The Best Movies of 2019 (What Few There Were) - Caleb Jones

Normally I would do a top ten list and count down the movies I had seen in the past year. However, as I talked about here about two years ago, our society no longer has the ability to put out good movies, barring rare and isolated exceptions. So, I stopped seeing movies on a regular basis a while back and I’ve been very happy with the result. 

I can’t create annual top ten lists anymore since Hollywood can’t make ten good movies in a year. They can make about three to five. That’s how many I can tell you were really good in 2019. 

Here they are in no particular order; the five really good movies I saw in 2019.

Avengers: Endgame 

The Marvel franchise is the one near-consistent exception to the “Hollywood can’t make good movies anymore” condition. Avengers: Endgame was not perfect, but it was still fantastic. The “Five Years Later” caption really surprised me, and having a movie actually surprise me these days is a pretty rare event. The action, script, acting, and callbacks were all fantastic. I think the movie was a little light on action and could have used some more, but that’s a minor complaint.

I really don’t like how a random rat saved the universe (by accidentally walking over a button and bringing Ant-Man back into our universe). That was lazy writing. However, other than that, I have no real big problems with the story.  

The time travel concept where going back in time creates a different universe is interesting. You can even kill your past selfand nothing happens to you (which Nebula actually did). I think the traditional time travel concepts make for a more interesting story and are beautifully done in movies like Primer and Terminator. If you went back in time and were free to do whatever you wanted, you’d essentially be a god. I discuss time travel here. 

I liked Infinity War much more than I did EndgameInfinity War is one of the most impressive movies ever made, but Endgame was still good. 

Marvel movies are starting to show cracks of badness, however. Captain Marvel was pretty shitty and the future Marvel movies are looking pretty bad (Natalie Portman is going to be the new Thor? Really? Great.) Marvel’s reign may be over. We’ll see.

Ford v Ferrari 

Wow. I was surprised at how great this movie was. I wasn’t expecting to like it this much.  

What a fantastic Alpha Male movie. Most movies today don’t have a single Alpha Male character in them (and if they do they are portrayed badly)but Ford v Ferrari has about five of them, and they’re all interesting. Car racing movies tend to be cliché and tired, but Ford v Ferrari kept me engaged throughout the entire run time, and that’s no small feat since this is a very long movie.

The movie is mostly about Alpha Male friendship. Christian Bale plays a flawed Alpha and watching him navigate this character was really interesting. I think Bale doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an actor since being Batman. He’s really, really good. Matt Damon is somewhat irritating in real life but in this moviehe was fantastic; I forgot it was Matt Damon (thankfully).  

The racing scenes were really impressive and often induced a real emotional response. 

I highly recommend this movie.

Rambo: Last Blood 

I absolutely loved this moviebut I admit I’m very biased. I reviewed it here. 

John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum 

Another amazing installment in the John Wick series; these movies are as close to flawless action movies as you can get. They really are a gift. I reviewed this movie here. 

And my favorite movie of 2019 was…

Doctor Sleep 

Like with Ford v Ferrari, I was shocked I liked this movie as much as I did. I figured I’d enjoy it a littlebut I had no idea I’d walk out of the movie theater thinking it was the best movie I had seen all year. And it was.

I don’t even like horror movies. I think horror movies are immature and stupid. Evil ghost faces are not scary. Weird kids are not scary. Jump scares aren’t scary! When you jolt from a jump scare that’s not fear, that’s reflexActual fear is when the movie is quiet and you’re freaked the fuck out. Now that’s a quality horror movie. But, alas, Hollywood can’t make those anymore (with rare exception; Hereditary was a good horror movie). Today, horror movies are full of jump scares to scare all the teenage girls in the audience. Stupid.

Doctor Sleep is good because it’s not really a horror movie, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s a sequel to a horror movie (The Shining), and it’s certainly a disturbing movie, in that really horrible things happen to all kinds of innocent people. But the goal of the movie isn’t really to scare you. Instead, it’s just a really good story with really compelling acting and characters. 

This is amazing considering that just about every Steven King movie adaptation is dreadful. The Pet Sematary remake was lame. That god damned Dark Tower movie was a travesty. The IT movies were average and overrated. 

On the other hand, Doctor Sleep is one of those near-perfect movies where everything makes sense. You actually give a shit about the characters, the ending is really fun, the villains are very well defined and have clear goals, all the characters are flawed (and thus interesting), the script is realistic, and the direction is fantastic. 

I can’t believe I like a horror movie this much and a Steven King movie this much, but I do. Doctor Sleep is the best movie I’ve seen all year. It was fucking great.

Movies That Were Okay but Not Great 

There were five more movies I saw in 2019 that were okay but not nearly good enough to be what I consider best of the year. 

Joker was good. Not great, but good. I think it’s a little overrated because a lot of SJW types don’t like it, therefore all the anti-SJW guys think the movie is better than it actually isThat being said, the movie was still good and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was impressive. I really liked how it made Gotham City look like a trash heap. Very well done. And to be fair to the anti-SJW’s, it does take balls these days for people in Hollywood to make a movie that doesn’t lean heavily in the left-wing direction, so they get kudos for that. 

Brightburn was mildly fun. The idea of a purely evil Superman kid is interesting. I was surprised such an idea got greenlit (both for creative reasons and legal reasons). It was a lower budget movie, but they made it work. Again, I don’t like horror movies, so I think some of the gore in this movie was just there to be gory, but I still liked the film. I’m looking more forward to a sequel than this actual movie, if they make one (and I think they should). 

Godzilla: King of All Monsters was really fun. I grew up with Godzilla and had toys of him, King Ghidorah and Rodan. All three of these monsters were front and center in this movie. Like Pacific Rim, this movie made my inner little boy very happy. The problem with the movie is that the trailers lied to us; instead of showcasing tons of monsters it just showcased four of them. It also had the usual failing of all monster movies in that it spent way too much time focusing on very boring human characters when all I wanted to see was Godzilla smashing buildings and shit. But hey, we have to set our expectations accordingly these days. 

The Irishman was very well done, of course. It just wasn’t nearly as good as other Scorsese films. It was fun to see Pesci again and DeNiro gives his best performance in many, many years.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was done by my favorite director in the modern era, Quentin Tarantino. Just like The IrishmanOnce Upon A Time In Hollywood is a well done movie but probably the weakest film that director has ever done. The scene with Bruce Lee was really fun, and DiCaprio is underrated as an actor the same way Bale is.

Looking at the movie release schedule for 2020, I sadly only saw two movies that I’m really excited to see (Tenet and The King’s Man). Historically they’re would be at least 15-20 movies I’d be excited about. 

Oh well. The good news is that it seems Hollywood is now able to make good TV shows instead of movies. Dark Crystal – Age of Resistance and The Mandalorian are both surprisingly good (for the most part; episode 4 of Mandalorian was really bad). I should probably do my next movie article on cool TV shows rather than movies…

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31 Comments on “The Best Movies of 2019 (What Few There Were)

  1. Ford vs Ferrari was good and like Dr. Sleep & OUaTiH as well, was 20-40 minutes too long.

    Rambo 5 : Haven’t seen it, but since it badly bombed, it should’ve gone direct to Netflix.

    It’s a shame Dr. Sleep was a big disastrous flop, but Warner Bros screwed up, as most filmgoers haven’t seen The Shining. In hindsight, they should’ve shelved it and put Sleep on their HBO Max streaming service next year. Joker just never interested me. If it comes on free to air TV in a couple years, I’ll see it.

  2. I was surprised how much I liked the Mandalorian given the dumpster fire the Star Wars franchise has become(i did not go to the movies to see Last Jedi nor will I go for Rise of Skywalker).  It felt more akin to the original trilogy and I like the wild west look and feel with all the nods to the old movies like seeing Jawas again.

    It’s also cool to see how chaotic things are in the galaxy after the Empire fell.  Movies rarely give that glimpse into things once the good guys “win”.  They just show everyone celebrating but don’t get into what a mess it would be to establish a new government after removing such an omnipresent regime.  Not to mention you’d still have many people loyal to the old Empire for various reasons.  You see that in our own world all the time like, more recently in Iraq.   A regime is toppled  and “HOORAY WE DID IT!…oh shit now we have to actually govern and clean up the mess…”.  Mando even mentions how the new republic is a joke.

  3. I’d really like a list of your favorite TV shows if you haven’t done already

    Added to the list.

    Rambo 5 : Haven’t seen it, but since it badly bombed, it should’ve gone direct to Netflix.

    In retrospect I agree.

    I was surprised how much I liked the Mandalorian given the dumpster fire the Star Wars franchise has become(i did not go to the movies to see Last Jedi nor will I go for Rise of Skywalker).

    Same here. I will never see another Star Wars movie in the theater. TV really is an entirely different avenue than movies these days, even within the same company. Very odd.

    Episode 4 of the Mandalorian was was good.

    I hated it. It was the exact same plot I’ve seen hundreds of times in other movies, TV shows, and even in novels.

  4. Now I have to watch John Wick, Ford v Ferrari and Doctor Sleep when I can.

    One movie I really liked was Midway, but that is mostly since I like the WWII setting and most importantly: naval combat. Seeing the American pilots flying through flak while dive bombing the japanese Aircraft Carriers was amazing to watch!

  5. Ford vs Ferrari was the best movie I’ve seen this year. The only big difference to real-life was Shelby was a big man, both tall and fat, hard to showcase that with a Matt Damon at 5’8″ and 180 pounds. He was the most Alpha 1.0 guy next to Miles. (it wasn’t important to the story but they left out that Shelby went through 7 wives in his lifetime and was constantly cheating on all of them). Miles was probably the most imitable man in the movie and was a personal hero of me and my dad.

    Joker was fun but nothing new or edgy. If King of Comedy and Taxi Driver had a baby it would’ve been Joker.

    Mandalorian is just a space soap opera, I’ll give it a pass.

    Supposedly Amazon has picked up and is still developing Chronicles of Amber for a TV show. Hope they don’t fuck it up.

  6. For next year, you didn’t include Top Gun Maverick. I fully understand the limitations of the first movie, you know, like the part where they were speaking to each other, yeah that part wasn’t great. But it was utterly awesome, and it was one of my favorites from my youth.

    I’ll grant you that they could certainly ruin it, but I love nearly all Tom Cruise movies, so I am excited about that one.

     

  7. Caleb do you watch Rick & Morty? Seems like the type of show you would like, but on the other hand I don’t think I know a single person who’s not a millennial/gen Z who watches it.

    Also Silicon Valley, which is full of hilarious nerdy shit and ballsy business moves (and even a few references to open relationships) — basically your lane to a T.

  8. Supposedly Amazon has picked up and is still developing Chronicles of Amber for a TV show. Hope they don’t fuck it up.

    Chronicles of Amber is something I’ve been waiting for for decades, but now I don’t want Hollywood to touch it. It’s massively politically incorrect by today’s standards so they’ll completely fuck it up.

    For next year, you didn’t include Top Gun Maverick.

    You’re damn right I didn’t.

    I fully understand the limitations of the first movie, you know, like the part where they were speaking to each other, yeah that part wasn’t great. But it was utterly awesome, and it was one of my favorites from my youth.

    You’re understating it. Top Gun is literally the stupidest big movie of the 80s, and by a wide margin. Yeah, when you’re a dumb kid it looks great. But if you’re over the age of 20 you realize how ridiculous the entire thing is. I have an entire article planned on describing why coming at some point. It’s also not possible to create a true sequel to it.

    Caleb do you watch Rick & Morty?

    Yes. It’s amazing.

    Also Silicon Valley

    I tried to watch a few episodes but they didn’t do anything for me.

    I want to marry Rose the Hat from Doctor Sleep.

    Yeah, for some reason she was surprisingly hot in that movie when I’ve never felt she was attractive in anything else I’ve seen her in. Interesting.

  9. Good stuff given the climate. In the heat of my breakout phase just going to see one movie seems to delay my increased happiness. Will refer back to this to maybe checkout these alpha flicks and others. It’s great too to finding that there’s producers out there in whatever field still pushing for quality in whatever their craft may be. there’s still more to discover! lol

    Endgame seemed like a good a chance as any for some zero based thinking and seeing what ten years of this media has gotten me since avengers 1ish, and what I want the next ten years to be like. I would of gone without the crowd.

    I overworked myself one week and did a john wick godzilla double feature day to recover. good stuff. the article you wrote about the john wick movie helped with rolling the dice on that.

    That movie was everything I wish mortal kombat could of been *tearsandsobsofjoy* lol

  10. 100% agree on Ford vs Ferrari and John Wick 3.

    X-Men:Dark Phoenix and Ad Astra were second best to FvF for me this year.

    Other films that were pretty good: White Boy Rick, Glass, The Mule, Godzilla 2, Zombieland Double Tap.

    Hereditary’s director made a new film this year, Midsommar. It’s not quite as good as Hereditary, and a bit long at times, but still pretty damn good.

    “Angel has fallen” was jam-packed with very good action.

    “Ready or not” is a funny little horror-movie that speculates on elite occult practices, Eyes Wide Shut-style. Pretty good.

    “Knives out” is an Agatha Christie-style story, very-well made, with a bit of stealth left-wing ideology but very good, great acting and directing.

  11. Giving an average size non athletic woman a super short haircut some automatic weapons and some cgi fake karate moves does not make an action hero!

    somewhere in Hollywood they are plotting a remake of Robocop with an all female cast starring Miley Cyrus as the robocop and Rosie o Donnell as her streetwise tough but fair boss

    ford v Ferrari…interesting scene ..shuts down the assembly line of blue falcons and says come back with ideas

    did that really happen? The soundtrack was a bit off ..do not know if those were cover bands or just not common versions of those songs

    you can see it online but The Stranger  Seattle’s alternative newspaper gave ford v Ferrari a recommended endorsement …this is part of what they had to say

    “If you’re a lover of car racing movies ,you should check out ford v Ferrari-

    because this film is likely to be one of the last of its kind ….

    the problem? It’s impossible to ignore the two elephants in this room :

    the fetishization of white male toxicity and car culture ,topics society is trying

    with, to solve not celebrate . This makes ford v Ferrari a very good movie ,that a decade ago would have been considered great. Now it feels like a brand new film that’s already an antique .”

    who does Hollywood want for paying customers ?

     

    thanks for the post BD

     

     

  12. Top Gun is literally the stupidest big movie of the 80s…

    There’s so much to hate about that movie.  I could write a whole article.  Take the Tom Cruise character.

    First, he sings that cringe worthy love song to a woman he never met.  Then he invades the ladies room.  But instead of being creeped out, she’s charmed.  WTF???

    Later he turns alpha, showing up for dinner an hour late and suggesting she wait even longer while he showers.  Later again, he’s crying so bad about his dead friend he can’t even fly.  Then suddenly he snaps out of it and becomes the super bad pilot again.  Just horrible writing.

    I hated all the other male characters too.  Especially Cruise’s super wimpy navigator, who thankfully dies.   Val Kilmer was also terrible.

  13. I dont even watch movies anymore. It fills with too much feminist narrative nowadays, especially when it glorifies women and emasculates men.

  14. Supposedly Amazon has picked up and is still developing Chronicles of Amber for a TV show. Hope they don’t fuck it up.

    Chronicles of Amber is something I’ve been waiting for for decades, but now I don’t want Hollywood to touch it. It’s massively politically incorrect by today’s standards so they’ll completely fuck it up.

    As much as I want to see it done right I am near certain they will fuck this up due to corporate interests or too many cooks. I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

    I just view 6 Underground and I have to say it has one of the best car chases I have seen.

  15. BD would you do a post on corporatism versus niche marketing?

    i think one reason that movies are so few and so bad is lack of competition

    i was reading why the movie crazy rich asians did poorly in China and found out American dramas comedies and rom coms do poorly there and China only allows in 30 foreign movies a year ….this means Hollywood studios will only give them superblockbusters

    should be room for lots of other types of movies but Hollywood will not fund them …very strange

  16. It was the exact same plot I’ve seen hundreds of times in other movies, TV shows, and even in novels.

    Yep, that episode was weak and unnecessary. But overall I’m enjoying it so far!

    At least they got the universe right (Jon Favreau is really underrated as an screenwriter).

  17. BD would you do a post on corporatism versus niche marketing?

    i think one reason that movies are so few and so bad is lack of competition

    I agree that’s one of the core factors, but there are several others (appealing to children and China, relying on proven formulas, fear of financial risk on the part of the studios, the overall dumbing down of Western audiences, etc)

    Jon Favreau is really underrated as an screenwriter

    Absolutely. He’s a huge talent and always has been.

  18. I know it didn’t get a wide theatrical release, but my personal favorite film of 2019 was DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, which is on Netflix. It stars Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, who created the Dolemite character of blaxsploitation fame and went on to become a huge influence in both comedy and hip-hop. The movie is about the making of the first Dolemite film, and from what I’ve read, pretty accurate as to what happened. The movie has an ensemble cast (Keegan Michael Key, Mike Epps, Wesley Snipes, and a cameo from Snoop Dogg).

    The film was both funny and inspiring, and just plain fun. I didn’t see too many movies this year either (I’m a huge TCM and Criterion film buff, so lots of older stuff for me), but it was SO NICE to see a movie from this year that was fun and not trying to win Woke Points.

  19. Downloaded a copy of “Rise of Skywalker” as I said I would never pay to see another Star Wars film after the last two car crashes.

    OMG! It was so bad. I won’t give away any spoilers in case any guys here do want to see it, but it made no sense and just introduced  (or reduced) characters and events with no thought or reason. These films are meant to be a trilogy but it’s obvious that they just made up the story for each one, as they were due to be released.

    Kathleen Kennedy (the Producer behind the new films) obviously hates the original films and just wanted to make money off a politically correct new crap version.

  20. Downloaded a copy of “Rise of Skywalker” as I said I would never pay to see another Star Wars film after the last two car crashes.

    OMG! It was so bad.

    And… you’re surprised?

  21. I don’t even like horror movies. I think horror movies are immature and stupid. Evil ghost faces are not scary. Weird kids are not scary. Jump scares aren’t scary!

    I dislike horror movies too. I actually think they are funny rather than scary.

    I dont even watch movies anymore. It fills with too much feminist narrative nowadays, especially when it glorifies women and emasculates men.

    lol yeah, I get that. It used to be the opposite too waaaay back in the day, pandering to the tradcons and stuff. But to be fair, about 90% of movies have always sucked.

  22. Caleb, have you watched any South Korean movies?

    IMO, they piss all over Hollywood year after year and they give ZERO fucks about political correctness. The Wailing and Train to Busan are my two favourite horror films ever, and The Man From Nowhere is one of the best action films ever made. Check them out if you have time!

  23. Caleb, have you watched any South Korean movies?

    Yes, they’re very good. Train to Busan and The Host are both amazing. I’ll look at Man From Nowhere.

  24. Some months I see 2 or 3 movies in a theatre but ever since JOKER came

    out the trailers are for really dumb movies with stupid themes

    haunted houses…just do not go in them

    damaged space ship or submarine ..make you feel claustrophobic just sitting in the theatre

    …women with guns stalking revenge …no ladies stay away

    adam Sandler’s loud flashing lights movie

    ….it seems they are trying to blast you with sensory overload ..just forget the story

     

     

  25. I thought Endgame was no bueno but my theater was an absolute zoo, people snoring, adding commentary. That said, recommending Endgame is pointless. If you’re a Marvel fanboy you’ll love it. If you’re not, it’s probably average to mediocre at best.

    Godzilla — I fell asleep. The last decent monster movie was the original Pacific Rim.

    John Wick 3 — great. I love this entire series. I hope they make more.

    Rambo V. I loved Rambo IV and own it. 5? C’mon. VEEEERY sloppy cash-grab. It clocked in at 80 minutes. That’s right, a full-length movie that is 80 minutes. Rambo IV was far more satisfying with the length, quips, characters, quotable lines (5 off the top of my head). This was a sad installment.

    So recapping good movies which is a shorter list:

    John Wick 3

    Marriage Story (Netflix) — realistic tragi-comedy

    Ready or Not — just a funny little horror movie

    Midsommar — a more intense thriller/ horror, but beautiful cinematography and uncomfortableness

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