This is a bit of a different kind of review. I saw so many films in 2019, but a bit too late to actually put out individual reviews and have them be still relevant. However, so many incredible movies came out in "Oscar Season," that I just had to talk about them in some way. I'll be doing about a paragraph review of each, and throwing in some honorable mentions along the way. I highly recommend all these films to just about anyone.
Honorable Mention: Ford v. Ferrari directed by James Mangold
I actually watched this film last night as of writing this, so my thoughts are fresh in my mind. Ford v. Ferrari is a well-directed but formulaic Hollywood flick with a lot of polish. Matt Damon gives a phenomenal performance that is in the same vein as DiCaprio in OUATIH. Bale and Bernthal also do a great job in their respective roles, but their characters were very one-dimensional. The action is very well done, and there are some truly hilarious jokes, but beyond that, there isn't much substance. The only theme present is that anything can be accomplished with enough hard work. It was entertaining enough, but not anything special.
#10: Shazam! directed by David Sandberg
I already reviewed this back in March when I first saw it, and my thoughts have mostly remained the same, but my score has changed slightly, only because of what it was up against. Shazam is by no means a perfect movie. It follows the general superhero origin story formula and has some pacing issues, but it is a light-hearted adventure that's fun for the whole family. The characters are relatable, and Zachary Levi does a great job of making the transition into an adult seamless. The final act of the film pays off what was set up from the start, and it is completely earned. Shazam! does a great job at doing what it's trying to.
#9: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker directed by JJ Abrams
Alright, so this one may be a bit biased. I have been a massive Star Wars fan since I was around 8 years old, and after being disappointed by The Last Jedi, I was excited to see where they would go. Despite having a laundry list of plot holes, the film manages to keep a smile on your face from start to finish. It presented some of the best character development in the series, specifically with Kylo Ren, and had great CGI, a nostalgia-inducing score, and fan service in the best possible way. Not a perfect movie by any stretch, but a satisfying conclusion to the Star Wars Skywalker Saga.
#8: Avengers: Endgame directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
Once again, a slightly biased pick. This was by far my most anticipated movie of the year, if not the decade. Coming off of Avengers: Infinity War, my favorite comic book movie of all time, I had very high expectations. While I still enjoyed it immensely, I was slightly disappointed with the result. The first 2 acts dragged on and were littered with sloppy screenwriting, but the final hour was in my opinion, the most iconic 60 minutes in the past 10 years of film. There were so many moments that made me jump for joy, and I was smiling ear-to-ear from start to finish. This film was another great Marvel outing, despite its many flaws.
#7: Spider-Man: Far From Home directed by Jon Watts
Coming off of Endgame, I was really feeling the Marvel hype. All my time was spent watching Marvel videos or having discussions about them. I went into Far From Home expecting something slightly worse than Homecoming, but was pleasantly surprised to find that this is my favorite Spider-Man film of all time. Mysterio was an incredible character, and there were many surprises to his arc. Holland once again proves that he is Peter Parker, and his supporting cast perfectly compliments him. The effects are phenomenal, especially the illusion scenes, and everything just feels polished and full of care.
#6: The Lighthouse directed by Robert Eggers
I actually already wrote a full review for Lighthouse, but it never got published. I didn't know what to expect going into it, as the trailers were all very cryptic. This film was masterfully crafted by Robert Eggers, and Willem Dafoe puts on the single greatest performance of his career. The story is very convoluted and hard to fully wrap your head around, but the message is very clear. Every frame was meticulously shot to create suspense and cleverly foreshadow what was to come. Up until the last moment, every character and the island itself is shrouded in mystery. You have no idea what exactly you're witnessing and who these people are.
#5: The Mandalorian created by Jon Favreau
I know, I know. The Mandalorian is a TV show, but I loved it so much that I couldn't just leave it out. In fact, I'd argue it plays more like a film than some movies do. There are so many iconic characters and moments in the series, and it feels like the freshest Star Wars content that we've had since Disney acquired LucasFilm. Pedro Pascal does a great job of portraying a character that essentially doesn't have a face. Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Werner Herzog, and of course The Child do a great job of filling out the cast. The story flows naturally and leaves you wondering what could possibly come next. Mandalorian is just plain fun.
#4: Joker directed by Todd Phillips
Joker attempted something that the comic book industry really hadn't tried before. To create a dark, gory, and gritty tragedy about a villain. It seemed impossible for someone like Joker, who has no redeeming qualities and has no legitimately understandable motives for doing what he does, but Todd Phillips somehow manages to make you feel bad for Fleck, as he is constantly beaten down by society. There's no real deep message beneath the many layers, but it conveys the themes it wants to effectively enough. Phoenix gives the character everything he has, resulting in the best portrayal of Joker to date.
#3: Jojo Rabbit directed by Taika Waititi
My experience watching this movie may have influenced my feelings toward it to a degree, as I got to meet Waititi and attend a Q&A at my screening, but I absolutely love Jojo Rabbit. This was a very risky move for Fox, as it was advertised as a comedy about arguably the worst human being of all time, Adolf Hitler. However, he subverted all expectations and created a satire that has heart. There are some very powerful moments in this film that will bring tears to your eyes, but for most of the 2 hour runtime you'll be smiling ear to ear. Hitler was portrayed perfectly, and never felt offensive. Jojo Rabbit is a true work of art.
#2: Knives Out directed by Rian Johnson
Honestly, I love my #2 and #1 picks equally. After my hatred of The Last Jedi, I was cautious going into this. Safe to say it wildly exceeded all my expectations. Rian created an emotional rollercoaster of a story that is the definition of fun. Every character has their own quirks and their jokes are comedic gold. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) steals every scene he's in and has great chemistry with the supporting cast. Marta (Ana de Armas) gives an amazing performance and carries the bulk of the emotion throughout. It lends very well to multiple rewatches. It's perfect for what it's trying to be and fun for the whole family.
#1: Parasite directed by Bong Joon-ho
I was skeptical going into Parasite. I was worried that the change in genres would come off as tonally inconsistent. Upon seeing it, my mind was blown. It was hilarious, and I laughed out loud multiple times, but as the film progressed, it evolved into a suspenseful drama that felt like something directed by Hitchcock. At first glance, it may seem like an entertaining pseudo-heist story, but actually, it's a reflection on political issues in our world such as social classes and climate change, just to name a few. Each actor does an incredible job conveying emotion beyond the usage of language. Parasite has become my favorite film of all time.