The Fantabulous Emancipation Of…Brian’s Top 10 Films of 2019

The Fantabulous Emancipation of... Brians Top 10 Films of 2019I sound like a broken record, but every single year this Top 10 movie list keeps getting harder to write.  This year was no exception again.  In fact it was probably my hardest year in the ten plus I have been doing this for.  I actually didn’t plan on writing or producing this year’s list, but I honestly couldn’t envision a world in which I did not.  Talk about a conundrum, huh?  The story as usual goes a little something like this.  As the years go by I see fewer movies theatrically.  Because of work, life and other commitments I feel like I don’t have enough time in life.  That’s probably a huge reason why I also could never have kids.  I’d be a terrible parent.  I’m telling you all of this so obviously you’re not expecting the usual Top 10 list of films that most critical reviewers will unanimously hail as the year’s best.  I also have a very simple mind so some of the movies that most critics rave about are completely lost on me.  Last but not least, I live in Austin, TX.  This is not Hollywood and I don’t have access to all the limited engagements and such, but we’ll cover that a little more down below.

This below Top 10 list is just me being me, my simple mind, having fun with the movies I loved in 2019 and of course accepting what is.  Why not just accept what makes Brian happy?  The secret to happiness is making yourself happy and not trying to please everybody else.  Also, hidden in my dig about Austin up above there is a major movie missing below in my Top 10 list, which I feel horrible about.  It’s the Sam Mendes one-shot war film, 1917.  Now I’ll be fair.  There was one press screening of it for us Austin press and critics, but I happened to unluckily be out of town that week.  So I missed out!  That’s my fault.  However, because I do live in Austin, TX I am not one of the privileged to have access to a theatrical screening this year.  It’s not opening here until it goes nationwide January 10th.    How stupid and unfair, but that is life.  The only other movie I regret not being able to see prior to writing this final list below was Bong Joon-ho’s  Parasite.  I don’t know of a person that saw this one that didn’t like it.  I also missed Doctor Sleep in the theater, but trust me I’m not losing any “sleep” over that one.  And then there’s Jojo Rabbit.  Dammit!

Finally, in my opinion Netflix had a huge year in 2019 with distribution of big films outside the theaters like Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Michael Bay’s Underground, Dolemite Is My Name and more.   I watched as many of these releases as I could as Netflix allowed me to do this without leaving the comfort of my home.  That’s big with me since the theaters down here in Austin leave a lot to be desired.  Why fork over hard earned monies for a film when it will sound and look so much better at home without screaming kids, cell phones going off and more, but I digress.  This is not Brian’s Top 10 Rant list.  It’s a time to celebrate the films that were both released in and touched me the most in 2019.  They in no way represent the general populous out there.  I look forward to hearing what you all think about my selections in the comments below.  Here goes nothing…

he Fantabulous Emancipation of... Brians Top 10 Films of 2019




The Perfection

Honorable Mention… The Perfection

I promised myself I would keep this list to a mere 10 titles, but I can’t help it.  I wanted to call attention to this film and pay my respect to it.  I remember one day I was flipping through Netflix seeing if there was anything interesting to watch.  I passed over this title instantly dismissing it.  Then the unthinkable happened.  Throughout the next week I kept reading rave reviews and comments about The Perfection.  I gathered up the family (we had a roommate at the time) and we watched it.  Holy wow!  On paper The Perfection can be described as a 2019 psychological horror thriller film, but under the surface it’s so much more.  It’s literally bat sh!t crazy at times.  It’s not going win any awards, accomplishments or merits, but it managed to smite me and that’s all that counts.  I don’t know of anybody else that’s going to have this one on their Top 10 list so it might as well get mentioned on mine.  For those still reading it does star one of this decade’s most memorable villains, Allison Williams, from Get Out.  You’ll obviously need a Netflix subscription to view this one, but HERE is the film’s trailer to at least whet your appetite for it.

Marriage Story

10. Marriage Story

Netflix’s Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlet Johansson was the scariest horror film I’ve seen all year.  I dub it a “horror” movie sarcastically because it feels so real and that’s scary to me.  The story here of a marriage gone awry really hit home for me and forced me to re-live painful moments in my mind, which I purposely buried.  It’s also extremely well acted with equally powerful performances from both leading names.  Every scene they share together is electrifying and intense.  While this may not have the replay value of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood for me there’s no denying how raw, brutal and insanely truthful this feature is.  This is also important to note because Marriage Story subliminally makes viewers examine their own mistakes in life, love and relationships and hopefully empowers them to prepare for how not to fall into so many familiar traps.  I know I’ve been touched and learned some things here.  That matters to me.  Its ending was also less heartbreaking than La La Land for me so there’s that too.

Uncut Gems

9. Uncut Gems

I wanted to see Uncut Gems, but I felt insanely pressured to do so.  There was not a single soul out there who said anything bad about this feature which sees Adam Sandler starring in an unforgettable, non-comedic role.  Even all my non-critic friends were hot for seeing this one.  Truth be told Adam Sandler owned this role and not one thing about his performance felt fake.  It’s like Adam was born to play this role and the way he settled into it was both concerning and very natural.  For many Uncut Gems heightens their anxiety and stress levels of viewers while watching it.  That’s because Adam Sandler’s character here moves one million miles per minute.  I’m used to working alongside people like this in my life so I was just able to enjoy the ride here.  However, I never felt such animosity towards a leading character and then found myself rooting for him by the film’s end in a long time.  The way he’s redeemed here is why this one’s on my Top 10.  I also can’t believe the way The Weekend or Kevin Garnett portrayed themselves here, but that’s not my problem.  This one’s also a shocker so brace yourself, hold on and enjoy the ride here.  It’s a bumpy one!


8. Bombshell

I feel like I may be the only one with Bombshell on their Top 10 this year, but it’s my list dammit.  While I was hoping an empowering tale of women like Hustlers would have made my Top 10 Bombshell will do just fine.  Hustlers just felt flat and in the end not compelling, but Bombshell in my opinion was fresh, relevant and provided intrinsic value.  I’ll infer some level of caution with that last profession and I’ll explain why.  On the surface I am all over this one with just the leading ladies alone, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Harley Quinn (I mean Margot Robbie).  However, I was very weary of the film’s subject matter, media afiliation and politics.  It’s the latter that worried me the most.  I didn’t want to walk into a film feeling ambushed having the filmmakers push a political agenda on me.  Thankfully that was not the case.  The movie attacks real life events with a journalistic narrative account telling you the story of how it went down in the media leaving the viewers to intelligently decide for themselves how they want to live their own lives.  The performances were all spot on, the casting was incredible and best of all the feature moved with a quick, brisk entertaining pace.  I can’t wait to see this one again.  Check out my review of it all HERE.


7. Midsommar

I’m glad I did not have to review Midsommar when it was released theatrically.  I would have looked like a fool.  Midsommar comes from the visionary mind of Ari Aster who wound up making one of my 10 favorite films of last year, Hereditary.  Midsommar was hailed this summer as one of the greatest breakup tales.  That it is.  I’ll give it that.  However, when I first saw it theatrically I didn’t particularly care for it.  I praised it for its weirdness and bizarre, grotesque events, but I absolutely hated it’s ending.  Thankfully I had a lot of time to stew on my thoughts and with the iTunes exclusive Director’s Cut I gave it a second chance.  The time away from it was all I needed.  If you want one of the best cult movies of the past decade, Midsommar is a MUST-WATCH then.  Sure the relationship gone awry story is at the core of this feature, but the haunting and disturbing cult life on full display is equally as powerful in my opinion.  This one is unique and truth be told the Director’s Cut isn’t going to sway you at all if your mind is closed or outright hate this.  The ending sticks.  The journey to the fiery conclusion of setting oneself free, however, is the reward here.  I can’t wait to see what Aster cooks up next for us.  You can also catch Midsommar actress Florence Pugh as Scarlet Johansson’s sister in the upcoming Black Widow movie.  For an in-depth review of this title please check out Brandon Peter’s Blu-ray Review of it HERE.


6. Us

I loved filmmaker Jordan Peele’s Get Out so much that I pretty much put Us on a pedestal before it even came out.  The film’s theatrical trailer had me at hello and I couldn’t get that “I Got 5 On It” song out of my head.  While I won’t say Peele’s sophomore entry here is as good as Get Out I will say it’s different enough that it deserves to be scored on its own merits not on its predecessor’s value.  I love the black comedy Peele delivers here once again, but unlike Get Out it kind of leaves you to make your own conclusions about what all goes down here.  Now I completely understand how that can frustrate many, but I like it because it allows for many great debates such as who are these doppelgängers, how were they made and so much more.  Like Get Out also Us only gets better in my opinion with subsequent viewings.  It’s a very ambitious film.  There’s a nifty craft to the construction of it (soundtrack, cinematography, production value) filled with themes, questions and social commentary.  Sure there’s the horror and gory action elements to it, but for me Us is all about the performances that make it an absolute treat.  For the first time ever I can honestly say I’m a fan of Lupita Nyong’o.  Not that she wasn’t good in 12 Years A Slave (those bright white teeth still bother me to this day), but she was absolutely freakin’ fantastic to watch throughout here.  Like Ari Aster up above I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele delivers on next.  He has my vote of confidence that at least for right now he can do no wrong and he’s one of the freshest minds in my opinion completely owning this niche genre.  Check out my movie review of Us HERE and Adam Toroni-Byrne’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review of it HERE.

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I feel silly trying to be taken seriously as a critical reviewer and having this one on my Top 10 list, but dammit I had a blast with this one twice.  And it’s Star Wars so doesn’t it instantly get a free pass?  I’m joking.  Look I’m not going to sugarcoat things.  I was very vocal about my disdain for Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.  I hate the fact that Disney gave these directors so much creative control with seemingly no cohesive outline for the trilogy.  Couple that with the fact of Carie Fisher’s untimely death and the production going into Rise of Skywalker was an absolute mess.  Now let’s go back to Last Jedi for a minute.  It wasn’t the Disney racing ponies (or whatever they were) that ultimately did me in it, but the fact that it made me hate Kylo Ren.  That’s not in a way you’re supposed to hate a villain, but instead I thought the franchise had no villain after Snoke.  I wasn’t alone in my way of thinking as many lifelong Star Wars fans also hated Last Jedi.  Truth be told J.J. Abrams had an impossible task going into this having to solve for a lot of people’s Last Jedi problems, insert fanfare whenever possible to reel people back in and face the daunting task of concluding this nine picture Skywalker arc.  Just the latter stress alone would probably topple any strong, confident person.  Thankfully for me Abrams checked off every want box I had.  Yes this is a very flawed movie filled with things that anger most critics.  Our own Aaron Neuwirth scored this one a 2.5/5, but at the same time he had fun.  So the fun factor here is very much at play here.  Was there ever any doubt they would bring Emperor Palpatine back?  What choice did they have really?  Johnson killed Snoke.  Ha!  That’s okay though.  This is the Skywalker saga after all and what bigger adversary is there than the Emperor?  Do I wish they would have spent more than one sentence on Rey’s origin here?  Absolutely.  However, Abrams did one thing that I thought was impossible.  He found a way to redeem Kylo that while silly I completely appreciated.  And the most important thing is I got the shot I wanted.  Once I saw that nothing else mattered.  I’m completely fine too with the fanfare service, lesbian kiss and further development of Poe’s character.  I also got a Babu Frik in my life now too.  The journey is indeed complete.  Reviews of this film on our site can be found HERE and HERE.

Avengers Endgame

4. Avengers: Endgame

Go ahead and snicker.  Yes I am a complete sucker for comic book films.  I have been my entire life and that’s not going to change with age.  However, there has been none bigger than the final installment of the Avengers film franchise as we know it.  Phase 4 will no doubt shake things up, but what an epic way to end Phases 1-3 in one giant culmination (yes I know Spider-Man: Far From Home is actually the last Phase 3 entry) with some of today’s biggest box office stars than Avengers: Endgame.  It obliterated box office records and officially sank the Titanic.  However, it’s not all about the big box office records and names for me.  This one is all about the story and pretty much how every MCU character is not only given some screen time, but ultimately affected.  Like J.J. up above the Russo Brothers had a seemingly impossible task to tie in 11 years of MCU movie events in the making, which spawned some 21 shared universe films before it.  I couldn’t sleep if I had that much stress on my shoulders and would probably self implode.  What an accomplishment here!  While Endgame does have a three hour runtime I credit the Russo Brothers for keeping the story fresh (time travel is now possible in the MCU), fun (epic action battles) and entertaining with surprises (some you didn’t see coming), humor (think Thor, Hulk and Ant-Man) and ultimately an emotionally satisfying conclusion (I love you 3,000).  I could go on and on and I’m well aware that with repeat viewings Endgame kind of loses some of its shine, but its all about the journey to get here and celebration of this big accomplishment.  I even got my “Avengers Assemble.”  Heck!  I even have this before Star Wars.  Doesn’t that say something?  Check out my spoiler-free review of this one HERE and Brandon Peter’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review of it HERE.  

Ford v Ferrari

3. Ford v. Ferrari

This one should come as no surprise for those that know me well.  I may not be a Ford Mustang guy anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy and appreciate a great movie.  Ford v. Ferrari is a exhilarating thrill ride, but not because of the obvious racing moments.  Don’t get me wrong they were amazing.  However, what’s equally amazing here is the compelling story of the two leading gentlemen, Matt Damon and Christian Bale.  Against all odds they toppled the Ferrari empire, made driving a Ford cool and through the power of friendship conquered some very disturbing corporate politics that would easily sink any modern day company nowadays with their way of thinking herein.  So in essence the thrilling racing moments and fast times were literally just the icing on this near perfect cake.  The story, performances and playful banter/humor quickly pull you in the driver’s seat here and never let you go.  Therefore you can easily say Ford v Ferrari never pumps the brake on delivering a good time.  And best of all you don’t have to be a racing or even a car fan to appreciate Ford v Ferrari.  You just have to love a good movie.  It doesn’t get much better than this.  Vroom!  Vroom!  Take the test drive and check out my theatrical review of this one HERE.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

2. Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I had been waiting an eternity for Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film to release.  And then there’s that ridiculous cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino just to name a few. Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood is also the last film to feature one of my most favorite actors from my home state of Ohio, Luke Perry.  He tragically died in March 2019.  Rest In Peace.  I’ll always have that memory of you and I chatting it up about Normal Life in LAX, but I digress. Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood is brilliantly set in an alternate timeline (Bruce Lee and all) within Los Angeles/Hollywood during the late 1960s.  The plot involves an aging television actor and his stunt double as they try to re-invent themselves in the “aging” Hollywood industry.  That impressive ensemble cast I previously mentioned factors in with multiple storylines that pays tribute not only to Hollywood’s golden age, but also the life of Charles Manson, his followers and Sharon Tate too.   I do believe this is one of Hollywood’s finest modern day fairytales. Despite the film’s long running time I honestly could enjoy hours more in this intriguing fairytale.  That’s when you know how truly vested I was in this feature.  Pitt, DiCaprio, Robbie and the rest of the supporting cast were absolutely magnificent.  There wasn’t a single weak link here.  Tarantino’s witty dialogue, wicked sense of humor and of course direction/style (gorgeous detailed recreation of the 60’s) is not showing any signs of decline in his ninth studio film.  This is one to study over and over.  It’s almost like with this one I also rediscovered my love for the long lost art of filmmaking in Hollywood’s Golden Age.  And who can overlook the soundtrack here?  Wow!  This is a complete irrefutable package in my opinion and one that’s for sure going to get a lot of replay in my household.  Check out my theatrical review HERE.


1. Joker

Well here it is ladies and gentlemen.  It was between the Joker and Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood for my coveted first place here.  Anyone that knows me well will probably not be surprised by this pick.  However, this one for me was a shocker.  You know how I love my DCEU movies and the continuity within.  So needless to say I was pissed when I found out that Todd Phillips was making a standalone Joker origin story.  It’s wasn’t because of Phillips.  Oh no.  I have mad respect for him.  It was because it ultimately meant Warner Bros. really wasn’t going to invest anymore in Jared Leto as their Joker and pretty much the abysmal performance of Justice League meant the team was no longer going to be together.  Depending upon how you feel about it that’s probably a blessing in disguise as Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s solo journeys were quite enjoyable and successful.  So there’s that.  Now getting back to this one being a standalone works for Phillips and team as it means a clean slate to tell the story they want to.  And oh what a story it is.  I remember the controversy before this one got released over the mass panic and hysteria that this would promote gun violence and shootings (early reports of this originated out of Texas).  Heck even the first screening of this film we attended featured a policeman guarding the entrance into the auditorium.  During the screening my mind drifted off in two distinct thoughts.  My first thought was wow this is a P-E-R-F-E-C-T film.  It didn’t need Batman or any wild superhero action to make it enjoyable, but I will say I did appreciate the fanfare sprinkled throughout (despite some not enjoying being force fed like that).   Joaquin Phoenix’s performance and portrayal of Batman’s greatest villain alone is Oscar worthy.  And my second thought was truly a dark one.  I couldn’t believe a mainstream movie like this actually existed.  I felt fortunate to live in a time when I could see a piece of mainstream cinema like this.  It is dark, disturbing and truly showcases the mind of a broken, insane man and I truly thought about the fact that wow if this doesn’t incite riots and violence, then I don’t know what would.  Thankfully, and I do sincerely mean this, I was gravely mistaken with my way of thinking.  However, I “think” you know where I was going with that.  If Warner Bros. doesn’t take Phillips seriously on his “Dark DC” slate of movies he wants to bring to fruition, they’re fools.  This one like Deadpool and Logan before proves that if you make a good film, people will come out in groves to see it despite the R-rating.  And yes!  That rating was very necessary here.  Ain’t no one getting sprayed with bullets here and not bleeding out.  Thank you Todd, Joaquin and Warner Bros. for making this film not only possible, but a reality.  I don’t need a sequel.  I have everything I could ever ask for right here.  Check out Peter Paras’ theatrical review of this one HERE.

Well there you have it.  Another calendar year is officially over!  I can’t wait to see all the movies I missed in 2019 like 1917, Parasite, Doctor Sleep, Jojo Rabbit and okay even Little Women.  I want to thank everyone that read through my entire list up above and whether you agree or not, I’d love to hear any of your thoughts below in the comments.  I also want to take a quick moment to thank all the press and studio representatives in the Austin, TX area that have made it possible for me to attend every screening I could in addition to my hard working crew here on the site: Aaron Neuwirth, Gerard Iribe, Brandon Peters, Gregg Senko, Adam Toroni-Byrne, Peter Paras, Corey M. Crosdale and Jason Coleman.  I hope everyone has a Happy and Safe New Year!  See you at the movies!

he Fantabulous Emancipation of... Brians Top 10 Films of 2019


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

7 Responses to “The Fantabulous Emancipation Of…Brian’s Top 10 Films of 2019”

  1. Gregg

    Yowza! What a write-up! The trailer on Uncut Gems didn’t sell me and then time got in the way for me to see it, but now I wish I would’ve seen it. As for Marriage Story, I may just watch that today. After all, DC Unlimited is depriving me of more Harley Quinn right now so what else should I watch? Is Marriage Story really horror or more so drama? Not surprised to see Joker claim the top spot as I know that one struck a chord with you from the get-go. SO glad you got to see Ford v.Ferrari! I thought that one escaped your viewing last year.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Wow, that #1 — seems like you kept that one under wraps! I didn’t realized you liked it that much. We will definitely have some crossover titles, as well.

  3. Brian White

    @Gerard…hmm I felt I have been pretty vocal about my love for the Joker and actually my Top 3. I can’t wait to watch it again next week on 4K disc! Looking forward to seeing what crossover titles we have with your list next week.

    @Gregg…thanks! You see a lot of films in the theater, especially drama ones, etc., so I don’t se this as anything different for you in Uncut Gems not to go so see. Will you like it? I am not completely sold on that one. 🙂 Marriage Story for me is a HORROR film because of the subject matter, but it is not horror per se, but very much drama. Spoiler Alert! You won’t see a single explosion in it. No sir I actually reviewed Ford v Ferrari when it came out. I just abandoned my love for Mustangs especially now after Ford destroyed the brand.

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    I’d have to think there’s some sarcasm over the unexpected Joker pick. Didn’t I say those two would be your favorites of the year, no question?

    Anyway, this may be the most we’ve ever overlapped, but great list all around as far as picking out Brian films! It looks like Midsommar is gonna sit pretty high in the WSB overall rankings 🙂

  5. Brian White

    @Aaron…I thought so…I made no secret my love for my Top 3 picks…and how I found Joker to be a perfect film. I will admit it has been hard having access to Hollywood and watching it a few more times and liking it immensely while I only seen Joker once and done…until next week that is! Also very surprised to learn a lot of folks I interact with on FB have not seen Us or Midsommar. Granted the latter I can understand, but I thought Us was pretty mainstream out there.

  6. Brandon Peters

    Not surprised on Brain’s Joker top pick. I figured that was gonna fall very high for him. Its pretty much everything he wants in a movie.

    I’d have to go back through, but this might be your least popcorn chewing blockbustery list of all lists i’ve seen you do here. And your #1 was a humongous film with an IP, but ultimately a grimdark character driven story riffing on a couple old Scorsese movies so its at home with those. Very happy to see Midsommar rise up on you. Its fantabulous!

  7. Brian White

    @Brandon…I see what you did there…with fantabulous 😉
    Yeah my thoughts exactly when I was making this I felt weird putting Avengers and Star Wars so high, but as I looked back at my scores and whatnot I was really smitten by them both…Star Wars though mostly for the fanfare!