2019 was an interesting year in film to say the very least. Overall, I enjoyed the films I saw this year. This in large part is due to a more deliberate self-selection on my part. In other words, I am more likely to go see a film I feel I am more likely to enjoy.
A lot of it is also down to timing and my own shifting priorities. In addition, the shifting landscape of content distribution and consumption allows more flexibility regarding the how’s and when’s of watching the latest feature film.
Case in point, more than a few movies released this year came and went before I could snag a ticket. Films such as Midsommar, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Yesterday, Blinded by the Light and Parasite piqued my interest at various points in time, but before I fully committed to seeing them – they were out of the movie house. But lo and behold, they are now readily available to view in the comfort of my living room, on demand.
Speaking of the convenience of home cinemas, there were other films, namely The Irishman, Dolomite is My Name (Netflix) and The Aeronauts (Amazon Prime) which had a limited theatrical run shortly followed by a release on a streaming platform. Alas, my patience is rewarded! Out of these films, I will admit that the one that I am most disappointed in not seeing on the big screen is The Aeronauts. More on my thoughts on this film in the next week or so.
Here are four other themes which emerged from my movie going experience in the year of our Lord, 2019.
Kind of MARVEL-ous.
Often on this blog, I have bemoaned the fatigue I was feeling with the superhero movie genre. Sure, I am not Scorsese, but this collection of films has often felt like a symptom of a deficiency of ideas prevalent in major studios’ executive suites. But now, here I am, finding myself at the end of the decade-long Marvel Cinematic Universe feeling pretty darn satisfied. Mind you, of the three Marvel films released this year (not counting Dark Phoenix for many, many reasons), Captain Marvel felt the most inconsequential. A perfectly serviceable film, mind you, but ultimately, it felt like a placeholder for the events of Avengers: Endgame, a film for which my feelings have largely remained unwavering.
On the other end of the spectrum is Spiderman: Far from Home officially concludes Phase 3 of the MCU in great style. So imagine my bewilderment when the whole messy saga of the Sony/Marvel dispute took place. Neither here nor there, but still it was a rather clumsy way to wrap up a pretty consistent and enjoyable period of time.
What the future holds, only time will tell – but there is promise yet for a few more rides at the Superhero amusement park.
Star Wars: When Nostalgia Meets Cinematic Reality
Those of you who visit this site probably were wondering, have I seen The Rise of Skywalker? The short answer is yes! But the experience was such that I could not gather the strength to provide my standard-issue review which usually proceeds from blockbuster releases.
Main reason? Whether in print or on YouTube, I soon realized everyone had a “hot take” on the destructive forces unleashed for this final chapter in the Skywalker story. I genuinely felt there was nothing else of value to add to the discussion beyond my own personal insight and hindsight. While not always reflected in my many recaps of the Star Wars films released since I launched this site, I am ambivalent about the majority of the films gifted us over the past twenty-plus years. If anything, I realized that overall, the DNA of the Star Wars Universe is absolutely phenomenal and limitless, its future is probably in multiple “smaller” stories from a galaxy far, far away.
There is Still a Market for “One-Off, Original Stories
Speaking of smaller stories, two of my favorite films in 2019 fit that bill to a tee – Us and Knives Out. What made these films good watches was the sense of familiarity with each story’s theme (The Twilight Zone and The “Mansion Murder Mystery,” respectively) as the basis of my enjoyment. Apparently, several people felt the same way. Granted how much you make is not an indicator of quality. But in this case, I would say that it shows that outside of the loud and bright blockbusters, folks are more than willing to pay and see an entertaining film at their local. Take note, Hollywood producers.
Festivals are Fun!
In my yearly recaps (when I bother to do them), I tend to commingle those films I pay for with those screened at film festivals I attend throughout the year. But it is worth noting that attending these festivals is not just about getting an early peek at a yet-to-be-released feature. It also grants me the privilege of screening some lesser known creative works. So while many of these films may be absent from a “best of” compilation, it is still a pleasure to see what is out there, from Tribeca to London.
And let us not forget what is perhaps my favorite festival – the annual TCM Classic Film Festival. It’s the best of both worlds – I can re-watch films I hold near and dear (Sunrise), but I also have the chance to see a previously overlooked/newly discovered gem for the first time on the big screen.
Your turn – what is your most notable film memory of 2019?