Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ten films to remember 2019 by (and other stuff from the year in movies)

If forced to pick one favorite, "Parasite," with its extraordinary family, may be it. 
And, on the last day of 2019, we finally get around to naming our favorite -- and not necessarily the best -- films of a year specializing in extra long movies. As always, we include some other odds and ends, too, starting with a quick, alphabetical look at our most treasured 10:

Joker (a dark masterpiece, almost); Mike Wallace Is Here (with its barrage of celebs and newsmakers, the year's most entertaining documentary); Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Tarantino at his outlandish and colorful best); Pain and Glory (Almodovar and Banderas combine for a contemplative gem); Parasite (South Korean master Bong Joon-ho delivers an art film with a mighty mainstream kick); Richard Jewell (director Eastwood gives us an extremely watchable -- and relevant -- history lesson); Rocketman (I think it's gonna last a long, long time); The Two Popes (nothing anyone might expect from a couple of pontiffs just sittin' around talkin'); Uncut Gems (the Safdie Brothers and Adam Sandler's first real tour de force keep us glued to the screen); 1917 (this WWI opus opens Jan. 10 in northeast Ohio and simply will dominate your senses. I promise).

A six pack of honorable mentions: "The Aeronauts," "Dolemite Is My Name," "The Irishman," "Little Women," "Queen & Slim," and "Yesterday."

Two worthy in animation: "I Lost My Body" and "Toy Story 4."

MVPs (Most Valuable Performers): Willem Dafoe ("The Lighthouse," "Motherless Brooklyn," "Togo," "Tomasso"); Adam Driver ("The Dead Don't Die," "Marriage Story," "The Report," "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"); Scarlett Johansson ("Avengers: Endgame," "Captain Marvel," "Jojo Rabbit," "Marriage Story"); and Florence Pugh ("Fighting With My Family," "Little Women," "Midsommar").

Award-winners you can bank now: Best Actress Renee Zellweger ("Judy"), Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix ("Joker"), Supporting Actor Brad Pitt ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"), Supporting Actress still too close to call.

A trio of overlooked workers: Julianne Moore as "Gloria Bell"; Octavia Spencer as "Ma," and Bill Camp, as the farmer/whistle blower in the Ohio-shot "Dark Waters."

Five guilty film pleasures: "Booksmart," "Doctor Sleep," "Ma," "Ready or Not," and "Shazam."

Last and certainly least (the not-so magnificent seven of 2019): "Climax," "Dumbo," "Isn't It Romantic," "Lucy in the Sky," "Men in Black: International," "Red Joan," and "What Men Want."

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