We are officially halfway through the calendar year of 2019, and I gotta say, the summer so far has been noticeably weak. Apart from the not-summer send-off of Avengers: Endgame, we really haven’t had that many great blockbusters blaze across our screens so far, although that’s largely due to the heaviness of the July schedule and the fact that more and more studios are positioning their blockbuster offerings in non-summer seasons to capitalize on profits. That being said, the year hasn’t been all bad, and that’s something to celebrate! We’ve had more than a few gems grace our silver screens up to this point (and a few true stinkers too), so let’s recall them, shall we? Here are my picks for the 5 Best and Worst Movies of 2019 so far!
M. Night Shyamalan almost had his superhero trilogy join the best of them in recent memory, but even though there are things in this movie to like (namely the performances), the signature twist just didn’t carry the same weight as those of its predecessors, and the film just kind of meanders to its point, forgetting key things that were established in Unbreakable and Split.
4. Isn’t It Romantic
This rom-com-but-also-not isn’t all bad, but it sure tries its best to be. This movie is just purely annoying. The whole time it continues to make fun of classic rom-coms while trying to make you buy into the notion that it could be one someday and it just doesn’t work. According to the logic of this film, the main character should have seen the “twists” coming miles away, and all we’re left with is a lazy script that wants to have it both ways, but can’t be bothered to do either way well.
3. Child’s Play (2019)
Child’s Play (2019) may not be the most disappointing or even annoying movie on this list, but it’s by far the least necessary to have been made. The original franchise is still going on, and the more recent sequels have been praised by critics and audiences alike, so what’s the play here? One decent on-camera turn and one solid voice performance can’t save this movie from a boring script with dreadful logic problems and practically telegraphed predictability.
I’m actually not sure which is worse: reviving a not-dead franchise like the previous entry, or dropping the ball so hard on something you easily could have made a franchise out of with the right script. Brightburn falls to the latter category, and the most disappointing thing about it is that the central reason the film doesn’t work is so painfully obvious: the main character has no motivation or reason to be evil. Superman has always been the predominate picture of the Nature vs. Nurture debate as a comic book hero, and leaving that element out of a dark take on that character as a child (even with all the copyright restrictions) kills this movie faster than its protagonist kills any of the other characters he’s supposed to.
1. Dark Phoenix
It’s not just that this movie didn’t fulfill its potential or was just boring and bland as a film in its own right; this was a cavalcade of bad creative decisions that lead to something nobody asked for and no one needed. Why would you hand your second attempt at a story everyone hated the first time around to the same guy who wrote for that first time around? Making matters worse, this was Kinberg’s directorial debut! Stranger things have happened, yes, but handing someone their first directing job on a blockbuster franchise is still considered far too risky to be successful, and this lackluster attempt to squeeze some last-minute cash out of an already-dead franchise is an all-too-fitting example of why.
Dishonorable Mention: Men In Black: International
The more I think about Us, the more impressed I am by Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort. This happened with Get Out, too, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this movie on my Top 10 list at the end of the year after one or two more re-watches. The layers in this film are fantastic, each new one representing a horror all its own, and the performances from the entire cast are magnificent as both their characters and the “tethered,” to say nothing of Lupita N’yongo’s legendary dual performance, which could still land her an Oscar nomination if they play their cards right.
4. Toy Story 4
This is probably the “best” minute-for-minute movie this year overall, and it really deserves to be called so. What we all thought at first was just an unnecessary sequel turned out to be one of Pixar’s best films yet, in a franchise full of them. The way this movie challenges Woody, forcing him to reflect on the notion that his time is past, is both heartbreaking and bittersweet, and this film is the near-perfect denouement to the Toy Story films that part 3 didn’t get to be, despite how beautiful that movie also is. Pixar didn’t want to make this movie unless they had a story they just had to tell, but while it remains (by nature) a mostly unnecessary addition to the franchise, it’s a more than welcome one.
3. Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame managed to wrap up 22 films of story that varied from “okay” to “spectacular” with a rousing send-off for our O.G. 6 Avengers we all fell in love with back 2012, tying off story threads we hadn’t been privy to in years, and challenging all our expectations of what an event film could be. That third act may be the single greatest blockbuster section of a movie in comic book film history, and it is an incredible feat that not only did Marvel Studios make it this far, the reviews for their next entry (Spider-Man: Far From Home) indicate that they show no signs of slowing down. It may not do everything it tries to perfectly, and falls prey to one or two plot-holes that remain noticeable, but to this day I haven’t had nearly as incredible of an experience watching a movie in theaters this year as I did watching Endgame for the first time (I even have a spoiler review detailing why I love it so much). “Avengers!...Assemble.”
Wow, this thing really came out of nowhere and knocked the wind out of me. What a refreshing, new, unique take on the coming-of-age high school comedy; the fact that this is Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut makes it all the more impressive. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are a dynamic pair with near-perfect chemistry, and the film’s comic timing is also near-perfect as well, with Billie Lourd (daughter of the late, great Carrie Fisher) stealing damn near every scene she’s in. This movie is about female friendship and learning to let go, and the layers of heart it hides just underneath the laugh-per-minute surface strike you almost as hard as the comedy does. This thing needs to hit retail shelves stat, because I can’t wait to see it again.
Sure, Toy Story 4 may be an “objectively” better film when considering all the layers, and Endgame might have been an overall more dynamic theater experience, but there has been no film this year to impress me the way that Rocketman has. This musical fantasy about the legendary musician Elton John utilizes editing in the most creative ways of any movie this year (thanks to brilliant direction by Dexter Fletcher), using Elton’s songs as character beats or transitions due to their starkly personal nature, and I still listen to this rendition of “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” all the time just hear how energetic and infectious Taron Egerton’s voice is on the track. In fact, there’s not a single false note in Egerton’s performance (he even does all his own singing!), and I guarantee if this movie had come out in October, we’d all be talking about a Best Actor nomination for him right now. He’s not the only great thing about the movie, though, as Jamie Bell and Richard Madden also manage to turn in understated and show-stealing performances just under Egerton’s level. There’s no denying the greatness of every film on this “best” list, but I expect it will be a long, long time before another music movie makes me fall in love with it the way Rocketman does.
Honorable Mention: Shazam!
And those are My Top 5 Best and Worst Movies of 2019 so far! What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far this year? Worst? What do you think of this list? Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!
- The Friendly Film Fan