2019 was an odd year for movies, especially at the top of the list.  A small few fought for the top slot this year. The problem was that so many movies that hoped to be smash hits fell flat or in some ways achieved the even worse rating of – meh.  The top of this year’s list came easy, but a log jam formed for the middle of the pack as movies failed to stand out.  Here are MY (HUGE EMPHASIS ON MY LIST, OF THE MOVIES THAT I SAW) top 10 movies of 2019 that I managed to see.

Top 10 Movies of 2019 #10 – Alita Battle Angel

– Rosa Salazar stars as Alita in Twentieth Century Fox’s ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

It feels like this movie was a lifetime ago, but it kicked off 2019 with a solid start.  This masterful mix of CGI and real world acting, along with a strong performance from newcomer Rosa Salazar landed this film in the top 10.  The action looked crisp and intense and certain scenes made me question if this truly was only a PG-13 movie.  The problem was the love story fell a bit flat.  Still, a fresh new world ready to launch a franchise, the box office left this film in limbo. 

Studios now must decide how to handle split box offices.  While flat here in the states ($85 mil), it soared overseas ($319 mil) giving it an impressive $404 million for the worldwide total.  Rumors float that a sequel may be in the works, but two major problems hinder its future.  James Cameron produced this film for 20th Century Fox.  Fox now goes by the name Disney. Also, Cameron as well as Disney are concentrating on a tiny failed product called Avatar.  Fans can only hope and wait.

#9 – Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

Before seeing this film, I thought it may land as high as #3 in the top 10 or fall as low as the last few slots.  Apparently, it fell to the latter.  While the near final third of the movie ranks amongst the best Star Wars product ever, a choppy, cluttered beginning as well as a cheesy, safe and pathetic ending ruined this movie.  It also sets a future that will never be seen again. All the main actors have sworn off any future Star Wars films, largely due to horrible fan experiences and criticisms.  Whether the final failure rests with JJ Abrams or studio meddling remains to be seen. Either way it is time for fresh start.

#8 – Shazam!

This movie also seems like ages ago.  I thought this movie would either be so stupid and asinine it would be hilarious, or it would be so stupid and asinine it would rank right down there with Green Lantern in terms of quality.  In the final scheme of things neither turned out to be true.  This film actually turned out wonderful performances from everyone involved and stuck to a beautiful theme of what a family truly is.  The comedy and action both remained on point, and this film sits poised to launch a new franchise with Dwayne Johnson (Black Adam) sitting in the wings.  This was my first real surprise of the year.

Top 10 Movies of 2019 #7 Spider-Man: Far From Home

Everyone knew this would be a solid film because Tom Holland and supporting cast nailed the first film and Marvel doesn’t miss with its movies.  The question really remained, what story would this tell?  This film essentially became the epilogue to the massive 22-year story arc by Marvel post Avengers: Endgame.  The story it told exceeded expectations and really fed on the father/son relationship built up between Tony Stark and Peter Parker. 

With the addition of Mysterio to the roster, the film added a wonderful level of intrigue and visuals that satisfied viewers.  The future looks bright for Spider-man, especially with the rumors J.K. Simmons may be returning to reprise his role as J. Jonah Jameson.  One small problem…. the war between Sony and Marvel/Disney for control over Spider-Man may ruin its future.  After Sony stood its ground and threatened to pull away from Marvel, a peace was made, bringing the two sides back together.

#6 – Avengers: Endgame

Marvel; Star Wars; Marvel movies
Image: Marvel Studios

After 22 years and a great number of superheroes, the running story that linked every Marvel movie made, even if just by cut scenes, came to a close.  This movie delivered on all the promises of its predecessors and had just one downside – What does Marvel do moving forward?  Almost all the original Avengers completed their story arcs, with the finality of Endgame christening this 22-movie story arc, the Tony Stark Saga. Thor appears to be the lone, original hero still going in the Marvel Universe. While new characters are waiting to be used still fill the galaxy, will they hold the audience’s attention the way the first crew did?  One thing Marvel stumbled on towards the end of the saga belonged to boring, formulaic storytelling.  Villains did not stand out and outside of origin stories little remained.  Can Marvel find a new way to deliver its movies?

Top 10 Movies of 2019 #5 – It Chapter 2

it chapter two cast

I loved this movie.  While it may not have been quite as good as the first movie, you cannot fault the star-studded cast or the writing.  The magic of the first movie revolved solely around the group of kids.  McAvoy, Chastain, Hader, and Co. nailed the roles the kids started, but that level of magic cannot be duplicated.  Despite that, this duology goes down as perhaps the best Stephen King adaptation ever done.  This movie also did a slightly better job ratcheting up the fear factor and scariness compared to the first chapter.  In the end the story told by these two films was superb.  I am not a horror fan, but I will continually enjoy watching these movies.

#4 – Joker

The Joker. (Image: Warner Bros)

Never before have I watched such an awesome, incredibly made movie and then sworn to never watch it again.  Joker not only entered the mind of a mentally sick and deprived man but allowed us to watch him descend into even darker existence.  Arthur Fleck was never a good guy.  There was no good guy falling to evil.  Fleck starts evil and learns to love and embrace the darkness and grow into it.  The little good we see in the film turns out to all be make believe. 

The reality and perfection achieved in this film makes it a masterpiece while at the same time making Joker a very hard film to watch.  Add together that this film feeds into the early days of Gotham City as it begins its fall to darkness and that Fleck creates the very world that would in turn create the legendary Batman, and this film is one of the must sees of the year – even if it is only once.

Top 10 movies of 2019 #3 – Last Christmas

While a few people might have this on their top 10 way down in the 8 or 9 holes, I am pretty sure I will be the only one with Last Christmas sitting all the way up in the #3 hole. I cannot help it.  I loved this movie!  So many things struck home for me. I spent the entire holiday season wishing I could have seen it again.  Emilia Clark stowed her dragons away for an elf outfit and a constantly changing address form.  Her life is falling apart around her and she cannot help it.  Until the tall, dark, stranger wanders into her life. 

I absolutely loved the comedy in this film.  Emilia’s deliveries were spot on and everyone around her, even Michelle Yeow as ‘Santa’, accented her perfectly.  But this movie goes beyond the stereotype.  This looks every bit the romcom style movie, but it is so much more.  In fact, I would say it isn’t even a romcom.  Just a heartfelt comedy.  All the laughs and feels from the trailers are in this movie, but there is so much more going on inside of it.  About 2/3 of the way through, Kate melts down in the arms of Tom.  It starts off very melodramatic and formulaic but listen to the conversation itself.  Listen to what is said, how Kate applies it and what happens as a result.  That part struck home harder than any other movie this year for me. 

Then consider the twist at the end and you have a very beautifully heart felt movie that must be watched every Christmas.  Let us not also forget the whole movie is set to the soundtrack of George Michael.  I never liked George Michael overly much, but after this movie, I put most of his songs on repeat on YouTube.

#2 – Knives Out

Knives Out; Rian Johnson
Image: Lionsgate

I really liked what Rian Johnson did with Last Jedi and after the trailers, this movie became my most anticipated movie of the winter.  The standard, Clue/murder mystery style movie to be sure, but this went so far beyond that.  The cast was stellar and added the wit, eccentricities and the character flaws needed to keep a movie like this entertaining for 2 hours.  Chris Evans and Ana de Armas really stood out amongst this all-star cast. 

The best part is Rian Johnson took the whodunit film, tells you 20 minutes into the film exactly who did it then takes you on a donut hole within a donut hole of another donut hole’s chase to tell you exactly what is going on.  This movie was top notch and I cannot wait not only to see what Rian does next, but if he will indeed get his own fresh unique taste of Star Wars in his own little corner of the galaxy far, far away.

Top 10 Movies of 2019 #1 – Ford Vs Ferarri

Matt Damon and Christian Bale on the set of Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V FERRARI.

In a million years I never would have guessed I would not only want to see this movie but love it as much as I did.  I don’t care for cars, and I hate racing, but this is a story about more than that.  This movie should have been called Shelby and Miles Vs. the Racing World.  This movie centers on the superb acting of Matt Damon and Christian Bale as Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles.  Not only are Shelby and Miles at the heat of this racing movie, but so is their friendship, partnership and brotherhood.  The casting of this film MADE this film. 

FvF is not a comedy, but so many times you find yourself busting a gut at a simple one liner in a fight or stare down, or a look given in retort to an insult.  Acting aside, director James Mangold continues his hot streak because the way he shot the car races and action in this movie are outstanding and breathtaking.  The music also lends so much power to the races that you find yourself sucked in no matter what you think of racing. Place Mangold on your list of must-see directors.  Right now, he can do no wrong.  This, to me, was the most perfectly crafted movie of 2019.