But routine is the backbone of life, as I've always said, so lets put the last 12 months to bed with our annual run down of the best films of 2019 (no prizes for guessing #1).
- Dumbo: I mean, it was never going to be high art considering it is a Disney live action remake, but even by the standards set by the likes of The Lion King and The Jungle Book this was uninspired. The cast never seem all that thrilled to be there, and the film basically lacks any joy, resulting in a movie that best serves as a morality tale about how not to go about rebooting Disney animated classics.
- Captain Marvel: Easily disappointment of the year, although I do think this may face the same fate as Thor: The Dark World in years to come, where the perception of it grows progressively worse as better Captain Marvel movies get made. I’ve watched it twice, and even a second viewing couldn’t hide the fact that Brie Larson just didn’t bring any charisma to the part, which means she is in danger of being wiped out by . . . well every other Marvel hero, the bloody charismatic stallions.
Worst Movie of 2019 - Alita: Battle Angel
Reasons - This was the other movie I watched on a place, directly before Alita, and that makes it even worse that Alita didn’t work for me despite my great mood. Because Booksmart, the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, is one of the best original comedies in years. In some respects it really deserves it’s “Superbad for girls” tag - it is about two uncool friends trying to reach the peak of their high school life in one night before college starts - but the two leads in Booksmart, Beanie Feldstein’s Molly and Kaitlyn Dever’s Amy, are a lot more likeable than Seth and Even.
Best Bit - Panda sex toy. Just because this isn’t consistently crude as Superbad that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the requisite level of smut.
9. Zombieland: Double Tap
Reasons - Knives Out took an old genre and aired it out a bit. Zombieland: Double Tap did something similar by taking out an old movie, AKA Zombieland, and airing that out a bit. Usually I’d bemoan a sequel sticking too close to a predecessor, but I can’t say I was looking for innovation here. I was more than happy with my opportunity to spend more time with these characters, and it kind of suits them that they haven’t really grown up at all in the 10 years since the first one. The finale is a little disappointing, but the journey there is pretty consistently funny.
Best Bit - As Marmite as she may be for some, I really liked the addition of Maddison, who brings the spice of rampant stupidity to this mix of sarcasm, contempt and begrudging love.
8. Green Book
Reasons - Well look at me being cultured! I wanted to watch this after the Oscar win(s), but more through obligation than actual desire. Imagine my surprise when Green Book turned out to be a very thoughtful, endearing and surprisingly funny buddy road trip movie. Both Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are both fantastic, and you’re genuinely delighted when they become real friends by the end of the movie.
Best Bit - An ending so warm this instantly becomes a new Christmas standard.
7. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Reasons - Thank Godzilla this was better than the first movie. Thanks to an inherently more “out there” plot which doesn’t even shy away from this being the kaiju equivalent of the Royal Rumble, King of the Monsters succeeds where 2014's Godzilla didn’t by largely having more fun with it’s ludicrous source material, and largely relegating the humans to the background. Yes, we’re still there, but you’re not asked to really invest in Millie Bobby Brown and the rest - the film knows we’re here for monster vs monster and gives us that in spades.
Best Bit - When things devolve into a tag team between King and Queen, Gozilla and Mothra, vs Ghidorah and Rodan, things get really good really quickly.
6. John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Reasons - I had a real problem with the ending of John Wick Chapter 2, as it turned an otherwise “realistic” movie into a high concept, “everyone is an assassin” fantasy. But it turns out that that movie was akin to Deathly Hallows Part 1 - a necessary evil, allowing us to go bonkers in this film without having to do the groundwork. And John Wick Chapter 3 benefits greatly from this set up, working at a relentless pace and diving feet first into the hidden depths of the world of assassin’s. And it made all the money so looks like we have the return of Neo, Theodore Logan and John Wick to look forward to as the Reevesnaissance rolls on!
Best Bit - The opening fight may be my favourite, a good old fashioned close quarters brawl in an antique gun shop.
5. Toy Story 4
Reasons - This might just be the best unnecessary sequel ever made. Toy Story 3 felt like an ending that couldn’t be topped, and symbolically it was - the toys were no longer Andy’s, but they were moving on to pastures new nonetheless. To jeopardise that universally loved ending was risky on Pixar’s part, but thankfully they had enough left in the tank to give us something we didn’t think we needed. It’s the bronze medal Toy Story film for sure, but deserves it’s place in this most cherised franchise.
Best Bit - The closing line, where a toy bothers to ask the one question that has been bothering us since 1995.
4. Detective Pikachu
Reasons - Far from a “Power Rangers pick" from a few years ago, my nostalgia for the franchise only behind Star Wars and Jurassic Park to my heart is not pushing this unnecessarily far up the list. Detective Pikachu is a really warmly put together story about finding out who you really are. It’s a 21st century morality tale, only with added fantasy cock fighting. Ryan Reynolds has a left field choice to voice Pikachu (as was basing the first live action movie off of a relatively obscure game), but in retrospect it was a home run choice.
Best Bit - “FINISH HIM DITTO!” was Line of the Year from the get go.
3. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Reasons - Ant-Man and the Wasp had the unenviable task last year of cleansing the palette of a big Avengers film, and suffered because of it. Far From Home instead runs with the burden as a central plot point. How can you hope to return to reality after all that has happened? But even with slightly more emotional weight, the film doesn’t forget what made the first MCU Spidey film work so well - good comedy and endearing characters. All the returning cast improve upon their previous outings, and all of the new additions, headlined by Jake Gyllenhall’s Mysterio, make for very welcome inclusions in Marvel’s new powerhouse franchise.
Long may it continue (said in hope more than expectation after it’s temporary cancellation).
Best Bit - The news broadcast at the end.
2. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker
Reasons - We thought Force Awakens had a tricky kick-off, coming off the back of the divisive prequels, but Rise of Skywalker may have had it worse after The Last Jedi really divided the fanbase. Tensions were high, but at least for me JJ Abrams readdressed the balance of things and ended the sequel trilogy with a strong conclusion.
Taking things back to basics (the strong callbacks to Return of the Jedi in particular), the story does away with all of the musings on good and evil from the last film, and instead goes with a classic cat and mouse chase. New depths of the force get explored, we finally get some prolonged lightsaber fights, and everything wraps up with a hopeful note for a longer period of happiness in the galaxy (until episode 10).
Best Bit - Even split between “Do it” and “Goooooooooooood”.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Reasons - This won’t be the first detailing of this movie you’ve read this month, nor will it be the last. I can’t add anything unique to this discourse, but nonetheless I’m here to sing the praises of this truly remarkable movie. So many conclusion movies fail to stick the landing simply because there is too much to resolve. Somehow, this movie serves as a wrap up for Infinity War, all of the previous Avengers movies, and for the solo adventures of a few Marvel staples.
It isn’t actually the end. The MCU will spin on. But that doesn’t stop Endgame from delivering high stakes, high payoffs and high costs. The scramble to match this template started years ago, but I’d suggest going in a different direction - there will never be another movie like Endgame.
Best Bit - Mjolnir.