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Saturday, December 28, 2019

My Top Ten Movie Picks of 2019

Image result for apollo 11 movie poster1. Apollo 11-  The spaceflight involving the first two people to land on the moon is gloriously and masterfully depicted in Apollo 11. It's the best film of 2019 and the most heady since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Image result for Dark waters movie poster2. Dark Waters - If you like the dreary temperament of North Country, the investigative candor of Erin Brockovich, the exhaustion of A Civil Action, or 2015's Spotlight, then Dark Waters will effectively put you in cinematic harm's way.

Image result for the art of racing in the rain movie poster3. The Art of Racing in the Rain - The Art of Racing in the Rain is feel-good fodder people, with a few dark turns (no pun intended), a story seen realistically through a whelp's eyes, and not a whole lot of actual racing (that's OK). You're not quite a human person if you can't enjoy a film like this.

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3. (Tie) Uncut Gems - Directed by two brothers (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie), filmed chiefly in close-ups, featuring some weird colonoscopy imagery, and co-starring former NBA great Kevin Garnett (that's some brilliant casting there), Uncut Gems is the cinematic equivalent of pure cocaine mixed with high-grade angel dust.

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4. Miss Bala - "Bala's" director (Catherine Hardwicke of Twilight fame) creates a flick so dangerous, so well plotted, so willful, and so vulnerably unsafe, you won't be able to catch your breath.

Image result for spider-man far from home movie poster5. Spider-Man: Far From Home - Spider-Man: Far From Home, with its international flavor and its introduction of Jake Gyllenhaal to the Marvel universe, feels like one of the best good time, hangout flicks in the Spider-Man franchise canon. Yes it's live-action fodder but "Far From Home" also has the look of being sort of cartoonish. Trust me, I'm okay with that.

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5. (Tie) Richard JewellRichard Jewell, while looking more proficient instead of being unnecessarily flashy, is a sledgehammering account of persecution, a well cast drama, and a thorough biopic to boot.

Image result for ford v ferrari movie poster6. Ford v Ferrari - With smooth direction by James Mangold, some capable editing by Michael McCusker, some sleek rides, and a bleached out, beach blanket be-bop look, Ford v Ferrari provides the viewer with an old-world night at the cineplex. Call it "stampede for speed".

Image result for serenity movie titles7. Serenity - A fishing boat captain named Baker Dill, is visited by his frazzled ex-wife. She wants him to kill her current husband because the a-hole is harshly abusive to their astute son. That's the fugazi blueprint for 2019's Serenity. In all truthfulness, I really got into Serenity. Yeah, it's a movie lover's movie if there ever was one.

Image result for the irishman movie poster8. The Irishman - The Irishman is a sprawling and calculated epic. It's talky rather than flashy. It's phlegmatic as opposed to being overly violent. Its sense of time and place is sumptuous as opposed to being visibly forced. Its use of flashbacks is pertinent as opposed to being an obligatory gimmick.

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9. Ma Ma, with its eager malaise and unpromising, small town feel, provides spot-on casting and the makings of something a la the midnight movie circuit. Octavia Spencer in Ma's lead role, gets her Kathy Bates on and becomes the badass, cinematic wretch terror fans have always yearned for.

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10. Queen & SlimQueen & Slim's director (rookie Melina Matsoukas) presents a bleak vision of racial injustice and badge number hellfire that although fictitious and one-sided, feels all-too real. With Melina's streamlined and atmospheric direction and Tat Radcliffe's massively surrounding camerawork, I felt like I was in Queen & Slim. Heck, I felt like I was living it.

Honorable Mention: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, We Die Young, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Anna, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Little Women, Cold Blood. These are all good films that didn't quite make the cut.

And the worst...

1. Trauma Center - Trauma Center, with its muttered line deliveries by star Bruce Willis and its idle production values, feels like it was made by amateurs for amateurs.

1. (Tie) A Haunting at Silver Falls: The Return - This garbage is only frightening if you've never seen an actual horror film before.

2. The Challenger Disaster - The Challenger Disaster seems like a fitting title. Fitting for the "disaster" part anyway.

3. Against the Clock - Against the Clock is the classic case of a Hollywood studio letting the director do whatever he wants when he wants.

4. Glass - Glass again shows director M. Night Shyamalan at his most pretentious and his most la-di-da.

5. Trading Paint - Imagine Days of Thunder on a shoestring budget with star John Travolta sporting yet another bad hairpiece.

List compiled by Jesse Burleson

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