Derek's Top 15 Films of 2019


I’ll start with my annual apology for the short responses on some of the films. The list was mostly solidified a long while ago, as were the longer responses. Many of these movies deserved a re-watch from me for more thorough insights, but I wanted to get this list posted as soon as possible to maintain continuity on the site before our 2020 lists go up, so the re-watches never happened. 

Honorable Mention: The Lighthouse 
A tense and wacky art film that’s definitely worth a watch… with subtitles. 

15. Glass
I’m a Shyamalan apologist. The ending of the film fell flat. Like, so flat. But I have to give credit to ambition, and I found the concept of continuing this story to be stimulating. Its just unfortunate that this is a trilogy that doesn’t get better as it movies forward, but gets worse. Still made my list, though! 

14. Shazam!
If I understand the concept, this movie has a major flaw that I had to overlook - Why is Billy Batson more mature than Shazam? Zachary Levi did not match Asher Angel at all. He acted like a buffoon. He should’ve done what Tom Hanks did with Forrest Gump – Based his mannerisms off of the actor playing the younger version of the character. Even so, it was a sweet family film full of heart. 

13. Long Shot
It was so funny. Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron have great chemistry and their characters and relationship feel genuine. 

12. Us 
Where was Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Actress Oscar Nomination… and win? I really hope Jordan Peele continues making these cinematic Twilight Zone episodes. He’s fantastic at it. 

11. Joker 
This movie’s been talked to death, and adding anything else to that discourse sounds exhausting – But I still think it’s great! 

10. Ford v Ferrari
Everything regarding Henry Ford II’s character felt entirely contrived to create tension and it was incredibly annoying, but man was this movie fun. It has a dynamite score too. 

9. Midsommar 
I was somewhat lukewarm on this until the day after watching it when my wife and I did a lot of reading about the film (theories, director intensions, etc.) and it really boosted my opinion of it. I wish I had more specifics to give on those readings, but it was so long ago, I don’t remember much about them – but they did enough to maintain my positive impression of the film and place it on this list.  

8. Avengers: Endgame 
I like this one, but I like Infinity War more. 

7. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 
Under the circumstances in which this movie was made, you can’t help but wonder what it would have been had Carrie Fisher not passed. That being said, most of my issues with this film are formal matters, or scenes that I think could have benefitted with another take. It's not the conclusion I wanted - and I never expected to get the conclusion I'd been writing in my head for years - that's a fool's wish. But this one still worked for me.

6. Booksmart 
I hope this becomes a classic in the high school movie genre. I hope when my daughters grow up they speak Booksmart in the same breath as The Breakfast Club, Clueless, and Mean Girls.

5. Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler nails this. He keeps the anxiety running high throughout the film. 

4. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood 
It’s not Tarantino’s best, but I still like it. It just sorta ambles along – an easy watch. 

3. 1917 
I had a strong visceral reaction to this one. I found it incredibly stressful and emotional. The cinematography is top notch and it’s one of the best long take films out there. I don’t care for the title though. Give me something more poetic on that front. 

2. Toy Story 4 
I love that after three films of Woody dedicating himself to taking care of his kid, we get a movie about Woody taking care of himself. I watch this movie quite a bit with my kids and it still hits hard every time. Also, the lighting! The best we’ve seen in a Pixar film. 

1. Parasite
I love this movie for what it is as a movie, but so much of my excitement for it also lies in the fact that The Academy actually chose the best film of the year as Best Picture. In addition to that, it’s the year my daughters were born. I have a parlor trick where I people the year they were born, and then tell them the best picture winner of that year; mostly to use as a conversation generator. For many years I was bummed that mine was Terms of Endearment. I always wished The Right Stuff had won for ’83. I’ve changed my tune on that – I love Terms of Endearment. Anyway, I’m elated that my girls will always be able to say that the Best Picture of their birth year is the groundbreaking and historic Parasite.

Thank you for reading!