DC has finally figured out what it was doing with its live-action movies. After the success of “Wonder Woman” and the disastrous “Justice League,” things seemed to be up in the air again, but “Shazam!” shows that the comics giant is not giving up on this fight just yet. Zachary Levi brings the right amount of child-like wonder to his role. It ditches the dreariness of DC’s other films in favor of a fun story set right here in Philly!
24. “Good Boys”
“Good Boys” fits in rather appropriately with director Gene Stupnitsky’s other work. This comedy, produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is stuffed to the gills with immature R-rated humor and preteen angst and hormones. Under its comedic, red-band exterior lies a very endearing and wholesome story about growing up. It’s worth a watch — just maybe not with the family, or at least the younger members.
23. “It Chapter Two”
Though the sequel to the 2017 horror hit based on Stephen King’s “It” was disappointing to some, it still managed to be a fun and interesting update in the characters’ lives from the first film. Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader stood out for the personality and depth that they brought to their roles. Though it’s not chock full of scares, it’s a fun adventure movie that’s worth seeing if you enjoyed its predecessor.
22. “Downton Abbey”
An extension of the beloved ITV historical drama that ended in 2015, “Downton Abbey” reunited fans with the Crawley family. The year is now 1927, and the estate will be graced with a visit from the King and Queen of England. The film is as heartwarming and charming as the series and the visuals are even more stunning on the big screen.
21. “Someone Great”
This is the film that helped introduce Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” to the masses. Jennifer Robinson’s directorial debut is one of the best to come out of the rom-com genre’s revival. It follows Jenny Young (Gina Rodriguez), fresh out of a breakup on her last day in New York City before she moves across the country for her dream job. It is a fresh take on the genre that puts in the work to highlight diversity.
20. “Captain Marvel”
Brie Larson is the perfect Captain Marvel. Though the plot of the movie may have fallen into some classic pitfalls of the superhero genre, Larson’s Captain Marvel is so cool and badass that it doesn’t really matter. She’s a joy to watch in the role and the movie that surrounds her is a fun adventure with a lot of cool effects and action. What’s not to like?
19. “Wine Country”
Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey and many more unite in this fun romp through Napa Valley. Directed by Poehler, “Wine Country” is essentially a vehicle for a group of very funny women to be put in a variety of settings and be funny together. The improvisational tone of much of the humor in this movie shines through, and it was one of the most fun and wholesome comedies this year.
Disney’s recent tear of live-action remakes have had their hits and misses, but it’s fair to say this year’s remake of “Aladdin” was a hit. Will Smith managed to bring something new to his role as the Genie while still incorporating some of the traits the classic Robin Williams’ version of the character. The introduction of some new plot elements and Guy Ritchie’s lively signature style all blend together well with some pretty visuals to make this nostalgia trip worth taking.
17. “Ad Astra”
Brad Pitt plays an astronaut tasked with tracking down his father at the ends of the solar system. Equal parts “Heart of Darkness” and “Interstellar,” “Ad Astra” is visually stunning and tells the compelling story of a man and his relationship with his father on a massive scale. Though it’s not an action-packed sci-fi romp, it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it is much more interesting and thought-provoking, and Brad Pitt greatly impressed with his performance.
16. “Toy Story 4”
The Pixar movie no one saw coming, since “Toy Story 3” ended so well. Audiences were understandably skeptical heading into it, but it proved to be worthwhile. The film starts where the third one left off; Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the bunch go on a road trip with Bonnie and new addition Forky (Tony Hale of “Veep”). The road trip turns into a surprise reunion when they run into Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize they are worlds apart in terms of what they want for their life as a toy.
15. “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
It may not be the best Spiderman movie ever, but it was definitely an entertaining two hours. Obviously, as the first MCU installment following Endgame, it is a little overshadowed by the scale we’ve come to expect from superhero movies recently. However, it works well as its own movie and improves on what we got in Homecoming. We get to see Spiderman in places and situations we’ve never seen him before, while still getting a movie that feels like a worthy installment for our friendly neighborhood webslinger.
Many critics were surprised to hear that Todd Phillips would be directing and co-writing the new Joker film. They were even more surprised to find Joker became the highest-grossing R-rated film and most profitable comic book movie of all time. The film paints Gotham as a slum, with piling trash and “super rats” flooding the streets. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a defeated clown trying to bring laughter and joy to the world, is left trying to care for his elderly mother and navigate a harsh and unforgiving city. Arthur soon learns that in order to be happy, he needs to take control of his life. Joker poses questions about our society many other films are too afraid to ask. It questions why the world seems to be, as Arthur says, “getting crazier out there.”
13. “John Wick 3: Parabellum”
Once again, Chad Stahelski gives us an action movie made for action movie fans. It’s debatable whether Parabellum is the best of the trilogy, but it does not disappoint in giving fans more of what they came to love in the first two John Wicks. From start to end, Keanu Reeves kicks ass like only he can against an army of skilled henchmen that give henchmen the respect that they’ve always deserved. The unique world of assassins is expanded as we see it come out in full force against one of cinema’s latest and greatest action heroes.
12. “Marriage Story”
“Marriage Story” is one of Netflix’s big successes this year. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are absolutely brilliant in what is one of the most emotional and relatable stories told in film this year. If you haven’t had the displeasure of witnessing the effects of a collapsing marriage, then “Marriage Story” is a brilliantly written, directed and acted window into the anger, sadness and love that it entails.
Jordan Peele’s newest horror masterpiece follows the Wilson family’s fight for survival from murderous doppelgangers. The film follows Peele’s last intellectual horror, “Get Out,” and something that should be appreciated about his movies is the detail and care put into all aspects of each film. The soundtrack of “Us” is haunting, the camerawork begs for the audience’s attention and the script has great dialogue. While the film’s level of intelligence cannot compare to its predecessor, it has horror movie homages and great acting from Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke.
10. “The Lighthouse”
Robert Eggers’ new film “The Lighthouse” is certainly weird and unique. A24 has been on a roll this year, and “The Lighthouse” is clear evidence. Shot in black and white and a 1.19:1 aspect ratio, the film follows two lighthouse wickies (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) as they drive each other to the brink of insanity while trapped on their lighthouse island enduring a storm. There’s simply not another movie quite like it.
9. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
Speaking of A24, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” also made a big impression this year. It’s a film that views a serious subject matter through a somewhat quirky and dreamlike lens. The film follows two cousins as they attempt to take back the house that the protagonist’s grandfather built. It tackles gentrification and striving to stay in touch with one’s culture and history but does so in a creative and unique way.
8. “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”
Directed by Quentin Tarantino with an all-star lead cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, this film is Tarantino’s love letter to Los Angeles during the late 1960s, with a focus on hippie Hollywood. In 2017, Sony got the distribution rights to the film and executed a heavy $90 million marketing plan, with billboards, multiple television spots and a catchy soundtrack — all assisting in making it the movie of summer 2019. DiCaprio plays actor Rick Dalton, who gained fame in Hollywood but struggles to get more expressive work. Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Dalton’s stunt double and extremely easygoing best friend, who somehow gets entangled in with Charles Manson.
7. “The Farewell”
This movie came out of nowhere for a lot of people. Director Lulu Wang was relatively unknown in the mainstream, but that’s sure to change after this year. “The Farewell” is a brilliant exploration of Chinese culture and family, as well as personal grief, humility and alienation. Though the pitch of a family hiding their grandmother’s cancer diagnosis from her sounds like a comedy, and it does have its lighter moments, this film hits hard. The performances are top-notch across the board, especially from Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen. Simply put, this is a beautiful film that demands its audience’s attention during every minute of its runtime.
6. “Knives Out”
“A Whodunnit like nobody has ever dunnit” proves to be more than just a catchy tagline, as Knives Out gives us everything we love and everything we never knew we wanted from the murder mystery genre. The script is impeccably paced and expertly balances a character ensemble worthy of the all-star cast. Though none of the actors are likely to take home any hardware, they all bring their A-game with solid performances that bring the characters to life.
After Ari Aster wrote and directed his commercially and critically acclaimed film “Hereditary,” fans were eager to see what other terrifying scenarios Ari Aster could bring to the big screen. His response, “Midsommar,” did not disappoint. Aster delivered with a terrifying, non-conventional breakup film using a bright, disorienting and fairy tale color scheme. The juxtaposition between the fantasy world and its nightmare within creeps up on the audience until it is too late.
“Rocketman” is everything that 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” wanted to be and so much more. Taron Egerton brings Elton to life onscreen in a complexly fabulous yet eerily dark way that captures Elton’s real-life journey perfectly. The fantastical elements and raucous musical numbers carefully tread the line between seriousness and bombastic blasts of extravagance. This film oozes with personality in all aspects.
Bong Joon-ho delivers what may be the most creative and compelling drama this year in “Parasite.” This is very much a film where the less you know going in, the more you will enjoy it. From the script to the direction to the cinematography, every aspect is perfection. You feel transported to the world of these characters as they bounce back and forth between the slums and high society of Korea. It’s a near-perfect film.
2. “Avengers: Endgame”
This movie marks the end of a decade of films orchestrated by Disney that began with 2008’s “Iron Man,” which ultimately brought back Robert Downey Jr.’s acting career portraying eccentric billionaire Tony Stark. In “Endgame,” it comes full circle. Running over three hours, the movie starts back up where “Infinity War” left off, with Tony Stark alone in space as his oxygen supply starts to run out. The other Avengers, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner, are trying to figure out how to bring back their allies that disappeared in Part 1 in order to fully defeat Thanos.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, “Booksmart,” is a tour de force in charming, coming of age story-telling following two best friends trying to have one night out before college. Calling it “‘Superbad’ for Gen X” doesn’t do justice to what is at its core: a creative, clever, relatable and heartwarming story wrapped in a bow of talented film-making, writing and performances. Wilde shows immense amounts of promise as a director, and co-stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever have a palpable chemistry that elevates this film to its position in our number one spot.