that Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde are great actors but they are pros and play their roles well. Kathy Bates, Sam Rockwell, and Paul Hauser are all great. Hauser especially so. Richard Jewell does a good job of showing Jewell as he was, a bit of a loser who had delusions of his own importance, and the treatment he received from both the FBI and the press (While watching this I was reminded of the Season 4 Criminal Minds episode ‘Amplification’ in which they assist the Army in finding a terrorist releasing anthrax in Virginia. They profile him and the Army General in charge says something about how their profile was wrong in Atlanta about Jewell and Hotchner comes back with how the profile was ultimately right the DOJ just jumped the gun in investigating Jewell. Nice try at covering for helping to ruin the guys life.) was despicable. They ruined his life only because he was a fat shlubby loser who lived with his mom and work as a rent-a-cop. Seriously. After what happened to Jewell why would anyone ever stick their neck to help others? At any rate this is a really good movie and the scene at the park with the concert leading up to the explosion is masterful.
Richard Jewell completed my top five of the year. At six I have The Art of Self-Defense. A really really really dark movie. Man, really dark. I can’t think of another word that best describes the tone of this movie other than dark. When I left the theater I thought, ‘Wow. That was a really dark movie.” Jesse Eisenberg is great as a wimpy dude who gets beat up and decides to take up karate to better defend himself. Eisenberg was equally good in Vivarium, another movie he co-starred with Imogen Poots. Vivarium is more of a Twilight Zone style horror movie where TAOSD is a dark comedy, but Eisenberg is good in both. I much prefer him doing more serious things than that annoying fast talking quippy thing he usually does. Poots plays a student at the karate school, which is run by Alesandro Nivola. Eisenberg learns more than karate at the school and the ending is a bit unexpected. Worth a watch.
So great, so scary, and so weird and creepy. Midsommar is an unbelievable follow up to Hereditary, Ari Aster’s massively underrated debut film (Toni Collette should have earned a best actress nom). And I say an unbelievable follow up simply because I didn’t expect the same director’s first two movie to be so good (for reference look at Us vs Get Out, Jordan Peele’s first two directorial efforts. Weak ending notwithstanding Get Out is a great movie but his follow up, Us, is terrible). The build up to the reveal is good, the way the characters are fooled is done so well. Florence Pugh is awesome in the role of the ‘final girl,’ and the guy who plays her boyfriend is great too. My problem with Midsommar is the length, the 140 minute run time can be felt, and the ending is too similar to the ending of Hereditary. I also don’t like movies in which the bad guys win.
Parasite is a good movie and I liked it but it is not a great movie like many reviewers claim. I also have issues with this being called some kind of indictment of the wealthy and income inequality. Parasite is a horror movie and a family of con artists targeting a wealthy family for deception and theft and ultimately destruction. The family of con artists live in a basement apartment that gets flooded when it rains and is a frequent location of drunks urinating outside their window. The wealthy family is a family supported by a man who started a software business that became successful. The wealthy family are nice people. Average just upper class. They are not shown mistreating people at any time. I do not understand how they became bad. They are the protagonists of the movie. The poor family are the primary antagonists (there is a secondary antagonist) and aren’t content until they’ve taken everything away from the wealthy family. They also eat constantly. If them eating is supposed to be commentary I missed what it is. Parasite’s other problem is that it is too long and has a serious draggy point near the two hour mark. And the bad guys win. A good movie but not the best of 2019.
A basic set up for a monster/horror movie. A hurricane has caused a town to flood and alligators have followed the flood waters to a town and house and are terrorizing a young woman and her father. The goal for the woman and her father is to escape the house before both flood waters and gators kill them. The movie could have used a little more set up but the acting is good, there are some decent scares, and enough gore without overdoing it. Crawl may not be the typical top ten of the year pick but in a top heavy year it belongs.
Part of the Baztan Trilogy, The Legacy of the Bones stars Marta Etura as Spanish detective Amaia Salazar who has to solve many cases including rape, murder, serial killing, profanation (defiling of a church) while trying to care for her four month old daughter. This is the second of three movies starring Etura as Salazar. All are good adult dramas starring a charismatic lead. You can find them on Netflix.
Another fine adult drama that has no action but is not boring. I credit the acting of Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. Both are excellent as school district superintendents who run an award winning district while also embezzling from it. A student reporter ends up breaking the story that leads to their downfall.
The sequel to Happy Death Day. Happy Death Day 2U is more sci-fi than horror and a little more light in tone than scary. Not as good but still worth a watch. The set up is basically the same. Jessica Rothe’s Tree is stuck in another time loop where she gets repeatedly murdered and has to find a way out. She has help this time from some nerdy science students and her boyfriend. The reason why the time loop occurs is explained, though Happy Death Day worked without an explanation.

The Worst of the Year

This list contains the seventeen movies that I gave 1.5/5 stars or less. Lots of big names and high profile movies but bad nonetheless.

Ad Astra, Brad Pitt’s space science exploration movie. I was bored. From beginning to end. Cliched. Protagonist is obsessed with work, to the point his marriage is suffering, the Earth is in danger and only the protagonist can save it, and he has a strained relationship with his father, whom he not only loves but worships so much that it appears his whole self-identity is wrapped up in his father. And the father is the “greatest” ever space explorer. Not really sure what Ad Astra is going for. It’s like Interstellar with worse science and the main guy is trying to save his father instead of his daughter. Some cool scenes like the moon buggy chase and the monkey attack, but these aren’t played out enough to make them really interesting. And Pitt, after being so brilliant in OUATIH, is bland here. Stoic and expressionless. He and Ryan Gosling should have a stoic and expressionless contest. If you’ve seen First Man you’ll know what I mean.
Wow is this movie hideous. Horrible. Bad. Bad. Chadwick Boseman plays a cop with a history of killing suspects. He’s killed so many I wondered how he can still be allowed to carry a gun and work the streets. And Boseman seems to be playing a character his own age which makes it more unrealistic that a cop in the 21st century who has killed so many people would still be a cop (I’ll amend this. I had no idea Boseman was near mid-forties when he made this.). His detective characters has other issues. His father was murdered in the line of duty (of course) and he cares for his mother, who has Alzheimer’s. In a movie about dirty cops the question is never asked how Boseman can afford to care for his mother and supports himself in a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment on a detective’s salary but that is not what is wrong with this movie. The acting is bad. Boseman and Miller particularly, being that they are the leads. Miller’s accent is so bad it’s like so she going for the worst New York City accent ever put on film. J.K. Simmons’ acting and accent are bad too. The plot is fairly standard, an armed robbery takes place during which several police officers are killed along with their underworld contact, and hundreds of pounds of cocaine are stolen. There are two robbers. The bad one, played by Taylor Kitsch, and the “less” bad one played by Stephen James. We know James is less bad than Kitsch because Kitsch tells Boseman’s character just that. “He’s not like me” are Kitsch’s dying words. Well James is just as bad. He participated in a crime that claimed the life of seven or eight cops. He’s not living to talk about it. The mystery of who did it is solved when Boseman and Miller lead a raid on a guy and his girlfriend does a ten minute exposition dump that tells the cops everything they need to identify and find the bad guys. Funny how ridiculous this scene is. Simmons and Miller wear giant flashing signs that scream “I AM A BAD GUY!” We know Simmons is bad when he asks Boseman to murder the suspects then introduces Miller’s character as a vice cop and orders Boseman to work with her. Yes, she is part of the conspiracy and is there to keep a watch on Boseman. Only Boseman’s expert detective doesn’t figure this out immediately. He needs miller’s character to make the all too familiar mistake of pretending to call one person but actually calling a member of the conspiracy – from her personal cell – and then GIVES the phone to Boseman! Manhattan is closed, hence the title, Manhattan has 21 bridges, which I’m sure would never happen. Then at the end, after Boseman has killed all the bad guys (in a very LA Confidential kind of way) and is in the process of killing Simmons, and is in possession of the evidence proving the conspiracy, Miller’s character gets the drop on him (he is kneeling over the corpse of a cop he just killed) and instead of killing him she surrenders. Dumb. The movie’s highlight is Kitsch, who seems to be very good at playing bad guys in supporting roles.
Boring and pointless The Joker makes no sense. It’s played as a Joker origin story but we are supposed to believe that the Joker will become Batman’s greatest nemesis, even though Arthur Fleck is already middle-aged and Bruce Wayne is still a young child. Was Todd Phillips trying to make a movie about mental illness and only made the main character the Joker because that was the only way to get the movie made? I hated having to stay and watch this movie to the end. The Joker serves no purpose, does not fit in to any Joker/Batman story or timeline, nor does it set up any further Joker/Batman stories. A cash grab? Plus it’s possible that either the entire movie is a fiction of Arthur’s imagination or the last half of it is (from the point he locks himself in his fridge. Does Arthur suffocate in there? I say he did.) Possibly the worst part is the heavy-handed way Arthur’s imaginary relationship with pretty girl down the hall is revealed as fake. Her seeing Arthur in her apartment and asking him who is he and why is he in her apartment was all viewers needed to figure out Arthur imagined the whole thing. A recap of their scenes together with her missing was insulting, to me at least. Phoenix won an Oscar for his performance. A ‘actor who acted the most’ award would have been more fitting.
I don’t want to keep calling movies boring and pointless but Glass is boring and pointless. The final movie in what is a trilogy based on Samuel L. Jackson’s Glass character. I didn’t watch Split. I didn’t want to watch another movie in which teenage girls are kidnapped and murdered. Plus I don’t like James McAvoy. I’ve only seen Unbreakable once and found it to be boring. This seems like a movie M. Night made for himself, for his own amusement. Glass is a dumb movie. The highlights are the examination scenes. I’d rather watch Sarah Paulsen sit and read for two hours than watch this again.
Replicas is not boring and pointless just bad. Badly directed and badly acted. The scene where Reeves’ character mourns the death of his family is cringe-worthy. Possibly the worst crying ever put to film. Enough action to movie along and make Replicas watchable.
Fractured is one of those movies where you need to watch to the end when the “trick” is revealed and you’re like “Whoa!” ‘Identity” with John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Ray Liotta did this much better. Could never understand how Sam Worthington could get in so many big budget movies like Clash of the Titans and Terminator: Salvation. He’s a pretty bad actor. And bland. And boring. And he talks without opening his mouth. Good for him going from living in his van to achieving success but his presence doesn’t improve movies. It hurts them. I turned this off when Worthington, his wife, and daughter all fell into the same ditch in the same way. Do parents really allow their young child to be unsupervised at road side gas stations?
The Late Show features Emma Thompson as a talk show host and Mindy Kaling as her new writer. Thompson and Kaling seemed to have ‘white males are terrible’ jokes they wanted to tell while also pointing out how late night talk shows have been traditionally dominated by white men. Thompson makes for a terrible late show host. Like Samantha Bee her character tells socially relevant jokes to an adoring crowd but is otherwise lousy at her job. Kaling does a squeaky-voiced wallflower bit that is just annoying.
A virus has killed off every woman on the planet except for the one played by the lead character, who dresses like a man to avoid detection. Armed men go door to door looking for women. When the last woman and her boyfriend realize it’s only a matter of time before they get caught they take off and the Only turns into a chase movie. This is when I turned it off. A worse version of ‘Children of Men.’
A secret society of assassins exists and operates without any threat to their existence from governments or law enforcements. Gary Oldman is the star and acts like he was filmed talking to himself while taking naps. The premise is that a group of killers is getting a new leader and plans to make changes to the groups lineup, meaning killers will be killed. In walks Rhyon Nicole Brown, the new girl nobody has ever seen or met. The killers wonder why she is there. None are smart enough to figure it out, although to audiences it is plain to see who she really is. I gave this movie a star for how gorgeous Jessica Alba is in a bandana and Pippi Longstocking style braids.
In ‘Infinity War’ Thanos wins, half of all life in the universe is snapped away and all but the original six (plus Ant Man) Avengers die. Useless miniature humans with no super abilities Hawkeye and Black Widow survive. Why? Their useless. A meaningless accomplishment as we all know that everything Thanos did will be reversed. No movie studio, particularly a studio like Disney whose product lines are junk food and candy, is going to kill off revenue streams and billions of people. The movie opens with Thor beheading Thanos (and going for a cheap and inappropriate joke ‘I went for the head’) and Captain Marvel getting a haircut. Like literally much is made about her hair.. I get the style change is kinda extreme but does it really need to be talked about? The change is jarring granted but Racoons friends have all been killed and he’s making hair jokes. Thor is fat. Thor is a God. Is it even possible for him to gain weight and gain weight that is fat? I don’t read the Thor comics so I have no idea but Thor’s fat stomach allows for cheap fat jokes (Tony calls Thor The Big Lebowski). Captain Marvel is still smug but she’s not in the movie until the end. Boring, dumb, gutless. I’ve tried rewatching it and I can’t it’s that bad. Infinity War at least has some scenes worth rewatching. Thanos goes from being a brilliant military tactician to being a boob who allows his opponents to set up unopposed. I hated this movie.
As bad as Get Out was good, Us is nearly unwatchable. The acting, directing, dialogue are so amateurish it’s like a student film. The only decent scene in the film is the opening scene during which clues are given to the movie’s “big” surprise.
The Lighthouse with Daniel Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Well, in this lighthouse the lights never come on warning viewers to stay away. No plot. No story. Just a series of weird shots. If you ever wanted to know what it sounds like when William Dafoe farts and pees this is your movie.
Brightburn asks what if Superman was bad? An intriguing premise but one that is not explored until the end credits when this movie’s version of Superman goes full Superman on an unprepared Earth. The end credits are the only part of the movie worth watching. Elizabeth Banks and David Denham play a farmer couple who are having trouble having kids. We learn this by the panning shot of a number of “How to get pregnant” books. They find a baby in a spaceship in the woods. They keep it. A spaceship lands on their farm and they never think to call anyone. They even tell their family they adopted the kid. And by the way, the alien baby looks exactly like a human baby. Is there a parallel Earth out there where Earthlings have super powers? One of the farm’s sheep is killed. ‘The wolf must be back’ remarks Denham. What wolf?? It’s Nebraska. Denham calls his son ‘Buddy” so much (Hey buddy, hey buddy) that I wanted to kill him just to stop this. The alien boy assaults his classmate and injures her yet isn’t punished. He shows up it that same student’s bedroom at night yet isn’t punished. This kid is impervious to everything. He can’t be injured or killed yet relies on jump-scaring his victims instead of just walking up to them.
Serenity now? How ’bout Serenity never? How do you put Diane Lane. Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong in the same movie and make it bad? I don’t know. Ask Steven Knight. Because he did. Another movie with a trick ending which is so dumb and illogical you won’t care. That is if you are still watching.
Terminator: Dark Fate. BORING. If there’s a list of the most boring movies ever made Dark Fate will be on it and may even be featured on the poster.
A movie so bad Radha Mitchell refused to be in it and was replaced with Piper Perabo in the brief and thankless wife role. Olympus Has Fallen was kinda good, logic aside. London Has Fallen was bad and illogical but had some good Gerard Butler one-liners (Fuck-head-is-stan). A movie franchise with so few ideas left that it resorts to the ‘good guy is framed as the bad guy’ trope. Butler didn’t do it. He’ll prove who did by the end of the movie. The FBI agents assigned to the case should just wait. Danny Huston is in the first scene. Hello. Bad guy alert. Got as far as Jada Pinkett playing the worst FBI agent ever in real life and in movies and couldn’t take anymore.
In ‘Bird Box’ the bad guys are invisible but attacked if you looked at them. In ‘A Quiet Place’ the bad guys were visible and acted on noise. in ‘The Silence’ is a ripoff of both. Compared to both and amazingly is actually worse than ‘Bird Box’ which is also a zero star movie. Miners accidently open a cave which allows a prehistoric bat-pterodactyl mashup to escape and unleash devastation on Earth. They’ve been living in a cave for how long I don’t know but it’s been long enough that they should have starved to death long ago. They are blind and attack noises they hear. Out protagonists, led by Stanley Tucci, feel the best bet for them to survive is to drive to a remote cabin and wait out the crisis there. A stupid idea to leave the safety of their home but if they don’t the movie can’t happen. On the drive to the cabin one of the drivers allows himself to become distracted at the same exact moment a deer walks onto the road! Wow. Couldn’t have saw that coming. Thus begins a series of set pieces where a character does something dumb, the other characters have to rescue them, the birds attack, someone dies, etc. Essentially a zombie movie with birds. It’s never explained how there are enough of these creatures to wipe out most of humanity. It takes several to kill one adult. The people in The Swarm thought of using flamethrowers against the bees. Can’t they be used against these birds?

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