Top 14 Films of 2019: A Geeky Retrospective

Top 14 Films of 2019: A Geeky Retrospective

There have been some amazing films out in 2019. Chapters have been ended, franchises have been renewed and indie originals have had us laughing, crying and cringing in equal measure. As always this is simply my opinion and I have a clear ‘type’ when it comes to film. There are definitely some big hitters missing from this list, some haven’t been released here yet and others just haven’t quite hit the top of my watch list yet. Maybe they’ll make next year’s list!

So here’s my Top 14 Films of 2019 (So Far)

The Day Shall Come (2019)

14. The Day Shall Come

Where: Available in Feb 2020 on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play

When: 11/10/2019

Who: Director – Christopher Morris Cast – Anna Kendrick, Denis O’Hare, Jim Gaffigan, Kayvan Novak, Miles Robbins & Danielle Brooks

Why: Chris Morris is well known for his dark satirical humour and controversial subject matter choices. This is completely evident in his writing for Spitting Image, his creation of Brass Eye and his brilliantly intelligent 2010 film Four Lions. In his follow up, The Day Shall Come, down-on-his-luck preacher, Moses, is targeted by the FBI as the next big terror threat to the United States. He is tricked, manipulated and convinced into purchasing weapons that will allow the FBI to treat him as a criminal. The Day Shall Come may not be held as highly as it’s British counterpart but it is still a smart film presenting a bleak narrative with wit and heart. We are told this film is “based on a hundred true stories” and it is this combined with an emotive ending that gives the film it’s standing.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keegan-Michael Key, Ally Maki, and Jordan Peele in Toy Story 4 (2019)

13. Toy Story 4

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 21/06/2019

Who: Director – Josh Cooley Cast – Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks & Keanu Reeves

Why: In 1995 the world fell in love with a Cowboy and a Space Ranger, it’s amazing that in 2019 that love is still going strong for both the original audience and a whole new generation of ‘partners’. I had some hesitation when it came to Toy Story 4, what if it ruined my love, or crushed my memories of the other three? It was a risk when Toy Story 3 was released over ten years after its predecessor, and yet it managed to bring magic to the franchise whilst also giving closure to Andy’s story. Why did we need another one almost ten years later again? Luckily the creators knew exactly where to take this story and make sure it was still as enjoyable, emotional and entertaining as the previous films. Introducing new characters such as Forky, Duke and the hilarious duo Ducky and Bunny kept the story fresh whilst bringing back originals like Bo Peep closed off open stories and kept the focus on the toys themselves. Well done Disney…now leave it alone.

Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer in Shazam! (2019)

12. Shazam!

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 05/04/2019

Who: DirectorDavid F. Sandberg Cast – Asher Angel, Marta Milans, Grace Fulton, Zachary Levi, Mark Strong & Lovina Yavari

Why: The DCEU has always suffered with tonal duality issues. They try their own dark gritty storylines of tormented superheroes who must fight both internal and external monsters (Man of Steel & BMvsSM) then decide that they need to lighten up and be more like the MCU so end up trying for the ensemble movies (Suicide Squad & Justice League) which completely shift the previously set up aesthetic. This identity confusion has led to a lot of flop films for DC, but from the ashes of failure (personally excluding Wonder Woman) rose the playful, plucky and wish fulfilling Shazam! Billy Batson gets to live the dream of every young comic book reader, when he yells the magic word “Shazam!” he becomes a superhero. There is still a thread of darkness throughout the film with some shocking scenes and brilliant creature design. Fun is definitely the keyword for this light-hearted superhero caper.

Good Boys (2019)

11. Good Boys

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 16/08/2019

Who: Director – Gene Stupnitsky Cast – Jacob Tremblay, Molly Gordon, Will Forte, Retta, Lil Rel Howery & Millie Davis

Why: The ‘Era of the Tweens’ is alive and well in Good Boys, an R-Rated (15 in the UK) Coming of Age Comedy that delights in applying crass and mature humour to 6th Graders. Why? Because deep down we all know that kids swearing is hilarious. There is a clear comedic style here that makes perfect sense when you look at the minds behind this post-Kindergarten comedy. With Stupinsky and Esienberg behind the script, and the former making his directorial debut as well, the influence of The Office and Bad Teacher is clear. However, it’s maybe the producers Rogen and Goldberg who’s Superbad fingerprints are all over this one. When invited to their first ‘kissing party’ our trio, known as The Beanbag Boys, set out on an adventure to learn how to be a good kisser. The young cast of this film manage to carry every joke, every misunderstood word and every heartfelt moment with ease and confidence. It’s just a shame they aren’t old enough to go see themselves in it yet.

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen in Long Shot (2019)

10. Long Shot

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 03/05/2019

Who: Director – Jonathan Levine Cast – Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, Bob Odenkirk, Lisa Kudrow, Andy Serkis & O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Why: Popping up on this list again, this time as producer and star of Long Shot, is Seth Rogen who plays Fred Flarsky in this modern Rom-Com. Fred is a journalist with high moral grounding who is in need of a job after quitting when his paper was bought out by an evil conglomerate (is there any such thing as a non-evil one?). A chance encounter reunites him with a childhood crush, Charlotte Field, who just happens to be running for President. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another Romantic Comedy where opposites attract and the woman learns that if she just tweaks a few things she’ll be perfect for her ‘dream’ man. Charlotte is allowed to be powerful and happy and she gets to realise that for herself. Beyond this message though are enough pratfalls, MDMA comedowns and jizz jokes to make sure the Com is just as good as the Rom.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Numan Acar, and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

9. Spiderman: Far from Home

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 02/07/2019

Who: Director – Jon Watts Cast – Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei & Jon Favreau

Why: When a film has the balls to start with a memorial slideshow to those who were lost during Avengers: Endgame featuring not only comic sans font and Shutterstock style images but also set to the ever heart breaking song ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston, then it has my undivided attention. 2018 saw my 1st place crown given to a Spider-Man film with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse completely blowing me away with its visuals. Unfortunately, this spider didn’t make it as far up the side of the bathtub, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one hell of an enjoyable film. The cast are excellent, once again, with Holland being the ultimate live action Spidey and Gyllenhaal managing to ham it up just enough as villain Mysterio. The 23rd film, and last of 2019, in the Marvel Cinematic universe had the hard task of dealing with the impact of Avengers: Endgame whilst trying to lighten the mood back up. Luckily Far from Home excelled and had us honouring our heroes and remembering how to smile again.

Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson in Captain Marvel (2019)

8. Captain Marvel

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 08/03/2019

Who: Directors – Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden CastBrie Larson, Gemma Chan, Jude Law, Mckenna Grace, Samuel L. Jackson & Lee Pace

Why: The MCU strikes again on this list (and, spoiler alert, not for the last time) with 2019 being a strong year to be in the Superhero business. Captain Marvel follows suit from 2017’s DCEU film Wonder Woman and gives us the first MCU female standalone film. There is an undeniable presence and power to Carol Danvers, and her alter ego Captain Marvel, that is brought to the forefront spectacularly by Brie Larson. We are thrown straight into this new world with Captain Marvel and must instantly keep up to speed on this 90’s origin film. Memories are rekindled, enemies are discovered and women are thoroughly empowered. It was impossible for me not to be drawn in to the 90’s nostalgia and the empowering message of this film. Carol makes no apologies about being the strongest person in the room, and no other women should have to either.

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)

7. Joker

Where: Available in Jan 2020 on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & in Feb 2020 on DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 04/10/2019

Who: Director – Todd Phillips Cast – Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen & Marc Maron

Why: The origin of classic Batman villain The Joker has always been a contention in the comic book world. A lot of fun has been had with this unreliable narrator’s multiple choice backstory Did he fall into a vat of acid or was he given a Chelsea grin by his father? Not knowing was part of the fun. So, when it was announced that a full movie dedicated to the character was arriving fans were equal parts intrigued and trepidatious. Arthur Fleck, played spectacularly by Joaquin Phoenix, is a victim of life in numerous ways, plagued with an illness that causes him to having laughing fits and treated as a freak in an unfair Gotham. There can be many arguments made for why this film doesn’t stand up, and it’s clear why it has divided so many opinions amongst critics and fans. However, it is the beauty of the film that makes it stand out. The cinematography, the production design of a trash filled Gotham, and a haunting score that that is just as dark as our protagonist. The rich eat the poor and Arthur becomes a morally clouded symbol for the downtrodden, being both a monster and a man of sympathy.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Michaela Sprague, Kayla Radomski, and Ryan Ramirez in Once Upon a Time ...in Hollywood (2019)

6. Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 14/08/2019

Who: Director – Quentin Tarantino Cast – Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley & Timothy Olyphant

Why: Tarantino’s ninth film is a true love letter to the Hollywood of old. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, Tarantino explores the change in the industry through the narrative of Rick Dalton, a once household name for his TV work in the Western genre, and his faithful stunt double Cliff Booth who are both having to deal with the changing climate of film and the potential demise of their career. There’s no point going too much into the stylings of this well known writer-director, as these are evident in his entire body of work. Instead, the stand out for this film is its retelling of history. Of course this can be seen in his other films such as Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained to an extent, taking events that we know and changing the outcome with a heroic moment. In retelling one of Hollywood’s most upsetting and violent stories, one that has been credited with ending an era, we are presented with hope and a chance for change. The ensemble cast shine as always in these films and it is a visual feast. Once upon a time, things could have been different.

Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Vin Diesel, Taika Waititi, Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Wong, Anthony Mackie, Chris Hemsworth, Dave Bautista, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Tessa Thompson, Pom Klementieff, Letitia Wright, Tom Holland, and Winston Duke in Avengers: Endgame (2019)

5. Avengers: Endgame

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 25/04/2019

Who: Director – Joe Russo & Anthony Russo Cast -Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson & Jeremy Renner

Why: Our final MCU entry of course scores high on this list. Following on from the devastation of Avengers: Infinity War, End Game must deal with the outcome of ‘The Snap’ and its impact on the remaining members of The Avengers. The chapter concludes in spectacular fashion with exhilarating action and a gigantic battle scene to rival all others that followed it. Beyond the timey-wimey spacey-wacey stuff of the narrative is the pure heart of this film, the characters. There is a level of loss, pain and defiant optimism in this film that makes it impossible to not be hit right in the feels. Endgame has been approaching for a long time and once it arrived I still was not prepared. There is heartbreak and sacrifice in this film that had me shedding many tears throughout its epic runtime. This is a beautiful send off to a phase and a perfect way to approach a new one. The phrase “On your left!” will bring smiles to faces for a long time after the credits have rolled.

Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)

4. Fighting with My Family

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 01/03/2019

Who: Director – Stephen Merchant Cast – Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, Kim Matula, Nick Frost & Florence Pugh

Why: WWE has been a part of my life for a very long time. After witnessing my first match, the infamous 1998 Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind, I was hooked and I’ve been following the world of Sports Entertainment ever since. Fighting with My Family is a real underdog story based on the true events that led to WWE star Paige becoming the youngest Diva’s champion. Florence Pugh plays Paige, a young amateur wrestler from an eccentric family who founded WAW (World Association of Wrestling) in Norwich. After auditioning with her brother to get on the WWE roster she is accepted, but unfortunately he isn’t. Fighting with My Family is a funny, and sweet, grassroots look at a family driven by passion and torn apart by success. There is an authenticity in the story and the performances that bring true heart to the rise and triumph of one of the most well-known female wrestlers of recent time. There may be some sports movie clichés here but the British humour, well-paced script and inspiring story are more than enough to counteract that.

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart (2019)

3. Booksmart

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 27/05/2019

Who: Director – Olivia Wilde Cast – Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte & Jason Sudeikis

Why: The Coming of Age genre has made a real resurgence in the last few years with innovative and fresh takes on the modern teen experience. With Good Boys and Netflix’s Sex Education coming out in 2019 it seemed that exploring the issues and lives of the younger generation was coming back into style. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart takes the usual premise of a Coming of Age film and creates something more relatable to the modern world. Molly and Amy, two intelligent young women, realise that they have not been ‘cool’ in High School. Determined to rectify this they plan on proving themselves with one epic night of partying. Old tropes, stereotypes and clichés are demolished as we see a plethora of different teen types being unique and supportive of each other. Booksmart epitomises young female friendship with a smart, modern and insanely witty script. It deserves to be as loved, and as quoted, as it’s culturally engrained predecessors such as The Breakfast Club and Superbad.

Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out (2019)

2. Knives Out

Where: Preorder on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & Available Mar 2020 on DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 27/11/2019

Who: Director – Rian Johnson Cast – Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon & Don Johnson

Why: I came for the Murder Mystery and stayed for the comedy and beautiful array of knitted sweaters. Rian Johnson’s Whodunit Knives Out brings his own unique magic to the screen, he takes a tried and tested genre and rearranges the pieces just enough to pay homage to what came before whilst sparking it with new life. Harlan Thrombey, a prolific crime novelist is found dead, presumed to be through suicide. However, enough seeds of doubt have been sewn for Detective Benoit Blanc to be anonymously hired to investigate. The full family of eccentric and dysfunctional characters are suspected and each of them is given just enough time in the narrative to shine. Ana de Armas plays Marta, Harlan’s faithful nurse, who is enlisted as Watson to Blanc’s Sherlock. The humour is sharp, the location over the top and the ensemble cast are deliciously immoral. Bring on the Benoit Blanc chronicles, if only to hear that accent again.

Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, and So-dam Park in Gisaengchung (2019)

1. Parasite

Where: UK Release on 07/02/2020

When: 21/05/19 (Cannes Film Festival)

Who: Director – Bong Joon-ho Cast – Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi, Hyae Jin Chang & So-dam Park

Why: There is no doubt in my mind that Parasite should take top spot on this list. It is credit to the mastery of this film the amount of awards nominations this film has received, including being the 12th foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (also check out his acceptance speech from the Golden Globes, just perfection)This South Korean film deserves every word of praise that has been heaped upon it and more. A black comedy thriller that delves into the concepts of social status with a compelling commentary on both sides of the have and have-not coin. This is almost a film of two halves with disturbing and intriguing twists that spiral to a heart stopping conclusion. The visual language used by Bong Joon-ho epitomises the themes of the rich vs the poor in every frame. He is a master at work with a narrative that explores entitlement, dignity and privilege from a very dark angle. At the closing moments of this film we are left with the looming question of ‘Who is the real parasite?’ Is it the rich who use the poor, the poor who desperately attempt to become the rich, or a society that allows this to be the only options? Parasite is a nightmare fueled by the circumstances of the world we already live in.

Bombshells&Blueshells

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