M. N. Miller’s 2019 Year In Film: Part 8
Nnaji is outstanding here, writing/directing a film about a strong female protagonist stripped of cliches, who didn’t need the help of a man and has nothing to prove to anyone. A performance that won’t be remembered during awards season but goddamn it, it should.
78. The Report
Also known as “Talking Zero Dark Thirty” or is an engrossing, albeit detached look at the torture tactics used by the government agencies after the 9/11 attacks. This government paper-pushing thriller, while stagnant, is compelling, if not gripping.
Crawl delivers the unexpected scary thrills and chills to cool off last summer. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to take this gator-bait challenge.
76. Jumanji: The Next Level
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this Jumanji sequel. Movies like this usually always rely on the likability of its stars and watching them change up their personas with varying characters is a smart way to reinvent themselves.
75. Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Having never gotten into the Pokémon craze, I have no idea what transpired over this crazy, rainbow-sherbet colored, trippy animated vision. The good news is you don’t have to; funny, charming, and saved by the comic timing between Reynolds/Smith.
74. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
I’m a sucker for a good against-all-odds story and the directorial debut by Ejiofor is surprisingly suspenseful when circumstances go from bad to worse quickly. Maxwell Simba gives a wonderfully grounded performance.
73. Fighting with my Family
When it’s all said and done, Fighting with My Family‘s bush-league to professional yarn is a crowd-pleasing good time with a lot of heart.
72. Guava Island
Glover’s musical doesn’t mince words with its sparse running time. Island is important because it was written from a mindset that speaks the truth to power, that freedom must be demanded by the oppressed, and is precisely why art is so important.
71. A Fortunate Man
A Fortunate Man or Lykke-Per is a Danish film that, at the heart of its sweeping, and often, the gorgeously shot story is a moving character study propped up by a riveting performance by Esben Smed.
Talk about a slice of North Macedonian life. Stefanov and Kotensva accomplish what only the best filmmakers can when they take you to another place while the subjects are stuck in a different time. Visually haunting, if not narratively stuck in neutral.
69. Tell Me Who I Am
A documentary with uncommon power due to its evolving mystery behind the tale, taking a turn that’s genuinely shocking and horrific. It does suffer from a staged feel, with artificial recreations, but finally becomes absorbing.
68. The Wedding Guest
The melting-pot of genres aside, The Wedding Guest is worth a look based on its steady hand, a pair of strong lead performances, and a rousing musical score. Radhika Apte gives an excellent performance that you may not see or even appreciate after watching that has stayed with me all year.
Director Mortezai’s new documentary is a straight-up hard watch for anyone, but it takes a necessary look at an industry no one wants to peek under the sheets at. You can’t argue its raw power, with its warts and all approach; sticky for some, high art for most.
66. A Hidden Life
Stamina is key in any Terrance Malick film; you need to dig in, bring emergency supplies for sustenance, and maybe a nice size bucket for bathroom breaks. However, once you give yourself over to it, it’s lyrical, gorgeously shot, and spiritually galvanizing.
65. Spider-Man Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home was a light entry in the MCU, but perfect summer escapism none the less.
64. Our Godfather
It is an interesting case study, taking away the Hollywood lore for a clean, no-nonsense, an arm’s length approach in the aftermath of when one turns on their own. There are no heroes here, just one man wanting a second chance at life.
63. Knock Down The House
Has there ever been an administration that has stirred up their opponents base like today’s White House? House’s look at the modern uprising against a new type of tyranny is highly watchable and fascinating, even if its narrative is a bit airbrushed.
While Judy is a slightly flawed film, with its saccharine finale and underdeveloped supporting characters, Zellweger does give a towering performance, a career peak, some might even call it a rebirth, and unquestionably one of the year’s best.
61. Zombieland: Double Tap
Sure, it doesn’t quite live up to the original cult-classic or have that same legendary, scene-stealing cameo, but Zombieland: Double Tap more than delivers enough hilarious, heaping portions of gut-busting laughs to keep the ravenous fan base that has been jonesing for a sequel for nearly a decade satisfied.
60. Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary
This documentary tickles you silly with fond memories of the unbridled joy of one the great movie-going experience one can have, Galaxy Quest. Never Surrender is an indulgent geek treat for anyone interested in how the film came together.
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.