M. N. Miller’s 2019 Year In Film: Part 7
99. See You Yesterday
This film is surprisingly engaging, well-paced, with a diverse cast, and a social conscience. Think of it as the grandchild of Back to the Future and Do the Right Thing with a welcomed cameo by a well-known actor within the genre.
98. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Wicked is engrossing, but Berlinger’s film though would have been better served by putting the focus on Collins’ brilliant tumble down the rabbit hole performance and allowing Bundy to be a supporting player.
97. El Camino
While El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is moderately enjoyable escapism, it’s ultimately an indulgence that’s an extension of its series finale and may only offer a sense of closure for the creators involved rather than its fans.
Aster’s filmis beautifully shot, has a great sense of mood that’s a character all its own; the jump scares are stripped away, however, leaving the viewer shocked without the fun.
95. The Lion King
Favreau’s remake of The Lion King is a mildly enjoyable film that is a big, bold step in special effects entertainment but suffers from a lack of an emotional connection and payoff that the extraordinary CGI leaves on the cutting room floor.
94. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Dreamworks animated franchise doesn’t reach dizzying trilogy heights like Toy Story 3, but it hasn’t overstayed its welcome either; lightly moving.
93. The Upside
Hart’s film appeals to mass audience erogenous zones (bankable star, humor, candy-coating issues), that’s unapologetically feel-good while offering award season relief when it was finally released last January.
92. Wine Country
Amy Poehler’s Wine Country has its flaws, but also has something Hollywood needs to make more of: Female-centric films that are smart, genuine, and offer something real.
91. The Secret Life of Pets 2
While Pets 2 falls short of the original, it still has kinetic energy about it and delivers some solid laughs despite its faults — like lifting the entire plot from City Slickers.
90. The Biggest Little Farm
A compulsively entertaining, emotionally connected, and creates a sobering look at the circle of life within the farm’s unique ecosystem. However, Chester’s film is over narrated and succumbs to cheap manipulation pitfalls to move along its story.
89. Official Secrets
Gavin Hood’s film is a slick, modern real-life spy thriller with a conscience where today’s intelligence agents are stuck in a booth, scouring emails, and translating lines. It’s an effective film but takes a too-brief look at the aftermath and Gun’s legal battle.
88. Lady J
“J” or Mademoiselle de Joncquières, is an engrossing, almost tantalizing, but not as gripping as one would hope, film that has a light comic tough and a trio of effective female performances.
87. Missing Link
Director Butler follows up Paranorman with Missing Link, a film with some beautiful stop-motion animation that I was surprisingly swept in by its adventure storyline (even if the villain narrative is standard family film territory), and the sweet message behind it.
86. The Angry Birds Movie 2
The legions of hypercritical critics who loved to laugh at their own quibbling quips by taking down the original Angry Birds movie can now have their cake and eat it too. The fun animation and comic voice work from the cast make this an unexpected delight.
85. The Unicorn Store
Even though it’s a bit like getting stuck inside a Skittles commercial, I’m a sucker for a coming of age tale, no matter the age or the offbeat rainbow camouflaged path it takes. Store is whimsical and charming, with a deep bench highlighted by Larson and Athie.
84. I Am Mother
Even though Netflix’s new sci-fi thriller needs to send a gift basket to Duncan Jones, it still stands head and shoulders above most of the streaming giant’s similar fair like Tau, How it Ends, and Extinction. Mother is well-acted and has a story that’s well-told.
Shyamalan has always been his own worst enemy, with a career arc downturn that had the feeling he has always been smarter than his audience. His last two films are at his most humble, letting the twists come naturally. This “accidental” trilogy is engaging, suspenseful, and the payoff is low-key, rather than showy.
82. The Kid Who Would Be King
Cornish’s family adventure film can be entertaining and is flawlessly produced, though it almost lands on the wrong side of the fence in terms of the fun by taking itself a bit too seriously.
Disney’s live-action adaptation of Aladdin falls somewhere between Beauty and the Beast and last spring’s grounded Dumbo. While Smith and Massoud do display some buddy chemistry, it’s Naomi Scott’s fierce performance as Jasmine that’s the real show-stopper.
80. Brian Banks
Brian Banks is an effective indictment of the business of the criminal justice system when politics dictate someone eventually has to pay for the people’s investment, whether they are guilty or innocent.
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.