The Midway Point: Best & Worst of 2019 So Far

We’re half-way to the Oscars and Razzies

Everybody knows the annual routine before the annual routine. In the month of June, I commemorate the best and worst films of the year, so far. These are the films that are coming to home video (as they used to say) and digital, and the films that should be sent across the galaxy and into another dimension, where we’ll never find them again.

The Best of the Year So Far

10.) “Captain Marvel”

If Gal Gadot can have a leading role in DC’s “Wonder Woman,” then why can’t Brie Larson in Marvel’s “Captain Marvel?” Women deserve leading roles in superhero movies, and this gives us a fun vibe.

9.) “Shazam”

The best thing about this DC spoof is its ability to balance humor and emotions. The best gags come from Zachery Levi as the title superhero and his manly charms, and the honest drama comes from his child identity and the main villain. This is fun.

8.) “Isn’t It Romantic”

Thanks to Rebel Wilson’s performance, its rom com lampooning, and the sweetness hidden inside it all, this is arguably one of the funniest movies of the year.

7.) “The Mustang”

The relationship between a violent convict and an angry horse is something to behold. Matthias Shoenaerts is pulsating and just flat-out fantastic as the main character. And everything else about the movie is beautifully photographed and acted.

6.) “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

This is the best of the three “Dragon” films, because it questioned on the relationship between humans and dragons, while giving us a straight forward answer. From what I’ve seen, it was also an honor meeting Jay Baruchel (voice of Hiccup) and director Dean DeBlois.

5.) “Booksmart”

The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde ranks with the very best high school comedies like “American Graffiti” and ‘Superbad.” It’s hilarious, smart, and touching, thanks to the chemistry between Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

4.) “Rocketman”

Taron Egerton is a smashing charmer as Elton John, and the movie makes the right choice of playing like a musical fantasy with drugs, sex, music, and real emotions. This “Won’t Go Breaking Your Heart.”

3.) “Amazing Grace”

I can tell that Aretha Franklin is smiling from Heaven at this documentary. She records her live album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972, and seeing her perform is like watching a miracle.

The saints be praised.

2.) “Us”

I loved everything about Jordan Peele’s latest horror masterpiece. Lupita Nyong’o is perfect as both her good and evil sides, the pop culture references keeps everything in line, and the terrors are at the level of “The Shining.” This is brilliant.

1.) “Avengers: Endgame”

No matter what anyone says, this was not only better than “Infinity War,” but it also gave a truthful, humorous, thrilling, and emotional conclusion to this Thanos battle. Kudos to the cast (Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, etc.), the writers (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely), and the directors (Anthony and Joe Russo) for making the year’s best movie so far.

But don’t forget, so far, we’ve also had some other fine flicks, like “John Wick: “Chapter 3-Parbellum,” “Late Night,” “Cold Pursuit,” “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” or “Apollo 11.”

The Worst of the Year So Far

10.) What Men Want”

Stick to the original “What Women Want.” It was nicer than this mean-spirited gender-swap remake. Not even Taraji P. Henson or Tracy Morgan could survive this.

9.) “Greta”

I bet you $5 Isabelle Huppert will kill the detective on the search for the missing Chloe Grace Moretz.

I win.

It’s just plain predictable and lazy on almost every level.

8.) “The Sun Is Also a Star”

This is nothing but a mushy teen love story that can’t decide if the storyline either features coincidences or fates. And it fails to delve deeper into the cultures presented here. This is no “Big Sick.”

7.) “Pet Sematary”

I took Gene Siskel’s advice of skipping the original. The best thing about it is John Lithgow’s interesting performance as a wise old neighbor, but the fact that it was based on Stephen King’s horror novel, it wasn’t even that scary.

6.) “Little”

This was just “Big” in reverse with Regina Hall transforming into the child actress Marsha Martin. It fails to take any risks with the subject, and relies on typical characters and lack of intelligence, thus being too little to be “Big.”

5.) “Serenity”

The only film critic I know and respect to this give a positive review was Richard Roeper. Maybe he’s that smart of a guy, and maybe he saw things that nobody has seen before. In my defense, this Matthew McConaughey dog was a perfect example of false advertising. It turns a simple erotic thriller into a “Matrix” fantasy.

4.) “The Curse of La Llorona”

Just what I want to see-loud screaming, stupid characters, and an insipid plot that’s obviously connected to the “Conjuring” universe.

3.) “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”

It doesn’t make it a monster epic just because you have a lot of special effects, and so much of that was going on that I’ve gained boredom from this latest entry in the Japanese phenomenon. In fact, I never really saw it as a full throttle “Godzilla” movie, just another “Independence Day” sequel.

2.) “Hellboy”

I’m thrilled this bombed, because everything about this reboot is dreadful. It’s violent, mean-spirited, ugly, contemptible, stupid, loud, cheap, pathetic, and just plain bombastic. Ron Perlman is the best Hellboy, not David Harbour.

1.) “The Hustle”

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are both degrading as the feminine versions of Michael Caine and Steve Martin in this recycled and horrendously awful remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” The fact that it made a profit made me wonder if the people who saw this movie know it’s a remake. I don’t know.

And there were also some pretty bad ones like “Replicas,” “Under the Silver Lake,” “The Beach Bum,” “The Aftermath,” “Miss Bala,” and “A Dog’s Way Home.”

Remember: it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. I’ll see you in December when you’ll find out the real winners and losers. Movies are subject to change, depending on how my mind takes them throughout the year.

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