Well, that’s another year done on my inevitable trudge to the grave and to celebrate that fact here are my top/bottom films that I saw last year. As always, only films that played at least once on the silver screen in the United Kingdom in 2019 are eligible otherwise my bottom ten list would overflow by January 3rd and with that said….
Lets get this show on the road!
- The Irishman- Grab a blanket, cancel your weekend plans and check out what is arguably Martin Scorsese’s best work in years if not ever. Starring a who’s who of Hollywood stars past and present starring in a film about the life of a mob hit-man who might have killed Jimma Hoffa, taking place over decades and using the latest digital technology it’s epic and arguably one of the finest films of this incarnation of cinema. Don’t stream on on your phone, don’t ‘box set’ it over a few nights. Watch it in one hit and watch a master of his craft create his magnum opus.
2 Avengers : Endgame- I know, I know, it’s am obvious pick for the top 10 but the size, scale and imagination required to make it happen? Balancing dozens of characters, story-lines and the end of an era without spoiling it? A well as including some great action, humor and heart for an idea I initially scoffed at I’m wondering where they go from here.
3 Shaun the Sheep Farmageddon- Aardman with always have a special place in my heart but creating a hilarious virtually silent film using nothing but some Plasticine, insane levels of patience and a few grunts. I loved the characters (even if the main alien could have stood to look a bit more.. Alien) I loved all the moments I missed on the first, second and third viewing, a perfect way to introduce your ankle-biters to the wonders of the silver screen.
4 The Wolf’s Call- Great submarine movies are few and far between, but a submarine movie where you have nothing but sympathy for everyone involved? A submarine film which builds to an inevitable yet heartbreaking climax worthy of Shakespeare himself without clear hero’s or villains? A masterpiece and arguably the finest submarine film since Das Boot
5 Ford V Ferrari- A film that should only have been of interest to dads and Top Gear fans becomes an amazing underdog story with amazing performances, some great driving sequences and touching character moments. Someone is going to win something for this.
6 Godzilla: King of the Monsters- Big beautiful shouty monsters attacking each other for two hours broken up by some really good actors slumming it in glorious style. It’s a shame that this franchise will probably only last for one more film but it was great while it lasted.
7 Rocketman- Forget last years sanitized Bohemian Rhapsody this is an amazing, funny, no holds bared but at the same time fantastical view of the early years of Sir Elton John. And boy can Taron Eggerton sing.
8 Once Upon A Time In Hollywood- This is not the film that’s going to convert you to Tarantino but if you are fan of his, this is the man as his most… Tarantinoish. A love letter to the final moments of Hollywood’s Golden Age this shows why cinema needs auteurs like the man himself. Still haven’t found a spare week to watch the extended version yet though.
9 Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich- Skip to the half way mark and then set back for some of the most disgusting, sickening, repulsive yet awesome death scenes in cinematic history all carried with with practical effects driven puppets. I loved it.
10 How to Train Your Dragon 3- Arguably the best finale to an animated trilogy since Toy Story 3, this is a beautifully heartbreaking end to one of my wife’s favorite franchises. And yes, it does get bonus points for being a franchise with the nerve to actually, definitively end. Looking at you Toy Story 4. Which isn’t on this list.
10. Serenity (2019)- Films like Serenity (2019) live and die by their twist and by film this twist is one for the history books I mean, I’ve watched that twist scene a dozen times and it still floors me. Outside of that it’s a bog standard film noir about a mans ex randomly turning up in his life and asking him to kill her new husband. As they do.
9. Rambo Last Blood- I like the other Rambo films but this just felt nasty and mean spirited. The finale was an even more homicidal version of Home Alone as Rambo took out an unknown number of unknown thugs who posed no threat to him. Rambo doesn’t take on drug lords, he takes on armies! This one just left a bad taste in my mouth.
8 Playmobil The Movie- A movie trying to ride the Lego Movie Franchises coattails, unaware that the Lego Movie Franchise is now dead and with none of the wit, charm and talent that it did have. The whole thing felt like a low budget kids TV knockoff and slipped in some of the worst song’s I’ve ever heard in an animated film. It grossed less than a million dollars on it’s opening weekend in the States and rightly so.
7. Killers Anonymous- How do you make a film about killers in therapy boring when any scriptwriter with the tiniest amount of talent could make that idea sing? Well, you get a bored looking Gary Oldman to literally phone in his performance, base your marketing around Jessica Alba then kill her off in the first two minutes and then have a plot that’s madder than a box of frogs as well as being completely incomprehensible and pretty much no action at all.
6 The Queens Corgi- Glossing over the fact that Her Majesty doesn’t actually have any Corgis any more and that this film featured Donald Trump for no reason other than to generate loads of free publicity, this is a badly animated, poorly voiced film with a few atrocious songs snuck in for no reason other than to pad the truly pathetic yet far too long 85 minute (including credits) run-time. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 0% and as far as i’m concerned that was too generous.
5) X-Men: Dark Pheonix/ Men In Black- Without the X-Men we would not have the current crop of comic book films that we currently do so it’s a shame that this vulnerable and unknowingly influential franchise die such a lamentable death, it was boring, dull, the ending was obviously re-shot and crushingly boringly dull. Much like the DOA soft reboot of Men In Black International which was apparently horrifying to work on and comes across as an incoherent mess which is a borind ,dull and one of several hints this year that finally the tyranny of hte comic book film might, just might be beginning to come to an end.
4 Wolf- I think this might be the worst British film I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen several Danny Dyer films! Whilst I don’t have an issue with Roman legionaries fighting Werewolves- I think it’s a story with a lot of premise, I have an issue with werewolf ‘costumes’ that looked worse than those in my local pound-shop, a soundtrack made purely from something that sounded worse than the lovechild of a vuvuzela and some poorly maintained bagpipes, an ending that was so sudden I’m still convinced that my local cinema wasn’t sent the final act. And they threw out the rules regarding their werewolves in the last ten minutes.
3 Hellboy- Simply the worst superhero film of all time and that includes Batman and Robin. A ticking clock plot that kept gaining extra time, truly woeful special effects, witless, charmless and apparently a nightmare to work on. It bombed and deservedly so.
2 Cats! What is there to say about this…. thing? A film so bad that even furries were disowning it. But, if your therapist can get you past the unrelenting army of nightmarish visuals, this is a terrifyingly dull film with very little plot, only Taylor Swift seems to be having any fun, it’s one good song has been available on CD for years and it’s going to kill or damage film alone so many careers. Not least Director Tom Hooper who was working on this film until literally hours before the world premiere. I do however have no doubt that it’s going to develop one hell of a cult following though. Also, as bad as this is, not for one, single, solitary second was it in contention for worst film of the year.
1 The Lion King/ Dumbo/ Aladdin- At least Cats! was trying to do something different. None of these films exist for any passionate reason. None of these exist for taking a classic film and putting a new, modern spin on it. I have spoken to hundreds of people and I have yet to meet one who prefers this to the original cartoon versions. These films don’t expand cinema, they stagnate it, they don’t do anything beyond sell tickets and provide safe returns for shareholders. But in chasing short-term gain they’ve hurt the medium- no-one seems to remember the tedious, obvious, dull Dumbo. The studio that made the nature documentary with unable to act animals has shut down, the actor that played Aladdin literally can’t find work! They took simple, classic films and stretched them, adding pointless details and subplots that weren’t needed, watering down things that didn’t need to be watered down, making what was once inspiring and uplifting dull and alienating. I mean I could understand these films being made if Disney were about to go bust and were in need of some quick cash but it doesn’t because DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING including technically Pulp Fiction which should be added to Disney World any day now…