I rated five movies with five-diamonds that were released in 2019. I saw 52 2019 releases. There were no one-diamond movies, but there were four two-diamond movies.
The worst movies of the year in no particular order were:
Ad Astra: This Brad Pitt led daddy issues space odyssey just didn’t connect. The diversions and space pirates didn’t fit well with the long journey. There wasn’t a payoff to watching Brad Pitt struggle with his feelings for two hours.
Joker: This movie was, love it or hate it. I hated it. It wasn't a good superhero movie and it was a poor remake of Taxi Driver. Add in all the Todd Phillips controversy and this movie is just bad and shouldn’t be rewarded.
It Chapter 2: It Chapter 1 was a good movie. Chapter 2’s focus on the adults wasn't as fun as the first movie’s focus on the kids. The expanded budget paid for by the first movie’s success was squandered on pointless CGI. The terror never felt real as the theater erupted into laughter multiple times.
Aladdin: Will Smith was not as good as Robin Williams and couldn’t bring the same upbeat fun to the role of Genie. While Naomi Scott belted out wonderful ballads as Jasmine, Mena Massoud’s Aladdin couldn’t keep up. Very strange time-shifted CGI was a poor choice by Guy Ritchie. As long as Disney has all the money and IP, we are going to keep seeing bad remakes.
My best movies of the year were:
#5: Uncut Gems: Adam Sandler has a massive body of work. There are plenty of standouts that show his depth as an actor. Sandler has never disappeared into a character as well as he did in Uncut Gems. The Safdie Brothers put together a heck of a ride. This movie was unsettling and frenetic throughout. There was no letting up and that set this movie apart.
#4 Little Women: Such a wonderful adaptation. The Ronan, Chalamet, and Gerwig team is phenomenal. Gerwig deserves more recognition than she has received this far. She is one of the best directors out there. This adaptation shakes up the timeline in a wonderful way that hasn’t been done to the treatment of Little Women before. Even if you are familiar with the story this will surprise and delight you. Bring on more Female directors and give them awards and nominations that they deserve.
#3 The Last Black Man in San Francisco: This movie was released too early in the year to get the awards attention it deserves. Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot wrote a touching story about gentrification in the bay area. It does not fall into tropes of displacing minorities but focuses on the love that Jimmie feels for a changing city. Joe Talbot’s directorial debut was wonderful, chasing Jimmie through the streets of San Francisco on a skateboard was done like a master. Take the time to watch this directorial/writing debut of a team I hope sticks together.
#2 The Farewell: Lulu Wang wrote a piece for This American Life and then shopped it around to a huge number of studios. I am so happy that she didn’t give up. This movie is a touching story with an amazing cast. In real life, at the time of the movie’s release, Lulu’s grandmother still was not aware of her diagnosis. Awkwafina is a star on the rise and this movie shows a new dramatic side that I want to see more of.
#1 Parasite: Go see this movie knowing as little as possible. This is not Fight Club or Sixth Sense where a re-watch improves the experience. Set some time aside and dedicate uninterrupted viewing time for this instant classic. “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Bong Joon-ho