I see a lot of movies thanks to AMC A-List and working at a job that allows me to go to Friday matinees. It is a personal challenge to try and rank these films, but I think it’s fun to see 100 or more movies in a given year and challenge myself in this way. Every fictional narrative film is ranked. I do not count documentaries, partially because this hasn’t been a great year for them, and I think it’s difficult to include them. What I’ve realized in organizing this list is there’s a lot of mediocrity among big blockbusters and major franchises, but I think the basement for major studio releases is also a bit higher. Without any further adieu…
104. Hellboy (2/10)
I host a superhero podcast, so you would think I have a bias toward these kinds of movies. I hope putting this as my last place film for 2019 will dispel that notion. The last two minutes hint at a potentially interesting story. The previous 118 minutes or so were excruciating with blatantly sexist dialogue, a paint by the numbers story, and cliched superhero storytelling. I love David Harbour, but him trying to do a Ron Perlman impression simply was never going to work.
103. Replicas (2/10)
Keanu Reeves must be bulletproof because this was practically released under the cover of darkness and is a horrendous piece of storytelling. The science is non-sensical, and Keanu Reeves is woefully miscast as the scientist behind the procedure. This is the kind of movie which won’t even get a theatrical release in a couple years and will instead get shunted to a streaming service.
102. Dark Phoenix (3/10)
What a way for this franchise to end with every actor sleepwalking and Simon Kinberg failing his way upward into the director’s chair. Maybe this movie would have made more at a different point in the year, but wasting Storm (again) and killing Jennifer Lawrence 20 minutes into the movie shows just how much everyone wanted to get this over with. Marvel should not be in control of all forms of superhero storytelling, but it’s a relief 20th Century Fox no longer has any.
101. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (3/10)
I’m not going to pretend the first movie was good, but it was least a movie. I only saw this because a friend of mine wanted a fellow adult to share their pain with as they had brought their child. The friend actually apologized. At least Louis CK wasn’t the lead voice this time.
100. Gemini Man (3/10)
You cannot argue for losing an Oscar once you’ve earned it, but Ang Lee is really pushing it with recent movie choices. The trailer did not give me hope, and the story was so poorly executed that the only reason this isn’t rock bottom is the experience of watching this was interesting. I saw it in one of the 14 theaters that had the highest frame rate and 3D. It made some of the action sequences look spectacular but other moments awkward. Honestly, without the theater experience though? Not worth even putting on as background noise when it comes to cable.
99. Pet Semetary (4/10)
I am all for the Stephen Kingassiance when the projects are good. I am not a big horror movie guy, but as you will see later, I thought there were some truly extraordinary movies in this genre. Pet Semetary was not one as it felt dark and hopeless without a clear purpose. I am shocked how bad this turned out given the run of directors who seem to have been able to get these movies right.
98. Godzilla: King of Monsters (4/10)
I know we’re not supposed to care about the human characters, but there were literally twins (played by the same actor), and I had no idea until reading about it after the fact. There was a lot more Godzilla, but Charles Dance making evil grunts and Millie Bobbie Brown looking wide-eyed could not save this empty sequel with a bizarre message about survival on earth.
97. Child’s Play (4/10)
Another horrendous reboot that couldn’t ever figure out its tone. Was it a dark comedy? Was it a serious contemplation of our reliance on technology? A tremendous waste of Audrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, and Mark Hamill.
96. The Addams Family (4/10)
The 1990s Addams Family films have probably crossed the threshold into being underrated, but this almost contradicted the message of both the show and movies by making it more about the family fitting in through really superficial moments. The humor also felt very broad and less specific. I also hated the relationship between the parents and kids. It felt very contrived and trite.
95. Men in Black: International (4/10)
I know there are some who would consider this one of the worst of the year, and I have a hard time getting there. It’s certainly as boring as empty as the previous reboots and sequels already discussed, but the leads slightly elevate this into something watchable. The twist was tremendously predictable, and it was just a matter of waiting for the reveal. This is a franchise that should be left behind because at this point, we’re one out of four in producing good film versions.
94. The Lion King (4/10)
This is the first of the Disney live action remakes. The animated Lion King might be one of my favorite movies ever. The performances felt very stilted here, especially Beyonce. The lack of emotions expressed by the animals was also a huge knock. Tacking on 30 extra minutes doesn’t help. The badness is best represented by the ruining of Scar’s solo number, “Be Prepared.” I know it’s hard to top Jeremy Irons, but those three minutes were borderline laughable.
93. Star Wars: Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker (4/10)
I have said enough about this movie already elsewhere on the site and don’t feel like I need to say anything more. This is easily the best biggest disappointment of 2019 for me.
92. Joker (4/10)
As an impersonation of Martin Scorsese’s best work in the 1970s and 80s, this mostly succeeds from a visual and performance standpoint. This captures the feel…and then proceeds to say absolutely nothing. There is no reason for this movie to even take place in the 1980s except for the Scorsese homages. People praise Joaquin Phoenix as a legitimate Oscar Contender…and I’m not seeing it. Maybe it’s the writing or my biases against the way Phillips treats the side characters (especially the ones of color), but this is as empty as an experience in the theater I had all year save for Episode IX.
91. The Laundromat (4/10)
I will never forgive Adam McCay for unleashing these kinds of films, the ones where actors break the fourth wall and explain really complicated and dense issues relating to politics or the economy. Vice and another movie released this year are other examples of this. Stephen Soderbergh does his version of this in what’s a convoluted mess that has a couple interesting scenes. Not sure what the point of this fictional effort was that couldn’t be better covered as a Netflix documentary instead of something fictional. Soderbergh’s other experimental Netflix outing turned out much better.
90. Close (4/10)
I’ve been a big Noomi Rapace fan since watching her in the Swedish The Dragon Tattoo trilogy. While Prometheus is a mixed bag, I appreciate a scene she was in where she had to get an alien out of her stomach in an enclosed environment. Since then, she’s been in a lot of forgettable movies and television projects like this. This was a generic spy thriller that I barely even remember.
89. Shaft (5/10)
The political elements of this particular reboot are deeply problematic and mostly consist of “Kids these days, am I right?” However, Samuel L. Jackson is consistently entertaining despite my disagreements. The ending action sequence is also not without merit. We should probably leave this franchise behind as well unless a young auteur director can advance Shaft into the 21st century and not create something that bags on millennials.
88. Dumbo (5/10)
I am all for showcasing young people and the advantages of STEM but having a young girl of color believe in science so strongly in what’s clearly supposed to be at the beginning of the 20th century makes no sense. I have no idea how to make this movie better except to say leave it alone. Tim Burton used to create interesting, weird films which could also be subversive and say something. The last decade has not served his filmography well as his reboots of various franchises have been increasingly embarrassing.
87. Lady and the Tramp (5/10)
The conceit of this movie is that people do not care about their dogs, and that some people would hate a dog enough to get them in trouble and sent away. This movie is never clear about when it’s taking place and wastes two incredibly talented actors as the lead (On a sidenote, Tessa Thompson had a rough year at the movies). There are many problems with these soulless live action remakes but not making the time period clear here and in Dumbo contribute to the problems. Honestly, Mulan having a clear time period and a somewhat fresh angle might make a huge difference.
86. Stuber (5/10)
I’ve seen this on some worst of lists, and while it’s a generic buddy movie, I don’t think it’s offensively bad. Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista do their best with a script that does them no favors. I also do not think the people involved actually know how Uber works.
85. The Kid Who Would be King (5/10)
A movie that wants to be in the vein of the next Harry Potter but does not have the performances or budget to really cross over. This was a big bomb, and while I do not think this was marketed well, I also don’t think there was a lot of there there.
84. 21 Bridges (5/10)
The Russo Brothers have all the cache in the world, and the best way to describe their decision to put their names behind a generic cop thriller is inexplicable. The politics are strange, and the messages are mixed. I really hope we can find Chadwick Boseman a non-biopic, non-superhero project which will serve him well at some point. Also, JK Simmons seemingly was just offscreen collecting his check for this movie. I hope he got a nice beach house up the coast.
83. The Souvenir (5/10)
I heard a lot of good buzz about this movie, and I was intrigued by the premise and the potential of Honor Swinton Byrne. Byrne delivers in a film that is both a dark romance but also tries to explore the creative process. I can acknowledge there’s some high quality filmmaking and some very good acting, but I classify as something I did not connect with while still acknowledging this is a movie that has an audience.
82. In the Shadow of the Moon (5/10)
Netflix has a clear thing for science fiction movies with interesting premises. None of the premises have really paid off. I got a lot of Terminator vibes from the visual aesthetic, but Boyd Holbrook was surely miscast in the lead role as he has to play a wide variety of emotions and can’t deliver. This would function as something good in the background but not much else.
81. See You Yesterday (5/10)
A lot of movies I give this rating are ones I wish were better. Here we have a time travel movie involving an underrepresented population. There are aspects that work, an awesome cameo that I appreciated as a wink to previous time travel films, but this never came together like I wanted, and it’s a shame. I really wanted to love it, but like so many Netflix movies, it felt muddled and a bit a shapeless.
80. Six Underground (6/10)
How many of you even realized Michael Bay released a movie this year? This is another Netflix joint. The first 20-30 minutes are quite thrilling, and nothing else that happens really tops the opening action sequence. I found this to be morally repugnant and went against many of my own personal values…and I kind of liked it despite all that. Ryan Reynolds was the right choice as a sociopathic billionaire who thinks he’s doing the right thing by murdering terrorists.
79. The Perfect Date (6/10)
Netflix teen drama. It was fine and inoffensive.
78. I AM Mother (6/10)
Another hard science fiction premise on Netflix. This clearly didn’t have the budget in the third act to successfully execute an ending, but the first half is watchable, and the performances are solid.
77. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (6/10)
I thought this movie at the very least would be and engaging given the leads. It was a long bore and the jokes would have been rejected by even the SNL writing staff at this point. There was a lot of absurdity, but it’s hard to tolerate that in a film that goes well above two hours. There were also some very out of place cameos that took me out of the movie too. Tough to say what happened here but I’m not sure this is a franchise that can handle spin-offs.
76. Brightburn (6/10)
What if Superman but he’s bad? That’s Brightburn. James Gunn was the major name thrown out there, but the direction probably needed some more guidance. I admire the film for going all the way and getting very dark. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this a premise that functions without a protagonist or at least a modicum of hope. Credit to Jackson A. Dunn for taking the lead and carrying the horror end of things. This was not easy but he delivered.
75. Greta (6/10)
This is the very definition of entertaining crap. Isabelle Huppert and Chloe Grace Moretz make a ridiculous premise work out. This is the perfect movie to watch on a Saturday night with a bottle of your favorite alcoholic beverage. The “creepy older person stalks and kidnaps a younger person” has been done many times, many occasions better, but this you could do a lot worse.
74. Someone Great (6/10)
I like Gina Rodriguez, but her movie projects this year had a lot to be desired. Casting her with LaKeith Stanfield is a great idea on paper, but this never came together. It’s a shame because DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow were great supporting casting choices too. This is yet another Netflix project which was entertaining but needed a script punch-up to be actually good.
73. Noelle (6/10)
Anna Kendrick stars in Disney Plus’s holiday release. Bill Hader is collecting a paycheck as the hereditary successor to Santa Claus (but he’s also a #mediocrewhitedude, but Kendrick’s Noelle clearly deserves the position). Trying to a Christmas movie in Phoenix of all places is just weird, especially when many of the settings are clearly in Southern California. Kendrick elevates this into something watchable. There are a lot of awful Christmas releases perpetrated by different cable stations. This is far better than any of those.
72. Klaus (6/10)
Speaking of undervalued Christmas movies, this is a solid animated comedy which reminds me of the older Disney movies. I almost wonder if my opinion would be higher if I saw it in theaters. The animation is high quality, and the voiceover performances are above average. The movie feels a little sluggish in spots, and the premise is ultimately predictable, but it’s got a nice message and I would have zero issue watching this with children or as a family.
71. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (6/10)
It feels like a million years ago, the first Lego movie took everyone by storm with a really original premise, a catchy song, and the first sign Chris Pratt was going to be an A-list star. This movie just didn’t work. The twist at the end of the first one made it really hard to even do a second. Will Ferrell literally phoning his performance didn’t help. I did enjoy the way they subverted aspects of the Batman character and enjoyed some of the visuals, but this felt like a major disappointment.
70. How to Train Your Dragon-6/10
There are people who love this franchise, and I’ve seen the original appear on numerous “Best of the Decade” lists. The first is really solid, and it feels like the second two of the trilogy have seen diminishing returns. To be fair, this franchise has a better reputation than anything else Dreamworks has done, and I give them credit for developing a wide rage of characters and paying off the relationship with the dragons well.
Next time, I will look at numbers 69-33.