It’s a few months into 2020, so it’s time for my Top 10 Movies of 2019 list. I meant to get this up earlier, but there were a few reasons for the delay, some good and some bad (some technically difficulties unfortunately). So let’s just get cracking on the 10 best movies I saw in 2019, and one that was released in 2019, but it took me a few weeks into 2020 to watch one of it. I was surprised to see the number of new movies was a little lower than normal. I signed up for the AMC Theatres A-List ($20 a month to see 3 movies a week), and thought I was going to see a ton of movies, but I guess I was busy with other things. I am going to make a solid effort to make up for that in 2020, although I am off to a slow start with one month in.
#10 – Apollo 11
And we kick things off with a movie that made my top ten list at the halfway mark of 2019. Apollo 11 barely hung on to get the last spot on my final top ten list. I was going back and forth on this one, since it helps to check this out on an IMAX (even I was only able to see it on a LIMAX screen) screen, to really get the full effect. But after a recent re-watch, it felt worthy to stay on my top ten list. You also have to factor in that I grew up as a NASA nerd, so that might have something to do with this as well. But I think with the new footage and how crisp and clear everything looks, you can appreciate what you are seeing on screen, as well as the achievement of mankind to pull off this mission. We all know how this ends, but it is still going to keep you on the edge of your seat. One little word of advice for a proper viewing of this one: turn on the subtitles, as the sound and score sometimes drown out the dialogue.
#9 – Booksmart
Another movie that was on my top ten list earlier in 2019, and this one I have watched a few times. A few viewings of Booksmart will make sure you catch every joke and one liner between this great cast. And it is not just our main leads, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, who highlight this film; we can’t forget about about Billie Lourd, who steals the show every time she pops in on the screen. It’s a female-driven version of Super Bad with all of the heart and laughs. I can only hope we get more movies from director Olivia Wilde, perhaps with the same great cast as well. Ladies in Hollywood continue to show that they are a force to be reckoned with, and I am very OK with that after seeing this movie. And I believe you can check this out currently on Hulu, which makes it even easier to watch.
#8 – John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum
After getting to experience the great Raid (and we even get a few of the actors in this movie as well) and Mad Max Fury Road movies these past few years, I think it is safe to say that there is plenty to please us action movies fans. And they can actually have a decent story as well to go along with the nonstop, intense action. I was a little late to the John Wick series, but I am glad I finally gave it a chance. This has been a nice resurgence from Keanu Reeves, and I can’t wait to see that trend continue, we have new Bill and Ted and Matrix movies coming our way soon (and another installment in this series to top things off). Some highlights for this third installment would be the knife store scene, as well as Halle Berry and her dogs in a great fight later on in the movie. And it wouldn’t be a proper action film without some great one liners thrown in to mix things up a little. There is going to be plenty of Keanu in this top ten movies list, and I have a feeling that may happen again in 2020.
#7 – Toy Story 4
After the emotional gut punch that was Toy Story 3, I didn’t feel like a sequel was needed. And going into this fourth movie, I was curious how I was going to feel after seeing it. Well no spoilers, but I ended up really liking this. As a whole movie I don’t think it compares to the third movie, but still hits all of those emotional beats you expect from a Pixar film. With most of the focus on Woody and his story, we also get introduced to a few new favorites as well as a few familiar ones in the series. Keanu Reeves pops up and steals the show as Duke Caboom, and of course, can’t forget about the newest member to the family, Forky, voiced perfectly by Tony Hale. We have come a long way since the first Toy Story; technology has improved, but the storytelling continues to knock it out of the park. Do we need another installment after this, my heart says no, but perhaps they can prove me wrong again.
#6 – Peanut Butter Falcon
As someone who recently got back into wrestling this past year, after seeing the trailer and some buzz from reviewers for Peanut Butter Falcon I was sure to go out and check it out. A heartfelt story about two guys from different backgrounds, on a journey to learn a little about themselves and to help out the other with their problems. And as one of the pull quotes states, it’s a modern day Tom Sawyer story. Shia LaBeouf shines in the role, as well as newcomer Zack Gottsagen. As I stated, I recently got back into wrestling, and it ties into this as our main character Zak, who is a big wrestling fan and wants to learn how to wrestle from his wrestling hero, played by Thomas Haden Church. A good number of movies on my list put you through a variety of emotions, and this is no different. Sadly this got a short theater run, but don’t let that discourage you from checking this out on your home entertainment system/devices.
#5 – Marriage Story
I guess there should be no surprise that Black Widow and Kylo Ren’s marriage would never last, maybe they were mad that Endgame and Rise of Skywalker aren’t on this list. I had to make that joke, it was too good to pass up. And Marriage Story is another thing you won’t want to pass up. Some great storytelling from director and writer Noah Baumbach, showing us that sometimes love doesn’t last, people change, for the good or bad. And even though it sort of tells one story from two sides, it makes you think who it puts in favor and you can decide who you want to side with. And I have to imagine that may even change with multiple viewings. Great job from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, and a great showcase of their skills would be the big fight. It may not be a happy subject, and yes it is going to affect you depending on your personal experience. This may require a comedy afterwords just to even out those emotions after watching this one. And as an added plus, you don’t even need to leave your home, as this is available on Netflix right now.
#4 – The Farewell
Well the #1 movie at the halfway point took a small drop down to the #4 position at the end of the year. Sadly The Farewell was skipped by the Oscar nominations this year, but as you can tell, I really enjoyed this movie. No matter how many times I see this, it reminds me how much I enjoy being around my family, and can’t help but to make a few phone calls to see how everyone is doing. We may fight at times, but in the end we are all still family. You may not agree with how they treat death, but after watching this movie, you can see why they do it. We all treat death in our own way. Some great performances from Awkwafina, showing off her dramatic acting skills and of course Shuzhen Zhao as Nai Nai.
#3 – Jojo Rabbit
Scarlett Johansson makes another appearance in my top ten list of 2019, and this time things are a little different. We travel back to the time of Nazi Hitler, as we follow a young boy, played wonderfully by Roman Griffin Davis, who wants to be a good Nazi, and even has a special imaginary friend, Hitler himself, played by director and writer of this film, Taika Waititi. Johansson plays his mom, who has a different outlook on life and has a secret. When Jojo stumbles upon her secret, he learns a little about himself and how he should live his life in war times. Some great co-starring and scene stealing roles from Sam Rockwell and Archie Yates. Plenty of laughs throughout Jojo Rabbit, but a few gut punches of sadness are coming your way as well.
#2 – Knives Out
Rian Johnson is back baby (was he really ever gone?), and this time he’s diving into the murder mystery world of cinema, delivering an instant classic with Knives Out. I was lucky enough to see this a week before its release. And seeing this in a dark and full theater was an amazing experience and a wonderful time. Another film that deserves a second viewing just to make sure you catch every little one liner from everyone in this all-star cast. If you were a fan of the classic film Clue, this is going to be right up your alley. A few weeks after this opened there was already chatter about a follow up to this, as we go on another adventure and mystery with Daniel Craig, playing Benoit Blanc. And we can’t forget about our leading lady, Ana de Armas, who has an action-filled role in the upcoming James Bond film. So many twists and turns as the mystery unfolds, a few early surprises that will test your sleuthing skills before the final scene is done.
#1 – 1917
Another reason this top ten list was delayed was this movie. It took a few weeks before 1917 finally opened here in the Milwaukee area, and I wanted to see it before I completed my list. Sadly it wasn’t playing in the real IMAX, so I had to settle for the LIMAX. But it still ended up being a great experience for me, and that is why it landed at the #1 spot for 2019. We follow two young soldiers, played by Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, who are sent on a mission to prevent the death of some soldiers, including a brother. Writer and director Sam Mendes works some movie magic to seam together this movie to act like it is shot all in one continuous shot. And with the power of music, adding even more drama and thrilling moments. A few familiar faces pop up as they continue on their mission, but then it’s right back to some heart-pounding action. This and Dunkirk would make a great double feature, both great in their own special way.
And there you go, it’s already in a few months into 2020, but not too late to finalize my top ten films of 2019, at least I hope you feel that way too. And for those of you that give this list a read, all that I am hoping for is that you give these movies a chance. I think they are something special and I hope as the credits roll, you agree with me. But if you don’t, I am just glad you gave it a chance. A few are still playing in theaters, but a few are on a few of the various streaming services, although not the same as seeing it in a dark theater on a big screen. There are already a few movies I am looking forward to seeing in 2020, but can’t wait for those few surprises that pop up as well.