Jerome Ranks 2019 Movies (69-33)

I covered the bad yesterday. Today, I discuss the perfectly acceptable and genuinely good movies. Let’s get to it!

69. Aladdin (6/10)

Was this movie good? I don’t know. The trailers looked so bad, and I has such little confidence that I guess this movie not being as bad as I thought means it’s good? Bottom line: Will Smith does a solid job. There are a couple musical performances that aren’t awful. I still felt gross watching it.

68. Yesterday (6/10)

What a fantastic premise. What if the world lost the Beatles and other cultural touchstones? This is an interesting question the film gives up on to focus on a fairly boring romance. The script goes out of its way to remove conflict, and I would also classify this as another major disappointment.

67. Charlie’s Angels (6/10)

No one wanted this reboot. Elizabeth Banks has shown she’s not a great director two different times (and it sucks because I think there need to be more female voices behind these big budget franchises), but I couldn’t help but enjoy watching Naomi Scott and Kristen Stewart onscreen. The plot of this movie also reminds me far too much of the first Mission Impossible.

66. It: Chapter Two (6/10)

Another huge disappointment. I really liked the first film and despite the adult portion of the book being weaker, I really loved the casting decisions. Bill Hader makes the movie worth watching by himself, but this is a bloated mess that doesn’t earn its extended run time. It also has a pointless beatdown of a gay couple that left a really bad taste in my mouth. The book apparently portrays this incident better, but I found this shitty. It also feels like the flashbacks are terribly out of place, and there are two different times when the movie should end. I almost wish they had taken more time with the script and not rushed this two years after the first one.

65. Spider-Man: Far From Home (6/10)

The more I get away from this move, the less I like it. I spent the first 45 minutes waiting for a big turn. Then I watched Spider-Man become Tony Stark Jr. and become a mini-tech bro. This whole Sony/Marvel deal is not working as far as the solo movies are going. Taking Peter Parker out of New York and involving so much other Marvel canon, from the Skrulls to even the big twist at the end, has made me question what a third film will even look like.

64. Perfection (6/10)

You’ll either love this movie or hate it. It’s another Netflix movie that is at war with itself. Allison Williams is seemingly typecast as the basic white woman who keeps running into weird situations with people of color. Logan Browning is a promising actor from Dear White People. I recommend watching this, but be aware, things get very gnarly and weird fast.

63. The Highwayman (6/10)

This is a really good dad movie. I’m a sucker for Kevin Costner despite his terrible political opinions and sometimes even worse film choices. Woody Harrelson is as consistent an actor over the last 20 years as you’ll find when not playing Carnage. The movie is about the cops who hunted Bonnie and Clyde. Perfectly watchable with good acting and solid storytelling technique.

62. Black Christmas (6/10)

I am not married to the original or the first remake. This movie makes a tremendous argument against the fraternity system at college and universities. I like the cast and some of the directing choices. It feels a bit too reliant on jump scares and an absolutely insane performance by Cary Elwes, but I liked the attempt at recontextualizing a film’s presence and doing something different, even if this wasn’t totally successful.

61. Escape Room (6/10)

This is the first film I saw in 2019, and it’s aged well in my head. Things get a little toward the end, but the ending mostly worked, and the kills weren’t too gruesome. Taylor Russell stood out here (and she’ll be mentioned again later on in this list). There are some genuinely cool and original set designs which allow for some drama. I know they’ll milk this franchise until it’s dead, but this was a good first outing.

60. Bombshell (6/10)

I genuinely hated many parts of this movie. To pretend the actual people like Gretchen Wilson and Megyn Kelly were not enabling awful viewpoints is disingenuous. Even the way Roger Ailes was treated seemed too soft. There is one powerful scene with Margot Robbie’s in Ailes’s office that is genuinely chilling, and she has a great phone conversation with Kate McKinnon’s character. There are some other fine acting moments, but this is The Big Short of #MeToo movies, and this deserved to bomb at the box office.

59. Cold Pursuit (6/10)

Liam Neeson meets Mr. Plow. This movie is about two hours long and is trying to mix in humor throughout as various characters die. I was entertained watching this on the HBO app, but I won’t pretend the movie is Actually Good. These Liam Neeson in old man action roles are having decreasing returns.

58. The Dead Don’t Die (6/10)

Adam Driver’s pronunciation of the word “ghouls” gets me every time. I has high expectations for this because I wanted to know what Jim Jaramusch would have to say in a zombie movie. As it turns out, it wasn’t as much as I was hoping. There are some fun meta moments, but the action moves so slowly, and there are times when the flow is disrupted by random moments of humor or a pointless dialogue system. Still couldn’t help but be entertained by Bill Murray and Adam Driver.

57. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (6/10)

I fully admit to not be engaged with this universe, but I was intrigued by the trailers and the feeling this would be a Roger Rabbit like mystery. Needless to say, it was far more predictable and didn’t treat the female lead like an actual character. On the positive, Ryan Reynolds was a great choice for the voiceover as he kept things family friendly. The way the Pokemon were integrated into the world also looked tremendously impressive.

56. Velvet Buzzsaw (6/10)

When the director of Nightcrawler releases a new movie and it also stars Jake Gyllenhal, I’m obligated to watch. Like just about every other Netflix, this falls into a specific range and just doesn’t seem to click as well as previous work. This does have some ridiculousness and hilarious scares, but the movie never added up to anything beyond wanting to root for everyone in this movie to die. I guess that was also the point.

55. Little Monsters (6/10)

This movie has one of the absolute worst leads for a movie I’ve ever seen, just the most mediocre of mediocre white dudes. I strongly considered shutting this movie off, but then Lupita Nyong’o appears and makes everything better. Coincidentally, she plays a kindergarden teacher who serves in the same. This, like Anna and the Apocalypse, tries to be a bit too much like Shaun of the Dead, but there are some thrilling moments and Nyong’o has her first of two excellent horror movie performances. I would recommend going to Hulu and watching this just for her. Maybe even skip the first 20 minutes or so because it does get pretty insufferable.

54. Glass (6/10)

There are a lot of people who actively hate this movie. I won’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed, especially with the way Bruce Willis’s character meets his ultimate end. There are some genuinely good design moments and concepts. I liked James McAvoy in his role and wish Ana-Taylor Joy played a bigger role. Samuel L. Jackson also does a very good job. It’s shocking that I don’t hate this movie because I genuinely haven’t liked a lot of Shymalan movies since Unbreakable.

53. Always Be My Maybe (6/10)

This movie feels like a direct response to Crazy Rich Asians with two likeable leads. This script needed some tightening up as this movie isn’t nearly as funny as it should be. Keanu Reeves does deliver in a big way as only he can. I totally get why people would love rewatching this movie a million times because Randall Park and Ali Wong are very good together.

52. Jumanji: The Next Level (7/10)

The marketing for these movies has been an abomination. People clearly haven’t been turned off by the trailers though because they’ve made crazy amounts of money. Clearly, Kevin Hart and The Rock together are a draw for people, and I’ve enjoyed these as dumb, silly action comedies far more than I would want to admit. Karen Gillian gets a lot more room to shine and watching the actors play different characters was legitimately impressive. There is a surprise performance (I’d consider this to be a bit of a spoiler) where someone has to play a young person and then shift into playing an old man. I think this is on par with the first film.

51. Late Night (7/10)

There’s something about Mindy Kaling’s writing that’s missing, and I wish I could put my finger as to why. There was some bite missing in this script, and it’s a shame because there was a great story within some of the more broad comedy moments. Writing stand-up in movies and television shows also feels like an uncanny valley because comedy is subjective, and it’s hard to tell the difference between bad and good comedy. This movie is also awkward because there’s legitimately never been a late night network female host other than Joan Rivers.

50. The Two Popes (7/10)

I am a former Catholic turned atheist, and I cannot pretend this does not inform my viewing of this film. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins are spectacular as the popes. I do have some strong disagreements with the discussions and the premise that this church is anything but a corrupt institution. There are also some unnecessarily flashbacks, and this movie easily could have shaved 15-20 minutes and been better at under two hours.

49. Zombieland: Double Tap (7/10)

Similarly to Lego movie, Zombieland felt like it really touched the zeitgeist and really came at a point when zombie fiction was exploding. A decade later, it feels very played out, and The Walking Dead undoubtedly has a lot to do with this. This feels similar in a lot of movies, but there are some great laughs and a legitimately great action sequence about midway through. I liked the original better, but I certainly a lot of fun with this movie as well.

48. The Aeronauts (7/10)

This randomly popped up on Amazon Prime. I saw a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes and Felicity Jones (who I very much enjoyed in Rogue One) was in it. I did not let my disdain for Eddie Redmayne get in the way. When the two leads are in the balloon and conversing, it’s very good. Most of the flashbacks do not work, yet there are some legitimately thrilling moments. I wish I could have seen this on the big screen because this movie does look like it had a budget.

47. High Flying Bird (7/10)

I’m not sure the premise works as this is the story of a basketball player who wants to play, but there’s a labor stoppage going on the professional league. Andre Holland carries a lot of this movie, and I love the way many of the scenes are shot. As an experiment, this worked out so much better than The Laundromat. I would imagine basketball fans enjoying this a lot more than non-basketball fans.  

46. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (7/10)

This is kind of a kids’ horror movie with a really positive message about immigration and accepting people based on who they are. There are also some nice moments among the kids and some good special effects. I wish this movie had done better at the box office, especially since it came out in August when there was a dearth of good stuff. Definitely check this out on DVD or VOD if you can.

45. Doctor Sleep (7/10)

I would have this as a six, but the ending is so fucking perfect, I bumped it up a point. There is a lot of bloat in this movie. There are elements which don’t work or are underexplained. Then you get Jacob Tremblay screaming. It’s great filmmaking and also harrowing to listen to. There’s the great performance with Ewan MacGregor. Some of the connections to The Shining do not work and feel a bit to effortful. There’s way too much good, and a satisfying ending makes up for the shortcomings.

44. Captain Marvel (7/10)

I really wanted to love this movie since this was a Marvel movie with a definitive female lead and one female director. I couldn’t quite embrace all aspects of this movie. I liked the twist, but something felt like it was missing. I think Carol Danvers needed a bit more development as a character, and some of the plot elements got in the way. Origin films are hard, and Marvel has done so many. Hopefully, Brie Larson will get a lot more time with this character.

43. Terminator: Dark Fate (7/10)

People are probably going to be shocked by my ranking, but I am a huge sucker for the first two films in this franchise, and this comes close to capturing the spirit of those movies. Sarah Connor gets one of the best reintroductions of a franchise ever, and I liked the premise of the movie (although diehard fans will have problems as they always do). I liked the immigration message that gets integrated, and there’s a lot of pathos to the T-800 that I appreciated. Some of the action still feels jenky, and the villain terminator still feels like a T-1000 rip-off, but this honestly works as a nice ending to the franchise. This movie bombing is honestly a positive because I hope no more terminator films get made.

42. Her Smell (7/10)

This is a very strange movie. Elizabeth Moss is quite intense and manic. You may not even be able to handle her character at times, but you get to see a lot of growth and how the realities of fame can hit people hard. I was tremendously impressed with what Moss does in the second half. This feels like a film defined by what she does as the plot is barebones, and the messaging isn’t always clear. I ultimately appreciated this movie more than loving it.

41. Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile (7/10)

I like that Zac Efron tried to go to a very different place than almost any other role he’s performed in. I cannot pretend like I enjoyed yet another examination of the serial killer psyche, but this was well executed and slightly better than a lot of your Netflix fare.

40. Triple Frontier (7/10)

This is a pretty polarizing movie but an interesting one. It shows the dangers of late stage capitalism and how soldiers who are not respected by their government can turn into mercenaries desperate for one big score. This is a bombastic action film with Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck throwing fastballs back and forth. Not every movie needs to be high art, and with the exception of a sluggish second act, I really enjoyed this.

39. Good Boys (7/10)

Basically, if South Park and Superbad had a baby, that’s this movie. I feel like a movie like this would capture more attention in the 90s or aughts. As is, children swearing this much barely even registers. By the standards of many comedies, this was actually successful, but it still feels like an indie success story. Ultimately, I think Good Boys  has a positive message about the changing nature of friendships and how relationships can evolve in mature and logical ways.

38. Honey Boy (7/10)

This worked well as a Shia LeBrouf therapy session and less so as a film. I like the performances and the first 4/5. The ending left me really cold. Sometimes, a good sledgehammer of a message can be good. Credit to Lucas Hedges as an adult version of Otis. He’s a really underrated actor who is just consistently attached to quality projects. Hopefully, people will actually get to see him.

37. Isn’t It Romantic? 7/10

This is probably the best use of Rebel Wilson ever. This movie purports to make fun of romantic comedy and is mostly successful. Not much to say other then this is probably the easiest watch on this list.

36. Shazam (7/10)

There is a scene that is absolutely soul crushing involving Billy Batson and his mom. Moments of this film are truly exhilarating, and I vastly prefer this to Aquaman, a movie that I also do enjoy too. I loved the payoff of the entire family coming together for the final battle even with a fairly generic and purposeless villain. This movie works out but could afford to shave some time as the pacing gets a big sluggish I the beginning and middle.

35. Crawl (7/10)

This is the start of a run of horror movies I really enjoyed. What a great well shot thriller. It’s minimalistic in the best possible ways and doesn’t ask a lot of its audience except to come along for the ride. What a simple premise but executed so well.

34. Ready or Not 7/10

This movie is a bit insane, but I loved Samara Weaver. There were a number of movies which took place in one house and asked its audience to accept the idea of eating the rich. All three reach high degrees of success. This is the lowest ranked, but it should not be an insult. This was a really easy watch with a run time that does not wear out its welcome. Tons of fun.

33. Frozen II-7/10

In a certain way, I think the original is actually underrated among older people because the Disney canon is so iconic. I love the concepts behind the first one and appreciated the lack of cliched romantic storytelling. The sequel is moody and ambitious. It does not always work, and the music isn’t nearly as catchy, but they tried to go in another direction and didn’t rehash the original. Not as good as the first one but this was far more ambitious than a lot of other Disney releases this year.

Next time, I finish by reviewing what I believe to be the 32 best movies of 2019!

 

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