My Favorite Films of 2019
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
15. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
A lot of this film was kind of average. The acting was good with Rosa Salazar giving a good performance, playing her part of a person experiencing all these things for the first time really well (the chocolate scene was particularly good) but nothing else really stood out. This was kind of disappointing since I was really looking forward to seeing Mahershala Ali and most of his acting is as a voice for another character. The writing is also just average, basically connecting the different things the movie needs to show the audience so it all makes sense. It really is the cinematography and CGI that make this film remarkable with the set designs and worldbuilding being a true delight, exploring all the different aspects of Iron City. The action scenes are also something to behold with Robert Rodriguez shining here especially. It really is this world that makes this film standout and what makes it deserve a sequel if only to continue to explore it all.
Favorite Scene: Motorball
14. TERMINATOR: DARK FATE
This film was a lot fun to watch with good acting and great action but it kind of repeated what the other films did. A robot assassin comes from the future and tries to kill the person responsible for leading the human resistance. While the twist at the identity of that person was well done and showed growth for these movies, that was really the only thing that got me excited for the future of this franchise. The acting is great with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton being the best. The action is great and Gabriel Luna plays the emotionless killing machine well. But again, this story feels a lot like the others and in the end doesn't really try to make this film series fresh and new for audiences. Solid performances, intense action, but that's pretty much it.
Favorite Scene: plane crash.
13. FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW
Ok, so this film was kind of basic in a lot of ways which is why it's low on the list. The threat of a virus that will wipe out half the population felt very Infinity War and the save-the-world mindset of the film felt rehashed and overdone at this point. The real selling point of this film was the camaraderie between Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw and I have to say that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham nailed it. Between the constant barrage of insults (Mike Oxmaul was my favorite) to the facial expressions they use on each other (Hobbs yawning while Shaw beats up a room of bad guys) was all hilarious and highly entertaining to watch. As well as that, there is plenty of heart in this film in the form of family. Shaw's relationship with his sister was very well done as he is protective of her but also doesn't hold her back and Hobb's estrangement from his family, while not written as well as it could have been, was very well acted. Unfortunately, a lot of this film was cliché and felt like it had been done so many times before. My main criticism would have to be Vanessa Kirby's character of Hattie Shaw who was, while a badass who really holds her own in a fight, was forced into an unnecessary romance which I felt degraded her character slightly. Even the action scenes felt kind of boring and overdone. So, in the end, the only real reason to watch this film is to see Hobbs and Shaw beef on each other, which there is plenty of.
Favorite Scene: Airport scene.
12. JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
This film is honestly like the first one, Welcome to the Jungle, in the sense that the acting and humor of the film is what makes it so good more than anything else. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan are all back, but not in the same roles as last time. I mean, Karen Gillan is which is a shame as she is a terrific actress and it would have been cool to see her flex her acting skills. The others, however, are all being inhabited by different characters and all bring it home in an amazing and hilarious manner. The action, sadly, is similar to the last one where it leaves much to be desired as does the big bad guy. The story is a little convoluted and the writing could use work. But the acting is terrific with Dwayne Johnson channeling Danny DeVito probably being the best part of it (other than the elevator scene with Jack Black and Kevin Hart). The heart is there as well, with some poignant emotional moments and some great character arcs that a lot of people can relate to. So, as previously said, there is something still to be desired, you'll still have a great time watching this film.
Favorite Scene: Elevator scene.
11. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
This film was hyped up so much that it really couldn't live up to it. And yet, in a lot of ways, it did. Unlike its predecessor, Godzilla (2014), this film really brings home the monster action with tons of epic fight scenes in the skies, seas, and ground. Godzilla is brought to his full potential here with so many moments for him to shine that you'd probably need both hands to count them all. The writing, as with the other films on the bottom of this list, is not the best with some character arcs making less sense than they should. But, as always, the acting is well done with the stand-out being Ken Watanabe. This movie really got much more criticism than it deserved as I had such a blast watching this in the theater. My real concern was in Millie Bobby Brown as she was not brought to her full potential here. After seeing her in Stranger Things, it was disappointing not to see her acting prowess brought front and center. Despite that, if you love giant monsters crashing into each other with dramatic and epic music playing in the background with tons of humor and some emotion added in, then this is the film for you.
Favorite Scene: Burning Godzilla.
10. STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
There was a lot to like and dislike about this film. My main dislike was that of Palpatine. His return was brushed over within the first few minutes without any explanation and while Ian McDiarmid kills it in the role it was kind of disappointing to his character return in such as fashion. What I most liked about the film was the character arcs with Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren coming full circle from where they began and fully embracing who they've become, the acting coming through fully, even if it felt kind of rushed (especially Finn's). The cinematography was also standout with every shot looking incredible. However, in the end the story had issues, mainly in the first half which just felt filler without any real substance there. Things began to pick up in the second half, providing a thrilling Star Wars story, but it doesn't truly make up for the mistakes in the previous half. Personally, I think the film could have done better if it had built on what The Last Jedi had established and continued from there and if J.J. Abrams had provided an adequate runtime to be able to tell a fitting ending to not only this trilogy but the entire saga of Star Wars films. Despite that, there was still plenty to enjoy and it was worth watching if only to see how all these characters ended up as well as the great action sequences and visual effects.
Favorite Scene: any scene Babu Frik is in.
9. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM
The third film in the outstanding John Wick series. As always, Keanu Reeves gives it his all from the acting to the action. Parabellum builds on what the previous films established and goes even deeper into the lore and mythology of this criminal world, with John Wick's history explored and the other characters such as Winston and the Bowery King and new interesting characters brought into the fold such as Halle Berry's Sofia. The standout character was the main villain of the film, Zero, played brilliantly by Mark Dacascos who brings a lot of humor to the film as well as intense and thrilling action scenes, proving himself a true rival to John Wick while fangirling about him at the same time. This film brings more intensity than the other two, with the risks higher than ever and the audience unsure of what is going to happen next and whether or not John Wick will survive this one with the whole criminal underworld after him. My only criticism would be that the action scenes due tend to overstay their welcome, stretching to the point where it feels like rewatching the same scene just in a slightly different way. However, the large variety of action scenes spread throughout the film more than makes up for it and the killer ending gets the audience pumped for the upcoming fourth film.
Favorite Scene: Continental fight sequence.
This film is a masterpiece to behold. Following two soldiers as they trek across miles of enemy territory to stop a British battalion from walking into a German trap. The film is shown through a single shot which means is that the camera never breaks away from the actors, following them throughout the film. There are several places where they could technically stop the film and set up the next scene but it isn't made clear so the audience can believe it is a single shot. The acting is a highlight with actors such as Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch giving strong performances despite their limited roles, but George MacKay steals the show as he isn't allowed to let up throughout the movie so just owns his character which is a sight to behold. This movie is a thrilling, suspenseful ride from beginning to end, not letting up once throughout its run so the audience is constantly on the edge of their seats, with expert cinematography and choreographing that you have to see to believe.
Favorite Scene: Trench run.
7. KNIVES OUT
In this brilliant whodunnit mystery, Rian Johnson delivers a captivating, ingenious, edge-of-your-seat thrill of a movie with tons of great acting, plot twists, and humorous moments. With most films with an ensemble cast of such great actors, the story suffers trying to bring each and every character to the limelight. This film is not one of those with each character balanced out and none truly getting lost in the mix and the story never faltering. Rian Johnson manages to subvert audience expectations again and again with a neverending series of reveals and twists that will keep everyone guessing right up to the main reveal which truly came out of nowhere. Ana de Armas shines as less-known actress among many well-known actors and nails her character's emotion and heart while Daniel Craig doubles down on his character's hilarious Southern drawl and expert detective skills that leave no doubt as to why there will be a sequel following him. But for me, the real acting piece was Chris Evans in turn around from the steadfast and noble character of Captain America, he plays a real asshole of a person and you can tell he's loving every second of it. The only reason this film isn't ranked higher on this list is because while it was highly entertaining to watch, I enjoyed the heart, humor, and action that the other films contained. Still, if you had to watch at least one film of 2019, I would recommend this one.
Favorite Scene: Car chase.
6. TOY STORY 4
When I first learned of a fourth film to the Toy Story franchise, I became worried as I thought the ending in Toy Story 3 was so perfect. But after seeing Number 4, I realized why they made it: because they had such a great idea they just had to go with it. The second this movie started up, all my fears melted away and I was lost in my childhood. Tom Hanks is front and center again as Woody and his acting is once again phenomenal, his voice bringing out perfectly all the emotions and feelings Woody goes through on his journey. And there are new characters such as the ever delightful Forky and the complex Gabby Gabby and the return of Bo Peep who has become such a strong-willed and powerful character. Of course, with all these characters brought to the forefront, that unfortunately means many others get sidelined. They do have their small moments but all in all they weren't that important to the story and thus don't have much to do. Even Buzz's character arc, while humorous, ultimately feels a little unnecessary. Despite that, the core elements of Toy Story remain, bringing us a new chapter in the franchise that takes into a new, unexplored directions and an ending that is guaranteed to leave you in tears (I know it did for me).
Favorite Scene: Plush Rush.
5. CAPTAIN MARVEL
It took a while, but Marvel finally delivered on a female superhero film after DC's amazing Wonder Woman and boy did they deliver. Captain Marvel brings you the usual marvel action and humor with some heart thrown into the mix but where it really shines is with the message it gives off about no matter how powerful you are, you are still human and that's amazing and that no woman should ever have to answer to the demands of a full of himself white man. Seriously, the first time I saw the film, I laughed when Brie Larson blasted Jude Law and on later viewings I applauded after understanding what that actually meant. Most of the film feels pretty formulaic for a Marvel movie but it where it differs from other origin stories is that what Vers does is not on a journey of how to use her powers but who to use them for with plenty of twists and turns for the audience to keep up with. Brie Larson shines as Captain Marvel, a strong, independent woman who doesn't take shit from anyone. The only problem I'd say I have with her character is that she doesn't come across as entirely relatable, but then again I'm not a woman so I would't exactly know. This film boasts a stellar cast with stellar performances from Samuel L. Jackson playing a younger Fury, Akira Akbar as the hilarious Monica Rambeau, and the aforementioned Jude Law as the sinister Yon-Rogg. But the standout characters would be Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, especially her emotional scene with Brie that really shows off her acting skills, and Ben Mendelsohn who, after playing many one-dimensional villains finally gets a seemingly villainous character with some real depth and complexity that he makes the most of and owns completely. The only one better was Goose the cat who is a scene-stealer wherever he goes. There were some issues here and there but once again Marvel proves how it manages to bring to life beloved characters to the big screen in poignant and powerful ways who will no doubt go on to become pop culture phenomenons.
Favorite Scene: You're only human.
4. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
The final chapter in what is arguably the greatest animated trilogy of all time. (Toy Story no longer counts due to the fourth film). My main problem with the second film was that I felt there was too much packed into too little a runtime and I went into this film with the same fear. I was to be proven wrong as the movie does everything it needs to make me laugh, cry, and pump my fist from beginning to end. The villain of Grimmel was a great contrast to Hiccup, revealing a possibility to Hiccup if he had killed Toothless all those years ago, and his cunning mind and scene-stealing moments make him a truly formidable foe. However, the best parts of any of these films is Toothless and this one is no different, this time featuring him attracted to a female Night Fury which comes across as a blend between animal mating ritual and a High School promposal which was probably one of the best things I've seen on screen. The animation is once again amazing, with tons of new landscapes and creatures brought to life in unique and beautiful ways. Most of the great voice actors such as Jonah Hill and Kit Harington get the short straw for this film but they still get their moments and make the most of them, especially Kristen Wiig's Ruffnut when she is taken prisoner by Grimmel. And the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless, always the core for this trilogy, is explored even more deeply, making it even clearer that they are not master and pet but best friends with the only difference being species. This film has a lot to say and doesn't waste a second in saying it, bringing a satisfying and bittersweet conclusion to one of the best movie franchises of the decade, the triumphant music of one last flight bringing tears to my eyes as the credits rolled on.
Favorite Scene: Ending song.
There wasn't much shown in promotional footage for this film so I wasn't sure what to expect. So this movie wasn't just a pleasant surprise but a thrilling, emotional ride from beginning to end. The story of Billy Batson is one of someone searching for family, of belonging which is something that literally anyone can relate to. David F. Sandberg manages to combine that emotional arc and the fun of a kid being able to transform into an adult with superpowers by saying a word. I was a big fan of the Tom Hanks film Big when I saw it and this was like that but with superpowers, so in other words it was awesome. Billy Batson is expertly played by Asher Angel as a child and Zachary Levi as an adult with Levi having the time of his life playing a kid in his 30's that can shoot lightning from his hands. Despite this, I would say that the bridge between the two could use some work as the adult version of Billy feels a little sillier than the younger version. Mark Strong appears as the formidable Dr. Sivana, who reflects the dark side of Billy, one who was never accepted by his family and has been haunted by being denied magic. He's the embodiment of what rejection and obsession can do to a child. Along for the journey but certainly not a sidekick is Jack Dylan Grazer's Freddy Freeman who is probably the best part of this movie with all his acting done superbly, really driving home the most emotional lines and his humor never feeling dry or overdone like Levi's occasionally can. This film has a lot of fun moments from Billy and Freddy uploading videos of them testing his powers to the convenience store. Director Sandberg even taps into his horror roots with the office scene, a scene that was truly dark and chilling and shows the darkness in Dr. Sivana. This film's main message is about rejection and acceptance, at how you may be rejected by society but that doesn't mean you can't still be accepted. It's about choosing your family. Sometimes it's the ones you're born with and sometimes not. For a film based on silly premise, it manages to pack a lot into its runtime that hits all the right beats for this guy's heartstrings and earns its place as No. 3 on this list.
2. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Despite having to serve as an explanation for the ramifications of Endgame, this film manages to stand on its own as Jon Watts returns to deliver a great Spider-Man movie, one that, just like the first one, embodies the comics of old while embracing new story threads. Tom Holland proves once again why he is the best Spider-Man actor as he manages to capture the emotion of a teenager trying to live up to impossible standards and wanting to just take a break from it all and ask a girl out on a date. And yet, he is waylaid by another Earth-ending threat warned by the mysterious Mysterio (pun intended) played perfectly by Jake Gyllenhaal who is having a blast with this role. Jacob Batalon returns as the adorable and hilarious Ned, providing some much needed humor in the scenes. Zendaya also returns as MJ and yet provides the audience with a much more complex and new take on the popular character. Jon Watts takes viewers on a wild ride that makes you think it's going one way and then turns you upside down with a twist you might have seen coming but still manages to take you by surprise. The writing of the film is a little messy here and there but the heart of the story is there and hopefully for the third outing, Watts can craft a movie not weighed down by the other films of the MCU but can truly stand on its own. This is the perfect summer blockbuster from the intense action to great laugh moments to the expert performances of the cast. The one moment where Peter shouts how he can never live up to the legacy of Tony Stark is something any teenager can relate to and his need for a rest is completely understanding after everything he's been through. Basically, Marvel has done it again with this film, crafting yet another spellbinding entry into its library enjoyable for all audiences.
Favorite Scene: Illusion sequence.
1. AVENGERS: ENDGAME
I mean come on, there was never any doubt that this would be the number one film of the year. After being built up for the past ten years, there were so many ways this movie could have failed and yet it never did. After the heartrending ending to Infinity War, this movie picks up in the aftermath with the Avengers forced to pick up the pieces of their defeat and try to move on. The original Avengers cast of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man are all back for what is truly the endgame to the MCU and each one gave everything to their characters arcs, each one different and unique and totally appropriate for this film. This is not a film about moving on from what you've lost, it's about never giving up on what you've lost, whatever it takes. There's not a second wasted in this massive 3 hour runtime, each moment packed to the brim with as much as it can and yet it never feels like too much. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo prove once again how talented they are in balancing out such an expansive cast in what is truly a universe of characters now. Josh Brolin returns as the formidable Thanos and this time brings more malice to the character, making him that much more threatening given that he has already won. Frankly, there are so many different cast members and plot points to go over and they're all great so I'll just say that. Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of what is now called the 'Infinity Saga,' the 21 films that came before it, and is a true love letter to the fans who have stuck with it for so long. It is not only the movie of the year but of the decade, demonstrating why Marvel is king of Hollywood right now. And while it does provide the audience a satisfying ending, it also has hints of what is to come next, making us all the more excited for what's waiting around the corner. It is a definite recommend, not just for this film but for all of them and what is next. The expansive universe of Marvel is placed front and center here, giving fans things they've been waiting for for years and moments they didn't even know they needed and I hope the future brings just as much quality to its releases as the past has for this ever growing film studio.
Favorite Scene: Avengers...Assemble!