Top movies of 2019: From 'Joker' and 'Avengers: Endgame' to 'The Irishman' and 'Ford v Ferrari'

With a month to go before the new year dawns, we made a list of all the critically-acclaimed and moolah-raking movies of the year


                            Top movies of 2019: From 'Joker' and 'Avengers: Endgame' to 'The Irishman' and 'Ford v Ferrari'

The year 2019 has been full of blockbusters. From parallel cinemas, slambang action, chilling horror, and thigh-slapping comedies, the year has seen it all. With a month to go before the New Year dawns, we made a list of all the critically-acclaimed and moolah-raking movies of this year.

A quick reminder: This list will be updated as and when theatrical releases come in.

'Hustlers'

A still from 'Hustlers' (IMDb)

Phenomenal is the term when it comes to describing this flick. It follows the story of Destiny (Constance Wu) and her crew of strippers in New York City who begin to steal money by drugging stock traders and CEOs who visit their club, then running up their credit cards. Directed by Lorene Scafaria, 'Hustlers' is a memorable watch as it encompasses strong writing and one of Jennifer Lopez's career-best performances to date. The crime drama vaulted the $150 million club and managed to hold its own despite being released alongside the much-awaited 'It: Chapter 2'. 

'Knives Out'

A still from 'Knives Out' (IMDb)

As far as mystery movies go, 'Knives Out' comes in as an ensemble whodunit. The story of a family fighting over the will is explained in a bloody-skillful way. Ana de Armas shines as the young nurse while Chris Evans and Daniel Craig play meaty roles to perfection. Writer-director Rian Johnson dishes out an intriguing watch. David Rooney, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, describes the film as an "ingeniously plotted, tremendously entertaining and deviously irreverent crowd-pleaser" and "a treat from start to finish".  Guess that's a convincer.

'The Irishman'

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in a still from 'The Irishman' (IMDb)

Martin Scorsese is back with an epic mob-genre movie after almost a decade. And so are Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Al Pacino — all well over their seventies — in this absolutely power-packed masterpiece of a film. The director and the ensemble cast ensure that each minute of the three-and-a-half-hour epic is a visual treat coupled with concrete, bloody and vibrant narrative. At this stage in Scorsese's decorated filmmaking career, it is safe to term 'The Irishman' as his best work yet. Let's call it a late tour de force. It is a classic and has Scorsese written all over it making it a gritty, meticulous and profound watch.

'Avengers: Endgame'

'Avengers: Endgame' Theatrical Poster (IMDb)

Do we need to explain this one? The biggest blockbuster of the year. Over the last decade, Marvel Studios has built a franchise, unlike anything the cinema world has ever seen before.  While launching an incredible run of multiple series that each center on powerful superheroes and villains and establish their own specific aesthetics, they’ve also maintained an immensely complex chain of continuity that expands with each new story. Every filmmaker who contributes to the universe adds a new piece to the puzzle, carving out something different and diverse that is also crafted to add to the bigger picture.

The movie stands by its name and every second of the 180 minutes sees 10 different emotions. From witnessing the comedic side of Thor to seeing Hulk embrace who he is, this movie shows us that, in the end, our heroes are just like all of us. When it comes to money, 'Endgame' received more than what the projected numbers were as it even pipped 'Avatar', another epic.  'Avengers: Endgame' grossed $858.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.939 billion in other territories, for a worldwide total of $2.798 billion.

It is the highest-grossing film of all time, as well as the second-highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada, and the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide when adjusted for inflation.

'Us'

Lupita Nyong'O in 'Us' (IMDb)

An inspiring, insanely thrilling plot and an impressive cast performance sum up Jordan Peele's horror. The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong'o) and her family, who are attacked by a group of menacing doppelgängers. This one is unique and was a commercial success. Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com gave the film four out of four, writing that: "Us is another thrilling exploration of the past and oppression this country is still too afraid to bring up. Peele wants us to talk, and he's given audiences the material to think, to feel our way through some of the darker sides of the human condition and the American experience."

'Ad Astra'

Brad Pitt in a still from 'Ad Astra' (IMDb)

A visually, stunning piece of work created by James Gray, 'Ad Astra' follows the story of an astronaut (Brad Pitt) who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System. Call it hauntingly beautiful. 'Ad Astra' is more of an experience than just watching a story being told.  As far as space operas go, this flick takes its place in the list of all-time great space movies.

'Joker'

Joaquin Phoenix in a still from 'Joker' (IMDb)

With Joker, Todd Phillips has transcended the expectations of what it means to be a comic book movie, and while his efforts will no doubt be praised by audiences and critics alike, the film itself is not without issue. From the very beginning, the film engages viewers with a mixture of stunning cinematography, a brilliant soundtrack, and a hefty dose of the 80’s nostalgia that’s so on-trend recently. However, while the performances from the entire cast are hypnotically enticing, an applaudable feat and the technical aspects are damn-near perfect, the issues lie in the intrinsic story and storytelling itself. From the start, Arthur Fleck (aka Joker) is set up to be a sympathetic hero. It is the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2019 and the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, as well as the first R-rated film to pass the billion-dollar mark.

'Once Upon a Time In Hollywood'

A still of Brad Pitt and Leonardo Caprio from 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'. (source: Twitter)

Quentin Tarantino spins a fantasy in which Sharon Tate — the actor murdered by Manson family members gets the much happier ending she deserves. Margot Robbie plays Tate in a pivotal role. She's the patron spirit of the late 1960s Hollywood in which a has-been actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double and buddy (Brad Pitt) come across as classic strugglers. This is Tarantino's most detailed picture, filled with nostalgia for a lost Hollywood. 

'Ford v Ferrari'

Matt Damon and Christian Bale from 'Ford v Ferrari' (IMDb)

'Ford v Ferrari' is more than the thunderous thrumming and roaring of the cars, it is more than the racing jargon, it is more than the just a car-dominated story that eggs you to root for the man behind the wheel and the man who's got his back. The '60s retro racing piece boasts of a solid narrative of life in the fast lane and most importantly, of friendship.  Matt Damon shines as the integrity-filled Shelby. But that doesn't mean he's the serious broody types. There are some wisecracks, some naughty smiles, and glimpses of his 'The Martian's Mark Watney. And Christian Bale, well. From a boxer to the bat to the driver, is there anything the Englishman cannot do?

'Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw'

A still of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham from 'Hobbs and Shaw' (IMDb)

‘Fast & Furious Presents:  Hobbs & Shaw’ is a fun ride and just the kind of summer film we needed.  There are also some amazing surprises for the audience throughout the film which include several out of this world cameos and some of the best end credit scenes we have seen in quite some time. Starring Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, 'Hobbs & Shaw' follows these two nemeses as they are forced to team up to save the world from a killer virus that just so happens to be injected into Hobbs' sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby).

After essentially being forced to inject herself with the dangerous programmable bio virus, the trio goes on a mission to deprogram the virus while also running from supervillain Brixton Love (Elba). A former friend and colleague of Shaw's, Brixton was presumed to be dead but instead was taken in by the evil high-tech organization Eteon that genetically enhanced his body to be the strongest and most dangerous assassin around. It is a predictable film, but a fun watch. 

'Rocketman'

A still from 'Rocketman' (IMDb)

The biographical musical film based on the life of musician Elton John was a runaway hit that was critically acclaimed. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the movie follows Taron Egerton as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music through his musical partnership with Taupin. The film is titled after John's 1972 song 'Rocket Man'. It grossed $195 million worldwide against its $40 million budget and was the first by a major film studio to include a gay male sex scene.

'21 Bridges'

Chadwick Boseman in a still from '21 Bridges' (IMDb)

He shot to fame as King T’Challa, the Black Panther of Wakanda. But there’s more to Chadwick Boseman than his VFX-filled, superhero image. So far, we have been used to seeing the 42-year old actor in larger-than-life roles and iconic figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, or James Brown. With '21 Bridges' Boseman will appear in a more realistic and far more mature role than his earlier stints.

Directed by Brian Kirk and produced by Joe and Anthony Russo, the action thriller movie follows Andre Davis (Boseman), an NYPD cop who is on a manhunt to find the killer who murdered NYPD cops. He will leave no stone unturned to find the two perpetrators who killed eight of his fellowmen in a robbery gone wrong, even if it means bringing the whole of New York City under lockdown.

'21 Bridges' is not only about Davis’ fight for justice but also about the journey of his life and evolution as a cop. The fact that his childhood history inspires him to become "the guy who kills co-killers" is most likely the crux of his character. As the story explores Davis' past and defines his present, it gives Boseman the opportunity to delve into different shades of his character, making it a promising venture.

'Toy Story 4'

'Toy Story 4' theatrical poster (IMDb)

You all thought Andy going off to college was going to be it, aka the end of an era. But 'Toy Story' creators were kind and decided to bless us all with another installment of the beloved animated movie franchise that has made its way into people's hearts ever since the first film came out. This time action unfolds in the form of Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody going out to find Bo Peep and bring her back. Need we say more?

'It: Chapter 2'

'It: Chapter Two' saw fresh horrors beyond the creepy Pennywise plaguing the Losers Club from Derry (IMDb)

The sequel to 'It', the film was directed by Andy Muschietti, returning from the first film, with a screenplay by Gary Dauberman. Set in 2016, 27 years after the first film, it stars Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, and Bill Skarsgård, who returns as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. 

It doesn't come as a surprise that Pennywise is drawing the crowds. The movie boasts a healthy 62% on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience score of 79%. PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 76% and a 56% "definite recommend". The movie received praise for its acting and themes, though criticism was aimed at the runtime and weaker scares compared to its predecessor. Its faithfulness to the novel also garnered a positive response.

Simply put, the movie ticked all boxes that a sequel and a book-to-film adaptation should. Impressive plot. Check. Cast performances. Check. Continuity factor and accuracy to the source material. Check. Not so surprising now, is it?

'Brightburn'

'Brightburn' poster (IMDb)

The James Gunn-produced superhero horror film was an impressive flick that set a new trend in the horror and superhero genre. It follows Brandon Breyer, a young boy of alien origin raised on Earth who realizes he has superpowers. Upon learning about them and being brainwashed by the ship he arrived in, Brandon rejects his humanity and turns to evil, opting to terrorize his hometown and his parents.

What are your favorite movies from 2019?

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