Here’s RunPee Jilly’s list of top ten favorite films of 2019. Keep in mind that my favorite films may not be ranked the highest as per movie grade. As RunPee Dan says about Uncut Gems, “A film might be graded an A and you still hated watching it.” That’s why I don’t have Rocketman or Joker in my personal Top Ten. In both cases, those are way too depressing to rewatch. So this list has what I personally enjoyed the most and will definitely watch again, in an unusually good crop of films in 2019.
What stands out to me as unusual is that I have several dramas on this list, instead of having my preferences landing squarely in genre films like sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fiction.
Trust me. I’m not a drama fan. So for some of these to make the list, I feel confident they are pretty damn good. Also, some of my most-looked forward-to genre movies, like Zombieland 2, Men in Black International, Jumanji 3, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Shazam, and Terminator: Dark Fate don’t make the cut. Bummer, that.
Here are my most enjoyable, rewatchable top ten films from 2019:
10. Downton Abbey
I liked the TV show enough to watch it twice, and the movie revival didn’t let me down. It cut out some of the worst subplots and added in fresh good ones. Only the return to Branson and his politics brought down the fun and good humor of this finely made special. And it may end up being Maggie Smith’s swan song…to which I must raise of glass of fine “upstairs” brandy.
9. The Lion King (CGI/Live-action version)
This probably won’t hit anyone else’s Best Of list, but after watching this several times, singing like a fool, and even crying several times, I have to admit it: I enjoy this re-make. And it’s always good to be reminded to live the Hakuna Matata philosophy: “to have no worries, for the rest of your days…”
What’s a motto? I don’t know — what a ‘motto with you?
8. Spider-Man: Far From Home TIED WITH: Knives Out
Not as imaginative and fun as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spidey-2 was a good denouement to the first three phases of the MCU. It was, appropriately, often sad, as one would expect, post-Snap. And it felt like it. The humor was still there, but you could feel the aftereffects of world-wide tragedy throughout. If anything, what hampers the film most is that it can’t decide what tone to take.
Then there’s this: Knives Out is fun, funny, and tells one of the better mystery stories I’ve seen in some time. It holds up to multiple viewings. It’s even subversive (oh, hello there Rian Johnson! Much better than The Last Jedi).
Almost any MCU movie is a good movie to me. While not the most memorable of the Marvel films, Captain Marvel is a tight story, with great 90s nostalgia and humor, a few unexpected reveals, and some great road-trip chemistry between Brie Larson and Samuel Jackson. Also, it has Goose the Flerkin.
6. JoJo Rabbit
Another great drama, with a nice element of the fantastic in Hitler as a German Youth’s imaginary friend. And if this sounds absurd, trust me that it works. The Nazi kid and “the Jew in the walls” were wonderfully acted, and Scarlett Johanssen never fails. Bring a tissue or two, but know it’s not a sob-fest. This is a ‘Funny Hitler’ movie that won’t have you questioning your judgement as a human being.
Two and a half hours of car racing in a historical period setting. It didn’t seem like a recipe for a great film if you don’t care much about cars.
I was glad to be wrong. What FvF is really about is sparkling chemistry between two talented leads, some exciting (although a bit drawn out in places) racing sequences, some deeper insight into the rewards and pitfalls of chasing perfection…and friendship. And I have to add that the scene with Henry Ford 2 (the Deuce) coming down off of a terrifying, yet spiritual experience on the test track might be the best moment in any movie all year. Ask anyone.
A war movie. NOT something I would have watched if it wasn’t for two things: 1. there’s a cool gimmick that everyone says quickly moves beyond gimmick status, and 2. it won the Best Drama and Best Director awards from the Golden Globes.
So I gave it a try, and was pretty blown away (no pun intended). I even went in a second time to look for the scene cuts. You can see them all over the place if you’re looking, but the point is you get sucked into the story right off the bat, and don’t notice those long panning scenes in a distracted way. This is a gem of a film and I’m glad it got some recognition for the massive achievement it is.
And the depiction of No Man’s Land in 1917? Clearly, Tolkien got his inspiration for Mordor in The Lord of the Rings from his trench days in WW1. It even felt like watching Frodo and Sam, assigned a desperate duty to walk through hell.
This was a perfect movie to see on the large screen, and see a second time, to find the actual scene cuts that didn’t stand out on the first watch.
3. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker
I can’t NOT have this on my list. I know it’s not being a cool kid to like it, but the truth is Rise of Skywalker is a really good movie. It’s one of the top Star Wars films (not a high bar to clear, I know) and gives me all the fun nostalgic feels, beautiful set pieces, fine fights, good humor, and a nice conclusion to a saga I had serious doubts was fixable.
This is a very enjoyable work if you can get over the fact that it is by nature imperfect. Star Wars fans are so divided these days that there’s almost no out. I say ALMOST, because somehow Disney+’s The Mandalorian has done the impossible and united the cracked fanbase.
2. In a normal, non-Endgame year, this would be my surprise favorite film: The Peanut Butter Falcon
I tell everyone to see this movie. I can’t help it: it’s an absolutely wonderful cinematic experience that doesn’t require the tissue box. You’ll laugh, smile, think a little bit, and thoroughly enjoy this upgraded Tom Sawyer-esque film. Plus, it single-handedly changed my mind about actor Shia LaBouf. He carried the straight-man, lovable rogue half of the duo perfectly. Of course, the real find is Zack Gottsagen, who really has Down’s Syndrome but effortlessly makes it not matter. I’d love to see this young man win an award or two.
If you’ve ever wondered if what’s inside counts more than your hideous mistakes from the past, see this flick. You’ll walk home feeling like you can do anything. We need these kinds of messages today.
While we also got this message of compassionate kindness from A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Peanut Butter Falcon is a great experience for all ages, and doesn’t rely on nostalgia, Tom Hanks, or overt sentimentality to get the point across.
And my number one film of 2019:
I can’t not have this amazing piece of superhero history go by without acknowledging how mighty a task it was to make 11 years and 22 movies in one franchise and have a deeply satisfying conclusion. This is the Return of the King for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s even better on each rewatch when you notice the loving care and attention to detail in every frame, and the Easter Eggs that don’t feel like fanservice so much as little hugs to the fans. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; then walk away happy.
What’s a pity is that Rise of Skywalker is also a Return of the King-level event…but no one cares. Endgame is just that good, wiping out any other ‘finale’ type competition (notice Terminator: Dark Fate — in a similar finale fashion — misses this list entirely).
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)