’s Best & Worst Films of 2019, a few some overlooked, plus Best Performances’s Best & Worst Films of 2019, a few some overlooked, plus Best Performances

About halfway through 2019, I started thinking about the movies Hollywood had offered us up until that point for the year, and there wasn’t a lot standing out in my mind. I started to wonder if 2019 just wasn’t going to be a good year for films. Then we hit fall, and slowly but surely the award contenders really started to shine and come into view more clearly. We also saw reminders of movies earlier in the year that deserved another look. This was definitely a year of strong performances, questionable and sometimes divisive scripts, and some very memorable characters. I’m going to take you through the films that really wowed me, the performances that blew me away, and touch upon some of the movies I think not enough people saw… and of course, we’ll talk about what didn’t work, and in some cases was just bad for the box office. As always, we encourage you to weigh in with the comments below, tell us if you agree or disagree, of if you feel like we missed a few.


JOJO RABBIT – Taika Waititi’s WWII dramedy in which he plays Hitler as an imaginary friend is hilarious and surprisingly emotional.
1917 – the “one continuous shot” World War I epic from Sam Mendes is technically astounding, incredibly tense, and (historically) immensely important.
FORD v FERRARI – feels like classic cinema, like a great Hollywood production from the 1960s. The two powerful leads don’t hurt.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD – Dean DeBlois crafted a perfect end to a perfect animated trilogy of terrific films.
KLAUS – this sweet animated Christmas-themed film is beautiful to look at, but gives a charming new spin an character we all know and love.
KNIVES OUT – Rian Johnson delivers an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery with a stellar cast, and really keeps you glued to the fun.
THE FAREWELL – Lulu Wang’s autobiographical family drama is culturally fascinating and heartwarming in the very best ways.
MARRIAGE STORY – not always a fan of Noah Baumbach’s work, but this one got to me. It’s touching, sweet, sad and poignant.
THE TWO POPES – Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce are fantastic in this true story about the Vatican’s highly publicized change-up.
PARASITE – Bong Joon Ho’s class commentary is shocking, disturbing and brilliant. You think you know where it’s going, and you keep getting surprised. It’s easily one of the most amazing films of the year.


JOKER – love or hate the film, you can’t deny Joaquin Phoenix’s stellar portrayal of mental illness in a very tortured man destined for villainous deeds.
UNCUT GEMS – Adam Sandler is can be great in dramatic roles, this may be one of his best. A pathetic soul here, yet somehow you love him.
DOLEMITE IS MY NAME – it’s pretty formulaic, even for a biopic, but Eddie Murphy still has charm for days in his endearing performance.
1917 – George MacKay just became an actor to watch thanks to his tireless role here, you want to reach out and hug him after all he goes through.
SHAZAM! – Zachary Levi perfectly encapsulates the Big Red Cheese here, and it might be the most fun you have watching a comic book movie.
US – everyone is good, but Lupita Nyong’o astounds in her dual leading role. In some scenes I forgot I was watching the same actress playing two parts.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME – Robert Downey Jr. reminds us why his Tony Stark helped make all this flow with his charismatic and heartbreaking final performance as Iron Man.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – Leo is great here, but there’s something about Brad Pitt’s seemingly effortless acting that really shines bright.
MIDSOMMER – while definitely shocking and unique, I didn’t love the film, but Florence Pugh earns every accolade she gets with her exhausting role.
DOWNTON ABBEY – Maggie Smith takes her minimal screen time, and somehow makes it heart-wrenching and adorable all at once.


APOLLO 11 – rare NASA footage of the moon landing looks like it was shot yesterday, still incredibly exciting today.
MAKING WAVES – the importance of sound in film explored with amazing interviews, and really entertaining results.
AMERICAN FACTORY – a Chinese corporation clashes with an U.S. workforce… results are amusing, frustrating and enlightening.
ONE CHILD NATION – the Chinese policy about limiting children is explored in very fascinating ways.
THE BLACK GODFATHER – director Reginald Hudlin turns in a magnificent look into the life of the amazing Clarence Avant, with countless interviews to show his incredible influence.


LONG SHOT – Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are hilarious, have great chemistry here, but it never seemed to click with audiences.
ROCKETMAN – don’t understand why BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY was so popular, yet this came and went somewhat quickly. Arguably a better movie too.
GOOD BOYS – seemed to come and go pretty quick, but it’s wildly funny and has a surprising amount of heart.
BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON – Jillian Bell is funny and endearing in this charming comedy.
THE FAREWELL – it’s getting great critical acclaim, but many missed seeing it. Hoping for an awards re-release.
DARK WATERS – Mark Ruffalo leads this sometimes horrifying true story of the fight against DuPont’s dirty deeds.
BOOKSMART – Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is crazy funny, and really deserved to be seen in wider release.
WAVES – like two amazing movies in one, HUGE tonal shift halfway through. Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrinson Jr. are excellent new faces.
LUCE – Octavia Spencer leads a suspenseful adaptation of the Broadway play, along with WAVES‘ own Harrinson Jr., who is even more memorable here.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT – director Gurinder Chadha’s true story about Bruce Springsteen’s influence on a UK-based Pakistani teenager is exceptional and easily the most uplifting film of the year… and I’m shocked how few people saw it.


GLASS – as great as M. Night Shyamalan’s UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT were, this was a major let down filled with clumsy mistakes.
DARK PHOENIX (aka X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX) – repeated delays and rewrites couldn’t save this mess of an X-movie, which probably should have been shelved.
SHAFT – the last SHAFT with Sam Jackson was good. This was just bland. Even the studio bailed on marketing, they KNEW it was bad.
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL – a failed cash grab, I don’t know anyone who bothered to see it… or maybe they looked to closely at the flashy thing.
THE HUSTLE – gender-swapping DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson was highly forgettable.
HELLBOY – David Harbour was fine as HB, but the movie was nothing memorable, and really lacked the charm of the previous films.
RAMBO: LAST BLOOD – Stallone’s last RAMBO was solid, this one felt lazy, overly bleak and violent to the point of being laughable.
THE LION KING – Jon Favreau’s CGI remake was so close to the original it seemed pointless. We’ve seen it, and it was better the first time.
AD ASTRA – two years of intricate work on special effects (which were amazing) couldn’t save this cold and disconnected snooze-fest.
CATS – where to begin. We knew this was a travesty after the first trailer, but the end result is so shockingly odd and uncomfortable, it almost has to be seen to be believed… yet no one is bothering.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.