Unbelievably, we have already wrapped the first quarter of the new year (can I even call it “the new year” anymore?). At this point, we’ve seen plenty of wonderful new films. We’ve also gotten a load of some pure hot trash. But we like to think as positively as we can around here, so let’s look on the bright side and run down my picks for the five best films that 2019 has had to offer so far!
I have a complicated relationship with Us. Written and directed by Get Out‘s Jordan Peele, I went into Us excited to see what other fresh ideas the filmmaker had to offer. I walked out confident in my belief that Mr. Peele is one of the most exciting directors working today. However, I also walked out disappointed by the unnecessary and convoluted twist that absolutely ruins the waning minutes of the film for me. Up to that point, though, Us is another thought provoking, strongly directed and incredibly well acted social thriller with an Oscar-caliber performance from Lupita N’yongo. I can’t wait to see what delicious fruits Peele’s career will undoubtedly bare down the road.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
I unabashedly loved the first The LEGO Movie. It’s a charming, smart and hilarious blast of imaginative storytelling. I equally adored The LEGO Batman Movie that followed. Though admittedly I was never interested in LEGO Ninjago, I was still looking forward to seeing what a follow-up to the main film could offer and I was not disappointed. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, though not as fresh as its predecessor, is still a sweet, smart and funny return to a world full of colorful characters. Tiffany Haddish is a welcomed addition to the already stacked cast and the songs this time around are just as fun and catchy. This sequel also unexpectedly hits on some mature themes about learning to make the best of out a bad situation because– this time around– everything is not always awesome.
When it comes to superhero reading material, for some reason I’ve always preferred DC. Despite my comic book preferences, I have not been a fan of the DCEU. The one exception was Wonder Woman, which I enjoyed immensely. Now comes Shazam! and I can confidently say that it is my favorite of this cinematic universe so far. It’s a pure delight from start to finish with the biggest heart I’ve seen in a superhero flick in arguably ever. The cast is a joy to spend time with, the jokes are often hilarious and Director David F. Sandberg reinvents the obligatory, special effects-heavy third act showdown for the better.
Velvet Buzzsaw is an oddity on this list. First off, it’s a Netflix film and though I love my Netflix, I haven’t been the biggest fans of their original films. This time, however, Dan Gilroy rereads with Jake Gyllenhaal to deliver a dark, thrilling send-up of the world of posh art. Gyllenhaal is predictably enrapturing as is the rest of the a-list cast. The film is consistently funny and it knows how and when to take its jabs. The special effects are works of art themselves. It wasn’t until after the credits started to roll that I realized how much of Velvet Buzzsaw there is to dissect, both in its subtext and expert filmmaking.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
No movie so far in 2019 has elicited from me the depth or range of emotions that How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. I love the first two films in this series. DreamWorks has consistently pushed the story of Toothless and Hiccup further with each installments, forcing them to confront true hardships and experience real losses. The Hidden World is no exception. Both Toothless and Hiccup get distinct character arcs and they’re the most developed ones of the series. Our heroes are pitted against a fearsome foe who ultimately helps define the central friendship we’ve seen budding since 2010. In the end, Toothless and hiccup must confront the consequences of what that means. It all climaxes with a bittersweet ending that couldn’t be more perfect for the series. John Powell’s score is just as excellent as his first Oscar-nominates run with the series. Plus, The Hidden World is fat and away the most beautiful film in the franchise and with the visual consultant prowess of Academy Award-winning Roger Deakins, it’s easy to understand why.
There you have it! It was tough to narrow down this list to five, but I’m ultimately happy with how it all shook out. How about you? Do you agree with any of the films on my list? What does your best of the year so far list look like? Share with me in the comments below?