• Zach Youngs

2019 Quick Review Roundup

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

Updated 12/29

I don't have the time, the energy, or even the wit to write about every movie of a given year. I tend to see a lot on the big screen, stream them to my laptop, and rent them on DVD. I would run out of unique adjectives right around mid-March. So, I thought I would write out a little blurb about each of the 2019 releases I wasn't able to cover in a full review. If it is streaming service specific, I have made a note next to the title. I may add to this if I see a 2019 release I don't write about between now and Dec. 31st.

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix): I like seeing "influencers" with egg on their faces. A fool and their money are soon parted. I just wish something could stick to the perpetrator of all of it because he is genuinely the worst.

High Flying Bird (Netflix): One of the best scripts I've heard. It's Sorkin-esque in its intricacies. A must see for incredible wheeling and dealing and a more than superb cast led by the incredible Andre Holland.

The Breaker Upperers (Netflix): Raunchy and ribald, this comedy about two women who break up with your partner so you don't have to is filled with hilarity and heart.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (Netflix): Being a native Washingtonian I've heard the second hand gossip about people's near run-ins with Ted Bundy. Seeing him in action and with such a handsome face and demeanor is chilling. Especially with such a charismatic star as Zac Efron.

Knock Down the House (Netflix): This documentary about four different women running for congressional seats could have turned out so differently. It was amazing to watch the momentum and drive of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in real time. It was incredible to see her as a real person and hopefully encouraging to other women to see women putting themselves out there to get things done.

Someone Great (Netflix): I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy and a romantic comedy where there's a goal or an end point in mind is best. This one dips in quality when it tries to be too edgy, but maintains consistent jokes and heart throughout.

Always Be My Maybe (Netflix): Another romantic comedy because that's what mantle Netflix has taken on. I love the Asian-American representation all across the board and the very funny leads who are just charismatic and likable.

The Lego Movie 2: Much more depressing than the first film (listen to "Everything's Not Awesome"). It also had way too much in the "real" world and was a big factor in my Pratt fatigue. It skewers Pratt with a dual role as an amalgam of every role he's had since becoming an action star.

Happy Death Day 2U: A delightful sequel to the off-kilter Groundhog Day-esque slasher. This one expands the universe and opens up the opportunity for alternate timelines and more hijinks in the future. I am all in on this weird slasher franchise.

Dark Phoenix: What an absolute dud. It's incredibly disappointing that this is the last of this franchise. Weird ending, go nowhere plot, and it was the worst acted of any of the films. It's like they knew their contracts were up, so they didn't even try. Definitely compounded and cemented my Jennifer Lawrence fatigue.

The Dead Don't Die: Charming until it really isn't any more. This zombie comedy from Jim Jarmusch is more heavy handed and completely confusing than any of his other films. Bill Murray and Adam Driver are delightful, though.

Apollo 11: A really incredible documentary that compiles all footage leading up to and during the launch of the Apollo 11 NASA mission into one coherent narrative with no narrator or talking heads. It's unique and utterly engrossing.

Peterloo (Amazon Prime): 1800's British politics has never been this enthralling. I could barely remember which character was which, but it was riveting nonetheless. Especially in the last half as the massacre is imminent.

Gloria Bell: I like Julianne Moore a lot and I like when a story evolves beyond a singular premise. It's an interesting role for her if not always executed perfectly. Michael Cera is in a role with far more depth than he usually has and that's to the film's benefit.

Plus One: Rom-coms can live or die on the chemistry of their leads and Plus One has two fabulous ones in Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid. The two of them are charming, irritating, and just the right amount of attractive.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu: Adorable creatures, incredibly predictable plot. I laughed several times and found myself a little misty at the end, but my aversion to this toxic nostalgia we're all in the haze of kept me from fully enjoying the film.

Good Boys: Good Boys actually does have great content about respecting women and that friendships can evolve and change. I just had a hard time getting over how much these kids were swearing, took me out of it most of the time.

Ready or Not: A really fun take on a familiar premise. Samira Weaving is spectacular and bound for greater things. I love her character arc and transformation. The ending leaves me a little cold though.

Hustlers: This film would not have worked so well as it does if it hadn't had the assured hand of Lorene Scarfaria behind the camera. She interrupts the male gaze by allowing our main characters to be sexy, but also to have power. I love the framing device of the magazine article as well.

Fast Color: With the dearth of superheroic, superpowered people in films, it's a welcome indie that can upend the genre and bring these notions back down to Earth. Great characters, great mythology, and an excellent story make Fast Color the best superhero story you didn't get to see this year.

The Peanut Butter Falcon: It's rare that those with disabilities are portrayed with such agency. Here, Zack is his own person, a man in search of a purpose and a family to call his own. This film is also the reason I will never count out Shia LeBeouf as an actor. He's dynamite here.

The Souvenir: A devastating, lyrical poem of a film that will have you marveling at the layers of the plot. I gasped when the main conflict arose and at the heartbreaking conclusion about what the souvenir could possibly be. Look forward with me to when part 2 arrives next year.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix): A very worthy successor to the incredible television show. Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman continues to hone his craft as he looks at us, pleads with us, through haunted eyes. It's a fitting end to a redemptive story arc.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie (Netflix): The interview scenes, which made the sketch show famous, are the only thing about this film worth watching. The rest is fluff and not very funny.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters: Oof. I really liked the original and I wanted so badly to like this sequel, but it is so bloated with so much going on. I sincerely don't understand how there are going to be humans left in the inevitable sequel because the devastation wrought here looked total.

Missing Link: An often delightful animated comedy from Laika. The stop motion is of course gorgeous, but the plot, as it is meant for children, is a little on the nose and predictable. Stop motion animation will continue to be a thing I gravitate to if they can keep making it as gorgeous as this one, though.

Dolemite is My Name (Netflix): Funny, deep, powerful, how can they make a comedy about a bad movie this good? Eddie Murphy is fabulous and adds extra depth to the character that no other actor could have brought. Movies about making movies are rarely as fun and heartfelt as this.

Ma: Scary in that our pasts can come back to haunt us. There's much more depth to this film than the marketing campaign allows for and it makes it much more intriguing as the story unfolds. Even here, Octavia Spencer is on a whole other level and deviously fun to watch.

Frozen 2: I barely remember most of the original, but I had a good time with this one. I predicted the outcome nearly five minutes into the story, though it didn't matter much. The songs didn't feel as strong as the first film, but I loved the way they played with all of it, especially the music video aspect of one of the solos.

Queen & Slim: A slow burn of a chase film. Intriguing characters, a fascinating message, and a tragic ending. I loved the way this film captured this moment and this couple coming to understanding and at least open to giving their tepid feelings a chance to grow.

Hellboy: I vastly prefer this version of the Hellboy character to previous incarnations. That's not to say this is a great film, but it has its moments. I could have done without the extreme CGI gore, but it is a movie about summoning and fighting demons after all.

The Two Popes (Netflix): I like conversation films. I like when two characters can hash out details over several scenes. I really love Fernando Meirelles' choices behind the camera, keeping the film dynamic and moving forward. I don't like that the first pope of the southern hemisphere and Argentina is played by a white man who has to lip sync to a native Spanish speaker who says those lines for him. Just hire an Argentinian in the first place.

Judy: A fantasia of a tragedy. The music is beautiful and the central performance by Renee Zellweger is electrifying. It doesn't matter that it strays from the true story, movies much like our ideas of what movie stars are like are fiction.

Native Son (HBO): A modern adaptation of the literary classic. This one was going to be difficult to adapt no matter what, but I think the production does a good job of modernizing the story. I miss the inner monologue of Bigger because I feel the motivations are too muddy without his inner beliefs at play.

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