I’ve been busy so far in 2020 catching up with stuff I missed toward the end of last year. That’s meant spending a lot of time at the movies, which is one hundred percent ok with me. Since I joined the AMC A-List, I find myself going to the theater more than ever (even more than with MoviePass, which had a lot of restrictions). I think 2019 was a pretty good year for movies overall. Some good blockbusters and a lot of great mid-budget films that found an audience. Netflix and Disney essentially own everything having to do with movies these days, so I’m glad they at least try a little and don’t use their monopoly to just put out garbage.
My list is 45 long, so I apologize for not getting to 50. I ran out of time and now that the Oscar nominations are out, I consider it too late to add more.
45. Hobbs & Shaw-Ok, so they do put out garbage sometimes.
44. High Flying Bird-I love that Soderberg experiments with different ways of filming his stories, but Sean Baker did the whole iPhone thing a couple years ago and his movie was better.
43. Lego Movie 2: The Second Part-First one was brilliant. Lego 2 was fun, but not all that interesting.
42. Blinded By The Light-The trailer made me think this could be a pretty cool movie. It was not. It made me question my love of both cinema and Bruce Springsteen.
41. Avengers: Endgame-I lost interest in these huge multi-character films a while ago. I enjoy a lot of the movies that are one or two superheroes, but this was just muddled and long, and by the end I wished Thanos had snapped his fingers and I disappeared.
40. They Shall Not Grow Old-An interesting blend of archival footage and CGI. The actual war footage is awesome.
39. Happy Death Day 2 U-I was a big fan of Happy Death Day and didn’t really care if this movie was just a rehash of the same stuff. It was, but it wasn’t as fun or inventive so I didn’t like it as much.
38. Yesterday-A slightly better version of Blinded By The Light. I actually thought the idea of the movie itself was kind of clever. There were some cringe-worthy parts, for sure (every second Ed Sheran is on screen at least), but if nothing else you get to listen to Beatles songs for 90 minutes.
37. The Public-Emilio Estevez is BACK, BABY!!!! If this movie were made 30 years ago I could see Michael Douglas playing the lead. Just a solid story, well told.
36. I Lost My Body-French animated film that looks and plays like a dream.
35. The Dead Don’t Die-Absurd zombie pic starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver directed by Jim Jarmusch. Not a great movie, but Sturgill Simpson’s theme song is fantastic.
34. Joker-I was bored for most of this movie and didn’t really get the fuss. Phoenix is great and deserves the Oscar he’s going to undoubtedly win in a few weeks, but as a whole this thing felt flat. And when “White Room” came on near the end I wanted to stand up and throw something at the movie screen.
33. Good Boys-Funny stuff. R-rated comedies featuring kids always make me laugh
32. Alita:Battle Angel-I hope they make the sequel to finish the story they set up in this one. After all the controversy surrounding it, I had my doubts. Ended up enjoying it.
31. Shazam!-Takes the piss out of superhero movies a bit. Made me laugh.
30. Bombshell-Despite the Oscar buzz, Bombshell didn’t make much noise after all. Decent movie, but not up to the level of its pedigree. John Lithgow in a lot of prosthetics as Roger Ailes was very good.
29. Ford Vs Ferarri-A bit confused how this got a Best Pic nomination despite nothing for acting, writing, or directing. Technically impressive audio and video effects, though. I did like it, but mostly for the relationship between Matt Damon and Christian Bale’s characters.
28. Spider-Man: Far From Home-I like Tom Holland as Peter Parker, and Jake Gylenhaal was good as Mysterio.
27. Captain Marvel-My only issue with Carol Danvers is that as Captain Marvel she is so powerful that it completely negates the rest of the Avengers. If she’d just been around when Thanos first showed up, we never would’ve needed the rest of the movies.
26. Wild Rose-Didn’t get its due when it came out. Great performance from Jessie Buckley.
25. The Report-Couldn’t have a year without a movie that looks at all the horrible things our government does to cover up what they do.
24. The Two Popes-On paper this movie probably seems very boring to most. I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching long scenes of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce just talking about God and the Catholic church.
23. Jay And Silent Bob Reboot-Caught by surprise a little here. While I’ve always enjoyed Kevin Smith’s films, I thought the days of me laughing at Jay and Silent Bob were behind me. Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. One of the funniest movies of the year.
22. Uncut Gems-I am not surprised at all that Adam Sandler wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. I was, however, shocked that The Safdie Brothers didn’t get a screenplay nomination. My only problem with the movie is that I loved the score but felt it didn’t really go with this movie at all.
21. The Lighthouse-Just a couple of weirdos doing weirdo things. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are both really compelling in this.
20. Under The Silver Lake-A funky whodunit that takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns. I heard that the original cut of this got booed when it was shown at a festival, so I’m glad they went back and trimmed it up a bit.
19. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker-Look, I know this movie has its detractors and I get it. They moved some stuff around, changed how the Force works, destroyed your childhood. I liked it enough to see it twice and actually liked it MORE the second time. So go ahead with your memes and snarky comments, there will be more Star Wars movies until the end of time.
18. Us-Jordan Peele followed up Get Out with another great parable horror film. Lupita Nyong’o was robbed of an Oscar nom.
17. Ash Is Purest White-It’s a bit long, but completely engrossing. Some beautiful visuals and a great story.
16. Honey Boy-Call me crazy, but I think Shia LeBeouf might actually be a good actor. I couldn’t even imagine trying to play my father in a movie that is about how much of an asshole he is. Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that. I though Shia and the kid playing young Shia were both terrific.
15. John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum-If they made a new John Wick movie every other year until I died, I would be on board. The action in these films is better than anything else that’s come out in the last 20 years.
14. Toy Story 4-I was of the mind that we did not need another Toy Story movie. Boy, did I get that one wrong.
13. Waves-Saw an early screening of this, so I don’t know if they changed anything from when I caught it. Very moving family story and the acting is phenomenal.
12. Booksmart-Can’t wait to see what Olivia Wilde directs next. This movie had me cracking up from beginning to end.
11. Rocketman-After the mess that was Bohemian Rhapsody, I had my doubts that this would work. But, as a fan of Elton John, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Ended up loving it. The musical sequences are awesome.
10. Marriage Story-I was unclear on how I felt about this one until Adam Driver sang “Being Alive” toward the end. For the most part it just made me really happy that I don’t have kids. Also, glad to see Alan Alda in a major film getting more than one scene.
9. Dolemite Is My Name-Eddie Murphy is electric in this film. Rudy Ray Moore finally gets his due in this retelling of the making of Dolemite. Craig Brewer did a great job capturing the energy of this character.
8. Little Women-The trailers made me sleepy and I thought I would never even bother watching another version of Little Women. Went to the theater alone and sobbed. I could watch a whole 2-hour movie that was just Mr. Laurence listening to Beth play the piano.
7. Knives Out-Very clever script and a great cast. Rian Johnson took so much undeserved heat for The Last Jedi, so I’m glad he got to make a fun movie that’s played well with audiences.
6. Pain And Glory-Almodovar. Banderas. Cruz. This movie had me before the title card even came up. Banderas is better here than he’s ever been.
5. 1917-Intense and powerful. Some of the best camera work I’ve seen in a long time. Making it play out mostly in real time keeps you on the edge of your seat.
4. Parasite-As close to perfect storytelling as you can get. Brilliantly directed and acted.
3. The Irishman-Scorsese at his most Scorsese, and doing it with his old friends DeNiro and Pesci. Sure, we’ve seen this kind of thing from these artists before, but until someone can do it better, let them work! No one else in American filmmaking does these kinds of movies.
2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood-There are whole sections of this movie that I think could be cut to make it even better. Still, there’s something about the characters Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth that is completely magnetic. I could watch DiCaprio as Dalton all day. I personally think this is Leo’s finest performance to date.
1. Jojo Rabbit-I fell in love with movie after about 30 seconds. It’s got a Wes Anderson vibe, for sure, but Taika Waititi makes it completely his own. It’s absurd and hilarious and sad all at once. The young actors are all brilliant, Scarlett Johansson is better than I think I’ve ever seen her, and Sam Rockwell delivers an amazing performance that has gone, apparently, unnoticed.