A total Frankenstein's Monster of a movie, this is a film that in the hands of a lesser director would've been a complete trainwreck, but it's a testament to just how good Mike Flanagan is that he manages to make this film work all the same, and only further serves to prove just why he's become one of my go-to directors. It's a sequel to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, and totally feels it. Except for when it doesn't, and instead feels like a YA supernatural film, only an exceptionally good one thanks to some creatively stylized choices in the way it handles its more cerebral aspects, and with odd horror elements that are executed in such a way that feel like they shouldn't work, seeing our villains oftentimes on the receiving end of the horror at play, and yet it remains as compelling as ever throughout anyways.
Excellent performances throughout from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jacob Tremblay help elevate the material, as does certainly the best use of music I've heard in a Flanagan film yet in the form of its beating heartbeat of a score. And a scene at the bar of the Overlook Hotel may be among the simpler scenes in the entire film, yet in its execution, it also manages to be one of the most gripping pieces of cinema this whole year.
Perhaps the most unfairly hated on movie of the year by some circles of the internet, this movie truly exceeded all expectations I had of it, and is probably the best movie one could hope for based around the origin story of the Joker. And while he may never come close to matching Heath Ledger's take on the character, Joaquin Phoenix is an absolute force in this film, and gives a performance that's layered and, at times, truly terrifying.
I really just dug how despite being a big franchise comic book film based on an incredibly popular character, this movie is the furthest thing one could think from the typical modern blockbuster, taking an old school lower budget approach that really helps ground the film and gives it a much more refreshing feel, and backed by a script that's honestly a hell of a lot more clever than I think a lot of people are giving it credit for. This is a true standout film in the genre, for sure.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
At least one review that I've seen referred to this movie as feeling like a warm blanket in the modern landscape of film, and I don't think I could come up with a more apt description of this movie myself. I just loved spending time in this era that Tarantino brought back to life, and really taking our time to breathe in the scenery and this world.
And we follow yet another gathering of some exceptionally compelling characters, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving an emotionally vulnerable performance that honestly may be his best work in a film yet, and Brad Pitt proving to be the MVP of 2019 after giving us stellar performances both here and in Ad Astra. This is a movie filled with great characters and great moments, in a Hollywood retelling of a tragic moment in time that once again changes history in satisfying ways, not unlike how he did with Inglourious Basterds, and which may well be his best work since that movie at that.
(Anthony Russo, Joe Russo)
Unlike all the other movies on this list, I wouldn't necessarily call this one a breath of fresh air or anything, as it is still just another big and bombastic modern day action blockbuster superhero flick, if an especially good one. But even so, it was still a completely satisfying and emotionally thrilling experience all the same. Basically a three hour long celebration of this 20+ movie series that's been spanning over 10 years by this point, and I can't think of a better way to wrap up such an epic achievement.
The Russo brothers have surely outdone themselves here, once again managing to balance so much story and so many characters, and all so seamlessly, and all while still managing to get out some of the best performances out of their cast. Following Civil War, this is now the second time the Russos have gotten a career best performance out of Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Hemsworth similarly gives a career best performance of his own, bringing a stunning range of emotion and depth to a performance that could've easily been written off as just comic relief in lesser hands.
This is a movie full of moments. And this movie earns its moments, and sends off this massive series of movies on the highest note possible.
(Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)
This movie was everything. Everything.
So there you have it, may Top 5 Movies of 2019. But we're not through just yet, as next, seeing as we've made it to the end of the decade, I'll be counting down my picks for the Top Movies of the Decade. So keep an eye out for that coming soon!