Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! 2019 has officially concluded, Happy New Year! Happy New Decade, as well! We are now in the 2020s! And with new years, come new countdowns. It is time for me to count down my top 10 BEST movies of 2019. I just want to remind everyone, before I start this countdown, this is a subjective list. Therefore, each and every entry to this list is strictly my opinion, and in no way a fact. With that being said, listen to me! I’m important! The movies on this list may be slightly different, or maybe entirely different from the movies on your list. Maybe by some coincidence they are the same, I don’t know. I am not here to settle debates; I am just here to have some fun and spread some joy. Also, I have not seen every single movie that has come out in 2019. There have been quite a few Disney live action remakes that have come out like “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” Guess what? Haven’t seen them, so those are off the list. I even missed out on a couple comic book movies this year, I haven’t seen “Hellboy” and I also haven’t seen “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” So many movies, so little time. With that out of the way, I do want to address a few honorable mentions before we dive into the main event.
Honorable Mention: Joker
My first honorable mention is “Joker.” This is a comic book film that I heard about a couple years back and I was a bit confused as to why we’re getting it. I felt general audience members would be a bit turned off by a villain-centered comic book film. It could work in a comic book, but still. Ultimately, this film is a beautifully shot, well-written, expertly crafted piece of work. If Joaquin Phoenix is not nominated for best actor at the Academy Awards, there will be riots.
Honorable Mention: Blinded by the Light
The next honorable mention is “Blinded by the Light,” a film that is lovely, charming, and all round just a good time. I was never that into Bruce Springsteen, I mean, I like him, but I am not a die hard fan or anything. But “Blinded by the Light” made me feel very fulfilled as a cinemagoer. It’s a film I did not expect to end up watching, but based on the pleasantly fun time I had, I do not regret going.
Honorable Mention: Spider-Man: Far from Home
Finally, for honorable mentions, is “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” Personally, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is my favorite comic book film of the year. More than the previously stated honorable mention, “Joker,” not to mention more than “Avengers: Endgame.” It is a film that is honestly better than its predecessor, 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which continues piggybacking off of its preexisting film universe material with brilliance, and if you ask me, it has one of the better villain roles in its genre.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the goldmine! These are my top 10 BEST movies of 2019!
#10: Alita: Battle Angel
Coming in at #10 is a film that I did not think I’d particularly be fond of when the marketing started, became more worried for when it was delayed into the month of February of this year, but ended up being one of 2019’s biggest surprises, “Alita: Battle Angel.” I don’t know how many people ended up loving this movie, but I managed to find out that the community who happens to love this movie is perhaps bigger than I originally thought it would be. Either that, or they just do a really good job through social media tactics by making their voices heard. One or the other. One sign that this movie happened to be really good is that it makes me want to be a part of this futuristic world. After all, it does have some of the finest visuals I have seen all year. I am not that familiar with the original source material, and I have no real plans to go back and look upon said source material, but the filmmakers did a really good job at bringing a story like this one to life. And even though I enjoyed viewing this at home with the volume up high on my 4K TV, this is one of those movies that I honestly regret not seeing in the theater. Also, why isn’t Motorball a thing? I don’t care if it’s dangerous, it’s really f*cking cool! “Alita: Battle Angel” is ridiculously fast-paced, fun, and one of the prettiest movies of the year.
#9: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
They say 2019 truly is the year of Keanu Reeves, and one point of evidence that everyone seems to go to in their argument is “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.” I have been looking forward to this film ever since I saw the ending to the second installment of this franchise! My gosh! This film has the essentials for a proper modern action flick. It’s not afraid to be brutal, it’s got a variety of fight scenes that are all done well, and it has assassin dogs! I hate dogs in real life, but this movie made me root for dogs for at least one particular scene! A lot of people tend to say that in a lot of movies, the sequels usually don’t live up to its predecessors. Turns out, this is my favorite “John Wick” movie yet. I think each “John Wick” has improved upon the one that came before it. The first movie was a simple revenge story about a guy who lost his lover and dog, it was solid and had a pretty good action sequence in a nightclub. Chapter 2 was a little more upbeat, lively, and had some of the best cinematography of the decade (at least for an action movie). This third movie raises the stakes, puts you right in the action from scene one, and never backs down from being fun, yet gritty.
#8: Ford v Ferrari
Up next is “Ford v Ferrari,” one of the finest racing films ever made. Between James Mangold’s solid direction, the admirable chemistry between leads played wonderfully by Matt Damon and Christian Bale, this flick is just a damn good time. Out of the many theater experiences I have been a part of this year, “Ford v Ferrari” is by far one of the most spectacular, especially considering how I saw it in IMAX. While I don’t think this film will win Best Picture (although I do think it could potentially come close), it could end up dominating in the sound categories for sure. Just hearing the various vrooms and revs from this film alone provides an instant adrenaline rush. On top of that, this film is based on a true story that I did not really know much about, but it is one that I quickly grown to admire as soon as I saw its events play out on screen. I think the one problem is that the film comes close to overstaying its welcome when it comes to Coca-Cola product placement, but other than that, it is just about as good as a racing film can get. The movie itself is fast-paced, attention-grabbing, and intense. What more could you want? Go see this thing!
#7: Knives Out
I liked “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” when it came out, but the more I thought about it, the worse it got. At this point, it’s mediocre. Part of it mainly has to do with the screenplay delivered from Rian Johnson. However, this year, I saw “Knives Out” and it honestly blew my socks off! The cast is great, the direction is spectacular, the cinematography is some of the best of the year, and if I had to be honest, of the few movies that I have seen from Rian Johnson, this might be his best one yet! For the record, I still haven’t seen “Brick,” but I hear it’s good. Also, can we just talk about that title? Not that it has much to do with the film’s overall quality, but “Knives Out” honestly might be the sickest and most badass title of the year. As I write this, the film is still in theaters, and there’s a good chance that it might still be in theaters for some time considering how much buzz it’s getting. I was talking to a friend on social media recently and they made an interesting point. Chris Evans is in this movie, and he plays one of the major characters. If you have seen trailers or marketing for the movie, you might know that there is a moment where he points at a bunch of family members around him and tells them to “eat s*it.” This is Captain America! The embodiment of a proud, mighty, generous man who wants to do what he can to help those in need of saving. So… I guess he really IS America’s ass. Also, speaking of well-delivered and brilliantly executed performances, we need to talk about Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas. Both actors give 110% and I feel that even if they were written badly, which they ARE NOT AT ALL, they’d still be worth praising. I love how Ana de Armas’ character cannot tell a lie or else she’d throw up. It’s a really solid character trait, especially for a murder mystery. I’d enjoy seeing more adventures of Daniel Craig’s character, should Rian Johnson or Lionsgate decide to make more of these movies. Overall, it’s a really fun time at the cinema and a great movie to see with a crowd. Rian Johnson, you are officially forgiven for “The Last Jedi.”
I walked into “Parasite” thinking it was going to be really good. I was wrong, it was really GREAT. There is just about no issue that I can come up with regarding this movie. Bong Joon Ho directs the ever living crap out of this thing and it shows! The actors, even children, ALL give tremendous performances! I know the Academy is mainly an American tradition, but this better be getting some Oscar nominations for more than just Foreign film. “Parasite” is one of the craziest movies I have seen in recent memory. It’s about a poor family that eventually becomes a centerpiece of a rich family’s collective lives because they start taking up jobs to help them out, and they are not exactly how they tend to present themselves. This is one of those movies where I was watching it, expecting it to go in one particular direction, I should have known a lot better! Especially when considering how this movie won a freaking Palme D’Or from the Cannes festival! I went to see this movie by myself, and to this day, I have no memory of watching foreign films, or films that are not mainly in the English language with my parents. But if it were movie night, they were in the room, and I were in control of the movie we watch, I’d ask them to give this film a chance. Because it is THAT good.
#5: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
2019 was the year that I finally went full depth into some of Tarantino’s work. And in July, I instantly felt hyped and prepared for one of the all-time greatest theater experiences I’ll have in my life. I’m talking about “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!” This movie is a celebration of Hollywood’s glory, an entertaining tale about an actor and his stunt double, and it has one of the best endings I’ve ever seen in a movie. In fact, for a Tarantino film, at least from my perspective, this is kind of tame. There’s not much action or blood, but even when action ensues, the comedic vibe of this film seems to always be intact. Granted, that point can actually apply to multiple Tarantino films, but as a comedy, this may have arguably been the best of the year! Plus, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt give performances that are not only worthy of award nominations, but ones that make me want to have excellent bromances with others.
#4: Marriage Story
At #4, we have a film that I felt connected with probably before even setting foot in the theater, “Marriage Story,” which… is really about divorce, not marriage, but… marketing. Anyway, I think this is a film that I still kind of have to marinate on as it is one of the last films that I saw this year, but “Marriage Story” is a movie that made me want to continue glancing at the screen, and after the two hour and seventeen minute runtime, I left the theater with my head and body feeling like a wreck. If you must know, I am a child of divorce. My parents separated when I was a teenager, and as a kid, I was honestly concerned with how I felt. You know that saying about how “divorce is hardest on the children?” This movie does not really dive into that, even though the couple did have a kid, but it does dive into the multiple struggles of the divorce process and how hard it is to leave someone you have known for some time and ultimately move on with your life. Plus, the best part, for me at least, is that I could personally view both people as either heroes or monsters. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give two of the finest performances of 2019. There is an argument in the middle of the film between them that’s shot and edited with quality, and the two leads just go at it with each other! It felt too real. Not in a bad way though. I am not sure what is going to happen at the Oscars this year, but Driver and Johansson deserve nominations for acting at the VERY least. It’s a different level of compelling that we’re talking about here.
#3: Honey Boy
I liked Shia LaBeouf before he did “Honey Boy.” But after seeing “Honey Boy,” I think he is a national treasure. I saw this film at a free screening at a Landmark Theatres location, and having seen the movie, it feels like one that I would have willingly paid a million dollars to see. Shia LaBeouf not only acts his heart out in this film, but he also shares some phenomenal chemistry with the lead child actor, Noah Jupe. He is someone that I believe we all have to look out for in future years, just keep an eye out. For the record, LeBeouf is not just one of the leads in this film, he wrote the damn thing, and he wrote it freaking well! In fact, I cannot say I have seen every single one of LeBeouf’s performances, but part of me is willing to bet that maybe he can write better than he can act. Also keep in mind, this is his first feature-length screenplay, and I’d say that this is beyond what I would expect for a first attempt at making one of these bad boys. Speaking of first attempts, this film is directed by Alma Har’el, making this film in particular, the first feature-length production she’s ever helmed. “Honey Boy” is one of the best, if not the best, coming of age story that I have seen in the 2010s. The cinematography and editing combine together to form a love child worth holding up into the horizon. “Honey Boy” is not just a great tale of a father and son relationship spiraling out of control, but it is also based on true events, which may make this movie just slightly better.
#2: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
They say that the months of January and Februrary are full of garbage movies. This year is no exception with films like “Serenity” and “Isn’t It Romantic?,” but this past February also contained one of my favorite DreamWorks animations of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” I swear to you, I thought for a long time that this was going to be my #1. It has everything that I want out of a movie like this. Fun, wit, and rewatchability. That’s not all by the way, because this third installment to the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise completes the trilogy and does so magnificently. I will say, I don’t watch the other two “How to Train Your Dragon” films that often, but I found them to be very enjoyable films that I felt could be watched at practically any age. Even with a couple minor criticisms I have with the film, I find it to be the best of the trilogy simply because it did pretty much everything not only a movie of its kind needed to do, which is to entertain kids and adults alike, but everything a finale needed to do. Even with movies like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” who knew that the finale I’d be talking about most of the time would come from the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise? I sure didn’t see this coming! Plus, this movie felt special to me. As someone who is growing up and has started college back in September of 2018, this film reminded me of the importance of friends, not to mention family, while also reminding me the significance of one day realizing that I’d most likely separate myself from them. The ending scenes of this film is the only occurrence of yours truly CRYING in a cinema. I just want to remind everyone that this is coming from a guy who saw “Toy Story 3.” I still need some time to think, but I think “How to Train Your Dragon” made a slightly better ending to its trilogy than “Toy Story” did, and that says a lot considering how I consider that film to be one of the best animations of all time. I will never forget that first time watching this movie, it is an experience that I will likely continue to carry with me until the day I die. The reasons that keep this film from going slightly higher have to do with a couple jokes that did not always land, the cliché (but rather effective) villain, and the fact that unlike my #1 pick, I do not recall this movie getting that much better on the second or third watch. Although I will give the film credit for actually being good enough for three watches in a single year. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” based on its popularity, is a not so hidden gem. I do not want a fourth movie though, don’t force a sequel on us! But with “Toy Story 4” being good, anything’s possible at this point.
#1: Ready or Not
Viola! #1! Do you want to hear about my top pick of my year? The most perfect of all the films on the list? The pinnacle of 2019 in film for me? Well, I’m gonna tell you about regardless of whether you are… “Ready or Not!” No other movie this year made me enjoy myself as much as this one for sure! I will say, having seen the trailer before the film came out, I was instantly intrigued by whatever could have been afoot. As far as the final product goes, it starts out great, maintains a solid pace, and packs a punch of personal shock, laughter, and cheers by the end. One complaint I heard around the time “Ready or Not” happened to be coming out was that its trailer pretty much revealed the core elements of the film. Couple things: 1. This film still has plenty of moments that aren’t in the trailer that can catalyze a solid reaction. 2. As much as I understand this complaint, I will say that given how much I enjoyed the trailer and considered it to be one of the year’s best, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the movie ended up giving me pretty much everything I asked and hoped for. It’s a film with a neat concept that sounds silly, but for some reason, it ends up working. Seriously! How many other films have a plot where a woman needs to play a game of hide and seek, thinking that the playing of this game will allow her to be part of a family she is marrying herself into, only to eventually realize that she may be killed by her newly established in-laws?! It’s a f*cking plot. A F*CKING PLOT! As far as endings go, this film has one of the best of the year. It’s satisfying, it’s silly, and BRILLIANTLY written. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and pop in the Blu-ray for this film! I don’t watch many horror movies, and when it comes to “Ready or Not,” it is sort of a comedy, and sort of horror, and if enough people consider it horror, I will point out that this may be my favorite horror flick of the decade. I don’t really know many of the actors in this film by name, but “Ready or Not” introduced me to an admirable cast of actors who I would love to follow more down the road. Samara Weaving kills it in this film as the lead character of Grace and I could tell that everyone here was having fun. This film looks sick due to the awesome production design and the color palette that fits right in with everything, it is just plain fun, which in reality many of these films should come down to. Can I have fun watching it? If not, why am I watching this movie to begin with? I should also point out another thing. This is one of the first Fox titles to have come out since their merger with Disney. Keep in mind, when the film opens, the first logo to be seen is from Fox Searchlight. I do not know how things will go from here, but if we keep getting films like this, and as long as the art of a lower-budget feature does not die, I will be very happy. For those who are curious the budget for this film is $6 million. Honestly, to me, this is a billion dollar film. It is a goldmine of everything that cinema itself is all about, and “Ready or Not” is my favorite movie of 2019.
Thanks for reading this countdown! 2019 has certainly blessed me with some movies to cherish and celebrate. Movies that are fun, emotional, gritty, or just plain solid. These films have shaped the year for me. But just a reminder to everyone, that you cannot have the good without the bad. That’s right, pretty soon, specifically tomorrow, I am gonna be diving into my top 10 WORST films of 2019. We will get through this dire time, I promise you that. But if you do want to remain on the positive side of the spectrum, I will have you know that on January 11th, I am going to be releasing the first installment to my Top Movies of the 2010s countdown series, where I will kick everything off by talking about my favorite movies of the decade. If you want to get in the mood, feel free to watch a trailer I released on Christmas Eve down below!
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With that being said, I hope you eventually tune into the series, I’m really excited to release it. And also check out my top 10 WORST movies of 2019, coming January 2nd! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are interested in supporting me further, if you have an applicable account, give this post a like and if you have Facebook, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of 2019? What are your top 10? Top 15? Top 20? Maybe if you didn’t see that many you can make like a top 3 or 5 or something. What did you enjoy this year? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!