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BRANDON Is My Name, And Ten’in Up Movies Is My Game! (Brandon’s Top Ten Films Of 2019)

Here I am, returning once again for my seventh Top 10 Films list in my Why So Blu career. And like any other year, I feel like I have a good handle on things to make a top list until I actually go to write it. 2019, due to life things, was a year where I missed out on more than I normally would have and I thought the list would be simpler in the end. Turns out, it was just as hard as any other and my final pick was an incredibly tough choice to make among the ones fighting for that 10 spot. While the task to list out, narrow down, weed out and make excruciating cuts is a frustrating task, it makes me happy that I am enjoying so many movies to such degrees year in and year out. So many people poo poo the “current state of movies” and my honest advice that you need to do some work (Not hard work even) and seek out something you’re mildly curious on. Don’t feel handcuffed to blockbusters, stop judging thing so hard on the trailers you’re seeing and go see something out of your comfort zone. If it doesn’t work out, well, maybe it will next time. That’s the gamble and fun of movies. Follow things by creators (Directors, writers) and not genre. Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself once in a while. Don’t be afraid of watching something ridiculous once in a while (And appreciating what fluff is). Enjoy movies. All kinds. Explore. Remember…Star Wars was once something weird and new.

Before I begin, I mentioned films I wasn’t able to check out in preparation for this list. Either by my own accord or it wasn’t available to me at the time. But here are 5 films that I wish I had been able to see before making the list.

1917, The Lighthouse, JoJo Rabbit, High Life, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

And to give them their fair shake, here are the 5 movies that just missed making my list.

Hustlers, Shadow, The Irishman, The Last Black Man In San Francisco, Dolemite Is My Name

And now, my TEN favorite films of 2019!

10. Shazam!

Yep. Sorry Endgame (Which I saw 3 times in the theater), Shazam! was my favorite superhero of comic book movie of 2019. David F. Sandberg’s film was a whirlwind of things for me. It was 80s horror, heroic, funny, endearing and hit me in the emotional feels with its third act twist. It was of the refreshing smaller scale world stakes variety and features a nice cast of non-traditional characters/background and actors to color in this Philadelphia story. Its got the right type of tough stuff for kids to see and also gives them hope and full representation on the screen. It stands alone, yet has a fun way of making itself a part of a larger superhero universe. The film was a pleasant surprise and some of the most 36o degrees of joy in a blockbuster movie this year. The popcorn (With butter!) was hot and fresh here and I munched it all the way down.

9. Her Smell

Her Smell is one of the most “experience” movies I saw in 2019. Its a film that stands as 5 acts that key in on 3 big scenes. Elizabeth Moss is a damn tour de force here (Deserving of an Oscar nomination) as she plays some Courtney Love-type 90s alternative rocker at the end of a drug fueled addiction during her touring career. I’d welcome anyone who wants to consider this a horror film as the feeling you get watching it certainly fits the bill. As intense and clenching of your seat as the movie gets, it takes a breather at one point and gives us one of the most touching scenes of the year as well (The “Heaven” performance). The way this movie plays yin and yang and really puts you in the front seat of addiction and recovery is astounding and pretty unrivaled in my personal film experience. Its a tough watch and a rewarding one. After you’ve seen it, you’ll feel like you’ve been through it. A pretty complete triumph.

8. Marriage Story

Speaking of “experience”, Noah Baumbach’s film wears its heart on its sleeve and puts its honesty forward. It’d be simple to leave this up as a performance movie (And both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver two of this year’s best performances), but its a treat of some visual splendor as well. With the volume on mute, this movie would work just as effectively as the framing, blocking, expressions, camera movements and all tell the story on its own. Even the on the nose stuff hits pretty well. There are many (Like our own Brian White) who laud this movie for hitting the right notes on the life experience, and while I’m not divorced (Or even in any danger of) the film speaks to the intimate coupling of two people like few others do. Things sting and are heartbreaking from both sides. Its a fascinating study of individuals and wonderfully film on a technical level as well.

7. Booksmart

Olivia Wilde provided a strong (feature film) directorial debut this year with the funny as hell Booksmart. One of the best coming of age tales in years, it had all the hallmarks of an all time classic. Of the films on my list that are likely to have the strongest afterlife beyond 2019, Booksmart possibly is ahead of the crowd. While it did solid theatrical business, this one will surely follow in the ways of a word of mouth cult like sensation passing on to viewer after viewer in the younger demographics. It plays extremely well for us old codgers too. There are many a fun side character to go along with our wonderful leads, including scene stealing turns from Skyler Gisondo (Having a great year when you factor in The Righteous Gemstones) and Billie Lourd. Wilde’s film feels an instant comedy classic and is and endearing as it is spit-take hilarious.

6. Us

Another viewing under my belt might have moved this one up higher on my list, but Jordan Peele’s little opus to follow up Get Out is another amazing original tale from one of our budding new cinematic masters. Us gives us the story his Twilight Zone series wishes it could neatly craft together as it meshes together social commentary, horror excellence, effective violence/gore, film appreciation and a layering of detail that rewards with continued viewings. Also, congrats to Elizabeth Moss for showing up twice on my list. And kudos to Jordan Peele for his inclusion of Tim Heidecker and making him scary as hell. Peele is also pushing the prestige of the horror genre, and hopefully we live in a world where technical aspects of Us can be appreciated, but hopefully Lupita Nyong’o can land a best actress nomination with ease. Seriously, how fantastic was she in this? Another Jordan Peele film, another modern horror classic. What’s next, sir?

5. Uncut Gems

First off, a PSA: GO WATCH GOOD TIME ON AMAZON PRIME. Uncut Gems follows right in the footsteps of the Safdie brothers 2017 film and push forward with another intense on the move thriller. Hell, I want to image that Uncut Gems is a shared universe movie with Good Time that the Safdies are building on. You don’t need me to tell you Adam Sandler is outstanding in the film, that seems to be the selling point. What should surprise is how good real people like Kevin Garnett and The Weeknd are in the film, which could be stumbly roles. LaKeith Stanfield is here too, proving to be one of the best modern performers that can swap between leading and character actor roles. Julia Fox might have one of the breakout performances of the year as well. Lastly, Uncut Gems might contain my favorite score of the year, harkening to something like Thief and its score from Tangerine Dream. Everything about this movie is damn gem (uncut, that is).

4. Parasite

Bong Joon Ho made my top film of 2013 with the science fiction masterpiece Snowpiercer. Sadly, Parasite winds up being my only non-US film on my list, and it winds up being the popular choice of everyone else (Shadow was SO CLOSE, and as I’ve stated, its been a tough year to get myself well rounded). However, this film is that damn good, and not getting a Best Picture nomination will be a major entertainment world crime. The film packs a complete punch, being pretty funny, innovative, clever, unique and one of the most surprising and unpredictable films of the year. Sure, I just used a lot of fully deserving generic adjectives to describe it, but its a movie that I would recommend to any and every one and I’d suggest just know as basic a premise as you could going in.

3. Knives Out

Rian Johnson can do no wrong in my book. And when it comes to an Agatha Christie murder mystery, its no surprise that he proved an expert at it. After the success of this film and Murder On The Orient Express, I’d like to dream of off and on Novembers where we switch between Hercule Poirot mysteries and Benoit Blanc cases for a good decade. Johnson cleverness and brilliance of writing/directing have audiences and fans set with a film to study and reward them with his thoughtfulness every time you see it. Johnson’s films tend to do that. Ana de Armas really busted out her chops here and completely changed my perspective of her in a dynamite and commanding role that stood toe to toe with star powered vets like Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Michael Shannon. I’ve went from thinking she’s a great compliment to the 007 franchise (Starring in the upcoming No Time To Die) to thinking that maybe she needs to be headlining her own 007 franchise. I don’t know that there was a more fun, classic programmer type of film this year than this one and it almost feels like the guard is starting to wage back in that favor, slowly but surely. I cannot wait to see what comes next from Rian Johnson, and I truly hope his Star Wars trilogy is still in fold over at Disney (They’d be absolutely stupid to send him packing).

2. Midsommar

Hey Ari Aster, I dig your style. You’ve made my Top 10 list 2 years in a row. And to be honest, I may even like Midsommar just a hair more than Hereditary. This one was such a beautiful experience. This visual beauty had a moment that almost had my stomach turn on over on merely a driving sequence because it felt so real and organic. Florence Pugh is just as fantastic as you’ve heard here. I understand the director’s cut of the film (Which is available on iTunes) is even better, but I was satisfied and loved the theatrical version enough. And as the year has progressed this is one film I constantly think of and admire. Its the one film I was truly disappointed with its Blu-ray for the lack of extras. I want to know so much more about this movie. Its absolutely haunting. While the setting/atmosphere of the movie may not be the first time its been tackled, the way and idea of it feel wholly original and exciting. I saw this one with an audience that was losing their minds in various ways to this movie. They didn’t know what to expect, how to act or completely process everything they were seeing. It was quite glorious and one of my favorite theatrical experiences of the summer.

1. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

You could almost assume Quentin Tarantino was in contention for a spot on this list upon “Quentin Tarantino making new film”. When the trailer dropped, if this movie followed through, it was going to be pushing for #1. And well, it more than followed through. Call it a fantasy, call it an opus…whatever it is, you’re right. Tarantino’s ode to 1969’s Hollywood is a work of art and the most joyous time an adult could have at the theater in 2019. Tarantino knows his camera, he knows his actors’ strengths and as always writes some of the best scripts we’ve ever come to know. Maybe this one preaches to the film buff choir, but it absolutely works and if you’re someone who truly loves movies (Not just someone who watches a lot of movies), its a love letter you’re going to hold onto forever. I don’t know where this falls on the radar of Tarantino’s body of work, and I’m not going to guess as I firmly believe films need time to marinate. My top 10 films of 2019 will surely not even look the same a year from now, but damnit we need to put them out at the end of the year anyway. The complaints about this movie have truly been nit picks to produce click bait articles. Like many of the films I’ve written about in this list, it runs the full quadrant of different genre emotions you can have during a movie. And the scene with Cliff Booth at the Manson compound might be my absolute favorite of the year. While its inspirations are clear, you aren’t going to find anything like it. I hate to be boring, I hate to be ANOTHER Why So Blu writer propping it up as number one, but Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is honestly just that fantastic.

I appreciate your read. I appreciate your thoughts. I appreciate your favorite films that didn’t land on my list. Its hard to get to “just” ten when you watch and study and write about as many as we here do throughout the year. Its almost unfair, but its a challenge that is fun in the end. Since we are past 2019, what are the films that you are excited for in 2020? James Bond is back! Wonder Woman is back! Dominic Toretto is Back! Spike Lee is Back! Wes Anderson is back! Spielberg is back! Paul Atreides is back! 2020 is going to be another exciting moviegoing year and I can’t wait to be in the thick of it!

 

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

5 Responses to “BRANDON Is My Name, And Ten’in Up Movies Is My Game! (Brandon’s Top Ten Films Of 2019)”


  1. Adam Toroni-Byrne

    Thank you for this awesome list! I now have some other movies I want to see because of your writing. Her Smell?! I hadn’t even heard of this until now. Sounds pretty intense! Thanks for your thoughts and bringing new dimension to my favorite film of the year with your words. Awesome!

  2. Brian White

    First off, fantastic list! I must admit it is alien not to see a Star Wars film on your list, but offline I know the reasons why.
    I had no idea you saw Parasite so surprised to see it here, but joyful to finally watch it this month (have the Blu pre-ordered).
    Me thinks I am going to watch Booksmart tonight after work.
    I wasn’t sure if Joker was going to make your list, but it looks like it was not in contention.
    I do badly want to see Her Smell now. I remember seeing and reading about it, but I forgot all about it until I saw it here.
    I cannot and will not dispute your #1. Every single viewing of it the movie gets better and better and what once was a minor nitpick I I had (only giving it a 4.75 out 5) is completely non-existent.
    So digging the Cats vibe. As you said up above I can’t wait to take that “fluff” in on 4K disc.
    And I can’t help but notice you left off the Harley Quinn movie for 2020 😉

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yeah, this all great to see. Nice to see a shout out to Her Smell, Moss is great in that. Lots of films that track for sure with you, but happy to see so much love all over the place for some great flicks.

    I absolutely believe you would have The Lighthouse on here if you were to have seen it. And yeah.

    Shazam! was pretty special in that sorta-scary Amblin movie/Raimi-tribute kinda way.

  4. Gregg

    So glad to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood got so much love on this site…and from the Golden Globes last night! I’ve not heard of ‘Her Smell’ but color me intrigued. I will be looking for that at Redbox and/or Netflix soon.

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Like I mentioned in Peter’s Top of the year’s list, I’ve probably only watched about half of the films on your list. The half I did watch are also on my list, so it seems we’re just spraying each other with our streams. That’s a good thing!