Ah, another year at the movies! Who can believe it? I set zero movie-related goals for this year, and therefore, I have nothing significant to report on, statistics-wise. It was certainly another year––as they all ought to be––of me seeing more non-2019 movies than 2019 movies, but this was the least number of new releases I’ve seen in a couple of years. Probably since I graduated from college? It doesn’t matter. Anyway, to me, 2019 was a stronger movie year than 2018, but neither lives up to the joy of 2017. Oh well. Next year we have First Cow, but until then…
My Neighbor Totoro, Heat, Home Again, The Intern, A Fish Called Wanda (Kevin Kline… SOS), Dallas Doll, Justice League, Four Lions, Gosford Park (*chef’s kiss*), Jane Eyre, The Color Purple, Manhunter, Alfie, Pulp Fiction, Adore, The Sweet Hereafter, Casino Royale, Away From Her, Layer Cake, Beetlejuice, Something Wild, Batman, In The Bedroom (SO GOOD), The Last Days Of Disco, Killer Of Sheep, Batman Returns, Mars Attacks!, Howards End, Maurice (love love love), Desert Hearts, Jackie Brown, Out Of Sight (horny), Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Valley Girl (“what if a normie dated an alt guy?” is an all time great premise), Chinatown, Sunshine, Geostorm, The Last Of The Mohicans, La Cage Aux Folles, Mother (not that one), The Rover, The Invitation, Cat People, Duet For Cannibals, The Insider (Ansel and Violetta were at this screening lol), The Love Witch, The Long Goodbye, The Bridges Of Madison County, Metropolitan (basically how grad school is going), Drive (lmao… honestly a good movie), and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (yuck! I love it).
Mortal Engines (when the Minions joke hit 8 minutes into the movie, I felt my soul leave my body), The Other Side Of The Wind, Aquaman (the best movie that has ever given me a literal migraine), The Wife, The Old Man And The Gun, The Mule (said it better than I ever will), and The Nutcracker And The Four Realms.
The year that it was. Obviously, if you don’t see it below, I didn’t see it, including the winner of the Golden Lion at Venice, Joker.
Empty, soulless. Everyone is phoning it in except Ben Mendelsohn, who is giving the performance of his career (jk––that’s this video). I love that Jude Law’s character (could not be bothered to remember his name) is always on the phone. I’m also always on the phone!
I cried, but it was an accident!!! The second act of this movie is not too bad, maybe even a little great. John Slattery is good (when isn’t he?).
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Despised this so much and refuse to see another one of these in theaters unless it costs me $1! xoxo
Alita: Battle Angel
I was not particularly charmed by this, perhaps because the kid and Zachary Levi have totally disparate personalities? Jack Dylan Grazer is very sweet, and when you realize the “type” of character he has been doing the whole time… well, that payoff is pretty great. Good luck convincing me that Mark Strong does not think this movie is real.
Overcomes its Ryan Reynolds factor. I would watch 1,000 of these!
John Wick: Chapter Three — Parabellum
These have really jumped the shark, imo. Weirdly I think the franchise is getting too gruesome for my liking. Wasn’t the point of the first one that killing is somewhat thankless for Wick? Like, the coolness of the kills means nothing to him because it’s no longer who he is inside, therefore the increasingly elaborate kills feel… antithetical to the whole thing? I guess I’m overthinking. Loved Anjelica Huston and Mark Dacascos! And Asia Kate Dillon!
Toy Story 4
I forgot everything that happened.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Smug. Awful cameos, minus Rob Delaney (angel). Plus!! No room for Luke Evans in this? I have a hard time believing The Alienist took up that much time. Statham is one of the greats, but even he is above this.
I took an edible and (accurately) guessed the twist ten minutes into the movie. Great experience! Highly recommend.
I saw this by myself after taking a redeye in which I got approximately 80 minutes of sleep and was deeply moved.
The whole first act of this movie is Oscar Isaac going from guy to guy to ask them if they read his text message? The movie is good.
The Beach Bum
More of an episode of Sesame Street than the new Mulaney special.
Great movie for the year 2009. Maybe even 1999? Whole thing is outrageously dated, sadly, but hit me in a soft spot during a hard week. Emma Thompson is so, so great, and Reid Scott is so, so hot.
I admired this more than I liked it (her last name is Ardor––come on, lmao). Sort of felt like it couldn’t have its cake––breakup movie––and eat it too––grief movie. (Don’t tell me these are the same thing.) Looked great, sounded great. Basically every joke lands hard (pun intended). I wish it had been shorter, but at the same time wanted it to be longer? The biggest giant question mark in my head at the end of this year, which is more than I can say about a lot of things. Florence Pugh is the real deal, and Jack Reynor has been on my radar since Sing Street. Would have killed for more grad school jokes.
I know literally no one gives a shit, but I would have gladly accepted $10,000 from Netflix (I know they have it) to consult on the classical music aspect of this movie.
I love how this movie looks. Is there anything Kaitlyn Dever can’t do?
I found this almost impossible to judge in terms of quality, because I felt like it exists more for Shia LaBeouf than for anyone who ever watches it. Extraordinarily well-acted minus one glaring exception (if you know, you know). I hope Shia got what he was looking for out of this project!
I liked everything I saw but could never get into the movie. Like it was holding me at arms’ length (or more than) for its entirety. I wonder if it was the watching-at-home factor, or if I need more time with it.
Everyone is charming, but I think the pacing here (like with so many novel adaptations) is a disaster. No emotional beats landed for me. I love Florence Pugh and Chris Cooper!
The Big Short-ification of any movie about a vaguely complicated subject is a grating trend of which I think we’re only in the first act. Strange, condescending misfire. Easily the worst ending of a movie I saw all year.
No one has any idea what satire is anymore? Cute kids.
Same as the above, but sub in “Tom Sturridge” for “kids.”
Always Be My Maybe
The two leads had no chemistry, and the trend of casting celebs to play themselves but the take on themselves is “celebs are rich and mean and weird” should have been retired after This Is The End.
Bad politics. Decent chemistry. I like when Charlize Theron gets to laugh. :)
High Flying Bird
I was too stupid for this.
Woman At War
I don’t know if ecoterrorism should be hygge, but I also don’t know if it shouldn’t be hygge.
Leaned back and just let the serotonin kick in. Why not? I had a blast! The “Love In This Club” sequence is very special, and basically all of the needle drops are perfect.
Not my tempo.
I love betting it all on Rory Kinnear! Very beautiful movie that will be a tough sell to most people I know.
I don’t think anyone had a good time filming this movie, even Robert Pattinson, whose whole vibe is, “if I’m gonna be in this movie, I’m committed to having a good time.” I say all this as a person who loves all of Shakespeare’s Henry plays, so many of which are full of great jokes and wonderful moments, and so to have Joel Edgerton as thicc, self-serious Falstaff, I’m like, what the fuck… is going on… Anyway, if you ever see me, ask me to deliver Robert Pattinson’s “hello little boy” line.
Very un-cinematic… sorry!
This comes down to a matter of taste, but it’s hard to think of a topic less interesting to me than disillusionment with national identity. It reminded me of Catch-22, which I would have told you was my favorite novel up until last summer, during which I reread it and found it excruciating and put it down 150 pages in. Tom Mercier is really good. Your mileage may vary!
Felt one thousand times longer than The Irishman. If I had to say anything about the movies of 2019, it’s that organized crime seems bad.
I Was At Home, But…
Nothing I write about this movie will make any sense. It’s like a cutaway joke from a sitcom about a European arthouse movie? And yet I was enthralled?
A Girl Missing
Really good toddler in this.
Way too much going on here in a movie about the world’s worst therapist trying to write autofiction––who can relate––but there is one great movie-within-a-movie subplot that I really enjoyed.
Loved this!! In a movie year saturated with films about class and economic solidarity, who would have thought that a Jack London adaptation would best reckon with whether or not an artist can ever really be a comrade? It loses me in the last act, SORT OF, but still very worth seeing. Just gorgeous! And Luca Marianelli is so hot, lol.
My favorite movie of 2020. :)
The interior logic is paper-thin, but it’s insanely well-acted and the look of it is just fucking cool. To not nominate Lupita would be a crime. One of the best scores of the year. Very scary, also!
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé
The only “documentary” I saw this year… lol. Pathetic (of me). Very good concert! Pretty bad documentary. I rewatch bits of this all the time.
There exists a possibility that I only like this movie as much as I do because Cameron Scheetz put Honky Cat on the one good work playlist we had six years ago, and seeing it in full musical glory felt nostalgic and special to me.
Taron Egerton is likable and giving it his all in a performance that should make Rami Malek want to retire.
Hurt my feelings in more ways than I can count. Everyone is really great in it, but I think Tom Burke especially is a revelation.
KEEP CALM AND ALAN ALDA
Pain and Glory
The first act is a little slow––or maybe I needed some time to adjust to it––and then it all just hit me at once. Regardless, once I was in, I was in. The most tender movie I saw this year.
Ford V Ferrari
Look… it’s exactly what it says on the box, but I fucking love what it says on the box. And I love what’s inside the box. Christian Bale is having fun! A lot of fun! The cars go fast! Beep beep, vroom vroom, horn horn! Men go speeding off to their early deaths in the pursuit of something few people understand! Would make for a great viewing with Lost City of Z… or Free Solo… any Tom Cruise movie… One day, years from now, everyone will say, “Fran, you were correct to love Ford V Ferrari this much.”
Dolemite Is My Name
Lots of fun. Love Eddie, love Wesley, love Da’vine, love Craig. Disaster Artist who.
This one snuck up on me at the tail end of the year and burrowed itself deep. A perfect version of a conventional story, and one that does an especially good job showing the compromises artists––female artists––must make in order to survive. It made me realize that every year should have at least one version of A Star Is Born, no? Jessie Buckley is really wonderful, and Julie Walters never disappoints. You read about Mary Steenburgen and the song? Read about Mary Steenburgen and the song.
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Good to see Leo have fun again. I need to see this movie one to nine more times before I can pass any kind of real judgment on it, but its second act is dazzling. The kind of stuff I go to the movies for.
Basically has the same ending as The Dark Knight Rises.
I fell head over heels with this from moment one. Easily one of the funniest movies of the year. A lively, alienating nightmare. (Maybe closer to what I wanted Midsommar to be––an exploration of proximity and madness and ritual? They’re different, I know, I know.) Willem Dafoe is hamming it up, and Robert Pattinson has never ever been hotter. In summation:
Far and away my favorite Scorsese of the decade. Everyone is great in it. That it requires a level of patience and empathy is admittedly challenging, but so worth the reward. I love Stephen Graham. It’s exactly as long as it needs to be.
James Gray made his jungle movie a space movie, and his space movie a jungle movie. Weirder and scarier than I thought it would be––to its strength. I didn’t write about him above, but Brad Pitt gives two of the year’s best performances, both of which rely on his sense of calm. It’s basically, like, the Grim Reaper traveling through space. “We’re all we’ve got” hits like a ton of bricks.
Somehow, in the grand scheme of the year, it almost felt like The Farewell became underrated. A shame. It’s perfect to me. Not sure what else to say.
Embarrassingly, it took me a couple of viewings for this one to really land, and then I found myself moved to tears on most recent rewatch. Searing and necessary, yes, of course, but that it’s so charming until it’s not is what cuts deepest. There’s as much empathy as there is sharpness. My favorite score of the year too.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
It’s not just that it’s crafted with female gaze, but that it’s literally about the female gaze––the ways in which women have borne witness to each other throughout history. Who makes art, who sees art, who is the subject of art… The most at peace I’ve felt all year was watching these three women play cards by candlelight.
full ranked list on Letterboxd // see you in 2020, xo.