Mooreviews’ Best of 2019 (So Far)
Check out my top movies of 2019 (so far) here and remember these are just my opinions, so don’t give me too much hate in the comments if your favorite movies didn’t make the cut.
Also, these are not ranked and there are no honorable mentions as those will come when I do a final list at the end of the year.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Broly was such an unexpected hit for me at the beginning of this year as it gave me the full experience of seeing Dragon Ball, one of the most iconic animes of all-time, on the big screen. Its story was perfectly balanced between the exceptional fight sequences and giving the origins for Goku, Vegeta, and Broly. Personally, I wasn’t too familiar with the Super canon and I didn’t really considered myself a legitimate fan of the series, I mostly just had a strong respect for it, but I greatly appreciated how it offers a perfect amount of nostalgia and callbacks for long-time fans and utilizes it’s origin story make newcomers feel welcomed. There was clearly a lot of care put into Broly and in its attempts to give viewers a fresh Dragon Ball experience, it provides a cinema caliber story and plenty of moments that could easily bring a tear to any fan’s eyes.
Also, what would a Dragon Ball movie be without some adrenaline-pumping and sweat-inducing fight sequences, right? Well, Broly delivers on this in spades and seeing all of the epic and ridiculous fight scenes unfold on the big screen was just a treat in itself. Each fight had its own special moments of destruction and punches you can feel and each level of Super Saiyan everyone went through is true explosion of color and power. Not to mention, the film does a great job breaking up these crazy fight sequences with excellently timed comedic moments that are very refreshing. Whether it was Broly beating the hell out of Frieza or Vegeta struggling to do the fusion dance with Goku, the film has some very charming humor that’s just great to see. The ending is also perfect as it continues to showcase Broly as more of a vigilante rather than a villain and shows Goku as the caring and endearing character than fans have always recognized him as.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is not just a great Dragon Ball movie, its actually an excellently made film full of great characters, incredible action, and amazing animation. It is an absolute must watch for Dragon Ball fans and those looking to experience the series for the first time will definitely benefit from everything the film has to offer.
It’s always great when a movie can live up to its name and that’s exactly what The Perfection does. It excellently delivers a twisted story that ended up my stomach twist and turns and is a true reaction to the #MeToo movement. The of idea of what “The Perfection” actually is, is something that’s incredibly relevant to recent news stories we’ve been hearing about corruption in the film and sports industries. However, it doesn’t use its relevancy to shove messages and ideas down its viewers throats, but instead uses it to connect viewers to its two main characters and actually makes viewers feel something. The Perfection is one of the few films this year to make me react to it and its material is so strong that I could feel my stomach turn as its true colors began to reveal.
What makes The Perfection work so well, though, is the astounding performances from Alison Williams and Logan Browning. They both bring an essence of strength, fear, and confidence to each scene they’re in and they expertly sell their character’s change in personality and all of the wild twists The Perfection has to offer. The best thing a film can do is surprise viewers and The Perfection constantly misdirects viewers to great effect. All of this is thanks to excellent direction from Richard Shepard and the great writing from Shepard, Eric C. Charmelo, Nicole Snyder. They take a rape/revenge story that would often end up feeling exploitive and make it more genuine by making characters that feel real and utilizing its relevance to connect with its viewers.
Like I said back in my review, when a film makes you physically feel something from it, you know that it’s special. The Perfection is easily one of Netflix’s strongest films and is so carefully crafted that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen this year.
Writer/director Gaspar Noe has always been known for creating films that make audiences uneasy and that doesn’t stop with his dance horror flick, Climax. Noe utilizes this uneasiness, though, and create a hypnotic, entrancing, horrifying film full of standout moments. The dance sequences are big, extravagant, and even display some of the personalities that characters have. The film also takes its time to build relationships between characters and for viewers to understand their motivations, sexuality, and views on one another. It’s a film that’s constantly building towards pure madness and Noe does a great job showing viewers that build by having the credits come in the middle of the film. Not to mention, when it takes its sadistic turn, things only continue to build to a horrifying resolution.
Like The Perfection, Climax is a film that continually makes its viewer’s stomachs turn. Noe uses a lot of one-shots to take viewers on a journey through the growing paranoia and fear of these characters. The film is absolutely crazy to watch unfold and there’s some incredibly disturbing moments that aren’t even bloody or gory but are psychologically frightening. The performances here are startlingly great, especially Sofia Boutella’s, and Climax is the kind of film that leaves its viewers pondering at to what they watched unfold.
Climax is definitely not for most viewers, but Noe’s style and the entrancing way it drew me into its madness made it one of the memorable films I saw this year.
Toy Story 4
I’ll be the first to admit that I had my immense doubts about Toy Story 4 being able to capture the same kind of heart and satisfaction its predecessor brought. However, just as Pixar usually does, the film ends up being a fitting epilogue for the characters we love and utilizes new characters to create a story full of humor and emotion. I will that I’m a little biased, being a Woody fan, but the film’s strong focus on him is easily one of its strongest attributes. With Woody’s strong love for Andy and desire to fulfill his purpose, it made sense to give his story a sense of closure and it doesn’t try to outdo the previous film’s ending and instead just creates a more personal closure that I just loved. The film even has a Western kind of feel to it that feels right at home with Woody and creates a true hero’s final good act that we’ve seen in other Westerns like True Grit and Logan.
Toy Story 4 is also an impressive film as it doesn’t heavily rely on past characters and introduces new characters that perfectly stand on their own. Key and Peele’s comedic timing and chemistry is great, Keanu Revees is just a treat as always, and Annie Potts bring a more confident and self-assured version of Bo Peep that’s great to see. Not to mention, I loved Gabby Gabby as a complicated antagonist and her story is easily one of the most emotional points in the film and showcases how the film depicts kids much more realistically. Even Forky, a character that could easily just be annoying, comes off very endearing and charming because of Tony Hale’s great voice work and how the character deals with competent issues.
For a film that easily had me questioning whether or not it deserves to exist, Toy Story 4 completely proved me wrong and end up carrying the same kind of mature storytelling and great humor that comes to a fitting close.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Keanu Reeves has truly become the biggest name in action again with the John Wick series and Parabellum continues to show why. The action is sleeker than ever and continues to up the ante with each fight sequence. It was an absolute blast to see Wick use everything from horses to a variety of knives to shotguns to keep every assassin he runs into at bay. I also loved how there wasn’t many breaths to take for Wick in the film as he’s constantly in battle because High Table has it out for him. It’s a film that really makes viewers feel like they’re on the run with Wick and I felt more connected to him.
There’s some truly excellent fight choreography throughout Parabellum that’s accented by the great set-design. The two aspects, as well as superb direction from Chad Stahelski, combine to create an action-packed visual experience unlike any other. Every movement and moment with Wick showcased Reeves as a certified bad-ass and it’s hard not to watch him with a smile. Even the other characters have some interesting arcs throughout the film and even Halle Berry and her dog come together with Wick to create one of the best sequences in the entire film. Even if the ending wasn’t necessarily perfect, for me, just the idea of there being more in the future has me excited to Reeves racks up more kills as Wick.
Parabellum is truly a high point for action movies, and for Reeves as an actor, while also being one of the enjoyable, thrilling, and satisfying watches of 2019.
While Olivia Wilde has shown that she can be a great actress, she has now shown that she can be a pro behind the camera with her directorial debut, Booksmart. No comedy in 2019 has made me laugh as much as Booksmart did and it features two of the best female performances of the year from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. These two are the comedic backbone of this film and had me consistently laughing from their great banter with one another and full on commitment from start to finish. With sequences like Amy and Molly having a compliment battle with one another, accidently playing porn while their principal, who’s also an Uber driver, is driving, and pretty much everything with Jared, Booksmart is genuinely funny comedy.
Booksmart also works perfectly as modern coming-of-age film that sets to break down stereotypes and have its characters have real discussions. It really embodies the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and gives viewers a genuine glimpse into the minds of modern teens. There’re great moments where Amy and Molly struggle with each other’s decisions and have to put their personal biases aside to understand their classmates better. All of this is expertly captured by Wilde and the film has some shots that are hilarious and great at capturing big moments. One of my favorite shots is when Amy and Molly are fighting at Nick’s party, and it’s done in this long take that has them fighting in the foreground while everyone else is reacting in the background. It’s one of the many moments that show Wilde’s directing skills that we’ll hopefully see more of in the future.
Booksmart is an excellent female driven film that will have any and every kind of viewer laughing. It’s a standout directorial debut for Wilde and features performances from Dever and Feldstein that make the film an absolute must-see.
Just like the music icon it covers, Rocketman did everything in its power to be unique and standout from other music biopics and succeeded on every level imaginable. Rather than just give viewers a fun fact checklist on Elton John, Rocketman utilizes his mesmerizing music to create an experience unlike any other that delves into the personal struggles of Elton John/Reggie Dwight. Really Rocketman is more about Reggie’s struggle with self-acceptance rather than the stardom of Elton John and that’s what makes the film such a great watch. Throughout the film, you feel as if you actually get to know Reggie and you feel for him at every moment. All of the highs and lows are perfectly captured by Taron Egerton as the musician and he’s so genuine in every instant of the film and has great chemistry with Jaime Bell as Bernie, who’s also fantastic.
The way the film uses Elton John and Bernie’s iconic songs to heighten moments of the film and express how Reggie is feeling at the time. The musical numbers are absolutely stunning and Dexter Fletcher’s direction is superb at he makes managing the immense amount of moving parts that happening all across the frame look easy. Rocketman could’ve easily just been another by the number biopic, but it’s aspirations to live the fantasy of Elton John are a true treat and make the film a visual wonderland. Even just seeing Egerton in Elton’s iconic outfits is great and there’s plenty of fun moments and songs that fans will undoubtedly appreciate.
Rocketman is the new gold standard for music biopics and proudly showcases who Elton John is as a person rather than what made him famous. In this exploration of his shortcomings, the film gives fans a new reason to emotionally connect to the icon and boasts a performance from Egerton that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
With his feature debut, writer/director Joe Talbot and writer Jimmie Fails have crafted a heart-wrenching and genuine film that delves into the fallout of gentrification. The Last Black in San Francisco builds the struggles of its two main friends incredibly well and Fails and Johnathan Majors are the absolute heart of this film. Fails’ Jimmie is just one of the many people who struggle from the fallout of gentrification and his desire to reclaim his childhood home and attempt to reconcile with a city that he doesn’t recognize is very touching. It’s a film that tackles the subject so well as it doesn’t point blame at any specific person or thing and instead gives viewers a glimpse at the issue to leave them with something to make their thoughts. The film’s story is easily one of the most moving of 2019 and is constantly elevated because of how real its characters are.
Calling them characters doesn’t even feel right, honestly, as everyone’s stories come off completely genuine. This is especially true with Majors as Mont as he makes him an emotionally driven person that I constantly found myself tethering to. Even the way Talbot uses the camera to capture San Francisco is very personal with the use of wide shots that show all of the tightly fitted buildings as well as close-ups that have viewers meet the people that live there. The film has this sense of depth to it that’s so touching and continually drew me in to see what the end result would be. I especially love the film’s central shift in mindset for Jimmie, as he learns a new truth about his childhood home, as well as the ending as it embodies the film’s idea of what home means to Jimmie.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco is just as intuiting and alluring as its title and you won’t find many other films this year that capture the genuine struggle of gentrification and a loss of home as authentic as it is here.
While many associated Brie Larson’s standout moment in 2019 with Captain Marvel, I think her directorial debut, Unicorn Store, is actually her most inspiring, honest, and personal work of her entire career. Unicorn Store completely blew me away with how well it shows the mindset and struggle of leading an adult life. As a writer and someone who works in a creative environment, I really connected with Kit struggles to impress everyone around her and gain self-confidence in her own creativity. The film’s really an emotional release for Larson and her performance is incredibly personal and honest. Larson’s Kit is never shown to be fully right or wrong for her desires to cling to her youthful wishes and the ending is so perfect for her finding a balance that gives her confidence.
There’s also some great performance from Samuel L. Jackson as the owner of the Unicorn Store, which is just a treat in itself, and Mamoudou Athie as Virgil. With Larson, everyone creates awkward humor that worked for me and made the film a unique kind of coming of age film full of great humor. Not to mention, the fantasy styled set design is great and every moment between Larson and Jackson is both magical and meaningful. What makes all of this work, though, is how the film builds Kit and the more personal aspects of her that make her a realistic role model for many viewers, especially women. Her desire for self-worth and the worth of those around her is definitely something that many viewers can relate to. This focus on her overcoming her issues is something that makes Unicorn Store both relevant and timeless and makes the film a perfect piece of female empowerment.
Frankly, Unicorn Store is completely under-appreciated, and Larson’s amazing performance and direction mixed with genuine writing from Samantha McIntyre is just perfect. It’s a film that can definitely inspire many women, or really anyone, to find their creative balance and self-worth.
It’s always great when a film can be perfect for both adults and children and touch on themes that’s relatable to everyone. Okko’s Inn does this flawlessly with the film slowly building its titular character’s struggles with the loss of her parents and the grief she feels from it. What makes Okko’s Inn so relatable is this slow build and how Okko is always trying to make things better at her grandmother’s Inn, even when she isn’t feeling great. Not everyone shows their sadness directly or will even tell everyone that something’s wrong, and that’s exactly what happens with Okko. Building Okko this way really makes it easy to connect to her issues as a viewer when she finally breaks once she’s confronted with her parents’ deaths later in the film. It’s nice to see something like grief be tackled so well and I think Okko’s Inn is a film that many people can benefit from.
However, even though the film deals with grief, Okko’s Inn is actually made quite humorously through her relationships with those staying at the Inn; both living and dead. No stone feels left unturned with Okko’s Inn as her relationships with everyone feel fleshed out and offer some standout moments. Uribo and the other spirits offers some incredibly funny moments and many of the guests allow Okko to develop as a person and give viewers a deep look inside of her personality. Not to mention, the animation is absolutely gorgeous and the movement of Uribo and the other spirits creates some great moments of action, like seeing Uribo chase Miyo amongst the parade floats.
Okko’s Inn is a pure masterpiece of anime and its themes of grief and loss are authentically depicted and timeless. Okko is easily one of my favorite characters of the year because of her complexity and she’s easily the heart and soul of every part of the film.
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