M. N. Miller’s 2019 Year In Film: Part 5
139. 6 Underground
Bay’s films are dependent on his star’s charisma to get through the action-packed headaches they cause. While Reynolds does his best, you can’t help but think the director told Netflix “this is how we win” by channeling his inner Howie Ratner. He didn’t.
138. Angel Has Fallen
A clear improvement over the second installment. This sequel still contains massive plot-holes, puzzling character decisions, and the spotting of that all too obvious villain practically immediately. Still, Butler continues to satisfy my action film cravings.
137. Dark Phoenix
While more entertaining than many are giving it credit for, it’s agitating how little this chapter takes a stand on almost anything palpable. Turner is miscast to lead any film of this size and the all-hand acting approach is on full display here.
136. Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the creators of the new Star Wars Trilogy must be dedicated environmentalists, because they keep recycling the same-old material over and over and over.
135. Five Feet Apart
Even with Haley Lu Richardson as the film’s secret weapon, Five Feet Apart suffered from the same clichés as most of the decade’s YA romantic dramas while having to stomach the manipulation of trivializing an illness that can be terminal.
134. Isn’t It Romantic
Rebel Wilson takes the center stage in her first real lead role in Isn’t It Romantic, a charming, sometimes clever, and ultimately pointless comedy because of its lack of conviction in seeing its message all the way through.
A film that would be better suited as a stage play than a feature. It’s an actor’s showcase, with Woodard’s final scene reminding you what a force of nature she is. If you’re a fan of slow, morose experiences, then Clemency is the film to kill your holiday mood.
Lonely, middle-aged women in film are either hoarding cats for sport or doing unspeakable things to others. Taylor’s Ma is essentially a story about isolation after age 40 that’s sometimes frightening, fitfully funny, but isn’t always executed quite effectively.
131. The Highwayman
A film that proves you’d rather live with the lie than be saddled with the truth. Hancock’s film has the same understated style and direction in his previous work that lacks an emotional payoff while creating very little suspense.
130. The Laundromat
Soderbergh’s latest is compulsively watchable, but as much as I loved watching Streep go all John Wick with a sawed-off shotgun, I became so tired of the overused concept that has characters break the fourth wall in The Laundromat; it’s in full hyper-drive here.
129. The Hummingbird Project
Is The Hummingbird Project moving faster than we think, like a single flap of a humming bird’s wing, since time is all relative anyway? Nguyen’s focus on one team, instead of rival projects, squanders the race that would have given the film a quicker pulse.
128. Can You Keep a Secret?
There are worse ways to spend 90-minutes than watching Daddario’s adorable meltdown while making googly eyes at Hoechilin’s everlasting 5-o’clock shadow (an ad of the old-folks cruise with a woman in a mid-yawn did have a direct line to my funny bone); harmless fun.
By focusing on bird watchers on both sides of the US-Mexican border, this new Netflix documentary short sets out to showcase its subtle (and not so subtle) message that there is more that unites us than divides us.
126. A Dog’s Journey
Whatever you want to say about any of the W. Bruce Cameron adaptations, by the time A Dog’s Journey‘s credits rolled I had overdosed on cuteness.
125. Happy Death Day 2 U
The addition of an increased dosage of comic relief is welcomed, but the groundhog daytime loop is a tired device; enjoyable, but bordering on jaded.
124. The Kid
The Kid can be at times a highly effective western with Vincent D’Onofrio bringing a healthy dose of brutal action and his own visual style, but it sadly wastes the performances of DeHaan and Hawke with third-act problems that have the film limp to its finish.
This could be considered the counterpoint argument that Paul Thomas Anderson can do no wrong, but not necessarily. Visually engaging and musically stimulating, this is really for the film fan who enjoys a deep dive into analyzing successful artists’ work.
122. For Love or Money
Entertainingly silly while flipping the script on Rom-Com gender norms… Until it kind of doesn’t. Murphy’s film feels a tad too long, could have used a few bolder gags, but Kazinsky is so sweetly funny and winning here it won me over.
121. The Best of Enemies
The Hollywood studio system has taken civil rights films in the direction of the exploitation genre, which doesn’t mean The Best of Enemies is bad medicine; it just makes it a placebo.
120. The Public
When you combine The Public’s penchant for cheap sentiment and its advocacy message, you get the equivalent of cinematic social conscience fluffernutter that is spread too thin.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.