The Best And Worst Films Of 2019, So Far
With each year comes a huge new crop of movies. Some are considered excellent, others are forgotten about completely, and the truly unfortunate ones are remembered only by how terrible they were. Audiences and film critics are tough crowds, and films are at the mercy of their opinions upon their release. Ultimately, they judge which films deserve recognition and those that should never see the light of day again. 2019 was certainly an interesting year in film, and it’s time to evaluate which were the best and the worst movies of the year so far.
Booksmart Was Hailed By Many
Directed by Olivia Wilde and released on May 24, 2019, Booksmart is a coming-of-age story following two female high school seniors who decided to live it up for once on their last night of high school.
The film grossed over $24 million and, based on 322 reviews, received an impressive score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 8.28/10. According to Emily Yoshida of Vulture, Booksmart “manages to be inclusive and progressive, without being precious about anything or sacrificing an ounce of humor.”
Dark Phoenix Was Underwhelming
Released on June 7, 2019, Dark Phoenix follows the X-Men as they battle against the force of the Dark Phoenix after a space mission goes awry. The twelfth film of the X-Men series, it was written and directed by Simon Kinberg and features an ensemble cast from many of the other X-Men films.
The movie earned $252 million off of a $200 million budget, making it the lowest-grossing film of the whole series. It was also viewed poorly by critics, receiving a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, notably for its anticlimactic end to the X-Men series and lack of character development.
Toy Story 4 Was A Success, Of Course
Toy Story has been one of the few consistently successful animated series since it was first released in 1995. The fourth installment stars the same cast of toys who have found a place with their new owner, Bonnie. Joined by a new toy named Forky that Bonnie made, the crew sets off on a road trip.
Earning $1 billion worldwide, it was the 30th highest-grossing film of all time and the highest of the franchise as well. With a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is described as being “Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending – and perhaps concluding – a practically perfect animated saga.”
Hellboy Missed The Mark Completely
Based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name, the 2019 film is a reboot of the Hellboy film series and the third in the live-action franchise. The film was handed over to Neil Marshall after original director Guillermo del Toro was not offered his previous position as writer-director.
Released on April 12, 2019, it was met with negative reviews as well bombing at the box office, making $44.7 million compared to its $50 million budget. With a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, one review read, “Bereft of the imaginative flair that made earlier Hellboys so enjoyable, this soulless reboot suggests Dante may have left a tenth circle out of his Inferno.”
Rocketman Had People Dancing In The Aisles
Released on May 31, 2019, Rocketman is a biographical musical based on the life of Sir Elton John. The film follows the musician from his time at the Royal Academy of Music through his time working closely with Taupin.
Against its $40 million budget, the film grossed an incredible $195 million worldwide and was revered for just about everything on top of being progressive. The film received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Academy screening on top of earning an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Men In Black International Fell Short Of Its Predecessors
Also referred to as MIB: International, the film is a spin-off of the original Men in Black series that was somewhat based on the Malibu/Marvel comic books of the same name. Released on June 14, 2019, the film needed to gross $300 million in order to break even although it only made $253.9 million.
The movie managed a score of 22% on Rotten Tomatoes with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian calling it “Meh in Black, making another intensely tiresome and pointless reappearance,” and giving it a 1 out of 5 stars.
Avengers: Endgame Set The Bar For Superhero Movies
Avengers: Endgame is an action film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. It is the final film of the twenty-two movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring an ensemble cast of characters from various other MCU films.
With an estimated budget of $356 million, it is considered to be one of the most expensive films ever made and was Marvel’s largest marketing campaign. Released on April 26, 2019, it grossed $2.8 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of all time, and was praised in just about all aspects, receiving a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
After Dropped The Ball
Based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Anna Todd, After is a romantic comedy that follows an innocent college freshman who finds herself romantically involved with a known “bad boy.” Released on April 12, 2019, although the film grossed $69.5 million against its $14 million budget, the film was overall deemed unfavorable.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 18% based on 33 reviews with Owen Gleiberman of Variety stating that the film was an “innocuous teen pulp soap opera that flirts with ‘danger’ but, in fact, keeps surprising you with how mild and safe and predictable it turns out to be.”
Us Helped Bring Horror Back To The Forefront
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Us is a horror film following a family vacationing in Santa Cruz who are being hunted by their own mysterious doppelgangers. The movie premiered on March 22, 2019, and was a massive success raking in an impressive $255.1 million against a $20 million budget.
The film was praised for its unique take on the horror genre and its thought-provoking themes, garnering a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The website goes on to state, “With Jordan Peele’s second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.”
Replicas Was A Mess
Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff and starring Keanu Reeves, Replicas tells the story of a neuroscientist who disregards bioethics and brings his family back from the dead after they suddenly die. Released on January 11, 2019, the film completely bombed, making just $4 million dollars off of a $30 million production budget.
The film was also trashed by critics, receiving a low score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Joe Leydon of Variety claimed that it is full of “cavernous plot holes, risible dialogue, and ludicrously illogical behavior.”
The Hustle Didn’t Bring Anything New To The Table
The Hustle is a female-centered remake of the 1988 classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which in turn, was a remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Story. The film stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as two women with plans to con an Internet millionaire.
Although the film earned $95 million worldwide, it was not well-received by audiences or critics. Many agreed that the film was nothing more than the same story with a slight gender twist, ultimately receiving a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Is Classic Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a comedy-drama featuring an ensemble cast including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and others. Taking place in Los Angeles in 1969, the film follows an actor and his stunt double as they try to adjust to the changes occurring in Hollywood, with references to real events of the time.
Regarded as “Tarantino’s love letter to 60s L.A.,” the film grossed an impressive $369 million worldwide. Although the film was met with some controversy, especially in regards to the ending, it was well-received by fans and critics, earning an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Upside Didn’t Offer Much
Released on January 11, 2019, The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, and the 2016 Argentinian film Inseperables. The movie follows Bryan Cranston as a paralyzed billionaire who develops a close bond with his convict caretaker, played by Kevin Hart.
Despite the film making $122.2 million worldwide on a $37.5 million budget, it wasn’t loved by all. With a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is viewed as being sub-par and is described as being “preachy, manipulative, and frustratingly clichéd.”
Joker Was The Talk Of The Town
A psychological thriller, Joker is based on DC Comics characters, although it is clearly a stand-alone film. It is an origin story following Arthur Fleck, a tortured and failed stand-up comedian, who turns into the villainous Joker as a response to corrupt times he lives in. Released on October 4, it earned an astounding $856 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.
Although Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was hailed by many, it is considered controversial for its portrayal of mental illness, violence, and its nihilistic tone, even raising security concerns at showings. Although it only received a 69% in Rotten Tomatoes, it is regarded as one of the most impactful films of the year.
Rambo: Last Blood Was Trying Way Too Hard
The fifth installment of the Rambo series, Last Blood continues to focus on the character John Rambo, a skilled veteran of the Vietnam War. This time, however, instead of being in combat, he must travel to Mexico to save his adopted daughter after she has been kidnapped.
Grossing just over $30 million against its budget, ultimately, the film was regarded as “generally unfavorable” by critics with a score of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many were disappointed that the franchise went from having meaning in First Blood to nothing but a senseless bloodbath.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco Deeply Touched Audiences
The directorial debut of Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is based on a story by Jimmie Falls and Talbot, and is partly based on Falls’ own life. The film tells the story of Jimmie, an African-American, and his efforts to reclaim his childhood home in a Victorian house in the Fillmore District of San Francisco.
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, it won for Best Director and was released in the U.S. on June 7, 2019. The film holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and was named the “film of the year” by Rolling Stone.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral Was Pushing It
Written, directed, and produced by Tyler Perry, A Madea Family Funeral is the eleventh and final film in the Madea series. With Perry playing numerous characters (as usual), the film is about Madea and her friends who have to suddenly plan a funeral during a family event.
Although the film somehow grossed $74 million, it did not sit well with critics and was given a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. “A lackluster conclusion to Tyler Perry’s long-running franchise, A Madea Family Funeral proves saying goodbye can be painful for all the wrong reasons,” wrote one reviewer.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Gave The People What They Wanted
Starring Keanu Reeves as the titular character of John Wick, the third installment of the series takes place just one hour after the second film. Now, Wick has to evade countless assassins after a $14 million bounty has been put on his head. Released on May 17, the film was the highest-grossing of the series, making a hefty $326 million worldwide.
Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com gave the film a 4 out 4 stars stating it is “a work of pop cinema so blissfully, albeit brutally, entertaining that you come out of it feeling even more resentful of its multiplex neighbors for not making a similar effort.”
Serenity Was A Hot Mess
A fantasy-thriller film, Serenity was released on January 25, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Described as a “sexy noir” film, it tells the story of a fishing boat captain who is asked by his ex-wife to murder her current abusive husband. After poor test screenings, the film didn’t do much marketing, ending up making $14.4 million worldwide against its $25 million budget.
The film wasn’t hailed by critics either, receiving a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes with the general consensus calling it “a high-concept mystery with a twist, Serenity isn’t what it appears to be at first—unfortunately, it’s also not anywhere near as clever or entertaining as it thinks
Midsommar Was Not A Sophomore Slump
Following Ari Aster’s directorial debut of Hereditary in 2018, Midsommar follows a group of young adult friends who are invited to participate in a Swedish festival that occurs every 90 years. However, things aren’t as they were made to seem, and they find themselves in the midst of a pagan cult.
The film was released on July 3, earning $41.1 million compared to its estimated $8 million budget. The film was given an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, which stated, “ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with.”