Mid-way through the year, 2019 at the movies has been historically bad. According to Box Office Mojo, box office numbers are down nearly 10% from last year. Other than a few Disney blockbusters such as Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, a number of sequels have performed below expectations. We’ve complied our top five films of the first half of the year voted on by our large staff (four people) so that you don’t have to waste your time with the latest underwhelming Men in Black, Godzilla or campy Horror film that may come up in your Netflix que.
5. Toy Story 4
The grand ending with a well-deserved victory lap. Spanning from 1995 to 2019, Toy Story 4 brings one of the highest critically acclaimed film series’ to an end. The cast was absolutely phenomenal. Newcomers Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, and Keanu Reeves steal the show whenever they had a chance to do so. Their efforts brought a kind of comedy to the franchise that hadn’t been seen in the previous films. The co-captains, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, don’t let up and give us that same heartwarming feeling they’ve continued to give audiences for years. Here, we have another tear-jerker with our beloved toys that we grew up with and still love to this day.
In 2019 it’s nearly impossible to release an indie movie that excels at the box office. Sadly Booksmart further proved this theory. Olivia Wilde’s coming of age comedy only made 21 million dollars at the box office. That number is staggering, so much so that director JJ Abrams publicly said he is scared for indies. For those of us that saw Booksmart we saw a movie that will be a timeless classic. From the opening scene’s all the way to the end credits booksmart will have you laughing your ass off. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Fieldstein display amazing chemistry as they portray two “nerds” looking for one last party before they’re off to college.
3. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Creating an underground world of assassins with basic rules and subplots within it is no easy task. Doing it over the course of now three movies revealing a little more in each installment, keeping our curiosity at its peak, is part of what makes the John Wick franchise special. Director Chad Stahelski has taken a basic plot that we can all get with and turned it into the best action franchise of the century. Who isn’t rooting for a grieving widower who is getting revenge on shit bags who killed his dog and stole his car? Stahelski’s experience as a long time stunt coordinator gives this franchise an edgy brutalness unlike anything we’ve seen before. The fight sequences will have you squirming in your seat as John Wick continues to find new ways to waste hundreds of henchmen and even an NBA player on his way to sweet revenge. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is the best of the franchise so far and it was reflected in the box office numbers.
The highest grossing film of the year that is not a Disney property is Jordan Peele’s Us. Coming off one of the most popular films of the decade, Get Out, there was some speculation on whether or not the filmmaker could live up to the early success of his 2017 debut. With Us, Peele shows us that he is one of the hottest new filmmakers today. The film brought in over 70 million in it’s opening weekend proving that Peele’s new age horror style is something audiences are hungry for. Having only directed two films thus far, it’s clear that Peele has a unique style of blending comedy and horror. As far as storytelling goes Us isn’t as straight forward as Get Out but it allows for more interpretation on the audiences end, making for one of the more thought provoking films of the year.
1. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Of the films with rave reviews coming out of Sundance none quite lived up to the hype like The Last Black Man in San Francisco did. Joe Talbot makes his feature length directorial debut telling a story of two friends who search for a sense of belonging in a city they grew up in that they no longer recognize. The leads Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors are both dynamic in showing the brotherly bond between two close friends. Being from San Francisco, Talbot is able to show us the two extremes of a city torn by gentrification in a way only a native could. The score, cinematography, performances and a fantastic screenplay with well developed characters makes The Last Black Man in San Francisco the best film of the year thus far. Having been distributed by A24 and produced by Brad Pitt be on the lookout for this film come awards season.