My Favorite Films of 2019

2019 was an interesting year in film (both in the theater and streaming).  There were some really great films I saw and some meh.  But I wanted to highlight my favorite films of the year.  So here they are (in no particular order):

Modest Heroes

This was actually a set of three short animated films from Studio Ponoc (the same studio that did Mary and the Witch’s Flower) but I would put it on my list.  They each told their own story (one about two young siblings trying to survive without their parents, a kid with a food allergy trying to live a normal life, an seemingly invisible man trying to navigate the world) but had that theme woven throughout of being heroic in lives that on the surface don’t seem pretty heroic.

Apollo 11

A documentary on the Apollo 11 mission leading up to, the actual mission and the return home.  I saw this film in IMAX (which was the best way to see it) and it did not disappoint.  I loved how the film needed no voice over narration.  The footage spoke for itself and brought to life what the mission was all about and the impact it had and continues to have on us.

Wonder Park

This animated film was so much fun (and pretty original too).  It’s about a young girl named June who creates a theme park through imagination called Wonder Park and finds out it’s a real place but is in complete disrepair and it’s up to her and some of her imagined creations coming to life to help restore the park to its glory.

Okko’s Inn

Based on a manga of the same name, Okko’s Inn is the story of a young girl named Okko who loses both her parents in a car accident and is sent to live with her grandmother at an old inn.  While there she’s able to see spirits and interact with them.  She also starts working at the inn and through this learns more about herself and her family.  I loved the animation and the story.

The Sun is Also a Star

Based on a book of the same name, this story tells a love story between two unlikely people over the span of a day.  I loved the story and the cinematography.

The Best of Enemies

Based on the true story of two people who were polar opposites living in Durham, North Carolina in the 1970s: C.P Ellis, a local KKK president and Ann Atwater, an organizer within the local black community. When the issue of school integration came to the forefront in Durham the two were put together on a committee to work through potential solutions. Through this, there developed a friendship and the film shows how their lives (and the lives of the people in Durham are changed).   I feel like this film is getting overlooked for awards season but it is deserving of some recognition.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The next film in the Legendary Monsterverse series, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was all that a kaiju fan like me could want.  Godzilla taking care of business.  The first appearance in American film of Mothra and King Ghidorah  Lots of action and callbacks to old Toho films.  If I had to say the film I was most hyped to see, this would be on the very short list and it didn’t disappoint for me.

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

A spinoff of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Hobbs and Shaw was definitely fun and entertaining with two characters who were polar opposites and who seemed to get paired up more often than not.

Blinded by the Light

Based on a true story, Blinded by the Light told the story of a young immigrant in Britain in the 80s who latches onto the music of Bruce Springsteen.  I loved the integration of music into the story and loved how it was in essence a soundtrack throughout the film.

Brian Banks

Also based on a true story, Brian Banks told the story of a young man wrongly accused of assault and who served time and after he got out fought to clear his name of the crime.  I knew the story going in and it was portrayed very honestly and spoke to the heart of the true story.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Based on the book of the same name, the story is about a dog named Enzo and his life with his human Denny and family.  It had a lot of elements I love: sports (with racing), family, a dog, compelling story.  I thoroughly good film.

After the Wedding

This film is a remake of a 2006 Danish film of the same name, After the Wedding tells the story of a young woman who is working in an orphanage in India who gets a call from New York to meet with a donor about money for the orphanage.  When she gets to New York she is invited to a wedding and at that wedding encounters an old lover, who turns out to be married to the executive at the company who is giving the donation to the orphanage.  To me, this is the underrated film of the year.  The performances are tremendous particularly of Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore.

Abominable

A fun animated film that tells the story of Yi, a young girl living in a big city in China who encounters Everest, a Yeti on the run from scientists and a collector and who wants to get home to Mt. Everest.  Yi along with Jin and Peng, set off to help return Everest to his home while also taking in the sights of China.  I loved the story and animation in this film.  Such a great and heartwarming film.

Joker

A retelling of sorts of the origin story of one of the most well known super villains, Joker is in one word: intense.  Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is intense.  The cinematography is intense.  The score at times is intense.  It is simply an intense film.

The Current War – The Director’s Cut

Based on the story of three men who helped changed America through their work in bringing electricity to the masses: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.  I loved the performances here with Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Nicholas Hoult.  They were tremendous and the story was well told and compelling.

Midway

Based on the true story of the events leading up to and the actual Battle of Midway, Midway was an epic war film.  Though I prefer the 1970s version better than this one.  I did enjoy a lot of the performances and the visuals were very stunning.

Ford v Ferrari

Based on the true story of the big rivalry between Ford and Ferrari and the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Ford v Ferrari to me is my film of the year.  Matt Damon gave his best performance as Carroll Shelby.  Christian Bale is tremendous as Ken Miles.  The visuals are stunning  The story is compelling.  Overall, this is my film of the year.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

“Inspired” by a true story (weird but that’s what it says in the film) of a Esquire reporter and the interview and budding relationship that took place between him and Fred Rogers.  Tim Hanks was tremendous as Mr. Rogers and the film was so emotional.  There were moments throughout were I was welling up with tears because it was so moving.

The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is the story of two people who in the late 1800s set about to break the world flying altitude record in a balloon.  This was such a fun film.  Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones were great in their roles.

Little Women

A new adaptation to the classic book, Little Women tells the story of the March family and the highs and lows they experience growing up together.  I loved the film.  I thought it did a great job of telling the story and making it its own while not losing sight of what makes the story real and compelling.

My Favorite Films of 2018

I have been for the last couple of years sharing what have been my favorite films of the year.  This will be tough because there were so many good films I saw, especially in the theater.  They are in no particular order except from around the beginning of the year until the end of the year:

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

A film with a definite Studio Ghibli vibe, this was the first film I saw in a theater in 2018 and immediately was one of my favorites.  The animation, the voice acting, it was all top notch.

I Can Only Imagine

Based on the life of MercyMe lead singer Mark Millard, it is one of the best film depicting the Christian faith I have seen.  There were several really good Christian films in 2018 but this one was the best and my personal favorite.

Ready Player One

I still need to read the book but the film version is tremendous.  Lots of good 80s and video game references and callbacks and the visual effects were great.  It was such a fun journey through the story.

The Miracle Season

Based on the true story of a girl’s volleyball team in Iowa that overcome the tragic loss of their team captain to win a state title.  It was so good I saw it twice in the theater.  One of my top five favorite sports films of all time.

Avengers: Infinity War

The culmination of ten years of Marvel Studio films, this first part of a two part saga was tremendous.  To see all the superheroes in one film was something I wouldn’t have ever imagined ten years ago but it was real and it was awesome.  I’m looking forward to next year and Avengers: Endgame

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

One of the best documentaries and probably my favorite of 2018, the story of Fred Rogers is one that is always good to remember and share with others.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Sequel to one of my favorite films of 2015, this one did not disappoint.  I love how not only they did a great job continuing the storyline of the first film but also brought a fresh aspect to it with new characters and maturing of old characters.

Mission:  Impossible Fallout

The Mission: Impossible film series has seemed to have gotten better with each film especially the last couple of ones.  Fallout is not only right at the top of the series but one of my favorite films period.  It not only called back to previous films and tied up storylines from them but also sets the stage for always going forward with new stories.

Christopher Robin

This was a very fun movie (though I still think that Tigger looks off in this version).  It feels almost like an alternate reality of the real life Christopher Robin Milne that was portrayed in last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin but I do love the story of this film and I always have a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood gang in my heart.

Operation Finale

Based on the true story of the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the acting in this film is top notch.  Both Oscar Isaac and Sir Ben Kingsley give award winning performances.

Little Women

A modern retelling of the classic novel.  I love how the filmmaker stayed true to the heart of the Alcott story while giving it a modern feel.  This was another film I saw twice in the theater because it was so good.

A Star Is Born

I had not seen the previous versions of this film but when the trailers dropped for it I was super interested and it didn’t disappoint.  Loved the performances of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga (also Sam Elliott had a great supporting role as well).

The Old Man and The Gun

Based on the true story of career criminal Forrest Tucker, it’s one of the best performances of Robert Redford’s career.  It was both retro (given the time period) and modern at the same time.  I loved it.

The Front Runner

Based on the 1988 Presidental campaign of Gary Hart, it is a film very timely given the nature of politics in America today.  Hugh Jackman gave (in my opinion) an award winning performance and I walked out of the film wondering how things would’ve been different in America had things went differently in that 1988 election

Creed II

Sequel to the first Creed (which was one of my favorite films of 2015).  This one not only built on the legacy of the first film but also into the deeper Rocky franchise.  I loved how it tied a lot into Rocky IV (which is one of my favorite films of all time).  If they wanted to keep it going with a third film I would be more than happy to see it.

Green Book

Based on the true story of the friendship between Dr. Don Shirley and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.  This was not only a well acted film but a great story told as well.

Mary Poppins Returns

The long (coming? awaited?) sequel to the the 1964 original film, Mary Poppins (this time played by Emily Blunt) returns to help the Banks family (the kids now grown up and one with kids of his own).  It is a fun film and definitely has that vibe that the original film had.

Bumblebee

This is the best live action Transformers film.  It definitely has the vibe of the 80s cartoon and animated film.  I would hope if they make more live action Transformers film, they abandon the canon of the earlier films and just start fresh with this one as the first one.

So that’s my list of favorite films of 2018. What is your list? Do we have similar films or are there other films that you have on your list? I’d love to hear what your films are and I’m excited to see what film will make the list in 2019

MoviePass Adventures: Month 12

I’ll say at this point I’m surprised there still is a MoviePass and that I’ve had it now for a year.  Here’s the latest films I’ve seen with it (not counting Life Itself, A Star is Born, First Man which I saw with AMC A-List):

1.) Little Women

A modern retelling of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women tells the story of the Marsh sisters and their lives including the ups and downs of growing up.  I loved the film.  It was a fun film and had a lot of heart and charm to it and told a classic story in a new way.  One of my favorite films of the year.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 53

(Number of unique films seen overall: 51)

(Number of films seen in 2018 with MoviePass: 39)

(Number of unique films seen in 2018: 38)