topfilms2019

Endings. That’s what people are going to talk about when they talk about 2019. The end of a decade, yes; but also quite a lot of movies that feel like conclusions to both sagas and careers. The Marvel machine produced its biggest, loudest, longest, and in some ways most satisfying entry to date – the towering Avengers: Endgame. The enormous cast, the scale of the epic, and the sheer impossibility of ignoring it as a cultural event meant every other movie this year was just renting space on Kevin Feige’s turf.

That includes an entry into a saga with much deeper cinematic roots. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker blasted into theaters at the end of the year to be met with its inevitable mixed reactions. A story that started in 1977 wrapped up with the expected amount of fireworks, but its rocky pacing and wild narrative leaps left a lot of fans wanting.

Other stories, too, saw belated chapters being written. Doctor Sleep found new adventures for Danny Torrence of 1980’s The Shining; M. Night Shyamalan returned with Glass, the long-awaited sequel to his 2001 superhero original Unbreakable, as well as Split; Zombieland got a sequel, bringing the original cast back together after 10 years; and Toy Story 4 saw Woody and the gang in their first outing since 2010.

Then there were the movies that felt like swan songs from directors looking back on their careers. Martin Scorsese’s mournful The Irishman was chief among them, but there was also Pedro Almodovar’s autobiographical Pain and Glory, and Tarantino’s nostalgic Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Yet, in a world where at least four classic Disney movies were remade as “live-action” abominations this year alone, it’s not all death and re-animation (even if The Dead Don’t Die and Zombieland Double Tap prove to the absolutely zero people who were asking that, yes, zombies have been played out for a long time). Fresh voices continue to appear. This year alone we got second features from such promising up-and-comers as David Robert Mitchell (Under the Silver Lake), Jennifer Kent (The Nightingale), Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), Dan Gilroy (Velvet Buzzsaw), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Jordan Peele (Us), Riley Stearns (The Art of Self-Defense), and Ari Aster (Midsommar). Not to mention feature directorial debuts from Joe Talbot (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), and Brie Larson (Unicorn Store).

Sure, we’re swimming in more worthless Netflix Christmas movies than we know what to do with. But at the same time, Parasite is a phenomenon and now a bona-fide Best Picture winner despite being a South Korean dark comedy with no stars. So you take the good with the bad, the new with the old.

And today, I give you my personal picks for my 10 favorite movies of 2019. Enjoy!

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15of15

2015 wasn’t a bad year, but I’m calling it a “bag” year.

What am I talking about?

Well, you know how sometimes movies just aren’t your bag? In an attempt to be a well-rounded cinema goer, I try to appreciate things that aren’t necessarily my bag. It’s one of the reasons that I do things like complete film lists, because then not only will it force me to confront things that aren’t my bag, it might also help me find new things that are my bag that I’d never have suspected were my bag. Most years I end up trying to catch up with some critical favorites which, on the surface, would seem not to be my bag. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t watched nearly enough movies to even have favorites. For example, what if instead of the ~60 new movies I saw this year, I had watched a different 60? That’s entirely possible. What if I have a bunch of favorite movies that I don’t know are my favorites because I never saw them?

Yet I feel like this year has been uncommonly predictable in the sense that I pretty much knew what I was going to like and dislike before I ever watched it. Most of the stuff that I thought would be my bag was my bag, and there weren’t a lot of surprises when I went looking for things that weren’t my bag. I mostly enjoyed movies from directors that I already favor (Baumbach, Tarantino, Villeneuve, Inarritu, Del Toro) and from genres that I favor (thriller, sci-fi), and disliked movies I didn’t expect to like (Jurassic World, Pixels). There were a couple of minor surprises – I liked Tomorrowland more than the consensus, didn’t love The Martian – but when I sought things a bit off the beaten path, like Tangerine or The Duke of Burgundy, none of it really made a big impression.

So while I’m pleased as punch to be a film aficionado right now, I can’t help but feel my own habits – and by extension, my year-end list – failed to capture the breadth of what filmmaking looked like this year. There’s no Holy Motors on my list, and no A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, no Sleepwalk with Me. It just feels like I didn’t see any stalwart indies or ambitious art films that I really fell in love with. Maybe that means I missed out. Or maybe it means mainstream movies were uncommonly good this year. I’d be more than happy to recommend Buzzard, for example, but to say I liked it better than any of the movies on this list would be dishonest – and there’d be no point in doing a personal list if it isn’t honest.

So with 2015 in the bag, here are the movies that are my bag this year:

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The People Under the Stairs | Phantasm | Night of the Creeps | The Picture of Dorian Gray | Wrong Turn | Crimson Peak | Bug | The Old Dark House | Cannibal Holocaust | Elvira, Mistress of the Dark | Nosferatu The Vampyre | Let’s Scare Jessica to Death | The Collector | Bio Zombie | The House of the Devil | Don’t Go in the House | Hell Comes to Frogtown | The Verdict


“Do not read the Latin!”

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