In 2019, I saw over 70 movies in theaters. While I didn’t give any 1-star reviews this year (maybe I was too nice to some of these films), I did have a handful that got the stellar 5-star rating. So now that 2019 is over, let’s review and count down my 10 favorites of the year! I say favorite because “best” is a hard thing to determine and we all have different tastes.
Runner-Up: The Upside
Coming out in early 2019, you might have forgotten this gem. Bryan Cranston is just as good as you’d expect, but the real surprise is an amazing performance from Kevin Hart. If you’re looking for something with some charm, plenty of laughs, and some killer performances, this should do it.
Number Ten: Bombshell
Still in theaters, Bombshell is the story of a sexual harassment case involving higher executives at Fox News. Charlize Theron carries the film, though all three lead women deliver stellar performances. If you’re interested in true story films like this (The Big Short, Vice, Wolf of Wall Street), this is an obvious choice.
Number Nine: Brittany Runs a Marathon
Now available on Amazon Prime, this is the story of a woman attempting to turn her life around by deciding to run a marathon. Jillian Bell is hilarious in her first lead performance, though this is much more than a typical comedy. There’s heart and there’s depth, so don’t shrug this one off and give it a chance.
Number Eight: John Wick III (Parabellum)
The John Wick franchise brought to the genre of ‘gun fu’ to the forefront and this third entry capitalized on everything they’ve made before and managed to create an exceptional action film that revolutionized the genre of action in general. We’ve got swordfights on horseback, brutal library fist fights, and some incredible sequences with killer dogs. If you’re an action fan, you need to make sure you’ve seen these.
Number Seven: Shazam
The DC Extended Universe really tried to replicate what worked with the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it never really worked. Wonder Woman is probably the best film under the umbrella right now, but Shazam is a definite contender for that spot. This film is a light-hearted comedy, mixed with some incredible fight sequences and a charming performance from our lead Zachary Levi. I cross my fingers that they try to weave Shazam into the larger DC universe, he may be the breath of fresh air needed to unite the heroes together.
Number Six: Spider-Man – Far From Home
Tom Holland continues to be my favorite Spider-Man and this film is such a joy to watch. The visuals are incredible, with some action sequences that really showcase what this character can do. With the addition of Jake Gyllenhaal as the character Mysterio, this film does everything right.
Number Five: Hotel Mumbai
This story is chilling, re-telling and likely exaggerating the events of a terrorist attack on a popular hotel in India. Dev Patel delivers an incredible lead performance but the star of the movie is the location itself, with the hotel feeling like a character here, as we spend two hours trying to navigate the hotel to safety. It’s thrilling and suspenseful, and is streaming now for Hulu subscribers, at least in the United States.
Number Four: Little Women
Consider me surprised. I wouldn’t have guessed that this film would’ve cracked my top ten but it turned out to be absolutely phenomenal. Our leads are all powerhouses, anchored by Saiorse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Emma Watson. The story is engaging, the world is dynamic… this movie really delivered the entire package.
Number Three: Joker
Joaquin Phoenix delivered one of the best performances of the year here, beautifully bringing to life this tragic character. The story is grim and maybe unnecessary, but his performance alone floats this film to the top. It will make you absolutely uncomfortable but you’ll be captivated the entire time.
Number Two: The Peanut Butter Falcon
This film, even just by thinking about it, makes my heart smile. It’s incredibly uplifting and charming, with a great performance from Shia LaBeouf and the incredibly likeable debut of Zack Gottsagen. This journey is educational, heartwarming, and full of surprises. I don’t think any of you will find this film disappointing.
Number One: Avengers – Endgame
It had to be Endgame right? This film is ten years in the making and has done something that no one else has been able to replicate. 20+ films culminate in this massive adventure, that not only packs a punch with one of the most epic climaxes in superhero film history, but also has performances that will bring you to tears. It has visual effects that are truly cutting edge, manages to juggle a cast of dozens and dozens of A-list actors, and delivers a story that manages to twist and turn until the credits roll. This is my favorite film (again, maybe not the best, but my favorite) of the year and something that I never believed possible.
Thanks for checking out my list! Hopefully 2020 brings just as many stellar films as we had in 2019!