Zach’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2019

  1. Avengers: Endgame: The ultimate culmination of over a decade of storytelling, Avengers: Endgame is one of the biggest and best spectacles in the history of cinema.  Delivering exactly what MCU fans would have wanted, the movie goes back to celebrate everything that has made the franchise so beloved and popular before delivering an absolutely jaw-dropping finale that delivers action on a scale that is utterly stunning, especially on the big screen.  It’s equal parts dramatic and hilarious and full of moments, like Cap’s “Avengers Assemble”, that will give me goosebumps still another 10 years from now.  Who knows where the MCU is going from here but it seems impossible that anything will ever top Endgame.
  2. John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum: Our Facebook fans rated this the best non-superhero movie of the decade and I can’t really argue with that.  The John Wick series will go down as one of the best action franchises in history and this entry takes things to an entirely other level, with some of the greatest choreographed action in cinema, like the sequence where Keanu and Halle Berry team-up with Halle’s extremely well-trained dogs to take down an army of thugs.  The world of the Continental also expands in even more interesting ways and new cast members like the excellent Mark Dacascos bring fun new energy to the already established and excellent characters of the world.  If things continue to ramp up and just get better, I’m in for however many more chapters they want to make.
  3. El Camino: One of the best surprises of 2019 was the announcement of El Camino, an epilogue to Breaking Bad that would bring back Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman.  While Breaking Bad had one of the best and most satisfying series finales of all time, if there was one flaw it was that Jesse got sort of short shrift.  El Camino gives Jesse a very satisfying conclusion, even if there aren’t any stunning final reveals for the Breaking Bad universe as a whole.  Everything that makes Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul excellent are on display here, including masterful cinematography, meticulous attention to detail and brilliant dialogue acted by an incredible cast.  Aaron Paul feels like he hasn’t been away at all and refills the shoes of Jesse perfectly and there’s a cavalcade of Breaking Bad characters that are great to see one last time, especially the bittersweet performance from the late, great Robert Forster.
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home: Much like El Camino above, Far From Home was also a sort of epilogue to an epic multi-year storyline, as it wrapped up the final threads of Endgame and got things ready for Phase 4.  Much like Homecoming, Far From Home was a delightfully fun and funny superhero movie full of great comedic bits but also some fantastic action as well.  Tom Holland shines as always as Peter Parker and Jake Gyllenhaal was also great as Mysterio, whose powers the movie captured absolutely perfectly, especially in one incredible sequence in the middle of the movie.  The movie also had one of the best cliffhangers in MCU history that, if the Disney/Sony spat hadn’t been settled, would have probably gone down as one of the biggest disappointments as well but everything good and the next MCU Spider-Man movie is definitely one my most anticipated movies of the next few years.
  5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: I’m a huge fan of basically every Tarantino movie and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is another great entry from the legendary director.  A bit of a departure from the usual Tarantino tension and mayhem, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is more like a time machine back to the late 60s as you essentially just sort of hang out in Los Angeles with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, and Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate as they go about their days, work on set, etc.  The sense of time and place is exquisite, as Tarantino went to excruciating detail to really recreate the look and sound of 60s Hollywood, with another impeccable soundtrack and gorgeous set design.  All of the actors are fantastic, especially all the faces who show up in random side roles, and, in typical Tarantino fashion, there’s a lot of extended scenes where they really get to dig in and do some acting, like Rick Dalton preparing for and shooting a scene for a western show he’s guest-starring on.  There’s some interesting Inglorious Basterds style alternate history in the finale but the main meat of just spending time around LA with these characters is a fun and interesting way to spend a few hours.
  6. Joker: The most inexplicable success of the year, Joker has raked in over a $1 billion worldwide for what seemed like it would be a very niche and cult film.  Joaquin Phoenix carries the movie with a brilliant and creepy performance as the sad and unhinged Arthur Fleck, who gets ground down by the horrific circumstances of 80s Gotham City until he finally fully snaps and takes on the persona of Joker.  Todd Phillips does an excellent job of portraying the utter grime and seediness of Gotham and you can almost feel yourself getting dirty as you watch.  The ties to the larger Batman universe feel a little forced and could probably have been cut all together but Joker is still a fascinating character study and an interesting experiment in what you can do in the comic book/superhero genre.
  7. Dolemite is My Name: It feels like forever when Eddie Murphy actually seemed to care and was in a good movie but he’s finally back, hopefully for good, with the excellent biopic Dolemite is My Name.  In the vein of The Disaster Artist but, in my opinion, a much more successful movie, Murphy plays the legendary comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who rises to popularity with a character he creates for stand-up called Dolemite and then decides to go big and make a movie based on the character.  While it’s full of wacky behind the scenes hi-jinks, Dolemite is My Name is also surprisingly uplifting and inspiring, as it expresses an idea of believing in yourself and making your dreams happen for yourself, even if no one else believes in them.  Murphy is excellent and the supporting cast is also great, especially Wesley Snipes as Dolemite director and co-star D’Urville Martin and Keegan-Michael Key as screenplay writer Jerry.
  8. Ford v Ferrari: Another excellent biopic from this past year, Ford v Ferrari tells the story of Ford’s efforts to design a car to beat Ferrari at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race in the late 60s.  Christian Bale and Matt Damon are both excellent as driver Ken Miles and designer Carroll Shelby respectively and it’s just a great, old school “dad movie” that has some great performances and some truly excellent racing sequences shot by director James Mangold that really make you feel the stress and endurance needed for driving cars that fast for that long at Le Mans.
  9. Triple Threat: The ultimate team-up for action fans, Triple Threat took Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins and more and pitted them against each other in an awesomely bad-ass action epic full of great shootouts and dream battles from the best names in modern (but old-school) action.  Directed by Jesse V. Johnson, who consistently delivers great action, usually with Scott Adkins starring, the movie is everything an action fan would want and it’s also a culmination of the DTV/On-Demand scene that has been keeping kick-ass martial arts and old-school action going on the small screen while gigantic superhero spectacles take over the theaters.  If you have not seen Triple Threat but are a fan of any of the action icons in the cast, this is a must-see.
  10. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw: Probably the most gloriously dumb action movie of the year (followed closely by 6 Underground), Hobbs & Shaw pushed the Fast & Furious franchise into new levels of ridiculousness as the pair of bald asses had to team up to stop a deadly virus and defeat an evil Idris Elba, who is literally a cyborg supersoldier, so that tech exists now in the world of Fast & Furious.  Every set piece in this movie could be the gigantic finale of any other action movie and David Leitch brings his eye for action to the franchise to deliver fun, over the top spectacle.  The only real flaw of the movie is that it’s way too long and bit self-indulgent but The Rock and Jason Statham (along with a great Vanessa Kirby) manage to overcome most of the flaws with their chemistry and banter.

Honorable Mentions

  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Ready or Not
  • In the Tall Grass
  • Crawl
  • Happy Death Day 2U
  • Shazam
  • Captain Marvel
  • Rise of Skywalker

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